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Meeting of the minds - Staples, August 17th.

I'd been looking forward to Sunday's bash in Staples for a few days as I had arraged to meet fellow enthusiast and blogger Jim "Look4Trains" Ramnes there.  Several times this year we had been at Staples the same day, on one occasion had been within minutes of running into each other. So when I knew that I'd be up there I suggested a meet up and he said "Sure" So at 6am on Sunday morning I was up before the sun and on my way to Staples. The drive was uneventful until I got to Baxter and there in front of me in the distance was the single headlight of a DPU on a train of coal empties heading west. The unpainted aluminium of the coal hppoers was shining in the sun like a silver ribbon drawing me in, much like a lure attracts a fish. I felt my foot press the accelerator harder and the chase was on! I didn't know where I'd catch it. I was hoping Pillager but I didn't get far enough in front by then so I had to settle for Motley. I made it in good time and got a nice shot of the lead unit ES44 No. 5882 appearing through the sunrise.
BNSF 5882
The trailing unit that had been drawing me in all the way was an SD70, No. 8892 and I got a shot of it as it crossed the road. The early morning sunlight sort of kills the BNSF orange for me.
BNSF 8892
With that it was off to Staples for both the train and I. I wondered if I could catch it again. Staples is only 7 miles away and the train had a good start but the road to Staples is straight and dual carriageway* so I gave it my best shot. The train had to slow up as it approached Staples and I finally passed the lead unit just out of town as it slowed for the junction. I made it to the Depot car park with little trouble and sure enough Jim was there waiting for the train I'd been chasing. We barely had time to greet each other when the train arrived.
BNSF 5882 at staples
BNSF 8892 at staples
Jim informed that another train west of Staples  had been given a warrant to head east  and I could see its approaching headlight in the distance.  These are always nervy moments with the length of American freight trains. We could very easily get blocked out on seeing the eastbound by the westbound in front of us. But as luck would have it the two cleared each other west of the station presenting us with this nice shot.
trains crossing at Staples
4 units headed up the trailer train and here's all 4 of them for you. Lead unit was ES44 No. 7568.
BNSF 7568
Then a C44 No 5527. The light of the early morning sun does nothing to improve the grubby appearance.
BNSF 5527
SD40 No 6390 was probably the cleanest of the 4 units
BNSF 6390
Finally another C44, No. 807 to finish it off. It certainly needs a wash.
BNSF 807
A few minutes after that we were greeted with the sight of ES44 leading some empties from Becker power station. Both Jim and I were aniticipating some good spotting today...
BNSF 5891
But. (There's always a but) Then things went quiet for quite some time. A long time, over an hour in fact. There wasn't even a chirp on the scanner. Jim and I chatted about railfanning, cameras and bemoaned the state of the Staples depot building. But still nothing came. About 8:20 Jim had to leave so he wished me well and assured me that now he was going things would pick up. But it didn't. I'd promised myself I'd stay until 9am and pretty much exactly at 9am the scanner came into life and and eastbound was given a warrant. At last! I got the message from the track detector, 238 axles. Could be a container train. That would be nice. It was about now the batteries on my scanner decided to die on me. So I would be flying blind the rest of the way. I could hear the horn of the train from a long, long way out and when it came into view I wasn't disappointed. It was only a mixed freight but it had a lovely clean ES44 on the front to make a very nice picture with a cloudless sky in the background.
BNSF 6029
Wouldn't you just believe it? As this one was passing I heard the horn of an eastbound approaching. More coal empties and ES44, No. 6116 and an SD70MAC, No 8916 working this one.
BNSF 6116
Perhaps now the quiet time was over and the rush was going to be on I hoped. Within another 5 minutes I had an Oakway leased EMD, No. 9027 leading a westbound auto train. There is, for your records, (and mine) BNSF SD40-2, No.6333 behind the lead unit. Auto trains are a pretty impressive sight. "A rake of these would look good on my model railroad" I thought to myself.
EMD 9027
Then once again things went quiet. I decided to head back to the cabin. I didn't have my scanner anymore so I wouldn't hear when things were on the way. Overall I left feeling pretty good. Six trains in 2 hours wasn't bad, despite the long gap in between. I'd met Jim and we'll very likely be meeting up for some other adventures in the future. Trainspotting is a great hobby, but it can be something of a solo affair so its always nice to meet someone out there who shares your interest. 
Dual Carriageway* - Two lanes of traffic in each direction