Engine #102

This is a very different sort of post for me. But perhaps it isn’t.  It is a part of my story. It’s about feeling something. Something that moved me and brought me to an understanding…about life…and about me.

It happened on a Monday. Around 10:30 am. Engine #102 and her 5 passenger cars were traveling south when she hit a rock slide that had landed on the tracks. It happened just outside of Northfield. The town I live in.  I heard about it while I was at work.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

The rock slide had happened during the night sometime. And it was on a sharp curve on a remote section of the track. It truly came out of nowhere.  And there was no avoiding it.  Engine #102 hit the rock slide head on. She derailed.  

Photos courtesy of Ken Hepburn

Down the deep ravine she fell.  She detached from the rest of the cars.  She came to a rest on her side near a river.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

Emergency crews rushed to get there. But it was difficult. This section of track was not easy to get to.  It took some time.  

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

Amazingly, no one was seriously injured.  The conductor suffered a few broken ribs.  The rest of the crew and the 95 passengers on board were unharmed.  A miracle.  

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Photo courtesy of Brian Bell and WCAX.com

The news crews descended upon our small town.  The people who live here sprang to action, providing water and food and shelter.  The emergency crews worked tirelessly for days upon end.

Photos courtesy of Ken Hepburn

Engine #102 lay in the ravine, on her side for over a week. They had to build roads to get her out. They had to bring in special equipment.  They also had to clear the tracks and get the trains back on schedule.

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Photo courtesy of one of the machine operators. I didn’t get his name…

It was a monumental effort.  It was impressive. This effort to save engine #102 and bring her out.

It was because, although her shell was battered, her engine was still intact.  It was worth it to bring her out.  She still had a lot of life left in her.

And then, on a Saturday afternoon, they got her out.  6 days after she had fallen into the ravine.  A huge transport vehicle brought her out of the woods, down a dirt road and into town. 100 tons of metal moving at a speed of 2 miles per hour. It took 2 hours to go the 4 miles into town.

http://www.wptz.com/news/northfield-roads-to-close-while-amtrak-locomotive-removed/35766442

I missed it.  I had plans and couldn’t stay to watch.  I hoped that it would still be happening when I returned from dinner, so I could see her.

But when I got back to town, all was quiet. There was no evidence that anything of that proportion had happened.  And I was curious.  I wanted to know where she was.  Was it possible that they had loaded her onto a flatbed and sent her down the tracks to be repaired already?  How could that be?  I wondered and thought and then investigated.

I drove to the nearest train station in the next town over.  She wasn’t there. But the 5 passenger cars were.  I marveled at the damage and how incredible it was that no one was hurt badly.  And I felt incredibly grateful.  I also felt something else.  An awe at not only the integrity of these train cars, but at the people who coordinated this immense operation. And most of all a deep sense of gratitude.  The mangled cars did their job. They kept their passengers safe.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

But where was Engine #102? When I got home, I scoured the internet.  I looked at the news footage.  And then I saw it.  I saw her coming into town and turning down Wall St.  And I knew. I knew where she was.  She hadn’t left town yet.  She was in the old train yard just a few blocks from where I live.

So I went down there.  It was late.  And as I pulled into the freight yard I could see the bright spotlights and I could see Engine #102.  And I could see the Amtrak police watching over her.  So I didn’t stay.

The next morning, I heard strange noises outside.  The sounds of engines and heavy equipment.  I knew what was happening.  I rushed down to the freight yard.

They were getting her ready I found out.  They were going to load her onto a flatbed car pulled by a large cargo locomotive and bring her to Indiana, where she would be fixed and brought back to her original state.  I stayed and watched this amazing feat of engineering. 100 tons of metal lifted up and onto a flatbed.  It took a few hours.  I stayed and watched it all.  And then…once she was secure…they took off. Heading to the next town over.  They needed to secure her more carefully for the long journey to Indiana.

I stopped by the train station today.  I knew she was still there.  I wanted to see her one last time. I wanted to say goodbye.  I wanted to see the end of this story.

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As I got into my car and drove away, I felt tears on my face.  Why, I wondered, had this train captured my heart so deeply?  Why did I feel something for this hunk of metal? It made no sense to me.

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Yet it did make sense.  Engine #102 symbolized strength.  She reminded me that things happen.  Bad things. That we fall down.  We get hurt.  And that we get wounded and broken sometimes.

And with a little help we get back up. Back on track. Our broken parts get mended. We survive and learn to live again.

Engine #102 is part of my story.  And I will never forget her.

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Forest Roads

Deep in the heart of Vermont lies the Green Mountain National Forest.

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Throughout this forest are dozens of roads. Forest roads. They have no names… Only numbers.

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There is something magical whenever I find myself on one. I never know what I will find or where I will end up. But it is always something that captures my heart and and my soul. There is wonder around every corner.

Lakes, ponds, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, fields, trees, and even wild blueberries.

It is a place to get lost…Completely lost.

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But what you find is miraculous.

You feel a deep sense of awe and reverence for this enchanted place.

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And you notice a connection. Life is like a series of forest roads. You never know quite where they may lead. But along the way you will enjoy the glorious scenery, surprises, adventures, and wonders…

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Around every bend in the road.

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I am on the forest roads of my life. And it is a beautiful journey.

There’s Something in the Air

Or perhaps it is something inside of me. I feel myself expanding and growing, opening and blossoming.

Last summer I journeyed to the edge. I explored new territory and dark places within me. It was a time of healing.

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This summer I am still journeying. I am still exploring…

but it is with new eyes and a grateful heart

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I have discovered so much that I never thought possible. The world around me is more vivid, more beautiful, more alive. And me…I feel more alive than I ever have felt before.

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I am not sure where or when or why this shift and transformation happened…perhaps it is something in the air.

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Or perhaps it is me.

The true me, finding her way out into the light.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

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I discovered this compass on top of hill near rocky cliffs on the coast of Maine. I have used it frequently in my writing. To me, it symbolizes what my life is all about. The path I’m traveling, and my journey towards myself. The compass reminds me, life takes us in many directions. Sometimes we get lost. And sometimes we get found. And sometimes in getting lost we are found.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Symbol.”

Thrive

I’ve been thinking about the word thrive lately. Especially as the school year winds down and I feel like I’m merely surviving rather than thriving. But I think it’s more than that.

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This idea of thriving has taken root in my mind and in my heart. It is growing. I am realizing that in life we are meant to thrive. We are meant to flourish and truly live.

Yet I have begun to wonder…am I really thriving or just surviving in my life?

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Perhaps it’s because of this journey I have found myself on. A journey of uncovering and discovering who I am and what I want from this life. There is a deeper purpose and meaning that keeps whispering to me and I’m starting to hear what it’s saying. I’ve dived into the depths of my heart and my soul. I’ve healed wounds and grown in countless ways.

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And now there is a longing, a yearning for something more.

So I’ve begun a kind of transformation…and taken a turn down a mysterious and yet exciting path.

I’m not sure where it will lead. And that’s ok. I have faith in where I am heading.

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I do believe this path is where I will find what it is I am yearning for. And along the way, I will learn what it means to thrive. After all, I have seen how nature thrives…

Falling Up

I like to think that instead of falling down…I fall up.

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This life I’m living, this path I am traveling, the things I am learning show me that I am heading into a new beginning, a new place, a new world.

I am uncovering and discovering who I am and what I want.

And as I begin this journey into the unknown I can look back. And I can see that every time I fell down I was really falling upward…moving closer and closer towards the person I truly am.

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Letting down walls and opening windows and allowing life back in and myself out. Fear no longer holds me back.

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I know that falling is an opportunity to rebuild and to grow…up and up and up. Higher than I have ever been before.

With wisdom and resilience at my core, and gratitude and grace in my heart, contentment and serenity are more easily found in my day to day life. I have a solid foundation on which I can continue to build upon. By falling down I now understand how to fall up.

I’m standing on a different sort precipice. And I’m not afraid…to fall.

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