The weather forecast called for clear but cold skies. The tide tables indicated a low tide on the shores of Puget Sound. The drone batteries were charged, so we were off on another railroad safari.
Before leaving the house, we pulled up the Skykomish Virtual Railfan camera for a bit of helpful intel. A westbound stack train passed through Sky at 3:35pm. This was Z-CHCSSE, a high-priority intermodal train headed from Cicero Yard in Chicago to South Seattle. This meant the freight would pass by our primo railfanning location of Picnic Point Park in about an hour or hour and a half. We learned this train, led by a BNSF GE ES44C4, #6892, totaled 184 axles. Four steeds pulled the train with no DPUs.
We grabbed our gear, jumped in our rig, and were off.
Arriving at the beach in plenty of time, we set ourselves up in a good location to view a large stretch of the Seattle-Everett seawall between Picnic Point and the iconic Norma Beach boathouse. The sky was completely clear of clouds, although the air was a nippy 34 degrees. No wind though, thank goodness. But there would be no Amtrak #8 (the Empire Builder) on this day; it was Thursday, and Amtrak is currently limiting their Seattle-Chicago train service with no departures on Thursdays or Fridays. Bummer. All the weather and tide conditions favored some fine trackside photography, but at least where the Empire Builder was concerned, that was not in the cards.
We kept expecting 6892 and friends to come roaring around the corner at Picnic Point, but there was nothing for more than 30 minutes. Then we finally spotted the Sound Transit Sounder commuter train coming up the shoreline out of Edmonds, on time.
I waited until the Sounder was within good range and launched my drone. After gaining sufficient altitude and positioning the drone a hundred yards or so offshore, I tracked the commuter train with video and followed it up the line from about Norma Beach to Picnic Point. <click the hyperlink below the image>
Shortly after summoning the drone back to our base, the BNSF Z-train suddenly appeared. I barely had time to launch the drone again and the freight was right on us. I tried pretty much in vain to chase it down the shoreline, but my little drone was no match for this eager train. Still, I kept up the chase as the four-pack of locomotives finally passed the Norma Beach boat house and rounded another curve out of view. <click the hyperlink below the image>
This was a venture with a dose of unpredictability, but in the end, it turned out okay.
On our way out of the parking lot we placed a phone order for a couple of dinner entrees from Bobby's Hawaiian Restuarant, capping off a fun and productive outing.