So I recently moved to a new apartment in Smyrna. There's trains that pass by every so often. Curious about my surroundings, I hop onto google maps and realize that the tracks are not even a kilofoot from my apartment. and in between here and there is undeveloped land. Sweet. I replace my camera's battery with a fresh one and am set to head out. Off I go to hike with GPS on my hip, camera strapped across my chest, and phone in my pocket so I can update my facebook status from the tracks. (Why not?)
I find a part of the fence that's been torn down and climb over it. I enjoy my crossing over a nice little creek and then another. Seeing the tracks way off in the distance with a train pass by, I excitedly up my pace. It turns out that the tracks aren't level with the ground. No way. They built this huge mound of a mountain and put the tracks up on top, presumably to keep loonies like me away from the tracks. I get everything situated and claw my way up the mountain. There's an itchy prick (no pun intended) on my wrist. I peek at it and there's a tick. Squish! Fortunately for me, there's these wonderful vines that slink up the face of the earth and they make for a nice little rope to help get me up on top. In the back of my mind I'm wondering what if the vines aren't actually tied to anything and I'd go flying backwards when it unhooks. Wary of this, I only put so much pressure on them, keeping my body close to the earth in case my lifeline snaps.
Eventually I get on top and plant my flag to mark this land in the name of Ariel. I get my camera set up for the composition, get my settings squared away, and wait for the train. About 5 minutes go by when I hear the familiar rumbling of train in the distance. Hoping that it's coming from the direction where the sun is behind me and I get sexy lighting (rather than shooting directly into the sun and getting a backlit train.. yuck), I get lucky and see the train coming at me with the warm sun hugging my back.
The train starts coming and I snap the above pic. The conductor sees me in the distance and I can hear the breaks on the train squeezing, just in case I'm some nut who wants to do something crazy. Seeing that I only have a big black camera the size of my head in front of my face, he lets of the brakes and keeps right on comin'.
Ready to get the shot of the train I want with the train on the left side of the frame, the whole viewfinder goes black. Camera off. Battery dead. I quickly turn the camera off and on, but the battery is still flashing kaput. EEEEERRRRRR chuga chuga chuga chuga, the train comes right on by. Realizing I missed my shot this time around, I pull out the battery and put it back in. The camera springs back to life showing I've still got life left in the battery. Laughing, I get a shot of some random orange cars (why do they call the train sections cars anyways) passing me by after the locomotive had already passed.
I figure I could get the next train that comes by, but wanting to get a fresh battery (again... silly 1D), I hike back to my apartment, swap batteries, and head back out.
As I turn back, I notice the viewfinder eyecup had popped off and gone missing. It's happened to me before on the 20D several times, but not so much on the 1D. Even just the other day I saw a guy on FM complaining about his 1-series eyecup falling off and I noticed how strange it was because they have a special locking mechanism to prevent its loss. Got me too! If anyone wants to play santa, you're welcome to send me a replacement eyecup! :)
On the way out, I strike up a conversation with one of our neighbors who is leaving up to the Smokies again this weekend. Her husband is a photographer so I lend her my copy of The Smoky Mountains Photographer's Guide, complete with standard issue NPS map tucked under the front cover.
As I reapproach the mountain that is the train tracks, I see an approaching train slowing down and literally come to a stop right where I was standing before. Thinking that I'd been spotted and they had called the cops on me or something, I just watched from a distance... It turns out there was a fast train coming in from the other direction. I'm not sure why they'd stop, considering that each train was on its own lane, but whatever. Perhaps there was a track merge up ahead. In any event, I watch the two trains pass by each other and then the stopped one oh so slowly start moving again.
The sun continued to set as I climbed my way up the ivy covered viney hill. At the top of the hill I wait. and I wait. and I wait. No train. So I go to do that thing I saw Indians do in old western movies: put their ears on the tracks to listen for incoming trains. Tried both tracks and the silence was deafening.
So I sat down to meditate and instead chose to have a good ole' time visualizing having a million dollars. It was a fun experience and I felt like I was soaring. :)
Finally ready to leave, I Indian it up on the train tracks, again hear nothing but stillness, and head back to the apartment.
On the way down that hill, I noticed some vines growing sideways. I was sledding down the hill like a snowboarder sans board, and my back foot got caught on one of the vines, something I was actively ready for. I feel my leg slowly pull back and my knee pop. Whew, not the most comfortable feeling, but not a damaging pop. Just like when you crack your knuckles or something. I walk it off and thank my body for being so young and capable.
Hiking back to my apartment through the thicket that is the brush, I finally make it back, glad that I was able to stand maybe 8 feet away from a train barreling right past me, didn't get hurt, didn't get the cops called on me, and glad that I had better come to know the land that surrounds me.
I live to shoot another day.