The calling has connected. The stones have been turned. There exists the trail, one for the sleuthing, discerning nostrils of a true detective. And over time and space, as remembrance faded and sank deeper into the imagination, he would question the very existence of what he’d seen. What he’d thought he’d seen.
There shall be no doubt, now, that it exists. For it is again found.
A couple years ago, I had the occasion to ride on the Altamont Commuter Express train from Great America (Santa Clara) to Manteca/Lathrop with my mother. My Dad met us at the train station and took us back to Escalon, my default home town (we moved a lot when I was young, but settled longest in Escalon, and my parents still live there now, although they’ve had stints in other parts of California. They retained ownership of the same house, so it seems like home).
A curious thing happened while we were on the train. Well, several curious things happened, actually. Maybe this isn’t where I should start– you see, I had recently had a manic episode (I am bipolar) and was still in treatment, albeit on outpatient status. I’d calmed considerably since my violent rampage that injured one bowl of guacamole, a television set, one wooden chair, and my dignity. The latter was the most seriously injured. See my previous blog entries “Mania Part One” and “Mania, Continued ” for more details.
As my Mom and I rode along the rails, seeing parts of the Bay Area that we’d never really seen before, I chatted at her rapidly, making more points about this and that subject than a schizophrenic librarian playing basketball. But it was entertaining. At least to me. I was charismatic, eloquent, and melodic in tone. I sang like a soprano philosopher, rhythmically trotting out thesis and antithesis, melding a synthesis that shone so true that even a categorical imperative would avert its eyes.
But I digress. It’s easy to fall back into the motoring of the mouth. Please forgive me.
We saw the salt plant, and wildlife, and many things that fluffed my curiosity. But the most prevailing, enduring image that I encountered that day was of a rusted old locomotive, sitting idle about twenty feet from the train we were on, being overtaken by weeds and erosion. I remarked to my mom how interesting it looked, and wondered how old it was.
This led to several reconnaissance missions to Livermore and Pleasanton in an attempt to find the engine and photograph it. I ended up stumbling on the staging area for the Niles Canyon Railroad and took several compelling photos that were exciting and adventurous to secure. But my engine went undiscovered. It seemed that I had mistaken its existence.
Several months passed, and I continued to wonder if I could ever again find the thing that I had thought I had seen while riding on a train between Santa Clara and Lathrop while somewhat hypomanic and of elevated mood. My mom had an occasion to ride the A.C.E. train again and she promised that she would look for the old and rusty locomotive.
She didn’t see it.
So about a week ago, I got another chance to ride the rails, repeating my trip of more than a couple years ago. I was excited at the opportunity to see for myself what and where that rusty aberration could be.
Although I almost missed it, suddenly, there it was. The train was still moving, so I only caught a glance, but it was there, as I remembered it. Even more overgrown that before, but still there. So I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, but I saw it long enough and well enough to confirm– a second source, if you will– that it does indeed exist.
And then tonight, with the assistance of Google Earth, I pinpointed its location. And I have directions so that I might go and get close enough to photograph it. I’m quite excited to think that I could have photos to share of this engine– my own personal Sasquatch– within a few days, if all goes well.
But I know there are risks. Will there be parking? Is it private property that it’s situated on? Are there people around who would agree to me photographing the artifact? Who is the owner/landlord, and who owns the engine? Why isn’t it being renovated? So many questions… But I only wish to capture a few shots of its glory– a grand machine from a time gone by. Surely the Niles Canyon Railroad folks would enjoy seeing such a thing in existence? And perhaps it would begin the process of its reclamation. Or perhaps there’s a museum that would be interested in preserving it.
Or maybe it’s somebody’s sculpture and it’s fooled me into thinking all of this. I don’t know. But I’m prepared to try and find some answers. Whatever they may be.
So venture with me. Stay tuned for the next update. The Engine, she is found!