Visions of the Southwest

Over the course of this year I’ve been lucky enough to get a chance to ride quite the array of long distance Amtrak trains and see some of the most stunning vistas our country has to offer. There is simply no better way to see the great landscape of America than a journey by train. While I certainly find beaches and mountains beautiful, I’ve found myself most impressed by the rugged landscape of the American southwest, as seen on both the Sunset Limited and, most recently, the Southwest Chief. There’s just something about the striated red rock formations I find ruggedly beautiful.

I will refrain from saying too much about the Southwest Chief itself, and let a collection of photos I captured along the way tell the story. The dining car, the lounge car, and the roomette all enjoyable portions of the journey, but that can be experienced in many other places. The views from the windows, however, are unique to this trip and are what I made an effort to record. Enjoy a small collection of my favorite visions of the Southwest onboard the Chief – from stations to rock formations, and a few views of the train as well.

Visions of the Southwest

Visions of the Southwest

Visions of the Southwest

Visions of the Southwest

Visions of the Southwest

Visions of the Southwest

(more…)

Read More

Adventures in Mongolia, Part 2

Welcome back to our feature of photos from Mongolia, this is part two of the three part series. In our previous post, we got a chance to see some of the territory and the noteworthy curves and switchbacks that make the Trans Mongolian line interesting to ride and view. In this post we’re going to take a few visits behind the scenes to see some of the people that work to make this railroad run.

It’s worth starting out our feature about people with the photo below:
Welcome to Mongolia!
You’ll obviously spot yours truly in the center, to my right is Temuulen, who served as my driver and guide while in Mongolia. He’s an avid photographer of many things, including trains, and knows all the best spots for photographing the Trans Mongolian line. On the far left is Natsagdorj, Temuulen’s father, and on the right is Vasiliy. Both Natsagdorj and Vasiliy work for the railroad, they are two of Mongolian Railway’s track defect experts, or as you’d more officially call them, Head Engineers of the Road Diagnostic Center. Vasiliy is from Russia, but has been in Mongolia working for the railway there for the past 22 years. Natsagdorj studied at railway universities in both Russia and Mongolia, and has also been working for the railroad for 22 years.

Here’s an updated map, showing the places we’ll be visiting in this post with red dots:
Part 2 map

(more…)

Read More

Adventures in Mongolia, Part 1

Earlier this year I posted a collection of photos from some of my travels around the United States, mostly on Amtrak. While riding the rails here at home is always fun, I’m always curious about foreign rail systems, especially some of the more remote ones throughout the world. One such remote system I got a chance to photograph was in Mongolia. Many people have at least heard of the famed Trans Siberian Railway, which stretches from Moscow to Vladivostok (a distance of nearly 6,000 miles) – but that part of the route isn’t the entire story. There are a few notable branch lines, the primary of which is the Trans Mongolian line, which separates from the Trans Siberian near Ulan Ude, Russia, and goes south through Mongolia and eventually ends in Beijing, China.

Mongolia Travel Map

Last year I got a chance to both photograph and ride the line (yes, I have quite the backlog of photos to go through!) and experience the very interesting and unique landscape that is Mongolia. Beside riding the trains, I got to camp in a normal tent, as well as the traditional Mongolian ger, hike a little, ride a horse, and visit some of the tourist locations – like the giant statue of Chinggis Khan (Chinggis being the more exact transliteration of who we usually call Genghis in English).

Ulaanbataar

My Mongolian adventures started in Ulaanbataar, the capital city of Mongolia, which also happens to have the largest train station in the country. Not far from the station is also a locomotive heavy repair facility, which you’ll see in Part 2. Our photos here feature the city’s main Sukhbataar Square, as well as an intersection not far from the square – note the traffic congestion at the intersection, Mongolians are restricted from driving in the city on certain days based on the last number on their license plates. Despite the vastness of the country, nearly half of the entire population live in just this city. Additional photos show the main railway station and surrounding area in Ulaanbataar.

Ulaanbataar Ulaanbataar
Ulaanbataar station
Ulaanbataar Ulaanbataar

(more…)

Read More