I’ve contained my wanderlust. More accurately, I have compartmentalized the desire to roam into small three or four day bursts. Often with family. Occasionally with friends. Rarely on my own. Between these condensed pockets of freedom, I run the course of daily life, making notes and charting the next ramble. On good nights I dream in the voice of Kuralt, narrating nocturnal visions worthy of Steinbeck and Kerouac. On the bad ones? I lay restless in the glow of my iPhone, obsessing over satellite images of the back roads and rusty rails awaiting me. 

Presented here are vignettes of one such indulgence. In early May 2019 my passions for railroading, history and roadside culture collided in the great American west as I bore witness to the return of the grandest steam locomotive ever built: Union Pacific Railroad #4014, one of the legendary “Big Boys.” The restoration was born from the railroad’s desire to celebrate — in the biggest of ways — the 150th anniversary of driving the Golden Spike to celebrate completion of the transcontinental railroad. One can read more about the motivation and mechanics behind the project on the pages of TRAINS magazine. There’s no need to cover that here. I have something a bit more personal share.

Oh, yes, there is some adult language peppered throughout. Sensitive readers should approach each sentence with fear and trepidation as to what I may say next. Just like in conversation, which in many ways is exactly what this is. 

Rob Davis October, 2019

Read the entire ebook version with many additional photographs