I just finished a wonderful weekend with three great friends, working at the Lemon Festival in Upland, California. We were vending henna over the weekend there. We got rained out Friday night, it was cold on Saturday – everyone wearing pants and sweatshirts, and we still had a record weekend for sales! We also had several fun encounters with customers chatting about the upcoming third year of the Henna Intensive & Retreat and handed out lots of postcards for the event.
Tearing down the booth was no picnic with everything wet and smelly from the rain on Friday but working alongside friends always makes everything better. We got everything dried out the best we could overnight and then packed up to head home on Monday morning. I was feeling great! Happy to have spent the weekend with such great friends. Exhausted from all of the hard work but the overwhelming sense of accomplishment erased all of the pain. The trip home was quick with very little traffic – in Southern California that is a feat in itself.
I exited the freeway to enter the long stretch of desert highway between myself and home. Driving over the bridge over the freeway, I noticed that there were hundreds of people standing alongside the railroad tracks. Cars and trucks parked everywhere. It was an odd sight for sure. There is very little that happens in that area near the Mormon Rocks and I was intrigued! Briefly, I thought about just driving through and getting home. I was tired after all and couldn’t wait to get home to see my fur babies and sweetie. The moment was fleeting and I decided to at least stop and ask someone what was going on.
I pulled over to the side and parked the best that I could manage in our huge ambulance (nicknamed the “Blumebulance”. I hopped out and started walking toward the first person I saw. A woman with her family getting out of their SUV. I asked her what they were all there for. She informed me that there was a steam-engined train coming through soon that was from the 1940s. The train had been kept, preserved, at the LA County Fair in Pamona on display in the museum there. They were taking it out to Wyoming to restore the train and begin using it as an operational train that people can take trips on again. She was so excited and her excitement rubbed off on me. I decided to stay and watch!
I walked over to a better vantage point, closer to the tracks. It was the most beautiful day. The warm sun was shining down on my face and shoulders. The breeze was light and slightly cool. It is one of the things I love about the desert in Southern California – the spectacular weather. As I walked up towards the tracks, I said hello to a couple of train enthusiasts. There were so many!
Once at the top of the small hill, near the tracks, I said hello to an older man in an burnt orange T-shirt and baseball cap. We chatted for a bit. He told me more information about the train that was coming through. I learned that the train was named “Big Boy” and it was built in 1941. It weighs 1.2 million pounds and runs on steam. Only 25 of these trains were ever built and they were built for Union Pacific. The engine was retired in 1961 after having traveled over one million miles in 20 years! There are lots of other really neat facts about the train including a comparison of it’s size compared with a Boeing 747 if you click here: www.up.com/aboutup/special_trains/steam/locomotives/4014.shtml
Another man walked up towards us wearing a large, professional camera equipped with a sun shade. We turned and chatted with him. He said that he was going to follow the train to its next stop and would love to follow it all the way to Wyoming if he didn’t have to head into work that evening. He told us about the other trains that he has followed across the country and shot pictures of. He showed us an example of one of them and it was PHENOMENAL! Gorgeous lighting, framing, and capture. I asked when the train was supposed to come through this area and he said it should be there any moment.
We kept making small talk to pass the time. I asked if he was local and he was. I asked if he takes photos professionally and he said yes, but he also works a day job. Then, on a whim, I asked if he shoots events. He said yes and that he’s done some cinematography as well. He asked what type of events I produce and I told him that my business partner and I put on events for artists. I told him about our Henna Retreat and then about our new Horror Film Fest. He then proceeds to tell me that he shoots horror films! Seriously?! So much serendipity!! We introduced ourselves (he’s Mike Bates) and he told me he shot Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and some others and would love to get involved!
We exchanged info and agreed to get in touch with each other. Networking really can happen anywhere, even when you least expect it. Seizing the moment by stopping to see what the excitement was about was only the first step, but chatting up strangers and getting to know them brought me (us) a new collaboration! So amazing!
When was the last time you chatted casually with a stranger? What came of it? I’d love to hear your stories!
Here’s a quick video of where I saw the train!