Thursday, August 10, 2017

I love trains, but....

 I'm beginning this post with an image that represents what we were mostly looking for on last Friday's hike in the area around Gilson Creek, northwest of Oakland Camp.  This nicely camouflaged bug, a leafhopper, treehopper, or plant hopper or some other kind of hopper could easily be mistaken for a thorn or bud along the stem of this wild raspberry plant.  While thinking of small items of natural history, we heard the train coming.  Figured we'd better stay away from the tracks and the tunnel until it passed.  Trains always rekindle memories of model railroading that began when I was around six and continued well into adulthood.
 Four engines?  It must be a long one.  I figured maybe a mile.  But as it passed, we waited and waited, and it seemed like it would never end.  Then came another cluster of engines in the middle, then more freight cars.  It must have taken around 5 minutes to pass and was probably at least two miles long, the longest train I've ever seen.  Then came the art show....
 From an early age, I've been fascinated by lettering.  I used to make all kinds of letters and numbers with pencil and ruler, then color them in.  As I got older and interested in the printing industry and publishing, and worked closely with various Sacramento printers when I edited a magazine, I developed a strong interest in typography and page design.  So, while the graffiti on the sides of trains - and buildings and bridges - is technically considered vandalism in most settings, it is also art.  I marvel at some these artists' understanding of the basic structures of letters combined with their flamboyant sense of design, and mostly their sheer speed.  To me, it is not a crime, or no more so than the intrusion of a train into pristine wilderness.  I have around a dozen shots of graffiti in a folder that
I'll add to this post after a short break.  Then I'll close with an image that represents the original purpose of this hike.  In retrospect, the interruption was just as  memorable as the original game plan.
I'm back with selected art works from the secretive artists.  Where and when do they do this work?  I'd love to watch it happen.
I apologize if the art contains offensive messages that I could not detect.  Mostly, it seems like decorative ways of saying "I was here."  Or maybe, "I'm making your freight car more beautiful."

As for "building America" I think history will show that the graffiti artists' contribution to what America is and can become will compare favorably with the record of Union Pacific.
Last is a view of Gilson Creek cascading down from the place where it emerges from under the railroad track through a culvert and goes on down to join Spanish Creek.  This place where the water usually flows year 'round, even during drought years, is always a reliable destination for nature hikes.

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