I first grabbed the bus down to Sellwood, taking it to SE 13th and Tacoma and then going to Oaks Park Amusement Park, and watched a special train. The damn handsome and BIG locomotive Southern Pacific No. 4449 (which has a restoration society whose web page is here) toured the 48 contiguous states during the Bicentennial celebration, and is now maintained only a few blocks from my place. This month, it and another locomotive (the Spokane, Portland and Seattle No. 700) have been pulling Christmas trains from Oaks Park Amusement Park up to OMSI, passing some very pretty and soothing scenery in SE Portland. I hoped to ride, but tickets were sold out for every trip today. The Christmas trains happen again next year. I'll get a ticket in advance that time!
But this time, I could watch the train, as well as the very enthusiastic 225 riders who boarded for the 10 a.m. trip. Bicyclists and joggers wended their way around the visitors, the volunteers, and the looky-loos like me. Some of the fire was visible through a gap in some of the locomotive machinery; the line "Fire, fire, fire" from Beavis & Butthead came to mind quite easily at that point. I overheard one of the people running the event describing a locomotive as the mechanical thing closest to being a living organism, because it's so complicated and hard to maintain. Another way it's like something living: it makes odd noises.
I watched the engine warm up right before it left for OMSI, with the steam enshrouding the machine and the whistle sounding. It went south a few blocks, then headed north for the other end of the trip, and I saw a kid riding in the engine. Cool! I then headed home, to get warm; it was just above freezing, down by the river, so it felt colder than that.
Again, Reminder to Me: Ride it next year!