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Carry On My Wayward Son.

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Greetings fellow foamers, train nuts and lovers of all things from the line! Were only a few months into 2012 and it is already busy for most of us, and I'm no exception! I survived the Springfield MA show and had a great weekend "hunting" for the specials and the items I need to get the layout beyond the stage of pink foam. The two day show was just as good as it always is and plenty of deals could be found. The items I purchased were mainly for the scenery of the layout and updates on the layout are posted as time allows on Trainboard within the N scale forum.

As I write this, I'm reminded of another sign that spring is on it's way. Last night we advanced the clocks forward by one hour for Daylight Savings Time, or "normal" as I like to call it. This activity usually forces me to look at the calendar in the work shop and start planning my spring activities. While the N scale layout is probably going to take the most amount of my time, I have other items in the mix as well. As of this writing, I only have around six weeks before I'm back home in East central Illinois but I have some modeling that must be worked on first.

I got to start my 2012 modeling year by having my first article published in the February issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. The CB&Q GP30 that I had detailed and painted for Galesburg back in 2006 was the subject and it certainly motivated me to do more. One locomotive that I remember and have wanted to model for many years is the B&M GP38-2 #200 bicentennial unit. Since my layout era is roughly 1975 - 1980, I can certainly justify having this locomotive on the layout. So now I have committed to do another article on detailing and painting this unit and all before I leave the Garden State. One problem that was encountered with the CB&Q article was the "beauty shots". If you saw the February issue, than you realized we figured it out. Well for this locomotive, something different is in order. I want a picture that looks like Preston Cook or Jim Boyd took it. I envision a mid afternoon sun hitting a rock cut of granite with a curved stretch of track cutting through it and yeah lets have an overpass included too. In the midsts of all this scenery is the hard working #200 with a GP9 in tow and a string of PS-1 50 foot box cars and other associated 1970's freight. Fortunately I have just the place! As seen above, I have started the work on the very location I have described. So add to the list of "things that must be done before I leave the state of Bon Jovi", a portion of the layout. Crazy you think? Perhaps, or maybe I just work better under a deadline in a work habit I have termed the "Montgomery Scott" or "Scotty principle". All of this lead me to another large project that has taken several weeks to complete and that is the cleaning, organizing, packing and retail distribution (e-Bay) of items in the work shop. Long story short, I have successfully placed all of my N scale items, scenery, building supplies, kits, etc, into the same plastic tubs that all feature the same foot print and a clam shell top. The same was done with my model airplane and model rock crawler items. Anything I no longer needed or wanted or just didn't want to move back back to Illinois, was placed on e-Bay. Finally last night, the project was done and I was ready to start the #200 project, only to find I need more parts. A great Charlie Brown moment. I guess now I'm off to Wig-Wag and see if he still has undec GP38-2's without dynamic breaks.

Another activity that has taken up a large amount of time is my frequent trips to New Hampshire to research the former B&M Northern Line and to some degree the Concord and Montreal line as seen above. That location is the new home for the New England Southern. They built a small yard in Canterbery NH. To my surprise, most of the C&M line is in good shape and NEGS runs a few times a week, but this day was a bust. Most of my time in NH is spent chasing ghosts of the Minuteman. It has also been a chance for me to do a sort of "Before and After" as well. Finding a location that was photographed in the past and standing in the same spot to take a picture of the now is fun. Sometimes it is sobering seeing a grand small town station photographed in 1962, only to be turned into a laundry mat in todays world, or worse, torn down completely. Sometimes we are rewarded and see the locations photographed in the past are in better shape now than what they were in the past. Three locations illustrate this. Potter Place, White River Junction and Claremont Junction. While Potter Place has not seen a train since 1983, both the passenger and freight buildings are in great shape, much better than they were during my layouts era. White River Junction is a nice surprise too. Now trains from Pan Am, New England Central, Amtrak and more visit the station and has become another one of my haunts of late. Claremont Junction as seen in the lead photo is host to Amtrak on a daily basis. True, I think most of us would rather see a maroon and gold E7 on the point, but the Amtrak AMD's will work. I'm off to NH just two more times before I head back home, then I'll be back for a week in July.

As I reflect on my past year living here in New Jersey, I realize I still miss a lot of things in East Central Illinois. A recent conversation with someone native to New Jersey asked me, "Why the hell do you as a New Englander want to go back to Illinois?" The person who asked the question, again a native, thought Illinois was endless rows of corn, flat, backwards, and in short the most boring place to live. Well, I replied, for one thing, the love of my life is out there with her two kids and I can't be a part of her life stuck out here. 2nd, all my friends are out there, both railfan/modeler and dark side model airplane guys, and fellow Jeepers. 3rd, I can drive in Illinois with Jess the Jeeps top down, Motley Crue blasting, scanner searching, and go out looking for scenes like that above. I have no worry of some middle aged woman baring down on me in her Lexus, honking her horn because I'm driving to slow and gasp! Looking for trains! Seems like every time I tried to do any railfanning or archeology of the cool lines her in Sussex County, I had some idiot in a hurry behind me in a Lexus or BMW. Apparently I was making them late for a Starbucks run. True, we do have these idiots in Chicago, but fortunately I live in the land of John Deere tractors, Chevy pick-ups, country music, and super sweet class one action from BNSF, NS, CNIC and CSX just to name a few. Sure, New Jersey is nice, but I'll take those long dusty roads that lead to trains any day of the week.

So there you have it. In just six weeks, Jess and I will be back in Illinois and ready for a whole new chapter in our lives. The days of living like Jim Rockford are fast slipping behind me as I trade a quiet two bedroom apartment for a small three bedroom rental house with two kids aged 17 and 11 and my beautiful girlfriend Angela. It will take some getting used to, what with all my "Sheldon Cooper" tendencies, but it will be nice to not be alone anymore. When I started in this relationship with Angela three years ago, many, many people said it would never work. Indeed, the support both of us got was small and it seemed everyone had their own ideas on how we should conduct our lives. Both of us even lost friends because of the relationship, but in the end it isn't what's right for them but what is right for us! Angela and the kids are already used to the fact of their space being invaded by trains, planes and Jeeps, although for one 17 year old young lady, the Jeep is no invasion at all! Angela is even used to my sudden burst of speaking in tongues, yammering on of Chinese Red SD24's and Cascade Green GP38's. She also realizes that my time will include such activities such as spending time on the layout, writing construction articles, railfaning and maybe even flying a model plane or two. Unlike my previous marriage, Angela has no interest in trains, the railroad or buying her own N scale locomotive at a swap meet. Her interest lies within the fact that she knows it makes me happy if not somewhat odd to the mass society. "What?! You would rather read a book on the CB&Q than watch American IDOL!?" Yes, socially awkward sometimes, but at least she knows where I am and what I'm doing is constructive.

Well, we have come to the end of the line here. I have a layout to work on, a locomotive to order and yes some packing to do too. Maybe the next time I update this, I'll be writing from HOME. As John Candy said to Steve Martin in the epic movie, Planes Trains and Automobiles, "I haven't been home in years." So true, since the divorce I haven't been HOME in years. That is about change, soon. So as this wayward son carries on, I know I'm coming home.

​High Greens!

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About Me , N Scale , Railfanning



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