A little bit different this week. I am traveling but using a plane and car. Flew to Seattle area for long weekend of running model trains on very sophisticated model railroad layouts in people’s homes. This has been a life long passion of mine and i used to have my own large model railroad layout(s) with operations. We downsized, went full time RVing for awhile and moved back to our home at Ananda Village. Many friends asked if I would build a new railroad empire. NO WAY! Been there, done that, have the tee shirt. Now i just get to visit and enjoy other people’s train layouts.
First stop in Olympia was Mud Bay & Southern Railroad.
We flew in early to go down to Olympia for lunch and running trains. Layout builder and owner, Jim Younkins, has been a friend for 30 years and one of the best modelers I ever met. He used to come up and help me on my layout. I ran his Elma yard, one of several yards on the railroad.
We visited another layout in North Seattle in the evening. Interstate 5 from Olympia to north Seattle is real fun ( understatement). Kirk Reddie publishes a model railroad magazine and his layout is based upon Milwaukie Railroad in Puget Sound along with Great Northern and Northern Pacific. Features King Street Station, and cascade mountains.
Friday we are headed to Mill Creek NE of Seattle to operate on the Everett & Monte Cristo RR. A beautifully crafter HO scale layout based upon a gold mine 68 miles up in the cascades. Trains ran from Everett to service the mine and towns along the way. We are running in the 1890’s here. The “good old days”
Late afternoon we drove over to south Issaguah to see a beautiful Great Northern railroad in south Issaquah. Beautiful northwest scenery.
Our hotel was in east gate area of Bellevue. Nice accommodations and centrally located while still affordable.
Saturday found again up in north Seattle at Burr Stewart’s basement HO layout modeling the old Burlington Northern railroad in the 1970’s.
Sunday we drove
down to Tacoma to run on a beautiful N scale railroad (1/160thcscale), called the Tenino Weayern RR and owned and operated by Tyler Whitcomb who works for Union Pacific Railroad. Beautiful scenes as Tyler originally was an art student before he drove real trains.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend of running trains and visiting with long time friends and acquaintances. now back to Ananda Village for Springtime at Ananda during April.
What a year! We decided to go for it this year with our van. 8 trips with 108 nights out over 15,562 miles driven around the West!
Jan/Feb – Arizona – Our first trip in January found us heading for what we thought would be warmer climate down in Valley of the Sun. spent a few days cycling at White Tanks and Lost Dutchman parks then down to our usual haunts in Tucson where we stayed at Tucson Mountain park, and house sat for our friends in Oro Valley.
March – Death Valley- Since all national forest campgrounds within 300 miles of us are closed we elected to head to Death Valley. Caught a break in weather which allowed us to drive over Donner Pass and down US 395. Was snowy but roads were dry. We spent 4 days exploring the area with temps in 60’s, some rain storms in valley gave new experiences. And driving to the 5475 ft top of Dantes’ View in SE area gave us a wonderful perspective on the valley.
April – Had to get out somewhere so we headed back over to the eastern sierra for boon-docking in the Alabama Hills near Mt Whitney south of Bishop California. Biking the dusty trails and hiking for a few nights. This is where many old western movies were filmed back in 30’-50’s
May – One place Sraddha has always wanted to explore is the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. With features like the “Little Grand Canyon, Slot canyons and majestic geologic views. Most people head to the amazing national parks which we have done several times. This is less traveled and we had the place to ourselves much of the time. Trail cycling here was a lot of fun. We explored Goblin Valley, Temple Mountain, Swinging Bridge, Lake Powell, and Valley of the Gods.
Early June – finally the sierra opens up to camping so I went up to Lakes Basin for a few quiet days alone hiking and cycling. Explored some new trails and just hung out.
Late June/July – Colorado beckons. We had planned to meet Sraddhas family in Pagosa Springs for few days of fun. Our route took us across central utah and thru the Rockies to Lost Lake above Crested Butte, Colorado for a few days then winding down thru central Rockies to Pagosa Springs. Return trip thru Moab.
July/August – Wildfires and smoke caused cancellation of a couple trips into the sierra but finally the smoke cleared and we were able to get up to one of our favorite places near Tahoe and also went to Sea Ranch on California Coast for a few days of cycling and hiking.
August-September – Smoke again changed our plans. Originally scheduled to spend a week in Tetons then Idaho and on over to Puget Sound, we canceled the eastern part of trip and spontaneously headed up the Oregon and Washington coast for a real fun time. It is getting harder to find great places to camp on short notice but we lucked into some wonderful places along the coast including the Hoh River Rainforest campground. We stayed with friends over the weekend in Portland area and also visited the Ananda farm up on Camano Island (where we plan to return in the spring to help with planting a “cutting flower garden”. Camping on a city street in Edmonds at my cousin’s place is always fun. Great neighborhood there. We returned via Cape Disappointment SP at the mouth of Columbia river , Nehalem Bay, Umpqua Lighthouse and Bullards beach near Brandon.
October – Our last trip of the year was the most challenging. Our route took us down eastern sierra for a few days then on to Usery Park in Mesa, AZ where i would then fly to Atlanta for a few days of model railroading with some buddies whilst Sraddha explores museums in the Valley of Sun then on to Catalina State Park in Tucson before heading back home.
En route thru Nevada we stopped for propane. A couple days later, while camped at 9500 ft elevation, we started having issues with the propane system. We ended up cutting our eastern sierra travels short and headed to Las Vegas for repairs. The Van City service center took us in and diagnosed the problem to be bad propane. We ended up spending 3 day in Valley of Fire State Park to bleed out and empty the propane tank and 2 nights at a KOA near a casino in Vegas. A very different experience than was planned but much, but not all of the problem was solved. Still intermittent issues but we soldiered onto Mesa with our plans having set up a return visit to Van CIty for a couple other repairs we needed on Mightee Wonder Van.
This year has been a blessing. When we bought the van back in late 2019, we figure to continue travels as long as one of us has a valid drivers license. Didn’t anticipate the pandemic but we have found ways to safely travel and have fun.
I continue regularly with cycling, averaging about 60-70 miles per week mostly at elevation. We are blessed with good health, a safe community in which we live amongst good friends
Make sure you watch the video at the end of the blog.
Late June I took a little drive up to Portland and Seattle with a stop over in my old home area of Walla Walla. Got a chance on the return trip to stop in Olympia to see my longtime model railroad buddy Jim. Instead of running model trains we decided to go out to Steilacoom on puget sound just south of Tacoma, Washington and watch trains. Maybe even get some aerial footage with my DJI Mavic quadcopter.
We parked near the Anderson Island ferry dock in Steilacoom and walked along the tracks to find a spot in the shade. It was warm outside.
We saw a northbound Amtrak and a coal drag. Listening to the scanner on the iphone we figured out which milepost detector was triggered when the train goes by and could mostly discern whether it was northbound or southbound. I flew around about half mile out in the sound and shot some footage of the ferry’s and the trains. Had to figure out which neutral density filter to use. Think it was ND8 most of the time which allowed me to shoot at 1/50 shutter speed.
Then we moved up to Titlow beach just south of Tacoma Narrows bridge. As we were driving along the sound I stuck my iPhone out the window to catch some video footage of a train going by. (Don’t tell my spouse I did this!)
At Titlow beach we did scout a potential takeoff point, however there was just too many people for my tastes. We did catch a train go by with my iphone All this is in the video below.
As the sun began to get lower in the sky we headed south to Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 US open golf tournament. Being a public links course we drove down to the driving range and decided we could launch from there.
We saw several trains and got one good long video as a northbound garbage train passed by just as i was running out of battery. Was way out over sound about 3/4 mile away when it passed and was down to less than 20% battery by end. Whew.
Below is a link to the 10 minute video I created from footage. Some of it was speeded up to get within the 10 minute limit I set but it was still a 1.5 GB size. wow.
Oh yes, I did also see the Southern Pacific tourist steam engine in Portland. That’s in the beginning of the video below. Hope you can enjoy.
Afterwards we retired to a local pub for a bit of nourishment.