Rocky Ops 2022

Flew to Denver with some buddies in April for 3 day weekend of running model trains, railfanning and seeing others layouts

Originally scheduled to fly from Seattle, when we cancelled our Camano island farm trip I scrambled to purchase flight on United. Had planned to use alaska air miles but now have a large charge on credit card. Oh well.

So now an early morning wake up call and drive to SMF airport. Find a parking spot and head to airport

I am meeting several buddies in Denver. Mark and Dwight from Atlanta, Phil from Tucson, AA Pete and Mike from Portland. We will stay at same hotel in Longmont, and attend same 3 model RR operating sessions. Should be fun. A couple of the guys were late in arriving thanks to airline delays. Seems to be the norm these days.

We first visited Pat Lana’s n scale CRANDIC model railroad based in the Iowa. Lots of fields and cows and green trees. It is all about 5 feet off floor almost at eye level. It’s completely in the center of the basement room not touching any walls. Full walk around.

After a quick dinner we moved over to Harry Lindsey’s Los Pinos HO scale layout. Harry is also a classic car collector. Has 6 of them. Fun operating layout and Harry a great host

Stayed overnight in Longmont Saturday morning we drove up to Cheyenne to operate on the Wasatch & Union Pacific NScale model railroad built by John Rimmasch whose career is in restoring old steam engines and rail cars.

Icing on the cake after lunch was a visit to the Cheyenne railroad park to see the biggest engine in the world, the Union Pacific “Big Boy steam engine. Only 25 were ever built back in 1941 just before WW II.

In Greeley, Colorado, we visited the Colorado model Railroad Museum, an amazing HO scale layout in a 10,000 sq ft building based upon the Oregon California and Eastern (OCE) The OCE runs between Klamath Falls to Lakeview, Oregon. It is a fictional representation of a real railroad with a lot of creative license. The builder turned the whole operation into a non profit museum run with volunteer help. For more info visit

We visited a couple more layouts in the evening

We spent Sunday morning operating on an amazing layout. A BN or Burlington northern RR set in 80’s. The owner built the house over that layout. Quite amazing. Takes an hour to run from one end to the other.

All’s in all a satisfying weekend. Next train trip in august. To Atlanta.

Sound Rails 2022

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.

Aerial Railfanning in South Puget Sound

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.

Two old friends sitting in the shade watching trains

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.

Anderson Island Ferry dock
Anderson Island Ferry dock

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!)

Railfan iPhone vid snapshot
Northbound frieght out my car window

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.

Railfan iPhone vid snapshot-2
Big BNSF coal train northbound at Titlow Beach

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.

Southbound container train
Southbound container train

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.

Aerial UP engines
Union Pacific Engines on northbound Garbage Train

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.