Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making Tracks

Team Testosterone and I had a lovely date yesterday afternoon. My uncle is a member of a model railroad club and each year they have an open house the weekend following Thanksgiving. They're housed in an old radio station about 20 minutes from our house. You've never seen such a strange collection of men in one place--old men, teenaged men, scruffy men, clean shaven men, flannel shirted men, and one with the longest beard I've ever seen in person.

Actual Model Railroad Club Members.

The layout in the first room is remarkable and we spent a good half hour watching the little trains chug past--and the landscape! The detail! Tiny people in miniature quarries, parks, towns and campsites--we kept discovering new surprises--a child's treehouse, a tire swing, a man swimming beneath the trestle. While we admired the handiwork of this club, the members ran their trains and spoke a language foreign to me--they had walkie-talkies and ran engines through such a maze of track and rooms.

Each engine had it's own name.

Each of my boys got to run a train around a smaller track and figure out how to set up a track's switches under the patient tutoring of a grandfatherly man. We ate cookies, asked questions, and went into the basement where a larger model (puffing steam!) ran around a village outfitted with an airport, drive-in diner, stockyard and trailer park. When somebody turned off the overhead lights, we were dazzled by the twinkling lights of the houses and Main Street shops. With hardly any effort, we could imagine sitting in the club car, watching the scenery pass us by.

Two hours and a $10 donation poorer, we returned home where Team Testosterone got to work with their Brio train set and building blocks, determined to replicate a little portion of what they'd seen. The future of the Model Railroad Club looks healthy from my vantage point.

13 comments:

  1. They would love the small train that runs outside the San Diego Zoo. Who wouldn't?

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  2. My son would be in HEAVEN watching those model trains!!

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  3. Wow! That sounds like little boy heaven. Trains and cookies. I don't think it gets much better than that!

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  4. OOOOH - that brings back memories, I had the most delightful swiss train set as a child (I was supposed to have been a boy, and my parents did little to conceal their disappointment!) I loved my train set - it had a bus that intersected at a level crossing...great for crashes!!

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  5. I always thought it to be one of lifes wonders to watch your little ones absorb knowledge from something fun,then turn around and make it their own.

    But thats just me. ;)

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  6. I love those little trains! My neighbor used to set up an amazing display for Christmas.
    Sounds like a fun day.

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  7. I LOVE model trains! They have a great set-up in Baltimore at our local fire station in the winter. And we love the one at our own B&O railroad museum. Now I just need some kids to visit to give me an excuse to go.

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  8. The detail that goes into train models is astounding. I just love searching for new discoveries. It is such a neat hobby and wonderful that your boys have an in with the experts.

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  9. My son absolutely adores trains and so for a few years we endured trips to see Thomas the Tank Engine. Green Bay's train museum is definitely cool if you are up for a trip. You can go inside and check out quite a few old trains. :)

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  10. Hey, $10, three kids, two hours? Quite a deal!

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  11. My husband belongs to a Green Bay area club! He's been to this one's exhibits, but not this year. HO scale is (dare I say it?) cute.

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  12. I figure model trains will be my household's version of a doll house. I'd have loved to see that!

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