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.
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 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.