|Stop #1: Jim DuFour's HO B&M
The trip hit an early glitch when the airline decided we had everything we needed to take off, loaded everybody onto the shuttle to ride out to the plane, until someone remembered that a pilot would come in handy. So it was back to the terminal while we waited for the flight crew to be united with the aircraft. Then it was off to Springfield.
We got a rental car “upgrade” – which apparently means “Here’s a Passat with high mileage and not-so-great brakes.” But we survived. Thanks to Bernie for driving.
|Jim DuFour's B&M Cheshire Branch
Also had a chance to visit with George Corey (above), whose prototype photos have provided Jim, myself, and countless others with lots of inspiration. George is not only a fantastic photographer he has a real Yankee sense of humor (translation, he’s a wise-Alek – though he uses a different term!).
|Stop #2: Old Saybrook, Conn., on Chris Adam's HO Scale New Haven Valley Branch
Despite the chips, Bernie and Stic complained about being hungry, so we went to a sandwich shop in Old Saybrook and Bernie ate a five-pound Cuban sandwich (constantly commenting about how big it was as he continued devouring the thing).
We then headed over to Chris’, but not before we met his next door neighbor (Stic went to the wrong house…). When we got to the correct door Chris immediately reminded us that pizza was on the way. For the record, Chris had told us about the pizza, and though Bernie and Stic got the same email it was somehow my fault they chose to eat sandwiches instead of waiting 30 minutes to have some pizza.
We had a great time meeting Chris’ operating crew, and enjoyed running his layout. He’s just getting started on scenery, but the scenes that are finished (including Old Saybook proper, above) are excellent. I look forward to returning – if Chris will let us back in. Apparently, there’s still leftover pizza. I blame Bernie.
We left Old Saybrook and headed to Springfield and arrived at the hotel just in the nick of time to avoid turning into pumpkins at midnight. We then retired for the evening.
Saturday was taken up at the train show. I bought some things – luckily most of what I bought was pre-order (including a Bethlehem Car Works upcoming model of the CN Café Car – the one car needed to fill out the Ambassador consist!) so I didn’t have to figure out how to take a bunch of stuff back on the airplane! Saturday night dinner was in an old parlor car alongside the Palmer, Mass., former CV and Boston & Albany station.
|Stop #3: Jason Fontaine's Southern New England Railroad
|Now there's something you don't see everyday on a model railroad!
|Bernie is wondering where the lake went.
We left Jason's a little later than we planned, meaning we had to postpone lunch and headed for Neil Schofield’s layout. Neil's layout accurately represents railroading in and around Richford and Newport Vermont circa 1980.
|Stop #4: Stic made a new friend (for the record, so did I!). Left to right: Finn and Stic.
After leaving Neil’s we stopped for a late lunch. I forgot what Bernie ordered, but he ate all of it, once again complaining about how it was too much food. For the record, Stic and I ate everything as well, we just didn't discuss it.
|Stop #5: Dick Ewell's Hoosac Valley
Monday morning we checked out of the hotel, and since our flight wasn’t until 1930 and it was a beautiful (cold, but sunny) day we headed west to visit Dick Elwell’s Hoosac Valley. I’ve always been a fan of Dick’s layout and it never fails to disappoint. I think we each took 100 photos...Dick is simply one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – in the hobby or otherwise – and we really appreciated him hosting us on relatively short notice. I even ended up leaving Dick’s with something truly special – a beautifully painted and great-running Central Vermont 2-8-0. Gosh, I hope he doesn't look for it any time soon.
We stopped at a UPS Store so I could ship my newest acquisition to myself. The guys working there recommended a place called Local Burger – best burgers and fries in town. They were right – the burgers were excellent (Bernie complained about big his meal was, and proceeded to eat all of it in record time…okay, he left 3 or 4 fries in the basket). We did consider splitting the “Captain Crunch Hot Dog” just to say we tried it but we weren’t that daring.
|We drew the line at the Captain Crunch deep-fried hotdog....
Thanks to all of our wonderful hosts - Jim, Chris, Jason, Neil and Dick. Y'all are welcome to visit us any time!