Well, I'm back in the good 'ole USA now for three weeks now – and boy, does it feel good. J Not that I'm a world traveler or anything like that but I appreciate home for what it is – familiar turf, and comforting versus other locales. I guess after extended projects in Europe and now Mexico I've confirmed what I thought all along – that I'm happier in good old America, a continent large enough for me to explore. Canada is about as far as I'd like to venture on a personal basis, and after sampling the rails in Britain I'd say I prefer our railroads as well. Anyway, with my travel trailing off from the rather full-time endeavor it's been lately I think it's time to reintroduce myself to the hobby.
Not much progress has been made on the UP-CNW benchwork since the photo below, unfortunately. Tom has been laid up with his chronic foot injury, and so hasn't made it out to help me erect the remaining sections along the walls. I'm hopeful he can come out this week – my last week off from work from a two-week PTO (personal time off) session. After all the travel the last couple of years I decided to take some serious time off to rest – mentally and physically – and try to take care of myself for a change. Oh, sure… there's a short "Honey-do" list the missus has for me – but bless her heart she's kept it short to keep me on the path of de-stressing these two weeks. Besides, the two older kids are turning 13 and 15 this summer, respectively, and can start to help carry the load more around the house. Stuff like cutting the lawn, general cleaning, laundry and the like – the stuff that keeps us out of the basement. ;)
In that vein I decided to give myself a mini-vacation this weekend – a way to further decompress from work mode. Down in Marion, Ohio at this former NYC-PRR-C&O crossroads the Conrail Historical Society hosted a gathering at the beautifully-restored Marion Union Station grounds. This great railfan location with a wonderful museum in the station, a former EL caboose outside, AC tower restored and open at the diamond, and an active model railroad club is all there – surrounded on three sides by the former PRR (now NS) to the east, the old Big Four, ex-NYC (now CSX) St. Louis line to the north, and the former C&O Hocking Valley line to the west (also CSX). The NYC line also hosted the trains of the Erie Lackawanna on trackage rights past the depot back before Conrail Day. This railfan hotspot provided for a great sunrise to sunset day and evening of trainwatching despite some uncooperative weather (rainy and cool) for much of the day, but after years of no formal 'fanning on my part I didn't care and looked forward to a dedicated outing.
I started out sort of late, with the rain coming down in buckets I didn't make it out the hotel lobby until 10:00 AM. It was pretty quite the first hour, but then the north-south C&O and N&W (ex-PRR) lines really bust loose with about a dozen trains over the next few hours. Throw in another couple of east-west CSX moves on the former Big Four and my ears were ringing from all the diamond banging on each side of the depot (note to self – bring ear protection next trip). I didn't leave until about 11:30 PM and I'd say a good 40+ train movements in total through the interlocking. Talk about railfan heaven! I even took a late dinner at the Shovel next to the depot around 8:00, ate quick and didn't even miss one. This little bar and greasy spoon is the perfect beanery next to the tracks, and highly recommended. Cheap too.
All for now – hope to have some photos to share in the coming weeks, and maybe some video. One of the NS southbound movements had the Erie heritage unit in the consist, soon coming to YouTube. J