Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Merry Christmas! ~ Friday, December 25, 2015

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Indoor Garden Layout ~ Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate park has a tradition of setting up an indoor garden train layout each winter.

This year the theme was a recreation of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition.

The conservatory's collection of carnivorous plants are always worth a look too, and if you visit with kids, the Golden Gate park playground is nearby.

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Circuit Kit ~ Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nate has had a basic Elenco "snap circuit" kit for a while, and just got the expanded version for his birthday.

He's not the only one interested, looks like.

It seems to have everything we need to build a transistor throttle...

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Halloween 2015 ~ Sunday, November 01, 2015

We have a tradition of setting up games for Halloween. This year, we built a maze in our front yard.

Here's an aerial view. You can't see the last part of the maze because it goes through our porch.

We built it with 6' gardening stakes and weed-blocking landscape fabric, which has several advantages: it's sold in large rolls, is pretty cheap, can be held to wooden stakes with staples, and it's black.

We put spooky things in the dead ends.

Nathan went trick-or-treating as Raphael, and Wini wore a home-made costume ("Dandy 704", a sort of steampunk personification of a singing TTS voice).

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Cazadero and Back ~ Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wini, who plays viola, went to the Cazadero Music Camp this summer.

This is a great place for aspiring young musicians, and by way of dropping her off, coming for a mid-week concert, and bringing her home, we got to make a few trips to the north side of the bay.

We saw a few interesting things along the way, such as this artwork at the Petaluma NWP (and future SMART) station;

and this TARDIS in Sebastopol:

Cazadero is a pretty small place;

It's known to railfans at least as the northernmost extent of the North Pacific Coast. It has a nice little playground.

The music camp itself is in a very nice setting in the woods, reached over this pedestrian suspension bridge.

(In wetter years, that's a river underneath).

It would make an interesting modelling subject--at the end of a line, at the entrance to a trolley park, perhaps?

While Wini began her camp, the rest of us stayed the weekend a combination bakery and B&B across the road, which is highly recommended. It has cute cabins and what we thought was a very friendly little black cat. We later learned that there are in fact several friendly little black cats, and we had probably been meeting different ones at different times and not realizing it.

To the west of Cazadero, not far but over a twisty mountain road, is Fort Ross, former Russian colony and now state park.

We asked a docent about good places for a picnic, and she recommended a place back up the road into the hills at the site of an orchard planted by the Russian colonists, where a few apple trees still grow.

This site has been claimed as the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake. Exhaustive research on my part (Wikipedia) suggests this is not the case, but it does seem to be on the San Andreas fault line, which is marked on the road.

Heading south from Fort Ross, Hwy 1 twists along the edge of the cliffs over the ocean. It's somewhat scary to drive on, but the local cows seem unconcerned:

After a bit you reach the mouth of the Russian River. There is a state beach. Signs warn you that wave conditions make it the world's most dangerous beach for swimming! But instead of going into the ocean, you can get into a very shallow part of the river behind a sandbar, which we did.

In the sand, we discovered a few old rusty bits of track, some non-descript pieces of metal, and the remains of pilings.

It turns out these are the remains of a long-ago project to build a jetty, which used small mining-style railway equipment to move gravel (it's previous job was the construction of the Twin Peaks streetcar tunnel for Muni). The lumps of rusty metal are the remains of an ore car.

Upstream a ways is the town of Duncans Mills, which has a preserved NPC depot building, now a railway museum. It's not clear when it's open but you can see what's inside, and there are a few railway cars parked on a short pieces of track nearby. Some are from the NPC, others from it's standard-gauge parent company the NWP, and there's some end-door boxcars (like made a model of once) from the P&SR.

After all that practicing, the end-of-camp concert was naturally pretty good!

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