Okay, the following VERY long story is the trip i just recently took from Falmouth-Boston via Yarmouth and Portland. I left August 10th and returned on August 16th. I'll basically tell the story, with a picture thrown in for good measure every paragraph or so (be warned...about 100 pictures in the following, have fun) So, without further ado...the story of........... BOSTON 2004; A week in review Okay, August 10th, Falmouth Nova Scotia Canada...I’m all packed, so is Peter, my grandfather...I have a Hockey bag and a rolling toolbox. 1/2 the toolbox is filled with HO trains for my cousin; the other half is pants and shirts for me to wear. The hockey bag is the rest of my clothing. Call me overprotective, but I have 3 padlocks on the toolbox and one on the hockey bag's zippers. There is a 6-foot long, 3/8 thick braided steel cable and lock holding the 3 items together (2 halves of the box and the hockey bag). The shuttle service, Amero Shuttle, shows up at 3:40PM...right at our door. I set my MSN Messenger status to "away" and run downstairs, grabbing my new SONY Discman and CD case for the roughly 3.5 hour trip. Amero is a company that drives, every day, from Yarmouth-Halifax and return. It was 40 bucks a person, each way, including luggage and everything. Cheap considering. Anyway, we got in the GMC Safari and drove off towards Yarmouth. About 7:30 we arrive at our, quote unquote Bed and Breakfast...hmmm, judging by the signs around, we were misinformed...it's a Hostile, not as lavish as we were anticipating. Due to extreme hunger and, especially on my part, tiredness (no sleep night before...) we didn't care much, because Peter AND myself spending 1 night in a double room, was under 45 bucks Canadian . We put our stuff in the room, and I used the Python (the 6-foot steel cable lock) and chained my toolbox and the hockey bag to the bed leg, which was securely bolted into the floor. We went to walk to "Rudders", a Pub on the waterfront in Yarmouth. We were in room 2, on the top floor. The house is well over 150 years old and the stairs going to the top floor are anything but wide and gently angled...they're going up on a 60-percent grade, curving to the left hard and VERY narrow...I was damn lucky I didn't fall carrying the 55-pound toolbox (here on in referred to as my "benders" box) and hockey bag. I, however, was not so lucky walking down the stairs. Slip, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce, thunk, bounce…BOOM! I land on my butt, 10 steps below where I slipped, laughing really hard. Peter walks down behind me and says "oh thank god...you didn't hurt the stairs". We walked the 5-blocks west and 2 blocks south to "Rudder's" and when we arrived at the door, found it to be a little more "Happy" then anticipated...as in 35 drunken slobs listening to another 2 not-so-drunken "sing" on the "stage" (more like yell in pain on a pool table)...so, we walked 4 blocks east and a block north to the RODD Colony Hotel and Restaurant. We went in, Peter had a basket of onion Rings and a great 8-oz of honey-garlic chicken. Me, I had to try something original...the tradition of Yarmouth since 1919...the Fried Chicken...now this is the puzzling part...Yarmouth is, and always has been, a sea-side town...WHY would their traditional food be Fried Chicken? Regardless...I had it. I am now sure it was undercooked, 2-day-old KFC...sorry, scratch that....undercooked, 2-day-old, COLD KFC. Thankfully, I had the brains to order the combo...so I got a heaping plate of fries and a Caesar Salad...so I lived off that, and threw the "chicken" out the open window, much to the delight of 2 waiting seagulls. We finished supper at about 9:45 and decided, after walking to the restaurant, that it was probably a safe bet to take a cab back to the "hotel"...seeing as neither Peter nor I had brought our knives, since we were crossing through the customs. We split the $5.50 cab fee and walked into the B&B. I read 3 MR magazines, went outside into the slums of Yarmouth at 11:50PM and wandered around looking for a pop machine. No luck, about 12:45 I came back in, via the fire escape (front door was locked) and went to bed at about 1AM. Next morning, our alarm goes off at 6AM...**yawn** time to get up. We had to be at the dock, or so we thought, at 7. We got up and packed quickly...7AM the cab showed up and we piled in, breakfastless (is that a word?) We went through security and sat in the waiting room. Custom's officers are supposedly on duty at 7:30AM so we went to declare some stuff that we were taking to Dave's (my cousin's) and then bringing back with us. (Identification of articles for temporary exportation, form number Y38...dad knew that from his days in Custom's in Quebec) Sadly, much to our dismay, customs didn't open until 8:30, and the ship boards at 8:45. We just finished the Y38 form and were called to board the "Scotia Prince", our 11-hour prison to Portland, Maine. We were supposed to only have a room on the return trip, but once we got on the ship, we realized there was no place to sit, so we paied about 75 USD and got a nice room on the port side. We then went for Breakfast in the "Concord Dining room". We came back after that and we were well on our way, though an hour late because some fisherman in Portland put his traps too close to the shipping lane and the Port-side stabilizer on the ship was wrapped with rope and cable. I wandered around a bit, then took some pictures of the Cabin. Here they be: **Hippie Voice On** Duuuuudddeeeee!!! Psycadelic curtains mmaaaaannnnnn!! **Hippie Voice Off** After taking these, I found a map on the wall, and tried to figure out how to get on one of the several back decks to see what was going on. Well, I found what I assumed to be the right way, I walked back and it was emergency exit only. So, I doubled back to the staircase, walked up 1 level and tried again...Casino in my way this time...up another level, walk to the back of the ship and find a door. I open it, whoooopppssss....bathroom, sorry sir, next door...outside, yay! I was debating going up on the new, million-dollar sky deck with Tiki bar, but quickly dismissed that idea as it was too gosh-darned windy. So, I stayed on the deck, leaned in a corner to steady myself and took a picture looking back. An officer came by and mentioned that you could see about 5 miles in every direction. Even after our delay we were only 35 minutes late...not too shabby. We walked off the poorly designed gangway. Yarmouth, owned by BAY Ferries, has a long gently angled ramp. Portland, owned by Scotia Prince Cruises has a flat walkway for 20 feet, then VERY Steep steel steps, which were rain-slicked and slippery! Carrying a 55-pound benders box and hockey bag down this, so I can’t see below or in front of me...not at all fun. We whizzed through custom's, only slightly confusing the guy with my name situation (long story) and the fact I, for some unknown reason, had a box full of used trains and a bunch of train shirts...honestly, the guy seems a wee bit slow. Not the brightest bulb in the pack, or the sharpest knife in the drawer. Anyways...we drove to Georgetown, Ma, for supper at Dave's sister’s. We arrived south of Boston (Hingham, Mass) at about 12:30AM EST. For Dave, it was Christmas in August! 15 Coal hoppers, some stock cars and a couple of BethGons. He gave us the nickel-tour and I took some pictures of his "meager" collection: There...6 display cases almost full...and there were 2 upstairs and 2 downstairs I missed...all 4 completely FULL! There was also a doctor's eyeglass rack full of cars (2 or 4 per shelf, about 60 +/- shelves) and a rack of cabooses. Did I mention he doesn't call himself a full collector? His layout is also quite full...shelf upon freaking shelf of LL P1K, LL P2K, KATO, Atlas, Atlas Master, Atlas Classic, Key, NJ Custom, Overland and many others... :shock: Next are some more pictures of Dave's "toys"...I’ll tell you what they are under each picture. Nathan P5 5-chime off of an Amtrak F40...cracked in half by a cinder block off a bridge. Got horns free, spent about $250 on new mounting base and diaphragms. Seeing as it was pushing 2AM, we decided to go to bed. The next morning, we got up, ate a great breakfast and I took some more pictures. Cross bucks from the Rail line near Dave's house. Abandoned, so he and a friend took his MUSTANG and loaded this thing into the trunk. And yes...it DOES work, alternating lights and bells Right next to it, but I never got a picture of, is a searchlight signal off the same rail line. So, Dave and I go to run Trains in his basement layout. Here I am in front of the roundhouse. And here's Dave with his L&NE FA ABBA consist! Here's Dave's Tri-light Dwarf signal, sitting in his living room...showing all 3 aspects... Here's Dave's Kit built turntable and parking tracks, as well as a 3% upgrade climb where the AC4400CW and GP38-2 are, as well as the L&NE ABBA's. A rail fan’s perspective... We get ready and get in one of Dave's 3 cars...a Ford Tarus SHO...we could have taken the Ford Mustang or the Explorer, but this was just easer. Anyway, we're off to Braintree Station to ride the MBTA, or Mass Bay Transportation Authority...local's call it the "T". Dave has a New Haven book with him, which is for the engineer. Dave knows him, he's a member of the club Dave is in. He said it was a present for the engineer. Me, being excited about the whole trip, didn't think to put 2 and 2 together. We got to the station and we were about 30 minutes early...I snapped off a few pictures. MBTA "T" Redline subway train, leaving Braintree Modern Torsion Beam in operation in Braintree, relaying some track in a small yard. looking south past the Red Line's ending point. Okay, so here comes another train, and from the other direction...here comes our train Me still Completely oblivious to the forth-coming events. Here comes our ride...MBTA GP40MC # 1124. Dave quickly walks onto the locomotive catwalk and says "c'mon up" so I come up behind him, anticipating a very fast tour then a ride in the coach behind us. Nope. Dave motions for me to sit down and I do, on the left hand side. Pete is standing on the platform looking daftly into the cab, Dave yells "Get on before we leave ya standing there" so Peter wanders into the cab and leans against the back wall. The engineer throttles up and we're off...the look on Peter's face was priceless. Rolling through town after town, I snap a few pictures from the cab of the GP40MC as we roll along at speeds above 50 MPH. Grade crossing at 55MPH, looking through the Gheto Grills Shortly after accelerating out of a station-stop, I snapped this picture looking back the long-hood of the GP40MC Here, we meet another MBTA GP40MC, as we near Plymouth. 70 MPH on the Plymouth line...fastest they can go...the speedometer flashed 71, but only for about a second. Wow, that’s exhilarating! Now, we arrive in Plymouth, get off the GP40MC, and walk along the side walkway. Dave yells “HEY!” and Peter and myself both look… …Now…we walk the length of the platform to the far end, awaiting the arrival of what was the rear of the train, now the front end...the cab-car. After a good look at our ride home, we climb in. The engineer, knowing full well what to expect, sits back and relaxes, while Dave, and Peter, now along with Dave, Look on loving every second...obviously, I’m loving it too, but no one took a picture of me :cry: We fly over grade crossings left and right...here's one at 65MPH! As we near Braintree, we meet 2 MBTA trains... An F40PH-2C about 5 miles from Braintree AND A GP40MC just outside of Braintree station. Our intent was to ride the Cab-car to Boston's South Station and take the redline home, BUT passing a station, we found the redline derailed… …and decided it was in our best interests NOT to wait 3 hours to ride it...they're basically subway cars, no thrill there. Before South Station, we run beside a highway... And there was one of them Radar thing-a-ma-jiggers that show the speed limit and your current speed, on the highway. I THINK the radar was out-of-line, as we were doing 65 MPH and the sign said "hello, the current speed limit is 35 MPH...you are doing 65 MPH...have a nice day"..I got a laugh out of that. We started into the track-work at South Station, and I snapped this picture of the new F40 and F40PH-2C paint schemes... And the picture of the new and the old...in South Station. Here, we also see some Amtrak MOW Equipment... And another GP40MC leaving South Station... We got off the Cab-car and I had Dave and Peter pose with our ride. We went into South Station and waited… …and ate a pretzel. We waited, and the engineer came with us and said he'd have a word with the engine crew on a train that passed through Braintree...we wouldn't know the engineer, but it would be fun. We got the call for the train, walked out and got in a Kawasaki Bi-Level car, on the bottom level. And holy crap...the platform is literally level with the bottom of the window! :shock: We were supposed to get called to the F40PH-2C at JFK, but the call never came. More on that later. Anyway, we enjoyed the smooth ride, thanks to a good engineer and great Japanise cars. We got to Braintree and got off the car, we walked forward and found cops running around as well as the engineer on a cell phone talking to someone. We learned that there was a robbery of the MBTA station downstairs...someone robbed the clerk and ran up and as the train stopped he got on. We stopped and talked to the engineer. He said he was going to call us up but he didn’t want to until after the derailment, then the station after JFK an FRA inspector got on and said "I’m riding to Plymouth" so we never got the call up. The engineer had to wait for someone to show up, so he couldn't leave with the train yet. Just then, Peter spotted the guy running down the platform towards Boston. Then 3 or 4 cops chased him onto the tracks. The Engineer invited Peter and I into the cab of the F40PH-2C, but since I’ve been in an F40 before and Dave knew about it, I told Peter to go. He was a kid in a 3000-HP Candy store! I took some pictures of the new F40 and F40PH-2C paint schemes for references, in case I want to paint a 1/8 scale F40 in the scheme. And probably one of the last Redline trains for a few hours... ...leaves Braintree. We walk back to Dave's SHO and drive to get Peter, who didn't want to walk too much, so he went down a ramp about 50-feet long and waited for us, in the mean time, chatting with a cop about the robbery...they shot him, with unknown ammunition, in an undisclosed location...his condition was undisclosed as well, but an ambulance had arrived and left. We drove back to Dave's and had a nice cook-out... ...lotsa burgers and such. We then pack up the Air horns and an air tank (5 or 10 gallons) and throw it in the Explorer. We charge the tank with 100 PSI (the horns usually have 145-150 PSI!) and drive to the SSMRC, or South Shore Model Railway Club...in an abandoned parking lot in the middle of no where...30 seconds from the club, we stop and Dave set’s up the horns... There is enough air in the tank to blow a grade crossing warning, BRRRAAAAPPPPP..........BRRRAAAAPPPPP..........BRAP..........BRRRAAAAPPPPP Dave blows the signal then we quickly pack up the horns and get away before the cops come...even at a pressure 50 pounds short of what is used on the F40's, they're STILL like 120DB at 100 feet! We drive to the club and walk in...only a few people heard the horns...but they laughed none-the-less. Snapped some good shots at the club, a 1/6 done layout...currently the bench work is about 1/2 done...and 1/6 has scenery on it. The layout is 40 by 70...eventually extending to 40 x 140! Here is a night's work for me: 2 CP SD90's sitting in the layout's main yard...awaiting assignment a C&O Mallet and coal cars, waiting permission to proceed and an engineer to turn the knob! Dave's new CN Streamlined Hudson, with modern IM "Canada" Hoppers Dave, sadly, figured out my digital camera and got 2 pictures of me with the grain train...1 on the "Big Curve" near fredville"... and another of me on an unfinished section on a hill... I drove that for a long time, then took control of 2 BRASS VIA F40's Near Fredville... Fredville trestle... Rounding Big Curve... And Viagra Falls...no that is NOT a typo...Viagra Falls National Park is how it's spelled on the welcome sign near the bear killing a tourist. Looking through thick glass in the control room, 1 floor above everything else you can see the whole layout from here 8) The only finished peninsula... and the future home of fredville... We buy pizza and watch a train movie, we get to Dave's at about 1:30 and go to bed instantly Okay, Friday the 13th (worrying part is, I only realized that it was a Friday the 13th more then a week after the fact...go figure) and what do we do? Rail fanning...lots and lots of rail fanning...Palmer, Mass. We also then drive to Warren, Mass and go to Tucker's Hobbies...where I manage to spend about $450 USD on stuff I needed, kind of needed and some I wanted because...well...I don’t know...oh well 8) (check out http://www.tuckershobbies.com for the shop's Website...no affiliation, just really thrilled because the guy was so nice to me...it helps Dave has been a loyal customer for 30 years! Dave's paying to put the guy's kid through school :shock: :lol: ) Anyway, we drove from Hingham, Mass to Palmer, Mass and parked near the CSX & NECR Diamond and 2 yards owned by MassCentral and NECR. We actually parked in an old station, that was, a year ago, a dump...now, it's awesome looking... And, they made a great Restaurant, serves a lot of great food...and when your order is finished being prepared, by staff in FULL railroad attire… …they use a speaker-system and say "Order #whatever is ready for departure on track 1" and over the window where you get the food is the sign "track 1". A nice concept, I thought. Needless to say, we made good use of the food services, as is shown… So, after 4 or so hours of "work" at the station (cheap drinks and GREAT views of the tracks) I got this to show for it... Paul Cutler III (You guys MUST know him ) and myself cross the diamond and pick out a nice place to photograph from, as Peter inspects wear on the diamond and the area around it…lots of bits and pieces laying around, like broken brake-shoes, container lock-down pictures, door latches, etc. Rail fan paradise, especially if you’re like Dave (or most of the people he knows, for that matter) and enjoy getting broken railroad bits, restoring them and hanging them on his walls. The rest of the pictures are all of trains we saw in Palmer, Mass that day…in no chronological order, as I was having so much fun I forgot which train came when. Amtrak P42 #109, wearing Phase VI Blueberry, currently pulling, though soon to be pushing, ”The Lake Shore Limiter”. #109 going through the crossover so the engineer can change ends and start in the other direction on another track bound for Springfield and points past that. Here comes #106 currently trailing, though soon to be leading. AMTRAK P42 #106, wearing the Phase V scheme, now pulling “The Lake Shore Limiter”…bound for Springfield, Mass. Amtrak P42 #7 wearing PhaseVI Blueberry, on the point of the “Vermonter”. Notice the aerodynamic dents on the nose, just below the headlight. Looks like #7 experienced a chance encounter with an immovable object, like a post! Here we have Amtrak P42 #103, wearing the Phase VI Blueberry scheme, pulling the ”Vermonter” through the diamond. Here we can see the various elements an Amtrak train can run into…these cars are both the same age, both rebuilt around the same date, though one is very clean and the other much dirtier…go figure, eh. Here is P42 #69, wearing the Phase VI Blueberry scheme, on the tail end of the ”Vermonter”…about to take the crossover. Here we have a side-shot of P42 #69. Read the number…need I say more? Though, I still think the number would be more effective (and funny) if it had a boob logo instead of the 3-sheets-to-the-wind logo…ohhhh well (wink wink) **Disclaimer** Yes, I know what 69 can be taken as…don’t be offended, laugh…it works better Here are some loaded Conrail ballast hoppers on the back of a MassCentral freight train A nicely battered (well used) Railbox pool boxcar. If I can find one of those LL ones, I’d like to weather one, as I’ve seen them in many different conditions and no matter how badly you mess up the weathering, it’ll always look right! Here we see the ”unique” MassCentral NW5 and the equally ”unique” painted GP9...we warned them not to let 4-year-olds loose with paint cans! Here is another view of that ”unique” GP9. If I can get my hands on a smaller undecorated locomotive and a few odd-ball cans of spray-paint, I’m half tempted to try that. I know, I know…stop smoking whatever I’m smoking and up the dose on the medications, but I was serious! Haha And a view of that equally ”unique” MassCentral NW5. A close-up incase (heaven forbid) someone wants to model one of these things. CSX #4751 pulling what appears to be a UPS piggy train through the diamond at about 45 MPH…not that fast, but fast enough when you can get within a few inches of the track! Here is sister unit #4760 in the opposite direction with a vastly mixed train, ranging from boxcars to empty gondolas to auto racks to well cars and beyond! One of the many cars (I believe the train was 110 cars, but you’d have to ask Paul Cutler III for sure, as he was the one counting them…) on the train #4760 was pulling. This car has graffiti along the bottom sill and (I think, anyway) painted-on graphics along the top edge, applied by manufacturer. Can anyone provide more information? New England Central GP38-2 #3949 has received permission to proceed across the busy diamond into the home yard New England Central GP38-2 #3848 on the rear-end of the yard-job, after switching a yard a few miles away. NEC GP38-2 heading out with sister #3849 for a day of busy switching…currently pulling center beam flatcars. NEC Brakeman gets off of NEC GP38-2 #3849 to request permission to cross the diamond into the home yard to drop off her single center beam. Permission denied this time, as the CSX train with #4760 leading was less then 1 mile away. An open door on a CSX blue boxcar. This is one of many in this train, but the only one I managed to get a picture of, that wasn’t to badly blurred to see. There were also several cylindrical and 4-bay hoppers with the pipe-covers on the hatches not in place, but they were too small to capture on the digital camera at 45 +/- MPH. After seeing enough trains (not really, we just wanted to go spend money at a hobby shop…you can NEVER have seen enough trains!) we piled into the SHO and left for Warren and Tucker’s Hobbies. I didn’t take any pictures in there, due in part to lack of space, lack of time and lack of the desire to. I was like a kid in a rich-mans candy shop! **drool** You walk in the door…left is N-scale Kato, Atlas, Bachmann Spectrum, MDC, and Athearn…on the right is Key, Overland, Hallmark, Proto 1000, Proto 2000, Kato and more HO scale!, turn left beside the N-scale case and your surrounded by pile upon massive pile of top-of-line HO and N scale stuff. Directly in front of you right now is a display case covered in brand new Athearn Genesis, Kato, P1k and P2k stuff. Behind (under) that display case is probably about 300 N-scale cars, Atlas, M/T and MDC, in rare schemes and the like. (I got a 3-pack of low gondola covers…never heard of nor seen before then). Turn left and you’re in a bay window, surrounded by Walthers and Atlas HO cars. Instead of turning left, turn right and walk. On your left is more new HO, on your right is older HO and an N-scale rotating display rack. Straight ahead is the cash. At the cash, turn left and you’re in another bay window, this time N-scale. Glorious N-scale! Every new M/T release for the past year, if not more. AND there are more boxes under the display case with older (though still mint condition) M/T cars. On the left of that window is micro-electronic stuff, LEDs, wire, switches, rotaries, Fiber-Optic wire, etc. Walk slightly right, you find more of those boxes of N-scale, under a bookshelf. Farther to the right is a storage room, with lots of everything in it, sadly, I didn’t have the time or will power to leave that beautiful N-scale to look back there. If you turn right at the cash, you have a few options…turn right again and end up in a 10-foot hallway, 2 feet wide…floor to ceiling HO kits. OR, you can turn left and be facing a bookshelf. Turn left at the bookshelf and you end up behind the counter, turn right and you end up in a square room with a middle island. Mostly HO stuff, but some N and some scratch building stuff as well. I glanced around, but was far more interested in the Kato SD70MAC and Atlas C630 in the front display case…or the 5 or 6 IM Canada Hoppers also in that display case. We walked around there for hours, drooling and dreaming. I have, err, had, about 600 US to spend, so I was drooling more then most! In the end, I settled on buying: Kato BN Executive Scheme SD70MAC $79.99 Atlas CN C-630 $89.99 5 IM “Canada” hoppers…red with black roof $17.99 each 1 IM “CP Script” hopper, all black $18.99 1 Atlas trailer, Batesville Casket company $22.50 (custom painted) A bunch of MT and Atlas cars $120.00 give or take Total Spent, roughly: $450.00 USD Okay, so now, slightly less rich and very much more hungry, we decided to go to a pub for supper. We drive for about 15 or 20 minutes, and arrive at Picadilly Pub. We waited for a table and sat to eat. We were all quite hungry so we ordered quite large meals. Paul, it seems, has a problem when it comes to ketchup…he is in love with Heinz, and doesn’t enjoy eating anything else…problem was, the pub had both Heinz and some other unknown brand…the problem with this is our table had the unknown brand. Paul tried it on a single French-fry, that was interesting… “hmmm, not too bad…little less tomato flavor, after taste isn’t that bad” **pause a few seconds** “actually, aftertaste is really bad!” Anyway, we ate and left. We all got back to Dave’s (Peter, Dave, Paul and myself) and went to bed, but not before we ran some trains until about 1AM. Next morning, it’s about 6:30, and Dave wakes us up…we need to get to south station to board the Amtrak Acela and ride to New York. There aren’t too many pictures, though I wish I had taken more of the inside of the Acela. Oh well, I’m sure there will be another time, like the NMRA convention in Philly 2006. Anyway, not too much happened on the trip to New York…so I’ll just throw in a few pictures then a summary of the stay in New York (about 4 hours, give or take) Vine covered centenary poles The Hell Gate Bridge from about 2 miles away Getting closer to The Hell Gate Bridge Okay, arrived in Penn Station, New York. Walk out to front doors, instantly we’re attacked by Rats with Wings…pigeons to normal folks. How is it they can tell the tourists from the New-yorkians? Irregardless (That’s for you, Dave) we continued…we walked along to the Avenue of the Americas (if this doesn’t make us look like tourists, I don’t know what will). We then decided to walk to the Empire State Building. After me not going up the CN tower in Toronto last year (yeah yeah, I chickened out, so shoot me) Dave was using this chance to mock me about going up the Empire State…I said (slightly edited) “fine…goshdarnit, I’ll go up!” Well, here’s where old’ siderod makes a complete idiot out of himself again…90-120 minute wait to go up. Dang it, I guess I can’t make amends this time, and I really honestly wanted to go up too! Okay, that’s all right…we’ll walk to Grand Central and see the new renovation work they did. That works, there are trains there too, kind of…this’ll be fun. So we started walking…no one mentioned we needed to walk about 12 blocks! That’s alright, it was worth it. We got to Grand Central and I snapped a few pictures before realizing there were 3 cops staring at me and I decided to put my camera away What a crowd! Grand Central in early after-noon That’s a helluva big flag…the constellations on the ceiling of Grand Central used to be lit by light bulbs, now they’re lighted by Fiber-optic and LEDs. A Much better idea, as it saves some poor guy on a 50-foot ladder from having to climb up there with a box of bulbs every few weeks and change them…a job I would never do! A better view of those constellations I mentioned earlier…they look quite nice in person, these pictures hardly do anything for them. The only trains we saw in Grand Central Station…Metro Rail commuter cars…**sarcasm on** oh joy, subway cars…just what I always wanted to see! WOW! **sarcasm off** In all honesty, it was nice to at least see a train, regardless of what kind of train it was. Okay, so we set off walking again…45th and 7th…there are 2 hobby shops…as Dave called them, “Upstairs trains” and ”Downstairs Trains”…the upstairs one is called Trains Trains Trains and the downstairs one was called Red Caboose Hobbies. Wow…those were interesting places. **insert about 15-block walk here** The upstairs hobby shop was on the 2nd floor of a very nice, clean office building on 45th street between 6th and 7th. A very clean shop, nicely organized…quite well stocked. I’d highly recommend it if your in the area. Dave got an HO MassCentral Athearn CF7 for something like 50 bucks! Now, we walk about 200 feet up the road, on the other side, and we find Red Caboose Hobbies…a slightly less attractive building. The hobby shop is in the basement. That’s ok, no problem there…we turn down the stairs and encounter a M/T rack, apparently untouched in 10 years, judging by the dust.. Anyway, turn the corner and into the “shop”…a cramped furnace room (and that’s giving it too much credit) coated in at LEAST ¼ inch of dust! Ewwww… There was some freaking weird (or wired) little Japanese dude running around there, screaming and yelling in, what appeared to be, pain (turns out he was singing along to “crazy train” by Sabbath on the radio) Anyway, we’re walking along the narrow isles and I spot an N-scale Kato CP SD40 which I’ve wanted since I got my original (I wanted 2!)…I nearly crapped a brick when I saw he wanted $125 US for the thing, coated in dust with NO box! Not on your life! My hands got covered in dust and stuff, so I decided to wash my hands…bathroom….hmmm where might that be? Well…10 minutes later I found one. I also managed to get in a fight with a shelf…it won. Loaded shelf smacked me right in the head…what did I ever do to it?! We left the downstairs hobby shop and started to walk towards Time Square. 3 things I wanted to see…I saw 2 of them, Empire state building and Time Square…the only other thing was the WTC site, but that was too far to walk. (as it was I figure we walked probably 15 miles). So, crossing the main street through time square…I think about 8 lanes wide. I look left, nothing for 2 blocks, I look right…2 taxies 2 blocks away, I start to walk quickly across the street, I hardly make it ¾ the way and I hear a horn…the taxies nearly nailed me, I was missed by about 2 feet despite the fact I could legally walk! It happened to Peter on an occasion as well. Okay, so we’re here in Time Square, nice place, although it was VERY crowded, as was most of New York, for that matter. Oh well, I enjoyed every second of it. Now…we start the 14-block walk to Penn Station and the awaiting first class tickets with our names on them! We wander into Penn station, and head towards the Acela Lounge…a place for first-class passengers to kickback and relax. And, that’s just what we did! Paul, kind of sort of asleep, in the Acela Lounge. Told you Paul…this is going to come back and Haunt you! Peter…he seems to be enjoying himself. Then again, can you blame him, free pop and coffee as much as you can drink! Speaking of free drinks…Paul and I taking full advantage… “Hey Paul, is this the third or forth glass?” Excuse the stunned look, but let me snap a picture in front of your face unexpectedly, and let me see your reaction! Me, getting a glass of Pepsi for Peter (lazy bum, can’t get out of his chair for his own dang pop!) Anyway, we got the call and walked to the waiting Acela Train set. We found first class, after some confusion. As in: errr….Dave, which end is the first class in? says me Uhhh, it’s in the front end replies Dave Nawwww….really!! I knew that, I mean WHERE is the front end? I said What? Do I look like I work here? retorts Dave Guys, c’mon, it’s this car (pronounced “kaaaa” because Paul said it, and he has a really heavy Boston accent) So, we found our car and sat down. The lady came along, comment on Dave’s likeness to Mr. Gunn, the head guy at Amtrak. She took our orders for supper and Peter reached for his wallet to pay…Dave motioned for him to put it away “included on the ticket” he said quickly and smiled. Paul and Dave ordered screwdrivers and Peter and myself had a Pepsi each. We were all almost done our drinks, and the waiter came along and set another round on the table…We all looked at him, awaiting the bill…he simply replied “nope…don’t you love first-class?” We all had a really good drink and a chat about the area we were ridding through, and then the meals arrived. Paul had some weird cheese coated chicken or some-such disgusting meal. I had a ka-bob, as did Peter. Dave had another weird meal, though he said it was quite good. Meanwhile, at 120MPH, I figure a picture is in order… …No idea what I got, but it was only a blur. Dave, Peter and myself are enjoying the meal greatly, we look over and see Paul taking the cheese off the outside and middle of the chicken…he only ate a bit of chicken and a little bit of rice. Talk about picky! Then…the best part…chocolate moose for desert! We ate this willingly (even Paul!) and when the woman came to pick up the food trays before we arrived in Boston, Paul was still licking the spoon. Dave jokingly said “he doesn’t want to give it up” and the woman replied “that’s alright…keep it, compliments of Mr. Gunn” so Paul kept sucking on his spoon. Needless to say we all grabbed whatever we could fit in out pockets! Dave got a stir-stick from the screwdriver and a napkin ring. Paul got a stir stick, spoon and a glass. I got a spoon and stir stick, as well as salt-n-pepper containers, and 2 napkin rings. Peter got salt and peppershakers, a spoon, a stir stick and a few napkins. I should have grabbed a glass, but I didn’t. Oh well. All in all, we made out alright. We arrived in Boston, and got some shots in front of the Acela Train set in South Station. Peter, me and Paul, in front of Amtrak 2006. Wow…that thing is massive, and looks stealth-like, even standing still! The sloping windows do a lot too. #2006, all alone on the Platform. What a nice train set! Yet another great view of the Train set…Bachmann makes an Acela in N, correct? Any good? Okay, so we arrive in Boston, take the pictures…now what? We go to Dave’s and do what true railheads do best…play with trains! So, into the basement we disappear and crawl through a hole into Dave’s layout room. Between the HO layout, N-scale layout, Pinball machine and the kitty cat (kenobi), there was a lot to do. After a while, Paul decided it was past his bedtime and Dave Drove him home. I checked my E-mail and then we drove some more trains. I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t get a high enough score in Pinball to even get into the top 10, let alone the best…Paul (PAC III) has the best, with something like 8.6 million…my best was 3.2 million…oh well, at least I had money! [red]$[/red][green]$[/green][blue]$[/blue] Dave informed us of the next day’s plans…a Duck Tour then he was driving us back to Portland for the ferry trip home. The Duck is hard to explain…it’s a boat with wheels…or is it a truck that floats… It’s a bird………it’s a plane………..nope…it’s Dave getting sea sick So, the next morning, at about 11, we pile into the SHO and head to the Museum of Science, and get in the Duck, after a bathroom break for Dave. Well…that was interesting. The “driver” was Sergeant Duct…his full name was Sergeant Duct Tape…looking around the “duck” it was obvious how he got his name…everything was patched with, covered with, wrapped in, coated with or near Duct tape of some color, shape, texture and size. Wow. As I said, it’s hard to explain or describe the trip, and I didn’t take any pictures, which was a mistake. Although, the duck was packed full, so I couldn’t really move, let alone take a decent picture. We drove all around downtown Boston, getting the tour of everything historical (some true, some not-so-true…by the way, did you know that the founder of the Boston Commons was Sergeant Duct’s cousin’s uncle’s brother’s aunt’s husband Sir D. T. Quackers?? No…neither did I…) Then we went in the water and let some younger kids drive the duck. The Sergeant gave me the jobs of remembering how to get the duck back out of the water. Honestly, do I look like the type you should trust with THAT?! Well, anyway, I did remember…not like it was that hard…4-wheel drive engaged, propeller disengaged…drive ahead 10 feet…arm transfer case and lock, then continue on your joyful way. We arrived back in the museum parking lot, and we stopped to talk to Sergeant Duct Tape…Dave introduced Peter and I and told him we were visiting from the Maritimes…he shook our hands and said “Proud to give a fellow Canadian a ride”…I should have guessed he was a “canuck”, who else would love duct tape that much? Hehe So, we walked out, Dave gave the parking attendant the money for leaving the car in the lot, and Dave and myself walked up about 8 flights of stairs to the waiting SHO, while dad walked down a gently sloping ramp to the sidewalk to wait for us…talk about service! Now, it’s on our way to the Portland Scotia Prince Dock. First, though, a pit stop in clothing store to pick up 2 shirts for some friends who happen to be girls back home. I got 2 tee-shirts…1 is black and says ”Certified” then a picture of a nut…the other is bright orange and has a silk-screened winking smiling face on it. The sad thing is, both girls suit the tee shirt perfectly…1 is crazy and the other is a flirty kind of girl…fitting of a suggestive shirt. Now this, truly, is where it gets interesting! We stopped in Georgetown to pick up some sweaters we left at Dave’s sisters by accident. We’re rolling towards Portland currently on I-95. For those who don’t know, in this area its 2 lanes in either direction separated by a curb and in some instances a concrete divider. Well, we’re in the left hand lane, rolling right along at about 75 MPH. There is a road coming in from the right about ½ mile ahead. This means there is a slightly rounded curb on the approach to where the road enters. Then directly across from where it enters, there is no curb so traffic can get into the other 2 lanes. Anyway, we’re rolling along at 75 MPH and we see a woman slowed down about ¼ mile ahead, in the right lane, no turn signals on or anything. Dave and I (both in the front seat) assume she’s turning right onto the access road, so we continue our discussion and current speed. I have a drink between the center consol and the seat; Dave has one in the cup-holder. We have a bag of chips (Munchos) between Dave and I, on the center consol. we’re not paying that much attention, and Peter in the back is quite interested in our conversation at the time. If I remember correctly, it was the Greenbush line and it’s safety features. How ironic. It was raining a bit, and the roads were soaking wet, with some water pooled. I was slightly concerned with hydroplaning, but I knew Dave had good street/racing tires on the SHO, so I wasn’t too worried. All of a sudden the woman, now a mere hundred feet in front of us, turns her left-hand-turn-signal on, and turns directly in front of us, still moving 75 MPH, and stops completely in the middle of that road. Dave and I hardly had time to yell the profanity we used and Dave floored the brake pedal. I instantly grabbed the “OhShit” bar and held on for dear life. The car went sideways, wheels not locked up because of anti-lock brakes, but sure making a helluva noise. We bounce over that rounded curb, across 2 lanes of oncoming traffic, and bounce over the almost-square curb on the other side of the road, sort of sideways. We come to a stop, facing the opposite direction we were originally, on a grassy hill. What Dave and I were saying for about 30 seconds after that was not printable (trust me…the letter F, S and B were used quite frequently, often as the start of profanity) Dave hops out quickly and runs around the car, making sure his prized collector car is unhurt. Fortunately, it is. The woman, obviously shaken but also unhurt completes her U-turn and drives by us slowly…does she stop to be sure were alright? Heck no! Does she look sorry and caring? Not on your life…she looks at us, BUT she gives us a really dirty look as if it was OUR fault and kept on driving. Looking back, getting the plates would have been a good idea, but nope…we were all to busy swearing and cursing about how stupid she was and how fun that ride was to do anything even remotely sane. So, shaken and unhurt, Dave reaches for his Drink… “Andrew, what the **blank** did you do with my drink?” Dave says, looking at the empty cup-holder. “I don‘t know…” I reply, “here…have mine” and I reach to get mine, which isn’t there either. “That’s alright,” he says “I’ll have some chips” We both go for the bag, which is also not there. We laugh at each other and I look at the floor…a bottle of Pepsi, Lipton Brisk, a Reese Bar and a bag of chips are scattered all over the floor. We regain ourselves and continue driving to Portland, joking about this all the way. It’s nice we can look back and laugh. Thank god no one was hurt. If we were in Dave’s Mustang, we probably would have avoided it too, but in the Explorer we would have nailed her broadside and more then likely killed her, hence a major police incident and Peter and I missing our boat. I would have liked to have seen her if it had been an 18-wheeler or something like that…she would have been killed 3 or 4 times! Poor Peter in the back seat told me when we got home “I was in the backseat minding my own business…next thing I feel the car slide sideways and you two (Dave and I) cursing…I thought we hydroplaned. Then, I feel us still going sideways and I see a car parallel to us, beside my window. I think to myself “That sure ain’t right” and grab on to the door handle for my life. Next thing I know, we were in a field, cleaning our underwear!” It was all fun to look back on though! Once in Portland, it’s about suppertime. We’re almost into Portland, when we cross a bridge, I spot headlights and ditch lights on a train bridge beside us, and I shout “Train”…turns out it wasn’t anything worth stopping for…only a Guilford SD40-2W from CN. Had it have been a CN wide cab, still in sergeant-strips, I would have begged Dave to stop, but Guilford just wasn’t worth it! We went for the floating restaurant about a mile past the ferry dock. We walked around a bit and had a good supper. Expensive, though good. The 6-dollar-a-slice chocolate cake at the end was the best though. (You think that’s expensive? A 4-inch-round pizza on the Scotia Price is $3.75 USD!!) We drive back to the ferry dock after supper and get the stuff out of the back of the SHO, including my “pizza Box” N-scale car-carrying case. Again, excuse the stunned look. Peter and I get our boarding passes, and stand near the door to load. Dave doesn’t have a boarding pass, but he’s carrying our luggage, so that counts I guess. We walked through a door and had to pose for a photo session. Dave, Peter and I are in the picture we would later buy 2 of on the ferry at the INSANE cost of about 8 bucks US each! (A note to Dave: That will be included with the money and the golf shirt) After the photo session there was a small sitting area, where we exchanged final hugs and goodbyes. I struggled to carry a full bender’s box (weighing upwards of 25 pounds) a hockey bag, and that pizza box up shallow, slippery stairs into the side of the ship. We quickly found a cabin and went outside to wave goodbye to Dave who was standing behind a chain-link fence, waiting for us. As the lines were cast off, Dave snapped a picture of us. This ships lines are off, the horn has sounded and I yell to Dave “Don’t wreck the SHO!” and wave. He waves back and watches as the ship slowly backs out. He took some pictures of the ship leaving, but since it was dark, and you can’t see Peter, or me I won’t post them…the 130 +/- already here should be enough to get me killed. However, I will post this… So you can see what the ship really looks like. It’s 11 hours, but well worth the money and time…it’s a small cruise ship, not a ferry by any means! I continue to watch from the side until I see Dave wave one last time and walk away from the gate he was watching from. Peter and I walk to the new Million-dollar sky-deck, on the top of this ship, just behind the bridge…sadly also right near the foghorn. As a salute to a few smaller ships, Mr. Captain guy decided to blast the horn. He blasted it alright. I screamed, Peter screamed, everyone else screamed…it was funny! So, the beginnings of an 11-hour ride to Yarmouth, most of which I intend to sleep. Arriving back in Yarmouth, we catch the shuttle and 4 hours later, shortly after noon, we’re home. Looking back…would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Did I have fun? Every second of every hour of every day. I would also like to thank those who were there…David N. Clinton, registered as MrAmtrak and Paul Cutler III, registered as Paul Cutler III. Thanks a lot guys, it was a lot of fun. Okay, so any questions, comments, concerns, hate mail for killing your internet, video card or computer…Private message me or e-mail me. I’ll answer them as soon as I can, or as soon as I can think up a decent reason to the question “why put 130 plus pictures in 1 thread” Haha This ends the saga of “Siderod in America”…tune in next time, whenever that may be, for another exciting adventure! PS…including this sentence, this story contains 130 pictures and just under 10 000 words!