Tagged: trip

Five roads – P365 for January 17, 2010

A wide state road crosses rolling countryside in the pre-dawn darkness. I roll along at the speed limit, following a dim set of tail lights on the horizon ahead.

I have a date with a sunrise.

Houses emerge from the darkness and flash past; red brick farms with large white porches, small modulars and trailer parks, an abandoned motel. With the radio off and the sunroof open, I am one with the cold morning.

Billboards blink in and out of existence. Been in an accident? Call us. Don’t drink and drive. Call Joe for oil, or propane, or plumbing repairs. Hank’s used cars. Franks Farm Equipment and Furniture (really). McDonald’s ahead.

I haven’t eaten breakfast, but the dawn will not wait.

John Cleese warns of a roundabout ahead. A large brick inn stands at the dark crossroads, with a modern 24-hour gas station glowing in glaring red neon from across the street. I roll onward.

The houses encroach on each other, forming rows of brick duplexes as I approach the famous junction of five roads. Another roundabout.

The village quickly falls away again, replaced by split rail fences. I am alone in the darkness, passing through rolling fields of history. Even the ghosts are quiet this morning.

I arrive at my destination with time to spare. I climb the tower in the pre-dawn twilight to wait.

And my date stands me up. The appointed time arrives with merely a change in the level of light. Gray clouds mask the horizon, and the rain begins. It matters not. I have stood with the ghosts in the silence of the night and looked across the fields, ridges, and hills. Spectacular photos are not to be; the memorial is enough.

Four shots ring out across the battlefield in slow succession, echoing off the hills to my back. A hunter perhaps, or a re-enactor. Perhaps an acknowledgement of my visit by those who have never left.

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Longstreet's artillery await a charge which will never come

Cabin Fever – P365 for January 16, 2010

DSC_5560.JPGSo I’m in York, PA for the Cabin Fever Expo.  I met a local group down here for the chance to run our steam trains in the middle of the winter.  Unfortunately, I spent most of the day running trains or shopping, so I don’t have many good photos.

I would like to send a quick shout out to Moody Tools.  I found some great stuff from them for my toolbox, and they’re made right in Warwick, RI.  I bought mine from the RJR Cool Tools booth.  (So far they’ve both satisfied the Three Rules and deserve a plug.)

While I’m plugging businesses, I should mention that I had dinner at the Colosseo Ristorante here in York and it was fabulous!  If I’m ever back in town, I’ll need to eat there again.  Maybe next year.

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Ruby waits patiently while a logger passes
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something unexpected

Today’s Project 365 shot has nothing to do with the model engineering expo.  I caught it in a local parking lot near dusk.

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I’m hoping for some great photos tomorrow, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.  No restaurant reviews, I promise.

Thank you, John Cleese (P365 for January 15)

I drove today.  Not simply place the shifter in ‘D’, set the cruise control, and point the wheel toward Point B, but I actually drove.  Real two-hands-on-the-wheel, row-the-gears driving.

I have a new GPS.  The old one had a voice which sounded like Sir Alec Guinness, so it had earned the nickname Obi-Wan.  I still miss Old Ben, and I’ve not found a similar voice for the new one.  I have, however, found a John Cleese voice for it.

Today I drove to Pennsylvania.  The reasons why should become evident in tomorrow’s post, but today was about the drive.  I gave John my destination, and let him do his thing.  I wasn’t worried, as I know all of the major interstates and there are no Oregon mountain passes around here.  John churned away in the memory banks for a while, and then off we went.

Interstate 95 through Connecticut is a dismal, boring road, second only in misery to the New Jersey Turnpike.  I was thrilled to see that Mr. Cleese avoided it entirely.  He led me down the Cross and Merritt Parkways, the Hutchinson, the Cross County, and a few others I cannot remember.  For those not familiar with the parkways of NY and CT, you are missing out.  They were built before the interstate highway system, and they’re different.  Commercial traffic is not allowed, but that’s only the beginning.  A standard interstate uses bridges and cuts to achieve the straightest possible route between two points, but a parkway sits on the land.  They feature wonderful arched Art-Deco overpasses, hills, curves, and even the occasional tunnel.  The medians have trees in them, and the road generally runs through woods.  They’re just fun to drive.

It’s not a European mountain pass or the circuit at Lime Rock, and I’m not driving a supercar.  But my little sedan is nimble and has a wonderul 6-speed manual transmission.  With the sunroof open and lots of random good music on the stereo, the day was good.

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John took me down the east side of the Hudson.  We touched the ground briefly in Manhattan on Riverside Drive, before climbing up onto the George Washington Bridge.  The traffic was light, and even the bridge was beautiful.  Thank you, John.

Then we were dumped into the 12 lanes of industrial wasteland that is the New Jersey Turnpike.  My dad will drive hours out of his way to avoid it, and I understand why.  You can’t win them all, I guess.  I got through it by putting the Sopranos CD on the iPod and briefly wishing for my truck.  New Jersey may have an undeserved reputation, but the Turnpike does nothing to dispel it.

I made it to PA in one piece, and the hotel has decent WiFi.  More details in tomorrow’s post.

Inn at Ellis River

Stayed here for a couple nights away for our anniversary. We hiked down Canon Mtn via the Kinsman Ridge trail and got really beat up. The trail was in horrid shape; I don’t know if it’s from the recent bad weather or just hard use. I guess there’s a reason they recommend you hike UP and ride the tram DOWN. Live and learn. It made us appreciate the Jacuzzi in our room, though.

We loved the Inn so much we’re going back for Ericka’s birthday.

Trains and Speeders

As a friend commented last week, it’s been two weeks of trains interrupted by work. Back on the 17th, we hosted our annual steamup with good attendance.

I’ve been doing lots of work on the speeder, culminating in 3 major runs this past weekend. Thursday was the MEC Mountain Division from Fryeburg to the Portland Water District line in Standish. This wonderful piece of abandoned track has great scenery, but lots of paved crossings. The worst was at the ‘gravel pit,’ where a large section of rail is completely missing. We got through with a bit of work.

Saturday was Day 1 of the 20th Hobo RR Trackcar Meet. It POURED at the safety meeting, and we got off to a wet and dreary start. The car ran well, though, and the weather looked better as we headed south to Weirs Beach. We did run into rain on the return trip, though. We also found out that the roof on our car is not weathertight at all. (Already fixed, I think.)

Sunday was nicer weather for the Tilton-Lakeport-Weirs Beach run, but we ended up on the towbar. The new belt NAPA sold me was slightly too big, and the alternator was slipping and not charging. I managed to change back to the old belt while stopped for the Lakeport drawbridge, and with a quick pop start, we were back in business. Thanks for the tow, Tiny.

The entire Picasa album can be seen here:

Hobo Trackcar Meet 2008

East Hill Mafia / Gaylord National "Resort"

DSCN0077We arrived at the hotel in DC today for the Council on Foundations conference. Taylor and Johnny showed up in matching suits looking like our own enforcers. You know those charity guys, sometimes it takes a little muscle to keep them in line. 🙂

I’ve been to these before, and there is always a lot of good stuff to see and do. I intend to get the most out of them all, however this one is off to a poor start. (The CoF will be hearing from me.) We don’t want to be seen as a bunch of rich folks giving away money to assuage some sort of guilt (we aren’t), yet the Council scheduled this year’s conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in DC. Ostentatious waste of money. This place is twice as expensive as any other hotel around, and so far the service is pitiful.

It’s a beautiful hotel, located right on the harbor with a huge atrium facing toward Washington. Yet the room is smaller than the one we had at Courtyard by Marriott last night, and it has less useful furniture. (Fancier, pretty, but not useful. ) We have two beds and a desk chair. No other sitting surfaces, and no floor lamp for my wife to read in bed. All for twice as much money. Did I mention they want $32 for the buffet dinner? And there is nowhere else around here to eat?

Then there’s the service. The valet copped an attitude when I asked to park my own car. I had to practically argue with him to allow me to unload my bags at the front door without handing over my keys. (Keys to the rental which no one else is allowed to drive.)

The piece de resistance: we called at 7:00PM to order some extra pillows for Beth. They make her more comfortable and keep her from rolling out of bed. It’s now 9:30, I’ve made 4 more phone calls, and STILL NO PILLOWS.

Gaylord National Resort: we’re fancy because we say we are. That’s all. One star from me, tops. If you come to the National Harbor area, save your money and stay at the Hampton Inn across the street.

Now I need to go activate my AdSense account. Maybe I can get them to pay me for my opinion.

Update: The pillows finally arrived at 9:35. They were personally brought by the Customer Service representative because even she couldn’t get the bell staff to do it. Thank you, Gaddiel, and boo to the rest of the staff. My opinion still stands.