(continuing from yesterday)
"Do you have any applications? I'd be willing to start as a porter," I inquired of one of the "engineers" from my position on one of the raised viewpoints in the Balboa Park (San Diego) Model Railroad Museum.
"We can always use more people," came the response.
After offering compliments on the display and asking a few questions, I received this wonderful invitation: "Would you like to come back here?"
So armed with a wide grin and the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning seeing a model train under the tree, I entered the magical world of Mike's (and the San Diego Model Railroad Club).
Standing in front of the controls and a half dozen monitors drove home just how complex the operation is. My first question was: "So, if a train is de-railed in a tunnel, how do you know that and how do you get to the accident?"
The answer to that question--"You need to be watching the monitors, the speed of all the trains, and timing of the trains around their routes; then you carefully make your way under the layout to the scene of the accident"--told me that, unlike most people who would probably prefer to be the engineer at the controls, I would rather be in the village,
at the depot,
or along the road watching the trains go by wondering what the train would pass and what the destination would be.
Being at the controls involves knowing what will happen; being the observer involves imagining what could happen.
I think the club was formed in 1938 or 1939, and Mike noted that work on this display has been going on at this location for nearly 30 years. He pointed out some of the details of the layout by, for example, removing the roof of the depot to reveal the wiring for the lighting of the interior.
Mike also noted the attention to detail in researching the topography of Goat Canyon and in the construction of the trestle here (see yesterday's entry). He also pointed out some of the details in the small scenes around the layout.
And it was the imagination and creativity in these little scenes placed around the layout that grabbed me.
Mike said he will ask groups of school children how many chickens they can find running around after the truck they were in overturned.
Almost all come close in their guesses, missing the total by 1 or 2. They almost always miss the one that the coyote (lower right corner in the photo) ran off with.
I found it interesting that in front of this abandoned building in the middle of nowhere--14 miles from the next gasoline--is a hitchhiker.
When we came upon the Drive-in, the shows must have just begun. Cartoons were being shown, and it seemed that one of the cars may have had some guys hidden in the trunk (photo below).
And while it may have been early, some of the cars already had the windows fogged over.
Seeing these next two photos reminded me of the times we have been stopped at a railroad crossing watching cars go by with various styles of graffiti on them.
I think the artist who painted these two cars did an excellent job with this art form.
And in a hidden area down by the tracks, a small group is gathered to watch a race between the two cars. The woman starter has her hands raised ready to signal the start of the race.
Here a two-man crew is putting up a new bilboard display.
I missed most of these scenes on my first walk around the display. On the second trip, I tipped my hat to the designers of these little glimpses into the activities of everyday life.
While the primary activity here has to do with helping a truck and its cargo negotiate a turn, I was also interested in learning why the police officer is talking to the woman.
On my first walk past this truck, all I focused on was the steep grade it had to climb. Only on the second pass did I notice the barrel bouncing down the hill and the bag on the verge of falling off the back.
This vehicle just hit a telephone pole and rolled down the hill. The pole got caught in the underbody of the car, and the car lost two tires that are rolling down the hill.
And lastly, the days of the gas station attendants pumping gas and washing windshields are long gone, but the women in this car certainly received a lot of attention.
Creativity and imagination.