Thursday, June 20, 2013

Drop Everything and Attend Mooning Amtrak Day

Yes, you read that right: Mooning Amtrak. July 13 is the 34th annual Moon Amtrak event in Laguna Niguel, California.

It goes back to 1979 at The Mugs Away Saloon by the railroad tracks in that southern California city. That's when a man named K.T.Smith said he'd buy a drink for all who would run outside to the railroad tracks and moon the next passenger train. Many did.

Today that bar bet has turned into the annual Mooning Amtrak, an event that attracts thousands of mooners and spectators the second Saturday of every July. (Although nobody buys you a drink anymore if you drop your pants.) 

The event, is permitted, though perhaps not sanctioned, by the City Laguna Niguel, The Sheriff of Orange County, Metrolink Rail Agency and Amtrak. (Perhaps they simply prefer to "turn the other cheek.")

A giant train schedule is posted outside the Saloon for those who want to participate in the mooning. It lists all the Amtrak and Metrolnk trains from 7:35 AM until 11:22 PM--yes, you can be like the real moon and moon the trains in the dark. Organizers ask participants to bring a lantern or flashlight to, um, illuminate and accentuate the exposure.

Passengers who ride the trains are advised that the best "views" are on the east side of the tracks between the Irvine and San Juan Capistrano stations. Apparently, the trains slow at this point so riders can take in the "scenery."

So, in case you are wondering about what to do this summer, you can (literally) drop everything and head to California. 

More information about Mooning Amtrak can be found on the Mooning Amtrak website.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

John Allen Memorial Breakfast: Celebrating a Legendary Model Railroader on July 2

For model railroaders of a certain age (like me), the name John Allen is very familiar.

Allen, also known as the "wizard of Monterey," achieved near god-like status in the 1950s and 60s with his legendary HO scale Gorre & Daphetid (Gory and Defeated) layout.

Allen died in 1973. On July 2 the Miami Valley Division of the NMRA is calling on model railroaders around the world to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday with the John Allen Memorial (JAM) Breakfast.

The mark the occasion, they are suggesting that model railroaders enjoy a traditional railroader's breakfast of flapjacks and jam from strawberries, the big crop from around Monterey (where John lived).

They are also inviting people to take time to reflect on Allen's contributions to the hobby, and his legacy. More info and downloadable files in several languages can be found on this web page or this Facebook page.

More info about Allen can be found on the GD Lines website, a website dedicated to his life and modelling.  (And from where the photos on this page were taken.) Another excellent website about Allen is called John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid; it can be found here.

On a personal note, Allen was a tremendous inspiration to me. Growing up in the 1960s, I couldn't get enough of his fabulous layout, reading each issue of MR or RMC featuring the G & D again and again. I marvelled at his floor-to-ceiling scenery, backdrops, structures, trackwork and overall operational plan.

In the mid-1980s I was able to see a bit of Allen's modelling when I visited the home of Cliff Robinson (creator of the famed MUT Lines) in Dallas. 

Robinson was a friend of Allen's, and he had in his possession one of Allen's steam locomotives. It was cool to be that close to Allen, and to model railroading history. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Photos of Rich Loveman's Great Canadian Model Railroad

Earlier, I posted some photos of Rich Loveman's CN and CPR in the Thompson River Canyon (featured in the 2011 issue of Model Railroad Planning).

In the post, I wrote about how Rich had done such a superb job of modelling both sides of the canyon, with CN and the CPR on opposite sides (as in real life). He truly created a Great Canadian Model Railroad.

I also wrote about how Rich had tragically passed away from cancer last year at the age of 63 (before he could finish the layout). It was a privilege for me to pay tribute to Rich and his modelling by sharing photos he sent to me before he died, along with photos supplied by Tony Koester and Rich's friend, Bill Botkin.

Bill told me that he would try to get over to Rich's layout one more time to take a few more photos; with permission from Rich's wife, Alice, he was able to do that recently. His photos of Rich's amazing modelling are in this post for all to enjoy--and marvel at.

The future of the layout is uncertain; if I learn more, I will post it here.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Florida to New Jersey by Train in under Three Minutes

Every week, a CSX train pulled by two GE Evolution locomotives travels from Florida to New Jersey,  hauling 41 refrigerated freight cars of Tropicana orange juice.

The folks at GE mounted two HD cameras to the lead unit of one of those trains and compressed the 1,200 mile, 48-hour trip into a video of under three minutes--156 seconds, to be precise.

Click here to see it. The guy cleaning the windows in Philadelphia is a nice touch!

Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video.