Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Friends & Trains

We continue to stay busy here in Mesa. There are many activities going on in the park including happy hours with live music on Monday and Friday and dances every Thursday featuring live bands. The weather has warmed up and we have been enjoying the pool and spa. Alan and Sharon have invited us for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and it will be nice to enjoy the holiday with friends. We picked up our travel documents for the trip to Hawaii, but I am having some second thoughts. We watched Hawaii 50 thinking we could get a feel for the place but there seems to be a lot of crime on the islands. Maybe we should stop watching?? :-) While at AAA I picked up maps for all the states and provinces we will be traveling though on the way to Alaska and have been doing a lot of research on what to see and do next summer. It is great fun planning for all our travels whether it is visiting a local attraction or getting ready to visit the 49th and 50th states.

We had a wonderful home cooked Italian dinner at the home of Linda Rocks and Mike. I worked with Linda many years ago before she moved to Mesa about 25 years ago. We had a great evening sharing stories of old friends and getting caught up with Linda and Mike. If you are in Mesa and need anything related to your bicycle make sure you visit Mike's Bike Chalet on the corner of Brown and Higley.
In nearby Scottsdale we visited McCormick Stillman Railroad Park a unique must see for anyone who loves trains. The park has displays of trains from tiny Z gauge to a full size locomotive and cars with many different sizes between. The center piece of the park is the 5/12 scale Paradise and Pacific Railroad, a replica of the Century Narrow Gauge Railway. We took a ride on the neat little steam train pictured above.

There is a "cattle" car but they would not let us inside because we were to tall. The kids seem to love it. The detail of the replicas are correct down to the smallest parts.

All aboard!! This is a fun ride for all ages.

The engineer fills the water tank for the steam engine.

Another group of trains are part of the Scottsdale Live Steamers. They include this electric train and, of course, tiny steam engines all built at either 3/4 or 1 1/2 inch to one foot scale.

This steam engine, that was built in 1907, was used by mining railroads until 1961. It has been in the park since 1977. The attached Santa Fe baggage car and the Pullman Car are part of the museum.

The Roald Amundsen Pullman Car was one of six the company built to rent to the wealthy for private use. They were all named for famous explorers. This one was used by Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. You can see on the log that it was also used for Roosevelt's funeral. The dining room was served by a full kitchen. The picture shows Mamie Eisenhower and friends in that room. Nanc is standing in the lounge at the back of the car which also had an open porch. This is not the car used by Truman for his whistle stop tour. He used the one named Magellan that was armor plated for the protection of the President after the start of WWII.

There is also a neat little carousel in the park.

The 10,000 square foot model train building just opened in July 2010 and is a work in progress. There are going to be displays of O, N, and HO gauge trains. Nanc is looking at the prairie dog town where they pop up out of there holes just like we saw in the Dakotas this summer. The bridge is an award winner. The roller coaster will be the center piece of this display. One layout is going to be models of towns in Arizona.

We liked the Clark sign because that candy was made in Pittsburgh and there was a similar sign there for years. The sculpture shows the many different scales of model trains. You can see the display is a work in progress. The parts that are complete were brought from the old small model train building located elsewhere in the park. If you are in the area a stop at McCormick Stillman should be on your list of things to do.

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