January 2, 2006: Dominica Learns about Model Railroading

Everyone slept in a little late this morning. Late considering how early we went to bed. The Grices had to hit the road fairly early this morning as they have a super long drive back down to Texas. They drive straight through so being tired before getting started is a very bad idea.

Dominica and I did breakfast over at the Omega Grill. More or less an early lunch at that point. After lunch we came home and got Oreo and drove up to the city to do some shopping. Dominica has recently, as in the last few days, become really interested in model railroading and wants to give it a try. She isn’t really all that interested in trains themselves but she thinks that the artistic side of modelling sounds like a lot of fun. My dad was into model railroads and got me into them when I was young so it has been something that I have always enjoyed. Dad was into HO scale but I always like the smalled N scale trains. Easier to do more with, I think. I never really got into the modelling side very much – mostly because I never had the ambition. I always like the idea but failed to ever really do it. Although real modelling is really expensive and that was quite the hinderance to me in my youth so that was a factor as well. So I am pretty excited to be giving it a try again after all of these years. Maybe this time I will manage to actually do something interesting.

We made a stop on the way up at Best Buy to check out LCD HDTV’s for dad. He is thinking about getting the Westinghouse 37″ 1080p LCD screen for his basement theatre. It is the only 1080p screen that we could find in the normal product ranges. So we spent a little while investigating television options. Then we swung into Target next door to pick up one of the 20Q games that some of us got for Christmas. We thought that he would really enjoy it.

From there we were off to do some model railroad shopping. We started at Dan’s Crafts and Things in Irondequoit. They have a little bit of model railroading stuff but very little and the stuff that they have is kind of expensive. We picked up a few modeling items there, some magazines and a book that walks you through building an N scale layout in lots of detail that we wanted to try. We thought that doing a project like that might be an easy way to learn how to do a lot of the things that you need to do when modeling this kind of stuff.

We heard about a gigantic model railroading store out in Holley so we drove out there to check it out. It took us an hour to get there just to find out that there were closed on one of the busiest shopping days. How obnoxious. It ended up not really mattering because we did some Internet research and discovered that the place was just a toy store and not an actual model railroading store like they were making it look like. That is a real issue when trying to do model railroading. Toy railroading is so popular that there are no dedicated modeling stores anywhere in Western New York. It is almost impossible to find anyplace that even does modeling let alone specializes in it.

So we drove back to Rochester and tried the Despatch Junction on Lyle Avenue just two doors down from Nick Tahou’s. They had a little bit of stuff and we were able to pick up a couple of supplies that we weren’t able to find at Dan’s. But still the selection was nothing to get excited about. Just enough so that you could get started with a simple layout but not enough to do anything serious without ordering the parts that you need.

We had dinner at Tahou’s right down the road. I introduced Dominica to the grilled cheese plate which she really liked. That is my new favourite item there. I will be getting it all of the time now.

Our last stop before going home was Home Depot in Henrietta. We managed to take back a bad door knob that Dominica and Andy had purchased there about six months ago and had then lost the receipt. We were able to exchange it for a hopefully working unit that we will have to try shortly. Currently we have mismatched keys from when we first moved into the house and the door knob was broken. We also got a new door knob set for dad as a belated Christmas gift. We picked up some plywood to use as our first modeling platform.

We got home and popped in Allo, Allo which is a very funny BBC comedy about the French Resistance during World War II. We own both seasons of it. It was made by the same people that made Are You Being Served? and the main star of Allo, Allo was on Are You Being Served a couple of times. Some of you might know him as having played the Candid Cameron character who was shopping for a quiet mack.

We had picked up two learning kits today. One kit teaches how to build realistic plaster based roads and one kit that teaches some scenary basics like grass and shrubs. So we opened those two kits and began building a pastoral scene on one of our 2’x2′ pieces of plywood. It took us several hours but we managed to get it looking pretty decent and added a small church, a farm house and its barn. It was a good experience because we managed to learn a lot of basics and figured out some things that we were thinking about incorrectly. We didn’t do anything to put a train onto the layout. We are just working on learning the basics of the modeling right now. The rest will come later.

By the end of the night we had watched the entire first season, two DVDs, of Allo, Allo and have made plans for our next model railroading project.

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