Mad City Rail Show ’16

Yesterday was the Mad City Rail Show in Madison, Wisconsin. Last year, I took Olin and Seraphine by myself, and it was a little nuts. I learned my lesson, though, and brought Lance along this time specifically to chase Olin. He drove the Blazer because the van’s brakes and tires are in serious need of some TLC. We made it to Madison just fine, and I found out that once again, Google Map’s directions really are wrong – I didn’t just type in the wrong address last time. This time, I remembered where they went wrong once I saw it, and we got to the location quite a bit faster than before.

One of the requirements for Lance’s participation in this adventure was that we have lunch at Famous Dave’s – he needed some barbecue. Unfortunately, he did not have the address, just a street name and a general idea of its location. In a town that makes sense, that would be enough to get you there. Madison, however, is a swirling vortex with the capital building at its center… And we came awfully close to the capital building. We did, however, eventually find a McDonald’s with wi-fi and got directions that showed us we had been within blocks of it when we started looking… Ahh, Madison, WI, the Bermuda Triangle of the Midwest.

Lunch was spent watching out the window for “city buses,” another of my son’s obsessions. A street named Olin (he was amazed and amused by that coincidence) brought us back to the convention center, and then he was off and running. Literally. He darted around and peered, and pointed, and did his little excited-flap-dance for two and a half hours, and was still disappointed when we had to leave (because it was closing). Lance earned his keep, though, and managed not to lose him in the crowd.

He has developed a sense of style since he went to school, and started wearing accessories. Probably the best is a grey herringbone fedora – which I talked him in to wearing in to the convention center. He did, and I’m very glad he did, because it made locating them in the crowd much easier. Another note for next year: dress Olin in blaze yellow!

I had a chance to look through the vendors with a little more concentration, and took a few pictures (although none turned out – the lighting was awful!), but I had a little more of an idea what I was looking for, this time, and a little less in the way of enchantment and willingness to buy random things because they’re the right scale.

I did end up buying a couple of random things, though, of course. One was a track plan book with several different ideas for “sacred sheet” 4×8 layouts that are way, way beyond me where carpentry is concerned, and the other was a Bachmann Spectrum Modern 4-4-0 in HO scale that is DCC and sound equipped. It is beeyootiful! Now, I want to figure out what time period it belongs in, and model a scene it would belong in.

Olin has, of course, been bitten by the model train bug again, and wants me to set up the train table right now. Unfortunately, it’s in the garage, disassembled, and buried in a pile of other lumber and “stuff”. And I need to take the basement railing off, clean out the back entryway, clean the stuff out of the garage enough to get to it, recruit two strong men during daylight hours to help me get it down there, pray it fits, and then reassemble it before any of that is going to happen.

And then, I need further helpers to hold it up while I put the legs on (it can’t be turned upside down), four cinder blocks to put it up off the floor, an extension cord and a lamp that hangs from the ceiling because the lighting in the new basement is seriously inferior to the old.

Anyway! Little tangent, there. We managed to separate Olin from the train show and head out just as people were lining up for the evening’s ‘cooler’ activities (random Star Wars convention [looked like it might have been the 501st like Daniel does], roller derby [Lance is convinced that Evie needs to be in roller derby when she grows up, so her nickname can be “Evangeline Violent”]…).

The drive home was relatively uneventful. Olin had a little bit of a glitch and went ’round and ’round with Lance, asking the same 3 or 4 questions over and over for, Lance says, thirty-seven miles. (He counted, apparently.) On the whole, though, the day was a success. “High nineties, on the scale,” as Lance put it.

And that is a very good thing, because there are actually two train shows in March – one in Ottumwa and one in LaCrosse. I don’t think we’ll go to the Ottumwa show because it’s the weekend before the LaCrosse one and three times as far away, but it is worth considering for an excuse to visit the sister!

AJ has requested to go to the LaCrosse train show, because they have a Lego exhibit/vendor there, and he is a Lego kid. I told him about the Madison train show in the morning before we left and offered to bring him along, but said that I didn’t think he’d be very interested, and he agreed. So much nicer to have a reasonable conversation with him about it than listening to a wailing meltdown.

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