Mad City Rail Show

IMG_1911Yesterday, I packed up Olin and Seraphine and took off for Madison, WI for the Mad City Rail Show. Whenever we go somewhere and Olin asks where we’re going, we make him guess. His first guess is always, “A train show?” So, in this case, he figured it out early. He spent the next 45 minutes telling me he was “so excited…. I’m so excited!” Then, the next hour and half asking if we were “close yet?”

The drive was long simply because it is made proportionally longer by the number of times I had to hear any given question. At some point, my patience and grace wears thin, and I say, “Olin, it is time to be quiet…” Seven million questions, repeats, and complaints later, we got to Madison.

For some reason, the rules of logical traffic navigating do not apply in Madison, WI. This apparently extends to Google maps, which instructed me very nicely until we hit the actual ‘streets’… Then it told me to go R and follow 1.7 miles until I found Main St, when what it actually meant was L and follow the signs. I eventually figured that out and found parking. $7 cash to park, $11 adult and $7 child for admission. The event was held in the Alliant Energy Center Expo room and was the largest model railroading event I’ve ever been to. Seriously. There were a few layouts that I saw last March in LaCrosse, but about 82 more that I had never seen. I wish I could have spent more time appreciating and studying details, but my Olin’s joy and pure enthusiasm was… Well, it was hard to keep up with. I would tell him, “I will be here. You can look at this layout, but then come find me.” and he would completely forget which layout was which in his excitement, and get lost jumping from one to another. Fortunately, he only got “really” lost, such that they called me over the loudspeaker to retrieve him, once. That’s actually pretty good odds for Olin and his distract-ability. I didn’t have a leisurely chance to peruse the vendors, but the time that I did get to concentrate on them, Olin was helping me and pointed out that the cars I thought were a ‘deal’ had the wrong couplers… Good call for him!  As specified before, switching couplers is a ‘nope’ job for Mama. $3 vs $5 per car is worth it not to have the coupler fight.

We found a couple of $5 cars that Olin chose, and a couple of CP Rail (theoretically “our rail” setup) boxcars for $10 apiece… Better deals than I’ve found online so far. I also got a really cool school bus (one of the things Olin has specifically and repeatedly requested) for $15, but it somehow disappeared between the show and home, and a thorough search of the van has not revealed it. Seraphine loved it on the show floor… I’m afraid she dropped it and I didn’t see it fall, because it’s gone. I’ve searched everywhere it could be. $15 wasted on lack of vigilance, I suppose.

We had a fun time, anyway, and I would love to take the one interested kid in the future. Sometimes at events like this, having a stroller is handy for hauling stuff. At this one, it was a hassle because I had to “‘suce me, scuse me'” through the crowd to follow Olin, and deal with the inhabitant thereof. She was sweet a few times, and she was more interested in the layouts than any of her older siblings would have been, but no 1 1/2-year-old should be expected to be strolled or held (mostly held) for an afternoon. I knew that going in to the situation, but I didn’t think Tim could handle three by himself for a whole day. She did well, considering.

If anyone really failed the party, it was me. Half an hour out of Madison, I was falling asleep at the wheel. Looking a stuff, chasing Olin, appeasing Sera and trying to keep the party together was plenty of work for one legitimately interested Mama. I should have brought a bored bystander to manage the kids.

We had an interesting moment when we (Olin was in the middle seat and could see and pay attention to what was on the road, so I really mean “we”) noticed that the vehicle in front of us had shredded a tire on his two-wheel trailer and was making terrible noises on the road with his bald wheel. We had a mini-adventure trying to get his attention and make him pull over, and that kept us awake for most of the rest of the trip home.

In Fennimore, WI, I texted Tim about maybe staying at his parents house in Boscobel and coming back in the morning, but they were off taking care of other grand-kids in Texas, so I had some caffeine and made it back on caffeine and determination.

And then, I passed out. And so did everyone else. Holy buckets.

There is a train show in Lacrosse, WI in March that has been on our schedule for a year. I fully intend to take a 2:1 adult-to-child ratio for that one. And that 2:1 is me, Lance and Olin. Or possibly me, Amy and Olin. I like train shows, too. I want to see stuff. I don’t want to spend the whole time chasing a kid schizophrenically from one point to the next. I will bringan extra adult who is willing to follow the kid for that, because I want to see the stuff. I like model trains, too. I want to see them.

So! A couple of pictures from the rail show. I took very few because Olin kept me incredibly busy trying to find him amongst the layouts and people. He only got lost enough to seek the authorities and call me over the loudspeaker once, which is probably good odds for us. “Stay where I can see you,” is a completely foreign concept.


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One Response to Mad City Rail Show

  1. Pingback: Mad City Rail Show ’16 | Paper-Tiger

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