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Train Weasel Adventures

2007 Great Lakes Express

From the Chronicles of Gary & Alex

Sunday, July 22nd

We had not pre-registered, so we walked in and picked up registration packets. We spent the next hour or two reading the clinic descriptions and layout tour plans, and overall convention schedule.

Having seen many of the best layouts described in Railroad Model Journal and Scale Rails, we settled on two layout tours for Monday and Tuesday afternoons, and we went off to sign up for tour tickets, which were limited. Layout tours were not cheap, and were only available by chartered bus.

Next, we studied all the clinic descriptions, each checked all our favorites, laboriously combined our lists with the schedule to get in as many common ones as we could, and what would fit our daily schedule (we were staying outside Detroit, not at the Convention Hotel, Detroit's Renaissance Center). We also kept costs down by not going on Industrial Tours (unfortunately, they are usually pretty educational, and sorry we couldn't take advantage of these!).

At 4:00 PM, we attended our first clinic, Martin Brechbiel's "Getting Your Model RR Author Award ...". Then, we spent a little time getting the lay of the hotel, a bite to eat, and finally back to our local dive for some R&R.
Alex and "53 Corvette
Renaissance Center, Detroit Michigan
Alex & Gary and "07 Corvette
Headquarters, General Motors

Monday, July 23rd

We made our way to downtown Detroit for Dr. Gerry Alber's 9:00 AM clinic "Signals Systems by Spreadsheet." That was followed by Leslie Eaton's "Tips and Tricks for Scratchbuilding", which I had seen before at a NMRA Rocky Mountain Regional convention. In the afternoon, we took the "Wildcat" Layout Tour to see Dewey Norton's HO N&W Norton Branch (Alex's favorite), Larry Wright's HO Beaver Valley & Pennsylvania, and Martin LaForte's HO BN Spartan Division.

That evening I went to David DuChamps' "What's New with JMRI?" clinic while Alex attended Leslie Eaton's "Nano-Animation for Under $10" clinic.

We drove back to our hotel up north in Sterling Heights and played some Rail games, watched TV and called it a night.
Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, from Detroit. Detroit night skyline

Tuesday, July 24th

We started with a leisurely morning and attended our first clinic at 10:30 AM, Charles Wickhorst's "Open Loads, A How to Primer." We visited the Model Contest Room and Alex surprised me that he wanted to enter a model! Well, we picked up paperwork to fill out later. (I wish I knew before he was planning this!) We also took a gander at the items in the silent auction, which had a lot of great stuff. The afternoon we took the "Silver Streak" Layout Tour to see Alan Aniol's HO Detroit & Toledo Shore Line, Milt Moore's HO Gibralter Railroad, Steve Kelly's HO Michigan Division of the East Broad Top and Graham Brown's HO Orchard Valley. Both layout tours were really fun, we were picked up at the front of the Renaissance Center by large, roomy comfortable tour buses, and were entertained all afternoon by our various hosts which was definitely a major highlight of the convention for us.

We looked at the silent auction items again, some of the model contest entries and went to dinner. At 8:30 PM, we attended Dick Flock's "An Introduction to Operations" clinic, then we went back to our hotel to work on Alex's contest paperwork.

Back at the hotel, we frantically worked on filling out paperwork, scouring what books I had brought (for photographic examples of the prototype of Alex's D&RGW 30' flat car), and Alex writing drafts of his modelling and recalling his work. Much easier to do if we had been home, with more time and resources available. Then we high-tailed it to a Kinkos, made copies of what we could find in my books, went back to the hotel, and Alex reassembled and rewrote all his paperwork, which was finally done around 1:00 AM! Finally, we got to bed!

Renaissance Center Spirit of Detroit

Wednesday, July 25th

Wednesday, we crawled out of our sacks after sleeping in, entered Alex's model contest entry, and went to lunch! We went to afternoon clinics, attending Vincent Robinson's Life on Business Car" and "The Search for Lighter, Standard Boxcars", and Loy Spurlocks' "Troubleshooting DCC" clinics. That evening, we spent with family and friends.

Thursday, July 26th

Today, we spent of full day of attending clinics: Larry Wolohan's "Why You Should Have Freight Cars Not Of Your Prototype", Howard Garner's "Prototype Freight Car Distribution", Bruce Petrarca's "How Do I Get The Sound Out?", Richard Lake's & Doug Augberg's "Prototype Yards & Model Operations", Andy Sperandeo's "10 Tips For Freight Yard Design And Operation", Pete Magoun's "Prototypical Scenery", & Jim Foster's "Improving Your Layout With Trash And Vehicles".

We also made our final bids at the silent auction and picked up our winning bids that evening. That's where I got my DCC/Sound BLI D&RGW F7AB units, and we both won some bids on some freight cars. A very satisfying auction.

Friday, July 27th

Our last day, but not the last day of the convention. Alex was meeting his Mom at lunch time, because he had to get home in time to leave for Band Camp this weekend. We immediately went to the model contest award ceremony breakfast, where we found that Alex had been rewarded for his efforts! A National Chairman's Award awaited Alex, with his D&RGW HOn3 6000 series flat car! After a very exciting ceremony for us, we walked the few blocks to Cobo Hall for the National Train show, where we bought many more fine models, visited the giant Free-MO and especially spectacular LEGO layouts. A great Train Show and Award Banquet for our 1/2 day. Unfortunately, that was the conclusion of the convention for us, with Alex having to return to Charlevoix, MI, but a fantastic summer.

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This page last modified 21 August 2008.