Monday, July 14, 2008

The Caboose Chronicles - Explained

When I started this blog, although just a short time ago, I never explained the meaning behind the name 'The Caboose Chronicles'. Of course my family would probably understand, but all the wonderful bloggers I have met would not. So I thought I would dedicate this post to giving a better introduction of myself and why The Caboose Chronicles is named as such.

Now I am a stay at home Mom, but this is my fourth career since graduating from college. My first career, and the most relevant to the name, was as an electrical engineer. I didn't work with trains the first couple of jobs I had, but eventually I ended up at Union Switch & Signal where I worked on the Copenhagen Metro project. That is when I was travelling all the time to Italy (where the car builder was) and Copenhagen (where the metro is and where we were doing testing). I loved this job. I loved travelling, testing, and working with the other subcontractors. But eventually I was tired of being home a month, then gone a month, and I wanted to have a life again. Also, this was a very stressful job and I needed a break. So I quit and went to culinary school for eight months (career #2), thus ending my working with trains.

Even though I don't work with trains anymore, I still love them. It kind of gets in your blood. The way being an engineer gets in your blood. It's a way of thinking, analyzing, and solving problems. My husband still works with trains like I did, only he has always been on domestic jobs and has never had to do the massive amounts of travelling like I did. Right now he works on a project for the great Alaska Railroad.

There are trains all over the country that you can ride for fun. We've been on the Conway Scenic Railway in New Hampshire, the Alaska Railroad, and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad in Alaska and the Yukon - that is an engineering marvel. And there are so many that we want to ride. Pleasure trains are a great way to see terrain and scenery that you wouldn't normally have a chance to and they are so relaxing.

And then there is the hobby which can take over your life - model trains. For what is the next best thing to being there, but recreating it in your living room, or basement, or extra building which had to be put up to house all your trains. The extra building would be nice, but for now we have to settle for our layout being up at the Christmas holidays. We put it up after Thanksgiving and keep it up into March. Of course that was before Lillian was born. Now it's a whole different ball game. This past year we had just a small display, under the tree - she was not yet mobile. I think it will be a couple of years before we have the big display again, but once she's a little older, I know she will love it.

Previous years, half of our family room would be filled with 4- 4'x8' plywood platforms up on saw horses. On these platforms we would lay our track, and then create a scene with lighted ceramic houses; plasticville houses; figurines; felt for roads, streams, lakes; trees and bushes; and various other accessories. It would take days to put up, with many trips to the hobby shop for some more track, or a new train, or the latest accessory. Then we would run all the different trains and play like children, in our scene which we created. It is a magical thing, model trains. You can see pictures of our various layouts in the slideshow on the right sidebar.

So you see, since I love trains - big and small, and I couldn't think of anything else that wasn't already taken, I thought of The Caboose Chronicles. I liked it and so there you go. I have many interests and hobbies but trains will always be very special for me. I hope you enjoy these train pictures. It makes me want to be out riding the rails.

The Conway Scenic Railway - September 2001

The Alaska Railroad - May 2004

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad - May 2004

White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad - May 2004


Randall said...

Wonderful photos, both the prototype and your Christmas layout gallery.

In your Christmas trains, are you mixing O and HO? Also, your two rail track seems to have a mix of light gray and very dark gray roadbed. I've never seen the track with the very dark gray roadbed. What brand is it?

I have an article on integrated roadbed track, which covers every brand I know of:

I hope you'll also take a look at my model train blog:


Cindy said...

Randall - I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. We do mix gauges in our layouts. We use N (by itself), HO, O, S, and some HON3 (a trolley which runs on the HO track). I think the dark gray roadbed is track that came with our McKinley Explorer HO Trainset. I will have to do some investigating in the basement to find the brand. I'll comment back on that later.

Thanks for visiting and I'll be checking out your site.

Randall said...


If it came with the McKinley Explorer then it's Bachmann. (I love the Alaska RR, by the way). The feeders/rerailers look like B'mann E-Z Track, so I should have guessed. I wonder when they issued track with such a dark roadbed.

Keep up the great modeling!

Alyson said...

My grandpa was president of the railroad switchmen's union in the San Francisco area. I believe he worked for the Union Pacific. You couldn't get trains out of his blood either.

By the way, I'm dying to go on the Conway. Hopefully, we'll get a chance this fall.

Cindy said...

I hope you make it to the Conway. Especially now that you have that great camera. If you go, try to sit in the open air car, it's a lot of fun and I think it's better picture taking. And bring a picnic lunch with you. You'll have a blast.

Cindy said...

Randall - Yes, Bachmann E-Z Track. For some reason I couldn't remember what it was called this morning. We use the E-Z Track for HO, N; Fast Track for the O; And S-Trax for the S.

Sarah Laurence said...

So that's where the name comes from. An interesting story and lovely photos. My son is a train enthusiast too and can ID most of the trains we saw in England. If I return to Alaska (I did my Master's Thesis research there) with him, we'll have to take those train rides - how stunning. I enjoy rail travel too. I'm jealous that my husband and son explored Scotland by train without me (Lads in Scotland post in April.) My son dreams of going on the Siberian Railway. He's also very interested in subways. It all started with his Brio Train set at age 2. It's nice that you and your husband share a love of trains.

Cindy said...

Sarah - I will definitely have to read your Lads in Scotland post. I really loved travelling by train in Europe.
It's great to hear your son is a fellow train enthusiast. I hope you get back to Alaska. Is he also a model train enthusiast ? We have many American models but my husband has been trying to acquire some European trains as well.

Sarah Laurence said...

My son has no interest in model trains, just the real ones. He's a teenager and lives in the moment. He wants to be an engineer.

Cindy said...

Sarah ~ Yes I can see how the real ones would be more interesting to him. He must find the NYC subway fascinating.

Sarah said...

Cindy, I had no idea about all the trains! Clark is crazy for trains-I'll have to show him your photos. In fact, we were going to take a train ride today but had a change of plans. p.s. nice new camera!

Cindy said...

Sarah ~ It's funny how little kids get so into some things. I have two nephews who are train crazy. And then another nephew who is just nuts about pirates - and has been for 2 years now (he's now 4). It's crazy. I wonder what obsession Lillian will have.

lzyjo said...

I've really enjoyed looking at all your photos and reading about your awesome hobbies. Geocaching really sounds like fun, but I don't think I can get DH to go into the woods with me. I'm definitely a train lover, ever since my first model train set!

Cindy said...

Izyjo ~ I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos. Geocaching is fun and there are lots of urban caches around so the woods doesn't have to be involved ! You should check it out.