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Railfanning

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I first discovered this word a year ago, but I have actually been doing it all my life. It is kind of like when I discovered the word shipper.

All my life whenever I am near railroad tracks I hope that a train will come along so that I can watch it go by. It seldom happens. Unless you work for the railroad, you don’t have anyway to know when a train will arrive. I love to listen to the cars as they thunder by, their couplings creaking with each variance in the track. I was fortunate enough to live near railroad tracks for half my life. But it was not a busy track.

This, my friends, is not a problem in Fostoria, Ohio. It is known as the Iron Triangle because so many trains (around 200 per day, I have been told) travel through the city. Fostoria has built a great rail park within the triangle where you can just sit and watch the trains go by. I was really impressed with the facility. There was a small roof for shade/rain protection, speakers that played the latest scanner communications, and a very well-kept bathroom. We must have seen about ten trains pass by in the few hours we were there.

Here is a new video I uploaded on my YouTube channel of a Norfolk Southern double-header passing by.

If steam engines (and possibly ones from the island of Sodor) are more your thing, watch this video of mine that already has over 2,900 views. And please like or subscribe or whatever it is people do over there on the ‘Tube. I am old. I can’t keep up with the young whippersnappers anymore.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

What I Learned This Week – 8/25/13

On Sunday, my family and I went to the Day Out with Thomas event at the Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan. This is our second year. It was kind of nice to know what to expect.

I wanted to look at all the Thomas stuff they had set up for the kids. My husband wanted to look at all the historical stuff at Crossroads Village that is always there, because he is into that sort of thing. My son just seemed pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. He mostly just wanted to play with the toys that were set up. So much so, that he threw a glorious fit when we removed him from the gift shop toy table. He was not the only child throwing a fit when they were forced to leave that area. But, as i don’t have good behavior to brag about, I will boast that his fit was the loudest and most impressive.

My husband spent a lot of time walking around hand in hand with my son. I spent a lot of time pushing the stroller and taking pictures with the camera. Not quite the cozy family outing I had hoped for (In my head, I am holding hands with my husband, as we both push the stroller with my quiet, well-behaved child in it *sigh*), but we all said we had fun at the end of the day. I think my husband wouldn’t have taken a stroller at all. But it was worth it, because the Thomas-themed bag I took weight a ton, mostly from the full water bottles in the bottom. (Why pay $1.50 at the Village, when you can buy them for $.89 at the Speedway gas station on the way!) I consider an outing a success if we make it home with all the stuff we left with.  And we did.

The BEST part of the day was when we rode on the double-decker paddle boat on the lake at the end of the day. We just caught the last boat as it was about to leave. I got to sit! There was shade! There was cool breeze! There was fresh sea lake air!

CHILDREN WERE MELTING DOWN ALL OVER THE PARK!

BUT WE WERE NOT IN THE PARK! WE WERE ON THE LAKE!

Of course, some of the children on the boat were melting down too. I fortified my son with some crackers and cookies and we were good til he got in his car seat and passed out as we got on the expressway to head home.

Because most of you probably don’t give a flying fig about Thomas, I will post here my arty-fartsy pics from that day.

If you want to see Thomas, pop over to my Facebook page and I will post a couple over there.

If any of you reading this happen to have a little engineer at home and want to make them a Thomas cake for their birthday, you can click here for my own experience. (Go on, check it out. It is lopsided, but still kinda cute!)

A building at Crossroads Village

A building at Crossroads Village

Cider press

Cider press

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

Barns from the boat

Barns from the boat

Dam from the boat, with birds

Dam from the boat, with birds

Boat from the boat

Boat from the boat

Love my new camera, but sometimes the pictures it takes are very devoid of color. Maybe that is a problem that happens with the zoom. Anyone with any photographic advice on how to get more colorful pictures, I would love to hear it. I just have a little Panasonic DMC-SZ3.

And if your advice is “Buy a better camera”, I will delete your comment. Oh yes, I have that power…

I LOVE THIS PICTURE!

I flippin’ love this picture!

I totally love this picture of my son. But alas, I seem to be the only one who sees the ultimate beauty and meaning in it. It was taken of my son playing in a gazebo when we visited the Huckleberry Railroad and Crossroads Village earlier this year (for more info on that adventure, click here.)

I took the picture with my old 5 megapixel camera. But I totally love that camera. The sun was shining, so I couldn’t even really tell what I was getting as it was hard to see my LCD screen.

The picture turned out so stinking well!!! The steps draw you in. They are wonderfully aged and crisp white at the same time. The railing and even the beams of the ceiling draw you in to the picture as they head for their unseen point of convergence. (And looking at it I don’t even think about how many bee’s nests are up in the rafters, although I did think that when I was there in person.) The plant life is so green and well balanced. I love the hint of yellow in the upper right corner. Except for the clothing, this picture could have been taken a hundred years ago, or yesterday. (Timeless.) I especially like that you can’t see any hint of his diaper between the bottom of his shirt and the top of his shorts.

I had an 8″ X 10″ made of this photo. (As a print, all the colors and objects totally pop.) I put it in a matted frame. I feel like the picture should come with a great quote about climbing into your future or stepping into your life. (I Googled. I couldn’t find one:( The image just represents so much for me. I see it as my son aging with each step he climbs. And I am so thankful for that, especially after having the same major surgery twice in 2011. He is stepping up into a world of endless possibilities.

It also looks like it could be used for a motivational poster in a corporate office. It would have to have a motto like “No progress is made until we take the first step”, or something boring like that.

I know years from now, he will be all grown up and I will look at that picture and wonder what happened to that little boy. My little boy.

I also think the picture looks like one that might come in a picture frame when you buy it (except then it would probably be black and white–Oooooo. How good would that picture look in black and white?!!) I strive in life for things like that–to meet the standard of consumerism. I sometimes make dinner and try to get it to look like a restaurant meal when it hits the plate or table. I even do it with simple things. I love getting a dill pickle spear with my sandwich at a restaurant, but normally don’t think to add it to my plate with my chips unless I am thinking with the “restaurant” state-of-mind.

It turns out black and white didn’t rock, but blue-tint is awesome!


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What I Learned This Week – 8/26/12

I learned that it is awesome to have an anniversary date with my husband with NO CHILD with us! We haven’t both been out together without him since before he was conceived (well, I guess the first 40 weeks don’t count). He is 21 months old…TODAY! I felt rushed, because we had to get back before he fell asleep (we failed). But we had a great time.

Thanks again to LazyHippieMama for babysitting.

I also learned that it is awesome to go on a family play day out together (along with our favorite little blue engine). We went to Day Out With Thomas at the Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan.

When I was a kid, we had a brochure in my house for Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, that we had picked up on some vacation Up North. I used to stare at that brochure and wish we could go there. How sad is that? At that time I had never been on a full-size train ride and had not been pulled by a steam engine. I have done both those things in the almost 30 years since. But, I had still never gone to Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. I sort of assumed they had gone out of business, because railroads have expensive upkeep.

Then last summer a friend of mine recommended this Thomas event. I figured that my son was sort of too young to get it last year, so we didn’t go. But this year we went. And WE HAVE CREATED A MONSTER! My son can’t say “Thomas” or “train”, but he sure did say “toot-toot” a lot. I witnessed the awesome power of licensed characters and the merchandising machine first hand. But we all had great fun. And the village had lots more to do than I would have thought. We didn’t arrive til 11am, and I felt rushed. We didn’t get to see it all.

When we got home, my son grabbed all his Thomas and Friends books and looked at them more carefully than before, no doubt remembering his awesome day. At least he isn’t old enough to ask for a trip to the Island of Sodor yet.

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