For those of you asking yourself 'what they hell is he talking about', this last weekend my dad, brother and I got our families together for the first time in over 18 months, and to pass the time, we decided to ride the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which also includes a visit to the Railroad Museum in Mineral, Wa.
The train ride itself was less impressive than it's name would lead you to believe. There are a few peek-a-boo views of Mount Rainier and some of the foothills, but there are just as many unscenic views of rusted out singlewides and RV's parked on some of the rural lots lining the rail line, and you get to see them coming and going, because you just run the same 11 mile stretch of twice between Elbe and Mineral, with a 45 minute stop or so at the cute little museum.
I actually got more out of the museum than I did the train ride. It's a train/logging museum, and I got the learn things, like the origination of the word 'flunky'. While the word actually originated in Scotland, it's also what they called the girls that were brought in to run the dining rooms at the logging camps...and they did not have an easy life. A camp of 70 men would be supported by two women, who did all the cooking and dishwashing for all those men...and one could only guess they pumped a lot of food into those lumberjacks at the turn of the century.
Also impressive was the sheer amount of IRON. Growing up in an age of increasingly skeletal metal/composite frames covered by foamed plastic, the mass of metal making up one of these steam engines is AMAZING...190,000 pounds in some of them.
Of course, although I'm approaching 40, I'm still a 12-year old kid inside...and I think the same can be said for these railroad guys.
Rod. Climax. 'Unit'. You can almost imagine the Beavis and Butt Head giggle I kept whispering into my wife's ear.
One other interesting take away that my dad had: On our way out, we poked our head into the machine shop at the museum(which also functioned as their repair depot), and my dad observed that the machinery in their machine shop looked just like the stuff that had been in the machine shop on his first ship back in 1970. I do know that the lathe they had wouldn't fit in your average home shop.