Thursday, March 20, 2014

Road Trip to the Maricopa Live Steamers Spring Meet, March 13-17, 2014

For years, the family has gone to Arizona to visit and play trains for the Spring Meet at Maricopa Live Steamers. the first time I went was 1980, they're on their third track since then. The current track at Adobe Mountain Recreation Area is big to say the least. Or Meet is always planned so as not to coincide with theirs so people could hit them both or at least plan it that way. This year the moons must have aligned quite well is there were 27 people and five engines that made it to both tracks over the two week time.

 The weather was most enjoyable for us not used to the heat and the clouds that they had kept the edge off of things for the weekend. The Narrow Gauge was well represented and they had fun at the same time.
Three 2-8-0's, a 47 tonner, a Davenport and a 4-4-0 pulling narrow gauge cars kept the rails shiny. Those of us that had been there before had our usual good time and the new ones marveled at the choices of direction and the vastness.
 They have had rains to this Winter and it is shaping up to be a green Spring for them too. Out around Far Flung Flats the wildflowers had just about taken over.
Rumors of Golfing at Far Flung and Parties at Pardee Point had to be witnessed to enjoy fully. The Swap Meet on Saturday is worth the price of admission to check for rail related bargains in the smaller scales.  It is always good to visit other places and see how they do it, it also puts the bug in their ear to come see us. I didn't take a whole lot of pictures as I was enjoying running the 4-4-0 around three days. The water tank plumbed into the tender worked like a charm and I could run for hours without the need to refill.

We'll be back out at JT for Easter weekend. going to try to move a few rocks and boulders on the High Line, the stakes are in and we need to move material out of the way instead of bringing it up the hill. Last week in digging on the High Line we found an old remnant from the days when we could do a little blasting. Things have changed since those days, but that was the way it was done. Hope to see you out around Easter, enjoy the Spring in the High Desert. Brian

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Narrow Gauge Meet 2014, March 7-10

Well, at least you can look at the pictures from an amazing weekend.  And if I get more I can blend them in too. Thanks to Allan Ratliff, Mike Masse, Anthony Duarte, John Griffin and who else I've gleaned photos from to show the rest of you what a great weekend it was.

    The story will come as I find time, this week is going to be real short as I spent Monday out at JT and we leave for AZ on Thursday afternoon. It doesn't give much time for washing, loading, fixing and sleeping before we do it again.

    We had a blast. The weather was the kind you wanted for the weekend and it got better every day. Thursday evening there was five engines sitting at the bays already. All total counting all types of flanged wheels there was 21 for the weekend.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gary Conley

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gary Conley

Usually about eight o'clock in the morning if you were out at Joshua Tree for the weekend you would hear an old Toyota Diesel pickup rattle through the gate and the brakes would squeak it to a stop right in front of the patio/picnic shelter. Out would tumble a tall thin man with a more salt than pepper  beard and a pair of glasses. Gary was up for the morning, to see what was going on. Sometimes he would bring his crossword puzzle and do it in the shade on the table. Gary was a man of many talents; from the outside one would never know, but get to know him, visit with him and you would learn many things about him over time.
   Gary spent his working years in the electronics field, making components that went into aircraft and spacecraft was some of the things he worked on. Some parts that had worked on even went to the moon. Always liking the desert he ended up in Joshua Tree where he spent many a year before and after retirement. Back when the desert was wide open, wild and sparsely settled. Gary collected things and his house is a showcase for those such things. His many talents are showcased there as well; jewelry, model making, imaginative creations of the mind and soul, the beauty of the desert through material and plant life have a place at Gary's too. Being of the generation that experienced the early 60's music had a special place as well as the art associated with it. His collection of 'licorice pizza' is extensive and take prominence in both the house and garage.
    A talented modeler in the smaller sizes a room in the house has a train layout that is detailed beyond most peoples wildest fancies. The extent of the scenery is mind blowing and every time one saw it they would see more and more details that were unnoticed before. A gifted woodworker he along with Terry Watson built all the cabinetry in the Museum for displays as well as Gary building the dioramas that are in the back room of the museum. He with Terry turned the museum into an interesting collection to see and enjoy with both their talents for arrangement.
  Gary had a fascinating imagination, the things that he would build up or put into his detailed works were off the charts at times. His coffee table piece of work would be a cross between Jules Verne and Who knows where; if he were forty years younger it would be 'Steampunk', I guess he was ahead of his times. Pictures of his iron workings took a slanted eye or a Salvador Dali eyeglass, I have a chain mail piece that he made years ago that he gave to me a while ago. He was always bringing a gift to someone who might enjoy it.
   On of Gary's latter fancies was the Cacti Garden in front of the Museum and Railroad. In working with the 7 1/2" railroad in trying to find a way to funnel foot traffic towards the walkway and not up the embankment a Cholla Garden was planted and tended to by him as first a blockade but later a showcase of the different varieties that thrive in the area, and thrive they have with his green thumb behind them. He and Terry also were working in the interior of the Espee wooden caboose for the Museum and in cleaning it up for presentation and tours along with the rest of the full size equipment we have out here.
   Gary enjoyed seeing the progress of the entire Museum and both it's railroads. He took many a picture and I was very fortunate to be able to download his pictures on a quite regular basis for use in any of the blogs and updates. The above picture was one of the ones I found while looking through his collection this evening.
   Always up for a ride up the hill to see the progress we had recently made since his last trip, Gary enjoyed seeing the progress made and helped where he could. He made new Through Truss Bridges for the 'G' scale as well as a display trestle for the flat car in the museum. And was always at least a cheering bystander on many a project, many a time he would wield a shovel in assistance on our march up the hill.
   Gary was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor about a year ago and decided that the treatment was not worth the risk of what the odds were. Like all of us who have watched friends and loved ones go through what they did, some for better and some for worse his decision was to bypass the radiation that would not guarantee him a cure or longevity at best, surgery was not an option for what was diagnosed, but to face the demon through hospice and live it out the best he could. Gary enjoyed his limited time on this plane, he set up his legacy to go to those that he wanted it to go to and who would enjoy it. When I was last at his house in January, Dad and I visited him and he was in great spirits and talkative and enjoyed the visit. Everything in the house had a label on it to as who it was going to. Be it family, friend, museum, etc... He had it under control, his sister was coming out to visit, they hadn't talked in years, he was in contact with his brother as well. He was right with the world and going out on his terms. Gary was brought up in February for the meet and the monster was taking a toll, the meds were controlling him but he made it out and visited. It was good to see him again. Gary passed away last night the 3rd of March, peacefully in his sleep his sister along side him these last few days. I'm going to miss that diesel rattle and the squeaky brakes, he was a good member, friend and man. We will miss him, we no more possess him, our hearts and memory bare. Gary, till that day we meet again, peace be with you friend.