Welp... thought I'd pop in an' catch you all up to date on what all I'm a'doin' and what I hope to do.
The Real World:
Working 6 days a week right now. Will be until sometime in March. Running the passenger train out of Ft. Smith. Love getting out on the main... so it's not a biggie to be on a 6 day work week. However, it will get a bit old by the time its over. Downside is: I don't have ANY time to get out and enjoy a good Saturday (i.e. sunny and nice temps) and tromp the woods or ride a dirt bike.
Oh well. The A&M is aware of the inconvenience and sacrifice, and they are appolgizing generously each week on my paychecks!
Also, sold my '83 Freightliner cabover truck and used the proceeds to pay off our house. We own our house, now! (Just put the deed in the safety deposit box last week!)
Lastly: My sis and I signed an offer on Mom's house. The deal is now to the point a closing date is next. IF we have any proceeds left when finished settling all affairs, and if it's sufficient, I will be paying off the remaining vehicle payments and the wife and I will be DEBT FREE. We intend to keep it that way the rest of the way from here. (We're retiring in 6 years.)
The Virtual World:
Have been enjoying some chats here n' there (forums/email/etc) about different things V scale.
There are some interesting developments taking shape. Fer instance...
* A virtual friend is developing a Baldwin VO1000.
This is interesting... veeery INTERESTING.
As most of you know, I like the Frisco. I like its history, I like its TOC19 stuff, I like its modern steam stuff, and I like its diesel years. I LIKE THE FRISCO. I've often thought it would be very cool to have a diesel-era Frisco Fort Smith Sub that I can personally relate too. That is, a route that I can recognize as "that's Fort Smith!"... or "that's the way Van Buren looked!". HOWEVER... the Frisco used Baldwin VO1000's almost exclusively at Fort Smith (and Fayetteville) from the early 50's on up to the end of the VO era in the early 70's.
When Gaetan came out with his excellent Frisco pack: Wow! It's REALLY nice... and it is SOOOO close to giving me what all I need... but...
The missing link was still a VO1000. No Vee-O... no can do a "correct" Fort Smith (and Fayetteville).
See where this is going? IF this VO comes to pass... and IF I can make it look really "Frisco-ish"... then the missing link is supplied! I can tinker with a diesel Frisco route for my "diesel" route "fix". Shucks, I already have the route in place from Fort Smith north to Rogers, AR, including the coal belt region to the south of Fort Smith!!! Make a copy of that TOC19 era Frisco Lines route... change the track in certain places... and I'm good to go with a diesel-era Frisco Fort Smith Sub.
Like I said: VEEEERY interesting.
* Anything on the steam front?
Glad you asked! (You DID ask, didn't you? You didn't? Oh well... tough... I'm going to tell you anyway!!
Ah, STEAM! In particular TOC19 steam! My other weakness!
Confession: I have WAAAY too many TOC19 steam route projects on my hard drive. Most of them will likely never be finished, much less see the light of day, release wise. I know, that's a shame. But I haven't been able to do anything about it. It's the fickle nature of this beast.
After a hiatus of a couple months or so, there have been a few rumblings of late to pick up one of my steam projects and tinker. (Hey, I've been busy, 'ya know: Holidays, heavy work schedule the last couple of months in 2011, working 6 days a week since the second week of January... see? I have excuses!)
I've had to take a hard look at just what I was doing with my steam interest. Believe it or not, I really would like to actually make MEANINGFUL progress on one of my steam projects. (By "meaningful progress", I mean SCENERY.)
BUT... look what I've done...
* Created a monster in the Frisco Lines project. Some 60+ miles of mainline from Fort Smith to Rogers, Arkansas (and need another 60+ miles to reach the northern terminal!), 40 miles of St. Paul Branch, 35 miles of Mansfield Branch to the south, PLUS... 30 miles of Iron Mountain's Greenwood Branch, and 40+ miles of the Midland Valley!!!!
Suffice to say I don't stand a dog's chance of EVER completing this thing. Fun to lay track on it... really bad idea in regards to having a hope to finish it.
* Created the Fayetteville & Little Rock "almost" route. You know, the originator of what was to become the Frisco's St. Paul Branch. Ended up laying 75+ miles of track to a middle division point, and still need another 75 miles or more to reach the proposed river boat terminal town of Lewisburg. Another monster route in the making.
* Tried extending the Ozark Northern and ended up extending it alright: All the way down to Ozark, Arkansas (16 miles) and all the way up to Eureka Springs (50-60 miles!) Again: Monster route.
* Extended the North Arkansas to Harrison, and was in the process of starting the extension to Joplin, MO. Total route miles: 135. (Currently have about 75 miles in place.)
So, look what I've done to myself: I've taken each of my ideas that were GOOD ideas at the first, and waaaay overbuilt them in length and complexity to the point that each route in its own is almost a lifetime project. Not smart.
Plus, two of the above involve a lot of fantasy. The F&LR is about 60% fantasy. The Ozark Lines (i.e. the extended Ozark Northern) is about 95% fantasy. Sure, there's freedom and latitude in a fantasy route... but I just keep coming back to the same conclusion that I find more personal reward in recreating a long-gone prototoype than creating fantasy.
The other downside is the fact that, aside from almost having what I need in North Arkansas models, and having what I need in Ozark Northern models, I don't have any accurate engines/rolling stock for the Frisco Lines, etc.
So what now? What's this idiot going to do for his steam fix????
Well... actually... I have taken a fresh look at a project that I enjoyed a LOT when I was laying the track for it. Plus, it's a prototype that I have had a long standing interest in. (In my case, that's a good thing. I don't want to, can't seem to, do the tedious modeling a route requires without having a strong personal interest in the subject.) Further, the current track in the route is only 37 miles long. That's "do-able". (Pray I'll resist the temptation to extend westward!!!)
Another upside: I have equipment for it. Top notch equipment that many of you already have. PLUS... when I bring in the equipment from the Ozark Northern, it will expand the equipment prospects TREMENDOUSLY.
My "Colorado Midland: Ute Pass" route.
Over the past week or so, I've already been in RE and seeing if I can address some of the things that had me concerned to the point that I can get off high center and return to it. (i.e. Downsizing/simplifying Colorado City/Springs, making some adjustments at Divide, etc.)
I have this HOPE... that when the dust settles I'll only have TWO routes I will seriously tinker with:
* The CM for my steam fix.
* The Frisco's Fort Smith Sub for my diesel fix.
That being the case... I have a fighting chance of seeing meaningful progress made.
MEANINGFUL PROGRESS would be a good thing, no?