Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On the road (yet again) Part 2

Second day was all business…thus little can be said about it, other than “nearly everyone
knew me.”

There was no confusion as to my presentation, even by those who didn’t.  My wife wasn’t 
there to make me do it, but I pulled my hair back into a ponytail…ugh.  This time, it really
seemed to make a difference…women’s jeans, top, pink nails and booties did nothing to
change the “Sir” rut I was in.  Yes, it appears the ponytail thing (even tied higher-than-
normal-for-guys) tips my presentation into “male” mode.   Well, most of the time.  At a
wedding we attended a few weeks ago,even the ponytail with a men's sportcoat didn’t stop servers
from addressing me as a female.

On the third day…I was at last back in girl mode.  This was to be an exciting day…    

Checking out of the motel as a girl elicited no gender specific forms of address.   But the
same female clerk (who didn’t see me disguised as a boy the day before) seemed much more   
friendly and talkative.

Time for some more sightseeing before heading east:  On the map, I noticed that in the
nearby town of Duncansville,  there was a park named Chimney Rock Park.   The rain was
gone and it was just cloudy, so I decided to explore a bit…   Found it, and the rock formations
didn’t look like chimneys to me, but very pretty nonetheless.  What made it special was the
view.  You drive up a hill to get there, and a short trail takes you to an overlook above the town. 
Very pretty.  And in this case, it was good that there were clouds…the sun might have been
an issue as far as pictures go.

Then it was off to the town of Mt. Union, PA – northern terminus of the narrow gauge
East Broad Top Railroad, coal hauler from the Broad Top coal fields.  The railroad died
in the mid 50’s, and got stuck in a time warp – it still looks just the same as it did when the
workers went home that fateful night the railroad died (April 14, 1956) – and never came
back.   Instead of scrapping it lock, stock and barrel, the new owner allowed it to sit in

The EBT was reincarnated in the 1961 season, as a tourist hauler by its new owner, using
a 5 mile section of the railroad.  But once again the EBT breathed its last - at the end of
the 2011 season.  And now, the railroad sits once again, rusting in the rain, still stuck in
its time warp.

Will there be a "third time's the charm?"  Or will it be scrapped?  Only time will tell.

In Mt. Union, much of the track was dual gauge – for regular and narrow gauge equipment.  
Hence the following picture of tracks still embedded in US Route 522: I understand that
there is still a string of EBT hoppers hiding in the woods (a skirt and nylons weren't quite
the appropriate attire for tromping around n the brush and trees), but at least some of the
dual gauge track is currently being used for standard gauge freight car storage.

And then I drove on to Orbisonia, the home base for the little railroad, taking pictures of 
remaining track and bridges, as a record of how they look today.   Some infrastructure looked
better than I thought it would, others much, much worse.   Time has not been kind to the

The Rockhill Trolley Museum (across the parking lot) was having its annual pumpkin patch
specials.  Thus the EBT parking lots were full.  Many attendees were doing just as I was:
walking around the EBT property to check it out.   And it was legal to do, as EBT owners 
had people on the scene, to be sure everyone was "just looking or taking pictures."  

In the above picture, I’m standing in front of the Orbisonia roundhouse and turntable. 
Inside are several narrow gauge steam engines, which are no longer in operation.   None
of the buildings were open for inspection, but the weeds were cut, thus making it easy to
walk around the facility to take pictures.   One of the people in charge (sixtysomething male)
told me what the buildings were.    

And the man who offered to help by taking the above picture was very helpful.

Subsequently I walked across the parking lot to the Trolley Museum.  My ticket was good for
all day (which didn’t matter, as my time there was limited).  But I was supposed to be able to
get a tour of the two carbarns.   I inquired about such a tour to the group of conductors sitting
there, and they said they could do that…but since the day was kid-oriented it was only on
an as-needed basis.  

One of the conductors commented that women alone don’t often ask to take the tour.  "You 
must be a trolley fan."  "My mother and I used to ride the PCC cars on the 42/38 line in 
Pittsburgh."  So, the fiftysomething conductor said:  “Come this way,  Ma’am.”   When
we reached the rope across the garage doorway, he said:  “Here, I’ll hold the rope down to
make it easier for you to step across.”   And as I did, he took my left hand -  “Let me
steady you, Ma’am.”  Nice!

Once over the rope barricade,  my personalized tour continued.  As I climbed into a couple of
trolleys without step boxes, he took my hand again both times to steady me as I stepped on
and off thecar.  (Men sure can be handy to have around!)   And as for today, with all due
respect to Shania Twain,  “Man,  I feel like a woman!”   I commented that if I'd realized I’d
be climbing on rail equipment today, I wouldn’t have worn a skirt.  We both got a chuckle
out of that...he reassured me that “You aren’t the first woman to do this in a skirt, and you
won’t be the last one, dear.”

Then when we finished, he offered to take my picture next to one of the trolleys…above.

I got in line with the group getting on the next trolley ride.  It was fun, and most of the ladies 
exchanged smiles with me.   We all commented about the fiddler playing at the trolley stop to 
entertain the kids, and they way the kids received it.  Once on board, a young mom’s 2 month
old baby was very animated, and was smiling and cooing at both grandparents and me.  I
guess the practice with my granddaughter has paid off…

This trolley had the wicker upholstery that, back in the day, was the scourge of nylons-wearing 
women.  You can see in the picture below how close the wicker was to my knees (and no
room to cross my legs, but fortunately my skirt protected the back of my legs.    Years ago,
many girls had their stockings ruined by snagging on the wicker.   I was very lucky – mine
survived intact!  (But I sure was careful to not move around in my seat!)

Don't snag those pantyhose!

Next stop was to photograph more relics of the EBT’s past.    Including site of the station and
town hotel in Saltillo, the freight house on Railroad Street in Three Springs (below)...

and Mandy in front of the former EBT station in Robertsdale:

As an added bonus, by walking through some uncut grass, I located an unconventional
configuration for the wye (which crosses a stream) behind the Post Office in Robertsdale:

There was reportedly a coal mining museum in Robertsdale’s old theatre building, which was 
supposed to be open.  I drove by the theatre, and two heavyset fortysomething men were out
front, probably enjoying a cigarette.  They watched me as I inched slowly by in the car (perhaps
their day's entertainment?), then they went inside.  I parked and hesitatingly approached the
front door.  Finding no mention of a museum on the fliers on the doors, and with the door
unlocked,  I decided to go on in…not knowing quite what to expect.

Both men were in the main part of the theatre, past the second set of doors.  They stared at me
as I came through the doors.  So I smiled, said hi, and inquired about the museum.  Turns out
the museum had moved, and the old-time theatre is now a church.   OooooKay....  The silent
one appeared to be eyeing me, from my feet to my hair, and back down.   The one who was
talking, couldn’t keep his eyes off my legs.  (I’ll take that as the supreme compliment -
thanks to him!)  

Through the ages, guys always have checked out gals, but this little lesson emphatically taught
me precisely how uncomfortable it can make some girls feel.   The bright side is - the pair were
basically decent men.  I could have encountered serious issues that day.  I won't kid you...
I really was happy to say "so long", and make my exit.   

However, as info - it's not the first time that I've "barged into" an old theatre - the notable
difference is that I was presenting as androgynous that day - and more importantly, my wife 
was with me.  And yes, before you ask, the guy who came to "greet" us in the inside hallway
identified us two women.  (Most importantly, we got a tour of the theatre.)  But there was 
safety in numbers.   (Moral of story for theatre owners - keep those doors locked if you don't 
want sightseers!)

Finally, I headed for the barn… it had been one long, interesting, rewarding - and fun - day.

When I checked into the motel, their thirtysomething male clerk addressed me as female.  A 
perfect way to end a wonderful day!

More later...


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On the road (yet again...)

I’ve been traveling again…   

Opportunities tend to arise from time to time, sometimes on the spur of the moment.   And
while my wife was visiting her sister in Chicago seemed to be one of those good moments.

This time the trip amounted to three sightseeing days as a gal, and one day impersonating
a guy. I had things to do in Pennsylvania, and I never let these trips “happen” without
taking my girl stuff along.    I planned on several selfies; those are the outfits which made
it into my suitcase.   Unfortunately, you’ve seen my skirts and dress before…I would loved
to buy new things (but with no storage space???).   My objective was to try out some every
day topswith my existing outfits. Everyday tops eliminate some of the laundry hassles I'd
otherwise encounter.

My first day was for traveling, and some light sightseeing.  Enroute at Severna Park, a
suburb of Baltimore, I came across a former substation/power plant for the long-defunct
Baltimore & Annapolis RR (a walking trail on the old right-of-way runs right past it.)  In
addition to its being an antique in its own right, the building is now an antique shop.

A lot of driving later, I found myself heading west on US Route 30, the Lincoln Highway. 
And near the small town of Everett, PA, I came across one of many so-called “roadside
oddities” - or as they call it:  one of the “Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway.”  It’s
the “world’s largest quarter.”  Unfortunately it was raining, thus:  no selfie.  

Having been in Everett a long time ago, I knew there was an old Huntington and Broad
Top railroad station (complete with a stuffed and mounted H&BT caboose and locomotive)
located there.   Never known to bypass such a sight (especially as a girl), I dropped in to
re-make my acquaintance.     Unfortunately it was drizzling, which made staying under
cover a requirement, and good pictures hard to get, but at least I was able to get one. 
And it was cold…my turtleneck and jumper dress felt very cozy - and warm!   

From there it was off to Altoona, site of the world-famous Pennsylvania Railroad’s
Horseshoe Curve.    Notice the silver signal gantry behind me, up at track level.  The
railroad is now owned and operated by Norfolk Southern (as part of the breakup of
the Conrail system), and before I left to head for my motel, a train went by.  Of course
the curve is on a significant grade, so you can hear westbound trains crawling
upgrade a long time before they actually appear.  Naturally, I stayed around for the
show…fortunately, no more drizzle.

And before calling it a day, I dropped in at the so-called “America’s oldest gas station”: 
Reighard’sin Altoona!   Again, the recurring drizzle dampened enthusiasm for doing a
selfie.  Darn it anyway. 

I checked into the motel as a female.  Had no issues, but the fortysomething female clerk
stayed “neutral” – most likely due to my given name nowadays being a girl’s name.    
No gender-specific terms were used.   Once settled in, I managed to do a selfie in the
room's full-length mirror.

Much more to follow.   Stay tuned!


Saturday, October 14, 2017

More humdrum stuff, and from the Unusual Location Names Department.

Life is getting back to normal after the long vacation...and the weather cooled off a bit.

So, when heading to a nearby auto parts store to redeem a coupon (not the store where the "guy in a skirt" used to - or maybe still - works), I chose black capris, pantyhose, a purple tunic tee, and flats (along with the ever-present cues.)   And was addressed as female.  Always a good thing.

When we got back from our last trip, my nails needed filled.  So I stopped in at the nail salon, where the tech affirmed my femininity by addressing me as "Miss Mandy."  I'm pretty sure they know I'm a guy (probably from other women in the neighborhood who know me), but she likes the tips, and seems to remember how to address me.   Which is a good thing!

Following that,,, we found that a neighbor's table umbrella (a big 8 feet in diameter) had taken flight in the previous day's wind storm.  It landed at the edge of the woods near our place.  We both felt that the neighborly thing to do was rescue it and put it under his deck, so it wouldn't blow again.

I was wearing my navy blue housedress and was barefooted, so I told her I'd go put on some yard shoes (wild animals sometimes use our yard as their bathroom.)  I said nothing about changing clothes.   She said she wanted to change into some yard shoes, too.  While she did that, I got the basement door open and went out to survey the situation.  The umbrella was upside down and the spokes were tangled in some weeds, while the main post was stuck in a tree branch.   And it was heavy.  The only thing missing was Mary Poppins (pun intended.)

We wrestled it out of there, collapsed it and stowed it under the neighbor's deck.  Mind you, in view of several other houses in the row.   No concern about my being seen...but in reality the neighbor was out for the weekend, and the neighbor beyond that, lives on the other side of their house.  So the odds against being seen were small.  But there was no resistance.

Pushing the envelope is good...and yet I know that at some point, my presentation will meet with resistance, whether from my wife, or at places we frequent.  Time will tell.

While exploring the Johnson City, TN area on our most recent excursion, we came across the following unusual street name:

The homes were beautiful, on big lots, with lots of expensive cars in driveways.   Might be a good place to live...even with the name...


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Some humdrum stuff...

For most of our vacation, I stayed dressed in my usual shorts and top outfits, with flats.

At the first motel on our trip home, the TV wasn't working when we got back from our evening meal.  We had already unpacked and were settled in for the night (with me in my house dress and my daytime outfit already in the dirty laundry bag.)   After calling the front desk and following the female desk clerk's phone instruction, I still couldn't make it work.  So she said she'd be right there.

No way to deny who was "wearing the pants in the family" and ""who was wearing the panties" when the clerk knocked on the door.  My wife didn't tell me to change, nor was I told to fact, she told me to open the door - yes, while wearing my dress (and barefoot, with all 20 pink nails showing.)     My attire caused no issue, from the clerk OR my wife...and the clerk omitted any reference to gender for either/both of us.   Unable to fix the equipment issue, the clerk suggested that we talk with the manager in the morning about an adjustment.   After she left, there were still no comments from my was like nothing unusual happened.  Not a word about my dress.

Yes, I talked to the day manager, but not wearing a dress...and got an adjustment.   Bet I was the talk of the motel that day...

When I checked in to the motel on the second night, the thirtysomething female desk clerk omitted any gender references.  After settling in, we headed to the motel's dining room for dinner, and the fiftysomething female server identified me as male.  I was "Sir" for the entire meal. But when I checked out the next morning, a different desk clerk (fiftysomething female) addressed me as  "Ma'am."   Very interesting.

On TV at the motel, the show my wife was watching featured a man and his son visiting Scotland with his wife and daughter.   The boys both bought kilts.   I ignored most of the show, but filed its existence away for future reference.  While finishing our drive home the next day, I asked my wife how the show with the kilts went, and she said that they wore their kilts the rest of that day.   So I reminded her that I haven't forgotten about getting a kilt to wear on St Patty's day and Halloween.   She told me that she was fine with it, but "it's the silliest thing I've heard of."

Maybe I'm making headway?  Or these were the "path of least resistance..."  Either way is OK!

Once back home,  we again visited the restaurant where my wife and I have "both been recognized as ladies."  My outfit was white capris, a navy blue women's tee top, and my dark slide sandals, with all the usual enhancements and accoutrements except "no jewelry other than my necklace, or makeup."   The female staff duly addressed and treated us as "ladies."

Hmmm...on the two previous visits, why did we have one success and one failure?  So I looked back at the posts.   In a post about the success, I stated that I was in capris and a top, with my white slide sandals.   In the other post I didn't state what I was wearing, but based on my reception at Lancaster, PA  I suspect that I'm more often seen as a woman in the capris, even though my shorts are very short.  I will pay attention to that theory over the next few outings in shorts...

More later...

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Yabba Dabba Doo

While in Tennessee, the kids took us to see the State Fair in Nashville.

The weather was hot, and the baby was a bit restless, but it was a typical state fair, with all the trimmings: rides, games, lots of overpriced $8 for a hot dog and $2.50 for a soda:

And the animals:

I guess you could say it was a "Mmmmoooooo-ving" experience (pun intended.)

And more sightseeing was in order in Nashville.  No, we didn't go to Greece...but downtown has its own Parthenon - in Centennial Park. 

Per Wikipedia: Nashville's moniker, the "Athens of the South", influenced the choice of the building as the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition. A number of buildings at the Exposition were based on ancient originals, however the Parthenon was the only one that was an exact reproduction. It was also the only one that was preserved by the city,.
Major Eugene Castner Lewis was the director of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and it was at his suggestion that a reproduction of the Parthenon be built in Nashville to serve as the centerpiece of Tennessee’s Centennial Celebration. Lewis also served as the chief civil engineer for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad. Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick, the Parthenon was not intended to be permanent, but the cost of demolishing the structure combined with its popularity with residents and visitors alike resulted in it being left standing after the Exposition. In 1895 George Julian Zolnay was "employed to make models for the ornamentation" for the building. Within the next 20 years, weather had defaced the landmark; it was then rebuilt on the same foundations, in concrete, in a project that started in 1920; the exterior was completed in 1925 and the interior in 1931.
Some of the most elaborate events that occurred at the Parthenon were the Spring Pageants of 1913 and 1914. These extravaganzas were theatrical productions on a massive scale. With casts of up to 500, the Pageants brought in audiences from surroundings states and rail prices were lowered to encourage attendance. The entire city of Nashville reveled in the opportunity to celebrate the "Athens of the South."

A fabulous re-creation!

On the way back to Maryland, we stopped in the small town of Lexington, VA.  Here we located the "Fred Flintstone era" foot-powered car...   And with higher gas prices from the hurricane, that might be the wave of the future!   Plus, no need for factory air conditioning...

Yabba dabba doo to you too!

It sure was a fun trip...


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

More vacation...

While visiting at our son's place, he and I were out walking in his neighborhood, and one of the male neighbors was walking his dog.  The dog took a real fancy to me, and was enthusiastically friendly.   As son talked,, the neighbor tried to get the dog more under control.  "Hey Rover (insert actual dog name here), the lady doesn't need so many kisses..."   Said twice more.  Our son was cool with it and said nothing to correct the neighbor about my gender.   I later told my son that it's an everyday occurrence for me.

He added that it's rare for him to be identified as female when approached from the front due to his facial hair.  But very common from the back, and he simply turns around, saying "pardon me?"  When folks see his beard and mustache, ample apologies flow forth.  "Growing a beard helps."  I thanked him, but said "I answer to anything, and don't plan to grow facial hair.  My father did, and it made him look 10 years older than his actual age."  "No problem - whatever floats your boat.  But be prepared - you may be seen as a woman."  My response was: "Whenever it happens, so be it."  And the subject drifted away...

This is as close as I have come to talking to anyone I know (family or otherwise) about that side of me.   He probably already has "TG" figured out...but I don't plan to take it further.  At least, not at this time.

While in Nashville, we stopped at the Lane Motor Museum, a collection of interesting equipment consisting of predominantly foreign cars.  One of the displays was the LARC-LX.   From the museum's website comes the following description of the vehicle...

An example of the U.S. military’s largest amphibious craft, the LARC-LX (lighter, amphibious, resupply, cargo) came in three sizes, ranging in size from 5 ton (LARC v) to the LX, capable of transporting 60 tons from ocean to inland, across heavy seas and up inclines as steep as 60 degrees. It remains the only amphibian in the current inventory able to enter and exit the shore through breaking surf. Outfitted with 4 Detroit Diesel engines, twin props, and four wheel drive with two or four wheel steering, the LARC-LX could go just about anywhere and carry whatever could fit in its cavernous cargo bay. The only real limitation was its immense size - length is over 62', width is 26', and height is almost 20'! The tires are 9' high. With a 75' turning radius, the LARC is surprisingly agile, and this particular example was driven here in January 2005 from the Port of Nashville. 

To give you a better idea of its immense size, I parked my antique car in front of it.  Above and the following illustrate to you its huge dimensions.

Before you ask, the weather in Nashville had cooled off and turned drizzly, necessitating a change to my fall wardrobe of stirrup pants, tights, flats and generic polo shirts (the few men's shirts I have left.)  A sweater was comfortable on cool mornings.   Simply not very feminine.  :-(  I'd have rather been wearing a skirt...LOL!
We went sightseeing in Lebanon, TN on our way to Nashville.   And found that until 1986 there was military prep school there.  From various sources, including Wikipedia:  originally founded in 1902 as Castle Heights School, it was initially a coed school.   It became a military prep school for boys (Castle Heights Military Academy) in 1918 as a result of World War I.
By 1928, the school was in financial trouble, and it was sold to MacFadden Foundation, which operated till 1974.  Cadet living conditions were strict - Macfadden required the m to eat salads every day, they were not to use condiments or pillows, they were required to participate in sports, and to drink so much milk that the school actually acquired a dairy.  Students' height and weight appeared on monthly report cards to the parents.  By 1954 enrollment had grown to almost 500 students, and the campus had grown to 150 acres, included a hospital, and operated a summer camp.
Despite a return to coeducation in 1970, declining enrollment eventually doomed the school, and it ceased operation in 1986.

Remaining buildings on the campus have been restored, and one now serves as the Lebanon City Hall, and Lebanon Museum and History Center.  Other small businesses inhabit other nearby building.  Previously undeveloped areas of campus have been subdivided, and now feature businesses such as banks and nursing homes.  Records and other school memorabilia are maintained by Cumberland University.   The Mitchell House (a beautiful mansion on the main road) served as headquarters of the holding company for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store froom 1998 to 2013.  It was then purchased by Sigma Pi fraternity and now serves as the fraternity's international headquarters.

Above is a picture of the castle-like edifice of the main campus building, which has been turned into the City of Lebanon's office building.  In the basement is a fabulous museum of documents, pictures and artifacts from the city's history.

More later...


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Just Another Excursion...

This one was  to visit our son and family, plus meet some friends for sightseeing.  The trip south was uneventful.   Well except for a couple things...

With my wife present, I traveled in women's shorts and a short sleeve tunic, flats (no pantyhose), my necklace, and purse.    (As well as, the ever present pink nails and long hair - of course.)

At a gas/convenience stop in Maryland, my wife went in to use the potty while I filled the car's gas tank.  She returned and said nothing about anything being amiss.  So I moved the car to a parking place and went in to use the restroom.   Both men's and women's rooms were in the same hallway, with the men's room further down.   Four fat, bearded and mustachioed "stereotypical bubbas" were standing there by the women's room door, waiting in line for men's room, which was being cleaned. 

My need to use the restroom was very, very urgent.  Strangely enough, with my purse over my shoulder, I didn't give it a second thought...   Four pairs of eyes were watching me as I tapped on the women's room door.  Hearing no answer, I entered.  (Luckily it was a one-holer.)   I used the facilities as a woman, and came out in an appropriate length of time, to find the "bubbas" still waiting in line.   I said to them..."Have a good day, guys."  Their response:  "You too, Ma'am."

Though I don't do something that brazen very often (and specifically avoid it as much as possible), it was rather uneventful...considering that so many things could have gone wrong.   (Like a fight with the "bubbas", or soaking wet shorts...) 

Back at the car:  "I thought you'd take a lot longer than that, with the line for the men's room.  Do we need to stop at the next place with a restroom?"    "No, I used the women's room."  "Oh.  Well, at least you look the part."  Then, the subject was changed.

Surprising, right?

We stopped for lunch enroute - at a Cracker Barrel.  There, we were addressed as "ladies" as we were escorted to seats.  And the same situation existed all through dinner...   Hmmmmm -  I didn't think I looked all that feminine.   Guess I was wrong!

Among friends, who already know my gender, there is no confusion.  During our trip, I did hear a comment from one male friend.  He commented..."I can tell that you don't work on your antique car yourself."  I already knew the reason he would I replied "And why might that be?"   His response: "Those pretty nails wouldn't survive if you did."  From there, I led the subject off the nails path and into a discussion of my mechanic, and it never came up again.  (Incidentally, this guy was the same one who joked "Hey, nice skirt" when I had my sweater tied around my waist last year.  At least he doesn't pursue it further.)

My typical traveling outfit,...this was taken during a historic house tour on one of our sightseeing days:

Guess I look a bit more feminine than I thought....


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trip finale...

By that time, I was getting hungry, and ready for dinner.   And,  I chose to avoid the crowds elsewhere by eating in the "dining car."  It worked, and I beat the rush.  Folks were too busy with the fun things in the area and hadn't stopped to eat yet.

From the window pattern on the side of the restaurant, it appeared to be a former coach, converted to food service.  But whatever it was "back in the day," it looked nice inside.    And the food was good.

Obviously, I managed to get there before it got too busy.

Walking around the venue after my meal, I spotted this unusual vehicle.  It looked more like a kiddie toy than a real car, but it had a right-hand drive and looked capable of on-road use, so it must be European.  And it has the VW emblem on it.  Could it be the new version of the venerable old Microbus that VW is allegedly bringing out?  I looked up on the internet...but it just seemed too small (inside and out) to be a real car.   Those wheels and tires are simply tiny.  

So I'll ask the question of the day:  "Does anyone know what it really is?"

What finer way to cap a long day, than with a pretty sunset?   Visible right from my room was this beauty:

The second (and  final) day of my excursion dawned sunny and clear (after some overnight showers), and I decided to visit the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a short drive (three minutes) away.  After checking out of the motel the next morning, and before heading home,  I dropped in.  Having been there before, I concentrated my visit on the outside display areas, which had been closed on the previous visit.

Seen above are a former Lehigh Valley rail diesel car - a self-contained passenger car, complete with traction motors and a diesel engine on board, and cab controls in the vestibules, so it can run in either direction without a separate engine - and a former Reading Railroad observation car which ran on their streamliner "The Crusader."   There were many more historic pieces in the yard, including a former Amtrak AEM-7 electric locomotive, recently retired - the most modern exhibit.

"Take a ride on the Reading..."     That was a slogan the railroad used in its ads, "back in the day."  But automobiles and airlines took became darlings of the travel industry, and the Reading (along with other historic passenger railroad names) became part of US Transportation History.    At least we still have Amtrak, and I hope it continues to operate...for a long time to come.

With the museum's location (just across the street from the Strasburg Railroad), it was easy to walk over there and do some sightseeing as the first train of the day was assembled and prepared for departure.

From there, I pointed the front of the car toward home.   No cornfield changing needed this time!
And yes, as you can tell, I had a wonderful excursion!

Even without the added attraction of the Tri-motor, the Strasburg area is great for families...if you ever get a chance to visit, be sure to take the whole gang.  There is plenty to do in the area...


Friday, September 1, 2017

"Red Cabooses" - which aren't all red!

My "home away from home" for this short visit was the Red Caboose Motel.  Pictured below, the cabooses are all lettered for different railroads, and thus aren't all red.  But they're in decent shape, the bed was comfortable, everything worked properly, and the room was clean.  What more does a girl need?

After a walk around the property, I headed for a nearby airport to see the other "object of my desire" - a 1929 model airplane designed by William Bushnell Stout (following some principles copied from the work of Professor Hugo Junkers, noted German all-metal aircraft design pioneer.)   Ford bought out Stout's "Stout Metal Airplane Company" in 1925, thus the aircraft was truly manufactured by Ford, with 3 Curtiss-Wright radial engines.  And aptly called a "Ford Tri-motor.  In its day, it won success as a dependable cargo plane/early commercial airliner, which had 8 or 9 removable seats.   And these planes ultimately participated in an early air-mail arrangement with the Post Office.

The last Tri-motor was built in 1933, but that wasn't to be the end of Ford's aviation adventures.  During WW II, the largest aircraft manufacturing plant in the world was built at the Willow Run, Michigan plant, where Ford produced thousands of the B-24 Liberator bombers under license from Consolidated Aircraft.

Maybe someday I'll get a chance to ride in one of those...

Here I am, standing next to the Tri-motor.

And an interior shot:

Rather luxurious digs, much nicer than some of today's aircraft, IMHO.  And the windows are huge, large enough to actually let the occupants see the passing scenery.  With a ceiling of just over 16,000' and a cruising speed in the vicinity of 110 mph, this plane stayed low and slow, for fantastic viewing of the countryside.

Above is an in-flight picture...

This plane was lettered for the Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), an airline founded in 1928 and merged in 1930 with Western Air Express to form Transcontinental and Western Air, which ultimately became TWA (now defunct.)   It initially offered a 51 hour train/plane trip for just over $300 including sleeping car berths) from NYC to Columbus on the train, Columbus to Waynoka, OK, by plane, and train again from Waynoka to Clovis, NM.  (At the time, there were no sophisticated naviagtional aids in aircraft...thus no long distance night flight.)  There they would board another Tri-motor to finish the trip to Los Angeles in the daytime.

After the flight....

Stay tuned for more...


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Some fun...both trains, and planes...

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Lancaster, PA area for some rail-and-aviation-fanning.   The Strasburg Railroad is a perennial favorite, as is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  And as an extra added attraction, an operating Ford Tri-motor aircraft was scheduled to be visiting a nearby airport.  I seldom miss a chance to visit Lancaster - whenever the opportunity arises.  And I heard it calling my name...

Before anyone asks, on this trip Mandy did not have any opportunity to climb out of the suitcase, even though I had packed some of her clothes.  I went with my everyday feminine appearance,  wearing shorts, women's tunic top and flats, but no skirt or dress.  I carried my purse, had my long hair flowing in the breeze and my pink acrylic nails glowing in the I wore my necklace and bracelet,  makeup with lipstick, and perfume.  As you can see, I was fairly androgynous, and perhaps a massive enigma for the locals.

Remember, that area is very religious, and as I understand it, the Amish influence means strict adherence to the male/female binary.  Boys are boys and girls are girls. Period. Women/girls raise the kids, and men/boys work the fields.  None of this "Boys are Girls in the wrong body" or gender dysphoria stuff.  

I didn't hear "Ma'am" very often.  That was disappointing.  But on the other hand, I didn't hear "Sir" at all.  Ninety-five percent of the time, there were no hints of any gender recognition.  Yes, I did notice a few of the local kids in Amish garb doing double-takes.  I expected that, and would love to hear the questions their parents got (as well as their probably-brutally-religious-inspired answers.)   I just wonder (and will never know) if wearing a dress would have improved or decreased my odds of being recognized for what I am?

Back to the trip...   Naturally, I took the "route less traveled" going north.  As such, I went through some agricultural areas, including many farms owned and operated by the Amish (or Pennsylvania Dutch) folks.  They do not drive cars, and travel in one-or-two-horsepower buggies.  (Yep, real horses...not gasoline-powered engines.)  This type of travel helps tremendously in the fight against pollution from burning fossil fuels...   Of course,  it also results in a very predictable type of pollution, an accumulation of which is left behind with each buggy's you can see below.

Eeeeeeewwwwwwww....especially in road spray from rainstorms...

This type of transportation is much simpler to maintain than our current automobiles, with their fancy tecnological features and internal combustion engines.   The only "blue tooth" you might find on these early types of conveyances, might be a bluish cast on the tooth/teeth of one of the horses after they eat blueberries.  Some buggies even seem to have moved into the age of technology, with battery-operated lights on the front and back. and most of them have natural types of air top, sides or backs.    (Like the old cars from the 1950's which had what we called "2-60 air conditioning".  Roll down 2 windows and do 60 mph.)

Buggy owners can do most maintenance themselves.  But this does not bode well for the auto mechanics of the area.  So what can they do to make up for lost business?  One enterprising individual in Nickel Mines, PA opened a "coach shop."   When a farmer's buggy finally needs professional help, or after a wreck, he can take it to the coach shop....

As I drove past, I noticed a number of buggies in the coach shop's yard, hidden by shrubbery.  Couldn't get a picture... and wasn't ready to go in and ask if I could take one.   :-(

A bit about Nickel Mines, PA:   Per Wikipedia, it's named after the mines where millerite (a sulfide) ore (a form of unrefined nickel) was mined in the mid-1800's.  The first mining company sold its interests to Joseph Wharton (founder of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania) in 1862. And he refined the ore to retrieve the nickel, in Camden NJ.   Ultimately, between 1862 and 1893 they extracted 4.5 million pounds of nickel from the mines, and Wharton was influential in persuading the US Mint to issue the first five-cent nickel coins in 1866, using the nickel from his mines.

The last mines closed in 1893 because of competition from new nickel mines in Canada., and there are no traces of mining left, except for a few waste piles. The area is now completely agricultural.  As of 2016 there are 16 households in town, and the area has a high percentage of Amish residents.

The above is central downtown Nickel Mines.   There is a crossroads between the gray stone house and the white house in the distance.  No stop light, of course.  Just a stop sign, with a rather ignorant driver of a modern "horseless carriage" who apparently wasn't happy with me sightseeing in the area.  It appeared as though he was trying to ram me as I pulled through the intersection.  A motion of my foot, a squeal from my tires, and I was clear of him.  He roared off into the distance.  Obviously not an offended Amishman...they don't drive cars.

All the "action" made me hungry, so I headed into Strasburg, PA for lunch.  It's a lovely old town, founded in 1733, and the architecture is very "period."  I ate in an old storefront, now an ice cream store and deli. 

Though the above photo doesn't show it (due to a temporary lull in traffic), there were a fair number of tourists in town, doing what I was doing...getting lunch.  And most of them were elderly....local schools may have been back in session, based on the number of cars in school parking lots.

After lunch I did a bit of train-spotting.  It's easy, as the line parallels the main road, with intersections every so often.  And I wasn't alone...there were other railfans out and about.   On such a beautiful day,  why not? 

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves....

Stay tuned for part 2...