Thursday, July 30, 2009

Better Late Than Never

So our grand plans getting all of the plaster done last weekend fell through. Mostly because we didn't have enough newspaper. Let me explain.... Even though we have all the supports up for the river, track, tunnels, land, and roads, we still had to build up the topography by using "pillows" of newspapers. This means taking individual sheets of newspaper and turning it under on itself. Since we don't subscribe to the paper, we have had to rely on the occasional paper Matt bought at lunch. However, we were bound and determined to get it completely plastered (hahaha) before our party on Saturday.Before we could lay the plaster over everything, we had to tape the newspaper pillows in place. Then it gets a little heart stopping. We had to lay the plaster perfectly smooth over all of the track supports (so that the track would lay as smooth as possible-- otherwise the train may not run as well) and the areas that would be the road. But once that was done, we could start laying the plaster over the land forms. Talk about instant gratification! It doesn't look like newspaper "pillows" anymore! I know it's very white right now, but shortly it will start to take more shape. Tonight, God willing, we plan on getting all the track bed foam glued down.Voila! Completely plastered!

Friday, July 17, 2009

On With the Train!

We're still at it! Bit by bit we are still putzing away at our train table. Tuesday night we took a break from the train because Matt had a soccer game, so he didn't get home until late. Wednesday night we worked on some very tedious things...Since the track foam was glued down and dry, we had to place and glue the track down (the arrows show where the pins are holding the track in place while the glue dries). While the glue was still tacky though, we had to start pouring out the ballast and glue that into place. This was a tricky process since the directions are not very clear and don't offer ANY suggestions or tips. Trial and error!If you notice, the ballast doesn't go all the way down the track. This is because we only need to place enough that that will be visible in the tunnels. Here, I am tacking into place the tunnel portal support-- everything behind it will be "under ground."

That's about all we actually got done Wednesday night. We started to box in the tunnels, but it got hot in the basement, so we called it a night. Thursday night I went out with the girls, so Matt stayed home and worked getting all the tunnels boxed in. It was my job, this morning, to paint the inside of the tunnels black. This helps create the illusion of a really dark tunnel.Tonight we started by setting up the edges. We had set these exterior supports up earlier so that we could layout the track entirely, but since then, we have contoured the edges to reflect the changing terrain. There are also holes cut in the rear of some so that we may have access into the tunnels later if or when needed.This is just a farther view of the table so that you can see the tunnels and their portals a little more clearly.Now I'm going back and adding more supports to the edges so they are more stable before I get a chance to glue everything in place. Notice those awesomely dark painted tunnels!While I pinned everything in place before gluing, Matt was setting up the upper tier of the track and marking the bridge placement. We will eventually have a waterfall under the bridge!!I MUST have the sweetest husband ever, because while I was hot gluing all the edges in place (a one person job), he serenaded me on the drums. After I was done, he worked some more on the upper tier track supports before we called it a night.

Our goal for the end of the weekend is to have all of the platforms in place, back filled areas with newspaper, and plastered over everything. It's a lofty goal, but I think we can accomplish it! Wish us luck (and stay tuned)!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Small Steps

When Matt came home last night, he was as much in the mood for working on the train some more as I was! However, we still had to eat dinner, so by the time we got to work on the train, it was kind of late. So last night we just took small steps.

First thing's first.... we had to reposition ALL of the track so that we could make sure everything lined up on the risers. Then we had to trace the outline of the track so we new where to lay the track foam (the black foam that helps the train run smoothly and quietly).We also had to assemble the temporary supports for the bridge that we will build next.Of course, after we had set it all up again, we had to take it down again to lay and glue the track foam.We didn't lay the track foam over the whole track, just over the parts that we already plastered-- the tunnel areas, since we won't be able to lay that track once the tunnels are built.
Here I am trimming the track foam so that it makes an even transition at the switch point. We pinned the track foam down before we glued it so we knew how much foam we needed.I painted the glue on the plaster and then Matt came right after and layed the track foam down. The pins held the track in place while the glue dried. Meanwhile, Leela and Tungsten couldn't stay away during all this excitement!

That's all we accomplished last night. We didn't want to rush the glue since the track foam is the foundation of the track! There's still more to come... just not tonight-- maybe Wednesday night.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Hobby, Old Train

For as long as I can remember growing up, my mom's dad, Granddad, worked on his model train set. Whenever we would go visit, we'd always ask to see the train that was housed in the storage room at the back of the garage. All of the grandchildren learned that you don't touch the train-- you can only look at it, but if we were lucky (and usually alone), Granddad would let us "drive" the train. As with most good things, they must come to an end. Nana and Granddad had decided to downsize and move to a smaller house and the train table was not among the items that were also making the trip. While the rest of the family was collecting the things from Nana and Granddad's that they just couldn't let go of, Matt and I (who were just dating at the time) asked for the train table. The table, which Granddad had already been taking apart (I guess he didn't think anyone would want it), remained stored in Matt's brother's garage for the past three years while we were in the apartment. As soon as we moved, so did the train table! Unfortunately, after building a platform for the table to sit on, setting out all of the trains, reading countless wiring books and websites, Matt and I realized that we were not going to get the train running again. Though we still wanted to use Granddad's trains and track (and inspiration) for our new hobby-- a model train set. So we got a kit. Here's our story....
To start, we (and by we, I mean Matt), had to continue what Granddad had started and take up all the laid track and scenery. Since our kit is a foot shallower, he also cut a foot off the table and sanded it as smooth as possible. Then we covered it with newspaper to protect the styrofoam base from any sneaky rough spots.
The base came in four sections, which we had to put together upside down, tape, flip, and the hot glue the inside of the seams. The track layout was already on the base.... so now all we had to do was sift through all of Granddad's track for the right size pieces.
It took us about an hour to get all the correct pieces in place and connected.
Then we had to remove the track in large pieces so that we could work on the topography.
We had to pin the flexible styrofoam risers over the sections where the track will be-- this was the first layer.
After each layer of the risers were pinned, we had to hot glue both sides of the bottom of the risers where they meet the base-- or the respective foam layer underneath, depending on what layer of risers we worked on. Here, Matt is gluing the second layer of riser-- the one that actually inclines. The glue gun we bought is a low temp glue gun and teeny. We had to alternate who pinned the risers and who glued since our fingers were getting sore squeezing the teeny trigger! ouch.
Once all the risers were in place and glued, we had to start plastering the first section. The direction booklet is very detailed and comes with many pictures, but I still had a better method of how to use the plaster covered cloth strips-- go figure, an art teacher with a sculpture background knows what she's doing!
For this step, we only had to plaster a few sections, but since we used team work, we were done in no time flat. I laid the plaster and Matt came behind me and smoothed it out. Speedy, we were.... Speedy!
As the plaster dried, we went upstairs and cut some more foam that will eventually form the walls of the tunnel. Measure twice-- cut once!
After a job well done, we sat and enjoyed our milk and cookies.

Matt started disassembling the train table around 10AM and we ate our cookies at 930PM. Granted, we had to take about an hour break to make a trip to Wally-World for some more glue sticks and grab a bite to eat, but we both had so much fun working together on this and it hardly felt like we worked for 10.5hrs on the train yesterday. Stay tuned for the next part of train assembly!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Western Trip (continued)

So there we were at the top of Blackcomb Mountain and we were freezing! So we stopped in at the snack shack for some YUMMY hot chocolate! After, Matt decided to have some fun in the snow. Luckily he wasn't throwing it at me! Since it was roughly 35ish degrees up there and we were scantily dressed (nothing more than a long sleeve lightweight shirt and a windbreaker), we made our way back down through the thick clouds via the chair lift. Matt said it was eerie going DOWN a chair lift. That night we had reservations at Hy's Steakhouse, a small Canadian chain. It was, by far, the best steak dinner I have ever had-- with service to match!

The next day, we had to say fairwell to Canada and head down to Seattle, WA. Though our fairwell lasted well over an hour at the border. Needless to say, America was a welcome sight. Seattle was fun, but exhausting! As soon as we got into the city and checked into our hotel-- which was right across from Safe Co. Field (and our room had a great view of the main gate)-- we walked up to Pike's Market, where Matt sampled some fresh sweet peas. The market happend to look down on the aquarium, so we walked down to the aquarium right before it closed. While we had a bunch of fun with the props, we were a little disappointed with the overall aquarium. There were not a lot of tanks and the ones they had reminded me of a pet store with a really good fish section! Oh well, you live and you learn, and traveling to new places is about experiencing new things, good and not so good. There was still some daylight left and we had some more time to kill before the Mariners game at 7:30. Where else would we go, but to the Space Needle. Unfortunately, we didn't actually take a picture from the bottom looking up-- slipped our mind. It was extremely windy and COLD at the top-- and I was getting more and more exhausted, so we called the hotel to send a shuttle to pick us up. All I needed was a quick rest before the ball game! We had really good seats-- outfield, just on the fair side of the fould pole. I know it was a Wed. night game, but it just wasn't a southern baseball game! I suppose at this point I was getting a little homesick for the south (and in serious sweet tea withdrawl). After the game, we made the long walk (across the street) to our hotel-- and went up to the roof, so that Matt could relax. I couldn't get in-- don't want to hard boil the babe.

Back to Portland! On our way to Portland, we detoured through Astoria. Sound familiar? It should! It's the location of the GOONIES! We had to take our picture in front of the house! As if that weren't enough... Matt had to listen to me saying, "I'M NOT A POLICEMAN, I'M A PRINCESS!! I'm not a POLICEMAN, I'm a princess. I'm not a.... oh, okay." If you haven't guessed, Astoria is also the location of the elementary school from Kindergarten Cop. Though that's all that's in Astoria... really... so we left.

Friday, Carrie had taken the day off so we could all go roaming around downtown Portland. Our first stop was to the science museum, OMSI. While waiting for the submarine tour to begin, we both goofed off-- as usual. Before our tour began, the guide told us that when we get to the control room, we weren't supposed to touch any of the buttons or knobs (just keep that in mind). This sub was the last comissioned diessel submarine, and boy was it teensy! This is Matt at the controls, great photo opp. Now me. Unfortunately, the guide was not so clear on what not to touch, so this is me getting in trouble for picking up a non-working phone. So I waited for him to leave the torpedo room before picking this up. We had gone to the science museum for Matt, so we went to the Portland Art Museum for me... and the M.C. Escher exhibit, but not before we grabbed a few tacos on the street for lunch! The cou de gras, however, was going to Voodoo Doughnuts. If you're not familiar, Voodoo sells anatomically correct doughnuts... among others. We waited in line for a while, but it was worth it! I got a Portland Creme (same as Boston Creme, only it has eyes), Dad got Coconut Cake, and Matt got Maple glazed Bacon (yuck).

Before we flew off Saturday morning, we spent Friday night hanging out. Dad and Carrie have two Bernice Mountain Dogs, Willie and Reba. Willie is completely laid back, but large and loveable!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Western Adventure

Matt and I just got back from our week out west. Since my dad moved out to Portland, OR last year, we decided we would make our way out there-- and then up to Canada during the week.

We flew in on Saturday and were met by Dad and Carrie at the airport. After we got our rental car, we headed up to Hood River, a little town just outside of where their property is in Washington that they plan on developing. On our way, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. It was literally a falls on the side of the road, like a rest stop-- but still very pretty. Of course, we hiked up to the first bridge. So back to why we went to Hood River... it is apparently the perfect wind and kite surfing place because it's protected from the ocean currents, being on the river, and as the river flows one way, the wind blows the other-- perfect conditions. These guys were crazy-- it was so windy and the water must have been FREEZING, and here they were, catching major air! The town is also very cool, a lot of little shops, but after dinner we were so tired (we had been up since 4:30 central time), so we crashed.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at this little Frech shop before going up to see Dad and Carrie's property. As we were driving through the hills, we passed these deer in a stream on the side of the road. AND... we also drove by this artist's stand on the side of the road selling his goods. He welds a bunch of found objects together to create his sculptures, like this cat. The road had been good to us. Matt asked Dad to pull over so that we could take some pictures with the background that goes on and on and on and, well, you get the point.

Matt was completely blown away at the site of their property (I told him he would be). While we were there, we found these GIANT dandilions that we proceeded to try to blow to bits, even though the tendrills managed to stay on through the 20 mile/hr. wind gusts. I practically hyperventalated trying to blow them all off-- it was like blowing out the joke candles on a birthday cake that just wouldn't completely blow out. Matt cheated. He stood in the wind and let the wind help him. Cheater.

Monday, we started the next leg of our trip up to Whistler, Brittish Columbia. Though we stopped in Vancouver to check out the Cappilano Bridge. We had a whole lot of fun goofing off and being complete tourists! On the other side of the bridge, they had an "Ewok Village" set up in the trees. There were a bunch of mini suspension bridges strung out between the trees and below was a walking path so that you could enjoy all of the "extreme nature." Even though we left our gorilla pod at home, we were still able to prop up the camera and evoke the self timer! So then came lunch. When I thought Matt was being kind and moving the camera off the table. Nope, he was catching me off guard. So I indulged him. Again and again. Then, I got him back... several more times!

Once we got to Whistler, we were blown away at how grand our hotel, the Pan Pacific Mountainside was. We were again, goofing off, as we waited for the lifts to open to take us to the top of Whistler Mountain. Then we took the Peak 2 Peak lift over to Blackcomb Mountain. THEN, we took another lift up to the peak of Blackcomb to see the glacier, where they have summer snowboard and ski camp.

(... to be continued)