A Visit Home with Mom and Dad

Well, I actually traveled home to help celebrate the first birthday of my nephew, but you know how when you travel home as an adult you see things that are central to your parents’ lives in new ways.

It was no different this time.

When my mom and dad purchased their first and only home in 1983, the biggest criterion (for Dad, at least) was the size of the basement. You see, to put it lightly, my dad is a train/model railroad aficionado. From the time he was just a kid he has been in love with railroads, trains, chasing them to take photos and videos, and all that jazz. This means that our entire basement is one big model railroad. You cannot really appreciate the scope until you see it for yourself, and indeed, he has done open houses, but I saw it in a new way on this visit home.
I spent hours upon hours playing downstairs with my sister when we were kids and my dad was only on his first attempt at the layout. (He has since taken it down and started over twice.) We crawled under all the wood pretending it was Jurassic Park; we set up school classrooms with imaginary teachers and students, we scribbled all over the wooden stairs. (Our youthful cursive still lingers.) With my father playing docent, I got a tour this time as he ran trains for my nephew for the first time.
Turns out that Dad himself built a computer to run the system, all designed in his head and on graph paper, a rather intricate wiring/sensor/switchboard system that signals to a dispatcher in another room (the garage) where the trains are passing on the track. The dispatcher then uses a two-way radio to talk to the people running the trains in the basement. Yes, indeed, you do need to see it for yourself, but here are some sneak peaks until you find yourself in Emmaus.
A view down one of the aisles…

One of the switchboard systems and its wiring…all the wiring connects to the major switchboard in the garage, being run through a hole he drilled in the wall.

The inside of one of two helices that move the trains from level to level…

Another view and the control tower that he built and designed based on the real tower in West Virginia (the entire layout is modeled on the railroad system in the state)…

A video of the trains running…
As for my mom? Well, she has been handcrafting as long as I’ve been alive (and longer). Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch…so many fiber crafts. We took a trip to the local yarn shop because she is working on a sweater (or two) for me. I delighted in the colors.

Grateful for their creativity and the gifts that they share with others.
Let us walk in the holy presence.