Model Train Room’s Ski Hill

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.

This room had been a four year work in progress by another train lover, so we are dealing with what was already built.  What we jokingly called our seven foot chocolate cake/blob, is the cover for a (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks.

Model Train helix

To reflect how we would have wanted our town to look in the 1950’s, we added a Ski Lodge and Skiers on the mountain.
Model Train Ski area

Model Train Ski LodgeWhen people cleaned out their dusty, spider infested boxes, they donated the HO scale model items to the train room,

Luckily for me, all the spiders were dead and one of the great finds was this saloon.

We kit-bashed it into a ski chalet and painted winter Model Train Ski Hill 1clothes on the patrons.

Kit-bashing sounds destructive, but it is really a gentle method of creating what you need to fit a theme.

A fence was cut, shaped and painted to become ski racks.

Coal dust was used for the blacktopped road and the rock retaining wall was molded from plaster.

Model Train Ski Hill 2More trees were added and hot glued into place to finally stand up straight.

Our research on adding snow to the mountain was entertaining.  One suggestion was to add crystal sugar for the sparkle.  How cute would it be, to have ants snacking on our sugar mountain?

We haven’t been historically true to how our town looked in the 1950’s.  We’ve captured some interesting sites of Utah and compressed them into scenes of what we hope everyone will enjoy seeing in our train room .

Worst Job in the World

I hated scrubbing bathroom showers and tubs.  None of the purchased bathroom cleaners worked quickly.  Then I read about a very inexpensive cleanser combo, that turns this yucky job into a quick and easy task.

Shower cleaning ingredientsThe recipe calls for one part Blue Dawn dish soap and one part vinegar mixed together.

Using a funnel, pour the mixture into a spray bottle.  Spray it on the tub or shower, wait an hour and then wipe the soap scum off.

shower after cleaningI’ve found that heating the vinegar first and then adding the blue Dawn eliminates the waiting time.

I bought a nylon bath cloth to make the scrubbing even easier.

Another great idea was to pour the vinegar and soap mixture into a ketchup bottle, so you can squirt it on the tub and also around the toilet bowl.  It will drip down the sides for a heavy duty scum cleanup.

Cleaning the scum off with the shower doors closed, works best while taking a shower.  I won’t go into that, because then pictures might be expected.

Skydiving, our new hobby

After our first tandem skydives that, as described in a previous post, should have been a one time experience, we had to go back and do it again.  We soon found ourselves hooked on this amazingly, bizarre sport of falling downward at a speed of 110 to 120 miles per hour.
Almost At Altitude The first time I jumped on my own, I noticed that the door was closed on the airplane.  That’s a very lonesome feeling!  It’s was now too late to change my mind…and time to do what I was taught…. to open and fly this big handkerchief. Freefall Sequence

There’s a training statement that sounds funny, but is seriously true: “When the people look like ants, it’s time to play.  When the ants look like people, it’s time to pray.”

I can’t begin to describe the adrenalin rush of floating and playing above the clouds.

First Freefall Necklace We were soon asked to join the club’s staff, which paid our way by manifesting the jump loads, packing chutes, and talking down students.

Wearing a ripcord “necklace” after the first freefall, is a ritual deemed to bring good luck to their students.  Since it would have been bad luck to remove it before our next jump, we were expected to wear it until then.

Our goal was to earn our Class A license.  Passing a written test and completing a skydive that showed we weren’t a danger to other skydivers, gave us the privilege to join this elite group of adrenalin junkies.

Lee and I were well trained to be prepared in case of a parachute malfunction.  After many jumps, we eventually found ourselves under parachutes that weren’t going to land us safely.  We each had to cut away our mains and land under our reserve parachutes, much to the worried concern of our friends on the ground.

300 Way SkydiveWhen we weren’t jumping ourselves, we loved watching world record attempts.

At Skydive Chicago, we watched the completion of the first 300 way world record.

Ten of the eleven jump planes did a celebratory fly-by, to the delight of everyone on the ground.

Fly By Planes
Since we accomplished our skydiving goals, it was time to be kind to our bones and retire our parachutes.  Our log books show that I finished one more jump than my husband.  He knows that I try to always be a “jump ahead of him” and if he forgets, it’s written in my log book.

On our bucket list, Skydiving

My husband stated “for my 50th birthday, there’s something I always wanted to do.”   I couldn’t imagine what was on his bucket list, that he hadn’t already accomplished.

His answer was “jump out of an airplane” and my response was “okay, is that with or without a parachute?”  Gosh, he was serious!
Lee's Birthday Tandem skydive 1Well, we celebrated his birthday by driving to the local airport and watching some skydivers.

It looked so effortless, that we both signed up for our tandem skydives.

Lee's In Flight Tandem 2

The jump begins at an altitude of over 1 mile above ground.  The drogue chute (see the yellow tail behind the parachute) is released to stabilize the jumpers.

After free falling down to 5,500 feet, the main parachute is opened.

Lee's Tandem Safe Landing 3 Now learning how to guide this huge tandem chute begins.

The toggle straps have double hand holds, so the trainer and student work together on making turns and landing in the pea gravel.

Lee was the perfect student and had a stand-up landing.

Neva's First Skydive Tandem 1It’s easy to smile at the camera and not be nervous when your feet are still on the ground.

We had a camera man take videos of our first jump.  I was so scared, I had to watch the video to make sure I actually did this skydive.Neva's First Skydive Tandem 2

The worst part for me was when the pilot opened the plane’s door.  The tandem master leaned out that open door to visually check the jump area.  Being buckled to him meant I was hanging out the doorway too.

The camera man exited and was hanging onto the plane’s strut.  At this point, I was more concerned about survival, than geeking the camera mounted on his helmet.

Once we were in free fall, it became the most amazing experience I could ever imagine.

After completing our skydives, we both knew we had to go out that open plane door again for another tandem jump.

What started as my husband’s birthday wish, became our newest hobby.Neva's Tandem Safe Landing 3

Hole N’ The Rock, an unusual Utah home

Almost 100 years ago, Albert Christensen began carving a home for his family out of this rock near Moab, Utah.  No, that’s not our Jeep in the upper left hand corner.  Just above the “C” is a 65 foot chimney for the fireplace.  The only natural light coming into the home, is from the windows in the three front rock openings.
Front view, Hole in the Rock
We had driven past this place many times and thought it was just a tourist trap.  Well it is, but we were also impressed to see how people actually lived in this big rock.

view of rooms, Hole in the RockWhat’s described as an “engineering marvel”, took 20 years to make this 5,000 square foot home.  Albert excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone with his hand tools.

Fourteen rooms are arranged around these huge pillars.  The summer temperature never varies from a comfortable 72 degrees.

view of the artist's work, Hole in the Rock When Albert wasn’t carving rooms out of this sandstone rock, he painted religious and historic pictures.  He also taught himself taxidermy, when he found animals that didn’t survive the harsh winters.  We considered Albert to be very talented, but his mounted animals were weird.  His wife must’ve really loved him a lot, to allow these grotesque looking animals in her home.   view of the wife's doll collection, Hole in the Rock

After raising two boys, Gladys indulged in her feminine side by collecting dolls.  She displayed them in her pink carpeted bedroom.  At least her dolls could enjoy the elegant dresses she couldn’t wear in this desert environment.

To supplement their income, a large kitchen was carved out of the sandstone to serve dinners to travelers.  To make a deep fryer, Albert carved that out of sandstone too.

view of two rooms, Hole in the RockWe enjoyed our walking tour through the furnishings and tool displays of their life, as it would have been in the early 1900’s.

The Hole N’ The Rock was named by the National Geographic Traveler’s Magazine as one of the top 10 roadside attractions in the USA.  To encourage people to stop, the new owners added a gift shop and small zoo.  If you have ever wondered what living in a rock would be like, this is the place.  Also, visit this website: http://www.theholeintherock.com for more information.

‘Lego King of his Castle Birthday Cake’

My grandson chose a ‘Lego King of his Castle’ theme for his sixth birthday party.  The little king’s swim party was a success, even though his crown didn’t float very well.
Birthday Cake copy

The lego birthday king is wearing his red robe and flanked by his lego princess sister and prince brother.  They are shaped from Rice Krispie Treats and covered with colored fondue.  Wilton FoodWriter pens outlined the face and robe details.

Hershey chocolate squares were used for the castle door and windows, then outlined with piped dark chocolate.  Sugar wafer cookies are the drawbridge and held with chocolate licorice chains.

Birthday cake side pic
I cut squares out of the middle of the double layered chocolate cake and placed the pieces on each corner.  The turrets are chocolate covered mini marshmallows.  Waffle cones were placed on top of ice cream cones and chocolate frosting “glued” them together, with golden sugar glitter sprinkled over them.

Bubble wrap covered the tray and then frosted blue for the lego base.  Blue Jello jigglers were cut and placed with red Gummy fish around the cake for the moat.  Fruit rollups were used for the flags and banner.

Many of my inspirations came from the creative ideas for Lego Castle Cakes found in the website: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com.

A Waterfall in the Model Train Room

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  Besides fixing the railroad track so the trains can run smoothly, we are remodeling the room to reflect how our town may have looked in the 1950’s.
Train Room waterfall full length

Originally, the waterfall was just a blue strip, with wads of cotton stuck on to simulate water.  I found some tutorials explaining how to create waterfalls by using clear caulking.
Train Room caulking gun copyLuckily our bathtubs aren’t in need of a re-caulking just yet, cause making waterfalls seemed like a lot more fun.

caulking linesI spread the caulking on clear plastic wrap with enough lines to match the width of the waterfall area and about 15 inches long.  I made five of these caulked sections, to cover the length of the waterfall.caulking merged

Then a tooth pick was used to blend together the caulking lines.  By twisting and lifting the toothpick, the roughness of water splashing was created.

The next day, the caulking strips were dry enough to attach to the train room wall, by using more caulking as glue.

By accident, I found that the pressure from the caulking gun made long drips which were perfect to simulate the waterfall’s streaming water.

After the strips were attached, more long drips were added since this looked so cool.  Sparkle Paint was dabbed sporadically and wisps of cotton added for a clear, rushing water effect.Train Room waterfall bottom portion