We three SoCal ops drove to "Rocky Ops" and "Great Basin Getaway" this month, October 2008.  We operated on eight (8) model railroads, one long session a day.  We railfanned each leg of the trip, driving from LA to Santa Fe to Chama to Antonito to Alamosa to Pueblo/Colorado Springs to Denver to Wyoming to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and home.

This is a brief photo report with a few pictures from the 1000 or so I took.  We had wonderful hosts at the op sessions, they could not have been better!  The food and socializing with other model railroad operators from all over the country was perfect.  An outstanding trip!!

You ask, how could we three possibly get along for eleven (11) days?  I think the answer is through nearly constant joking, put downs and generally crude behavior.  Steve had such a bad laughing fit that he practically had to come to a stop on the freeway.  Jon and I (Mike) practically suffocated from laughter once in a hotel room--I just could not breathe.  So I would say we had a good time.

Mike O'Brien
with Jon Cure and Steve Schiffman

Steve's car the first day.  He ran over a big metal part from a truck disintegrating a truck tire.  
Jon attached a bungee cord to hold the undertray onto the car for the rest of the trip.


Santa Fe's old train station.  Jon's requirement for a specific local food available only on
Fridays dictated our schedule this first day.  Albondigas or something like that
(actually carne adovada, and he found it on a Thursday, notes Jon).
Santa Fe is finishing up a commuter train directly to Albuquerque.  Glorious weather.


Live steam at its best.  I listened to this loco quietly hissing and ker-chunking for quite a while.  Smelling
the coal smoke.  Divine.  Chama enginehouse.


A narrow gauge train arrives in Chama.


This grab shot from the highway of a narrow gauge train is part of a long story.  See next picture.


This scenic location--note the perfect fall colors, weather and lighting--awaits a train that never made it
up the grade to here.  We could hear it for an hour, spinning its drivers, wailing its whistle, and trying
to make it.  Dozens of railfans from around the world were waiting here for it, just below Windy Point
on the 4 percent grade.


A narrow gauge sunset at Antonito.


We rode the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad train from Alamosa to La Veta over La Veta pass.  Six
hours, a great ride.  A steam engine and full dome cars.  Going one way we could be in the vestibule 
right behind the tender as it blasted up the steep grade, echoing off the rocks.  Thrilling.


Steam and streamline domes.


Steve took the best seat in the dome and some high/wide guy joined him.  The car was nearly empty, too.


Going back, our open vestibule faced back down the track.  A great ride.


Meeting up with our fellow operators at the hotel in Colorado Springs for Rocky Ops.


Rocky Ops organizer, and owner of one of the layouts, Fred Carlson gives his crew orientation meeting.
Look how long that ore dock is.  I snagged the job of yardmaster at the main yard at this end of his layout.


Fellow traveler Jon Cure at Bob Foltz' ATSF layout at Rocky Ops.  Bill Sornsin from Seattle stands by.


Fellow traveler Steve Schiffman at Eric Lundbergs's Rocky Ops layout in Colorado Springs.


Jon on his stool at Eric Lundberg's layout.


Fred Eisenthal from SoCal and Seth Neumann from the SF Bay Area are briefed on the work
they have as yardmasters at Eric Lundberg's.


The perfect flagman, on Bill Shanaman's New Haven RR layout in Sugar City, CO.  
You just sit him on the track and his lantern light ups.  


A big laugh is had by all as Jonathan (in foreground) has his third 3-way meet in a row on Dave Kampsnider's
ATSF layout in Denver, an extra op session to which we were invited.  A beautiful layout.  That's Dave in the
middle, with a big smile.  To the right is James Peterson of Dallas who organized this extra op session.


Jon in his element.  The UP in the Powder River Basin, which sees over a hundred trains a day.


Jon practicing safe railfanning in Wyoming.


SP lives!


Another one of those coal trains.  It seems like they came along every two minutes.


At this junction in Wyoming the UP main splits between California and Oregon.  Oregon to the left above.


Jonathan Jones of Brooklyn, NY, contemplates heifers (?) at Lee Nicholas' ranch near Salt Lake City. 
Lee organizes the Great Basin Getaway, every two years.  His basement layout is superb!


Jonathan and Seth Neumann at Ted York's magnificent ATSF Cajon Pass layout at Great Basin Getaway.
Seth is on his cell phone hearing about an 800 point swing in the stock market.


Jon, Steve and Lee in Lee's crew lounge.  


Steve having fun with the soapbox cars that carry train orders down the layout at Lee's.  I snagged the
job at Likely Tower that sends and receives orders this way.  I also got to call crews, hostle engines,
switch some industries, run trains to the Mole, and work with the yardmaster.  Fabulous job.


After Lee's op session we went to our favorite local restaurant, the Prairie Schooner, for steaks.


Gary Peterson, at back of room with Coke, is briefing his crew.  Gary has an old layout that has been
beautifully made over into a wonderful layout to view and operate.  GBG in SLC.


SoCal op "model" Craig Stoops dispatches Gary Peterson's SLS layout, using CTC.


I love this shot.  I caught Steve mid-sneeze (at right).  Bill Franks from Minneapolis is in center, and
Robbie Spangler is at back.  Robbie painted the wonderfully good backdrops on this layout and some others.  


Seth is yardmaster on the SLS here.  The tracks behind him are passing thru the bathroom.  The tracks
on the wall at the far left are heading left into staging, while the tracks in the right foreground are heading
right into staging at the other end of the layout.


The Great Basin Getaway catered dinner at Jon Robinson's home.  Jon has a huge layout and lives in
an old church school building.  This room seats 88 people for this dinner.  His layout is down the entry
hall in an old gymnasium room.  At the foreground table, above, Jon Cure from SoCal wolfs down some ribs.


Our last morning in Salt Lake City saw 4 inches of snow.  A beautiful scene.  Driving was fine as we left
for home, Sunday, October 12, 2008.


More railfanning in SLC.  Snow on the bushes.


Contrary to rumors that the heavy snowfall led the intrepid SoCal operators into a Donner Party situation,
Jon found the world's biggest hot dog in a gas station.  No further comment.


And finally, since I never seem to show up in my photos, here is Mike from SoCal, goofing off as usual.