Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our Huntington Excursion

Lynn and I thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous Labor Day weekend excursion aboard the private railcar Silver Lariat and exploring the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena. It was a business excursion for the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, which also explains why the Huntington was the destination - as in Henry Huntington, railroad baron. It's the sort of place where you could spend a week and still not do it justice. Below are a smattering of pics from the trip. We stayed at the the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena; this place is a story on its own. If you're interested in seeing the entire gallery of photos, just let me know.

The service aboard the Silver Lariat was impeccable,
and the food was fabulous!

We caught our guys in action as we passed Guadalupe.

At the Tea Room on the grounds of the Huntington Library.

One of my better shots of Betteravia from the UPRR mainline.

Winding our way up the Cuesta Grade.

Crossing the bridge over Highway 101 in Ventura.

One of the many gorgeous settings in the gardens at the Huntington.

In the "foyer" of the bathroom on the Silver Lariat.

The Silver Lariat beneath the pedestrian bridge
at the San Luis Obispo Amtrak station.

Crossing the Stenner Creek trestle (just north of Cal Poly).

Handwritten letter by Albert Einstein.
One of many fascinating documents at the Huntington Library.

This room initially looked the most boring,
but turned out to be the most fascinating.
We caught glimpses into the minds of some
great writers and thinkers.

Blue Boy. Probably the most famous painting
in the Huntington collection.
With our new friend Jami (no e), wife of SMVRR's new Chief Mechanical Officer, Brian. This incredible wine room was at The Royce steakhouse in the Langham Huntington Hotel. Oh my! You may have heard of Kobe beef; how about Moyer beef, or Brandt beef? The menu includes a "flight" of beef if you'd like to try all three! BTW, we're pictured in the white wine room. There was another equally gigantic red wine room. We chose a Carr Cab Franc.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Topo Fun - And More

On a whim, Matteo and I decided to visit the SLO Children's Museum after dropping Serafina off at Cinderella. The two of us get quite a charge out of the place. Among today's favorites, pictured below, where the Topo Table and Shake It Up. The Topo Table had all-white sand that kids could mold and shove around to their hearts content. In the meantime, a camera and projection system was mapping the topography of the sand and projecting topo lines and depth colors from above onto the otherwise white sand. Very cool! The deep blue areas were the lowest elevations all the way up to white being the highest elevations. The Shake It Up station let you build structures and then shake them to see how they'd behave in an earthquake. Afterward, Matteo asked if we could eat at a restaurant on the way home. I said sure, where do you think? To which he started to rattle off an entire list, "Well there's Habit, Pizza Solo, Woodstock, Splash, blah, blah, blah." He is paying attention.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Railroad Reconstruction Begins

There have been lots of changes along the PB&J right-of-way over the past year or so. The largest change is the back yard. The entire back yard has been taken over by a deck (see the photos of Lynn's retirement party). The other major occurence was the removal of the large oak tree that was right in the middle of Fosterville. This necessitated the removal of the entire railroad. So, we're pretty much starting over. When Papa Bill got started a couple weeks ago, there was NOTHING but a few concrete bridge supports and the wall around the mission area. Everything had been take out to raw ground. Some other changes to note... A new puppy, Sandy, a labradoodle, brought a dog run to the driveway. The run is directly behind the bench. That actually opened up the area nicely. The hot tub is gone from the concrete area lower right. This'll be a new seating area. Note how the two bridges will soon lead to a 30-degree crossover/diamond in the foreground. There will be a balloon track on the rock patio that connects one side of the diamond to the other making the basic layout a circle eight.

More photos: