Mr. Steam felt that it was his turn to get some coverage here. After all it is supposed to be a blog about both crafting and steam trains. Yes that’s an odd combination, but I never said either of us were normal!
Earlier this summer we took the Mini Steam’s on their first road trip. We rented a mini van, packed up, and headed out to Colorado for some steam train fun!
Our first train encounter was the Big Boy on static display in Omaha. The Big Boy is my favorite engine. And N’s 2nd favorite engine. We still had over 8 hours of pure drive time left so we didn’t stop. But since you can see it just fine from I-80 I grabbed a few shots from the car.
Our second train encounter was quite by accident. We stopped for a potty break and on the way back on the highway I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I made a sharp right and got a funny look from Mr. Steam. I am pretty sure he thought I had lost my mind. But I said “Trust me” in my evil doer voice.
His face totally changed when he laid his eyes on this nicely restored Santa Fe caboose. It was in a roadside museum that was still under construction.
Isn’t she a beaut?! I’d love to buy some remote property somewhere and have a caboose as the cottage. Shhh, don’t tell Mr. Steam that.
The next day we finally made our way to Denver and then on to the Georgetown Loop. The whole family was exited to find out they were running a Shay. While we have ridden behind several different kinds of steam engines, neither the kids or I have ever ridden behind a geared engine. Mr. Steam has gotten to be the fireman on a Heisler, but never ridden or operated a Shay.
One of the really neat things about the Georgetown loop is the loop itself. Part of the loop is a VERY tall bridge. And let me tell ya, the views from the bridge were incredible.
On the ride up Mr. Steam was lecturing the Mini Steam’s on the difference of a geared engine from a standard engine. Of course both kids were hanging on every word. And it turns out so were many of the other passengers in our open air car.
Part way up we had to stop and make up water. It was the fireman’s second day on the job and he wasn’t as careful with his water consumption as he should have been. We were of course on an incline and the engine slipped pretty good trying to get started again. The fire ended up getting blown out. We had to back down a little bit and sand the rails so we could get started again. Of course Mr. Steam was giving a play by play through the whole situation. Several of the riders said they wanted Mr. Steam to go fire the engine. It was a good thing we were in an open air car, because I think his head swelled a few sizes.
At the top of the ride the train stops in Silverplume. We took on some water and the engine switched to the other end of the train. M was very happy that the engine switched to the other side of the train. On the way up we were sitting in the 1st car behind the engine so that we could have the FULL steam train experience (which includes the sounds and grit falling on us from the stack). The whistle was much easier on M’s ears from the FAR side of the train.
The scenery on the ride was enough even for non-train enthusiasts. This is one of MANY gorgeous views along the hour long ride.
Hour? You say. Why yes. And why is that important?
Well I learned a very important lesson in this ride. NEVER ask a train buff a vague question about the length of the train ride. I asked if it was a long ride. In my head I was thinking we were late and very close to missing the train. Was it worth it to sprint back to the van to search for the sunscreen? Mr. Steam assured me that it wasn’t a long ride at all, in fact it was a very short ride. So thinking it would be max a 20 min ride. I made the executive decision to skip the sunscreen. And hour later yours truly was as red as that caboose we saw in Nebraska.
The point of the trip was to Mr. Steam’s best friend’s wedding in Garden of the Gods. Pretty much everyone at the wedding were in the Steam Train business. I was quite surprised to not see any stripped bib overalls or at least a hat! The wedding itself was very informal and VERY nice. The kids had fun climbing on the rocks and looking out for eagles.
We did some other non-train tourist things while in Colorado Springs. M loved 7 Falls and climbed all the way to the top. And Mr. Steam filled a whole cooler with my favorite GREEN CHILIS!!!
Our weekend was over much to quickly and soon it was time to get back in the van and head home.
Somehow we seem to have VERY good luck at finding fun and unusual things to do at our potty stops. On the way home on one of our stops there was a vintage tractor pull going on. So we stopped and watched a few of the pulls.
It just so happened that the pulls were right beside some railway tracks. And while the tractors were pulling we got to see a BNSF train pulling 33 wind turbine blades. Its hard to believe how big those things are. The took a full 1 1/2 train cars per blade.