Monday, February 29, 2016

Allentown Train Show and Weekends of Freedom

If the temperatures are getting warming, the kids stir crazy, and the mud getting thicker than a Great War trench, it was time for the ATMA Spring Thaw Train Meet in Allentown this past weekend.

As my dedicated throngs of readers know, the Allentown Train Meet is a great excuse for a hybrid mix of daddy/daughter morning and a visit to Grandma J while I game with my friends in the afternoon. 

This year, with Millie turning 5, I decided I would try and take both of them.  This worked so-so two years ago, and at least I knew even if things turned wrong, (a) I would enjoy my rare gaming afternoon even more and (b) my mom would get a full night's sleep after the kids left.

By 7:30am, all three of us were in the car and on the road.  Our first traditional stop was always "the breakfast place," a diner attached to a gas store/convenience store right down the road from their other grandmother.  Alas, the business was recently over by a lovely Pakistani family and the diner portion was been shuttered. 

As an alternative we drove a bit before stopping at The Beacon Diner in Hometown, PA.   The kids are great when we eat out anywhere, but a diner just gives me a sense of calm versus a Perkins/Denney's or other chain restaurant.   

While we're still looking for a local breakfast alternative, on Train Days, we will now always go to The Beacon.  It's a diner, with old diner fixtures (good and bad) and diner fare (ditto).  The kids ate most of their food, they colored, the staff was friendly, I got coffee refills, and my scrapple was a solid mix of crunchy exterior and soft, tasty inside.

That's enough to give a place my seal of approval, but in the midst of breakfast, an older couple entered the restaurant.  The husband walked over to Millie, who was sitting right next to me along the counter, and just started chatting up a storm.  Finally, he said, "Sweetie, I'm a stranger so you can't take anything from me, but I'll give these to your Dad and he'll give them to you and your sister if it's okay," and handed me two shiny Kennedy half dollars, which made the girls' day.

The last time I saw something like that happen in a restaurant, I was the recipient of Mr. Kennedy.  I didn't think things like that happened anymore.  Thanks for proving me wrong!

The Train Show itself was a bit of a bust for me, and that is no fault of the organizers, volunteers, or anyone else.   I mean, the normal swampy parking lot was just muddy and the crowds were navigable.  My shopping list was small and there just wasn't much to work with, especially with two small girls.   Everyone with boxes of the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear trucks were gone, forcing me to eBay this month, there was one Marklin dealer, and there wasn't much in the way of wargaming convertible stuff on the cheap.

For Maja it was all about the Train races. 
She went 0-2 in her heat, but I was proud of her second race, almost beating the much older boy with a slow and steady approach to the race, just not enough to punch it on the last straightaway.  Regardless, she was happy with her certificate and ready to go. 
Welcome to Pennsylvania Weather
Our lemonade/giant pretzel snack at the show trumped a need for lunch, so we headed for Easton, took care of an errand or two, and dropped them off at Grandma's so I could run Call of Cthulhu. 

With our disasters from last session, this could very well have turned into a wrap-up session for the campaign.  But we had Dr Bob and Aaron making triumphant returns to the table and at the end of the session I believe we went from giving up to a fast track from being two or three sessions away from finishing Masks of Nylarathotep.  Sure, it looks like we're skipping Australia, but from what I've read/listened to, most people do.   On to Shanghai with the last of their money, their health, and their sanity.

After a week of illnesses, chauffeur duty for my mother-in-law's doctors appointments and dialysis, and crazy weather driving everyone mad, the weekend netted a relaxed Saturday afternoon and Olive Garden to-go for dinner and a great Sunday.   I'm definitely in a better place than last week, so hopefully the kids and I can get some painting/gaming done... after the local Grandma needs a pick-up from dialysis last tonight. 

Alright, I'll take what I can get. 

Coming Soon:  No pulp games are on the docket, do it's painting for the convention games, painting with the kids, the spoils of the Windsword and Miniature Market orders that arrived this past week, and TWO store reviews.

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