Monday, February 27, 2017

The Allentown Train Show, Trophies, and Mechs

I'm proud to say that for the fifth straight year we've made the Daddy-Daughter pilgrimage to the ATMA Train Show at Ag Hall in Allentown.

We started a crazy weekend on Friday with Millie's Kindergarten basketball finale, which was the only real game of the season, the two local elementary schools in the district playing against one another.  Forty Kindergarteners would be enough, but add in all the parents, grandparents, and third cousins that wanted to see this elite event was quite overwhelming.  Millie left early with my wife to get dropped off to a friend to go see Monster Jam at the local arena.   Maja and I stayed to volunteer for the pizza party.  Once we finally got home, Maja ran upstairs to grab game after game to play with her Mommy-Daddy time.  After cut throat games of Go-Fish, Candyland, and Life, a re-energized Millie came home and it took forever to get them down. 

It's not surprising that I had trouble getting them up Saturday morning, but we were gassed up and on the road about 45 minutes later than expected.  Our new breakfast spot for Train Day, The Beacon Diner, was everything I remembered from last year's visit, for better or for worse.  It's a diner.  Dated décor, food platings that would never earn a Michelin star, but dammit it that day old Blueberry Crumb pie in the cooler cried out to me.

I withstood the temptation and soon we were in Allentown with two large realizations:
It was the first time in our journeys to the show that the weather was spectacular.  Normally it's been a day after a blizzard or almost as bad. 

It was the first Saturday we ever made it to.  In fact, it might have been the first time I attended the show on a Saturday since I was ten. 
The place was packed!  Almost no parking, shoulder to shoulder, but the girls persevered and we navigated over to the layouts.   With one small exception, the layouts have been the same every year, but don't tell the girls that, especially since they were finally tall enough that I didn't need to lift anyone up to see them!
Yes, Millie dressed up as a Wonder Woman as a train engineer for the entire day.
Soon we got to the Maja's high point of the morning: the train races.  The kids get to race each other with old Lionel locomotives down mirror-image tracks with some perilous curves.  It requires a deft hand and a little luck to keep the train from derailing.  Outside of a wireless starting/finish line, it's the same equipment they had back in the 80's. 

Looking back at previous years' accounts, Maja had career record of 1-4-2 (ties are double derailments), so I was expecting her to try valiantly and be jubilant about the free participation certificate they give out. 

Darn it if here years of experience and seven year old maturity didn't turn into a decent morning.  
The starting line of the train races...
She actually blew through the first two rounds, and had a good chance against the eventual champion, if it weren't for an errant derailment.  Usually the trains fly off the track in a crash reminiscent of Gomez Addams' layout, but somehow she made the turn a tenth of a mile too fast, so no one saw  the  train wobble just enough to lose contact with the track.  It was disheartening, but she continues to impress me in all her little pursuits, be it gymnastics, basketball, or even train racing. 

We'll be back next time... FOR REVENGE... or just a certificate.

After the girls' second favorite activity (pretzels and lemonade), they let me peruse the tables for treasures to take home and sneak past my wife.  Unfortunately, there were no great bargains to restock my terrain. 
The kids got a few gee-gaws, and I only snagged up a watermelon field and an illuminated standing magnifier to help these aging eyes
With that, we loaded up into the car and travelled across the Lehigh Valley to my mother's house so the kids could spend the afternoon with Nanny and I could hang out with friends and put together a game or two.

But first I needed lunch. 

To offset the Saturday chaos at the train show, I was able to finally visit Chrissy's Steak Shop, run by my friend and high school classmate, Bob.  With our normal trips on Sundays, Chrissy's is closed, but it was nice to catch up with him (the food was pretty good too!). 

I spied a few trophies on a shelf, and upon further inspection realized that they were not only trophies from the good old alma mater, Easton Area High School, but the actual trophies from my senior year!
It may surprise some who know me now that many moons ago, I was a three-sport dude in high school (Cross-Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track & Field), specializing in hurdles.   Truth be told, I'm only responsible for the Track & Field  League championship on the left, as I wasn't near good enough to participate for the Cross-Country District championship... and since I'm not a woman, I had no impact on the girls' team.  Regardless, it's a matter of pride.

Food in hand, I hit my friend Brian's house just as Steve arrived as well.  With everyone else no-shows, we couldn't kick off the next RPG session, so we broke out some quick games and chewed the cud.

Brian had already set up Deadzone (Mantic) for us.  I liked the mechanics, the exploding dice, and the heavy use of d8s.  We then broke out a copy of Tiny Epic Galaxies.  

Steve also brought out his limited edition of Scythe for us to go ooh and ahh over.  We have declared the next gaming day to be one of Scythe-playing and miniatures painting at Steve's.  Date TBD.
A board game with mechs that has nothing to do with mechs.

Steve unearthed a huge gift which will be announced on a future blog post. More details to come. 
A huge storm swept through the state, which fortunately ended right before I left Brian's to pick up the kids and get them home. 

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