So I’m out of Cocoa Beach, following another train north, riding his yellows. I’ve got setouts and pickups along the line, up to Jay-Jays where NASA Space Center supplies are dropped. Then turn and home.
I want to do this perfect. I mean, really perfect. I want this to be my best run ever. It’s not because their are management types hiding in the brush with speed guns, no. It’s because after this session, the current FEC will shut down for good.
For real-world reasons, Owner Ken has got to move his layout out of the house. It will be broken up and shifted into a pair of sheds in his back yard, a project that will run years. So after today, no more fully-signaled mainlines, no more baby-blue engines working places we drive past on the way in. I know his next layout will be even better, but you always hate to see a layout become a fallen flag.
I work Cidco, picking up an FEC rock hopper to drop at a cement plant further along (my buddy Kevin helps me to sort through the paperwork and get out clean). Once that’s off, I meet a coal train working OUC at Frontenac. In Titusville, a tricky situation – I pass the train I’ve been following down the siding, then we both hold while a southbound train rolls past us using the crossover – its so cool that I half-think Ken – as the dispatcher – is doing this just for the slickness of the move. Once he’s past, my companion freight rumbles by as I drop my string so as to run light to Jay-Jays.
But while doing this, I call the dispatcher to confirm my move. He says, casually, that I should have a hopper to drop at Jay-Jays. Yes, I say uncertainly. I guess I do. I look at my paperwork. Three hoppers out of Cidco, all heading back to Cocoa. So, no, I really don’t.
I scoop up the hopper off the Jay-Jay wye (the poor track crew working there – they’ve been digging that ditch for years, never got the project done, and now their world is ending). Back over to Titusville to swap the train about and then I’m heading home. That hopper I got off Jay-Jays will go onto the Cidco team track. Easy move.
But when I get there, there are a couple of cars sitting on the team, one of them a black hopper with paperwork directing it to Jay-Jays via my run.
“Uh, Dispatcher, I see that hopper you mentioned. Did it get dropped off late?”
“Negative, it was there earlier. You must have missed it.”
I look across the room to Kevin, who shakes his head. He didn’t think it was there.
Now I’m not sure.
So I run back to Cocoa slightly subdued, wondering if I goofed this up. Sometimes it’s possible to run the same train next session, to reset a wrong and put it right. Not this time. There won’t be a next time. The world ends in 30 minutes. So I’ll carry that to my grave, I guess.
But it was a fun session, one of many over the years. Thanks for hosting us, Ken. We eagerly look forward to your new version.