Friday, April 13, 2018

Pacific Coast Region convention, 2018

I occasionally write about my experiences at conventions held by various regions of NMRA (the National Model Railroad Association). This is not because they are earth-shaking events, but because I think they represent the best of what the NMRA does. These conventions encourage modelers throughout a geographical region to come together in several ways: socially of course, but also as model contestants or exhibitors, audiences at clinics, shoppers in vendor rooms or swap meets, and participants in layout tours or prototype tours. These all enhance and enlarge our mutual information and enjoyment of the hobby.
     During the first week of April I attended the Pacific Coast Region (PCR) convention for 2018 at Rohnert Park, California, a suburb of Santa Rosa. We were headquartered in the Doubletree Hotel there, a striking facility in several ways, including the dramatic fieldstone wall behind the breakfast bar.

     The entire event began with a reception at the nearby Bear Republic brew pub, a pleasant event with excellent beer and food. Shown below is a snapshot of this event, with Chris Palermo at far left (who organized the event), and next to him, long-time PCR stalwart Bill Scott. Behind them are Mary and Gus Compagna, equally long-time active PCR participants. It was fun to kick off the convention this way, and . . . in case I forget to mention it, the beer was excellent.

     A focus of these meetings is always modeling, and in addition to a goodly number of quality contest entrants, there were also a bunch of models that were entered for exhibition and therefore not judged. James Keena brought several, all very nicely done models. Here is one:

This is a reworked Train Miniature plastic car, with the underbody support truss moved back under the body where it belongs, and upgrades of several details, along with nicely done paint and weathering to depict PE 6241, a Hart convertible gondola of a type once prevalent on the SP.
     There was also an extensive clinic program ( I gave two talks myself). A noteworthy presentation was Jim Providenza’s “24th anniversary” presentation of his clinic on Realistic Operation, a talk which has motivated countless modelers, in PCR and beyond, to focus on how their layout is or could be operated. Here is Jim standing in front of (and slightly discolored by) his title slide.

     Last but (for me anyway) far from least was a chance to have lunch and, yes, an excellent beer, in the form of a visit to the Russian River Brewing Company brew pub in downtown Santa Rosa. Though fairly small, this brewery has achieved a kind of cult status in some circles with its outstanding IPA creations in limited editions, both Pliny the Elder in bottles, and (for a few weeks every February) an even better IPA called Pliny the Younger.
     It not being February, we were nevertheless happy to settle for “the Elder,” and Ray DeBlieck even picked up a 12-pack, You can see he was pleased with his purchase, and there’s a good reason. Except at the brewery, retail shops have such limited supply that purchasers are normally limited to two bottles. That makes a 12-pack quite a score.

     This was neither a great nor an ordinary PCR convention, but somewhere in the middle — one that could be truly enjoyed and even savored. Savored . . . well, yes, Sonoma County is perceived in the greater world as wine country, and rightly so; but nowadays it is beer country too.
Tony Thompson

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