One or two weekends per month, the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society opens their doors to the public for a train show. We've been meaning to go for a while, but just recently got around to it.
Not knowing exactly how to describe what we saw there, I'll let some of the info from their website do the talking. "The Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society is proud to be one of the most mountainous layouts, and one of the largest exclusively HO scale lines in the United States."
(I have no idea what an HO scale line is, but I'm impressed!)
"At our shows we invite you to visit a permanent 54' x 32' layout with over 4,300 feet of hand laid track on 175,000 individual ties with more than 340 turnouts all enclosed in a building specially designed and constructed by the club members. Mountains rise to 10 feet above the lowest track level, and the railroad may be viewed from all sides. Under normal operating conditions it requires about 45 minutes for one train to complete a single circuit of the mainline."
So, in a nutshell, in the world of railroad enthusiasts their setup is a big deal. They had a whole mission control thing going on, with ten or so guys running all of the trains. During the show the sun set, a thunderstorm showered the show floor with actual sprinkles of water from the ceiling, and the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey blared over the speakers when the sun rose again. It's not a hobby for these guys, it's a lifestyle.
Ethan thought it was pretty exciting, and pointed wildly at all of the trains going in and out of tunnels, around corners, and through city streets. He was a bit frustrated when we wouldn't let him pick up the train cars, and the thunderstorm really freaked him out, but all in all it was a good time!