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admin 17.01.2014

The railroad consisted of ten trains on numerous tracks operated by three disembodied heads (see above photo, at top, slightly left of center). Parents held their toddlers up to view the scene from behind plastic shields while older kids stood on observation platforms (benches).
The kids loved seeing the trains wind their way around mountains, over bridges and through tunnels. I blog about this merely to suggest that you look for a railroad club in your town and see if they welcome visitors.
Check out the club list of the National Model Railroad Club Association (see left column, halfway down), or try Googling.
Next to maybe Candlestick Park, I can’t think of a local inanimate object in greater need of a crisis public relations specialist than the Bay Bridge. True, the Bay Bridge appears to be falling apart, like it contracted some kind of bridge leprosy. I’m probably in the minority, but I’m not looking forward to driving across the new span with its S-curves, fancy suspension thing and lack of ugly criss-crossed steel girders. Watching the news, one might think that the Bay Bridge is one of the worst bridges in the Bay Area, if not the world.
PETER HARTLAUB is the pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and founder of this parenting blog, which admittedly sometimes has nothing to do with parenting.
Thomas the Train fans crowded into three residential rooms filled wall to wall by model railroad displays constructed 5 feet off the ground, but which rose much higher with molded mountain passes.


The conductors, one per room, stood in the middle of their monstrous railroad structures, with only their heads visible. Parents took notice of the fine detail and humor put into the smallest elements of the models of vehicles, people and towns.
Yes, I know the proper full name is Thomas the Tank Engine or Thomas and Friends, but who doesn’t just call him Thomas the Train?
Go to Google Images and type in “Golden Gate Bridge,” and 100 postcard-perfect photos show up.
The Richmond Bridge: I like the little islands near the bridge and the view of San Quentin traveling westbound. The Carquinez Bridge: I like the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge, the new, critically-acclaimed westbound-only bridge from Vallejo to Crockett. Even with the taking-your-life-in-your-own-hands factor, I would call it the sixth-worst local bridge.
RSS feed is provided for personal private use, not full-text syndication on public third party sites. But even with a recent retrofit that’s built to withstand a much bigger earthquake, the bridge still looks like you could huff and puff and blow it down. But the old eastbound bridge with its look of ancient orthodonture remains, in fugly contrast to its shiny new counterpart. Last year, I drove across it, only because Google Maps said it was the fastest way to Palo Alto.


The approach is too cramped and it’s easily the most claustrophobic bridge in the Bay Area — particularly the lower deck, which makes me feel like I’m playing Monaco GP whenever I drive across it. It’s like buying a beautiful new home next to vacant lot filled with a giant pile of burning tires. I would never recommend it as a tourist destination, but it’s always been a nice addition to my day. But there’s a working class badass vibe to both the eastern and western span of the Bay Bridge that accurately reflects the cultural shift on the drive from Oakland to San Francisco. Traveling westbound, I want to whistle the theme from “Taxi” as I approach Treasure Island, and then play some Journey on the other side. Traveling eastbound, it psychologically prepares the driver for the journey into the Oakland. Whenever I watch the morning news, the traffic people are always saying this bridge has no backup.



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