We are in August 2022…where did the year go? I know it’s been challenging to us all to get through the summer with the extreme heat and weather experienced by some parts of the country in the heartland; but we’re still here. Retirement has been really nice; but also a major adjustment to get used to. I traded in my older recumbent bicycles this past month in exchange for a new Giant Upright bike; as I attempt to finish out the cycling season strong. I know that has little to do with trains; but that is where I have been so far.

We have finished most of the major part of the renovations of the house; and are only lacking the smaller finishing touches to be completed. We plan to put the house on the market in September 2022; and have a tentative selection of house ready for occupancy prior to the sale of this house. We are beginning the process of cleaning the house from top to bottom; and donating/pitching unwanted or unused items as well. We do plan a “yard sale” that will be simply a give-away sale…where we place things in the driveway for people to take. We don’t plan on putting prices on these items. It has been a challenge with the days of hammering; sawing; grinding; and dumpster after dumpster coming to an end.

The railroad will get a larger room; 24 x 40 now; and will ensure that the full mine branch will be built; along with West Frankfort, Benton, Johnston City, Marion, Neilson, and the large steel trestle immediately south of it. I’ve updated all of my Digitrax equipment to the latest boosters and command stations; as well as my computer stations. We have a few items to take care of here and will do so this month before departing to our new home and town. I have enjoyed my stay in Centralia for 23 years. I am ready for the next chapter in a smaller and quieter town; along with a down-sized ranch house; with down-sized utility bills and upkeep.

The railroad will be built as soon as I can get the room ready for it. It is blank canvas; so I am excited to finally be getting to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Speaking of trains…the RPM meet was this past weekend in Collinsville IL. It was a decent show; but the raised price didn’t include upgraded clinics for the show; and the models have given way to a large room of vendors; far from what it used to be. It was nice to see the new products that are coming out; and nice to see vendors there that were absent during the pandemic awakening show last year. I feel that we are getting back to normal; or at least trying to obtain a sense of normalcy. However, a few of the testy responses from a manufacturer had me thinking that maybe the show had run its’ course; but I’ll leave that judgement up to when I am fully rested and in retirement mode.

I am attending the National Train Show on the weekend of August 12-14, 2022; also in Collinsville. I am really glad to have been able to see the show this year; but I prepared with another COVID booster in July. I am not taking any chances with the pandemic coming back; as my treatment for chronic underlying conditions continues in perpetuity. I have a couple of engine projects that I will wrap up this week; and hope to deliver to their owners…at the show. See you in September.

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Thomas Austin

I am a Southern Illinois Native. I am a fan of nostalgia, and the history of Southern Illinois. Model Railroading has been a large part of my life; and it helps serve that interest. Through this interest I have learned much about the region; the people; and the industries that gave us all hope of building a life beyond our formal education. Small Towns in the Midwest built this nation...and this site aims to share that fact with the world.