You Are Here.
Jump to other pages.
How to Make Everything in Your Life Happen on the Same Day
Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running wellGarden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to runBest Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order FormSturdy buildings for your garden railroad.
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

Click to sign up for the 'Trains-N-Towns<sup><small>TM</small></sup>' newsletter, with articles about display villages, indoor railroading, and much more

How to Design and Build Your Garden Railroad

How to Make Everything in Your Life Happen on the Same Day

Answer: Schedule an event you can't reschedule.

Readers know that we have been planning our fifth Christmas-Themed Garden Train Open Railroad for months. You should also know that the regional chapter of the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) more or less sets the range of dates for their fall open houses (2nd-3rd week of November). Every year, I volunteer to participate because no other garden railroaders in the area are brave - or crazy - enough to schedule an open railroad this late in the year. And every year, I look at a totally blank spot on my calendar and tell the club guy when I can have the open house.

And every year, five things that, technically, are more important get scheduled the same weekend, usually the same day.

One year, when a big church event got moved to the day I had scheduled, I called the NMRA guys and changed the date. They said, fine, we were just getting ready to send the flyers to the printer, so you caught us just in time. When they found out that the flyers had already gone to the printer, they didn't think to let me know.

As a result, my single attempted to change the date of our open railroad after first setting it resulted in:

  • A relatively small crowd of family and friends who were "in the loop" came on the day I had changed to, and
  • On the date I had originally planned, I made a run to the house for something I needed at church, only to find strangers milling around in our driveway wondering where the trains were.

So I called Shelia to tell her what was going on, put out the sign, turned on the lights, got out the trains, and ran an impromptu open house all by myself (my out-of-town helpers having all come and gone the previous day, as they should have). Then I went back to help clean things up at church.

Okay, you might say, that was a "perfect storm" sort of scheduling conflicts and poor communication. But pretty much every time I've scheduled this event, something comes out of nowhere that makes it seem like I could not have chosen a worse date.

November 10, 2012

So, this year, I planned WAY early, contacting the NMRA folks before they contacted me, etc., doing everything I could to stay ahead of it. When I scheduled November 10, I had no idea whether there would be a fall festival at church this year, or when it would be. But since they tend to put these on Sunday, I figured Saturday would be safer.

A few weeks after I scheduled our open railroad for November 10, the church did schedule the fall festival for November 11. Okay, that means I'll have a long weekend, and won't be able to spend Sunday putting stuff away, but hopefully we won't have railfans and model railroad fans showing up at our house with nobody home this year.

Then three other minor events were scheduled for Saturday, and two more were scheduled for Sunday. Considering that this is almost the only thing I ever schedule, it is just amazing how - once the date is set - it seems to attract conflicting events.

Yesterday at church, I was telling a friend how setting the date for our open railroad is like putting a bowling ball onto a trampoline - it deforms the fabric so that anything else you put on it will tend to collect around the bowling ball. That metaphor isn't original - it's often used to describe how a body with great mass distorts the "fabric" of the universe, drawing other matter toward it - what we call gravity.

You wouldn't think that announcing the date of an open garden railroad would similarly distort the fabric of the universe. But once I set the date, anything else that had the potential for happening in the last three months of the year tends to get drawn into the same temporal space.

My friend was chuckling at my analogy, just as another friend was coming over to tell us that we were invited to a wedding next month. When? November 10, of course.

The family in question will understand us not being at the wedding, of course. But some folks have been known to question our "priorities." "How can you possibly think your 'train thing' is more important that my such-and-such?" And the answer is usually something like, "It's not. Had you scheduled YOUR event sooner I would gladly have scheduled mine around it. But I can't change it now, even if I want to."

Let's say for argument's sake that I DID change dates this late, even to the point of driving to the train show and hand-changing the dates in all of the flyers. Experience seems to prove that whatever new date I chose would soon start attracting other "non-negotiable" events as soon as the ink was dry on the flyers.

This year, we have several people coming in from out of town for the event, and I will be very glad for the help. Hopefully, we'll be able to set up more trains and activities than we have ever had - I'll be honest - there are always two or three more things I want to set out, but I run out of time. The people who show up and enjoy the trains, the popcorn, the other snacks, and any additional entertainment are always glad they came, and we get a lot of repeate visitors. But most years, it could have been even bigger with a little more help.

If you'd like to come over some weekend between now and then, or if you can come on November 9th to help set up, or on November 10th to help run things, that would be great.

On the other hand, if you just found out about something that the Races really OUGHT to be doing instead on November 10, 2012, please let us know on November 12th or so - I don't want to know. :-)

Best of luck, all.

Please let me know if you have any feedback, and have a great holiday season.

See you online, or in the back yard!


Click to see Halloween Trains and Towns from trusted vendors.

Click to learn about trains for your Christmas trees and villages.

Click to sign up for our Christmas craft and traditions newsletter.

Return to the Blog-Like Content Menu

To read more, or to look at recommended Garden Railroading and Display Railroad products, you may use the search button below or click on the index underneath it.

Click to see new and vintage-style Lionel trains.
Click to see new and vintage-style Lionel trains

To read more, or to look at recommended Garden Railroading and Display Railroad products, you may click on the index pages below.

Home Pages
Reading Index Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads

Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, BIG Indoor TrainsTM, and BIG Train StoreTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (
All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Paul D. Race.
Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
Family Garden Trains is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For more information, please contact us