Tag Archives: wheels

A Track’s Trek Through the Garden

January 8, 2016 by
Photography by Contributed by Jerry Paladino

A train’s song is iconic, and with the flip of a switch, Jerry Paladino’s garden railroad roars to life. When not in use, the cars and engines live on shelves that line the walls of his garage. From there, they chug through a tunnel in the wall, out to the backyard and on to elevated tracks.

“I had to do a lot of talking to knock a hole into a brand-new house,” Paladino says. “My wife is very understanding.”

Trains run through Paladino’s blood. His own father was an employee of Railway Express Agency and Union Pacific, and Paladino fondly remembers riding the California Zephyr in the 1960s.

Garden-Train-1

Today, rather than riding his father’s magic carpet made of steel, he operates N-scale models. Perhaps it was natural he became enamored with garden railroads when he was invited to see the layout of a track run by the Gold Creek Railroad. It included hand-cut ties, hand-spiked rails, and a painted background.

“It just kind of blew me away,” he says. “It was just amazing. Museum-quality.”

Paladino started with his garden railroad hobby in the early 1990s. Indeed, garden railroading is a popular hobby across the country, and Paladino is a member, and serves as the current president of the River City Railroaders Club.

An outdoor railroad with tracks of brass and UV-resistant plastic ties curves through the garden. Trains with classic looks from U.P., Burlington Northern, and other railroads run along a track laid around the edge of a raised concrete planter. The planter, measuring 15 feet by 50 feet, houses a garden of miniaturized plants and model buildings.

Garden-Train-2

The model buildings are both scratch- and kit-built and the layout features figurines of people and animals. There’s a water tower, a gazebo that lights up at night, and a golden spike where Paladino laid the last of the track. Many buildings sport signage and name tags noting Paladino’s family members, including his wife and grandchildren.

It takes tender care for these trains to roll past houses, farms, and fields. Paladino can’t use weed killer for the health of the garden’s miniature evergreens, roses, chrysanthemums, and other plants. The trains can run in all weather and temperatures so long as they have traction and the rails are clean and clear, but the track requires rebalancing from time to time.

“You gotta trim, you gotta prune, you gotta pull weeds,” Paladino says. “There’s always something out there to repair.”

For Paladino, the building and construction is his favorite part of the hobby, although he does enjoy conducting the trains for his grandchildren, who in turn enjoy racing toy cars along the track.

Some enthusiasts like to make their tracks adjustable, but Paladino prefers to keep his permanent.

“I put the tracks and the main lines up against the outside edge of the layout,” he says. “It’s completely flat, there’s no grade to it at all. That’s how I like it.”

One thing is certain—that constant clacking of the wheels on the tracks take him to far away places.

“I just turn it on and sit in a lawn chair and watch it run.”

And then the rhythm of the rails is all he feels.

Garden-Train-3

Olive Branch

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design, an Omaha landscape design company that specializes in lawns, pools, decks, patios, and gardens, has a “new tool in its shed,” so to speak. The company’s latest addition is a mobile unit that takes its design services on the road and right to customers’ front yards.

Owner Mike Brown, who founded the business in 2005, says, “The unit is a 22-foot 1964 Airstream Safari, equipped with a couch and small table for clients to sit and review plans and ideas. I tow it behind my truck, and it can be left on a job site. The technology on board is pretty simple—a drafting desk and an iPad or laptop with a wiFi hotspot.”

Each project Olive Branch takes on is tailored to the clients’ wishes and can be anything from a small upgrade for an existing area to a completely new space created from scratch, always with a “focus on artistry, cohesiveness, and quality outdoor living,” Brown adds. The mobile unit only enhances the company’s ability to serve clients’ design needs.

“Between client meetings and job site visits, I lose a lot of design time traveling,” Brown says. “The mobile design unit allows me to take advantage of downtime between meetings without traveling all the way back to the office. I can make design changes on-site while a project is happening, and clients will be able to get a more intimate glimpse into the design process.”

So far people have loved the “pop-up shop” on wheels concept, Brown says. “The hope is that the Airstream will become an icon for our company, and people will know they can stop in and visit us wherever they see us parked.”

Olive Branch
4415 Marcy St.
402-490-1436
olivebranchoutdoor.com

Living on Wheels

Photography by R.L. Lemke

The full-time RV life isn’t for everyone, but it is perfect for more than 1 million Americans. Why? Here are a number of the many attractions that draw people from their homesteads out to the open road.

Youthful: The first benefit I hear from people who have made the transition to full-time RV life is how they have reversed their aging. How they look and feel younger. How can this be? I credit the reduction in stress offered by RV life, and the opening yourself to new experiences on a daily basis.

Exploration: Most people crisscross America on freeways in a hurry to get to a destination. Full-time RVers learn to slow down and take the backroads to actually see America. To focus on the periodic stops by exploring the area for days at a time rather than making good time. This opens one up to enriching experiences.

Economical Lifestyle: While it is certainly easy to experience the full-time RV lifestyle in high style, it’s equally easy to live in a very frugal manner. I have visited RV communities that require a $1 million commitment in the purchase of a deeded parcel to huge communities where you can purchase long-term federal permits from $40 to $300. There is a luxury resort I visited where, for the price of a $3,600 six-month lease on a fully developed site, you may leave your RV there for the rest of the year.

The Easy Life: Full-time RVers always comment on how it was freeing to get rid of the accumulated stuff they were tied to. Much like the TV show Hoarders, we become trapped by our possessions. The RV lifestyle is one of few possessions, and just the essentials when it comes to stuff. There may be a sealed container with a single suit and dress, as your wardrobe only needs to be t-shirts and jeans or shorts, as you can always be in great weather.

Family & Friends: As full-time RVers make their annual loop around the country to visit family and friends, life becomes one big party as it is so enjoyable to visit in a manner that isn’t imposing on those being visited. You stay in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, and yet being able to be a part of their lives on a temporary basis. When it is time to leave, simply unhook and motor on to the next anticipated visit.

New Friends: When RVers pull into the next destination, the first thing is for those around you to walk over, introduce themselves, and invite you to evening gatherings. Sitting around on foldout chairs sharing stories of where you have been and what you have seen. This lifestyle pulls you out of your shell and allows you to make many new friends.

Travel With Physical Limitations: As a result of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, campgrounds have built more ramps, paved more pathways, and created handicapped-accessible bathroom and showers. There is one resort I know of where there is a section that offers skilled care in your RV. This allows you to recover in your own “home.”

Interested in trying this lifestyle without a big commitment? There are hundreds of camping areas across the U.S. with fully equipped cabins. This allows you to experience the lifestyle from your auto. Try it, as you may find the RVer experience compelling.