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Z Odyssey

3-18-2006 Costa Mesa GWAATS Show

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March 18th, 2006

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I'm not a morning person, but somehow I managed to drag myself down to the Orange County Fairgrounds at about 7:00am for the Great Western and Atlantic Train Show. The folks of the newly formed ZoCal Z-scale group were planning to exhibit at the show and it was a learning opportunity I didn't want to miss!
 
Wandering through the main layout building, I watched various clubs setting up their exhibits, but didn't run into any of the Z crowd until I went over to the vendor building. For some reason, the show organizers had placed us all alone amongst the throng of hobby stores. This turned out to be a great asset, as we were busy with visitors all day long, and no 'competition'.
 
I met up with several other group members and we staked out our space and began arranging the layouts and exhibit pieces that folks had brought. The original plan was for us to help Jim Manley - the go-getter from the Bay Area group who had kicked us Southern Cal folks into action - in setting up his layouts, projection screen and ongoing module project. Unfortunately, due to some miserable weather north of Los Angeles, he was stuck in traffic. He finally arrived 30 minutes before the doors were due to open, so we spent a frantic half hour unloading and setting up.
 
Throughout the day, numerous ZoCal members either stopped by for a few minutes or a few hours. It was great to meet more of the folks who I had e-mailed and who I knew only by name. By lunchtime, we had a very respectable exhibit area with 3 layouts, 2 diaramas and a demonstration of new sectional track, locos and slow-speed controllers.
 
The flow of visitors was non-stop, with many folks seeing (and being impressed by) Z-scale for the first time. There was a great deal of interest, and we were able to help the local Z vendor by sending several interested buyers his way. It was exciting to see the level of interest; our stack of flyers and business cards dwindled rapidly.
 
Although I'm still new to the world of Z, I had opportunities to talk with a number of visitors and was able to answer some basic questions (It's amazing how much a bit of enthusiasm covers up for a lack of detail knowledge). Between conversations I had an excellent opportunity to examine the layouts closely and collect tips and ideas for my own project. I was also able to quiz Bill (the same Bill I had missed at last year's Long Beach show) about some technique ideas. He's both a Z and railroading veteran, so I couldn't resist tapping into some of his wisdom and experience.

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All too soon, my time was up and I had to hit the road to avoid the evening traffic. I left with a wealth of new ideas and questions to consider. And I had made some great new friends. Here's to the next show!
 
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