Family, Food, and a Fogaroo

Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mom and Dad Emken

Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

by Jeremy

When one is traveling for extended periods you don't realize the creature comforts you miss until you have them again.  After almost four weeks of constant travel, I think we only stayed two places for two consecutive nights; stopping by my parents for several days rest was in a word... wonderful.  To start, our family centers around food and good food at that.  We arrive to Dad making chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies - the kitchen was warm from the oven, the smell of brown sugar and toasted nuts in the air and before a hug, I had downed two, fresh from the oven - gooey and warm, yummy cookies.  Good thing we came when we did as it started to rain and has been raining practically non-stop for the past several days.  Of course it changes a bit: it rains, sprinkles, downpours, drizzles, but in general it is wet and cold outside which would make camping miserable, but sitting inside next to a fire eating warm cookies ...wonderful.  The creature comforts of home cooked meals, HOT showers, good conversation, soft sheets, king sized beds, laundry, the list goes on.  It is nice to be at home with family.

Adar and I are here to visit and to make trains.  Handmade hardwood toy trains to be specific.  Sort of cartoon scale with the engine about a foot long and with gross features for easy handling with child sized hands.  Dad has been refining the design of the different cars for 35 plus years and they get more detailed with each iteration. They are made from a variety of hardwoods: maple, cherry, hickory, walnut, oak and Adar and I added lacewood, purple heart, padauk (a paprika red-orange wood from Asia), and stripped zebrawood.  With solid design and beautifully contrasting colors they are both a work of art and practically indestructible - good for the parents and good for the children who will play with them.  This particular train is for Charlotte Brook Campbell, our niece, and the beautiful daughter of Adar's twin sister Abra. 

The days here are spent designing, cutting, shaping, gluing, sanding, fine sanding, fine sanding some more, staining, polishing, and then repeating the last two a couple of times.  The fun part is coming up with slightly altered designs, customizing each car so it is literally like no other.  This is fun because it requires creative problem solving so you get to be creative from an artistic perspective designing and creative from a manufacturing perspective as you know have to figure how to make what you just conceived.  This truly makes each car an original but as can be imagined is time consuming.  A friend of my Dad's, Derald, parted with a piece of curly maple, a wood that is usually thrown away at the mill but which he was able to procure by asking carefully and waiting several months.  It is a very strange, almost exotic piece of wood and with a wood that we still don't know the name of for the roof, made for a very interesting looking engine.  Finished and polished the wood takes on a depth that does not seem possible.  Last night, I had a flash image of an animal for the animal car, just what the animal car needed.  What is an animal car without an animal right?  A couple minutes later it was sketched out on paper and few minutes more it was rough cut from some scrap we created from the hopper car.  Showing it to Adar, quite proud, I asked how she liked it.  "Cute" she said, "... it kinda looks like a kangaroo mixed with a fox.. and a dog".  I personally was going for a jaguar, but a fox-dog-kangaroo, a fogaroo, would do just fine.  We named her Lacey, since she is made out of lacewood, and placed her in the animal train car.  In the end, we made a beautiful train made of six cars: an engine, coal car, oil car, hopper car, animal car, and a bright red caboose.  Adar and I started a train for ourselves (our future children) and are hoping to find additional exotic woods on our travels.  Derald generously shared another piece of the rare curly maple for our engine and we are excited to work on our train again.  Thanks Derald!

It was a great visit and wonderful to lay low for several days.  Good food, good family, and very productive.  As a special treat Mom, knowing that we would be away for the holidays, arranged to have Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner with all the fixings while we were there and Eryn, my brother who was in town, offered delicious bottles of wine to accompany the meals.  Mom and Dad even had a little Christmas morning for us which was very much appreciated.  For the road, Dad made us another batch of wonderful cookies which we are still enjoying.  Thank You Mom and Dad! 

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