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It's Saturday morning, and after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon at the hotel, we're off to our first layout. SWMTP does the navigating, but I admit to second guessing her occasionally -- do we have the right map page in the book? What does Miss Garmin say? Not this morning, I tell her. This morning, I'll just stick my highly trained schnoz out the window and follow the smell of hot steam oil!

She just gave me a look.

Nevertheless, in a few minutes we're at the home of Paul and Janet Brink, who have hosted their "Little Rattle Snake Line" layout in various forms since at least 2003. This is also the 'home court,' if you will, of the "On the Brink" live steam crew and a great new live steam table. Here's a shot of them both!

In the foreground, an Accucraft "Nevada County No.2" live steamer is walking away with a consist of two beautiful Tiffany reefers, a baggage car and a coach. Behind the steam table you can see the retaining wall and some of the greenery of the 'sparky' layout.

Here's a wide shot of the "Little Rattle Snake Line." (BTW -- See that industrial building halfway down the left -- the one with the smokestack? Every now and then, apparently at random, that chimney emits a very noticeable plume of smoke.)

The layout has changed quite a bit in the last decade -- for one thing, Paul shrunk the footprint by about half to make room for his live steam track. And he's made it easier to maintain as well -- hence the artificial turf. Note how Paul's let the gravel and dirt find its own natural boundaries with the turf, rather than try to enforce some artificial line of demarcation. I think that makes it look much more natural.

Here's a reverse angle, looking back to the shaded live steam table --

I'm not sure you'll be able to read the flatbed loads -- the rock with Grumpy says "Welcome -- Don't make a mess!" and the other one sports Pluto: "Happiness is digging up a garden."

The row crop in the foreground is a well-tended field of Hens & Chicks. The farmer is starting his harvest early this year.

There are some other nice vignettes scattered throughout the layout -

One of the fun items at this 'Regional' was a "Can You Find It?" pop quiz sheet. Copies of the same page of clues were available at all the layouts on the tour. Can you find the bear with the yellow nose? He's at one layout. The frog playing a guitar is at another. And R2D2 is...

...right here on the Little Rattle Snake Line.

One of my favorite water features has been here on this layout since 2003. I think that it's the 'casing,' if you will, of vertical stones that surround the watercourse which charms me. From the other side, you can't even tell it's a waterfall!

Back under the shade, three members of the 'On the Brink' crew are raising steam -- Butch Floyd, Chuck Sanfilippo, and Steve Arrigotti.

I noticed that Chuck had modified his 'Emma' -- not only had he R/C'ed it... Yes, that's a Fairymead stack! Just about the opposite of the stack conversion Llyn Rice shared with us here on MLS. For a moment I wondered if they had swapped, but I see Llyn is based in Vermont, so probably not. I love that balloon stack -- Every Emma should have one!

Paul has brought his portable steam track to the National Summer Steamup in Sacramento for... well, for more Julys than I've been coming. It's that portable, and the volunteers who've helped set it up and take it down year after year, that started the "On the Brink" nickname. Thanks Paul, see you again at the Summer Steamup!

Jim & Sue Garcia's J&S Railroad has only been operating since July of 2013, but has been expanding ever since. We'll start at the main station by the pond and head toward the mountains.

A small trestle on the mainline provides drainage for sudden downpours. An ore train makes the circuit from the mountains to the station.

Meanwhile the billboard freight heads into a tunnel...

...designed into the mountainside to both hide and provide steps to a 15 foot trampoline.

The ore train passes the mine entrance as hikers traverse the hillside above the water tower.

In the background a trestle bridge spans the waterfall that feeds the pond.

The diesel heads away from the mountains to cross the trestle to the village of Cozy Nest...

...and the loop swings back to pond and station again.

An overview of where we've been...

We're on to more stops on our Sacramento adventure. Stay tuned for Day 2, Pt. 2 soon. Gary, the Garden Hobo, and Carla, aka SWMTP (She Who Must Take Pictures) out.
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