Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 15

This is just what the quiet little tourist town of Maple Valley needed. First, Sylvia Meisner disappears without a trace. Folks here are still in stir about it. Sheriff Pete Terkinberry is almost at his wits end, not to mention he’s still healing from a bad fall in Sylvia’s basement. There have been rumblings of replacing the sheriff with someone who can solve the case. I don’t know what else could be done at this point. There is no evidence leading anywhere!

Next, there was the effort to delay the start of tourist season which almost caused an uprising. Then it was discovered Randy Herbahl forgot to invite Buck Wills and the Wagoneers to the Founders Day Celebration. Lucky for Randy, the group was still able to come. I’m quite sure he would have been run out of town if the Happy Harmonettes became the entertainment for the event because of his mistake.

Now it seems we have another emergency.

Maple Valley folks were shocked this morning to discover a huge flying ship had landed over Wittington. The circumstances are similar to Sylvia’s disappearance, and they are equally disturbing. No one heard the ship land. No one knows where it came from. Folks were not even sure what it was until someone climbed up on the Maple Valley River Trestle and took a picture of it. It does indeed appear to be a flying ship of some kind.

The Maple Valley Council is in an uproar because Mayor Thrashborn activated the Gulliver Emergency Response Team without their approval. This is just not done in Maple Valley. No other mayor in the history of Maple Valley has dared to activate the emergency response team without council approval. There will definitely be an investigation after the emergency has been resolved.

The response team, which consists of several residents of Maple Valley, made its way to the site where the craft landed. So far, the team has done nothing except stand and watch. There does not appear to be any danger at this time.

For now, the emergency response team will keep a close eye on the craft and report back to Mayor Thrashborn. The only comment made by anyone on the team is that the being inside the craft appears to be humanoid, and is rather good looking. “If he were the same size as other folks in Maple Valley, he might even be one of us” someone was heard to say.

My suspicion is a simple explanation will be discovered. Unlike the disappearance of Sylvia Meisner, this craft is tangible. It has shape and size. It appears to be somewhat familiar, even inviting. The very troubling thing at this point, is the craft is blocking the railroad lines. Freight and passengers will not be able to move until the craft is either moved, or leaves of its own accord, which is rather frightening. No contact has been made with the being in the craft. Although the being has a humanoid appearance, there is no indication of an attempt to communicate.

This episode could also have been titled, “This is What Happens When You Have One Too Many Hobbies.”

Model Railroad Progress on the Maple Valley Short Line

I am thrilled, excited, relieved, exhausted, and happy to report track on the entire Maple Valley Short Line Railroad is finished! Well, the track is all in place. Installing ballast is yet to come.

This model railroad is the largest layout I have ever built. I started with a blank canvas three years ago and today am very proud of my progress. I have never tried using latex molds for plaster rocks but I think they look terrific. I also have never painted backdrops before, but am very happy with the results. I am just getting started with ground cover, and I plan to use a ton of Woodlands Scenic weeds.

The long outside loop has been operational for several months. When I get tired of slow progress I run a train around the layout several times and I’m immediately enthused again. For a kid who loves trains, there is nothing like listening to the clicking sound of the wheels as they roll over the track, through turnouts, and over bridges.

This is also the first time I have ever tried making my own trees. A large layout, depending on the kinds of scenes desired, requires a lot of trees. I have several from previous layouts but not enough for this one. I followed Luke Towan’s tutorials with step-by-step instructions to build trees with floral wire. It’s very easy, but requires time and patience. I quickly discovered the clipped wire ends are very sharp! Luke Towan’s videos can be found on YouTube. There are many videos for just about everything necessary to build a beautiful layout.

There is still so much more to accomplish! I insulated several blocks throughout the layout, which means a lot of wiring. This is the first time I have not used a common rail, so I will use buss feeds throughout for DC power. I also plan to use Atlas Snap Relays for turnout signals. Several years ago I made my own two-light signals using plastic pre-fab, non-operating signals. I drilled out the red and green lenses and replaced them with real lights. I soldered resistors into the feed wire, through a two-way switch and wired them directly to my AC accessory power supply. They looked great, but were essentially non-operating because I didn’t use the snap relays. This time I will.

Since I used 1 1/2″ extruded foam for the base of the layout, I’ll have to drill through the foam and the plywood deck to provide wire access for feeds to the rails and turnouts. I had big plans to use under-the-table switch machines and linkage. The more I thought about it, the less bold I felt. I decided the resulting appearance on the layout wasn’t worth the potential headaches. I’m not purchasing all new fool-proof tortoise switch machines. I’m using my old Atlas machines that still work fine.

My next project is placing, rearranging, then rearranging again, then finally moving all the manufacturing and retail buildings I have. I plan to paint streets and lay gravel roads for rural areas and around factories. I love lighting the buildings so that will be another wiring project yet to come.

Writing “Scandal at Maple Valley” has delayed my progress on the actual railroad, but I don’t regret it! I’m fourteen episodes in and I don’t plan to stop any time soon. The most recent episode included lyrics to a song I made up just for the band, Buck Wills and the Wagoneers, called, “Mama Drinks Whiskey From a Coffee Cup.” I am thrilled to announce the song has now been set to music and recorded by one of my very talented daughters-in-law. I couldn’t believe it! It’s fantastic, if I do say so myself! So, one day, we will release the fictional song for real!

Here’s to many more years of progress on the Maple Valley Short Line Railroad. Happy model railroading everyone!

Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery

I have been a fan of Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery for many years. After all, coffee is really my middle name. I don’t use it often on legal documents and such, but it’s always there.

Coffee is one of those important things in life I don’t mess around with too much. It’s either coffee, or a mocha. I don’t venture too far beyond that. I might get a frappuccino once in a while, but that’s as wild as I get. I think of myself as a purist. Yeah, right.

New owners began their quest for coffee and ambience perfection two years ago. The Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery in Caseville, MI, is the excellent destination for everything coffee on the shores of Saginaw Bay. The new beverage menu is colorfully displayed with an incredible number of choices from basic hot or iced coffee, to almost any kind of variation you can imagine. I have always loved Brew Moon for the way the coffee bar is arranged. I am just a few feet from the baristas as they prepare my hot mocha.

The new owners obviously love interacting with visitors. Everyone who enters Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery is greeted as a friend, not just a customer.

In the bright display case there are many delicious items from which to choose to enhance your beverage experience. One of my favorites is the amazing homemade, large, dripping with icing, cinnamon rolls. Oh my word! I haven’t had a cinnamon roll even close to that since another business, which will go nameless, made the catastrophic mistake of removing their lovely, warm, delicious, cinnamon rolls (for which I always ordered extra icing so the roll was actually swimming in it) from their menu. A real blunder. I always felt so sad when my cinnamon roll was gone. No more! Now the Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery cinnamon rolls have taken their place! Yummm!

Not only is the Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery your place for delicious beverages, it is an experience of art waiting to capture your attention. The owners emphasize local and Michigan artists. A terrific decision!

The coffee house has been completely repainted and decorated. The color choices create a feeling of warmth and comfort embracing everyone with an invitation to stay longer. Customers move easily throughout the store without a feeling of being crowded.

I personally love the drawing/painting of the businesses in Caseville. I wish I could include the name of the artist, but I forgot to write it down!

The new Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery is truly a place to experience, not just stop by for a coffee. A coffee beverage, whether it’s dark, light, tall white, latte, mocha, frappuccino, iced, hot (never lukewarm), vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, or any other combination of flavors, is best enjoyed by wonderful ambience. That’s what the owners of Brew Moon have accomplished.

The next time you’re in Caseville, do not leave town without meeting the good folks at Brew Moon Coffee House & Gallery and purchasing your favorite beverage made to perfection. Then stay a while and enjoy everything it means to have a great cup of coffee. You’ll immediately begin anticipating your return visit.

Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 14

A real miracle happened in Maple Valley! A miracle to the folks who live here at least. Do you remember Randy Herbdahl? Of course not. Probably no one outside of Maple Valley knows who Randy Herbdahl is, but everyone here knows him. Six weeks ago, Randy Herbahl was the least favorite person in town. He was in charge of contacting the entertainment for the Founder’s Day Celebration. His wife, Joneel, found the letter he thought he mailed to the group, inviting them to Maple Valley. Everyone was sure the Founder’s Day Celebration was doomed. No one wanted to hear the 80-year-old Happy Harmonettes try to sing when everyone knows their talent was questionable sixty years ago.

Randy apologized to the village council and said he was willing to take all the blame for spoiling the celebration. Several on the council thought his offer strange when there was never any question whose fault it was! Randy forgot to mail the letter! So now the village council had to come up with some kind of plan to keep the Happy Harmonettes off the stage.

After an hour of panicked discussion, Mayor Alvin Thrashborn suggested calling the group, apologizing, and pleading with them to come in spite of the mistake. It would be a futile attempt but they had to try.

Miracles do happen! Buck Wills and the Wagoneers, the number one group on country radio, were the headline stars at the Maple Valley Founders Day Celebration!

The council decided since Randy forgot to mail the letter, he should be the one to call Buck Wills and invite him to Maple Valley. To everyone’s surprise, especially Randy, the group had the date open and accepted the invitation! Instead of being the object of scorn, Randy was a hero. Mayor Thrashborn wished he had made the call.

It’s not every day a show like Buck Wills and the Wagoneers comes to Maple Valley. Everyone lined the streets as their tour bus rolled into town. You can see it in the photo parked in front of Sylvia Meisner’s house!

To honor Sylvia, and to remind everyone how important it is to keep looking for her and hoping she comes home, the deck on her house was used as the stage for the Buck Wills show. As you can see, it was a great success!

The crowd loved hearing all of their favorite Buck Wills and the Wagoneers songs, like:

She Sneezes When I Kiss Her
Wagon Wheels Rollin’
Hog Tied Tongue Tied
Lamb Fry Pie
Moonlight Swimmin’ at Noon
Rattlesnake Soup
My Blue-Eyed Baby Lied, and
Tip The Outhouse Over.

Every song was great, but everyone cheered wildly when Buck Wills and the Wagoneers sang their #1 hit song, still nailed to the top spot on the country charts after thirteen weeks, “Mama Drinks Whiskey From a Coffee Cup”!

By special permission, we are allowed to include the lyrics of this great song!

Mama drinks whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Case the preacher comes around.
She’s afraid if he saw her
He’s say she’s hellfire bound.
She never knows when he’ll show up
It could be any day.
Mama drinks whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Til the preacher goes away.

She was on her second cup
When the preacher climbed the stairs.
He sat down on the porch with her
Like he didn’t have a care.
She offered him a coffee
Said, “Don’t mind if I do.”
She got right up, went in the house
To fetch the preacher’s brew.

She poured his coffee carefully
And placed it on the tray.
When she offered him a cookie
He bowed his head to pray.
When she looked up he had the cup
And took a little sip.
Great surprise came to his eyes
When whiskey crossed his lips.

Mama drinks whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Case the preacher comes around.
She’s afraid if he saw her
He’d say she’s hellfire bound.
She never knows when he’ll show up
It could be any day.
Mama drinks whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Til the preacher goes away.

Mama held her breath and waited
While the preacher sipped again.
He said, “This is the best dang coffee
There has ever been!
Would you pour me another
And then one more again?”
Whiskey in a coffee cup
Became the preacher’s friend.

Mama drinks whiskey from a coffee cup
When the preacher comes around.
Now that he’s a drinkin’ friend
She won’t be hellfire bound.
She doesn’t care when he shows up
He’s welcome any day.
They drink whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Til the preacher goes away.

They drink whiskey from a coffee cup
‘Til the preacher goes away.

(“Mama Drinks Whiskey From a Coffee Cup” Lyrics by Dale R. Parsons
Copyright 2021 by Dale R. Parsons.)

The crowd cheered so loud and long they sang it again! I really think Buck Wills and the Wagoneers enjoyed coming to Maple Valley as much as we enjoyed having them!

The Maple Valley Founders Day Celebration was a terrific success. It was great to see all the residents and many visitors enjoying themselves on a beautiful day in Maple Valley. For the first time in many years, no one was injured during the East Side vs West Side badminton game, even though there were sixty-three people on the court at once! Rackets and birdies were flying in every direction! There were so many people in the game, not many were left to cheer.

Sheriff Terkinberry was released from the hospital after getting several stitches. You may recall he got a search warrant to enter Sylvia’s house. While he was trying to find the light switch in the basement, he tripped over something lying on the floor and hit his head on a cabinet. He feared what it might be, but was relieved to discover he had tripped over a rolled up tent lying on the floor. He found nothing in the house indicating where Sylvia might be or what has happened to her, if anything.

Sylvia Meisner is still missing. We are no closer to finding her than we were eight weeks ago. In spite of the drama surrounding her disappearance, life in Maple Valley goes on. Maybe the concern we all feel for Sylvia is bringing the residents of Maple Valley a little bit closer.

I’m sure there are some still trying to find a way to make the mystery about them instead of Sylvia. That’s just the way some people in Maple Valley think.