Getting the flavor of...
Iowa’s model-train shrine
Today’s kids love their smartphones and video games, said Jay Jones in the Chicago Tribune, but many who visit Colfax, Iowa’s Trainland U.S.A. “become converts to good old-fashioned toy trains.” Many youngsters “come in wide-eyed and can be halfway down the aisle before their parents get in the door,” says Judy Atwood, who for the past 36 years has run the model-train museum with her husband, Red. At any time, up to 25 vintage toy locomotives—including steam engines hauling freight and diesels pulling streamliners— chug around on a mile’s worth of track. The trains take a cross-country journey from New York City to San Francisco, “rolling past intricately designed settings like a Kentucky coal mine, an Iowa stockyard, and a Texas oil field.” If parents can drag their kids away from the giant set— which takes four control panels to operate— they can also see some real-train memorabilia, in the museum’s restored 1860s railroad depot.
Washington’s wild rain forest
In Olympic National Park, you’re reminded at every turn that “there are elements of nature more powerful than we,” said Reid Wilson in The Washington Post. This wild landscape in northwestern Washington state is home to the only coniferous rain forest in the continental U.S., and it’s full of ancient, colossal evergreens. I headed deep into the park for a hiking trip with my wife this spring, and while walking along the Sol Duc River we saw signs of the violence that feeds this growth. “Two-hundred-foot nurse logs, the remnants of massive trees felled by storms, provide nutrients for the next generation of giants.” Later, at the Kalaloch Lodge, on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, I watch as a log twice my size “is tossed around in the surf like a Nerf football.” On our drive back to Seattle, we stop to visit the largest Western red cedar and the largest Sitka spruce. “These are trees that will be here for a hundred, maybe a thousand, years after I’m gone.” ■