For Love of Trains part 1

Andrew LOVES trains. That is a fact that is obvious the moment you meet him, almost as obvious as the fact that he is autistic. For us, this love affair is part of our family experience, it is a daily staple. It is woven in our conversation,our travels and yes our home decor. The love he has for trains however, has brought opportunities and has brought out the kindness of people that is so incredibly heartwarming. Two recent incidents, with regard to trains, have touched our family in such a warm way.

We travel in our RV as often as we can, summer being the longest trips for obvious reasons. This year we had a few trips already so our summer trip was not as far or long. It was however, one of the best we have had.

Part of our trip took us back to Portland and the Oregon Rail Historic Foundation (, home of Andrew’s favorite train, the 4449.  Visiting this museum and seeing his favorite train, was all he talked about for most of our trip. The day came to visit the train and you would have thought it was Christmas.  We had been to the museum before so Andrew knew just what he wanted to see. As he walked around, you could see the excitement in his eyes, his love for these big machines just radiating from his every pore.

While speaking with the gentleman in charge that day, I commented about Andrew being autistic- he said he knew- has a son on the spectrum as well.  We finished our conversation and then he looked at Andrew and told him to follow him. They walked over to the 4449 train and he told Andrew to go ahead and climb up in the cab, ignoring the please keep off sign, then he called over one of the workers to climb up with him.  Here was a sudden kindness to a young boy from a man who could see the thrill this small act provided.  The thrill that he was IN the cab of his favorite train, the thrill to “drive” that train-if only for a moment even if it never actually moved. We can’t thank him enough.






Gold Spike NHS





While planning our trip, it was always understood that we would go to Salt Lake City area to see Gold Spike National Historic Site.  With Andrews love of trains, and his desire for over a year to see this, it was automatic.


The drive there, as previously noted, was rather uneventful, if not boring.  To be honest, Nevada and Utah on highway 80 are not exciting at all, but we  muddled through and reached our destination.  The first night was just set up in the campground and rest. The next morning—-THE PARK

I don’t think I have ever seen such an excited boy, as Andrew was, to finally see his dream spot. We no sooner pulled into the parking spot and he was out the door, heading to the entrance, knowing his two favorite trains waited for him just on the other side.

Gold Spike NHS is the spot where the transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met in 1869, uniting the country by rail.

We spent four separate days visiting this Historic site. Each day Andrew was as excited as the first


We were able to get up close to the two trains- the Jupiter and the 119, exploring and asking questions of the park rangers. We were fortunate to also watch a reenactment of the meeting of the 2 trains.

The park staff were so pleasant and made us all feel like friends. After seeing us each day for 4 days, they never got tired of our questions and were always pleasant


For being about 30 minutes from our campground, Gold Spike NHS is an interesting site, and a must see for anyone interested in the history of trains, and how they united our country.

Before we left the area we stopped in Brigham city, and the Brigham city train depot. This is a small depot/ museum. There are many artifacts of the late 1800’s. As Andrew spent time on the telegraph machine, the proprietor commented how enthralled Andrew was with the machine. I told him how Andrew had asked me for a telegraph system not long ago. With that, he looked at his wife and asked if they still had that “old one” well they did, and he presented it to Andrew, who was beyond thrilled.


It has been those little things on this trip that have made me smile. Gold Spike NHS and the person involved in the reenactment helping Andrew drive the spike in. The folks running the train depot museum giving him a telegraph. Each small act of kindness has made our trip special.


A little thing

Every day we rush around, busy in our own life, and don’t realize all the small things we do or see may really have a big impact.  How do we measure the impact of small acts of kindness? I would guess we don’t see the effect that small act may have on the recipient, we have since moved on.

I travel between several offices for work and one building happens to be next door to animal control. In their parking lot is a kennel where they bring the dogs out for fresh air. There are times, too, when people will find a stray and leave them in the kennel, to be found next day by the animal control employee.   I tend to take a peek to see what might be in the kennel as I go to my building and  admit I am a sucker for a pleading dog face.    Many times I wish I could  take the animal home with me, although that’s obviously not practical.  I would have a thousands animals if I did that.

Recently, I was entering my building and one of the animal control folks was out trying to find a kitten hiding in the hedges.  I put my things down and together we found the kitten.  Poor little thing was so scared. Talking to the employee, I learned the kitten will most likely find a new home.

A few days later I was again traveling to an office when I came to a stop sign. There were a few cars in front of me so I had a moment to observe.   On the corner was a man holding a sign.  He was homeless and hungry and asking for help.  The few cars ahead of me pretty much ignored him, and to be honest, many times I do too. That day however, he caught my  eye and I grabbed a few dollars from my pocket.  As I pulled up to the stop I rolled down the window and handed him the small amount of money.   As I handed him the money my hand touched his, similar to a handshake, and for a moment this man had the realization that someone cared. If even for a moment.

Last summer we were in Portland on the commuter train seeing the city.   Part of the adventure to me is the people watching.  On this particular train was an older woman carrying several bags. Homeless? possibly.   As we got to our stop and exited the train I noticed the woman had a sweatshirt draped over one of her bags, and it was starting to drag on the ground.  She had her hands full with her belongings so I tapped her shoulder and said ” careful you don’t lose your sweatshirt”.  At the same time I helped put it back in her bag since her hands were full.  As I did this she stopped and exclaimed ” Oh thank you! that’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me. Thank you thank you.” That sweatshirt may have been the warmest article of clothing she owned.  To think my small act of kindness meant so much,   I was surprised at that.

Do we just pass by people less fortunate than us and watch as they lose a sweatshirt?  Pass by the homeless man on the corner because he’s down on his luck?  Ignore the kitten because we are in a hurry?  These small acts of kindness took no time at all for me, but what did they mean to them?  A meal, warmth, life?

Take a moment for a small act, you never know how it may impact a life, your own included.