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Happy Holidays

Another year is coming to a close. We are now into our 9th year of Trainorders.com. We also hit another milestone in October when we hit our 5th anniversary since Yahoo! divested its ownership interest in Trainorders.com. This will be our last newsletter of the year.

SANTA FE EXCURSION
The big question that I keep hearing is what about the Santa Fe Trainorders.com private car trip this Spring between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am pleased and also excited to announce that we have come to agreement to operate this long sought after excursion. It has been scaled down to only two passenger cars with 22 spaces. This was a very challenging trip to plan as there were several issues that needed to be worked out before we could go.

What makes this trip so unique is that our passenger cars will be uncoupled from the Southwest Chief in Lamy, New Mexico. Then, the Santa Fe Southern Railway will pick us up with a locomotive and transport us 19 miles to Downtown Santa Fe where we will be parked for two nights before returning home.

This is also a very expensive trip to operate account of the distance involved and the Santa Fe Southern switching costs. When we switch onto the Santa Fe Southern Railway we will be paying $52 each mile to move our two passenger cars. On top of that, it is 1000 miles each way behind the Southwest Chief and that really cranks up the mileage fees. Add in the low capacity of sleeping and business cars and we end up with an expensive trip.

For this excursion Trainorders.com we will be using a former Union Pacific 10/6 Budd built sleeper named the Pacific Sands owned by Trainorders.com member Doug Spinn. The 2nd car is former Canadian National business car named Tioga Pass owned by member Norm Orfall. This car has a platform on the rear, a newly refurbished lounge, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, and dining room.

This is not just a railfan guy trip as there will be spouses onboard too.

Itinerary:
Friday, April 28: Depart Los Angeles 6:20pm behind the Southwest Chief. Dinner Served. We will also accept passengers at Fullerton, Riverside, San Bernardino and Victorville. We race across the desert at 90mph. Overnight accommodations aboard the train.

Saturday, April 29: Across Arizona and into New Mexico. Breakfast, Lunch served. Switch off to Santa Fe Southern in the afternoon, arrive in Santa Fe around 4:30pm. Dinner on your own. Overnight accommodations aboard the train.

Sunday, April 30: Day on your own in Santa Fe. Continental breakfast, lunch and dinner on your own. Overnight accommodations aboard the train.

Monday, May 1: Depart Santa Fe 11:00am, arriving Lamy 1pm. We depart Lamy at about 2:30pm behind the Southwest Chief. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner aboard our train. Overnight accommodations aboard the train.

Tuesday, May 2: Arrive into Los Angeles at 8:15am. Light breakfast will be served.
Fares:
Pacific Sands
Double Bedrooms: $1195 per person, double occupancy
Single Roomettes: $1295 per person


Tioga Pass
Double Bedrooms: $1195 per person, double occupancy
Space is limited to 22 passengers.


We require a $200 deposit per person to reserve. I suggest that you book early as we will issue the smoothest riding rooms towards the center of the cars first. I will post some car floor plans and additional photos in the coming week for those interested.

For more information and to book visit the http://www.coastrail.com web site. Coast Rail is the travel division of Trainorders.com.

SITE UPGRADES
We are currently in the middle of a major site upgrade. This one is huge and when complete the site will look much different. Before you get too scared I want to share that it will look very much like the current one. The page design is actually going to be simplified and will load faster than the existing layout. The current one dates back to October 2000 and it has served us well for the past five years. However, it is limiting our ability to offer some new high tech features. I do not have a solid date on the new release, but it will be in January sometime.

On the horizon is the long anticipated video sharing library rebuild project. This system is about two months behind schedule. I do hope to have it out around the new year. The new system is amazing and is beyond what I originally requested from our media programmer. If you think the user interface for the web video cameras is amazing wait until you see this work of art.

MEMBERSHIP EXPIRATIONS
November through early December is our big renewal period when more than a third of our membership comes up for renewal. So far the renewal rate is above 95% which is up from our previous 90%. I thank everyone for their support as our continued growth has allowed us to do some miraculous things with the site. There will NOT be a membership fee increase for 2006 either.

WEB ETIQUETTE
This is a friendly reminder to please exercise proper netiquette when authoring posts on the discussion forums. Most everyone follows the rules as netiquette is pretty much common sense. However, one item that many are not aware of (because it is not common sense) is not to type messages in all upper case. This was not always the case as early computers and teletype machines only operated in upper case. Times have changed as technology matured. Internet posted text should include upper and lower case grammar. Typing in all block text tends to be hard on the eyes. If you are copying and pasting something from somewhere else that is in upper case that.s acceptable. Nobody is going to ask that you retype something.

DISCUSSION FORUMS REWORKING
Earlier this month we performed the bold step of renaming the Railfan Games discussion forum into the Railfan Electronics forum. This forum is for the discussion of software, computer games, slide scanners, radio scanners, cameras, and photography technique. Think of it as a catch all for electronic gizmos used to railfan with. This changeover went over extremely well with only three complaints.

Now I propose a more controversial move. The Nostalgia and History discussion forum is ballooning in popularity and has become a favorite of many. The one issue I see is most items posted on the forum are geared towards western railroads. I am considering splitting the forum into eastern and western counterparts to encourage more participation from the eastern side. I have not made a decision yet as I usually think about these things for months before acting. If you have input on this move please drop us an email.

Another issue that we are now attempting to address is how to manage the volumes of discussion messages archives and photo postings. At last count we have almost 1,000,000 message postings in our database and over 100,000 images on our hard drives. We are currently studying a plan of attack on not only how to manage the data, but how to search and explore it. We are also exploring a proposal to develop software that will flag postings from the archives that contain broken links so that they can be reviewed and removed.

Some have noticed that images posted before August 2003 were not displaying. This has been repaired and you can now review images dating back to 2001.

GIFT MEMBERSHIPS
As with last year we are offering Trainorders.com gift memberships. If you have a railfan friend think about giving them a gift membership. As a bonus, for each gift membership you purchase we will add two months extra to your own account. The cost is $29 for one year and you can purchase them here https://shop.trainorders.com/gift/order.html

RAILFAN CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
It never fails, a year never goes by without a well meaning friend or extended family member giving my family some ridiculous railfan gift. Don.t get me wrong, I appreciate the effort as they did not have to give us anything. Sometimes I have to keep from laughing with the one present we seem to get more often than anything else. Know what it is?

In the last 10 years we have received the obnoxious Lionel train alarm clock three times. You know what I am talking about, as it is the number one gift given to railfans by non railfans. This horrible thing wakes you up with the most obnoxious, loudest recreation of a steam whistle and crossing bell I have ever heard. It has a little train that circulates around the clock after activation. A couple of years ago we gave one to Goodwill and this year we sold one at a garage sale. However, the darn thing keeps coming back. Mason had a birthday last month and guess what he got.. another Lionel alarm clock! It is like a gum on a shoe.

So what do railfans want? Here are a few ideas to pass along to your loved ones.

How many of us look forward to photobob.s photography posted to the web site. Did you know that Bob sells his B&W photographs? These are not inkjet printouts, but real developed prints. I have purchased some of his photographs over the years and they are sharp and well composed. If you are ever at Disney.s California Adventure theme park you can see his handy work decorating the inside of the ice cream shop inside the mockup of the California Zephyr near the entrance. You can purchase the photo's from http://www.snowcrest.net/photobob

How about an official Tehachapi Railroading Calendar. The late Dave Burton produced the annual Tehachapi Calendar coving many angles of railroading over Tehachapi. Sadly, Dave passed away in November 2004 and we thought the tradition would end. Not this year as Dave.s daughter produced a very nice tribute toTrainjunky by publishing a 2006 Tehachapi Calendar. You can purchase it from http://www.atunnel10xpress-n.com or via telephone at 661-822-9575. The price is $12.95 plus tax and shipping.

A great place to buy railroad books, videos, and calendars is from Joe McMillan who is known as RS12394 on Trainorders.com. I owe Joe a great deal of thanks as he sold a lot of videos for me back when I was in the railfan video business between 1995 and 2000. He publishes six different color calendars that have a cult like following. His web site is http://www.mcmillanpublications.com

All Trainorders.com members receive a discount on new Railfan & Railroad Magazine subscriptions. Follow the link on the home page to subscribe for an entire year of Railfan & Railroad for $24.95. A great deal for a great magazine.

Finally, for everything else railroad related, I suggest a-trains.com owned and operated by Les Jarrett or DRGW483 on Trainorders.com. I have known Les since I started Trainorders.com as he was a fellow railfan video producer. He is an honest businessman and does a good job in getting orders out. http://www.a-trains.com

So if your wife needs some ideas print this newsletter and highlight the section above and leave it laying around for her to find.

GORGERAIL 2006 Most of us know about Winterail which is the big railroad multimedia photography show held in Stockton every March. Another show in the Pacific Northwest named GorgeRail is growing in popularity. The 2006 show will be held the weekend of May 19-21 in and around the Columbia River Gorge. This multi day event includes railfanning, slide shows, and demonstrations. Visit http://www.gorgerail.com for details and further announcements. Tickets will go on sale in January.

This concludes our 2005 newsletters. My family and staff wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Todd Clark
Trainorders.com
Founder & Webmaster
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