I am honored to work with TechWomen Team Kenya this term. My Co-Mentors are Ella Morgulis and Samantha Raniere. Everyone was at my house in San Jose, California, last night for a team meeting and dinner. We are getting to know each other and enjoying learning together. They had fun touring my caboose office, WP668.
I just redesigned the WP668 caboose website. I am still reviewing and posting old photos but the basic structure is done. It is restful during the coronavirus lockdown to make progress on a project I have been wanting to work on forever. After reviewing hundreds in our online family archive, I keep discovering wonderful photos I had forgotten. I have finished 2006 and am about half done with 2007 now. More about WP668 :
WP668 is a historic Western Pacific Railroad caboose being restored by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher, a private family in San Jose, California, USA. More information and pictures are added as WP668’s story evolves.
May this blessed Christmas season bring you and your family joy! It has been a busy Christmas, starting even before I turned in my last (16 and 18 page) term papers at the Graduate Theological Union. So far, our adventures have included:
Thanks to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (and Ahmad Chapman, his Communications Specialist) who created the “Great 408” community celebration program for San Jose, which says about “77. Backyard Railroad Caboose” –
You can have your glass-walled high rises and ergonomic standing desks; Katy Dickinson has the coolest office in San Jose. That’s because it’s a 1916 Western Pacific steel framed wooden caboose in the backyard of the Willow Glen home she shares with her husband, John Plocher. The couple purchased the caboose in 2006 from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco after it lost its lease. It was in storage in San Jose for more than a year until it was moved to their backyard in May 2007. The couple has been restoring the caboose bit by bit for more than a decade. Be sure to check out Katy and John’s website for more photos and the history of the caboose.
John and I took a road trip from the Silicon Valley to Reno and Carson City Nevada a week ago. I presented the “Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668” to the annual Western Pacific Railroad Historical Conference in Reno, Nevada. The convention is put on by the Feather River Rail Society. I was the only woman speaker! While in Reno, we toured Jim Petro’s remarkable model train layout – Jim is a master railroad modeler and scenery builder. His layout runs on the JMRI software that John helped to create – and uses John’s DCC Brakeman as well. We also were able to visit Union Pacific’s UP1983 locomotive in the old Western Pacific colors that was brought to Reno for the convention.
On the drive home, we looped through Carson City, Nevada, to visit the WP657 caboose (sister to our own WP668). WP657 was moved to the Nevada State Railroad Museum from the Ponderosa Ranch. The inside of WP657 is intact. We enjoyed our special tour, seeing all of the original furniture, cabinets, and fittings that are missing from WP668. We came back to California over Carson Pass in the snow and fog, and saw the very-full Carson River dumping its snow melt.
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There were balloons and a cake and we distributed WP668 Caboose Con-Duck-tors (a rubber duck toy dressed as a train conductor) as party favors. John gave tours of his N-scale model train layout in our former garage. WP668’s birthday present was new night lighting along her roof line.
John Plocher and I were married 15 years ago on 4 July 2000, so on our way back from two weeks at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, we took the train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr goes across vast lovely spaces on its way west. John booked a Superliner Bedroom for our 15 hour trip. Of course, the train was running hours late (don’t get me started on why America’s basic infrastructure is so poorly supported) but we had planned for that. We boarded in Salt Lake City just as the day dawned and got into Emeryville, California, long after sunset. We saw plains and mountains, farms and ranches, towns and cities. Other trains passed us and we even went slowly through the vast Union Pacific Roseville Yard, so John got his fill of trains for once. It was a glorious day.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!