“I bet that you want to drive the train,” Bob says as he welcomes me to the Benson Visitor Center, “all the kids do.” Nailed it, Bob – a chance to drive the train is exactly my reason for stopping in. This is my first stop of several touristy visits I plan in the area today. Like everyone still here in Southern Arizona, I am whittling down my sightseeing list before I leave town.
Engineer Sunny Rides the Rails - Thanks to Bob and Kathryn at the Visitor Center for a great experience!
Sunny Goes to Train School
RVers wintering in Benson see many, many trains traveling through town. Usually I see them while I am sitting at a crossing hoping that the endless line of railcars before me will finally clear town before I die of old age. Also each night an assortment of train whistles serenade restless sleepers as a multitude of locomotives approach crossings headed out of town. But today I just want to learn to be a train engineer.
Surprisingly, I already possess most of the skills needed for this job. Turns out that running a train is similar to driving a Class A RV except you don’t have to steer! The braking is similar and a throttle is a throttle. Sure would like that sand button added to my RV so I could spread out sand along my path when I need more traction. I have an air horn on the RV already, but this lesson gives me a great idea for using it more productively.
Here Comes Sunny - Better Get out of the Way!
In fact I am thinking of using morse code for the letter “Q” on my air horn whenever I pull into an RV park or fuel stop. Bob tells me that trains use the letter “Q” signal as they approach a grade crossing to warn crossing traffic that a train will soon be barreling through. This practice dates back to England and the Queen’s yacht. Her crew originally used this horn signal as her ship sailed into a harbor. Since the boat had no brakes, this loud morse code warning told everyone that the Queen’s yacht was coming in. Other boats were well advised to get out of the way or get capsized. Yep, two long blasts, a short and another long one should be enough to warn other big rig drivers that Sunny is coming in – get out of her way!
Other Sights on Day Tour
While out and about this day, I take the tram ride up Sabino Canyon Road. After I get parked I learn that the Bear Canyon Section is closed today. Since that is where the waterfalls are located, I am disappointed. Next time I will check for section closings before I visit this place.
I also join a group of my friends for a trip to the nearby Mescal Movie set. This was the filming location for many westerns including Tombstone and the Quick and the Dead. Strange that they filmed Tombstone here when the actual town of Tombstone is nearby and could have played itself in the movie. We certainly get the feel for the old west while on the set as it is very windy, hot and dry. Volunteer actors perform skits at various buildings along the tour making it an informative and entertaining adventure.