It was a simple plan, although entirely unexpected: thanks to a healthy inheritance, I purchased seven acres of rugged woodland where I'd realize a lifelong dream: to build my own home, a place where I could lick my wounds and return to the modeling world in a big way. I was living in a camper on my property so I could work on my home whenever the spirit moved me. While waiting out a bitter winter, I decided to do a little modeling, and made some scribbles on a piece of paper.

It was to be the White River and Northern VII, a two by three foot switching puzzle—I had room for very little else. But I made one big mistake: I'd forgotten about my misadventure with the WR&N VI. And so when it came time to start hand-laying Code 40 standard gauge turnouts, I was met with stinging failure. Again.

But that was just a prelude to yet another series of catastrophes that would put me in the darkest place I've ever been—it made the previous disaster seem like a picnic. In the midst of that chaos, in an act of either optimism or desperation (take your pick), I took a trip down nostalgia lane...

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