OK...  Where do I begin...

After having a fairly good idea of how my new layout was to be built (layout plan), I started the effort of finishing the area (sheetrock, wiring, etc...).  However, I discovered some moisture and black mold in some of the fiber-glass insulation.  UGH!!   So, I spent the whole winter ripping all the existing insulation out - insulation, framing, sheet rock, wiring and all.  Once out, I treated the walls and painted them with DryLock.  I then glued 2 inch foam on the concrete - and sealed it with spray foam (from a can).  I built a new 2x2 frame wall on top of the foam - anchored to the concrete wall.  And, after re-wiring, I put sheet rock on top of that.  I spent the whole winter on this project - and accomplished  no railroading (except for a little design work).

One of the interesting things that happened while I was refinishing the basement, is that my perception of where my layout would go changed.  In the process of moving all the 'stuff' in the basement from area to area (the basement was worked on in stages) I realized that I put some unrealistic boundaries on my layout area.  The boundaries were of conveniences - I did not want to move some things to make room.  But, because I had to refinish the whole area and move all the stuff anyway, meant I could change my perception of the area - which I did (I have to thank my wife for helping me realize some of this).  Some of the constraints I put on my layout area were no longer valid.  I still had a few self imposed constraints (like not wanting my layout to consume the whole basement).  But, I no longer had to put the layout in a small room.  See the diagram below to see how the area ended up:

  

Also, in the process, Model Railroader came out with a great 3 level N-Scale layout that helped inspire me to design the layout I did.

The layout in the plan above is two levels (only the bottom level is shown).  The bottom level has the dock and yard.  While the upper level (not show) has the mine, and several towns.  Each level is connected with a 11 turn, 2 percent grade helix.  The system map (below) shows more details of each level:

    

Also:

December of 2006, my wife and I had our first child.  Emalie Grace is a cutie.  Needless to say, she takes a bit of my time, and Railroading activities take a back-burning (way back).

(added February 2007)