I've decided to make a minor tweak to the TMMC's track plan that should greatly improve enjoyment and operations. Over three years ago, Thunder Mesa started out as a simple 3'x6' continuous loop - a real caboose chaser one might say. Over time, the concept evolved and the railroad expanded, but the core loop always remained. I enjoy operations, but I also really like just sitting back and watching the trains roll through nice scenery. The trick has always been to design a plan that offered the best of both worlds. Recently, I discovered a solution that would let me operate the railroad in a realistic point-to-point manner, while still allowing for continuous running. It turns out, the simple addition of a switch and the re-alignment of a couple of tracks are all that was required.
A closer view of the revised plan. With the new track arrangement, trains can now travel the entire mainline in a reverse-loop-to-reverse-loop continuous run. Why didn't I think of this before?
The reverse loop sections will be controlled by DCC reverse loop modules and I might also automate the turnouts to switch automatically so I can just sit back and watch 'em roll. I'm not sure why I held on to the original loop for so long. Perhaps it was because I knew that giving it up meant I wouldn't be running trains very much until the entire mainline was finished. This simple change of plans might just be the motivation I need to get that done. Comments and questions welcome below. Adios for now!
Edit 10/24/14: Just a couple of weeks later and I've completely revamped and updated the entire plan. See the updated plan here.