So, for the first time after years in the hobby I had a chance to participate in an operating session. A friend here in KC models the Frisco in HO from Kansas City to Oklahoma; very large layout (35x10) and all DCC.
Holy cow, I had no idea what I'd been missing. It's the most fun I've had in the hobby since I started. I've read about operating sessions for years, but did not understand how much of a new dimension it offers. I'd encourage anybody - if you get a chance, take it. I was lucky to meet a fellow that was welcoming of newcomers, and while I had some fear about screwing it up, in fact I had so much fun that worry evaporated in the fun of running the railroad.
I partnered with an experienced operator, and learned the basics of running through-trains tonight; drops offs and pick ups. Can't wait for a chance to work one of the yards.
Chris Kansas City