Thanks again for the forbearance as I use this as a blog to keep me honest and progressing.
The trains came out of their boxes for their annual run around the Christmas tree and out into the yard. With my brother's track having sat in storage for 20+ years, it took some real elbow grease to get things running, but the crew (hopefully pictured) was game. In the meantime, my neighbor started filling the garden, so, while the rolling stock will go back into boxes, this is temporary!
In the meantime, my father-in-law builte a short trestle. Not sure, how we will incorporate it, but we will!
As a hunorous aside, I found "ballast" and "roadbed" have no practical meaning in a state with no railroads. My neighbor sources beautiful scale gravel, and layed it down forward and aft, port to starboard across the entire garden. Oh, well, it will allow for the flexibility I wanted, even if it means each plant will get its own planter box countersunk into what will be 5-6 inches of gravel.
Since I figured out this picture thing, here is an idea of the track I have to work with:
I am sure as heck looking forward to not having to constantly deal with the track shifting and derailing things every 10-20 minutes!
Some final thoughts....If I had known how this project was going to speak to my immediate and extended family, I would've started years ago. Seeing my youngest gandy dancer in the almost filled garden with his Tonka Trucks "building a railroad" alone made this experience to date worthwhile!