Jump someone else's train
North Freedom's Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a family-friendly operating railroad that re-creates small-town, short-line transportation from the late 1800s and early 1900s. This fall the popular 50-minute Autumn Color Weekends train rides return, chugging through the scenic Baraboo Hills. From Oct. 5 to 14, passengers will travel in restored vintage cars along a former branch line of the Chicago & North Western Railroad, departing on Fridays at 11:30 am, and 1 and 2:30 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 and 11:30 am, and 1, 2:30 and 4 pm. A 6:30 pm dinner train also is available on Fridays and Saturdays by reservation. On Oct. 20-21, the scenic route will include a detour to the Quartzite Lake Pumpkin Patch. Trains depart that weekend at 10:30 am, and 12:30, 2 and 3:30 pm. More info: 800-930-1385 or www.midcontinent.org.
Get lost in the 15-acre castle corn maze and pumpkin patch at Treinen Farm, W12420 State Highway 60, Lodi. Open every weekend through Nov. 11, the farm will host the second annual A-Maze-ing Days for Autism from 11 am to 5 pm on Oct. 6-7. A portion of all maze receipts will be donated to the Autism Society of Greater Madison. More info: 608-592-3481 or www.treinenfarm.com.
Yale University 's Sally Shaywitz, one of the leading experts on reading and dyslexia, will join other respected voices in the field of reading and learning disabilities (including renowned children's author Esme Codell) at the "Blowing the Lid Off Reading Achievement" conference on Oct. 12-13. The event, slated for the Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, is designed to further public understanding of reading challenges and how to address them. "Our goal is to provide ample support and opportunities to parents, educators, the medical profession, government agencies and anyone else who is looking for answers to questions about dyslexia and reading disabilities," says SueAnn Boyum, director of development at Madison's Walbridge School, which helped bring the conference to town. More information: 608-833-1338 or www.walbridgeschool.com/conference.htm.
Up to 20% of young women have unhealthy patterns of dieting, purging and binge eating, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition. Canadian playwright Linda Carson was one of them. But she won her battle with bulimia and wrote Dying to Be Thin, a one-woman show that revolves around a 17-year-old girl who equates being skinny with being happy. Presented by Ontario's Roseneath Theatre Company at the Overture Center for the Arts' Capitol Theater, the Nov. 5 performance will be geared to teens and their parents. It will address the impact of media and popular culture on body image, self-esteem and lifestyle choices, plus the health risks and harsh realities of bulimia and the need to make informed choices about diet, nutrition and weight control. A post-performance discussion will provide additional learning opportunities. Tickets: 258-4141, www.overturecenter.com.