Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saturday on track

Yesterday was a big day, and I'm not just talking about the fact that Danny willingly wore shoes other than his Crocs. We had tickets for "A Day Out with Thomas" at the Chattanooga railway. The Thomas the Train phenomenon is just beginning to surface in our house, but we figured we couldn't lose with the prospect of a train ride. So, we yanked Tim out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7:15 on a Saturday morning, threw him in the shower, and loaded into the Vanimal for the first stop, the bagel store. I think this alone would have satisfied Danny, who chanted "bagels" for most of the ride there. Stomachs satiated, we moved on to the main event. This started with a two-hour drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee through heavy rain. Not exactly an auspicious start for an outdoor affair, but we were undeterred. Fortunately, while the skies didn't quite clear, the rain did stop once we pulled into the Thomas event parking lot. It was here that we embarked on what we're pretty sure was the highlight of the day for both kids: the golf cart taxi to the entrance. It was all the exhilaration of the rental car bus, with the added bonus of the open air.

Having made our way to the entrance, we found what is essentially a carnival set up at a train station. There were plenty of activities to keep you occupied while waiting for your appointed train ride. One of these was mini golf, which of course Danny zeroed in on immediately. We decided to wait until after the train ride, though, which didn't go over very well at first. However, exploring real train cars proved to be a worthwhile distraction.

The train ride itself was, as many warned us, the least interesting part of the whole experience, although fortunately I don't think the kids would agree. It's a mere 25-minute ride that very slowly meanders down a straight path, stops, and then returns back along the same track. The speed, or lack thereof, was the most disappointing part, so I don't think we'll fall prey to the "Polar (not so) Express" I overheard the conductor talking about.

After disembarking the train, Tim took Danny over to the mini golf area. Danny had no interest in putting, so Tim found a more removed area of the grass where he could openly swing away to his heart's content. Meanwhile, Clare and I met up with Max and his family for a quick tour of the jumpy house, video/story area, and petting zoo.

Had the weather been sunny and dry, I think we would have been more inclined to laze our way around each spot. This was not so, which prompted our decision to move on and hit the aquarium in downtown Chattanooga. It's got a different set-up from the one in Atlanta, with different emphases, so it was a worthwhile venture. Danny was particularly enamored of the HUGE sharks - and Clare and Max were just enamored of each other. Lord help us if this romance continues into the teen years.

It was a very full day, especially for Danny who did not get a nap, so it was a quiet ride home. I'm happy to say that we didn't have to resort to the van's DVD player on either ride. Clare was busy in the way back reading her chapter books, and Danny just enjoyed our conversation and tunes - and snacks. We know that this will not always be the case, but we'll luxuriate in it while we can.