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March 2018
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Santa Train 2013

As we did last year, we booked tickets for Alex and the family to the Santa Express run by the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.

So we all hopped into the car on Monday afternoon and headed out to foothills of Mount Rainier…


Alex and Amy were ready to go…


This was going to be our engine…


And this was the train…


Then we watched the engine couple up to the train…  or “buckle up” as Alex and I sometimes say…

As we got on, I noticed there was a second engine at the other end of the train, so right after we got on I headed to that end to get a quick picture…


G’ma Ruth and Alex got settled in at a table.


Amy put on her practiced sullen face.


I ate my popcorn.

(Picture taken by my mom)

Soon the train started, and Alex watched out the window intently while perched on my lap.

(Picture taken by my mom)

Only a few minutes later though, the conductor told us it was our turn for Santa…


And unlike last time, when I unfortunately his stop on the video right before Alex started to talk to Santa, this time I actually did get the whole thing on video…

Unfortunately, unlike last time, it was much noisier, and it was impossible to hear what Alex said to Santa. (Although, Santa said that Alex said “trains”, which of course would be what he would say.) Also of course, it wasn’t his first time with Santa, and it wasn’t nearly as cute. So I am still very sad about stopping the video early last year.

But we quickly moved on.

Through dirty windows we saw some scenery…


Last year, we had power outages and never got to the “destination” of the trip. This time we got to the end, which was a little train museum. We got out to look at some of the stuff…

(Picture taken by my mom)

We saw the engine that had pulled the train last year.


And a diesel engine with caboose.


And another old steam engine.

(Picture taken by Brandy)

We could have hopped inside that engine, but Alex just wanted to look through the window.


There were some old tanker cars too.


And a repair shed.


At that point, we went back into the train…

(Picture taken by my mom)

Right around then, we realized we had lost Brandy! We had no idea where she had gone. One minute she was with us, then the next she was not. We’d hoped she would be waiting for us at our seats, but she was not. For what seemed like hours, but was really only a few minutes, we sat there and wondered where in the world Brandy had gotten to.

As we sat in our seats Alex said, “I think Mommy will be lost FOREVER.”

But, of course, a few minutes before the train was due to head back, Brandy showed up at our seats.

As the train started heading back toward the station, like last time, Alex and I (and Grandma Ruth too this time) went to find one of the spaces at the ends of the cars where there was a waist high door with an open area above so that you could look out without dirty old glass in the way of the view.

Of course, by this time it was dark…

(Picture taken by my mom)

We could see the stuff right by the side of the tracks because of the lights from the train, and it was exciting when we passed level crossings. But of course I wasn’t going to be able to get any good pictures of that with very low light and everything going by quickly.

But Alex and I stayed, with me holding him up so he could see out, for the whole ride back to the station.

(Picture taken by my mom)

And then it was over. We headed back to the car for the two hour drive home, with only a quick break for dinner at an Indian restaurant on the way.

It was a fun time, although very different than last time. Will it become a tradition? Talk to us again next year. :-)

Santa Train


On Saturday, we took a little trip into the mountains.  (Photo above by Amy.)


We went so we could take Alex to ride on the Santa Express, run by the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.


With his iPhone in one hand, and Mommy in the other, Alex was ready to go!


Amy was ready too!


They had these cool antique cars.


But Brandy wanted to sit in some less cool cars because the seats were more comfortable.  Alex was not impressed.

OK, maybe that was me that was not impressed. I was bummed that the car we were in was less cool than the others, plus the windows were much dirtier making it basically impossible to take pictures out the window.


But that didn’t last all that long, because Amy discovered a place between the cars with the top half of a door open, so you could actually just essentially be outside with no window in the way.  That was MUCH better.


There were lots of views like this.


Of course Amy took lots of pictures.


At this point, Alex had not yet been convinced to leave his seat.  He just wanted to sit and watch Thomas the Tank Engine on his phone.  But he was ON A TRAIN!  So this would just not do.


So I insisted, and took Alex to the place he could look out.  He was just tall enough to look out standing tiptoe.  He barely left that spot again for the rest of the train ride.


There were of course more pretty views.


And some horsing around.


Much of the ride looked like this.  With Alex and Amy together, checking out the views.


They really do have lots of fun together.


Then, as it was starting to get dark, the train made the first of several stops.  The crew was investigating a problem.  As we would soon find out, the generator that served the front half of the train was acting up…


But there were still some good views.  This is looking back toward the steam engine that was pushing the train.


As it got darker, photography out the window becomes more impressionist.


But Alex maintained his vigil.


Then, suddenly, there was snow!

And then, and then…  it was time for…  SANTA!

Now, I was an idiot.  Looking at the screen on my camera it seemed like it was just too dark, and the movie was going to come out without you being able to see anything.  Now, obviously, it turns out you could see things just fine.  But I panicked and cut the movie short and switched to stills with a flash.  The video and stills from the video were much better than what I took after.  And you could of course see how the whole thing played out.  But I missed the second half because I stopped the video short.  I missed the good part…

In the next few seconds, Alex actually did manage to have a short conversation with Santa, and got his courage up, and told Santa he liked trains.  This was a big deal for him.  He’d been talking about talking to Santa for weeks, and had chickened out several times.  This time he managed it.  Of course, I cut the video off too soon.  (And frankly, I missed some of the actual event myself as I was fiddling with the camera instead of paying attention.)

Sigh!  I can’t tell you just how annoyed I am at myself…

Anyway, back to the stills…


When he first sat down Alex was not too sure of this whole thing, and really just wanted to watch his show on his phone.

But then he turned up, he smiled, he almost laughed…  you could see that part on the video.


He was actually getting almost comfortable as Santa asked him about what he liked and what he wanted for Christmas.


Alex accepted a candy cane from Santa, but told Santa he didn’t want a sticker.


Then it was right back to Alex’s favorite spot!


Of course, they never had fixed that generator.  The last three cars on the train were in complete darkness, and with no heat.  Oops.  Of course, Alex and I were just hanging out between the cars without a window between us and the outside world anyway, so it didn’t make much of a difference to us.  But it probably did to some of the other folk…


Then the train pulled back into the station…


And it was time to disembark…


With a final look back at our steam engine, it was time to go home.

Another big day for Alex.  He was asleep long before we made it home.  It was a good day.

And he made sure Santa knew he wanted trains for Christmas.  Which is very important.  Cause otherwise how would Santa know?

Alex Helped Santa