I thought Henry's head might pop from all of the joy and excitement last Saturday at the Alaska Railroad open house. Aside from touring some cars, engines, maintenance machinery, and acquiring a temporary tattoo, a 20 minute train ride was on the docket.
The event was scheduled for 11-3, so we arrived at 10:45am only to find the parking lots swelling amid throngs of strollers and preschoolers. I'd be amazed if any less than 75% of the toddlers in Anchorage were there.
We met up with our friends fairly quickly and by 10:50 were in line for a train ride, a train ride that we would not board until 12:30. If that seems downright crazy to you, I would agree. God have mercy on those that arrived around noon -- they must have stepped aboard that train around 3:15.
Thankfully our friends had a stroller. Combining the stroller with 4 adults, we were able to stake down a spot in line while the kids were led around the joyous trains (Henry seemed most fond of the captain's chair in the engine and the microwave in the kitchen car). We were able to tour everything, minimize standing and fidgeting, and enjoy the 60 degree bluebird skies.
We often pointed at the Alaska trains in their bold blue and gold paint and stated, "Henry, we're riding that train in a little bit." His smile led me to believe that he must think his parents are kings. How else could we swing a ride on a machine of dreams like that?
As we walked past the ever-snaking line of parents and toddlers I encountered two story lines on a loop. One, a child sitting on the cement, crying, rubbing their hands in dust, and melting down. Secondly, a parent quietly saying, "Our turn is coming in a little bit. We need to wait our turn."
The whole event felt like a day at Disneyworld, if Disney only had a single ride.
Looking at the picture below you may conclude that we had a great day and did not have a meltdown, largely due to our arrival early enough (next time we'll shoot for 10 am).
Later that day while rocking Henry at bedtime, he was happy to point out that my shirt had a fire engine on, just like his jammies (under the image on my shirt reads "Chicago Fire Department -- Southwest Side"). I agreed and watched his fingers trace the graphics. "Daddy, we are fire engine guys." Yes, we are.