Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Aboard!

  This summer presented our family with round 2 being unable to do much all together. Last summer Josh's foot was broken, so Liam and I did most of our adventuring without him. This summer I have been the one who is limited, activity-wise, due to being exceedingly pregnant or needing to feed a newborn every couple of hours. Josh and Liam have done a lot together: they've gone to Silver Dollar City a couple of times, have spent many hours playing outside at our house and the park, and have gone on bike rides and runs together. While I have really appreciated the hours of quiet in our house that have allowed me to get to know our little Cora, I have been a little bummed about all the fun I've missed out on.

 So, when some sweet friends of ours offered us their tickets for the Arkansas and Missouri train ride from Springdale to Van Buren and back, I decided that Cora and I could use a day out with our boys. The day started early - we had to be at the depot at 7:30, which meant getting up at 6:00 to have enough time to get ready, feed Cora, and load everyone up. (My day actually started at 4:15 when Cora woke up to eat and then couldn't get back to sleep until 5:00 ... by that point I didn't do much sleeping since I knew I had to get up in an hour).

 I had no idea what to expect out of the trip. I assumed that there would be very few passengers, and that they would be mostly elderly folks. I was surprised to be wrong on both assumptions. Our car was pretty full, and though the majority of the passengers were older, there were quite a few other families with younger kids and a few younger couples (including some friends we hadn't seen in a long time). Cora fell back to sleep in the car on the way to the depot and gratefully was able to stay asleep as we waited to board.

 I knew Liam would be excited to get on the train, but we weren't really sure how long it would take us to get to Van Buren, and I was a little worried he would get really bored. I packed some toys, lots of snacks, books, and a coloring/sticker book to try to help appease him if he got antsy. I WAY underestimated how much he would enjoy the trip, because we ended up only looking at two of the books during the last 20 minutes of the trip down. He loved it!

 The seats on the train had moveable backs, so you could make them face one another, which was great because Liam was able to move back and forth between Josh and I. He loved looking out the window (and holding his ticket) and telling us all about what we were passing. He just loved being on "Wemiwy" (Emily - the train from Thomas the train that he decided we were riding).

 Cora stayed asleep (praise the Lord!) until it was time for her to eat again, and then was very content to just sit on our laps and look around.

 After a while, we traded kids so that Liam could sit on my lap for a bit, and Cora actually fell asleep sitting on Josh's lap. This may seem like a normal thing for a baby to do, but it was sort of a miracle for her. She NEVER just falls asleep - it almost always is a very involved, squirmy process - so it was a precious treat. I think the jostling and bumping of the train was really soothing to her.

 When we arrived in Van Buren and the hostess said, "be back at the depot in 3 hours", Josh and I looked at one another with dread on our faces. We knew we'd have enough time to eat lunch before getting back on the train, but we had no idea we'd have 3 whole hours to kill with two little kiddos. So, if you take this trip with small children, here are my suggestions:
  • Walk (slowly) down main street to the courthouse with the fountain outside. Fountains are always entertaining for toddlers, and shade is good for babies.

  • Visit the combination coffee shop/bookstore (I don't remember what it was called). The had a great little sitting area where I was able to feed Cora (which was much better sitting on a park bench on main street while nursing) and they had a fun kid area with toys where Josh and Liam played until I was done.

  • Eat at Boomarang Burgers. They had yummy burgers and really great fries, and their kids meal came in this neat little cardboard car that Liam has loved playing with.
  • Get ice cream at one of the little shops on Main Street.
 We were so thankful that we were able to keep Liam entertained for the 3 hours, and Cora did fairly well. If you start to run out of things to do, you can always watch your own dance moves in the reflection of the windows to a restaurant. I'm sure the patrons of this restaurant were highly entertained by what Liam calls the "train dance".

 The end of the day brought some rough moments. I had timed Cora's feeding so she would be ready to eat as soon as we got back on the train, but then the train was a good half an hour late in coming back, so she was pretty cranky and there was no good place to feed her at the crowded little depot. Also, on the way back our car was at the front, right behind the engine, so it was super loud every time the whistle blew, which was really often. Liam was able to fall asleep right away, as long as Josh kept his hand over his ear. Cora, however, couldn't get relaxed with all the whistling, so she had a tough ride home. All in all, it was a great outing and we were so glad we had the chance to go. I don't know if I'd pay full price to take the trip with little ones, but if you ever come across a good deal on them, it's a great little family adventure!

1 comment:

Carol said...

I was so curious when I saw train pictures to find out where you were going! Looks like a fun trip - glad you got to get out as a family of four!