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Never Too Old

Never Too Old

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This year marked the first year that my grandpa was unable to go with us to see Thomas the Tank Engine.  He was still anxious for us to go, however, so we made the annual visit for the 10th time in a row.  Here are my very big kids enjoying the adventure provided for them by the grandpa who still has a big kid inside of him too!

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We rode in a plush covered car this time, and had it nearly to ourselves!  Our train trip was enlivened by lots of stories from the conductor who rode with us.

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The garden railroad is always one of my favorite places to spend some time.  There is a timeless fascination in looking into a miniature world.

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Yep, that’s me–what’s with the enormous green hat?  I love that hat, but it sure looks weird!


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I’m not sure how many more memories we will make here, but we certainly have a big pile of ones from the past decade.  I am grateful.

Another Day Out With Thomas

Another Day Out With Thomas

Somewhere along the line, I blinked.  This day…

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suddenly turned into THIS day!

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The kettle corn is the same, the train ride is the same, the garden railroad is the same, the gift shop is the same, but boy how the kids change!

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As long as I have a Grandpa and a son who love trains, I think September will find us out at the Railroad Museum, riding behind a cheeky blue engine and adding one more memory to the treasured pile.

Another Train Adventure

Another Train Adventure

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Since it has been at least two days since I posted a train photo, I decided it was time for some more!!  Yes, I know there were train pictures at the start of summer from the Cumbres and Toltec, and train pictures for the start of autumn from Day Out with Thomas, but there was train activity in between too!  On the last Saturday of summer vacation, Nathan and I got to travel with Grandpa Train and his railroad club to see a foundry and historic depot in Strasburg, CO.

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Although we didn’t ride on a full-sized train, we did get to ride a mini train through the field of a man who works at the foundry.  He repairs engines all day, and then comes home and plays with engines as a hobby too!!

I think my favorite part was watching the workers in the foundry.  They cast and machine all kinds of parts, using some tools that are over 100 years old.  They custom build parts to repair historic locomotives and keep mini trains like the one at our zoo running.  We watched them heat and pour bronze into a mold while we were there.

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Another cool part of the trip was getting a glimpse into my grandpa’s history.  He enjoyed telling the story of the time he was stranded by a snowstorm in this very depot, spending the night sleeping in front of this pot-bellied stove as a teenager.

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Nathan had the distinction of being by far the youngest member of our group, and he was a good participant.  He enjoyed riding the train, eating a hearty lunch out in the field, and investigating the variety of historic buildings and objects at the depot/museum.

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Hooray for cross-generational adventures!!  May there continue to be many more to come!

Thomas, Round 8!

Thomas, Round 8!

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Since it’s September, that means it’s time for our annual trip to the Colorado Railroad Museum to ride on Thomas the Tank Engine.  We enjoyed all of our favorite “Day Out with Thomas” traditions–the company of Grandpa Train, collecting stamps for a prize, checking out the garden railroad, climbing into old engines and cars, munching on kettle corn, and choosing a toy to take home at the end.

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There were a few new things this year, much to our surprise.  The train went the opposite way around the circle (amazing, I know!!), there were some new cars including a restored passenger car, and the best part was that it was pulled by a real steam engine, not the diesel from years past.

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Who knows how many more times we will enjoy this outing, but I am thankful for each year that we add to our store of memories.  Here’s a look back, one year at a time, to the very first visit in 2007.  Thanks, Grandpa Train, for making this part of the story of childhood for my kids.

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2013

2012

2011

2010 (2)

2009

2008 (2)

2007

Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails

Hot on the heels of the end of school, we headed out of town with Than’s parents for a very special getaway.  Since our train-loving boy is growing up fast, it was more than time to give him a good ride on a real steam train.

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Based on the recommendation of my train-loving grandfather, we drove south to Chama, New Mexico, for our ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

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We stayed at the Gandy Dance Inn Bed and Breakfast, just a block or two from the train depot, and could hear the train whistles loud and clear (to our great delight, of course.)  We also enjoyed splashing in the hot tub, eating delicious homemade breakfasts, getting to know the innkeeper, and seeing all the interesting collectibles and antiques.

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Our first full day in Chama was taken up by the main reason for our visit, the train ride.  We checked out the rail yards fully, boarded the train a little before 10:00, spent all morning travelling, ate lunch in Osier, 19 miles from the nearest paved road, and then traveled back to reach Chama again by 5:00.

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The trip was a wonderful experience.  Nathan was enthralled, loving to look out the window at every turn to get a glimpse of the engine.

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He also worked very hard to listen to the commentary provided by the friendly docents, picking up many facts about our trip and finding the answers needed to fill out his booklet and become a Junior Engineer.

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He proudly wore his Junior Engineer badge on the train ride back to Chama, and then kept it on for the rest of the vacation.  He practiced being the docent for the second half of the journey, repeating many of the things he learned as we traveled past various landmarks on the way back.

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Katya spent most of the time being Daddy’s companion, writing and drawing in her summer journal, and hanging out on the platforms at the end of the train cars.  We all spent some time in the open car, but she liked the ends of the cars better because she could see out!

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Both kids enjoyed the chance to go up in the engine at the end of our lunch break–so hot and noisy up there!

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Sooty but satisfied, we returned to our B&B for a much needed shower, then out for dinner and a walk through the quiet town of Chama.

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Our next day was filled with spontaneous adventures as Than played activities director, driving us around to all sorts of little-known nearby attractions.  We took a short hike to a nearby reservoir, threw tons of rocks into the water, collected interesting mineral samples, hiked up to the train trestle we traveled on the day before, saw a beautiful bird, visited 100+-year-old graves in the Chama cemetery, and generally experienced the northern New Mexico countryside.

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Although the train trip was the definite highlight, our final day was almost as good.  After checking out of the B&B, we “chased the train” all morning, driving along all sorts of interesting roads to see how many times we could park by the track and watch the train steam past.  It was a very simple but very exciting adventure, watching the beautiful historic train thunder past through gorgeous mountain scenery, accompanied by the excited waving of my kids.  The docent and several passengers on the train even started to recognize us and wave extra-hard every time we caught up with them.

 

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Finally loosing the train when it headed away from the road a little before lunch time, we traveled to the other end of the line, checked out the rail yards at Antonito, had some of the best Mexican food I have eaten in a long time, and then made the trek home.  I am so grateful for the rich blessings of time with family and precious memory-making experiences with my children.

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Thomas the Seventh

Thomas the Seventh

For the seventh time in a row, the kids and I went along with Grandpa Train to ride Thomas the Tank Engine.

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Kettle corn, a goofy magic show, collecting stamps to earn a prize, the garden railroad, checking out trains around museum–the event never changes, but I am glad that my kids still enjoy it, and I am glad to have another year of building memories with my grandpa.

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Light Rail

Light Rail

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Last Saturday we picked up Grandpa Train and headed for the closest light rail station.  The trains were running for free all day long in celebration of the opening of a new line.  We happily hopped on a near-empty train and even got to peek into the driver’s compartment!

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After traveling all the way to Union Station downtown, we switched onto the new line and from there the crowds really picked up.  By the time we reached the end of the new line, we were shocked at the number of people!  Getting of the train, we walked past easily 200-300 people in line waiting for a train back to wherever they had come from.

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After winning a trivia prize (and a mustache) at one of the advertising booths and wandering around a bit, we were very grateful to be rescued from a 2+ hour wait by Than’s parents, our emergency taxi service.  We didn’t our round trip by train, but it was a fun time to explore something new with Grandpa.

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Thomas, Again!

Thomas, Again!

What would September be without our annual visit to Thomas the Tank Engine?  Enter Grandpa Train again, and a fun-filled day of train riding, train watching, kettle corn, songs, magic show, Thomas toys, and lunch out on the way home.  This is Nathan’s sixth time!  I am grateful for the annual time for my kids to make memories with their great grandpa.

Labor Day Train

Labor Day Train

This year, we celebrated Labor Day at 10,000 feet!  We picked up Grandpa Train in the morning and drove to the little mountain town of Leadville.

After enjoying lunch in the historic Delaware Hotel, we boarded the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad for a 2 1/2 hour ride in the mountains.

The kids enjoyed walking back and forth from engine to caboose several times during the ride, and it was also fun to stick our heads out the back of the car and watch the track click-clack by.  The weather was delightful and the mountains just beginning to turn colors for fall.  Katya even got a free bag of popcorn at the end of the ride (it helps to be cute and little sometimes…)

We headed back to Denver, avoiding the heavy holiday traffic on I-70 but running into a little bit of slow-downs when driving through tiny towns that only had one stoplight!  We stopped at Grandpa’s house to pick up Grandma Sweetie and enjoyed dinner at Old Chicago.

On the way home, we were surprised by a big fireworks show so we stopped in the church parking lot to watch.  It was an unexpected treat to be sure!  (So was the dead battery when we tried to re-start the car after the fireworks, but Than got that fixed up pretty quickly thanks to a nearby outlet on the light pole and the battery charger I had accidentally left in the car!)  We dropped off Grandpa and Grandma and then took our tired children home for sleep before another busy week.  A good memory for all!

Day Out with Thomas

Day Out with Thomas

It was our fifth annual Day Out with Thomas!

(Read about #1, #2, #3, and #4 at these old posts, although a few of them don’t have pictures any more.)

Katya was as excited as Nathan this year so we happily piled into the car early Saturday morning to go pick up Grandpa Train and get on our way.  We are sure thankful for his kindness and the chance to share the experience together.  (Daddy was working at an overnight retreat, so Mommy was the chauffeur).

Riding the train, snacking on kettle corn, listening to stories, enjoying the extensive garden railroad and indoor HO layout–lots of things we enjoy doing every time we come.

Of course Nathan and Gramps are special railroad buds, and I am so grateful for the bonds they have built together.  I sure didn’t know my great grandparents as well as my kids know theirs.

We saw everything there was to see, enjoyed lunch at McDonald’s together, and headed for home (with plenty of Thomas treasures in tow!)  Guess we’ll look forward to next year…