We purchased the Polar Express book a few weeks prior to our reservation date, which was set for 10 days before Christmas. The book fascinated Finn, and he was intrigued, and maybe a little bewildered by our promise to him that we were going to take him on the Polar Express. It was as if he didn't really believe us, especially as our car ride up to Fort Bragg started to drag on for him. He demanded to go home, no matter how much we reminded him about the Polar Express. Once we arrived in Fort Bragg, our first stop was our hotel, where we checked in and all changed into our Christmas jammies (except Jer who is much too manly).
Upon our arrival and change into the promised jammies for the train ride, Finn stopped complaining about wanting to go home, even when we piled back into the car for the brief drive to the train depot. He knew something exciting was brewing. The long drive up North was immediately worth it when we pulled up to the train station and saw comprehension spread across Finn's face when he caught sight of the trains. Real trains! That he would get to ride! He finally believed us that he was actually going to ride on the Polar Express. His previous real-life experience with trains has been limited to the mini trains found at the zoo and Fairyland. These were the real deal.
He was fascinated to watch Papa buying tickets at the station, and we let him pick out a train Christmas ornament to take home for our tree. Then we headed out to wait at the depot. He carefully studied the driver circling the train, making preparations. Finn took notes, and now at home, he lets the steam out of the underside of his make-believe train (bed) with a "psssssst" sound, before he starts to drive it.
|Waiting at the depot|
The excitement built as we saw the conductor (a real conductor!!) come out of the station and take position by the train steps and door. Finn got to hand our tickets to the conductor as we boarded, and then he got the overwhelming task of picking the seat we should take. But the first comment he made when we entered the car was, "But where are da tables?" He was expecting the interior to look just like in the book, which depicts cocoa being served on linen-covered tables. We had told him he would get cocoa too, you see. Oscar was just thrilled to be on an adventure. He loves being out and about. And I just about died every time I looked at him in his little elvish jammies.
I will never forget the look on Finn's face when the train whistle sounded and we felt the train give its first lurch of movement. Pure joy. He was thrilled.
Finn loved pulling out of town and waving to the cars waiting at the crossing.
And he stayed perched this way, taking it all in, until hot cocoa was served.
It was really sweet to see him sharing his excitement with Oscar.
The train returned early enough for us to enjoy dinner out. We just went in our jammies, and returned to the North Coast Brewing Co restaurant since we had really liked it last time. The kids were great...until we had almost finished and Finn started doing laps around the room yelling at the top of his lungs. We hurried out and Finn and I burned some of his energy by walking to the nearby ice cream parlor. Delish.