Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thomas Comes To Town

As I'm sure you can tell from the familiar little train in the photo, we had Thomas Tank come to Cumberland this weekend. Actually, he's here next weekend, too - two straight weekends of Thomas - how will I survive? Actually, things didn't go as planned. Long story - I'll try to make it short!
Mark works downtown, right across the street from the historical railroad where Thomas was going to be. So we planned on me meeting him down there with the kids on Friday afternoon - avoid the crowds. Guess what? Tickets sold out for the whole weekend before I even had a chance to buy them. However, encouraged by my friends who had gone to last year's Day Out With Thomas, even if you don't have a ticket to ride, you can still take pictures, do all the activities, see Thomas, etc..., you just can't actually ride the train. Which, hmmm, goes up the track for 10 minutes and then comes back down. And once you're actually ON the train, you don't even see Thomas at that point, I decided we were going anyway, no tickets and all.
So we get there, and first thing we do is go see Thomas. Jonathan is delighted, of course, there's Thomas, backed up to the Western Maryland Scenic Train (same one that takes fall leaf excursions) and then we notice the regular diesel engine on the OTHER end of the train, meaning that Thomas is indeed, not functioning as an engine at all here, which we pretty much knew, and that solved the problem of how they would turn the train around after only 10 minutes, well...if you're following me here, you realize that when Thomas initially leaves the station, he's actually going backwards. Then, when he returns to the station "pulling" the train, he's coming in looking like an engine, but of course, the train is actually being "pushed" by the diesel which is now in the caboose position.
All that to tell you this. We're standing there, taking pictures of Thomas. It's about to leave for the Friday, 4pm ride. Thomas goes Peep Peep! And train starts to move. At which my 3 year old becomes hysterical. Why? Because Thomas, heaven help him, is going BACKWARDS! Then, because Jonathan is hysterical, Matthew decides he's going to be hysterical too. So there we are, on the train platform, watching this cute little children's train leave the station, with both kids screaming like they've been seriously injured. People were actually looking at us.
So we went and did the other activities - the hay bale maze, the mini-golf, the moon-jump train, the gift shop. Oh, the gift shop. Enough said about that.
So the next day, I get a great idea. The cool, new Cumberland leg of the Allegany Highlands trail runs right along side the track that Thomas is using! So we take the kids for a walk on the trail, and the train will be right there beside us! More photo opportunity! More chance for Jonathan to see Thomas in true action! Plus, if we timed it right and did a walk downtown to the Farmer's Market, the Ford Model T/Model A show that happened to be downtown on the same weekend, AND a stop at the coffee shop for java and scones, we could be out for so long, we would probably see Thomas 2 or 3 times along the trail!
Saturday morning - off we go. Park the car and one of the access points to the trail, get out strollers, kids, diaper bag, snacks, drinks, "hurry, I hear T-H-O-M-A-S coming" (yes, we had to spell it, so it would be a surprise), up on the trail "LOOK, Jonathan, it's THOMAS!!" Jonathan turns around, smiles at Thomas coming (forward, this time, thank goodness), and watches entranced as the train approaches, and starts to pass us - engineer waving, little kids ON the train waving, train only about 10 feet away from us....a lovely, moment all parents treasure. Mark's taking pictures. And then the train makes some sort of noise, sort of like, oh, a grinding, squeaking, high-pitched air release thing - I have no idea what it was - it was actually a SERIES of noises, made ME jump. Guess what? Jonathan hysterical again. Grabs onto me, would've crawled under my clothes if he had the opportunity, screaming, crying, scared, blubbering "That SCARED ME!!!" As fate would have it, then Matthew starts.
To which my husband is now saying "Great idea, Bec"
Oh well - the REST of the day was good! And you know what? If the weather's nice NEXT weekend, we may just do it again! The walk. On the trail. Only this time, we'll know to get a little farther away!

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