When I was a kid about elementry school age, I suppose, my parents took us on a long trip out West. My dad had been on several hunting trips out West and cast a vision of the wonder of the West. I don't remember being excited. I think I had no idea what to expect. If you ask my dad about that trip, he will say that he was disappointed that we slept much of the trip and didn't share his excitement for the West. I don't really remember how I acted on that trip now, it was too long ago. If you ask me or my sister about that trip, we will say it was one of the best vacations ever. I remember going to a resturant called the Big Texan. It was the coolest place ever. My sister has been there as an adult and still agrees that it is really cool. I remember Yellowstone and my dad taking pictures of a moose. We thought the moose would charge him and he would surely die. I remember wanting to see a bear very badly while we were at Yellowstone. I remember going to a big rodeo, I think, and seeing the Clydesdales for the first time. I remember an adventure. Oddly, my dad didn't know until we were adults that we captured the sense of adventure he was hoping we would in the West. I can't wait to take my kids on a similar trip.
Peter, like my dad, is always wanting us to capture the adventure. This weekend was no exception. His friend, Steve, had shared the excitment of the rail and Peter jumped on that train, as it were. He surprised us with Amtrack train tickets for the whole family to take the train to Springfield, IL. He called it the "winter get away". We left after church and rode two hours to Springfield. I had taken a train as a kid. Peter had hopped some trains as a teenager and the kids had never riden one. So, we were all equally excited. The train proved to be very spacious and comfortable. We got to go over the Mississippi River and have a view of the city. We saw lots of fun things from motorcycles to cows to frozen lakes.
We arrived in Springfield and made our way to a hotel with a indoor pool and hot tub. Hence, the warm up portion of the winter get away. We swam and ate dinner in the hotel. Peter's adventurous vision included all of us reading books in bed and going to sleep early. Well, no one packed books. Oops! We always seem to forget that getaways with the kids are fun, but in no way restful. Grayson walked around in the dark room and jumped on us for I believe three hours. I was trying to sooth him to sleep for much of this time then suddenly remembered that this was Peter's party. "Maynor, this is your party and you are getting him to sleep." Later, he confessed that he was laughing at my feeble attempts from the comfort of the bed with the sleeping kid. So, we were out by 10 p.m. or so and up at 6 a.m. We watched some cartoons and hit Starbucks across the street.
We enjoyed some more time in the pool. The kids are getting much better at swimming and clearly love the water. We headed back up to change for lunch. At the restaurant, Grayson asked to sit in my lap. He promptly fell asleep. I may have failed to mention that we were all feeling very exhausted and having the beginning of colds. I may or may not have suggested to Peter that we go home early as this was less fun than anticipated. So, G falls asleep and stays asleep for me to eat lunch and carry him several, windy, cold blocks back to the hotel. He continued to sleep at the hotel and the rest of us went to sleep for TWO hours. This can not even be acheived at home with separate rooms. As I woke up to Grayson falling off the bed, Peter said, "It's all coming together isn't it?"
And it did. We enjoyed walking around Springfield in the cold and checking out local shops. Our train on the was home was a double decker and much fancier than the first. We were able to get a reservation in the dining car and dined in high style. The food wasn't so hot, but the experience was great. We had lots of fun coloring, reading and talking on the way home. The lights were fun to see in the dark and we got a view of the city all lit up on the way home. So, much like my dad's vision of the wild west trip, it didn't go like we planned. All of the things I expected to treasure didn't happen, but the things I will treasure are the ones that were unexpected like my very near three year old falling asleep on me and eating in a cool dining car and laughing about the mishaps. And I have no idea what the kids will remember when they grow up. I have a feeling it will be the sense of adventure. I think dads are good at providing that.