A couple of weeks ago I read an article in the Chronicle about a Polar Express train that you could ride on to the North Pole. This particular North Pole is in Palestine, Texas. A little over 150 miles from us. It sounded amazing and I knew we had to take the kids. When I went online to book tickets, most dates were already sold out. The only time that we could do it was Monday, the 17th, at 8:11 PM. Yes, it was a school night, and missing school the next day was not an option because Joey and I both had to work. But we decided to go for it.
I read that they encouraged pajama wearing, so I took Ace Monday after school to pick out some matching jammies for herself and Archie. I was of course picturing something at least a little bit Christmasy, but she decided on some sharks PJ's and there was no changing her mind.
Joey got off work at 4:30 and we started heading North to Palestine. The kids had no idea where we were going, we told them it was a super duper surprise. I thought we were allowing ourselves plenty of time....until we got stuck in the most insane traffic while still in Houston. We were in bumper to bumper traffic for almost two hours before we really started moving. Once we got out of it, I thought we would be okay, but we were pretty freaked out that we weren't going to make it. The map on my phone had our ETA at 8:30, and the train was set to leave at 8:11 sharp. I was already planning all these different scenarios in my head of what we were going to do since I was sure we were missing the train. The kids were so excited and we were going to have to come up with something good.
Here is my "Holy Crappoly, we're not gonna make it!!!" face.
The kids slept a good part of the drive. And miraculously, with some swift but safe driving, we pulled into the parking lot at 8:06. We ran to the ticket booth and heard the train whistle blow. (Meaning they were about to take off). The lady in the booth screamed "Eicher??" and tossed us our tickets as we sprinted with kids in arms to the train. I kid you not, this was straight out of a movie. We jumped onto the train and it literally started moving before we even got to our seats.
(At this point Ace was a bit confused and quite serious)
Once we were finally seated and able to explain to the kids that we were heading to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves, everyone was super excited.
The train ride was so awesome. Singing, dancing train attendants (I don't really know what you call them, but they were the equivalent of a flight attendant) filled the aisles. They served us hot chocolate and cookies, and we listened to The Polar Express.
When we finally pulled up and could see the North Pole the kids were freaking out. Santa stood outside of his workshop with his elves waving at us.
The best part was when Santa came onto the train and came through to see all of the kids. Ace was in heaven. Archie was a teeny bit freaked out and didn't want to sit in Santa's lap, so he stood behind him. But it turns out he looks like a freaky possessed-eyed growth coming off of Santa's head. If you stare at it long enough it really does get weird. I just did.
And Santa gave them bells! So exciting. And we could all hear them ringing. Ace tested us several thousand times to make sure we could hear.
What a night it was!
And everyone got corndogs!
We finally arrived home at 12:30. And we are still catching up on sleep. I have been making the kids sleep in whatever clothes they are wearing the next day and letting them stay in bed until it is time to get in the car in the morning. I have such a hard time waking them up when they are so sound asleep.
The kids have already made me reassure them many times that we will go back and do it again next year. And we will! Maybe with a little more planning next time. But maybe not.
Lots of Love!