Tristan’s Day Out With Thomas

by DaniGirl on July 26, 2005 · 15 comments

in Away we go

Tristan had no idea what we were up to. We had parked a ways from the train museum in St Thomas, and told him that we were going to see some trains.
We rounded the corner, and we could see the trains off in the distance, across a little park. We started hiking that way, a motley group of six adults and four boys ranging in age from 8 months to 5 1/2 years. Tristan, having no idea about the fact that he was about to meet Thomas the Tank engine face to face, was excited just to be near the train and couldn’t wait to get closer.
We adults could see the trains in the distance a little bit better, and when one of them started to move, we could see Thomas being pulled at the very end of it. At first, Tristan didn’t understand what he was looking, but this was his expression when Beloved pointed Thomas out to him.

It took Tristan a minute to process what he was seeing, and then he took off at a run after Thomas, leaving us howling with laughter.

After a minute, we realized that Tristan didn’t know what we had planned for the morning, and only knew that he had just brushed “this close” to his idol, only to have Thomas chug off into the distance without him, leaving Tristan staring forlornly after the retreating train, so we quickly explained the plans for the rest of the day.

They had a lot of booths and tables set up inside the museum. Everything from temporary tatoos (we all got one, except for Beloved – and Tristan and Simon both are fascinated by the Thomas tatoo on my bicep, even though they each have one of their own) to colouring tables and crafts, to (of course) train tables.

There were scads of people there, but it was so well run that it never felt uncomfortably crowded. After we played for a while, it was time for us to take our ride on Thomas. Before we got on the train, Tristan had a chance to get a good look at Thomas.

My sister-in-law had called me the week before our trip and told me that she got a good deal on a conductor’s hat for my 8 month old nephew, so I sent my mother off in search of matching ones for my boys. All she could find were the expensive name-brand ones, which I at first balked at, but she said she wanted a nice picture of her three grandsons together with their conductor’s hats. This is about as close as we came to success with that photo op.

The train ride itself was short and sweet. We traveled maybe 10 kilometers, over a spectacular high trestle that I’ve driven under many a time, but never had the chance to ride over (if you know St Thomas, you know the one I mean.) It was just long enough to satisfy the boys without making them too antsy. The passenger coaches were beautiful old Pullman cars. The one we were riding in was built in 1919.

After the train ride, you could stand on a little platform and have your picture taken with Thomas, but the queues were (not surprisingly) huge and I had just spent the entire train ride with Simon jostling against my bladder, which although sweetly reminiscent of my pregnancy days, was in the end rather unpleasant, so I was more interested in finding the bathroom than standing in another queue.

After we examined the gift shop and other displays, I happened to look out and see the queue had dwindled to almost nothing for the Thomas pictures, so I hurried back inside to round up my gang for a photo. I got them onto the pedestal just as the conductor started calling the all-clear for the train to pull out of the station, and

managed to get these well-composed pictures of my professional models as the train pulled away.

Luckily, the paid photographer’s timing was much better than mine, and he caught a really cute pose that I happily handed over my Visa card in order to aquire in 5×7 glossy format – and a keychain, too. I’ll scan them in later, I promise!

As morning stretched into early afternoon, we bid our farewells to Thomas. We loaded the boys into the car, had a hectic lunch at Wendy’s with every 3 through 5 year old in southerin Ontario running rampant through the dining room, and spent a blissfully peaceful two hours driving in gentle loops of the backcountry highways on the north shore of Lake Erie.

My only regret about the whole weekend is that we had hoped to bring the boys to Storybook Gardens in London on Sunday, but it was pouring rain when we left Port Stanley. That, and the pollution levels were too high to allow us to play in the water on the beach. The whole adventure was a wonderful success, and I’ll just gloss over the details of the accompanying cottage adventure with my brother and sister-in-law in Port Stanley and the trip the next day to the Railway and Streetcar Museum (where we rode an authentic 1893 TTC streetcar, and two other retired streetcars) and our stop on the way home at the Big Apple off the 401.

I’m jealous of those of you who can do this regularly! This seems to have been only the second time Thomas has come to Canada, and the volunteers were telling us it was an event three years in the making. I’d do it again in an instant!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Wife July 26, 2005 at 3:23 am

Oh my goodness, you’re boys are so cute! I love the picture of Tristan running after Thomas! Of course, the one of both boys asleep in the backseat is precious, too.
The Boy LOVES Thomas as well. A few days ago, I saw that Thomas is coming to a town in the state next to ours. I knew it would have to be an overnight stay to see him, so I quickly nixed the idea. After reading your entry and seeing what fun you all had, I’m reconsidering.
I wonder if Dean Dad would be up for it?????
Thanks for sharing.

2 Batman July 26, 2005 at 3:35 am

Glad you all had an excellent time. I kinda wish I was there for that one. It looks like a lot of fun.

3 nancy July 26, 2005 at 3:44 am

HURRAH!!!!! Excellent recap, felt like I was there and of course I am just tickled at the picture/thought of Tristan running after ‘his’ beloved. So glad you all had such a great time…now wondering how long Tristan will talk about it – ad nauseum?

4 Snack Mommy July 26, 2005 at 3:49 am

What a great recap of a fantastic day. This is one blog entry you will have to print off for Tristan, as his memory may be a bit shaky of it in years to come. You captured it beautifully. I was even choked up when Tristan went running off after Thomas.

5 Emily July 26, 2005 at 3:55 am

Thanks for sharing your experience (and especially your pictures!) We’re gearing up to see Thomas here in North Carolina in the Fall and it was great to get a preview.

6 twinmomplusone July 26, 2005 at 4:11 am

Dani, what an amazing piece of photojournalism you’ve got here. You got me all chocked up at the thought of Tristan finally realizing what he was seeing and running after Thomas. And those 2 boys sleeping after it all is so precious.
So glad to hear your family excursion went so well and thanks so much for sharing, a bit of armchair travel for me.

7 Andrea July 26, 2005 at 1:05 pm

Sounds like you had a fabulous time. Thakns for the pictures. You drove right by us and I didn’t even know! Harrumph.

8 Momsey July 26, 2005 at 2:30 pm

I can just imagine Tristan’s excitement once he realized what he was looking at!! The running shows how he couldn’t contain himself!
I am very happy to hear it was a memorable trip and that Tristan got to meet his idol. Something I’m sure he will be talking about for a very, very long time!
Well done Mom!

9 Running2Ks July 26, 2005 at 3:32 pm

Those sleeping angels say it all. You just made a lifetime memory!

10 SilverCreek Mom July 26, 2005 at 3:36 pm

Oh Dani
I loved your retelling of events. I wish i could have been there to see Tristan’s face. (that’s the sort of thing I live for!) I’m all teary after such a great trip.

11 mgood July 26, 2005 at 4:01 pm

Awww, sniff. This was so sweet. My Grandfather worked on trains, and when he passed I only asked for one thing – his blue and white striped cap that I used to wear as a little kid playing at my grandparents’. He used to bring home the big fat chalk, and stray animals too. I love trains. Thanks!

12 Commuter July 26, 2005 at 8:46 pm

well done

13 Danigirl July 27, 2005 at 12:15 pm

Wife, what the heck, go for the road trip! I would definitely recommend it!! Your little Girl is about Simon’s age, I think, and she would have a great time, too. (And I’m not even on Thomas’ payroll. This is not a paid endorsement!)
Nancy, Tristan was just starting to not talk about it every ten minutes, then I made a photo album for him of the trip and he carries it around with him everywhere. So cute!
Andrea, as we were cruising down the 401 on Friday afternoon, I mentioned to Beloved how many bloggy friends I have in the GTA now and how I’d like to stop for coffee next time we go through, and he looked very afraid.
Thanks to all for dropping by! I love sharing pictures!!
xo Danigirl

14 Elgin County Railway Museum August 1, 2005 at 4:28 am

I’m so glad Tristan enjoyed himself here in St. Thomas last weekend. This sort of story makes the months and months of work so worth it.
Rob Sterne
Elgin County Railway Museum.
P.S. Boy, am I pooped! 😉

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