While in college I worked at a local amusement park, Tweetsie Railroad. It was set up like an old Wild West town in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and had been around for decades. The almost 100 year old steam engine, Tweetsie, pulled along passenger cars on a three mile loop through the mountains where cowboys and Indians put on a show. The cowboys’ guns were sure to scare just about every kid on the train but the train show has scaled down its scary-factor a bit from years past.
I have no doubt you could stop several adults along Tweetsie’s Main Street and someone would have a story about how they were scarred for life by the Indians that ran onto the parked train screaming and swinging their axes. My parents and husband would be three of them.
My earliest memories of Tweetsie Railroad were not from college but from when I was in elementary school. We had come up for Tweetsie’s Ghost Train, a special event they put on around Halloween. But my memory is not of the train ride or scary Indians but simply how cold it was waiting in line. Then again, maybe I have just repressed the memory.
But working at Tweetsie Railroad was the perfect college job. The uniform…not so much. Denim on denim is not the look most college girls are going for. But I worked in the ticket office and I spent most of the day behind a set of pretend jail bars selling tickets to families as they came in. At slow times, my boss would tell some of us to close our window and take a break. “I’ve ordered us some fudge from the Fudge Shop,” he’d say. “Go ride some rides and pick up the fudge on your way back.” Carnival rides, fudge and getting paid? Like I said, it was the perfect college job.
If not in my jail cell or fetching fudge, I was in the Call Center fielding calls for special events such as “Day Out With Thomas”. It always baffled me why so many people were so excited for a big, blue train to come to town or why we changed so many of our daily events to accomedate all of the Thomas-related activities. The cowboys were not even allowed to shoot their guns during their famous gun show!
Though my twenty-year old self didn’t understand the draw of Thomas the Train and about I about went crazy listening to the same Thomas CD on the speaker system day in and day out, I do remember finding myself imagining if I’d ever bring my own child back some day.
And yesterday was that day.
My parents and I brought Liam to Tweetsie last summer. He LOVED it! We watched every show and went on the train twice. I will say my one bad parenting moment was the second train ride, though. We were in the last car for the first ride and had trouble seeing all the action. Liam loved it, though, and so the second ride we moved closer. MISTAKE! Moving closer not only helps you to see better but it makes the gunshots louder!
All in all, though, his first time at Tweetsie was wonderful. He smiled for all his pictures. He rode the rides he was big enough to ride. He fed the animals. He watched every show with great excitement.
So, I knew I was going to plan another trip back…not knowing it would be from Montana!
When booking the tickets, I was even more excited when I saw that Day Out with Thomas was during the week we’d be back. Thomas is Liam’s newest show that he loves and he can name just about every engine by name. So, I invited all the grandparents and we were going to make a day of it.
I envisioned him screaming excitedly and jumping up and down when he saw Thomas on the tracks for the first time. I could see him excited to drive the boats he was too small to drive last year. I saw him running down Main Street to get to the next cool thing with me yelling for him to slow down. I was so excited to take him back.
But yesterday proved to be one of those days when the dream does not become reality. The day before he’d had a slight fever and was just ‘off’. I blamed it on a new molar, which I feel I am always doing (but he does have two more to come in and the first two were no picnic). So, Tylenol and a good night’s sleep later, I had no doubt he’d be in a better mood. Not so.
He fussed the entire way in his car seat. He did not want to be in his stroller but he did not want to walk. Only being carried would do…and most of the time only by the person of his choosing. He covered his ears when Tweetsie blew her whistle and cowered down as we walked past Thomas as if Thomas would reach out and get him. He kept whining and saying “Get off now” while waiting for our train ride to start. He only rode one ride and that was only after some slight forceful encouragement that he was to drive his Pa and not Mommy. Once in the car behind the steering wheel he was in Heaven. He refused to drive the boats which he has driven before and was very wary of the animals he had once been excited about. He did, however, let a stranger put two tattoos on his arm (the one thing I assumed he would NOT do).
I was crushed. I just knew this would be a day to remember. Well, it was, just not in the way I had hoped. It was not the joyful, fun-filled, memorable experience I was positive we were going to have.
However, when asked if he had a good time he says, “Yes! Saw Thomas!” So, in some way he had a great time and I guess that should be what really matters.
But, I won’t be deterred. I see another trip in his future. The third trip will be the tie-breaker to see if we go again. 🙂
DO YOU HAVE A SIMILAR STORY? Something you were so excited about that was just a flop?