Saturday, March 5, 2011

Planes, Trains and Monorails

Editor's Note: I started this post over a month ago!!  But, I was waiting to post it once I got through all of our pics.  I'm finally catching up but can you believe it, I ran out of storage in the process!  It took 3 years before this happened, so I guess that's not too bad.  :)

As you probably could tell from my mobile posts, we really did have a blast on our Seattle trip. We decided to only use public transportation for this trip. There were several reasons - Seattle has some great transportation options available, but also, because Jon was traveling with both boys on his own to meet me in Seattle, we decided it would also be A LOT easier on him if he didn't have to lug two car seats around on his own, in addition to the boys and everything else. We also didn't want to deal with them on the train ride back home.

Besides, I figured it would be fun and make the trip more special for Logan (I was right).  :)

Before I left, I packed as much as I possibly could to help make the trip for Jon easier. I took all of the kids' clothes with me in my suitcase, and also Callum's tent (we weren't sure how the sleeping arrangements on the train would work, so I wanted to have a backup plan just in case). I also packed Jon's suitcase, as well as the diaper bag and stroller, and put them all next to the front door so he'd basically have to dress himself and the boys and then load up the car and take off. It actually worked out really well this way. :)

After my work event finished up on Thursday afternoon, I packed up and drove to downtown Seattle (my work event was in a small nearby town called Bellevue) and checked into the hotel we'd be staying in as a family. As you saw, we had a KICKASS view of the Seattle Center and Space Needle, but later decided to trade the room in for a Suite with two separate rooms instead. :)

I worked late into the night Thursday and all morning on Friday.  When it was time to head out, I jumped onto the lightrail (the station was about a block away from our hotel) and headed to the airport.  I was running late but so was their flight, so it worked perfectly.  I met Jon and the boys in the baggage claim area, we grabbed our luggage and then walked back to the lightrail station to ride back to our hotel.

Logan LOVED riding the lightrail.

He kept pointing out all of the tracks, other "trains" (the lightrail that would pass us on the other side), buses, stations, tunnels, underground, airplanes, etc.  He was thrilled.  :)

We grabbed lunch at a nearby pizza joint and then decided to grab some groceries (specifically, formula and diapers since we didn't pack any).  This actually turned out to be the poorest part of my plan.  I figured being in the middle of a large US city would make finding formula and diapers EASY PEASY.  So, why pack those big bulky items when we could just buy them?  But, Seattle had other plans.

Who knew there were no Safeways or CVS Drugstores or Costcos in the near vicinity to help us out? (within walking distance anyway)

Don't get me wrong.  There were plenty of small boutique-y shops, mom 'n' pop run pharmacy shops, but nothing that had a large inventory or well known name brands.  :(

We FINALLY found a Walgreens several blocks away - we decided to take the chance and head there, even though it was raining and the boys were clearly tired.  There wasn't much we could do.  Thankfully, they had what we needed!

It did mean we spent most of Friday afternoon walking the streets of Seattle instead of hitting up the Seattle Center or any other touristy things.  Since we were only a few more blocks away after the Walgreens stop, we walked down to the Pike Place Market, saw the original Starbucks store, made a lap and then headed back home.  On our way back to the hotel we also stopped at a Nike store to get some new running shoes for Jon.

We moved into our new suite when we got back and settled in for the evening.  Everyone was pretty beat from the traveling and walking all day.  We were able to get both kids down for a nap and relaxed a bit ourselves.  It worked out well having the two rooms, since we hung out in one room while Callum napped (but Logan wasn't ready yet) and then hung out in the other room when Callum woke up but Logan had fallen asleep on our bed (we didn't pay attention to this happening, so unfortunately, he wet the bed - his first accident in many months poor guy!).

I think we'll need to reserve two rooms moving forward.

Jon ran down the street to pick up some dinner and we camped out in our rooms as a family for the rest of the night.

We had a tough time that first night - Callum woke up several times and couldn't sleep very well.  Jon and I were up and down, up and down, trying to comfort our poor little guy and rest ourselves.  It was pretty tiring.

Saturday we spent the day at the Seattle Center.  When Logan got sight of the monorail tracks up above us the previous day, that's all he could talk about.  We had to go, just so we could ride the monorail and get him to shut up.  ;-)

A model railroad show exhibit was in town at the Pacific Science Center just for the weekend (lucky us!) so we went there first.  In addition to small trains everywhere, the museum also had an exhibit on dinosaurs and insects.  It was Logan's kind of museum - we spent a good two hours walking around exploring everything before we had to tear him away.

On our way out, we stopped at the Space Needle.  Jon wasn't as interested in it, but I thought we should at least go up since we were there and it's one of the more famous sites of Seattle.  In hind sight, I wish I would have just bought us tickets for the Sunday brunch special - but since Jon was in such a grumpy mood, I didn't.  Instead, we spent about the same amount of money and went up, walked around, looked down at all the tiny people and cars (Logan loved that) and then went back down again.  Next time, I'll go with the brunch so at least we can get some food out of the visit.  ;-)

It was pouring rain but we decided to stop at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant for lunch before we stopped back at the hotel.  We had a yummy meal, even though the kiddos were pretty exhausted and needed their naps.  Once we were done, we headed back to the hotel where everyone relaxed and/or napped for the afternoon.  Jon went out to grab take-out for dinner again, since our schedules were off with late naps and rainy weather.  It ended up working out just fine though, since the kids were just as content playing and chasing each other around in the hotel rooms.  :)

Sunday was finally our big day.  The day Logan had been waiting for.  The reason for this trip to begin with!

We checked out and headed back to the lightrail station - taking it a few stops to Chinatown, which we were told was the closest stop to the train station.  It was!  We got off and walked (luggage, kids and all) about 3-4 blocks (and down a long flight of stairs) to the train station.  The train station was extremely busy and I was worried that we'd have nowhere to put our luggage and a long wait in the station, but as it turns out, those on the sleeper cars (like us), really are traveling first class.  We had a different line to wait in to board (MUCH shorter) and a special area on the train to dump our luggage before getting to our room.  :)


I don't have to tell you how thrilled Logan was to be on such a big big BIG TRAIN!  He was ecstatic.  He couldn't stop talking, couldn't stop running (up and down our hallway), couldn't stop bouncing, couldn't stop hugging Callum and pointing to all the tracks and people and trains out the window.

And we hadn't even left the Seattle station yet.  ;-)

We had a really great time.  We spent the majority of our time in our room - we had A LOT of room to hang out in and since we were on the bottom of the car, we didn't have as many people coming and going past our room, which meant I could let Callum roam a bit more on his own.  We also had very friendly neighbors - one in particular who Logan befriended quickly (and often times camped out in poor Bill's room).

After a bit of time down in our room, it was lunchtime, so we headed up to the dining car.  It was difficult to tear Logan away from our room and his window - but when we finally did, he suddenly realized how much more there was on the train for him to explore.

It boggled his mind that we were EATING on the train.  He had a blast and scarfed up all of his food while glued to his window.  After lunch, we headed to the observation deck for a bit to hang out - Callum had fallen asleep on me mid-meal which worked out just fine, allowing him to sleep while Logan could check out some of the other cars.  When Callum finally got too heavy for me to hold much longer, we decided to all head back down to our room to put him down and see if we could get Logan to nap as well (yeah right!).

Originally, I had assumed Callum and I would sleep on the bottom beds while Logan and Jon could sleep on the top.  I didn't think we'd be able to manage with Callum on top and I also figured with the up and down in the middle of the night, it'd be easier with us down below.  However, what I forgot about was what we'd all do with ourselves during his naptime and/or for the timeframe before the rest of us went to bed (since the lower bunks were essentially our sitting area until bedtime).

We decided to pull the smaller top bunk down and see what we could arrange - and amazingly, we were able to make a little cozy area for him where he really couldn't fall out (unless he woke up and then decided to crawl out).  This worked out wonderfully so that we three could still hang out on the seats below while Callum napped.  I pulled the lower seats out to make it into a bed for Logan - hoping he'd nap a little himself, but he was just too excited to ever fall asleep.  He managed to get some quiet time in, laying on his bed watching some movies, so I guess that helped.

A couple hours after naptime, later in the afternoon, we stopped at the Portland train station where we had enough time to get out, stretch our legs, and walk around a bit.  We took advantage since Logan was still full of a fair amount of energy.  It was quite wet out, but not raining, so it was really great to get some fresh air too.  Logan didn't want to stay TOO far away from "his train" or the tracks however.  ;-)

The evening was more difficult to juggle.  Once we were done with dinner, we headed to our room to get ready for the night.  Callum had a harder time falling asleep and fought me for a long time.  Once he was finally down, we decided we three should get ready for bed and try to sleep ourselves (particularly since Jon and I weren't sure how we were going to handle Callum in the middle of the night).  Jon also wasn't feeling very well and before I knew it, he was passed out asleep.

Logan and I weren't as lucky.  Both of us had trouble falling asleep - for different reasons.  ;-)  Logan was just WAY too excited - I kept telling him to relax, close his eyes and try to fall asleep.  He kept telling me "I can't mom! It's too hard!"  He didn't fall asleep until about 10:30pm!  :(

Meanwhile, I was struggling myself.  I was EXHAUSTED, don't get me wrong.  But every little peep or squirm or movement or noise that Callum made, had me on edge.  I was climbing up and down, checking on Callum, checking on Logan, checking on Callum, checking on Logan, etc.  Callum woke up (finally?) about 12:30am.  I was still awake, of course, so I immediately grabbed him, climbed down below (with him in my arms - ack!), fed him a bottle and then rocked him back to sleep.  Once I was able to put him back to sleep, I was able to sleep a little myself.  He woke up again at 4:30am and stayed up for about an hour (ugh!!) before falling back asleep again.  Jon and Logan were both dead to the world.  I was also dead.  I got a couple more hours of sleep before everyone was up and at 'em.

The rest of the trip Monday morning was less eventful.  Even Logan was content to hang out with his buddy Bill, or watch movies, rather than explore the rest of the train.  I think a 24 hour train trip was probably a bit longer than we would have chosen ourselves, but it was still very fun and an incredible experience!

One last story - when we finally reached the San Jose station, we told Logan it was time to get off the train because this was the end of our trip and we were home.  He was VERY upset.  He didn't understand why we had to get off at this station.  He kept telling us - but we're taking the train HOME!  This isn't my HOME!!  The train is taking me HOME!!

He was right, of course.  I guess next time, we'll have to choose our words a bit more carefully.

To see more (all) snapshots from the trip, please visit our full album of pics. Enjoy!

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