Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Polar Express

Snow Angels

Hot cocoa.

Waiting to get on the train.

The drive up.

We decided to take the kids on the Polar Express this year. For those of you who don't know, the Grand Canyon Railroad turns into the Polar Express during the winter and takes kids and their families to the North Pole, picks-up Santa and heads back to the depot in Williams.
It was us, Grandma and Grandpa Phipps, Grandma Lanphear and Uncle Robert. We all piled into my parents Suburban (the only 4WD vehicle owned by any of us) and headed north. We made reservations months in advance, so you don't really know what the weather is going to be like. It may have been a blizzard (I say "may have been" because I'm not really sure, I haven't lived in the snow since 1986, but it sure seemed like a blizzard to me!). My dad was generous in offering to take their vehicle and he drove the whole way as well. Thank goodness, because it was a bit treacherous! (Thanks, Dad).
I think we were all probably a little bit underdressed. Afterall, it NEVER snows here, and in the past 22 years, this was the third time we've been to the snow, so of course we don't have all of the gear (even if I lived in the snow, I think I would forgo the moonboots!). Maybe we're wimps because we've lived here for so long, or maybe it was because we just don't have the right clothes, but it was C-O-L-D! It actually wasn't so bad, except when the wind was blowing, which was a good portion of the time since it was a blizzard!
After we made it up to Williams, the kids played in the snow in the parking lot of our motel. They had a blast throwing snowballs at Dad. We had dinner at Denny's then headed over to the train depot. It was snowing and the wind was blowing AND, to top it all off, I slipped and fell in the snow. We waited inside for a while, but then headed outside to catch the train. Did I mention it was cold? Fortunately, the train was nice and warm. Ironically enough, we were given instructions on how to open the windows. Like we were going to open the windows!
Each car has its own chef and elf who entertain and serve hot cocoa and cookies. Our chef was Grant and our elf was Kaitlyn. Grant had a microphone and led us in games and Christmas carols. And by games I mean an "elf wave". He made the elf run up and down the aisle and everyone was supposed to do the wave, like at a football game. It was great fun! There was also a reading of The Polar Express.
When we got to the North Pole, Santa came on board. He goes through the cars and hands out silver bells to the kids. (Some of the grown-ups, too! I got one!) It was really a great experience. The kids were so excited. On the way back to the Suburban, I slipped AGAIN! But so did my mom and dad, so I didn't feel quite so bad.
Overnight, there was something like 12" of snow that fell and a lot of people were snowed into the parking lot. Fortunately, we weren't. The kids played in the snow a little more, made some snow angels, and threw more snowballs. We took great care to make sure that after the kids played in the snow, they had dry clothes on for the ride home. While we were finishing loading up, Hunter decided to make his way out to the car on his own. He blazed a brand new trail in his nice, dry clothes through fresh snow that was thigh deep on him. So much for changing him into warm, dry clothes for the ride home! Fortunately, it wasn't snowing on the way home.
We had such a wonderful time and we are so glad that my parents, Paul's mom and Robert were able to share it with us. Unfortunately, Paul's dad couldn't get off of work. Hopefully, if we do it again, he can be there, too!


Kimberly said...

I wish we could have one good snowfall like that here...and the Polar Express...oh wow. My kid would have been over the moon!

Peg said...

It was a trip to remember! The weather was perfect for going to the North Pole. The best part was how excited the boys were. Dakota knew exactly what was supposed to happen and took advantage of the last order for Santa. Thanks for the memory.