W in New YorkMother and I knew for ages that we wanted to surprise W with a train trip for his 4th birthday. Originally we considered simply buying a ticket to somewhere and then instantly switching trains and doing the return trip. The train trip would be THE gift. THE experience.

For the last several months W has been talking about New York. In his mind it is this somewhat attainable and yet far away land. His Mama goes there often. He has seen it on TV. It looks kind of like Philadelphia. There are A LOT of vehicles there.

So it has come to pass that the narrative in his mind is, when he sees an airplane flying in the sky or a big shuttle bus on the freeway he will sigh and exclaim, “I bet they are going to New York.”

As luck would have it someone shared one of those flash deals from Amtrak on just the right pay period for our family. Round trip train tickets to NYC had to be purchased within 48 hours and could only be used the weekend after W’s birthday. Plus it was an amazing price. PERFECT!

W’s birthday was a simple and lovely day and Mother and I made no mention of the train trip. If we had told him we never would have survived the week! Starting on Wednesday we starting hinting that an adventure was coming. Wednesday night we told him that he wasn’t going to school on Friday and that Lolly wasn’t going to work. Thursday I told him that we were going to go somewhere and I wasn’t going to bring my computer.

At five am Friday morning I woke him up and told him he needed to get up because we had a train to catch! The look on his face was priceless. Then I told him we were going to New York. He JUMPED out of bed – so excited.

{this is the part where I sort of gloss over what a TOTAL spazz I was on Friday morning because I was up all night Thursday working and didn’t get everything packed and ready and all of a sudden it is 5am on Friday and I didn’t have SNACKS packed or a coat or SHOES. OH MY GOD where were my shoes??!!! And did I have a long sleeve shirt for him? And holy crap WHERE IS THE DAMN BUS? We are going to miss the El to the train station!! Oh Shit I don’t have a coat! Do I even have long sleeve shirts for him?!!! AHHHHHHH}

And now we are at the train station…

One of the fantastic things about Amtrak is their Red Cap service. Since Mom can’t really do the hustle to get a seat and we wanted to make sure we all were seated together they were able to take us down in an elevator early. This was especially fantastic as W was able to see the train zoom into the station.

I think the first part of the train trip was a bit overwhelming for him. He has been on a regional rail train before, but the landscape out the window was not as vast. Things are just different, bigger, on a “real” train. He sat in my lap for most of the ride. I thought he would be into the actual train but what was most exciting to him was the eleventy billion construction sites that we chugged by. It was one big Mighty Machines moment.

Arriving in New York was amusing. Mother and I announced to W, “we’re in New York!” to which he replied, “Where? Where is it?” Right. I guess he didn’t quite get it from within the under belly of Penn Station. When we stepped out onto the streets of Manhattan we gestured grandly to the city. See! There! THE CITY!!

W was still not convinced. He began calling for New York as if it was a lost puppy. Oh we fit right in.

To be continued…

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