So THIS is the post that I was working on last night when I had technical difficulties… Now to resume regularly scheduled programming.
I feel like it has been forever. It kind of has. Well, not quite a month. So what constitutes forever, would a month be considered forever? ;) I’m sorry I’ve been absent. Quite frankly, I’m overwhelmed right now. Not in the good way, like I have so much work I can’t handle more way, but in the my head is spinning around because I have so many ideas and things coming up way. A lot has changed for me this month and changes will continue to keep coming, but one of my goals is to start blogging regularly again. These photos are fairly appropriate given the big holiday coming up – CHRISTMAS!
Yes, I said it. The nasty C word that we all get in trouble for now, right? I don’t get it. When I say it, it’s not to disrespect or piss off anyone else, it’s simply what I believe. If a person of a different faith greets me with the phrase that represents their December holiday, I don’t freak out. I don’t get all offended and want to pass laws, claiming separation of church and state! Chances are I will probably respond with the same thing they told me, even if I don’t celebrate that holiday. I accept their well wishes, even if the holiday mentioned isn’t my own. So, get over yourselves. Believe what you believe and be proud of it, and LET OTHERS BELIEVE what they want to believe as well. If you’re Jewish, say HAPPY HANNUKAH loud and proud. I don’t know all of the other holidays, but I choose to say MERRY CHRISTMAS, loud and proud.
So. Jumping off of soapbox… because I’m a geek, on Facebook I would normally do an end tag old HTML style, but I can’t do that here because WordPress doesn’t appreciate fake tags. Some people have no sense of humor, right WordPress? ;)
Kaden and I had the opportunity to go on the Santa Express train earlier this year. What is the Santa Express, I hear you asking? Well I had NO idea either, until this year. How is this possible, how did I miss this? I’m CHRISTMAS QUEEN people, I love the Christmas events. And yet, I had never heard of this. So naturally when someone posted it on Facebook I was like “umm heck yes we’re going” even though I had no idea where it was. It turns out there are two – one in Georgetown, and one in Canon City. At the time, I didn’t know this, so when I Googled it and Canon City came up, I booked it. Question? No. I get to ride a train with my awesome kid and go see Santa? Yes please.
As it turns out, I’m SO glad that we found the Canon City one on Google first. I’m sure Georgetown is awesome too, but man, this was just one cool evening all around. The event is done by the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, in Canon City. When I mentioned that we were going on Facebook, Tanya contacted me to see when we were going – how awesome and personable is that!? We drove the two and a half hours down to Canon City and got there VERY early, hoping to enjoy some fantastic cheeseburgers from this place I found online. We drove and drove and drove, and it got to the point where both of us had to go to the bathroom. When GPS said we were two minutes away both of us were thrilled, and when Veronica said “your destination is on the right” we looked and saw… a closed building. Closed closed closed. As in, no restrooms open for patrons. YIKES. So we drove some more, because I was determined not to have dinner at a chain. I really wanted to try a local restaurant, I love finding little places that have fantastic food. But eventually our bladders won and we stopped at Wendy’s. We killed some time and ate some mediocre cheeseburgers, and bundled up to head to the train depot.
We were SUPER early, so we explored for a bit. I talked with Tanya for a bit, and some of the other employees. One thing that really struck me is that everyone was so warm and nice. The train was completely full, there were people everywhere, I would imagine that can be frustrating – but there was never a hint of frustration from anyone working there, just warm smiles. *warm fuzzies* Awesome, right? There was a musician in the gift shop, telling the kids all about the train and Santa. We took photos by the old train out front, although with Kaden in his jammies, we couldn’t hang out in the cold for too long. Yes, the kids arrive in their jammies, just like the movie! Check out this awesome kid!
I fell in love with this ornament – sparkles!
The sun started going down and we got in line at our station to board!
I really didn’t know what to expect on the train. I’ve never really been on a train before (subways don’t count) other than in Italy, and that is a completely different story. Tom told me that I can’t really count that as my first time because it was so horrible. So we’ll count this as my first time on a train. A SANTA train even! There were decorations inside, and the train was completely sold out! Hot chocolate and cookies were served, which caused me to crave sugar cookies for about the next two weeks. Thanks Royal Gorge. ;) They played games with the kids, and handed out crayons with activity books, including a letter to Santa so they kids could work on it while they were on their journey to the North Pole. By the way, I do NOT coach Kaden on these crazy faces, that’s all him. He’s got QUITE the personality and can be a little geeky. I don’t know where the heck he gets that from!
Kaden immediately made friends, and they all gathered around the window as we pulled up to the North Pole – so they could wave to Santa!
We couldn’t see much outside because it was so dark, but every once in awhile we would come across some sights that were lit. The river was beautiful, and the lights on the train looked like something straight out of a movie going through the mountain passes!
Santa boarded the train but had LOTS of cars to go through, so the kids had to wait. The elves came through and hung out for a bit, and they were very careful with instructions to the kids to stay in their seats. Santa wouldn’t come see them if they weren’t in their assigned seats. That worked wonderfully, I will have to remember that bribe.
Finally, the big man got to our car. Kaden saw him and the world stopped, nothing else mattered at that point!
Kaden gave Santa his letter, and Santa very carefully folded it and put it into his pocket. They discussed Star Wars for awhile, and Mom had to get a photo.
Santa gave every child a special gift – a bell, just like the one in the Polar Express! Now at the time, I was like awwww that’s so awesome, what a great idea. Then, about five minutes later, it hit me. They gave my kid hot chocolate and sugar cookies, and then gave him something that makes noise. I started wondering whether the Santa Express people hated parents or not. ;)
The train stopped and it was time to get off. We walked up to the sleigh, but most people had smaller cameras and any photogs out there can relate to this – if you hand someone your huge ass camera and ask them to take a picture of you, usually they look at you like you have two heads. I scouted the crowd for a few and found a guy with a camera BIGGER than mine, who was actually holding an external flash as well – wow, someone even more intense. I knew he could handle my camera, and he took a great photo of us! ;)
I was really, really amazed at the way that this entire operation was set up. One thing that most people don’t think about when dealing with kiddos and Santa is that you have to be VERY careful how you talk around them. Kids pick up everything, and if there is a child that is even leaning just a little bit towards not believing, one comment from an adult can really screw it up. ALL of the staff that we had the pleasure of talking with were extremely attentive to this fact, and very careful about everything they said. I watched them closely (I’m a bit of a people watcher, it’s not creepy I swear…) and watched how they interacted with each other too. They went out of their way to help each other, instead of saying that something wasn’t their job. They were so nice and attentive, and it was just a really wonderful evening.
Kudos to Royal Gorge Railroad, we will definitely be going back. I really want to do the bungee thing this summer at the bridge, so maybe we’ll have to take a train ride at the same time! And the gator farm. Can’t forget that! ;)
One last photo…
This one is completely out of order, but I wanted to save it for the end because it is one of my most favorite photos that I’ve taken of Kaden in the past month. It was REALLY hard to take photos in there without flash (with my older camera, not so good in low light) but this one turned out perfectly. He was dancing the reindeer pokey (think hokey pokey but with hooves I guess) and the photo just warms my heart.