Sunday, October 7, 2007
What We've Been Up To These Past Few Days
The past few days have been jammed with all sorts of busy.

First, there was the trip I took with Harry and his Grandpa to visit Steamtown out in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I thought, while driving out, that this trip would give me much needed time with my boy. Time to share new adventures, have fun and bond more as mother and son. This, folks, is what happens when your car radio still does not work. You have time to hallucinate.

We arrived at Grandpa's Pennsylvania outpost, had a snack, freshened up and stretched our legs. We loaded the car seat into Grandpa's car and took the scenic route out to Scranton, along Route 6. Some of the towns we passed were old coal mining towns, with run-down Main Streets as proof of the hard times that came when the mines shut down.

Finally, we arrived in Scranton and Harry, who'd been asleep, woke up and was instantly in groggy awe of the steam trains. We bought our tickets and started walking along the tracks, looking at the engines and Harry goes into "what's this?" mode. "Mommy, what's this?" he asked repeatedly while pointing to various parts of the train. I have no idea what most of them are. Sure, I know the wheels, the whistle, the cow catcher. But all the valves and stuff? No idea, and Harry was got pretty testy with me about it. Like "duh, mom! How many times have you read Thomas the Tank Engine books to me? You ought to know this stuff."

The highlight of the day was getting to ride in coaches pulled by a real steam locomotive. Harry watched the driver shovel coal into the firebox in preparation for another trip up the tracks, then we heard the conductor yell "All aboard!" While we were riding in the coach, Harry fired another barrage of "Mommy, what's that?" questions as we passed lots of stuff out on the tracks.

The grand finale was watching the railroad men put the engine in the roundhouse using an historic turntable. While we were waiting for the railroad men to do this, we had lots of time to climb into some old engines and play another round of "Mommy, what this?" along with a new game of "Look at me!" as he touched each and every knob, dial and handle inside.

I think the only person who had a better time than Harry was my dad, who finally got to take his grandson out to see and talk all things trains. Curiously, my dad was not subjected to the game of "Look at me!" but was able to deftly answer some 4,671 of the "What's that?" questions.

We walked through the museum for a bit, just to get out of the 87 degree heat. (It's October. We are supposed to be wearing sweaters, not shorts!) Part of the exhibit is dedicated to hobby railroading and they showed all sorts of model trains. One of the display cases showed an older model of Thomas the tank engine and Harry was instantly hooked on this part of the museum. He also asked 463 times why he couldn't play with Thomas, which was cruelly kept in a glass case. "Please, can I play with Thomas?" he whispered to me the next morning. "Please can I play with Thomas behind the glass?" He then asked "Can we go see the trains again today?" When I explained to him that we couldn't, that we needed to go home to New York, he said "Please can we go Tuesday?" Tuesday apparently is the magical day. For what, I know not.


Yesterday was our church's Oktoberfest. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and benefits an orphanage in the Middle East. We serve a homemade German dinner complete with bier and dessert. This is also the one day a year I get to start the day thinking I was born to own a restaurant and end the day thankful I have desk job that shelters me from the general public.

We sold a record 160 dinners. I served food, bussed tables, danced a little bit, and helped set up and breakdown tables. John was stationed at the grill but helped serve when it was my time to eat. Sophie and Harry ran around with some of the other kids. I worried that they might walk off or get into trouble but the only thing they did was play and have fun. For seven straight hours. (They didn't eat the wurst, so I'm 1-3 on the Expedition thus far.)

I like the hospitality of doing this fundraiser. It is pretty fulfilling work. I didn't mind helping those with canes or walkers over to their tables so they didn't drop their food, or making a platter to go so someone could take a meal to a friend or relative that couldn't make it for one reason or another. I did mind the people that came and complained about various things, as if we were running a for-profit restaurant. Most of the people were very nice, but some really had the ability to get under your skin. A well-timed thank-you for their support of a worthy cause-orphans!-usually cut their complaints down.


Blogger Andie said...

if Sir Harry loves trains, you should take him down to Ronks, PA (near Stroudsburg) to the Red Caboose motel, where you stay in old train cars that are converted to motel rooms. JM loved it. There's also a toy train museum and a real train museum. A Warehouse that has loads of old trains, some of which you can go up in. Then you can ride a steam train for a couple of miles. It's awesome.

Anonymous Mom said...

Sounds like my Harry-Boy had a great time and i just betcha Grandpa did too.
Octoberfest sounds like lots of fun. Maybe i can schedule a visit so i can go too. I think i would really enjoy it. The place Andie was writing about sounds really good too. Love to all my little chickies, and you and John of course!!Mom

Blogger CatMar said...

Yes, the place Ande mentioned is fun for kids. My sister and her family stayed at that Red Caboose motel when the kids were small. The only complaint was it wasn't air conditioned. Last summer we were out there and took a ride on that train. So Harry and Barry (hey, that rhymes!) had a great time with the trains. That Octoberfest sounds like fun!

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