For my 2017 Birthday gift, I wanted to spend the day with the Grandsons and Partner doing something fun. Awhile ago, I came up with the idea to take the train to Union Station, get on MAX and go to OMSI for the day. Grandson-E LOVES trains. Grandson-L LOVES to just be going and doing. Partner was treating me to this whole day as a combination birthday and Valentines day gift. It was a really BIG gift! Everything was planned and good to go, when I was watching the television the night before…
when an advertisement for the “living” dinosaurs came on. it was going to be Saturday and Sunday right there in the home town and everything!!! I called Son to tell him about it. Unsure what would be the best event, Son asked GS-E which he’d like to do. The answer was, “TRAINS! YES!” So, trains it was.
Partner and I headed over to pick up Grandsons a little early. That way we could make sure that we knew what was in the diaper bag (backpack) before we started our all day adventure. The backpack was perfectly packed with enough ‘pit stop’ gear AND SNACKS too. I hadn’t even thought about snacks. The boys said their “good byes” and we headed to the train station. The boys are young enough that their fairs were free. Grandpa took GS-E by the hand and out on the train platform to look for the train. Disappointingly, there wasn’t a train yet. Anticipating the near arrival GS#1 and I headed to the lavatory only to find out that we needed a token to open the door. (how cool is that?!) Got the token and GS-E got to put it in the slot and turned the knob. Who knew that this adventure would start at the door of the train station toilet?
The train station is a lovely old building with beautiful details. The curved windows framed the briefly blue view of the sky. The rest of the day was raining off and on. The ceiling details, air return vents and the hanging lights were beautiful. I wish that I had gotten more pictures of the inside of the station. Another really cool thing about travelling this way is the variety of people that ride the train. There were homeless people trying to stay warm and dry, commuters, families, young people, old people, oh so many kinds. The boys were interested with all of them and interacted with many of them. They didn’t ask about differences they just smiled, sometimes waved, flirted asked and answered questions. As grandparents we are protective and make sure that interactions were always on the up and up.
The train arrived. We hopped up and got ready to board the train. It was my idea to NOT check the stroller. Wasn’t my best choice. Our stroller is just wide enough for the wheels to catch on each and every arm rest while going up and down the isle. To make it even more difficult, I had a backpack on my back. When I turned to the right and left, I could bonk people with the backpack. I don’t think I made many friends as I boarded the train. Shortly after the train started it’s journey to Union Station, the conductor came by to check our tickets and posted our destination above our seating area. The conductor gave each of the boys their very own ‘tickets’.
The both kept their tickets the whole train ride, not even ripping them up. At first, GS-E was concerned that there wasn’t a seat belt. I explained that the seatbelts are in cars and we were riding on a train. That made it ok. It also made it easier to look out the windows. GS-L was pretty excited about being able to wiggle around AND be able to see the passing scenery. He is still rear-facing in the car. That can seriously cut down on his scenery viewing. GS-E was interested and inquisitive about everything. When the train blew the whistle, he wanted to know, “what’s that?” After I told him that was the train’s way of telling the cars to stay off the tracks. From then on he would yell “Off the train tracks, cars!” each time that he heard the train whistle. When he saw the river going past, he shouted, “the river!” and then looked and looked for boats. We talked about someday riding a boat on the river. He told me he would like to do that but, “train first!”
It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Union Station. By that time, GS-L had worn himself out and was ready to settle into the stroller for a little nappy-poo. As we figured out where to go to purchase a MAX ticket, the little guy snuggled down with his blankie and was out for the count. We walked up a block or two and purchased our tickets. In talking with the other people, we found out that we had to go to the other side of the building to catch the Orange line to OMSI. We met a super nice young man who was spending the day with his very young baby. She was sleeping as hard as GS-L. GS-E was very clear that this was MAX and not the train! Upon getting off the MAX, we weren’t sure which direction to head out on. Another traveler pointed us in the correct direction.
When we arrived at OMSI, we were surprised to see such a LONG line to purchase tickets. The new featured exhibit is one all about Legos. That explains why so many people were there! Before the line had even begun to move forward, GS-E noticed one of those penny smashing machines. With that large crank handle on the front, it was calling his name. Grandpa had exactly $.51, and he gave it to GS-E. E put the coins in the correct slots and began to crank the handle. The first two laps of the crank handle were easy enough, but the third lap was really hard to turn. This must have been when the penny got busy being smashed. With two more cranks from grandma, GS-E had shiny ‘new’ penny with Albert Einstein’s head imprinted on it. With perfect timing, we got back to grandpa and our place in line, just as the line began to move forward. Once the line began to move forward, it didn’t take very long to get through the whole line. While deciding on which tickets to purchase, we were told that the wait to get into the Lego exhibit was two hours long. We decided that wasn’t an exhibit that we needed to see this day. GS-L was definitely not tall enough to be able to go into the USS Blueback submarine. Again, an exhibit for another day. After purchasing our tickets, we headed to the Turbine Hall exhibits. While GS-L slept, GS-E hurried from one exhibit to the next. There was the one where to balls rolled around and around faster and faster and finally falling down the hole. There was the robots that picked up and dropped balls. GS-E filled and launched a pop-bottle water/air pressure ‘rocket’. Worked with gears and rubber bands to make the ‘guys’ turn round and round. He took grandpa’s hand and they marched up all the stairs to be able to walk across the bridge. The ride down the glass elevator to watch the perpetual motion steel marble machine. From there grandpa and GS-E headed for the water tables at the ‘Our Ocean’ exhibit. Grandpa said that after a few minutes of watching what was going on, GS-E figured out that the goal of this exhibit was to build a seawall to protect the little houses. The other, unsupervised, children were just splashing around and randomly sinking the boats. This was upsetting GS-E. He said, “Stop. me help” to no avail. While they were at the water tables, GS-L woke up. He was grouchy. Since he is usually grouchy when he is tired or hungry and he had just woken up, I figured out that he must be hungry. Broke out the snacks. Grandpa and E joined the snack-fest. Then we were off again, headed to the ‘Eat Well, Play Well’ exhibit. We went to the large walk-through ear exhibit, the recycling exhibit, the animal exhibit (rats, lizards, snakes, etc), and a neat exhibit area for smaller children. That was the biggest hit with both of the boys. We spent the most time there. From there we stopped at the gift shop. GS-E wanted a “shiny rock”. He also wanted a small velvet bag for his rock. The little bags were $5 for a the bag and that included it to be filled with polished rocks. The shiny rock that GS-E wanted was a polished ‘mineral sphere’ for $3.49. This was fine. When I got to the checkout counter I was informed that I had to pay for the bag and pay for the sphere. I said that I was aware. I was also told that I could fill the bag with polished rocks. I said, “no, I can’t. That would not make his parents happy”. GS-E was very pleased with his rock and velvet bag. GS-E really wanted to ride on the “rocket ship”. This was a simulator ‘ride’. He wasn’t quite tall enough. We made that a promise for “next time”. At the restaurant, both boys gobbled down the pastrami from our sandwiches. Usually GS-L doesn’t like meat. Apparently pastrami works for him.
We all were getting worn out. The boys had been going all day. L had a short nap and E mentioned that he was tired and would “nap on train”. Grandpa and I were tired of dealing with other peoples’ unsupervised children. (at one point I had to use my body to block one young lady to keep her from jumping in front of E. She wasn’t going to let E use ANY of the stations within her reach. Too bad, for her, that this grandma doesn’t play that way.) We headed out to the MAX station. As E was following grandpa down the aisle, the MAX started to move forward. This made E walk faster and faster and would have caused him to fall forward. However, four other passengers that were already seated, threw their arms out in front of him and caught him before he fell. I thanked them! People can be so very awesome. Back at Union station, we checked the stroller. I had learned my lesson the first time. That was more hassle than I was wanting to deal with. The baggage man tried to say “hi” to E. E was born an old man with an old soul. E just looked at him. The baggage man said, “what a serious face!”. L is just the opposite. He was smiling and monkeying around. It is interesting that people are born with personality types. We sat down to wait for the train. When we had arrived, E had just ‘slumped’ his whole self while saying, “train not here yet”. A very nice grandmotherly lady set down next to E. Then he heard the train whistle. His eyes got HUGE, and he asked the lady if she had heard “that”. She responded, “well, yes I did!”. Then they had a little conversation. She was headed North and we were headed South. We said our good-byes and boarded the train. This train didn’t have the seats that faced each other. So each of us grandparents sat on either side of the aisle with a grandson. It was harder to see much on the way home because it was dark outside. That didn’t stop the boys from trying:
Even though L was tired and E had actally said that he was going to “take a nap on train”, the only nap taken was by grandpa. Less than five minuets in the car, from the station to their home, both boys were asleep. I think they had a pretty good time. I know that I did. I thanked Partner multiple times!
My birthday wish had come true.