Originally, when Aaron and I planned heading out to CO, we thought that hiking would be the most exciting plan. But, after some good info from my dad and others who knew about such things, the plans soon came to include a ride on a real steam engine!! It was something that we knew Ben would love with every ounce of his being:)
All summer, as we geared up for the trip, we all talked about how exciting it was that we were going to ride the steam train. And Ben got more and more excited about it with each passing week. He even got to the point of telling complete strangers about our plans to ride the train. :)
So we got out to CO, and pre-purchased tickets on the final run of the Georgetown Loop steam engine for Tuesday afternoon. The whole Sides/Schiltz/Stokes gang was going to drive down from Estes Park to Georgetown for the train ride.
Ben eagerly counted down the days until the "steam train day." Finally, train day arrived. The family gathered and loaded up into the cars with about 90 min to spare. We thought we were being conservative with extra drive time, because Google maps thought it would take about 75 min. So we padded an extra 15 min, and headed south.
Well, unfortunately for us, Google maps was TERRIBLY wrong about the drive time required! 1.25 hours?? Try 2.5 hours!! And that was with Grandpa (my dad) leading the car caravan at near break-neck speed. We, of course, completely missed our train, and because it was the last run of the day, we drove 2.5 hours and there was nothing we could do once we got there. We were all really disappointed, but Grandpa in particular felt awful, though none of it was his fault in any way. We were all cranky to have missed our train, but mostly were all so heart-broken at the thought of Ben missing his train ride. And, on top of it all, we discover that the steam engine is under repair, and the train is currently being pulled by a stinky diesel engine.
We stopped for a while at the station anyway to stretch our legs. Ben did enjoy just seeing the station and exploring the gift shop, which helped to distract him from his disappointment. He quickly found a little toy train that he immediately fell in love with. Aaron and I were ready, by this time, to buy him just about anything to ease the disappointment of the missed ride. But Grandpa, who, to my knowledge, has never personally bought Ben anything (though he and Granny, via Granny, are consistently extremely giving to both kids), saw that Ben wanted the train. With a look of determination in his eye, my dad said, "Does he like that train? He wants that train. I am buying him that train!"
He bought the train on the spot, and Ben has been attached to it like it is a 3rd arm ever since. He LOVES this train. Seriously, he sleeps with it every night, and he got it almost 6 weeks ago! In the pics below, you can see a pic of him sleeping with it on the airplane. :)
In the end, we decided that the just Schiltz family would head back down on Thursday to ride the train, and the rest of the family would not repeat the long trip down. I think everyone was bummed to not get to ride the train with Ben, but no one really wanted to make the long trek again. And everyone was mostly concerned with Ben getting to ride, not their own ride.
It ended up being a WONDERFUL ride. You can see the pure, unadulterated joy in Ben's face in the first picture. He loved every minute of it, and Molly liked it too. The diesel engine was pretty stinky, but it was still an amazing ride.
We remember it fondly, and the memories of the driving disaster have faded significantly!