Monday, December 22, 2008

Headed to the North Pole

The Polar Express is a Christmas train ride for families that travels to the North pole to see Santa. A friend of mine told me about one that runs out of Old Sacramento. I was able to get tickets back in October (they sold out in 5 days) but the trip almost happened without me. I was at work in Reno Thursday and wouldn’t get off until 8am Friday. A storm moved in with snow and high winds that closed Highway 80 over Donner Summit, my way home. I had left the tickets with Pat so he could take the girls and head to Sacramento without me if needed. So between running calls half the night and stressing about getting home I didn’t sleep much.

Luckily for me, Caltrans decided to reopen the highway and I was able to get over the hill and join my family for a very fun event. Our first stop was Fanny Ann's restaurant for lunch. It’s a great burger and fries joint that we’ve been going to for years and it never changes which is its charm.

After lunch we walked the streets of Old Sac while the girls ran around and burned off some energy. Eventually we got them changed into their pajamas and made our way to the railroad museum which is a real treasure and will turn anyone into a train buff. While the family checked out the many different types of trains including the dining and sleeping cars, I headed over to the railyard and picked up our boarding passes. It wasn’t long before we were loaded up and moving on down the tracks.
Nana and Sara enjoy some quiet time

The cars were all decorated for the season and Christmas music played on the speakers. The first order of business was to get our tickets punched by the conductor.
Next came the cookies and hot chocolate and the reading of The Polar Express written by Chris Van Allsberg (we own the book and highly recommend anyone with kids to get it). The train slowly made it’s way to the North Pole where Santa waited for us.

Santa came aboard the train to hand out the magic bells from his sleigh and Caitlyn was the lucky one to receive the first gift of Christmas. The train car quickly filled with the magic sound of the bells ringing (we must truly believe because we had no trouble hearing all the bells).
A hobo who didn’t believe and therefore couldn’t hear the bells, made his way through the car. Caitlyn was afraid he’d try to take her bell so she hid it safely in the pocket of her robe.

All of the entertainment and support personnel was made up of volunteer docents, some who have been doing this for many years. This is Chuck and Jan, Chuck punched our tickets and Jan fed us goodies.
Soon we were headed back moving at a faster speed which allowed us to enjoy the rhythmic sway of the train. This was my first time on a train (other than BART) and I must say, it is truly magical.
My folks enjoying the view of the Sacramento Capital
After disembarking, my dad walked over to the Amtrak station to catch a train back to central California to take care of some things before joining us all again for Christmas. Due to the fact it was nearing 5:00pm, we weren't in a hurry to hop on the traffic congested roads so we headed back to the train museum and try to see the things we missed earlier.
Sara mimicking her daddy
So if anyone has kids and wants to enjoy a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa, I would recommend the Polar Express. It was a lot of fun to see the kids dressed in their pajamas and experiencing something they truly believe in.
Merry Christmas


Anonymous said...

Loved your story of our very fantastic day. We sure are one lucky family. We know how to make wonderful memories. Love you, Mom

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip.
It's fun reading your adventures

Robert Fuller said...

Great day.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Have a very Merry Christmas.

Vic said...

What a fun idea! We'll definitely try it in the next few years.