The Polar Express

Jan 29, 2017

Many moons ago, or 4 years ago to be exact, Bruce and I took the kiddos to Williams to ride the Polar Express. Man Cub was only 2.5 months old at the time, but the girls loved it and ever since we have talked about doing it again. Especially since Man Cub is a big fan of trains.

This year, all our talking finally turned into something more. In September Bruce told me that he was completely serious about doing the Polar Express this year and asked me to make arrangements. I booked the train, found a hotel and made plans for Bruce's dad to join us on the adventure. Then we kept our mouths shut. We didn't say a word to the kiddos! Even when we surprised the girls by pulling them out of school early, we didn't say a thing. We were a good 30+ minutes into our drive north before we finally told them where we were headed and they were so excited!

Unfortunately, there wasn't really any snow in the Flagstaff/Williams area while we were there,  but we still had such a good time and enjoyed the chance to do something extra Christmasy. We drove up and got ourselves checked into the hotel. Then the kiddos opened their Christmas pjs and we grabbed some dinner. We made the quick drive from Flagstaff to Williams and boarded the Polar Express. The train ride was a lot of fun, though Shark Bait was over it by the very end. The hot chocolate and cookies that were served were delicious and we especially enjoyed singing Christmas carols and welcoming Santa aboard our train car where he presented each of us with a silver sleigh bell. After the train ride, we visited with Santa for a few minutes back at the train depot before heading back to our hotel.

Saturday morning we slept in, then ate breakfast and took the kiddos swimming at the hotel pool. After we checked out, we went to Walnut Canyon to do a little hiking. Bruce and his dad assured me it was a flat hike... um. No. It was a steep hike, straight down a deep canyon. Yes, it was amazing to see the Native American ruins and watch the kiddos amazement as they learned about the way the Native Americans had lived right in the side of the mountain, but I'm pretty sure we took several years off my life in the process. I am deathly afraid of heights and my legs were legitimately shaking in fear the entire time we hiked. In fact, Sunday morning I woke up with some intense leg pain from how severely they had been shaking for the several hours we spent in Walnut Canyon. It was beautiful, but I still cannot say it was worth the toll it took on my anxiety to do the hike.

After Walnut Canyon, we ate lunch and headed to the Lowell Observatory in hopes of taking a look through one of the huge telescopes. The Observatory was incredible. I was a huge astronomy nerd back in middle school and high school. At one point, I even attended a weekend long AstroCamp in Idyllwild, California. The Observatory was definitely my favourite part of the weekend. We spent a lot of time in a cool room where the kiddos got to be space cadets and learn about astronomy in ways that total appealed to them like video games and trivia questions. Then we headed up to the telescope and wouldn't you know it, while we were inside the Observatory, a bunch of clouds had rolled in which meant they didn't open up the large telescope. There was a smaller one we got to look through, but only Man Cub and Beebs got to actually see the moon. The rest of us just used the telescope to look at street signs and cars in the city below. But we still really enjoyed it and Man Cub especially thought the telescope was the greatest thing ever.

Our drive home was uneventful. We were all exhausted after our jam packed, whirlwind of a trip. We had such a great time and hope to be able to go back again soon... we've gotta give the Observatory another try! Hopefully without clouds next time.

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