Santa on a train at Christmas, that's what!
Last weekend, Santa came early for Emily and Drew when we visited New Hope Valley Railway's Santa Train.
During most of the year, the New Hope Valley Railway is a free museum featuring historic railroad equipment. Many of the artifacts in the museum are from North Carolina's rich railroad history, telling an incredible story of the train's contribution to our communities.
At the entrance to the museum, visitors will find the Garden Railroad--a model train set with 1,000 feet of track, with tunnels, bridges, buildings, plants and trees, and of course--Thomas the Train!
If you can drag the little ones away from Thomas, more fun awaits over the bridge, where retired train cars have been refurbished for tours. The mail car was cool (complete with a replica of a traveling casket), but nothing quite compares to a real caboose!
A gift shop, selling a variety of train memorabilia, is conveniently housed in one of the cars. I picked up these cute conductor hats *just in case* Santa brings Emily and Drew the train set they've been asking for!
Of course, the most exciting part of the trip is the 55 minute train ride through the woods--a ride in which the Jolly Old Elf himself strolls down the aisle, stopping to sit all the good little boys and girls!
With tickets in hand, we
While there wasn't much to see besides trees and dried-up creeks, we made a game of playing "I Spy," keeping our eyes wide open for the random Christmas decorations that dotted the woods along the way.
Santa eventually made his way to our seats where he promptly offered us either a candy cane or a lump of coal. Resisting the urge to pocket the coal for re-gifting later, we took our candy canes and shared our Christmas wish list with St. Nick. I think he was happy to hear that Drew and Emily both wanted--wait for it--a train set!
Emily managed to work in her request, too: candy! (Santa slipped her an extra candy cane before moving on to the next car and more waiting children).
Even with the train ride over, the surprises weren't. We even got to see Frosty the Snowman (on a 65 degree day in December, no less)! He must have run away to colder climates before I could snap a picture.
On a related note, all of this train talk seems to have created a bit of a semantic train wreck. Consider the following exchange:
Drew: We're going over the railroad tracks.
Emily: No, train tracks!
And, we chug on and on and on...