Monday, November 11, 2013


Today's gonna be a much more lighthearted day here. After all the emotions that yesterday's post brought up for me and some others, today should be filled with cuteness. A note about comments: I don't know why some of them just disappear when you hit "publish." I've looked and looked for an answer, and blogger is very unhelpful. If you've managed to solve this on your blog, let me know how. Otherwise, I think I'm going to set up Disqus on this thing tomorrow, so that the wonderful words my friends are writing actually get here!

Now on to the adorable!!!

In Berkeley, there's this huge park with lots of open space and hills and little wonders tucked into all sorts of nooks and crannies. One day I'll write about The Little Farm and The Tilden Merry-Go-Round, but they're both closed right now and today we went to ride the Steam Trains, so that's what you're getting!
Ticket Booth

Train Station

The Redwood Valley Railway, or "da Twains," as they're called at my house, is about a 20 minute drive away from Alameda on a traffic-free day. Emmett likes the drive because we go through two big tunnels each way. And that's good, because today is the second day in a row that we've driven out there. Yesterday we got caught in traffic and didn't make it up the hill to the Trains until 5:00, and since it gets dark early now, and they close at dusk, we missed the last ride of the day by about 10 minutes, I think. So we had to turn around. Not the happiest ride home, but once we hit the Caldecott Tunnel, the kiddo was being his usual goofball self again.

We went up there with my sister Kelle today. She'd never been before (probably because she doesn't have a toddler yet!), so it was fun to show her around. The gates had just opened today when we arrived, but there were already several other families there. Lots of grandparents - maybe because school was out today but most businesses were open?

Yes, those are my giant knees. Too tired to edit out my mom jeans.

He's so excited he can hardly stand it

Anyways, we bought a 5-ride ticket for $12, then walked to the front of the train to greet the Conductor, also known around here as DaDuctor. (Sidenote - I know, just KNOW, that I have at least two single-ride tickets in my wallet. But I can never find them when I'm there, only when I'm looking for something else entirely.) The DaDuctors are really nice older gentlemen who seem to love trains and making kids happy. They're cheerful, knowledgeable, and wear adorable railroad hats. Today, the conductor we met gestured for Emmett to reach into the engine, pull a rope, and make the bell ring, then shouted "All Aboard." Or maybe he just smiled and let Kelle take pictures of us, but in my head (and I'm sure in Emmett's, this was a serious and wonderfully cliched train moment).

Emmett led us to one of the traincars at the end, a caboose-looking thing with a roof, and we piled in. A conductor came by to punch our ticket, and we were off! The ride itself is really nice - about 12 minutes, with lots of adorable things to look at along the way, and when it's clear, a great view of the Bay Area.

I didn't even Tilt-Shift this! It's that adorable, all on it's own!

We rode twice, and in between, poked around the grounds a bit. Down the hill is a true miniature trainyard, with a great view of the Steamtrain as it chugs out of the station. On Sundays, you can sometimes get rides on the mini trains too.

Hi People!

Up top, they have a small set of souvenirs (Tshirts, postcards, etc, mostly under $15 and cute) and a A train garage? A wheelhouse? Is a wheelhouse even a thing? Isn't it like an arsenal, but full of skills instead of weapons? Or is that a skill set? I'm just confused now. Ok, so it's a building where they do repair work on trains. The trains, and their engineers, work behind giant glass panes, and the kids can watch them tinker and repair.
Kids Tees, $9!

All in all, we spent a great little hour there. It's cheap, it's adorable, it has potential for pretend play when the kiddo is older, and it's not too sparkly or cartoony or ADD inducing. Just a nice thing to do that makes my kiddo beyond happy.

I am thankful today for all the outpouring of support I received after my last post. Everyone who responded, whether on the blog or by text, or email, or over Facebook, thank you sincerely. I feel so encouraged to keep writing, and so happy to be who and where I am, with the friends I've got!!! 

I'm also thankful for my husbands military service. It's Veterans Day today, and I want to show my appreciation for his sacrifice, and that of so many others, who fight (and/or fly, or play music, or file paperwork) for our freedoms. I hate war, and I hate that we fight at all, but the men and women who serve in our military are not the ones who choose war. They only choose to lay their lives on the line for us, and to get not nearly enough in return for their devotion. Also, had he not been a dashing young Marine, he and I never would have met. And so I picked out a steak for him at the market today, as a thank you for everything he's done, and is doing. (And by "I picked out" I mean I wandered back and forth in front of the meat section looking lost until Kelle grabbed my arm and guided me to the butcher counter, and then picked out the steak while I ran off in search of Drano and a red cabbage).
Adorable 19 year old Ross - thanks babe!
Lastly but not leastly, I'm thankful for Tom Yam soup, blue nailpolish, and drinking juice out of a wine glass (feels fancy!)

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