January 05, 2007

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train


This year for Christmas I gave the oldest pair of my Bobsey Twin grandsons a ride on the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. Their excitement knew no bounds and they managed to capture everyone's attention as they hurtled thither and yon in yip-yelping glee.

"Wow, Nathan, look at the wheels! They're humongous!"

"Yeah!" Nathan wrinkles his nose, he angles his head. "What's this, Rome what's this?"

Rome hun
kers down, checks out the wheel thingy-ma-jings. "I don't know! But wow!"

"Hey, over here, come quick! Look!"

And off they'd go. And off I'd go. Everyone around us laughing.

Once on board, they were
fascinated by the lamps, the windows, the tables, then out came the muffins and bread rolls and a plate of cheeses!

The train, however, didn't give a whistle warning before starting up, and so the two of them very nearly pitched into their plates nose first. But they came up giggling and laughing and whirling to see out the window. Who wanted those muffins anyway?

After a bit, dinner arrived. Rome and I traded places so they could each have a spot by the window and you should have seen the window by the time they were finished eating. Noses breathing fog onto the window pane--while chewing Tony's pizza and chicken strips--left a distinct pattern to the glass that I'm quite certain was not there before.

Next thing we knew, we were at the vineyard. Out they clambered on the run--Nathan had to go "poop!" The line to the ladies' restroom was long--but Nathan's jumping up and down got us moved up the ladder rather quickly. Once he got himself behind a swinging stall door, the ladies in que got a running commentary on the whole big hairy deal.

"Oh, my, did you ever!" one little old lady exclaimed, fanning her heart.

The boys, of course, were not interested in the winery or sampling the wine. They wanted to go back on the train. So back on we went. This time they raced from one car to another. They got down to the last car. Locked! Now why would they do that? Very good question, but Rome was quickly distracted by the drop-off to his left. Before I could blink, he'd gone sailing off the stoop, Nathan
right after him. I was just getting ready to yoo-hoo them in when, this time, the train did whistle. My word, you never saw such panicked youngsters in your life.

Rome, I think, leaped straight up and was going straight back down when I snagged his wrist and hauled him in. Nathan, at this point, was in sheer terror, straining and struggling, jumping, clawing, trying to get up. I grabbed him under the arms and gave a heave.

"Granny! If you weren't here we'd be left behind!" cried Rome in glorious safety and taking another gawk from our perch.

"You guys are just darn lucky I like you."

"Can we do it again, Granny?" Nathan asked.

Desert on the way back was, for them, apple strudel. Chocolate mouse for me. They took one look at my desert, though, and dived right in. Half way through it, Rome looked like he was going to be sick.

"You all right, Rome?"

"Huh, huh, I'm
fine," he said, going sheet white, but shoveling in another mouthful.

Nonetheless, I quick grabbed a cup and just managed to get it shoved under his chin before he upchucked. He sort of shook himself out and then smiled, and all the color came flooding back into his cheeks and the sparkle came back to his eyes. I don't think I've even seen a transformation so fast. High spirits sliding into I'm-going-to-puke and then bouncing right back again to high spirits. But he didn't take another bite, I noticed, of my desert.

I taught them how to play dot-to-dot. Rome wouldn't quit, demanding game after game. "I love this game! It's the best game ever! Don't you love this game, Nathan?"

"I want my
mama."

But by this time we'd pulled back into the station. The boys insisted on being the last ones off. Headed for the car, they spotted something fun. I let them play and thought, this was their gift, but I think it turned out to be mine.