Tuesday, April 28

Schools on Trains

Amtrak has a program in our area called Schools on Trains, and for a discounted rate school groups can travel between Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, Eugene and all stations in between. Fortunately for us, Amtrak has included homeschool groups in the bargain, and yesterday for the first time we joined our local homeschool group on the trip!

We arrived a little early to the station and spent some time looking around. Little by little our group began arriving until finally the station was packed! We had the more than the maximum 72 people in our group since a half a dozen people had to pay full fare in order to bring their younger children along. For a short time we thought my hubby was going to have to leave us to take care of a crisis at work, but thankfully he got it worked out before the train left and was able to accompany us.

The kids (particularly Abby) were so excited! Our group took up more than two whole passenger cars, and I'm sure the rest of the travelers were glad we had the cars all to ourselves because it was a fairly loud and boisterous group of kids (and parents).

After exploring all the fascinating buttons and the curtains and things on the train, the kids settled down and looked out the window and played some games we brought and drew pictures for a couple of hours. We walked the length of the train so they could see all the different cars, and Ryan and I talked to the conductor for a short time.

About 45 minutes before arriving in Seattle, we got out the lunch we had packed and they kids loved eating in their seats with the tray tables down. It's amazing how just a change in location makes an ordinary PB&J so much more fun!

After almost three hours, we arrived in Seattle, and we were ready to get up and do some walking. In fact, we spent almost all of our four and a half hours there walking. We walked down to the Pike Place Market and went to our favorite places there (including a donut shop and the fish throwing place), then we walked through the hundreds of stalls and enjoyed seeing all the gorgeous flowers and fresh produce they have for sale every day of the year.

If you look closely you can see the Ryan is screaming
his head off because they scared him with the monk fish!
This is a favorite trick that lets bystanders laugh at other
people's expense. It truly is funny to watch though
when you know what's going to happen.

It would be so incredible to have access to that kind of farmer's market and fresh fish year round! I have never been to the market when they didn't have a fabulous selection.

Of course the market has all sorts of wares besides food and flowers. Artisans of all sorts sell their products, and then there's the usual "performance artists" that share their "talents" hoping for some spare change.

In all the times I've visited the Pike Place Market, I've never actually gone into the first Starbucks and bought anything, but today we changed that. It was totally packed, but they managed to get our drinks to us with impressive speed! So now I've been to the very first Starbucks...ah, I feel complete.

We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day! It was on the cool side, but the temp ended up being just perfect for walking around with a light jacket. We could see the snow-capped Olympia mountain range across the sound, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

After walking through the market, we looped around and walked back along the waterfront. We watched the ferries coming and going, gave the kids a ride on the carousel, and looked through some interesting shops, including the obligatory Ye Olde Curiosity Shop which has genuine shrunken heads and myriad other oddball things to look at.

Lastly, we went to Ivar's for some clam chowder. This is my all-time favorite chowder, and as I was browsing their website when planning our trip, I noticed that they have Happy Hour starting at 3:00pm every day. So we planned to make that our last stop of the day, and it worked out beautifully.

We got some yummy clam strips and chowder half off the regular price, and all of our drinks were free! The bonus was that we got to sit and relax while the kids watched out the windows completely engrossed in watching people feeding the seagulls outside. They were so entertained by this that hubby and I got a good long (fairly uninterrupted) chat in, which was wonderful!

After our early dinner we walked back to the train station just in time to board our train home. We spent the time playing 20 Questions, looking out the windows and chatting with another homeschool mom, so the time went fairly quickly. As we pulled back into Kelso/Longview Station, it was absolutely pouring rain which was a surprising end to a very long but very fun day out.


DebbieLynne said...

What a cool trip! I'm so happy that all four of you were able to go. Will you get to do that again?

Kim said...

Our homeschool group does at least one trip per school year and sometimes two. Now that our kids are old enough, we can go whenever they schedule a trip (if we want to spend the money)!

Darcy said...

THAT sounds like a fun field trip! Nice that Ed got to go along too!


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