All aboard!

Thank you all so much for sending your good juju to us!  AGMA & Hubs did indeed survive the weekend alone with the 3 adorable Grands.

Their parents came home on Sunday afternoon, and all 3 kids were alive, hydrated, and fed, with only two band-aids used on microscopic “ouchies” the entire weekend.

I’d call that a screaming success.

Now we have moved on to another adventure.  

Ya’ll know I can’t sit still…

AGMA’s aways wanted to take a train trip to the Pacific Northwest part of the USA.  You know, a trip where you have a tiny room on the train and get to sleep in it.  And go to the dining car for meals.  And then go to the Panorama car for a 180 view of the spectacular vistas of Glacier National Park and environs.

Well, we’re not doing that exactly.  But it’s close.

Sort of.  Not really.

Taking advantage of an Amtrak sale on “roomettes”, I booked a train trip from Chicago to Washington DC. Then from DC to Pittsburgh, PA.  Then back to Chicago. 

No dining car.  No Panorama car with 180 views.  No Pacific Northwest.

But it’s probably as safe as travel can get these days (hopefully) and we get to see family we haven’t seen for over a year.

And, best of all, we get to sleep on the train.

However, AGMA thinks sleep may be an overly generous term.  

A roomette is a small, private room that’s about 4.5 feet wide and nearly 7 feet long.  It has a sliding door that closes to keep all the virus yuckies in the hall and out of the room.  There are two wide seats in the roomette that face each other with a tray table that pulls out to eat or work on. It has a closet in it that is literally 6 inches wide. The seats magically convert into a lower bunk, and there is an upper bunk stored above the seats that folds down at night.

We do have to venture out of our cocoon to visit the water closet, but we have been assured by everybody at Amtrak that the attendant de-viruses it multiple times every hour.  

I brought loads of hand sanitizer with me just in case.

The meals are delivered to the roomette by the attendant.  And everybody has to wear a mask other than when they are in their little room.

So it feels kinda, sorta safe.

Now I have to interject for any European readers (maybe Candians as well?) that train travel in the US is a far cry from train travel in your country.  The infrastructure and trains cars are older, the trains are slow, it’s expensive unless you catch a sale, and, other than the Northeast US, the service network is not very extensive.

This makes AGMA sad because I love taking trains in Europe. They are, for the most part, fast, reliable, affordable and cover most places you want to go.  (Although I was on an Italian train once that was chaos, but that’s another post…)

Way back in the day, Americans used to travel by train quite often, but they’ve had a love affair with their automobiles ever since Henry Ford puttered down main street in a Model-T.  They abandon rail travel for the “road trip”.   Gas was cheap and with the brand new interstate highway system in the 1950’s, they never looked back.

I’m on the train right now.  It’ll take us a hour longer to get to Pittsburgh from DC on the train than if we had driven.  

But it’s so much more fun than driving…

Except maybe the sleeping.

AGMA had to take the top bunk on the trip to DC because of Hub’s mobility issue.  I didn’t mind.  To me, it was all fun and games….

Until I actually got up there.  

Beside being incredibly narrow, the bunk was so close to the ceiling that I couldn’t sit up in bed.  And I’m a touch claustrophobic. It felt a little like I was in a closed MRI machine.

Uh oh…  A mild panic started to rise up, but I did some deep breathing zen stuff and it went away.

Sort of.

And rather than the gentle rocking that would lull me to sleep I had imagined, it felt more like AGMA was in the first Conestoga wagon to travel on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800’s. I was jostled back and forth with only these small canvas straps attached to the bunk going up to the ceiling to keep me from being flung out of bed into the depths of the roomette floor 15 feet below.

Okay, it was only 5 feet.  But it seemed a whole lot farther when you looked down.

I won’t even start to go into the machinations AGMA had to go through to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.  

The next day, Hubs complained about the rough train ride during the night, and how he rocked back and forth too much.  While he was in his comfy bottom bunk. Poor baby.  

I just glared at him.

Strangely, my enthusiasm for riding the rails is not dimmed.  With our trip nearly 75% complete, AGMA’s thinking that I need to watch for the next Amtrak sale to book another trip.  Maybe one this winter going through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to California?

Not sure I can talk Hubs into it though because he really did not like of all of the “rocking back and forth”.  Poor baby.

So I might have to go solo and claim the bottom bunk as my own on the next trip.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder”, as the old saying goes.

Hmmm…maybe yes.  Maybe no.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep better.

(Note: I wrote this on the train a few days ago, but we are now safely back in Chicago. As predicted, AGMA’s eagerly planning my next Iron Horse adventure!)

Pink Paradise

pinkpig

AGMA’s headless chicken act worked.

It was a great weekend last week with the grands thank you very much…

That is other than the 6 inches of snow we got on Friday that left us homebound for about 24 hours.

Because I live in Atlanta, and we don’t get 6 inches of snow at one time. Ever. Or sustained periods of freezing temps. And the official snow removal strategy on the state and local level consists of “wait until it melts.”

Remember the great Snowmageddon of 2014?

We don’t do snow well here.

On Thursday, weather.com reported a chance of a ‘wintery mix’ on Friday with little to no accumulation. Perfect. We planned to take the MAGITW (Most Adorable Grandchildren In The World) to The Pink Pig on Friday.

Imagine AGMA’s surprise when I awoke on Friday to the dulcet tones of a Winter Weather Advisory warning of up to 6 inches of snow for the Atlanta area.

Huh??

Seems that little rascal of a winter storm Benji was dipping farther south than anybody expected. That little sh*t…

Planning excursions for a 1 year old and an almost 3 year old is tricky. Everything has to be planned around naps, meals and BMs.  TMI?  AGMA, being the OCD person that I am, took at drive to the Pig to scope out the location and pre-bought our tickets. I was prepared for everything.

Except a snow storm.

But let’s talk about The Pink Pig. Please.

Her full name is Priscilla the Pink Pig. It’s an Atlanta thing. And from what I understand, much beloved by folks who grew up here.

The original Priscilla opened in 1956 on the roof of the old Rich’s Department Store in downtown Atlanta. It was a monorail that was painted pink with a snout, pig ears and a curly tail. The kids were literally caged in.

I guess so they wouldn’t have any jumpers…

Rich’s was acquired in the 1970‘s by Federated Department Stores and the downtown store was closed in 1991. The PInk PIg relocated but closed down in 1995 because it was too expensive to run.

Sad face.

But Priscilla was miraculously resurrected in 2003 as a train in a big tent on the top parking deck of the Macy’s in Lenox Square Mall in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.

Happy face.

And it was to that outdoor, unheated tent that AGMA bought my precious grandchildren in a snowstorm last Friday.

I probably won’t win the Grandparent of the Year award.

The Pink Pig is less than 5 miles from AGMA’s house. Even with the snow starting, it only took 15 minutes to get there.

So far so good.

The Priscilla character was sitting near the entrance of the tent on what appeared to be a swine throne. The idea is that you get your picture taken with her and then you can purchase said picture as you leave. Naturally.

And everything was pink. Really pink. And the train ride lasted only 4 minutes. (But AGMA bought the tickets with the DOUBLE ride so we got to stay on for about 8 minutes.) And the displays were sort of cheesy with narration by Priscilla with a very southern accent. And the adults were squished into these tiny seats in the train. And it was frickin’ freezing in that tent.

But my 3 year old grandson was totally enchanted. And the 1 year old didn’t cry.

Score one for Nana AGMA.

By the time we left the charming Ms. Priscilla, our cars had over an inch of heavy wet snow on them.

Ah oh…

We took two cars to The Pig. Hubs and AGMA each have a Prius. ‘Nuff said.

To give Son#1 and DIL a little respite, Son#2 who lives in Altanta and ADORES his nephew and niece, rode with AGMA and the kiddos. This was fine for the 15 minute ride over.

But this is Atlanta. In the snow. In the short time that we were canoodling with Priscilla, everybody, and I mean everybody, who works anywhere outside their home in Atlanta decided that they needed to go home. Right now.

So our 15 minute drive turned into an hour drive. Can you spell g-r-i-d-l-o-c-k?

It was SnowmageddonII.

Then, about 5 minutes into the drive home, Grandson started chanting out of the blue, “I want a sucker.”

We found out later that his mother had promised him a sucker if he was a good boy at The Pink Pig.

But at the time, we had no knowledge of this bargain that was struck nor did we have a sucker. The suckers resided it the diaper bag. That was in Hubs car.

Initially, we calmly explained that we didn’t have a sucker and had no way of obtaining one at the moment. Oh what fools we were…

No surprise that this did not seem to make an impact on him. After several attempts at explaining the situation, it became clear that he wasn’t going to quit chanting until he received said sucker.

“I want a sucker!” It got louder and started mixing with tears.

“I want a sucker! I want a sucker!”

Son#2 texted Son#1 regarding the dilemma. Son#1 texted back, “Welcome to my world.”

Truth.

20 minutes later we distracted Grandson by opening the window. Some of the snow fell into the car. He started laughing.

There is a God.

Meanwhile, 1 year old Granddaughter sat quietly in her seat playing with a few toys. And every now an then she made a cooing sound. Awwww….

It could have been so much worse.

After both cars safely landed at AGMA’s house, we were basically stuck there for the rest of the day. The roads got so bad that Son#2 didn’t go back to his home that night.

My entire family under my roof for 24 hours.

AGMA was in paradise.

Yeah, it was a great weekend!