Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Train Museum

So since life over here is pretty boring...I've decided to write about something other than Afghanistan.

A couple of years ago, just before the boys turned 3, I took them to the Washington State Historical Society museum as they were having a big model train exhibit. The boys were train crazy at that time. We had a DVD collection called Toy Trains and the boys LOVED it. So when they were having a couple-day exhibition of model train set-ups, I decided to take the boys. Model train clubs from all over the Northwest came and set up their lay-outs for everyone to see. These layouts were intricate and amazing...trains of every type/size were going to be on display. My friend Jesse and his kid, Sam, went also...dads and their boys...what could go wrong?

We drove to Olympia and paid our admission to the museum. It was a really neat museum...4 floors of displays and amazing/intricate train lay-outs. These lay-outs were all built and paid for by local clubs and model train enthusiasts. Most of the members of these clubs were older gentlemen. The standard height of these layouts is about 48" off the ground. A nice height for some old guys to work on their model trains...not a nice height for crazy toddlers that want to see what is going on. Only one or two train lay-outs had step stools for kids to watch...the rest of the time parents had to pick up their kids. It sure would've been nice to know this before we went...we would've brought our own little steps for the boys. Since I let Kristi have the day off, it meant that I had to hold both boys...at the same time...all the time. I got tired really quickly.

The boys were so excited about all the train stuff that they were running between the train set-ups. They were loving it.

One of the best rooms was a city of playmobil trains. The set-up was amazing, very creative. This was a personal lay-out of one guy and he was so nice, he would talk to the boys and show them some stuff and he didn't freak out if the boys wanted to touch some of the pieces...he was very generous and kind. The display had a rope in front of it to keep people back a little bit, but he didn't freak out when the boys ducked under for a closer look. He had a 5 foot tall plastic Playmobil figurine as part of the display. When I asked him about it, he told me that those were very rare and hard to find. It was a really neat layout that we came back to visit several times.

Finally we made it to the 3rd floor...through about 2/3 of the train exhibits. I was already getting tired, the boys were not. Sam was running down one of the halls wind-milling his arm round and round...he used to do this, run and just swing one arm round and round like a windmill. It was adorable and very care free...I wish I had a video of it, he doesn't do it anymore...and it was one of my favorite things for awhile. It always made me smile. Anyway...running down the hall...I noticed that Sam was only wearing one shoe. I asked him, "Sam where's your friggin' shoe???" He looked down at his socked foot, back at me, shrugged and went back to running. Now I had to keep tabs on two crazy kids and also try to find a lone shoe somewhere within the thousands of square feet of museum that we had already seen.

So that I could formulate a game plan, we went back to the Playmobil exhibit. When we got there, Sam ducked under the rope and went around the side of the display. Since I figured that this would test the patience of the very generous owner, I crawled under to go get him. At the same time, Matt noticed that the big Playmobil statue had an orange construction vest on. As he loved everything orange (and still does), he wanted to give the guy a hug. Of course, he knocked over the "very rare" 5-foot tall Playmobil guy. The owner was visibly rattled...luckily there was no real damage to the statue, but that was our last trip to the Playmobil exhibit.

Sam still was missing a shoe, though. In a stroke of genius I went to the info desk near the front door and asked about it. They had people all over the museum with radios. They put out an APB and the shoe was located in a matter of minutes...chalk up one point for dad!

We went and saw the trains in the basement and then took a break for lunch. My friend, Jesse, could see that I was pretty tired...he recommended we take a little time walking through the museum exhibits to take a break from the trains.

This started out seeming like a good idea...there was lots to interact with and see...giving me a welcome break from the chaos of trains. We spent some time at this exhibit that, if I remember correctly, was a covered wagon and pioneer exhibit. Then I noticed that there was a blue flashing light on top of the exhibit and a high-pitched chirping sound. I couldn't figure out what that had to do with the pioneers...no other displays had blue lights. Then I noticed that Sam was holding a wooden apple from the display...back to the blue light and chirping sound...back to Sam. Oh, CRAP...he set off the alarm on the exhibit!!! Needless to say, we did not stick around. We acted very nonchalantly as we passed security guard heading for the display.

I was tired, boys were not...I was pretty close to the end of my rope.

We went to one other exhibit. This one at least had a metal railing to keep people away. It was a display of Native American masks or headdresses. The boys both immediately dropped to their knees to crawl under the railing. I was able to grab them each by the ankle, but not before they set off this alarm also.

This ended our trip to the museum. I let Jesse and his kid stay at the museum for a little while but the boys and I were done...we stayed outside for a bit and then waited in the car. I was so tired.

All in all, I don't regret the museum trip. It provides a nice story to tell, but I was a wreck by the time the day was over.


  1. Henry and I had a good laugh reading this one. We could totally picture the boys. Even though the day had its' challenging moments, it sounds like you guys created some great memories! See you soon!

  2. I often think of that eventful trip myself. Provides a good laugh.