Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ride at Your Own Risk

A week ago, we went to Largo Central Park to ride the rails. I put this event on my calendar at the beginning of the summer when I was making a list of free things to do for the summer. Even though the railroad is open the first weekend of every month and we could have gone in June, July, or August, I didn't think riding the railroad in the blazing heat would be any fun. So we waited until the first weekend of September, when it's not any cooler than the rest of the summer, but psychologically, it felt like fall. As it turned out, the sidewalk where the line forms as well as the train ride itself was completely shaded, so all my careful planning was once again for naught.

Just in case you decide to visit the LCR, here are the Rules of the Rails:

When I read that you shouldn't lean from side to side, I really really wanted to lean from side to side just to see what would happen, but my kids were with me and one of them can read, so that would have been bad parenting. It would be a real shame to ruin my spotless record.

Isn't that just the cutest little train you've ever seen? A bunch of retired guys maintain and run the trains, which are kept right there in the park at the train shed:

Before we got there, I thought that there were probably a couple of trains running on different tracks. In reality, there were at least six different trains running on the same long track. So the line, which at first glance was intimidating because it looked about a mile long, went very quickly and we were on the train within about 15 minutes of getting there.

Mace grinned like that the entire ride. I was hoping Flamingo Joe was trying to calculate how much rail we would need to build one of these in our yard, but he wasn't. He was trying to make his notoriously stiff and creaky knees to stay bent like that.

We were on the Amtrak train.

Our ride took us all around a large section of the park.

Through a tunnel:

Past a lovely water feature:

(I was not happy with the dude in front of me who decided to wave at the random stranger with the camera by the waterfall just when I snapped my picture -- apparently he's one of those people who can't help themselves from waving at strangers from a train. He's clearly living in the wrong era of travel.)

And past The Pier in St. Pete:

Nah, just kidding . . . the train wasn't that long.

I was really impressed, though, with how organized and efficient the event was. Remember, it was free. They took donations (which most everyone gave), but still, for the couple of bucks most people were putting in the box, it was great buy.

I was a little troubled by this . . .

. . . because it scared the children. They were convinced Thomas had been kidnapped from the Island of Sodor and transfigured by a dark wizard into a golf cart, then imprisoned in a plexiglass cage so he couldn't get away. Honestly, I couldn't really allay their fears and I was kind of hoping that the Dark Lord really had gotten Thomas.

So I used it as my excuse all week not to play Thomas videos for Mace.

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