It has been a while since I have been here and I honestly didn't know if I would make it back or not. Since we rang in the New Year, I just haven't had the desire to write anything...until now. This just might thrust me right back into the world of blogging.
Just a heads up - you might want to make sure you have no where to be in the next little while, cause this post is almost as long as a Nicholas Sparks novel!
I ordered tickets and then told my sister that we were going and she thought it would be a great thing for her family to do as well. Our plan was soon underway to meet in Calgary and go see Thomas together. After everything was booked, bags were packed up and SUV's and Minivans were gassed up, we were off...only we left one thing behind - our husbands (and my sister's 18 month old twin boys). The husbands decided that perhaps they could do more productive things at home for the weekend and I am sure they are very, very, very glad they made that decision!
I took Friday off of work and pulled the two kids who are in school, out of school. Greg kissed me good-bye in the morning and told me not to take too long getting on the road, because he said that I DO NOT want to get to Calgary during rush-hour traffic on a Friday afternoon! We had plenty of time, as we were on the road by 9:30 a.m. and it is only a 5 hour drive to Calgary, after all. Our first stop on this road trip of ours was Vegreville, AB, home of the world's largest Pysanka. Mark was so excited to stop there - even though we only live 45 minutes away and he as been there many times, I guess he has never been taken to this giant egg. We stopped and got out, snapped a picture and snapped the kids back in their car seats and we were off...to the gas station...then the grocery store so I could pick up some baby carrots (another obsession)...then to Tim Horton's for a snack...then we were back on the highway...for another hour until we hit McDonald's for lunch, where the kids became bosom buddies with the kids in the play place and had to play and play and play until it was really getting late and I knew if we didn't get going then, we would most definitely hit rush-hour traffic. We only had to make one stop on highway 2 (and if you have never driven on Highway 2, trust me, you DO NOT want to have to stop!!) for a pee break and finally at 4:20 p.m., almost 7 hours after we started out, we arrived in Calgary...right in the middle of rush-hour traffic!!! To say that I don't know my way around Calgary would be an understatement, but the great thing about rush-hour traffic is that you have lots of time to find your way around! My kids were amazed at all the cars, airplanes flying right overhead, police and ambulances...they were loving it! I was texting my sister now and again to keep in touch and see how far out she was and we both made it to our hotel at almost the exact same time. Our kids (well my three and the one of hers that she brought) were sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to see each other again! Note: we live in Vermilion, AB and they live in Fernie, B.C.
We found our hotel room - a family room with two queens and a bunk bed with a single on the top and double on the bottom - and let me tell you how excited Will was to see that we actually had our very own bathroom! He couldn't believe his eyes! Our first order of business was to check out the hotels two pools, one equipped with a full size waterslide. The first one was just a hop, skip and a jump away from our room; a small bean shaped pool that was slightly too deep for all of the kids except Mark and had a nice hot tub attached. We then made our way to the other tower of the hotel which was a lot of hops, skips and jumps away. We had to take an elevator three flights up, down a hall, around a corner, down another hall, across a pedway and down three flights in another elevator. We entered the pool area and saw a swirly, twirly, gigantic blue waterslide! The kids wanted to jump in then and there, but we convinced them to at least put on some bathing suits and maybe even let us feed them supper first! Amy had made a reservation at a fun restaurant named "Jack Asters" and we feasted on garlic cheese bread and burgers. Amy and I shared Grace's dessert because along with her chicken strips and fries, she also did not like her brownie. Such a shame when my children won't eat their dessert and I have to have it!
We went back to our hotel and changed into our bathing suits - not exactly the highlight of my weekend, but compared to what was to come, it wasn't actually all that bad! We all made our way to the "other tower" (and just in case you have visual of my voluptuous behind trekking through a hotel half naked, don't worry, there were robes in our hotel room) and jumped into the pool with the waterslide. The kids just kept shooting out of that thing - it looked just like the maternity ward on a busy day! They were loving it! Will didn't go on the slide even once, but he still had fun in the pool. I only went on the slide once and I regretted it about 2 seconds into the ride (from Hell)! Now, I am not very good at science, but I do seem to remember a lesson in about grade three about how things that are heavier go down faster...well, you get the picture!! I was travelling faster than a motorbike on Highway 2 on a Friday afternoon!! Let's just say, that was my one and only trip down that swirly, twirly, giant blue slide!! Amy went on time and time again and seemed to be having just as much fun as the kids! Not only did the waterslide scare the crap out of me, but the wavy motion of water was making me very sick. After we left the pool and headed toward "our tower" we made our way to the bean shaped pool where we sat in the hot tub and let the kids swim around. By this time we knew we had to get the kids into bed so they would be in wonderful moods for the big day to come - our "Day out with Thomas"!!
Our tickets were for the 10:20 a.m. train ride and the instructions on the tickets said to arrive one hour before departure, so we made sure we were up in plenty of time to get ready and be there nice and early! We were all dressed and ready to go when Amy came back into the room from being outside, getting something out of her van, when she announced "it is pouring rain outside!" (and if you are wondering why we didn't just look out a window, it's because our window looked into the lobby of the hotel). Oh my, what a start to our day! Now, I had already seen the forecast and knew that rain was a possibility, so I came half prepared. I had a bucket of rubber boots and toques and mini-gloves in my vehicle, so off I went to get them. Once I had made it to the sliding doors of the hotel, the rain had turned to hail - which I was actually happy about, because perhaps we wouldn't get soaked that way! Once we were all ready to head out, rubber boots and toques for all the kids and gloves for all children except Hudson, my 5 year old nephew. Once we reached those sliding doors once more, the rain that turned to hail had then turned to snow!! Heavy, sticky, wet snow! We decided to go the Wal-Mart to buy umbrellas for all, rubber boots for me and gloves for Hudson. My kids were all very excited to pick out character umbrellas and both Amy and I found some too (not character, just nice girly ones). I picked out some funky rubber boots and Amy figured her leather boots would be fine, so she opted against the purchase of new boots. We couldn't find ANY gloves ANYWHERE in all of Wal-Mart for Hudson, so we just told him to tuck his hands in his sleeves if they got cold. We were now running late for our "hour early" arrival time. We made our way to Heritage Park, where the events of the day were happening, and with every block we drove the snow just got heavier, wetter and more and more and more and more and, well you get the point! We found a parking spot, got our umbrellas up and gloves on, well except for poor Hudson. We started walking with wind and snow blowing in our faces and all we could see were the faces of mothers and fathers who were hauling their screaming kids out of there (and I don't think they were screaming because they were upset to be leaving Thomas behind!). Uh-oh, this did not look good! In the three minutes it took to get to the entrance of the park, Amy's feet were already soaked soaked inside her nice leather boots, our kids were already crying because their cheeks were stinging from the cold and my blue jeans were soaked through! Oh boy, this is gonna suck!! With frozen fingers we pulled our tickets out and by the time the attendant tore the stubs off, they too were soaking wet! The ground was covered with 4 inches of slush - it looked like every person in the park spilled their supersized 7-11 Slurpee on the ground! We could hear the train in the distance and that put a slight smile on the faces of our anguished children, but not more than that! I thought for sure Will would be jumping up and down in excitement when he heard that whistle blow, but instead he just looked like he wanted curl up in the closest gopher hole! We wandered up what seemed like a very long pathway to get to the train station and saw big tents in the distance, again what seemed like the very far, far distance! Those tents held a Thomas gift shop and some Thomas themed activities - and I am sure they also held a heck of a lot of screaming, cold children and parents who were so ready to throw in the towel on this miserable day! We decided against going any further, as we new that the further we walked, the further back to the train we would eventually have to walk again! Instead we decided to be the first in line for our train ride. By this time Amy's boots were like Big Gulps from 7-11 and our children were so cold they could hardly talk anymore, but they could still cry! We stood in line for about ten minutes until we were able to board our train, listening to all the other children in the park crying and parents promising that Thomas would be all that they could ever imagine! Even the die hard Thomas fans were miserable at this point! We finally got to board the train - a beautiful train car that used to run 100 years ago - pulled by the one and only Thomas the Train!! We made three loops around Heritage park, which by the way looks lovely all covered in snow, and then we were deposited back in the exact same spot we got on. Once we got our thawed out bodies off the beautiful train car, reality hit - we had to walk ALL the way back to the parking lot!!! The slush on the ground was now about 6 inches deep and the snow was getting worse! Amy decided to take Hudson and Grace over to see those tents - what she was thinking I will never know! - and I took Mark & Will back to get the car. By the time we walked all the way back to "Parking Lot B" and brushed all the snow off the windows we set out to pick up Amy and the kids at the gates of the park. We pulled up and saw Amy carrying Hudson on her back with Grace at her side, all looking like they were ready to cry (well, Hudson was already crying) and all she could say about the tents was that they were "lame" and I think she might have regretted walking that extra mile to check them out!! Once we were all in the Expedition, heat blaring, we set out for our hotel. Once we got back, we filled the bathtub with warm water and let the kids and Amy sit with their feet in the water. Once we were all warmed up we continued on with our day - and the rest of day didn't seem all that interesting after the morning - taking my children to Toys R' Us for the first time, eating at a yummy burger joint, watching a movie with the kids in the room while Amy went to Costco, going swimming again, waterslide again (with the exception of me and Will), blah, blah, blah...
...until about 1:00 o'clock in the morning!!!
We were all sound asleep with Mark on the top bunk, Hudson and Grace on the bottom bunk, Will and me in a queen size bed and Amy in her own queen size bed when I woke up to my son (Mark) yelling "Barf, barf, barf" and yep, you guessed it, he barfed - right over the side rail of the top bunk and onto his little sister!!!!! He then continued to barf all over his bed and all the way to the bathroom! Now, this would be a really good time to tell you that this room we were in was so newly renovated that we were made to wait ten minutes after check-in because the cocking on the bathtub was still drying - that is how brand-spanking-new this room was, and my kid puked all over it! As you can imagine, both myself and Amy were wide awake and of course poor Grace was also wide awake! I changed her and tucked her into Amy's bed. I went down to the front desk to ask for clean bedding and the man at the desk said he would call someone. As I was waiting for the bedding Amy came running down the hall - and she looked soooooooo much like Mom - panic written all over her face - WILL IS PUKING TOO!!! I ran back with her, assuming the gentleman at the desk was hot on our tails with clean sheets and blankets for his paying guests...but no, we waited and waited and waited for over an hour to get some sheets! I went twice to ask and Amy went at least three times to ask for some. They said they did not have any extra sheets or blankets in all of the hotel! HUH??? As Amy scrubbed down walls and carpet, I cleaned up my boys and tucked them into vacant beds and then headed down to the pop machine in the lobby to get some Ginger ale for my puking boys. I came to the pop machine and saw a sign saying it was out of order - fantastic! So, I asked our good friend at the front desk, who still at this point was coming up empty handed in the clean sheets department, if I could please get some Ginger ale for my young sick boys and he told me that there was a pop machine in the "other tower"!!! I almost jumped over the desk and choked him with his Delta neck tie, but I was too tired to do any jumping at that point!! I mentioned that on my way to the the lobby I passed a room that had coolers filled with pop and some young men were working in there and he said that I could ask them for some if I wanted...so, I stopped a young man pushing a cart and told him my dilemma and guess what? He actually helped me out! So at about 1:30 a.m. I got two cans of Ginger ale for my sick little boys but had yet to see any clean sheets! Amy and I stood out in the hallway with the door to our room opened wide - because remember, our window faced the lobby, so it didn't open and the smell of fresh vomit is not all that nice! We waited and waited and waited until we received three installments of sheets, blankets and finally a duvet with all the fluff stuck on the one end of it that they must have dug out of the "Goodwill" pile!! We made up the vacant queen size bed and for the first time since we were kids, I climbed into bed with my big sister!!
7:30 a.m. came real fast! Amy had to get on the road to get home so her husband could go to work - and since her 18 month old twins know how to get into some trouble, they really couldn't be left home alone! LOL So Amy and Hudson packed up and said their good-byes (and by the way, Hudson slept the WHOLE time the puking, cleaning and waiting game was happening around him!). I left soon after with my kids - no worries about hitting rush hour traffic in Vermilion, I just wanted to get the heck home!! We headed out of Calgary and stopped in the next city for breakfast at Smitty's. My kids all had pancakes and within about 15 minutes of getting on Highway 2 for our drive home, Mark's pancakes made their way right back up again! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! We then played the game "pass the bucket" and "chicken" on highway 2 (okay, so we weren't really playing chicken, but that is what it is like when you stop on the shoulder of highway 2 and get out of the vehicle!). Grace took her turn next with the bucket and then Mark took three more turns! Finally when I couldn't take that highway anymore, I pulled off and pulled into Wetaskiwin - my hometown!!! I haven't been back to Wetaskiwin for over 4 years and I thought I would take my kids on a driving tour of my hometown. We drove by the different houses I lived in and a couple of memorable places, taking pictures and texting my mother/daughter/sisters the pictures. We were almost out of Wetaskiwin and two hours from home when Mark took the bucket again! Half and hour later we needed to stop for lunch, so I pulled into a McDonalds drive-thru and while I placed an order for Happy Meals, Mark puked his guts out behind me!! We were now only 1 1/2 hours and one pee break away from home!!! I put the pedal to the metal and drove, drove, drove until we could see our house - our wonderful, glorious house!! I have never in my entire life been so happy to get home!
I called Amy to see if she got home okay, and they had a good drive home.
Next time Thomas the Train is in town you will not see me standing in line for tickets! In fact, you might not see me ever leaving my house again with my children!!!
|"Jack Asters" Will, Mark, Hudson & Grace|
|What a day to see Thomas!|
|Put on your happy faces kids!|
|Smile - here comes Thomas the Train!!|
|Warming up in the tub - Will, Grace & Hudson|