Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Polar Express Weekend

We just got back from one of our FAVORITE Montana Christmas experiences yet.  In the center of the State (literally, it's the geographic center of Montana... see picture below) there is a quaint little town called Lewistown and it is home to the Charlie Russell Choo Choo - an older out of commission passenger train that usually is host to dinner trains and beer festivals.  In the winter they convert it to a money making Polar Express train full of elves, carols, hot chocolate, Santa, and a billion hyped up kids and parents.

Back in October our resident even organizer, Melynda sent out an email about the train and a possible weekend stay at a hotel in Lewistown - 8 families said "YES" and we all booked our tickets and our stay in the Yogo Inn (with indoor pool).  It was a great weekend and the kids and parents all stayed up way too late, swam way too long, and partook in some holiday cheer.   It is a MUST for any Montanan with kids 2 and older.   It really solidified the whole Christmas thing for Mattie, finally really understanding the whole Santa thing and seeing how other kids love the "really big guy" as much as she hears she is supposed to.

We caravanned up to Lewistown with the Rogers' gang and took our time sightseeing through the smaller towns of Central MT ... Here's our weekend.  WARNING:  there are a LOT of cute kids here....

A few pit stops for little boys to pee on fenceposts on the side of the road.  Way to go William!

I can't pass through Judith Gap, MT without stopping at the Mercantile for a milkshake.  I apparently have amnesia and never realized that a 4 oz shake is $4.50.  Oops.  After all kids had to have their own, we almost spent our entire lot before we even got to our destination!  But hey, the Journey IS the destination, right?  They are good.

Approaching the TRAIN!  The location of the tracks is actually in Ware, MT (about 40 minutes) from Lewistown.  The road was washed out this year with high water and we had to detour through all sort of beautiful back farm roads to get there.  It was really special and we got our sing-on in the car with Mattie.  She has informed us she likes the songs with the Baby Jesus in them more than the others.

Dad and daughter, geared up and ready to board.  The kids are told to wear their PJ's and nightgowns, just like the book.  It was so cute to see all the kids pile out of their cars in their slippers, hats and PJ's... Some even brought their teddy bears and blankets.  Parents are allowed to bring snacks, beer, booze, whatever they need to tide their kids (and selves) over.

Mattie and her BF Audrey

Dorrel and Gray 

William, Logan, Chloe, and Ben (behind his sis) along with all the L-town parents

Albert and Mike aboard the Polar Express
 Kids were able to kind of run amuck all over the train.  It was pretty funny to see.  There were a few hot chocolate spills but otherwise they had a great time and we got to visit a bit too.

I think the coolest part was when the train finally stopped (after about 1 mile of travel, maybe?) and we were all of a sudden at "The North Pole!"  It was some sheds and shacks lit up with lights and Santa walked out of his workshop and waved at all the kids on all the train cars and then GOT ON the train.  He spent the next hour or so walking through each car talking to EVERY SINGLE child, collecting their "wish lists" and giving them each a special present.  It was pretty cool.

having fun....

Mattie doesn't understand the concept of ASKING Santa for things yet, she just said "thank you" to him when he gave her a hug and talked about giving him her Mardi Gras beads.   When he walked back through the car she wanted to give him a "high five."  Her first comment when she saw him walk into our train car was, "mom, he's a big guy!"

Sophia helping her momma with some Peppermint Scnapps in her hot cocoa.  I told you the kids had fun. 
And you know, it's never really a party until someone takes their clothes off!  Audrey got us started!

High-fiving Santa - which made him chuckle and comment on her cuteness. 
After we all deboarded the Polar Express it was back to the retro-fabulous Yogo Inn.  We got the block of rooms that surrounded the indoor pool.  Our 20 plus children and 16 parents hung out, taking turns of making sure kids weren't drowning or jumping off of balconies.   I am crossing my fingers that Matine doesn't get some strange disease after we caught her licking the handrails into the pool.  Ick.

The kids went crazy.  Hopping from hot tub to pool, hot laps around the large carpeted area (yes it is carpeted around the pool... ick, again).

Peter did a great job of swimming with Matine.  She learned to kick like an Olympic swimmer with those floaties.  It wasn't until she got out of the pool that I realized why she might have been kicking so hard.... The wedgie up her butt perhaps?   Pete had put her suit on backwards and she looked like a cute little Brazilian swimsuit model with a thong!

So cute I can't stand it! 
And here we are, at the geographic center of Montana!   Having the Christmas memories of our lives!


Jacqueline said...

Awe.... This makes me think of the insanity that was the Perry-Black wedding!! I feel like I remember all of the furniture ending up in the pool?!? ;)

Mel said...

This is way better than my post is going to be. I might just throw up some photos and link to you ;)

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