This weekend, we took the Dashing Daughter to see Santa for the first time. Last year, she had just born a few weeks before Christmas and we figured it wasn’t the best idea to take a newborn baby to sit on a strange guy’s lap that has been infested with the germs of all the other kids. This year, we took both kids to the Santa train at a park along my regular running trail.
Now, there this is a train museum in Old Sacramento, and they have a Santa train that is a real train. But we went to a park that has a 1/8th scale set of train tracks and trains. It is a non-profit organization by volunteers (mostly old guys), that build and maintain the trains. They have diesel trains (that run on lawnmower engines)
and steam trains (that run on actual steam).
These trains pull bench cars that you can ride on. They have a big maintenance yard, with a transfer station, much like a real rail yard. They have over a mile of track, and every year they take folks on a ride, stop at “Santa’s workshop” have cookies and hot chocolate, see Santa, and then take a ride back.
They also do a Halloween train, Fourth of July, celebration, and they run during summer weekends. They also do birthday parties ($125 for as many people as you want – $75 extra for the steam engine). They have some real train cars, and they have some nice decorations around the tracks.
We showed up to the train tracks right when the Santa train started, and there was already a huge line. We waited for our turn (realized how much better behaved our son is than other kids), and much to my excitement, we got to ride on the steam train. We sat in the very last car, and I chatted with one of the old guys about trains and stuff.
When we got to Santa, we realized that the Dashing Daughter was not all that happy about the fat guy in the red suit. It was definitely stranger-danger. We managed to get some cute photos, of course, she is crying during the session, but they are still cute.
We rode back to the main station, again, sitting in the back and talking to the old guy. I got a brief history of their 40 years of operation, including the story about how they had to fight for a section of property. All neat stuff.
All in all, it was a great experience. We didn’t wait in line nearly as long as if we had gone to a mall Santa. The picture we got was a CD and it cost us $10. And that money helped out a nice little gem of a resource. It is one of those things that most people don’t even realize they have near their house.
What cool hidden resources do you have in your area?