we love watching and reading the polar express every year at christmas, and always say that someday we should ride the one of the many polar express themed train rides offered in our neck of the woods. well, our “maybe someday” turned into this year, when our family gift from the grandlidboms was a polar express ride on the great smoky mountain railroad. (and overnight accomodations that evening).
so, we drove to bryson city, where we found a grocery store to change into our pajamas (necessary for the polar express, obviously) and pick up some snacks. then we went over to the depot, to meet up with the grands and wander around amongst our fellow pajama wearing polar express friends. the place was decked out with christmas decor and there was even a real herpolsheimer’s, which brought us all great joy.
we obviously needed a family photo on this random polar express ticket bench. the lighting was troublesome, so here’s an assortment of photo attempts.
eventually it was time for us to make our way to the boarding area. excitement levels were high as the train rolled in.
finally, we were all loaded and ready for adventure. thanks for the christmas gift, gramma and grampa!
snacks and crafts passed the time when the entertainment dwindled. (we were not in the super fancy pants cars, so i’m thinking maybe the showmanship of the characters was less amazing?)…
finally, santa rolled up on the scene, making his way through the car. it was very exciting. (isaac and anna are in the know. hazel has claimed that she knows santa is pretend, but i’m not so sure after this encounter).
gramma took a few pics, but gramma’s camera and sketchy lighting produced some somewhat terrifying photos. but still. it’s all i’ve got, so…
the route ends at a little neighborhood all done up to look like the north pole, complete with houses for the elves and a post office and so on. also, some random pickup trucks, because redneck western north carolina. then, we turned around and headed back.
overall, the ride was pretty cool and the kiddos had fun. gramma and grampa love trains (for some incomprehensible reason). so everyone was happy. when we hopped off the train, we stopped for a quick kiddo pic…
and then as we walked back to the depot, we got to see the engine all lit up in all its glory. (it was hard to make out as is sped past us on the way in before boarding).
from there, we went to the hotel, where we piled into the grandlidboms room to watch the bills play the steelers (the bills won) and eat taco bell. in the morning, we departed from the north pole, back to winston-salem (and ruby).