Joshua discovered Thomas the Tank Engine when he was 18 months old. “Ta Ta!” he’d shout, as he monstered around the house.
We have no idea where he first learned about Thomas the Tank Engine, only that he did. It has been a love affair that, over the years, hasn’t died. His favorite varies from time to time. Sometimes it’s Percy. Sometimes it’s Gordon. Sometimes it’s Thomas himself. This kid just loves his trains.
When I heard that Day Out With Thomas was coming back to Chattanooga again this year, I jumped online, picked a weekend, and bought tickets. The chance to see Thomas up close and in person? That would be the best day of his 4 years on Earth.
I didn’t tell him where we were going or what we would do there. I asked him if he would like to meet Sir Topham Hatt, received various enthusiastic answers that yes, he would like to meet the Fat Controller (yes, that’s his actual title), and crossed my fingers.
Saturday morning we woke up early, piled into the car, and headed north. It was raining, but that didn’t stop us.
In fact, there was no way we would miss it just because of the rain. I’d already bought the tickets and we’re not really in the place to flush money down the toilet. So rain coats and umbrellas and wearing Emma in the Onya Baby and we were good.
Our very first stop upon entering the train yard was the gift shop where they had not terribly overpriced Thomas umbrellas for sale. After the walk in to the event, it was clear that the rain coat wouldn’t be enough to keep Joshua from getting completely soaked, so we bought one. Our one and only souvenir.
Because we had some time before our departure time, we decided to go ahead and introduce Joshua to Sir Topham Hatt.
The line was short. The rain was steady.
Pretty much what I expected.
Since that was kind of a bust, and since we were at a railroad museum, we went around taking pictures of trains. In the rain.
I played with the color on this one just for fun. The sky was definitely not that blue on Saturday.
We still had stamps to collect on our adventure map. The storytelling station was packed because it was the only event occurring inside an actual structure. There were too many people for Joshua to be comfortable so we didn’t stay long, and by the time we left, it was time to climb aboard this guy:
We were in Coach 4. Joshua called it the Gordon coach because that’s Gordon’s number. There was a bit of a wait once we were seated, so we passed the time by taking pictures.
Emma was not amused with the fact that we wouldn’t let her walk around the train meeting everyone and instead restricted her movement to our laps and the four seats we occupied. She can be quite dramatic.
Joshua decided he needed to get in on the photographer action and said “I needa take a picture of your eye, Daddy.” So, I supported the camera while he took this picture. Which magically auto-focused right near Dan’s eye.
Finally, after what seemed like forever but was in reality only about 10 minutes, we were off. The train backed away from the station.
Joshua held on to our tickets so the conductor could come along and punch them.
He looked through that rainy, foggy window the entire time we were on the train, even if he couldn’t see much and saw the same things twice.
Emma looked, too.
And then our ride was over. We pulled into the station and climbed off the train. Joshua opened his umbrella and we hit up the play tent where Joshua took some Trackmaster trains for a spin.
This was his first time playing with a Trackmaster set after asking for one for a month. He watches the product review videos on Youtube and then describes them to me as “the one with the pistons that puff and go round and round and round like this” while moving his tiny finger in a circle.
We’re currently on a Gordon-is-the-favorite streak, so he snapped up Gordon to play with as soon as the “strongest and best” engine was available.
After a full morning of all things Thomas, it was time to say goodbye. But not before we went back to visit Sir Topham Hatt one last time.
The whole way over he said “I needa go see Sir Topham Hatt. I am going to stand next to him this time.” This is as close as he got, but the guy is kind of creepy looking, so I can’t blame him for needing to hold onto Dan’s leg.
Once we were finished, our feet and shoes and pants and popcorn soaked, we started the trek back to the car. Thomas was making another trip while we walked, so we got to wave goodbye.
And that was that. Our Day Out With Thomas was complete. At least until next year.