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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Neverending Field Trip

Today I am trying to recover from the longest fourth grade field trip in the history of ever. It all started Sunday night after, knowing we had to get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to be at the school at 5:30, I went to bed a whole hour and a half earlier than normal and could not, for the love of all that is holy, go to sleep. Until 3:00 a.m. I now have a new found sense of empathy and understanding for insomniacs. 

Charlie and I had both signed up for this months ago. This being a nearly two hour drive (way before the butt crack of dawn) to an Amtrak station in Greensboro where we would meet the kids on the buses and hop on a train to our state capital. I knew it would be a long arse day way in advance. 

What I did not know was that we would get off the train in Raleigh and WALK nine blocks (much of it involving hills) to a museum, which would not have been all that bad had it not been a windy 32 degrees and we had not all been dressed for the predicted high of 53. It made that nine blocks (which really were some looong blocks) feel more like nine hundred blocks. About halfway up the second hill I began having visions of myself sporting earmuffs, a ski mask and thermal long johns while sipping hot chocolate and eating roasted chestnuts by an open fire.

Clearly, it was going to be a long day. 
It will forever make me cold to look at this picture. 
By the time we arrived at the first museum we were told we had missed our 11:00 showing of our 30 minute 3D IMAX film and were going to have to cancel our visit to the Legislative Building because Amtrak considers a train "on time" if it leaves the depot within thirty minutes of the scheduled departure time. The rest of the world considered us late. Go figure. 

The nice people at the museum did agree, however, to start it for us again at 11:30. The theater was dark and warm and I was "thawing out" and sleep-deprived which is why I found myself dozing off about fifteen minutes in, only to be snapped out of it by the light snores coming from Dracen. The boy was out. And Charlie didn't look too far behind him so I forced my eyes open and focused on the dolphins, jellyfish and other sea creatures that appeared to be coming out of the screen and swimming circles around my head.

Or maybe I was just delusional. Hard to tell.

We spent the next three hours or so exploring the museums of Natural Science and History.

 And by "exploring" I mean we tried our best to keep pace with Dracen and his buddies as they bounced from exhibit to exhibit before landing in the gift shops (where he hit me up for a prism, a creepy dried spider necklace, neopolitan astronaut space ice cream and a creepy skull necklace) and listening to conversations like the one they had over the pirate ship cannon:

Boy number one: (as he sniffs the cannon) "This smells like gunpowder. Come smell it!"

Boy number two: (after he sniffs it) "It just smells like paint to me."

Dracen: (after he sniffs the cannon and as we are walking to the next exhibit) "It smells like when you bite into a new car!" 


Charlie: "Did he just say what I think he said?!"

me: "I think he said it smells like when you bite into a new car."

Charlie: "I really thought he said it smells like a hot, nude-y bar." 

And suddenly the biting of the new cars thing didn't seem all that weird anymore.

We began our nine hundred block hike back to the train station around 3:00 and though it was still way too nipply for my blood, it wasn't as miserably cold as it had been earlier. We were sitting  in the station eating Chic-fil-a sandwiches that had been delivered for us when we were told the train, that was supposed to depart at 4:50 p.m was running anywhere from one to two hours behind schedule due to some "track work up north." 

And that's when I broke down and cried like a baby.

But only in my head. 

The train only ended up being a little over an hour late as it came into the station (apparently trying to make up lost time) wide open, squealing breaks and creating a hurricane-force wind that I thought may or may not have just blown the eyebrows right off all our faces. I half expected to see Ozzy Osbourne step out and scream "ALL ABOARD THE CRAZY TRAIN" when the doors opened because that song immediately began to play in my head.
Nonetheless, we boarded that crazy train and barely got the doors shut behind us before we were rolling. Finally. Some rest for the weary. But it was short-lived because the train stopped in the middle of no dang where about halfway through and we were told we had to wait on another train to pass. 

After about 30 minutes of waiting on that train that never came, I became torn between thankfulness that they did indeed figure out we were on the same track as another train traveling toward us before it was too late and thinking that we probably could have made it in a game of chicken. 

I kid. Sort of.

The train finally passed us in a five second blur after sitting on those tracks at a stand still for a solid hour. But as exhausted and so over that train ride and entire day as I was, I had to give those fourth graders credit for their impeccable behavior. They each deserved a medal. Or a gold star. Or a box of Cracker Jacks. Or something. 

We finally rolled into the train station sometime around 9 pm and still had a good hour and a half drive home where I had to retrieve Dracen from the car, carry him to his bed and use my teeth to remove the creepy skull necklace from around his neck that he had tied in about fifteen tiny knots. He never even opened his eyes. 

And then I took my crazy-train-ridin'-tuckered-out self straight to bed where I found that my insomnia had been, miraculously, cured.

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  1. Wow that is the field trip that never ends. All of the field trips I chaperoned were within 30 minutes of here.

  2. Your stories make me feel like I am not alone on the crazy train. :)

  3. WHAT!!!!!! You were in my neck of the woods, quite literally right down the street.... the 4th grade walks that field trip from school every spring... and you didn't TELL me??? I could have brought you a coffee or something while you waited for that silly train!

  4. Boy...field trips sure have changed from what I remember! Man...not sure I could have survived that outing! You are the one who deserves a medal!

  5. hee hee delusional. Oh sleep deprivation is a mind screwer especially when things aren't going so well. I hate it when weather people (what is their name?) give us a totally different forecast then what we really get. 32 is a huge difference from 53.
    Kids are so funny when they are discovering new things. I'm learning that boys are learning the important stuff like how things smell. Can't wait for mine to get that age :)

  6. That is one for the record books. Unbelievable!

  7. The closest Amtrak station is in Greensboro?

    Seems like the bus would have beaten the train to Raleigh.