Sir Topham Hatt Has A Scary Round Head

Saturday, our trip concluded with the whole purpose of the exercise: a surprise visit to A Day Out with Thomas (the Tank Engine) at the Strasburg Railroad. We got up with the doodle awoke, had breakfast, got ready and checked out of the hotel, then toodled the 45-ish minutes to Strasburg from Hershey. Our Thomas tickets weren't until 11:15, so we figured getting there around 9:30 we could do all the other stuff first and then leave for home shortly after the Thomas ride.

We hadn't actually told the kiddo what we were doing. So as we drove, he asked what we were doing now, and we told him it was a surprise. Then he grinned hugely and said, "I get cake! And presents!" And this is what comes of having a little boy who is in love with Curious George. Because when Curious George gets a surprise, it's a surprise party. So clearly every surprise is a surprise party. We spent the bulk of the rest of the drive explaining that the surprise was his present. But he didn't really get it.

Still, as we got close, we went over some tracks, and that brightened his life. And then he saw the trains...and it was like the heavens opened so that joy could flood down upon us. He didn't even realize Thomas was there, he was perfectly happy just to get to ride a train. Any ol' train would do! But when he saw Thomas, he was so excited he could pretty much only jump up and down and sputter.

First up was the enormous tent of merchandise. If there is a Thomas flavored item that they did not have for sale, I will eat Sir Topham's Hat. It was insane. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) the prices were really no different than anywhere else, so all I got him was a travel mug (which I'd never seen elsewhere) and a Day Out t-shirt. But that was at the end of the day, because I sure wasn't going to cart it around - I just wanted to scope out the goods.

From there, we decided to get his picture with Sir Topham Hatt. So we stood in line for about 20 minutes, winding this way and that, before entering a train car where Sir Topham awaited. I expected a fat (padded or otherwise) bald man in a suit...instead, we were greeted with this:

So we set the kiddo on the steps in front of him, or, I should say, we tried to set the kiddo on the steps in front of him. But there was shrieking like you have never heard before. And tenacious clinging to my neck accompanied by sobs. So we left. As we did so, the photographer whispered, "Thank you for not trying to force the issue." And I had to wonder, are there really parents who are going to torture their child - even after a 20 minute wait in line - and try to make them take a photo when they are clearly almost apoplectic? After that thought, I also had to wonder...does anyone else notice the startling similarity between Sir Topham and the Pringles man?
Separated at birth? You decide...

So, after that, we did the little mini-train and the model train store and went and got a funnel cake (so he did get his cake, after all!) And then it was time to get in line for our ride on Thomas. And as that little blue engine chugged past, the little boy's eyes were as wide as saucers as he told us how he was riding on Annie and Clarabell (the two passenger cars Thomas usually pulls) and so on, and so forth. We climbed aboard and then Thomas pushed us backward down the rails for about 10 minutes, then stopped, then started chugging forward back to the station. For the adults it was...$1 a minute. For the kiddo, it was heaven.

We decided to see what the line for a photo with Thomas was - and that moved like a well-oiled machine. And our photo turned out quite well, I think (it's now my profile pic on Facebook, if you know me there). From there, it was another little kiddie ride, then we went ahead and went on the longer train ride (45 minutes on the usual Strasburg train). And honestly, I think if we'd just done that, he would've been perfectly content. As it was, it was like icing on an already iced ice cream cake.

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