So....since those who know me also know that I am anything but spontaneous, it goes without saying that deciding to book a hotel and pack everyone's bags literally two hours before heading on the road to Duluth absolutely does not fall into the realm of normal behavior for me. But, after seeing the weather report for the "Northwoods" and realizing that it was forecasted to be in the 80's and since we were planning on making a trip up there this summer anyways (and also because I couldn't ever recall being in Duluth when it wasn't jeans and sweatshirt weather), I called Ben at work to see if he would be up for going. He most definitely was and in record time, we were on our way!
We made it to our hotel by about 8:00 that evening and after a SEVERE meltdown by both kids over something so trivial that I cannot even recall what it was over, Ben and I looked at each other with wide eyes and both silently wondered if we'd made a mistake. I mean, seriously, how can we expect natural spontaneity in the offspring of two people who are so the opposite of the word?
Fortunately, a good night's sleep seemed to do the trick and everyone was excited the next morning for a full day's worth of Duluth activities. Before setting out for lunch, we decided to spend a couple hours swimming in our hotel's indoor water park. Although the water park facilities were nothing compared to those we've encountered in Wisconsin Dells, the kids still had a blast going down water slides and splashing in the pool.
After we were thoroughly pruny, we headed into downtown Duluth to scope out the train museum, buy tickets for an afternoon train excursion, and finally find some lunch. We ended up walking several blocks to a pizza place and the kids had fun pointing out all the buildings, water fountains, and city sites along the way (in between complaining about the heat, the sun in their eyes, and their legs hurting because they had to walk soooooo long....hey, I'm just sharing the whole story here).
The highlight of our weekend was definitely the train museum. I knew the kids would like the museum, but I was surprised at how much they enjoyed climbing in and out of all the trains and ultimately riding on one themselves. Please ignore all "grumpy" looks Zach seems to have in the following pictures. He is still going through the don't-take-any-pictures-of-me-and-if-you-even-point-the-camera-in-my-direction-I-will-give-you-the-ugliest-look-I-can-muster phase of childhood (which we evidently did not experience with Allie at all, but are experiencing to the fullest with Zach).
All of the trains seemed to resemble a train character from Zach's favorite show and books (Thomas the Tank Engine), so Zach had a great time running around applying the correct name to all the engines.
Allie even had a great time climbing up and down the ladders and peaking into the different engines and cars. At times like these, I am so thankful that Allie has a brother because I am fairly certain that if it wasn't for Zach, Allie would have little to no interest in trains. And, she would seriously be missing out! It's fun to see how both Allie and Zach have developed different interests because of what the other is into at the moment. Granted, Ben does become a little concerned when he comes home from work to his son wearing a princess tiara, tutu, and pink sunglasses, but I'm not concerned.
Anyway, back to trains....
It was a pretty hot day, so we all looked a little flushed climbing in and out of the cars.
There were also some old-time wagons and cars in the museum that the kids enjoyed climbing in as well.
While Allie expressed intense boredom throughout our actual ride on the train, Zach could not have been more thrilled! Every time the train whistled, a huge grin emerged on his face. He literally could not contain his excitement. There were several cars and throughout the hour and a half ride we were able to walk freely between them all. However, we did hang out in the air conditioned car the longest. The view along Lake Superior was beautiful and there was never a shortage of things to look at (although, Allie would tell you a very different story).
Outside the train station, we were surprised to see a mural of one of Zach's other favorite book characters: Tootle the Train! We definitely had to snap a picture with this celebrity.
Along with our train museum tickets, we also had free admission to the Duluth Children's Museum and Art Museum. We stayed and looked around for a while until it was obvious that the kids were severely in need of rest. Then, we headed back to the van where less than 5 minutes on the road both kids were fast asleep. So, Ben and I took the opportunity to drive around Duluth. We enjoyed the quiet and interruption-free conversation for over an hour before deciding to stop at a restaurant for dinner.
That evening, the scene around the hotel room before bedtime pretty much looked like this:
They were watching a "Scooby-Doo" marathon, by the way.
The next morning we enjoyed some more time at the pool before heading home.
We definitely had a whirlwind of a weekend, but we also enjoyed a lot of fun! Although you will probably never label me a "spontaneous" person, I'm glad to have embraced spontaneity for at least one weekend--it was definitely worth it.