Monday, September 8, 2014

All Aboard!

The two coach cars we were in.

Our first "official" day of school for the 2014-2015 school year was September 2nd. I say it in quotes because I've been making my boys do "light" school all summer so we already have about three weeks done for this year. I had originally planned to start book work that day. Then I heard about a really cool field trip and jumped on pun intended. 

There is a homeschooling mom in the state who always puts together some pretty fantastic field trips. Whenever I see that she has another one planned, I typically sign up as fast as I can send her an email.

There is a railroad that runs from North Conway, New Hampshire to Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. It's a five hour round trip. Typically it's pretty pricey. For instance, it would have normally cost me $210 to take my three boys (ages 18, 13, & 10) as well as the two-year-old boy I babysit full-time. Since this was a group booking, I only paid $60 total. Another reason why I love homeschool field trips!

Leaving North Conway station

We filled the two coach cars at the back of the train. There were over 100 homeschoolers riding. How cool is that!

I brought a cooler full of drinks, food, and snacks as well as a bag of card games, books, matchbook cars and other items to keep the kids busy. My biggest rule - no electronics! I knew that given the opportunity, my boys and their cousin (who was going as well) would spend the time playing on their DS games. My sister and I already decided that wouldn't be an option. I'm glad we did.

My three boys are lined up by the windows in birth order no less (black shirt, grey shirt, blond hair) 
and my nephew is beside my youngest.

The scenery was simply amazing!  I was on the left side of the train on the way to Crawford Notch. Apparently all the views were on the opposite side of the train. For the ride back, they ask that everyone switch sides so that all can see the breathtaking views.

At the back of the train (on the way there), there was an "open air" car. It had no windows and benches facing out. There was no air conditioning in the coach cars but the windows did open up and we would get an okay breeze coming through but it was a hot day!

My youngest in the open air car.

My middle son in the open air car. 

I spent the ride to Crawford Notch keeping the little one I babysit occupied. He did excellent though. I kept the window closed right beside us but the gentlemen sitting behind us and in front of us had theirs open so we had somewhat of a breeze. Mr. T. spent most of the trip standing up looking out his window. He also looked at books, colored, and ate his lunch. It was enough to keep him very happy for the two and a half hour ride to the Crawford Notch station.

My companion for the ride. Mr. T. Age 2 who loves trains!


Once we arrived in Crawford Notch, there was not a whole lot to see. There is a station and a lake. We were told it was about a 20 minute walk around the lake and the train would leave in 45-60 minutes.

However, we had two toddlers as my sister was on the trip as well with her daughter who isn't quite two yet. We decided to just walk part way so that we could all stretch our legs. Of course, I had to snap some photos of my guys before we did that.

The source of the Saco River 

The views on the way back were spectacular! It was worth the ride just to see them. All the photos in this post were taken with my camera phone as well. And most were taken one handed because I spent over an hour of the ride back holding a sleeping two-year-old.

For the majority of the ride, there was someone who shared a lot about the history of the train, pointed out interesting items to note on the ride, and just did a great job sharing facts. There was a family who lived so near the tracks that they had to tie their children to nearby trees when they were young so they wouldn't get hit by the train. Once they were of school age, they would be picked up by the train to go to school.  It couldn't stop for them to get on, so they were lined up about 40 feet apart and then they would be scoooped up as the train slowed down on the way by. Talk about an interesting life!

A memorial garden to the family

Overall it was a fun day and an outing we normally wouldn't have been able to do. I thought it was a pretty fun way to really kick off our 12th year of homeschooling. 

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