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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Mixed-Up Field Trip

For the past month and a half I had been planning a field trip for our home schooling group. Keep in mind that I've belonged to our home schooling group all of two months. So did I plan a simple field trip?? Oh no, not me, I got ambitious. I coordinated a field trip where we rode on an Amtrak train to Seattle, went to the Seattle Aquarium and rode the train home. Fifty-three people signed up, including my family of three.
Finally, the day had arrived for the field trip. We were so excited. Ian had been asking for weeks if it was time for the train field trip yet and here it was! Our train was scheduled to leave at 10:30 am, so we planned to be at the train station by 9:45. We made it perfectly on time and people from our group were already starting to arrive. I checked people off on my passenger list and happily waited for the train. We had asked the volunteers at the station a few questions (it's an unmanned station except for volunteers). They were friendly and answered our questions. They told us the train would be there at 10:37.
At 10:15 one of the volunteers found me and told me that the train had experienced some mechanical difficulties and that it had not left Vancouver, WA yet. The trip between Vancouver and Olympia would take the train an hour and a half and we didn't know when it would leave.
I made a general announcement to the crowd of our less than wonderful news. We had several options. We could wait, drive to Seattle, ask for a refund or try to reschedule. The time frame would now also affect our reservation with the aquarium. I decided to call Amtrak and talk to the Schools on Trains person who had helped me schedule our trip and see what they had to say. That took a while and while I waited on the phone we came to a general consensus. We would wait for the train. Rescheduling just wasn't feasible because of the time of year, Thanksgiving, Christmas and my trip to Hawaii. One gentleman offered to trade me places for my trip to Hawaii! Ha!ha! Thankfully, the volunteer confirmed that the train had left the station in Vancouver at 10:30 and it should arrive in Olympia around noon.
So we all left the station to grab something for lunch as a lunch in Seattle was out of the question now. One family did decide to drive to Seattle so they could enjoy a lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
Our train arrived around 12:15, which is when we would have originally arrived in Seattle. We had contacted the aquarium and they told us it wouldn't be a problem. Finally, we were on our way. The trip to Seattle went quickly, there was so much to see out our window. We saw a lot of Puget Sound and all the water. Ian got to see several different kinds of trains, freight trains. He even told us he saw some piggyback cars. Smart boy!
Before we knew it we were in Seattle. Colin got directions to the free shuttle that would take us to the aquarium. By now it was raining, but we walked the couple of blocks to the stop and saw that the next shuttle wasn't due for 20 min. Colin called the bus company to see how many people could fit on the bus (after all, we had 49 people going to the aquarium). They advised Colin that we would have to break into three groups to be able to go on the shuttle, but they said we were only five blocks away from the aquarium. We had one set of grandparents that couldn't walk the distance and decided to wait for the shuttle, but the rest of us decided five blocks wasn't that far, so off we headed for the aquarium. Five blocks sounded easy. In reality, it was more like 10 blocks. 10 very long blocks in the rain, but we made it. Of course, by the time we got there, the shuttle was just arriving and the grandparents told us that including them, there were only 5 people on the shuttle. Oh well, we got our exercise!
We paid our admission to the aquarium and headed inside. We took a group photo and headed off our separate ways to explore. One of the first exhibits we saw was a tidal pool where you could touch the sea creatures. Ian touched a starfish a couple of times and so did I! Ian decided he was very brave to do something that daring! He talked about it almost non stop in the van on the way home.
We had a great time at the aquarium. We saw clown fish, a huge oyster, sea horses, seals and sea otters and a whole bunch of tropical fish. We had to stop in the gift shop and there Ian got a book (Curious George visits the aquarium) and a sea horse thing that will expand in water.
We rode the shuttle back to the train station and this time our train pulled in early and we were able to board ahead of time.
We had such a great time even though almost nothing went according to our plan. Still, no one got angry or upset. We just took things in stride and ended up having a fantastic time!
I can't wait for the next train trip!

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