Monday, October 20, 2008

Train travels

Last week Liam had quite an adventure. We took a train trip to Milwaukee. I was attending a conference, but I really wanted Sean and Liam to come with me to experience some of the great things that Milwaukee had to offer. There are a lot of great Museums in Milwaukee. So between attending and giving papers, we walked around and took it all in.

Liam was very excited to ride the train. We had to wait a little longer than planned, because the train was two hours late. We were all a little cranky about this, but we made the best of it. Daddy walked down to the corner store and got us donuts. Eventually the train was here. Liam enjoyed watching out the windows for a while. We also stayed busy by visiting the lounge car to play and eat snacks. Later, Liam and I chased each other down the isles, he was getting a little stir-crazy by the time we made it Chicago.

Because our train was so late, we had to run to catch our connection. We got there just in time and soon boarded the Hiawatha to Milwaukee. This train didn’t have any lounge, but they did bring some snacks around on a cart. We all enjoyed a drink from the cart and ate the snacks that I packed. It was nearly 3pm by the time we made it to our destination.

We walked from the train station to the hotel. Liam rode on my back in the Ergo. Once we got settled in the hotel room, we went to the conference to get me registered. Then we took a stroll around the downtown district. I pointed out some landmarks. Liam liked looking at the river and all the cars. We stopped in a mall for a quick dinner, then went back to the hotel for a shower. We crashed early and slept from 6pm till 7am the next morning. We all needed that sleep because we were all recovering from colds.

The next morning, after breakfast at a diner, we walked to the Milwaukee Public Museum. This Museum is really quite spectacular. They have amazing collections of paleontological, anthropological, and ecological materials in really great displays. Liam liked the huge Mammoth skeleton and dinosaurs. He also enjoyed going through the butterfly and insect displays. We got to walk around with a bunch of fluttering butterflies. Liam was too shy to hold one, but got to look at one up-close on mommy and daddy’s hand. When we were done, we picked up lunch and went back to the hotel. Liam and daddy stayed to take a nap, while I went to the conference to present a paper.

That evening, we walked down to the lakefront. We stopped in the war memorial complex and walked over to the art museum. We briefly stopped in the museum to show daddy the amazing architecture and look at the Chihuly glass sculpture. It was a really beautiful evening for our walk. We headed back towards the downtown and looked for unique restaurant for dinner. We eventually stopped at a Caribbean restaurant, where we had a fabulous meal of jerked pork, Cuban sandwiches, sweet potato fries, and for dessert we ate rum cake and ice cream. What a great meal!

Saturday morning we walked back to the lake shore to visit the Betty Brinn children’s museum. It was a fairly small museum, but packed with lots of great things for kids to learn and play with. They had a toy train that Liam could pretend in, crazy musical instruments, a stage and puppet theater, craft area, stations to learn about the senses, digestion, and a huge model of a heart to climb through. There was also a pretend bank, grocery store, and mechanic’s shop. In a separate area, there was a toddler play land with an outdoor theme. We spent several hours there. It was a lot of fun!

After the museum, it was a nap for Liam and more conference for me. Liam had such a late nap, that we got a late start going to the zoo. It was nearly dark by the time we caught our bus out to the Milwaukee County Zoo. I had visited the zoo once before and was very impressed. Unfortunately, it was so dark that we didn’t see much of the animals…just humans dress up as animals, because it was Boo at the Zoo night. I had planned ahead and packed Liam’s doggie costume for the occasion. He looked very cute. We did get to see the Bonobos, gorillas, big cats, and bats. Liam got a cool black cat (temporary) tattoo at the big cat house. We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel and went to bed. What a day!

Sunday morning we had breakfast and then packed for the return trip. The train ride home went very smooth. Liam fell asleep just before we got to Chicago. I put him on my back in the Ergo and he slept nicely during our layover. He woke up in time to see the grand concourse at Central Station. We let him run around a bit and get off some steam before getting back on a train. We picked up some dinner to take with us on the long ride home. After we ate, Liam played and made friends in the lounge car. He had everyone charmed, as usual. He did very good and didn’t even fuss when we found out that the battery was dead in the car and had to wait for help.

I also have to mention that Liam was really great about using the potty while we were traveling. Perhaps it was the excitement of using the potty on the train, but Liam went #2 and #1 on several occasion while on the train and also in the hotel. This was really exciting for Sean and I, because we’ve been working on potty training for some time now. I am encouraging him to keep up the good work and daycare and at home!

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