Last Sunday was our annual trek out to Calera to visit Thomas the Train. But this year, we managed to get there earlier than usual, and it was much less crowded than it has been in the past. These two factors gave us ample opportunity to explore everything else at the location – something we’d never really done before.
The destination in question is the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. I will readily admit that I have a subconscious avoidance-reaction to any location with the word “Museum” in the title. This can be traced back to my childhood where I, a very efficient and quite impatient child, had to wait on my mother, a person with zero concept of the passage of time (literally – it was a big eureka moment for my parent’s marriage when they figured this out) who greatly enjoyed reading every placard, and observing every angle of the most obscure artifact. Combine this with the fact that I was homeschooled and therefore visited all the museums with my mother and…I have an aversion to the word Museum.
(I’m sorry I was such a naggy kid, Mom. I fully appreciate all your efforts now. But I’d rather appreciate them NOT at a museum, if you don’t mind.)
So that also may be why I’ve never explored the location of our Thomas trips before.
But I can now say definitively that, Thomas weekend or not, every little (and big) train lover needs to visit this museum. Admission is free, and they have some fantastic artifacts of train culture gone by, almost all being open to being climbed upon and explored up close.
(And very few placards to be read.)
They have rows of old rail cars, engines, and cabooses to check out,
and train tracks to (safely) play on – because what kid doesn’t want to play on train tracks?
(Notice Thomas chugging into the station in the top left corner in the above picture. He’s pretty cool, too.)
They have old railway crossing signs that still function, manual track-changing cranks that really do shift the tracks,
and really, really fantastic trains. It’s basically the best playground ever for the train-obsessed.
And all those families who want to get their family photos made on train tracks? This would be the place to do it. (I emailed the museum to see if they allow that, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. I’ll update if I do.)
Seeing Thomas, of course, was fantastic as well,
Along with meeting Sir Topham Hatt,
getting to buy Thomas umbrellas,
And some Masters-Level golfing.
As usual, Thomas got a Hero’s welcome from Noah…and Ali. Because you don’t get too old for your first hero.
And this year our ride took place on the Double Decker train car, which was pretty much thrilling.
(And it had a nice view.)
The train cars used for Thomas’ rides belong to the Museum, and so there are other opportunities to ride on them, as well.
Since Sunday, Noah has asked me daily if we can go back and visit the trains. He knows he only gets to visit Thomas once a year, but now that he’s discovered everything else out there, he’d very much like to take a daily trek to the train yard, peeking into windows and imagining all sorts of adventures.
And I have to admit…I kinda want to go back, too.
(Especially if I could figure out how to photograph a sunset behind those trains.)
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored or requested by anyone. I’m just so thrilled that I discovered that I, too, can enjoy museums that I wanted to share it with you. Plus it’s a really fun place to take pictures.