When my older kids were small we used to host destination birthdays. They were mostly weekend trip like Des Moines, Omaha, Branson, etc. When she was turning 6 Phaedra expressed a lot of interest in trains so I proposed the idea of taking the Amtrak somewhere. Living in KC with the lines running East and West across the state this made St Louis the logical destination. Phaedra (and her brothers for that matter) loved the idea so we made our plans, purchased our tickets and made our way to Union Station in midtown early one morning. We had been here many times for Science City, brunch, site seeing and movies but till this day never to actually hop on a train.
You could sense the anticipation as Phaedra was a ball of energy filled with questions and anxious to board. We gave her the first of her presents the day before, a bright pink rolling luggage she now clutched tightly as she looked at the other people in the waiting area guessing where they were all headed. Finally, it came time to board and we made our way outside and down the stairs to the platform. Alexander, in his dapper hat, graciously took his sisters luggage while Dave and I handled the others and Ana carried a sleeping baby Bridget.
We came prepared on the train with snacks and games to keep the crew entertained but the mere idea of taking a train somewhere kept everyone in a good mood. I had wrapped Phaedra’s presents in pink wrapping and wrote the names of various locations we would encounter along the way East reserving one for the STL terminal and subsequent mornings in the hotel. The other passengers sitting near us got into the spirit of it and would look on in excitement as Phaedra ripped into each gift. On a couple of occasions, they would lean over and ask me questions like, “do you have a gift for this next stop? I have to go to the bathroom but don’t want to miss anything”.
Phaedra became a bit of a celebrity in that train car and everyone applauded her with each gift opening ultimately singing Happy Birthday at the last stop making her special day even better. When we arrived, we took the subway to the city center and emerged to see the towering Arch just a few blocks from our hotel. Our first full day there we visited the Science Museum and fell completely in love with it spending the entire day there (and returning on the last day too after cutting other things from the itinerary). Additionally, we went to the top of the arch, took a riverboat cruise and naturally geocached (the kids still liked it at this point). All in all it was a great little trip and one the family reflects back on with smiles and adoration.