As part of our reward system, we let Casey pick something fun he'd like to do when he earns enough stickers (we're working in intervals of 10 stickers for each reward for the time being). After seeing the blue train while riding the red trolley two weekends ago, Casey wanted to ride the big blue train. I think he meant the Amtrak train, but that train costs like $36 per person for the same distance as our commuter train-- the Coaster. And since both trains are blue-ish, we decided to spend the day riding the Coaster.
Jason gave up his jiu jitsu training for the day so he could go. You see, the Coaster doesn't run right in the middle of the day because it's a commuter train. And it doesn't run on Sundays, either-- at least not from the stop we wanted to take.
We drove over to our stop-- where there was another family of four doing the same exact thing! Here is a picture of me with the kids waiting to get on the train:
It is a beautiful day here in San Diego. It's got to be in the high '70s near the coast! Anyway, we boarded the train and climbed up to the second level. Casey enjoyed watching all the surfers in the ocean as we traveled up the coast:
While Casey watched the surfers, Marcie played her "Up-Down" game. That's where she tells us she wants up-- then we pick her up. Then she wants down, so we put her down. Up and down, up and down. And so it goes. It drives me nuts. She doesn't sit still unless she has to. If I've learned nothing else from our train rides, it's that we will need to buy Marcie her own seat when we fly east this summer so we can buckler her in to the carseat. It's safer. And it's saner.
We had originally planned to ride the coaster all the way to Carlsbad Village to stop for lunch. But that would have only given us about 20 minutes before the next rain south arrived, or we would have had to wait more than 3 hours. So instead we stopped off at Encinitas. We disemarked to a street market, walked through it, then found a nice set of benches to sit at and eat lunch. Casey and Marcie were both really well behaved (in a compelte 360 from last weekend), and they were pleasant as can be. Another interesting thing is that because the Coaster goes through some pretty affluent areas (at least this is what we assume), the stations are all really well-kept and clean. When we rode the trolley two weeks ago, we had to hold our breath in the elevator because someone had clearly been using it as a urinal of sorts. No such trouble with the Coaster-- even the public restrooms at the Encinitas station were clean!
One nice thing about rewarding Casey with these events is that it's something we can do together as a family. And it's not that expensive. Riding the trolley cost us like $6.00 round trip, plus the cost of the carousel. And the Coaster was only around $20. The kids don't care that we pack a lunch-- so we save some money that way. Not only are we teaching Casey about trains and other forms of public transportation, but we're spending less money than admission to the science museum or the zoo would cost us. We're encouraging Casey to select a bus as our next adventure. The local express buses to downtown or the mall are easy to access and very clean-- and we can maybe go to his favorite restaurant for lunch as part of the treat!