Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Much Better Version of the Lisa Train

With two rather extreme hiking expeditions under his belt, Nicholas decided it was time for the Peters' family to slow down our vacation pace and accommodate him for a change. He asked if we could take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad.

As a family, we often move too fast, our activities too extreme, for our slow-moving bear. In fact, apart from opening and closing the two garage doors at our rental home and lighting the gas fireplace in the living room, it was the only thing he asked to do during our entire vacation experience.

How could we refuse?

What is it about boys and trains? Both of my children enjoy this leisurely scenic activity. In fact, even the solemn Pete was excited to ride on the old fashioned choo-choo.

Having spent much of my time this year on the chaotic Lisa Train, this mild mannered and slow moving version was a much-welcomed alternative for me.

The folks at the North Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire have revised several routes from the old Boston and Maine Railroad. Vacationers have a choice of three rides. There is a short trip to Conway, a longer one to Bartlett and a very long 5 hour trip to Crawford Notch which includes dining service.

Knowing Nick's unpredictable nature, we chose the two hour trip to Bartlett, pushing our luck just a bit. Pete and I both would have preferred the ride to Crawford Notch, a breathtaking adventure with lots of steep ravines and cascading brooks. But as parents of a child diagnosed with special needs our lives are not our own.

We arrive at the train station early in the morning. Built in 1874, this old fashioned depot has the look and feel of long ago. There is a large gift shop and several old photographs hanging on the walls. The floor boards creek as we make our way to the ticket window.

We purchase our tickets and wait out front for our train to arrive.

Nicholas studies his map of North Conway
and yes that's Pete smiling
So far, there is no sign of our motorized maiden.
Nick remembers to bring his trusty headphones
and places them over his ears.
Not a moment too soon as our loud locomotive begins to get...
and closer
until finally the railway men begin to appear
and clamor out of this red and green beauty
 carefully placing wooden steps under the passenger exit ways
Pete and Nicholas climb on board and take their place in one of the open-air cars
Weston decides to sit a safe distance away from his embarrassing family.
Unfortunately however, his annoying mother finds him
sending him into an indisputable form of teen trauma.
If you have a teenager, perhaps you are familiar with this state of mind?
Our journey begins and it isn't long before the wiggly boy begins to enjoy himself.
Of course, I try to spare my self conscious son from further humiliation
by refraining from front facing photos. I take my pictures from afar.
We pass over the Saco River

Nicholas, on the other hand, is happy and inspired
unashamed of his embarrassing mother, at least for now.
The train ride rolls over another river
This one is the Ellis.
We pass several family campgrounds.
A railroad man provides us with commentary over a loud speaker
alerting passengers to the identity of each of our passing surroundings.
Pete is unusually mesmerized by the sights, sounds and movement of this interesting ride
And Nick?
Well let's just say, for him this was a much more enjoyable mode of transportation for viewing Mother Nature
His smile says it all.