Monday, December 16, 2013

New Hope Valley Railway

In an effort to do something fun and exciting Saturday morning, we bought some tickets for a Christmas-themed train ride on the New Hope Valley Railway. The train ride has been on our "local things that would be fun to do" list for a while, so why not do it during Christmas season? Especially now that Marla knows what "choo choo trains" are.

So, the New Hope Valley Railway: you buy tickets (we bought ours in advance), and then you go on a one-hour train ride up and back through the woods. The train station is located about 30 minutes south of our house, and the train tracks are actually a southern continuation of the rail line that, farther north, has been converted into the American Tobacco Trail.

To be honest, it's not a particularly scenic route, especially for someone like me who bicycles in this area frequently. As we were boarding the train, I joked, "Which side of the train gives us the best mountain views?" (I don't think they were amused.) But you don't do this for the scenery, you do it because it's a nice, relaxing train ride. I also appreciated how "old school" it was. For example, our train featured a classic steam engine. (They also have a diesel engine.)

What makes the train ride "Christmas-themed"? Mostly, it's just decorations and background music, but Amber said that it was "just right" - not over the top, but just enough to get her in the Christmas spirit. (That's how we like it!) The subtle Christmas decorations along the route were a nice touch, I thought.

And, to top it off, Santa Claus himself rode with us! He gave Marla candy, and Amber got a lump of coal, because I guess she's been naughty. Like the candy, Marla also tried to eat the coal. (But, was it clean coal?)

We're not really the "let's go to the mall and stand in line so that Marla can sit in Santa's lap" type. This is much more our style. Marla doesn't really fully understand who Santa is anyway.

On site, there's also a railroad museum, but Marla was much more intrigued by the model train set next to the parking lot.

Seriously, we had a hard time tearing her away from the toy trains. Maybe we know what to get her for Christmas now?

(Side comment: a couple of the toy trains were Thomas-themed. We actually try to avoid the "Thomas & Friends" show, though. Amber and I pejoratively refer to the show as "trains making bad decisions", because that's basically what it is. I guess the idea is to teach kids lessons on what not to do, because Thomas's friends are really pretty irresponsible. That'd be fine, except that somehow these irresponsible trains have been given really big responsibilities! I feel bad for the people of Sodor.)

So, anyway, it was fun, and I recommend it, mountain views or not.


Anonymous said...

Glad you went there Chris Allen.I was in Bonsal this past October for a "Behind The Throttle"session decked out in my full historic train engineer uniform ready to take my lesson on the Vulcan steamer #17.Had a fine instructor to guide me through the process.I gave it my best concentration & kept my eye on the rails at all times.Looked real professional drivin' the locomotive.It's my 3rd time drivin' a steam locomotive since 2010.Was the highlight of my life.Been with the NRHS for 27 years.Devote my whole 44 years of playin' with trains & ridin' them.Been a long time since the club had you Chris.Do enjoy your current life in the NC triangle.My heart belongs in the triad:Greensboro.Will always be my hometown where I began my life with trains.Hope to see you again in the future Chris.Thanks for comin' to our X'mas meetin' at John's Restaurant.Merry X'mas 2013!Signed:"Engineer"Dave Belk,NC Rail Historian & 1stClass Railfan.Charlotte NC.

Natalie said...

Hi Chris,

My name is Natalie Costantino and I help New Hope Valley Railway with its public relations and marketing. We are working on finalizing a news release to distribute for the 2014 Holiday Santa Trains. We would love to send the photo of Santa Claus, your daughter Marla and your wife Amber along with the news release. Would that be OK? If you could please let me know by this Wednesday, Nov. 12 that would be great! It would be easiest for you to respond through the NHVR Facebook. A direct message would work great. Thanks, Chris!

Link to Facebook: