It’s Saturday. What should we do today?
You’ve probably heard it somewhere: date your spouse. Find things to do together that will continue to solidify your relationship, even after you’ve walked down the aisle.
JP and I were having a tough time with that one this particular morning.
“I don’t have a preference. We could do a hike, we could visit Princeton, whatever you like. I just don’t think I can do a full day hike with the way my arm has been acting.” I’d dislocated the tendon in my left arm several weeks ago.
“If you don’t have a preference, (insert text here that I apparently missed). There’s no point.”
Cue SJ exit at stage right to steam, very slowly, in the shower.
Eventually, JP explained that what he meant was hiking at all would be pointless if I was in pain, and then he came up with the idea of visiting the oldest functioning railroad in the country—Strasburg Railroad—along with the accompanying railroad museum across the street. I melted just a little as I realized he must have done some fast research and put together the plan while I was steaming in the shower.
And it was a pretty brilliant plan. Up until this point, I’d never been on a working steam engine, and—although I have a growing interest in antiques—I wasn’t sure how I felt about combining them with an activity other than a wedding (see Exhibit A below). And I wouldn’t choose it as a day activity on my own. I’d rather sit, read a book, and write about it later.
It was a perfect warm Saturday in Lancaster, and I forgot all about my shoulder, the need for steam, and my indecisiveness as we drove through the expansive fields of new crops and livestock. I rode horses at a young age, and seeing farms with them scattered across the landscape made me forget about the rest of the busy world for a little while. My husband held my hand as we drove up to the station and all the way through the tour, and I felt a little like we’d just started dating…it’s a good feeling.
We’re starting to get pretty good at this whole date-your-spouse thing, right?
Tips for Visiting Strasburg Railroad and Museum
First: Shell out the extra couple of bills for the Parlor Car. The Parlor Car has been fully restored to its original Victorian splendor, complete with a wet bar and coal stove. You also might be party to some very interesting fellow passengers! Be sure you reserve it in advance—our tour wasn’t busy for the time we arrived, but the tour after ours was packed. Which leads me to my next tip…
Get there early. We got to the station around 2:15 PM and waited until the next train at 3 PM. I would hazard a guess that any time before this is prime time if you want to avoid crowds, though the 3 PM train wasn’t bad by any means. For reference, the train tour takes about 45 minutes.
Got kids? Excellent! take them to see the small stuff, too. There are two adorable extras in the immediate vicinity of the train—the Pint-sized Pufferbelly and the Cranky Cars. The Pufferbelly is a tiny open-air train for kids and their parents operating in the area around the main track, though it doesn’t overlap for safety. The Cranky Cars operate on their own small circular track, fenced in for protection, where kids can use their own steam power to fuel the tiny two-wheelers.
Check out the Train Museum! It might not look like it from the outside, but the Train Museum is actually an incredible building with many train cars from different eras, some of which are open to the public to explore—like the one above on the day we visited. I thought it looked like a ship with the porthole-like windows, and for some reason that translated to wanting to know what the inside was like. I’m glad I did – I had no idea there were four bunks, a kitchen, a closet, what might once have been a bathroom, and a dining space inside!
Get a photo, even if you think it’s terrible. My husband and I want to have kids soon, but right now we’re enjoying each other’s company just fine. Trick is? I’m sure my parents did too before they had me, and I’ve always wanted more photos of them before they did. Not sure if this desire is normal or not, but I aim to have more before-and-after photos to show my kids. And for the win, I thought the photo of my husband above was pretty epic. (Our babies will be smart AND beautiful!)
Last but not least: grab some local fare together. JP likes to sit next to me instead of across from me when we eat, so we like to find a place that has booths or chairs we can drag close together instead of two-seat wonders in tiny restaurants. We also love local stuff. We ended up at an Amish place called Plain & Fancy: farm-to-table food, good prices, and really nice down-to-earth service. I’ll definitely be visiting again.
Do you date your spouse—and would you visit Strasburg Railroad (even better yet, have you been here and had a great experience?)?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂