Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Skyway Adventures

This past week we got back in touch with our public transportation roots and set off in search of adventure on the Jacksonville Skyway.

We live just a couple of blocks from a Skyway station, and whenever we exit I-95N to come home, we see the station overhead. Ellie loves trains so I started pointing it out to her whenever I saw the train stopped at the station, and eventually that turned into me telling her we could ride it one day. The first time I said it, that really captured her attention and she worked through it all in her brain:

"We can ride in the train on top! Not the bottom [talking about the regular freight trains that pass through our neighborhood]. Just the top [Skyway]. The trains on bottom don't have doors. We can't ride those. We can ride on top! The train on top has doors! If we can reach it...hmmm. We have to go up the stairs! We can go up the stairs and ride the train on top! It has doors!"

Well. It's settled then.

Of course, I made the mistake of promising her a "train on top" ride before I was actually prepared to deliver, so for some time she would ask me every single time we passed the station when we were going to ride the train. Finally, last Monday, I delivered.

I had planned to just basically ride the train around without any real destination in mind. But, while I was reviewing the train map I discovered that one of the stops is right by the Main Library, which I have wanted to check out for a while now, so just like that, we had an itinerary. We got ourselves all ready to go and made our way to the station and up to the platform. Let's do this train thing!

Ellie was about beside herself with excitement, and the trouble with public transportation and an excited toddler is that they can't read the board that says how much longer until the train comes, so your wait is accompanied by a relentless soundtrack of "Can we ride the train, Mama? Can we ride the train? Where's the train? Can we ride the train?" YES FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE JUST BE PATIENT.

These kids are train-ready.

At long last (or, you know, six minutes later) the train arrived and we boarded. Ellie thought the whole thing was really pretty cool.

Watching the St. John's River pass us by

View from the train

We exited two stops later at Hemming Plaza, and walked to the end of the block to check out the library, which was great. The Children's Library there is excellent, and Ellie had a blast playing and reading books. They have a great schedule of activities for kids so we'll be sure to check some of that stuff out very soon.

Children's Library!

Brushing up on her geography knowledge

Playing on the big alligator bench

Block time

Since that first voyage aboard the Skyway, we have ridden it a few more times. One was just yesterday, on Eric's day off from work. In my initial research into the train map, I discovered that it is easy to connect from the Skyway to the Riverside Trolley. Knowing that Ellie's obsession with Daniel Tiger runs deep, I figured she would love a ride on the trolley. So, yesterday we again boarded the Skyway and took it to Central Station, where we disembarked and picked up the Riverside Trolley.

Ellie and Eric on the Skyway

If we thought Ellie was pumped about the train, she was possibly even more excited about the trolley. We didn't have a real destination in mind, so we just rode around and let her feel cool.

Okay, yes. It's basically just a bus that is painted to LOOK like a trolley. But would you look at that face of joy? Don't tell her!

It's like she is Daniel Tiger - red sweater and all!

Family trolley ride!

After our trolley ride, we walked around downtown a little bit and ultimately ended up back at the library for a little more fun.

Walking around downtown with this little guy

The Main Library

Fountains outside on the plaza by the Children's Library

These two. Adorable.

Then it was back on the train to go home for lunch. This time, Ellie got to sit on a seat at the front of the train and watch where we were going.

She's hooked.

It's so nice to have this mode of transportation so accessible to us! We've already made great use of it and have plans to continue to do so. Later this week I hope to share more with you about our new neighborhood, but being closer to the more urban downtown of Jacksonville is one of the things I love about it. Hey, we're just city folk, and a commuter train is right up our alley. Apparently, Ellie shares that sentiment!

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