Saturday, January 08, 2005

Jefferson City Trip

I posted earlier about a Christmas break trip my son and I took to Jefferson City, the Missouri State Capital. It was a really fun and educational trip and my son had a great time just as I did.

He wanted to take a real train ride, not just a metro link trip like we often do downtown. So I thought why not take Amtrak to Jeff City and see the Capital and the other sites. We could make it a State Civics lesson as well as a fun train ride.

The train ride over took about two hours and followed the Missouri river. It was really beautiful scenery. The whole experience of the train was in a way a romantic step back in time. The people and pace on the train is quite different than air travel, and I plan to post on that in a different post. I will say on that point that on the train, it seemed easier for complete strangers to become social and interact than on airplanes for some reason.

We spent the day touring the Capital building upon arrival. Architecturally it was beautiful and a huge structure. It had a great museum of Missouri history that taught this non-native Missourian a great deal about state history. We met a House member in the hallway who volunteered to take us into the House Chambers and show us around. My son got to stand on the podium and pretend to bring the gavel down on a piece of legislation. We walked the halls and saw all the offices and met lots of political members of the state government. They were warm and seemed genuinely happy that a father had brought his seven-year-old son over to learn about state government. Makes me think that maybe it does not happen as frequently as it should which would be a shame.

We traveled via the bus and taxi cabs that day and the next morning. The drivers were friendly and almost became tour guides when I shared our story and why we were in town. It’s not often that I have no automobile at my disposal and did not really like it at times, but the transportation was reasonable and again very friendly people provided it.

We stayed overnight at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool and that was a fun side activity after dinner. The next morning after breakfast we took the cab to the train station and prepared for our trip home. Again the people at the train station seem different in ways to me than those in airports. Seemed to be at a much slower pace, more patient, friendlier or at least in better moods, and seemed to be more about the experience than getting from point A to point B. We were and I guess that is logical for the other passengers.

If you have not taken your kids or grandkids to Jeff City consider doing so and take the train if that’s an option. It was $50 round trip for my son and me, so it’s very reasonable. If you live in another state I would suggest the same type of trip. I think you might be surprised by just how much you enjoy the train and the tour of your State Capital. If you can work in one trip like this at the cost of one amusement park trip, I think you and your child will find it rewarding.