We topped off our wondermous Wednesday after our Beanstalk Journey Zipline & Grandfather Mountain adventures with dinner at a family tradition: Makoto's Japanese Steak House. It's the very first teppanyaki ("cook on the table" ;-)) restaurant I ever visited as a child...and it was pure magic! Will & Annelise love these, as well, so it was special to take them to our family's *original* :-)
Thursday morning, we made it over to our beloved Tweetsie Railroad right as the park opened! We'd never made it for the 9 AM opening, before! (We usually just do a day trip from Charlotte, arriving after 10.) Will was THRILLED to make it for the first train of the day. (The entire 13-minute drive from the hotel to Tweetsie, both kids squealed: "I smell Tweetsie smoke!!! I smell it! Did you hear that??? Was that the whistle?" :-D) Of course, Tweetsie was as magical as always! Even more special: this year, my brother Andy & his son Matthew drove up to meet us there!!! It certainly added to the enchantment quotient to be sharing our Tweetsie wonder with them. ♥
I relished the opportunity to be "cool Aunt Susie" by taking Matthew on both the Ferris wheel and up & down the ski lift. Both Andy & my mom are terrified of heights (see, this bolsters my theory that I'm more afraid of ledges than heights, b/c I love the Ferris wheel & ski lift = I don't have to move my feet through them. My tummy does drop a little, but it's still fun for me, whereas Mom & Andy feel as if death is imminent) so I was beyond tickled to be able to do something memorable for Matthew...b/c he was begging to ride! (He seems to share Annelise's daredevil gene. ;-))
More cousin fun:
Thanks to our family friend who is the actual train engineer at Tweetsie, we get the secret privilege of riding up front in the actual engine cab of #190, and he often lets the kids "drive" on top of his hands...
...But *THIS* time, he got up & told *ME* to take his seat! Whaaat?!?! You know, no big deal to be in control of a 4,000 horsepower, 105 ton, USATC S118 Class, 2-8-2 coal-fired steam locomotive with 300 souls on board!!! OMIGOSH!!!!! :-D (FWIW, I rocked it! ;-))
It's hard to know we have to wait a whole nother year to get back, [we'd *loooove* to get back for the Ghost Train in the fall, (we went 4 years ago! look how tiny! :-D) but with football, we just can't travel from the end of July until Thanksgiving] but we're so thankful we have these deep connections that don't wane over time. :-)