I would like to say a very big thank you to the amazing folks at the Chattanooga Zoo and Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum for really being some of the kindest people we have ever met. You touched our hearts, and helped us have a truly amazing and memorable weekend. We can’t thank you enough!
Before I go any further to tell you all about the amazing time we had in Chattanooga, I want to say this. There were many people who gave us what can only be described as the stink eye when we made our way up to tour the engine at the railroad museum. I know they will never read this, but I have to say it. I would give up every single special accommodation made for us this weekend to have a healthy child. In fact, I would give my very life, if it meant that my son would get to live. I mean that. While the memories are absolutely amazing and I am so appreciative, I would trade them in an instant if it meant Braden was healthy. So, if the stink eye parents want to trade, I’d gladly do so. Please let there be a cure before time runs out for us.
Moving on to happier thoughts. Saturday at 5 am, Braden sat upright in bed and asked excitedly, “Is it time to go to the trains yet?” About that time I shoved my head under the pillows and groaned. Moments later I replied, “Not yet sweetie. We have about six hours before the trains are ready.” I had hoped he would sleep some of those hours away, but we were not lucky enough. After a quick breakfast, we decided to head out to explore. Ok, and to kill some time. The thought of counting down hours in our hotel room, was not all that appealing.
Upon arrival, Braden asked what engine number we were riding on. This was hugely important to him, and so we made sure to figure that out. He had asked about fifteen times the night before if we could call and find out if we were riding on a diesel or a steam engine. Steam engines were his favorite, until he got to meet the really sweet conductor and very nice engineer that was driving our engine. Braden loved getting to see the break, horn, and gauges. As we sat back down in our seats, Braden smiled and said, “This is the best day ever!” If I could bottle that one moment, I would. It was a moment I will never forget!
We had a busy rest of the day at the Children’s museum, that thoroughly exhausted Braden. Then, we went through half the aquarium. Of course, he was wheeled or carried through the entire place. He was so beyond tired. When I asked if he wanted to see more of the aquarium, as he looked nearly passed out from exhaustion, he gave me a thumbs up with closed eyes. Fifteen minutes later he asked to go back to the hotel so he could sleep. He was sound asleep seconds after putting the vehicle in reverse.
The next day we went to the Chattanooga Zoo. We met the amazing Mr. C. (Abbreviated to protect his privacy.) He was absolutely amazing! He clearly loved the animals, loved his job, and enjoying giving us an amazing behind the scenes tour of his second home. We fed a red panda, were close enough (although a very safe distance and through a barrier) to hear a cougar pur, pet a raccoon, met a very cool crow, got to meet the adorable little snow leopard, and so much more. It was amazing! We loved hearing the stories behind the animals, especially when shared with such passion.
Unfortunately we had thoroughly exhausted Braden the day before, and so he was not at his best. He was whiny, extremely ataxic, had a hard time getting around easily, and very clearly still tired from the day before. Mr. C took it all in stride. Having a special needs child is tough. It’s especially tough when you can’t do much to fix what is causing them distress. It was clear that Braden was agitated and tired. Yet, we also know that he was physically tired and not mentally tired. So, his brain did not wish to sleep, but his body was not cooperating. It would be simple to say, just to let him take a nap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way for him. His legs were all kinds of twitchy. His anger was that he wanted to see things, but simply sitting upright was a challenge. His hands were completely bent at his wrists, fingers pointing behind him. His drooling was uncontrollable, and going to the bathroom out of the question. We have never seen him in such an exhausted state. We felt really guilty about it. However, the only walking Braden had to do the previous day was at the Children’s museum, and we did wheel him between exhibits. We had no idea it would take him out of commission for the entire next day. Now we know.
Regardless, the minute we got in the car he proceeded to chatter on in short bursts about the crow and baby kitty (the snow leopard.) His favorite was the snow leopard though. I’m not really surprised, as the little one was so dang cute!
Again, we can’t thank you for making our date weekend with Braden such an amazing success! Braden asked what zoo he could go see next on our way home. Oh boy, I see a zoo tour coming on! Pictures coming soon. Check the top tab later!