We went to the Zoo.
At this time of year, the San Francisco Zoo throws a party called "Boo at the Zoo," where families with little children are invited to come in costume. My Beloved knows that I get a huge kick out of little kids in Hallowe'en costume, so he took me to enjoy all the princesses, fairies, Spidermen, mummies, ghosts and ladybugs. My favorites are the toddlers who are so young that they don't understand why they are being dressed as Scooby Doo or a bumble bee but they are delighted with the change of identity. They are also thrilled and mystified by the gifts of treats.
As we walked through the crowds near the brilliant flamingoes, I remembered the train. The "Little Puffer" steam train! Built in 1905, it had a long, complicated, and sometimes sad career before coming to the Zoo. In 1998 it was restored and converted from coal burning to natural gas and installed permanently at the Zoo. It's a little beauty now.
We were first in line.
The engineer himself stopped to chat with us while the other cars loaded with excited kids and their grownups. A toot from the whistle and we were off. It took a few seconds for the Little Puffer to get up to speed, but then it sailed along at an amazing clip, flying through a tunnel and over railroad crossings, speeding along by the tiger pits and past a pond where the emus live, with little ghouls and mermaids waving at us all along the route.
For sheer, undiluted joy, the Little Puffer is right up there with a carousel ride. The best $4 you can spend on a sunny day when you're being treated like a queen, even if you aren't dressed as one.