Note: This is a continuation of another post, Taking a Train Across the Country – Springfield to Chicago.
Also, don’t forget, you can click any of the pictures to enlarge them
I was lucky on the first night of the trip, because I had an empty seat next to me, but I found out this wasn’t the best solution for sleeping. As you read in Part One, I woke up early. I have a journal entry from 7:18am.
Things to do today:
- Make my connection in Chicago
- Take a shower in a sink somehow..
- Figure out a better way to sleep, I did have two seats to myself last night so I curled up under my blanket, with my hoody and little train pillow under my head.
I was excited to see Chicago, I had never been before and didn’t really know what to expect. I was also looking forward to hopefully finding somewhere to take a shower in a sink. I wouldn’t recommend trying to shave on the train. Even holding a toothbrush by your face could be dangerous with the constant movement of the train, let alone a razor.
We had one last stop before Chicago, and I remember hopping onto the platform for a few minutes, and it was cold. I was on my way to Cali, and figured I wouldn’t need too many warm clothes. Brilliant.. I had one hoody and was stuck wearing it for most of the trip. We boarded the train and soon enough, things changed drastically from the scenery along the Great Lakes, into a more urban area. On the train, you aren’t presented with “Welcome to..” signs for different cities and towns. You get to see parts of them that aren’t cleaned up and beautified for your view. You get to areas that aren’t so pretty, and that’s another reason why I loved the experience.
We rolled past alleys, streets, and soon enough, a lot of other trains. Chicago seems to be quite a major hub, and it was busy. Freights, Amtrak, local Metro trains.. The amount of tracks and signals was amazing. The sunlit morning came to a halt for the passengers on the Lakeshore Limited when we rolled into Union Station’s platform. The entire platform is inside a massive “garage” for the trains. I grabbed my luggage and made my way inside the station. The architecture of Union Station was really amazing. Here’s another excerpt.
I made it to Chicago with plenty of time to spare. I think we were 10-15 minutes late. I was exhausted and in need of a smoke so I stepped into the Chicago street to see what was around. I walked around the station and some surrounding streets just scoping the new surroundings. Union Station itself was awesome. It is a giant old building, the lobby was massive. Huge ceiling, and old school benches with plenty of room.I was looking at departures and noticed there was another train going to Cali other than mine. I asked ticketing about it, and it turns out for a small fee I could change to that one and get to see my baby a day earlier than expected.
I stopped at a CVS and snagged a new toothbrush, more smokes, etc. They sell alcohol in CVS.. rad.. I ended up snagging a fruit salad and a pasta salad for some lunch. My new train offered me a little more time, so I just bummed around and explored Chicago a little bit. It’s cold and windy. While waiting for my train I met some punk rock kid with a giant Mohawk from Oklahoma who plays in a band called “Awkward Sex”.
So, instead of taking the Texas Eagle, I transferred to train 3, The Southwest Chief. This would cut a whole day out of my trip, and I would only spend two more nights on the train. Instead of cutting through Texas, we would go through Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. I still had time to kill, so I ventured around Chicago a bit. I found a Starbucks and was able to use their WiFi to download a PDF of the trip I was taking. Everything from here on out would be new territory to me, and I was more than excited to see it all.
From the journal:
I ended up sitting next to some thugged out looking kid from Colorado on the train, and an older guy who was actually pretty cool. The kid I was sitting next to just kept getting phone calls and talking about rap. We chatted for a bit and he informed me that Cali has some of the “Prettiest mother f***ers” there. The train makes less stops than the other one, so that means less cigs, but that’s probably a good thing.
The Southwest Chief was a huge train in comparison to the Lake Shore Limited. The larger trains have View Liner cars, which are like Lounge Cars on steroids. I found my way to one and instantly knew that this was a great place to enjoy the trip from. They are two floors, the top has windows from top to bottom, and a lot of comfortable seats on one end, and restaurant style booths on the other. On the bottom level there are more booths and a place you can buy food, drinks, and other small items. To say the least, I was content. I bought a cold beer, grabbed a seat by the window, and got an amazing first hand view of parts of our country that I had never seen before.
Stay tuned for the next part of Taking The Train Across the country! And be sure to read Part One!