Well I am finally safe, sound, and secure in my Hampton Inn hotel room after spending 22 of the most boring, nerve rattling, and uncomfortable hours of my adult life. This is how I characterize my first time riding Amtrak. As I sit here typing this chronicle my body keeps rocking back and fourth as if still riding some phantom train. Not only my body but my mind continues to tell my body to compensate for the rocking motion, which adds immeasurable difficulty to even the most simple of tasks like typing!
At any rate my first train excursion was dismal at best. From the very L O N G wait in Chicago on what had to be one of the coldest winter days on record! When I was in the ARMY stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas during the bitter winters there we had a saying that when uttered told the listener that it was Super Duper cold. When it got that cold we would say that "The hawk is biting today", with the cold air being the hawk. And depending on the severity of the temperatures that is what the hawk would be doing. If the temps were in the 20's the hawk could be biting or pecking, but if it dropped into the teens then the hawk was "kickin yo butt". And if the temps dropped into single digits or minus numbers then the hawk was "murdering Brothas", literally killing you if exposed to those temperatures for to long a period of time.
The first leg of the trip from Holland to Chicago was fine enough. Three hours to Chicago go by rather quickly and travlling the "back areas" gives you a different enough perspective and for just about the right amount of time before boredom has a chance to set in.
After arriving at 10:40am I then had to wait until my Worcester departure time of 9:30pm. The quest? How to fill 10hrs? Well you begin with a time consuming, 2-hr lunch on Michigan avenue in a window seat watching all the human icicles walking by. Remarkably they seemed to be handling this blistering cold which brought this man to his knees. There were even women in dresses, and one WITHOUT STOCKINGS ON in temperatures that were in the teens with a nice wind blowing.....AND NO STOCKINGS! Then there's me, thermal undies, jeans, long sleeve shirt, sweater, AND winter jacket with gloves and an over the ears beanie! And her in a dress with no stockings. I wanted to run up and pummel her for making me look like such a wimp, but the thought of going outside in the colds to do it left me rather limp.
So how does one fill ten hours in Chicago...in the snow? Well you spend a few hours at the main library listening to tons of music because you couldn't get into reading a book when you knew that you might not get to finish it...even in ten hours. Actually it was more like eight if you subtract my 2hr, three long island ice tea lunch! After that I spent some time at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago for amusement. And that is exactly what it was, amusing. Reading the story of one of the biggest heists of all time; the theft of our wealth through this act of treason by Woodrow Wilson. But it was interesting to read the propaganda and to look at a million dollars. I will have to go back and take the tour of the vaults and other areas of the FRBOC. I can say this much, they sure were very generous and were giving away free money. And yes I got some of it!!. See the picture below.
Shredded of course!
Heres one million dollars
I also did a lot of people watching while at Union Station. A vast array of personality types from all walks of life were on stage in the sleeper car lounge. we even got to witness a family dispute that finally involved the station security team. Yes that rag tag bunch of septuagenarians with guns stepped in just before things were about to get ugly and defused a potential altercation.
I thought that the sleeper car lounge, the first class of the train, would be free from violence, but I guess that I was wrong. I was also wrong to think that the Amtrak staff of ticket agents, train and desk personnel would be helpful in any way, shape, or form! I have never been treated in such an ill manner from supposed customer service professionals! Suffice it to say I will NEVER take the train for a trip over three hours. Anything longer and you might get thrown into jail for pummeling an Amtrak employee that was super rude to you!
Here are some pictures of the first day/leg of the trip to get my Mother-In-Laws car in MA.
Passing Through Indiana
Passing Through Ashtabula, Ohio
Passing Through Erie, PA
Here I Am Happy In The Dining Car