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The Great Train Escape Pt 3

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I have been remiss in completing this tale, so will try to at least take you through the next leg of our journey. By the time Cathy (LECATES) dropped us at the entrance to the station and we swapped hugs and thank yous, it had begun to snow lightly. We encouraged Cathy not to hang around because we wanted her to get out of the city before the snow got serious. This is our last look from Union Station, DC

We were early but had reserved a sleeping berth, so enjoyed the benefit of the First Class waiting area inside. Once we were called to board, we had to walk to the front of this train--can YOU see where it ends? It was LONG!

When we finally found our car, I must have boarded ahead of Steve because he got lost while trying to video. He turned left instead of right and ended up in the wrong end of the car, calling my name--what a tourist! Eventually, he ran out of car and turned around and found me. We had what is called a Roomette and I think that's a pretty cute name for what we had. I know we are giving away our ages here, but decided that the bed, once it was made out, was reminiscent of the bench seat of a '57 Chevy. Still, it was much more comfortable for sleeping than the Coach seats and we were thrilled.

For quite a while after departure, we viewed the backsides of businesses and neighborhoods, which weren't all that appealing; however, the view soon turned to some nice neighborhoods and countryside as we left the city. Most of our pics were on video at that point so I can't post them here; however, we did see this terrific old train station and roundhouse! I just wish I could remember where it was...maybe someone will recognize it and post it in the comments. Isn't this a great old building?

Arriving in Chicago, we were once again amazed at the network of rails beneath the city! The photos we took don't begin to show it all, so I won't waste the space here.

I knew that our son's fiance' would be waiting for us, so we hurried through the baggage claim and out to greet her. (She is attending N.W. School of Law there while our son is working on becoming a fireman in CA) We hadn't seen her since Christmas and were quite excited to be in "her" city. Just as we finished our hugs and hellos and were preparing to move out, a man in a jacket and dark glasses sidled up to us. Steve thought he was going to ask us for something when he heard me squeal--it was our son!!! He had flown out to spend Spring break with his lady and surprise us!

We could not stop laughing for the longest time--what a great surprise!

We took turns taking pictures of each other until someone finally offered to take one of all of us together~

The kids walked us to our hotel, which was about 5 blocks from the station and we did an early check-in and left our baggage, then they took us to a little bistro for lunch. We sat there for hours, just talking and catching up. Fortunately, it was not a busy time and the waitress didn't mind us taking up a back table for such a long time. Look at how our son looks at her when she talks...can you tell he's in love?

Our DIL wanted to show us where she went to school, so we got a custom tour of Northwestern School of Law and met some of her classmates. It was very impressive--quite historical, with lots of antiques and portraits of famous lawyers. It was getting colder by the time our tour ended and no one wanted to stay outside for long. Steve and I had talked about trying some authentic Chicago-style pizza while we were in town, so we all hopped into a cab and went to Giordano's. We knew by the long line that it was a local favorite and we were not disappointed!

After dinner and many more hugs and goodbyes, the kids put us in a cab back to our hotel and they caught the train back to her place on the other side of town. Our room was on the 19th floor and when we looked out the window, we still had to crane our necks to see the top floors of the buildings next door! So many tall buildings!

The king-sized bed gave me room to spread out all my knitting projects and yarn and reorganize them for the next leg of our journey. By this time, I had finished 3 small pairs of socks for some grandchildren and a pair for myself and I was able to condense some of my carry on bags. (Socks don't take up as much room as the yarn it took to make them) My next project was to finish a skirt for a granddaughter that was too short. I needed to add at least another six inches to the length and would have plenty of time since the next leg of our journey would take two days.

Since our train didn't leave until after 2:00 pm, we lingered over our complimentary breakfast and watched the city come alive. Taxis, delivery trucks, people everywhere rushing off to work--and we just watched and enjoyed another cup of coffee. The two women who were attending the breakfast room were simply jubilant as they went about their work and I noticed that one of them was humming the tunes to some of my favorite hymns. When I commented that I loved her music, she said, "Well Honey, we must be related, then!" LOL I replied that I suspected so.

We stayed at the hotel until checkout time and then walked the 5 blocks back to Union Station where we again enjoyed the First Class waiting area. We were able to check our bags into a secured area instead of carting everything with us and were offered free juices or coffee while we watched TV or used the free WiFi. They called us in plenty of time to collect our bags and prepare to board when our time came, so we could just relax. That was nice!

This time we had reserved a Deluxe bedroom, so we had quite a bit more room on the train.
We even had our own bathroom with shower, but I wouldn't have wanted to drop the soap because there wasn't enough room to bend over and pick it up! Nevertheless, we settled in quickly and were quite comfortable--wouldn't you agree?

As we left the station, our sleeping car attendant came around to introduce himself and see if we needed anything. He said that someone would come and make our dinner reservations shortly and to ring the bell if we needed any assistance. He introduced himself as Louis King, "...but you can call me King Louie!" A short while later, he returned with two glasses and a small bottle of champagne (or sparkling cider if we preferred) and a small basket of chocolate candy, compliments of Amtrak. We later found that this was the last time this service would be offered due to budget cuts, so we felt fortunate to have been able to celebrate the occasion.

As I said, this would be a two-day trip across the northern states. Next stop, Seattle.
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