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Union Station, Chicago Jan 1st, 2010


Omlets, Union Station in Chicago and Observations …………
Red Glasses 2010Union Station, Chicago

Dining Room opens at 6:00 a.m. and have exited my coffin for the Observation Car to read the paper with a cup of great coffee made by my car attendant. Can’t blame her for the size of the accommodations. Sleeping in the Roomette last night was one of those disposable experiences, a “glad I did it”, borderline funny, something to file away unless someone asks my thoughts (afterwards maybe they wish they hadn’t). Anyway, thought it would be dawn, but no – pitch black. Surprised at that; don’t know why. Went in for breakfast about 6:30. No one else awake. By 8:00 one Happy New Year and one Good Morning from fellow passengers; staff cordial as always, asking “Anything I can do?” “How’s your day?” Ordered a hefty breakfast since I will not have a meal included tonight – veggie omelet with grits and turkey sausage. Very good. Will ponder getting a salad in Chicago to have before boarding Southwest Chief. We approached Chicago from the south, threading our way through railroad yards and oil depots. For a moment or two, off to the right was Lake Michigan it its opalescent icy splendor, aqua reminiscent of Alaska‘s glaciers. It was obvious that if I dared to dip one finger in, it would become a popsicle. Upon arrival at Chicago’s Union Station, I headed straight for the AMTRAK passenger center and was told to simply show my ticket at the lounge around the corner and I would be welcomed because I had paid for 1st class for part of my trip!! Great. So I checked my bags, settled myself, plugged in my laptop to check email, made a few calls, then took a walk around the train station. You know what? Union Station in Chicago is actually a train station with ticket booths, ticket information, rental cars, one newspaper vendor and one Food Court. Total opposite of D.C. After deciding that it was too cold to walk-about Chicago – other than pay for a cab ride around Lakeshore Drive – I spent the time napping for a half-hour on one of the couches and then snacked on some goldfish, posted the Blog for yesterday, then watched part of a college football game. Really lazy. Should have walked for exercise, but will begin another Silver Sneakers regimen once in Albuquerque. Useful information: some positives for my reserved Roomette – allowed access to the lounge, also allowed first boarding meaning I would be on board before those waiting for general boarding. I was able to secure a window seat (recliner with substantial leg room and foot rest) with a button that allows a sleeping position, plus there was space to leave my bags “below” which meant no overhead bin storage. This AMTRAK seating is just like first class airlines! I am, once again, on the second level, perfect for viewing, but will search out the Observation Car for an panoramic view of the Chicago area. Oh, must comment on our female conductor. Heard there are not too many of those. Met her in the lounge where she had come to collect tickets (did not even have to hold it in my hand while boarding). She called each passenger by name – yes, the name is on the ticket but she didn’t have to! Anyway, once on board, she came on the intercom and proceeded to provide us with a description of the train and route, general safety regulations ending with, “Feel free to walk around or stay wrapped up in a little ball, whatever floats your boat. And, I am asking that you please conserve paper products so that we do not run out before Los Angeles as it would make for the longest ride ever!“ She is a hoot. Had pleasant conversations about politics, volunteering and recycling, and the current state of global economics with two very nice women, one going thru to her home in Albuquerque, the other departing in Kansas City at 10:00 p.m. Also, because I went to the Observation Car to view the spectacular sunset, met an Amish couple on their way to reassignment in LaPlata, MO. They have been to New Orleans to work on Katrina homes so, of course, we a conversation about volunteering. Heading back to my seat, I spent a few minutes watching the once blood orange sky dissipate to peach. All in all, a great day. Almost time to snuggle into my recliner for a few hours sleep. General note: it is difficult to maneuver a mouse on a moving train!