Tuesday 12 November 2019
After all the excitement about getting to Chicago yesterday – we woke this morning, feeling refreshed and ready to board the ‘Southwest Chief’- the Amtrak passenger train that runs the 2265 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. It basically follows the old Route 66. We were to be on board from 2.50pm this afternoon right through to 9.38pm Wednesday night when we would disembark at Flagstaff Arizona. A total of 30+ hours. We had a tiny sleeper-ette and all meals provided in our ticket price.
When we looked out out bedroom window in the morning from the hotel – there was snow everywhere. Because the ‘L’ train ( ‘L’ is short for elevated) ran not that far from the hotel – you could hear all night the sound of trains in the background. For those who remember the ‘Blues Brothers’ movie – it reminded me of the scene where the brothers are cooped up in their hotel room in Chicago – in that scene the L ran a mere few feet from their window and rattled the room every few minutes – we just had the noise! But the scene in the morning was, for those of us not used to snow, a magically serene scene. That thought quickly changed when I saw the lowly paid workers scrapping the ice and snow off the sidewalks and tried to put myself in their shoes for a moment – freezing weather, not much money, and a crappy job – soon the weather is a nuisance rather than a novelty. And did I say it was cold – very, very, very, cold (-3 degrees C!)
We have the luxury of spending an hour or so in the lounge at Union Station enjoying complimentary nibbles and drinks before we board our train. Now when I say a small tiny closet space – have an image in your mind – and half the space – and that is what we have. Comfortable but no room to swing a cat! The train is also a double-decker. Our luggage is in a compartment on the first floor, as is the shower and some of the toilets. We have to climb the ten stairs to the second floor for our room -ette.
Once in place – the train gets underway and we are off. We realise quickly that the sun is going to set by 5ish and so we only have a few hours of daylight to enjoy the scenery on the first afternoon. Illinois is covered by snow. All the farm lands and small town we pass by are white. The other thing to notice is that everything is flat – flat as a tack – no hills, no nothing, to jolt the train out of it smooth ride. Our dinner in the dinning car is excellent and when we come back – our porter has put the beds down. Being tired and full after a great meal and all the excitement of the journey thus far – we turn in early and look forward to a full day on the train tomorrow – we should be at the Kansas /Colorado state border in the morning.