First leg of journey complete – Part 2

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Well, I have successfully arrived at Chicago Union Station, ready to start the second leg of getting to Rochester by train. It has been an interesting journey to say the least.

The California Zephyr picked me up in Fort Morgan about 45 minutes later than scheduled, but expected. I have come to learn that trains are rarely on time. The train finally arrived at Chicago Union Station almost 2 hours late. Fortunately, I don’t leave for another 4 hours.

Since it was after 9 pm when I got on the train, my seat and car was dark. Everyone was settled in for a long nap. The person sitting next to me was well into her nap, and as a result, we did not speak much. The conductors place little tickets above the seats so they knew who would be getting off at the different stations throughout the night. The conductor made one last announcement over the speaker before going into quiet mode for the rest of the evening. To maintain light discipline, I reduced the brightness on my devices so they were not an annoyance to others. These are some lessons you learn quickly.

Throughout the night, the train made about 3-4 stops. I briefly woke up during these stops, but quickly went back into nap mode. It was interesting that 3 of the stops during this first leg were extended for the benefit of smokers.

Here are some pictures of my car and seat. Even though the Mifi connect was spotty, I was able to get some things done.

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Midway through the trip, I got a new neighbor who was very pleasant to talk with. She was on her way to Virginia, and road with me to Chicago.

I also learned that you need to have some cash on hand when you travel by train because their credit machine was not working. So… no breakfast for me. Fortunately, for lunch, the machine was operational. However, when I was ready to pay for my lunch, I discovered I had lost my traveling credit card. Lots of panic set in. I called Bernadette who called the restaurant where we last used the card, and sure enough, it was there. I owe Bernadette big because she drove back to Fort Morgan and retrieved the card. It is now being Fedexed to one of my upcoming destinations.

The train also had a lounge car and a dining card. I had lunch in the dining car. My dinner mates were some very unruly children.

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From the peacefulness of the train, the hustle and bustle of Chicago Union Station took a second to get used to. It seems that I arrived while work was getting out; there were people everywhere. Things are beginning to calm down. It is nice to watch all the different people walk by as I sit here and write.

While the trip has been longer and has its challenges, once you accept them as part of the adventure, this is a nice way to travel. I will certainly be doing it again based on this experience so far. Let’s see how the rest of the trip goes.

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