Southwestward Ho!

We endured. That’s all I can say.The “C” in “Mark C. O’Connor” stands for “Christopher” and not “contortionist.” Because you’d have to be a circus freak to get a decent night’s sleep on a coach class train. We left PGH at midnight EST and got to CHI a little before ten in the morning CST. While the seats are reasonably comfortable and there’s far more leg room than an airplane it was really hard to block out the noise, especially as we were seated right next to the staircase which remained lit throughout the night and was filled with noisy passengers coming and going at each stop. Alas, it was a bit of bad luck, but I have to say that walking the cars it was pretty clear that even in the darker, quieter spots it was hard to grab some z’s. I got a little sadistic pleasure out of seeing the variety of goofy positions people were trying out! The comatose ones were either under the age of 25 or addled with drugs. I think we managed a couple of hours total between the two of us. Next time we go overnight anywhere we’ll get a sleeper. But that’s all in the past. Part of the adventure of travelling is enduring the tough parts and learning something for next time. You can’t anticipate everything.

Chicago was cool and blustery but it felt great to get out and walk around. We had several hours to kill so we went back to the South Loop where we stayed previously and enjoyed Grant Park and the Lakefront. And we had to hit Kitty O’Shea’s again as it was the setting for one of our favorite evenings when we watched the Giants crush the Royals in Game Four. I had a pint of Smithwick’s with my Cobb salad. We are now back at the station in the Metro Lounge which is Amtrak’s hangout for first class (i.e., sleeper car) passengers. Got some wifi going on so I can type this for you!

The Southwest Chief which will take us back to LA is due to depart at 3:00 p.m. local time which is in about an hour. Both of us are sleep-deprived and a little out of whack after all this time on the road. We had a lot of fun on the northwestward leg of the trip and I’m looking forward to the return portion. There was no internet connection on the 49-hour run and a few stretches were I couldn’t even get cell coverage. So I’ll say “sayonara” for now and post an update when we are back in California.

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