Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Almost Off-Track August 27, 2009

Yesterday was my first time riding a train in the US other than in a major city.  I rode Amtrak from Chicago to Osceola, IA.  Compared to all of the trains that I have ridden in Europe, it was a lot bumpier and rockier.  I could only work on a dishcloth as the lace stole or sock were way too difficult to do without stabbing the poor lady that was sitting next to me with a 2.5mm needle.  I think that she just thanked me for that small courtesy on my part without even knowing she had:)

However, I had one small hiccup in the whole trip.  I had booked the tickets with the understanding that you could check bags.  When I went to check my 3 VERY LARGE BAGS the lady at the baggage check counter just took my ticket turned to me and said, “Un-un, you ain’t checking those bags to Osceola!”  When I then asked her why, she told me that there was no baggage service to that station, in fact, to no station in Iowa at all!  So I asked her what I should do and she sorta shrugged her shoulders and said, “Maybe they’ll let you on the train with all them.” with a non-caring shrug.  So I then got to lug all of my bags around Union Station while I tried to find some lunch.  

It was about an hour before my train was set to leave and I was in the general vicinity of the track that it was on with all of my luggage and one of the guys that worked for Amtrak saw what, I imagine, was my very disturbed face.  He asked if I was ok or needed any help and I told him my entire tale of woe including that I was from England and that I was going to be here for 2 months and traveling to Alaska with my parents, you know, whole shootin’ match.  He told me to stay put, he was going to see if he could find a porter to kind of “sneak through” my bags as they seldom check those guys.  Within a few minutes time, I was on a little electric cart with three older ladies who had mobility issues and and then in a window seat on the California Zephyr.  Everybody that I dealt with working for Amtrak was wonderful, helpful folks with the exception of the lady working the baggage check-in.  

Anyway, the ride was really fun.  The people on the train were all way more chilled than folks on airplanes usually are.  I think that that was helped by the fact that the seats were so large and spacious that you didn’t feel crowded at all.  It was cool to see a good chunk of the US from a perspective that few people ever see, especially since I was on the 2nd level of the train so you could see out pretty far.  If I were in a similar situation again, I would totally take Amtrak (though not with so much luggage of course).

I tried to take pictures, but few of them turned-out at all.  Between the motion of the train and the fact that it was raining nearly the entire trip, it wasn’t super conducive to photography.  So sorry, no photos yet.  Right now I’m just happy to have some internet time as that has been scarcer than my cell phone signal!

I had a fantastic time in Chicago with all of my friends and I really wish that I could have stayed longer (as I’m sure that some of them do as they ended-up staying up quite late drinking Scotch with me [dead soldier #1: 1 liter of Glenmorangie bought in Chicago, finished quite early in the morning on the 26th]).  It was great to get see them all as well as Chicago in the summertime.  I think that this is maybe the first time that I have been in Chicago in the summertime since I was in middle school.  It’s a lot greener than I’m used to seeing it….. in January.

 

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