Journey's always surprise us. In any room of people you are going to find all sorts of "journey gone awry" stories. All the injustices that have been done by airlines, trains, hotels. All the lost luggage, weather messing things up and just plain human error stories. We all do everything we can to prevent life/inconvenience from happening but it just happens. I knew this going into this trip. Amtrack themselves have actually been sending me emails for days warning me that they were sharing the tracks with freight trains. I appreciate being warned that some inconvenience may be coming. Maybe some other parts of my life could please start sending me some warning e-mails about upcoming inconveniences? I think I already told you all a few blogs back I expected the inconvenience and had plenty of time for it. Yes, I was embracing my impending trouble :)
But let me go back to the beginning. We left Springfield train station on Monday at 2:25 in the afternoon. Me, Tatiana, Natalie, 3 suitcases to check on the train all the way to Portland and 6 carry ons. Usually I feel anxious when I am doing something I have never done before but my life seems to lately only be full of doing things I have never done before and I seem to be over the get anxious about it thing. I still ask lots of questions about what is going on of everyone around me. I still gather all the information I can. But I seem to have finally grown up and recognize when it is time to just let things happen. I wonder if I win anything for this realization? :)
The seats on the train are big and spacious. Lots of room between the aisles. Lots of room between my seat and the seat in front of me. But that being said do not forget that I am 4'10" and weigh 118. I can curl up anywhere. The windows on the train are so big. I love that. I could look out them forever. The bathrooms are big too. I love that you can get up and walk around the train. I love walking between trains....it makes you feel rather bold and cool. Natalie was a little bothered that there was no seat belts but she soon got over it. If I stand on the seats I have no trouble putting my carry-ons in the overhead bins and taking them back down again....much to the amusement of the people sitting around me. And I did take the opportunity to amuse them.
The girls wanted to immediately break into their fun/new/yummy stuff we had packed and I held on as long as I could. The train stayed on schedule for two stops and then things started sliding. By the time we pulled into Chicago we were 8 hours late. Everyone was sad and grumpy. Except me. I expected it :) The hard part for the Baird Family was the long walk from the train to Amtrack Passenger Service. Those 6 carry ons I mentioned? Yeah, necessary but hard. Each of us has to carry two and they are heavy and awkward and the girls were done. I explained to them that if they wanted to leave their things their on the platform I was okay with that but I could not carry six carry-ons by myself. I was already making a spectacle of myself with two huge duffel bags criss-crossed across my body. They decided they could do not do with out their books and color books and dvd's so they trudged along behind me. Funny what you can do when you realize you have to.
We found the most enormous line for the Amtrack Passenger Service office along with everyone else in Chicago and we stood there. Finally I realized I could send the girls over by a fountain to sit with the bags while I stood in line. That made things much better. They got to sit and the bags were now appreciated because you could sit on them :)
I made friends with people in line and heard their life stories. I heard about one ladies first grandbaby and how she traveled by train because her husband would not fly and how he was doing everything she wanted with an as you wish attitude since the train delay was now making her miss a day with her new grandbaby. He did look very meek and willing...bless his heart. I met a regal, calm, very beautiful older woman who has 8 kids and twenty grandkids. I met a thirty something man....who i could not help but meet because he was the one trying to get all of us to go to war against Amtrack. He kept exclaiming in a loud voice about all the injustices Amtrack had heaped upon him. I will spare you all of them but I can tell you in private if you need to know. I know this type and I just smiled at him and let him talk and talk and talk :)
The line was not moving. But all of a sudden an Amtrack employee appeared asking for passengers who were going to be on train 7 and 27 to go with her. I looked at my ticket and that was me. And two other people out of that huge line. I felt like I had won the Hunger Games. Everyone looked in a most jealous way at me. We were taken to the front of the line where I saw and heard and marveled at the woman who had been holding up the whole line for a very long time. She was not moving until she got a sleeper car on the next train tomorrow. Everyone with any power at all explained to her there was no sleeper car but she was not buying it. She is probably still standing there waiting for them to build her one.
They quickly and efficiently gave me my hotel, my voucher for my food and taxis and sent me to another line. I ran into more friends and my old friends and everyone was jealous when they saw I was going to the Hyatt Regency. They wanted to know how I got that. I told them it was because I was under 5 feet tall :)
So I got $54.00 to cover food and a taxi. I got one night in the most beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel. My girls had their first taxi ride which thrilled them beyond belief. The lady checking us in at the Hyatt thought we were all pretty cute and decided we needed a room with a view on the twentieth floor and that my friends is where I am right now. Curled up in this modern chair looking out my window at the skyline of Chicago and the lake. I can see Navy Pier in the distance. I am letting my girls sleep since they have to carry those carry ons again today :) And since they will have to be on the train until Friday....or maybe Saturday...or maybe Sunday :)
We will check out a noon and head back to the train station. Our train leaves at 2:15. I need to figure out how to get us some more food. We almost ate everything I had. The train has a snack car and a dining car so that will be my plan B.
I am excited about our train today. It is a double decker train. This part of the journey should have the best views. So do not worry about me. I am having exactly the trip I expected and that is so nice :)