Cross-Country: Day 2

Today is the second of my four-day railway trip across the United States. I spent several hours on layover in Chicago, leaving to see Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. This portion of the trip was taken on the Southwest Chief train.

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Well, sleeping on the train isn’t really a thing. I closed my curtains and put my pillow up against the window, and since I was tired, fell into a nice little nap for an hour or so. Then we switched carrier railroads. Norfolk Southern tracks in Ohio were loud, there are infinity grade crossings, and the sound of passing another train at what is basically 120mph while their horn is going off could knock me out of a literal bed. I gave sleeping another shot and eventually got a few hours of rest before Amtrak made their wake up announcement. It was really nice looking out the window and seeing Ohio roll by in the dim sunrise. The sun eventually came up and I continued to enjoy the landscape roll by. Ohio, like everywhere else, was blanketed in snow. I was surprised how flat and straight everything was. There were just no curves. I can’t see how an airplane could crash in Ohio, it seems like the entire north part of the state is a runway.

Eventually Ohio became Indiana and the small towns became bigger ones. We were getting closer to Chicago, albeit an hour and a half late, which isn’t bad considering the snow we had to deal with over in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It was slow pulling into Chicago, but it was my first time there and it was a gem.

I put my bags into a locker and headed into the grand lobby. It was a spectacular sight, still decorated for the holidays. I made my way outside and it was pouring nice, wet snow! I was so estatic for the snow, I walked 5 blocks the wrong direction! I turned around and headed for the Chicago Institute of Art, a museum I was really looking forward to seeing. I passed the Sears Tower (which just ascended into the clouds) and the strange above-road Metra stations.

Once I was inside of the museum, I got the chance to check out their fantastic Impressionist and Contemporary galleries. I wandered around and found plenty of Van Gogh artwork, a prize from Andy Warhol, some old American furniture, a miniature exhibit, and some Asian pottery. I then headed back to the train station.

Boarding the Southwest Chief was about the same as the Capitol Limited. I had to get another assigned seat, but grabbed the window one really quick. The crew on this train are much more “interesting” than the crew on the last train but they’re actually fine and the ride has been great this far. It got dark really quick and I can barely see the snow-covered fields.

Today I also learned how to wash my hair on the train and what eating in the dining car is like. I crossed the Mississippi, stood in Iowa for a few minutes, and can finally say I’ve seen the midwest.