Amtrekking, Day 2: Indiana, I Presume

Not just day two, but now, train two. I have successfully completed my run on the Southwest Chief and am continuing my journey on the Capitol Limited, which runs from Chicago to Washington, DC. I had a three hour layover in the Windy City, but I figure I’ll have more time on the way back to wax poetic about how much I love that place. That last post said most of it, anyway. Suffice to say, I hung around the canal for a while, gazed up in wonder, for the hundred millionth time, at the Sears Tower (whatcha talkin’ about, Willis?) and then found some chain shop with coffee and free WiFi so I could finally use my damn laptop properly. Actually got some homework done, believe it or not, so it was a productive use of my time. I promise to do something interesting in Chicago on the return trip, but for me, it was enough to be back for a while.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m now somewhere in Indiana, between South Bend and Waterloo. Shortly after boarding I had dinner on the train. Not because I was all that hungry, but because dinner is one of the best parts of the train experience. There’s limited space, you see, so unless you’re a party of four or more, you sit and eat with strangers. It’s always tremendous fun. This time around, my companions were a middle-aged married couple (Frank and Liz) from Chicagoland who are such old hands at train travel that they were able to get their current sleeper car with Amtrak points alone, and a woman (Martha) of similar age from Wisconsin who was on her first trip by train. All three are headed for Richmond; Frank and Liz are attending a wedding, while Martha is genuinely going south for the winter. Martha is also an amazing artist; she showed us some of her work on her phone, and it was impressive as hell. I told her the one I liked best, and she said she’d sell it to me for a hundred bucks. Too bad I’m a starving college student and everything.

My dinner was a really awesome vegetarian pasta dish that had something to do with spinach and feta cheese. It was the kind of meal kids scream about when their parents put it in front of them, but proceed to devour voraciously upon finally tasting it. Martha also gave me half her chicken, saying she was overserved, which was fine. Anyone who knew me in high school knows that you usually don’t have to ask me twice if you’re looking for someone else to finish your food. When the dessert menu arrived, Martha said there wasn’t anything there she could eat with her dietary restrictions. Since all her food came free with her sleeper car purchase, though, she ordered cheesecake and gave it to me. I figured it would have been rude to refuse…

So anyway, here I am after all that, stuffed to the gills, hoping maybe the food coma will help me fall asleep faster. This time my seat is at the very front of the coach car, meaning there’s no seat in front of me. This could be good or bad; a full report in the morning. Tomorrow I’ll be talking to more passengers about their travels, starting with my new “seatmate,” who couldn’t be more different from the last one. Willie was an old black man; next to me now is a young white woman, an 18-year-old who’s never been on a train before and reads Tolkein without the light on. I suspect we might get along.


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