My brother and I are safely back at home now, and today I'm just relaxing at home. I didn't go online very much for this particular train trip, so I've had a bit of time to gather some more thoughts about train trips. But first, the overview!
Bright and early on the morning of the 5th, my brother and I showered and were taken to the Lapeer Amtrak station by our grandmother. We hugged our goodbyes and #365 The Blue Water whisked us away to Chicago. That train is cool because it's just so different than what we've typically got out here in the west. It was three Horizon Fleet coaches, and an AmFleet I cafe/lounge, with a very small "Business Class" section. Each seat has 120v power available, which is a nice consideration for a regional style train, and it helps make up for the fact that the seats don't have much legroom. I used that part of the trip mainly for listening to the Retro Mac Cast.
After that, my brother and I wandered around Chicago Union Station for a bit, although the mood was dampened when I let him know that I really didn't want him wandering around without me. We found our gate and sat around. Luck would have it that I was able to find an open wifi signal, strong enough to connect to the NAU VPN and check my e-mail in less than ten minutes.
Right on time, we boarded #3 The Southwest Chief. There were a lot of people aboard, which is nice to see. Because I'd run my battery nearly dry at the station, I decided it might be a good idea just to leave the laptop alone, so I allowed myself just to sit there and look out the window, and listen to Retro Mac Cast on my iPod.
What I discovered is pretty amazing. Train trips are completely epic when you just sit around and watch the country pass before your eyes. We saw other trains, we saw houses of all types, and in general, we saw a really good amount of the country. On The Southwest Chief, we passed through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and we'll be ending out back home in Arizona. (Although this train continues to Las Angeles, CA.)
It's really interesting sitting there with the volume on the iPod turned most of the way down, listening to other people's conversation as the country slips away. I'll admit I even slept better this time, although not as well as I would have liked to.