Meanwhile, I've a few minutes of time concurring with the proper state of mind for a bit of an update. So here goes.
The Train Ride Out Here
The train ride out here, from Philly to KC, was broken up into three 6-8 hour chunks, with 5-6 hour breaks in between. We boarded in Philly at around 11:45 Saturday morning, headed for Pittsburgh (the Pennsylvanian line), which we reached at around 7pm. The Amtrak station in Pbgh offers the lovely service of checking carry on bags, which we made use of in order to wander about the city and forage dinner (we had packed an assortment of non-refrigerated snacks that we nibbled throughout the entire journey). We ended up at August Henry's. Though we were latish for dinner hours, the food was lovely. Then we wandered back to the station, waited around awhile longer, and then boarded our train (the Capitol Limited).
This one was a Superliner, which look like this (will have pics of my own, sometime after we get back and I have a chance to go through them. As you can see, it's a double-decker. What you can't see is that the seats are bigger and the coaches roomier than the regular, single-level trains. I suspect that they're a little older, though, because the only electrical outlet was in the lounge car (which was a dome car!-though not the fancy, old-fashioned sort). So we spent most of our time napping (since it was nighttime anyway, that was easy).
Freight trains take priority on US tracks, and they delayed us a few hours getting into Chicago (which means it was about 10 am when we got there). The conductor (is that even the right name, these days? Attendant, maybe...) was very cheery and busy giving us lots of info on Chicago (which I suspect is his home town), including an a capella rendition of the first couple of verses of Old Mother Leary. It was strange and surreal and charming.
The Chicago Station, much bigger than the Pbgh Station, only had impersonal and kinda pricey lockers instead of checking service, so we dumped all our stuff in a locker and off we went. We wandered around downtown, which was pretty desolate - its another of those downtown business districts that shuts down on weekends - and found an Elephant & Castle open, where we had brunch. And the inevitable Starbucks, where I got a frappucino for dessert. We took quite a few pictures of the buildings downtown, many which have delightful art deco/nouveau decorations, and a bunch more of Chicago's Union Station, which is lovely. As with the trains, pictures will be shared sometime after we get back.
We finally boarded the Southwest Chief for the final leg of our journey at around 3:15. It was another superliner, and again with the lack of outlets. That made the ride a bit more boring than we would've liked, since we had packed our train entertainments with the assumption of available electricity, and there's only so much prairie you can watch roll by before it gets a bit..more...mundane. Still, this one came in on schedule, and my mom & aunt were there to greet us.
For the record, I am now officially in love (and possibly even a bit obsessed) with trains & train travel. I salivate over the idea of owning my own train car one day. A double-decker, even. Yes, I dream big.
Kansas City's Union Station is also gorgeous (and has been in the process of renovation/restoration, so it is more beautiful still). We had originally planned to spend a day up there (mom actually lives in Belton, MO) looking at and photographing it, Crown Center and the Plaza area, but it'll have to wait for another time.
As will further details of my travel update; I need to get to bed now, we're getting up early to go Ozarks-ward to look at fall leaves tomorrow. Pictures, as always, to follow.