Tuesday, November 2, 2010

En Route to the Windy City; or, How Amtrak Thwarts Our Pizza Dreams

We slept through the entire state of Nebraska.

The Plains were a new sight for me, passing through towns like Osceola and Ottumwa, and watching seemingly endless rolling farms, every homestead flanked by at least one silo and an assortment of heavy duty agricultural equipment.

The train was running a couple of hours late at this point, and various passengers had started to get anxious about connecting trains in Chicago. My father and I, however, are easy to sedate with large quantities of something called "Railroad French Toast" so we were confident and largely immobile for the afternoon. We had befriended a boy called Steven* and his grandmother, who home schools him and is taking him on the Best Field Trip Ever to look at points of interest in American history on the east coast. My fame, success, and the huge monetary recompense I get for my work inspired them to become bloggers as well, and I helped them start their own blog.**

We were due to arrive in Chicago at 3pm and our connection to D.C. would not depart until 6:30, giving us the perfect, wedge-shaped slice of time in which to seek out some authentic deep dish Chicago-style pizza. However, as we neared the Chicago area, sweeping past steepled churches, autumnal woods, quaint German bakeries, and perfect green lawns sloping towards stately red brick buildings, we consulted our watches, time tables and various other instruments and were confronted with the bone chilling realization that we were, in fact, three hours late. This translated into my subsequent realization that the Markusons would not be partaking in any cheesy, saucy goodness that afternoon.

We were herded quickly though Union Station,*** and onto our next train which, to our pleasant surprise, was newer and had been slightly tweaked to have a more classy, vintage aesthetic- wood panelling, swept edges, faux granite counters, and a vaguely art-deco dining car. Our porter, a gentleman by the name of Emmanuel, introduced himself, gave us an outline of our journey, and offered us ice. Very kind of you, sir.

Our dinner companions were Bill, an international businessman who said I would do great in D.C. on account of my take-no-prisoners wit and confident**** attitude, and Sharon, who, poor woman, fell prey to a barrage of all of our thoughts and feelings about the entire Amtrak system when we found out she was a corporate employee.

Dad and I snuck our chocolate peanut butter pie back to our compartment to watch the 1970s adventure comedy, Silver Streak, which stars an awesome Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in bell bottoms. Another thrilling and very funny train movie, also high ranking on my 100 Greatest. We would pass Ohio and Pennsylvania under the cover of darkness, to awake following the Potomac River toward our final destination.


*See yesterday's snowball fight.
**If it were not for me, Google would be nothing!
***99% of train stations in the U.S. are called as such, FYI.
****Read: cocky

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