New England Vacation – Day 14
You can catch up here:
By midnight, we had been sitting in the Rochester train station for about 7 hours. And it was not a pleasant place to be either. It was very dirty, there was no air conditioning, and there were large fans running everywhere. The bathroom was the dirtiest public bathroom I’ve ever seen, and most of the stalls were “out of order”. There were no paper towels or hand driers, and the faucet didn’t work very well.
For some time our train’s departure was listed as “unknown” and the last we’d heard was that it had broken down in Syracuse and was being worked on. Our worst fear was that we might end up staying all night there. We were beyond tired…
Finally, sometime after midnight, we were told our train would be at the station about 1:30am. Shortly after it’s arrival, we heard someone yelling out our name. We went to the desk and learned that because we were “sleeper car passengers” we could get on the train first. We were the only sleeper passengers at this stop so we were the only ones allowed to get on the train early. Soon we were gathering up our gear and walking along the train to the sleeper car. We were met by the car attendant who helped us with our luggage. Once on the train, the attendant soon had our room made up. He asked when we would like to be called for breakfast and then we closed the door of our little room and were soon tucked away in bed while the other passengers boarded.
I thought I would have no trouble sleeping but I passed the night tossing and turning. But at least I had a bed to toss and turn in, so I couldn’t complain.
The next morning, I showered, dressed, and tried to look like an alert human.
Harland, on the other hand, slept quiet well. Here’s Mr. Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed:
He can sleep anywhere, lucky dog.
We ate breakfast in the dining car mid-morning, and then just a few hours later, we headed to the dining car again for lunch. We love walking through the train – it’s fun to go from car to car and kind of a challenge to stay on your feet with the rocking train and not fall into someone’s lap:
After lunch, we tried to nap but found ourselves too interested in what was going past our windows:
It’s sad to see all the abandoned factories in northern Ohio and Indiana along the Great Lakes. We’re assuming they were steel mills?
These places are so vast and empty, and there are so many of them, one after another.
Seems like they would be perfect places to film an Armageddon-type movie.
Despite the scenery, our spirits were up. We loved riding the train and we were headed for home.
In Chicago, we were due to switch trains and have a 6 hour layover there before catching our next train to Kansas City. Due to our delayed departure from Rochester though, we knew we wouldn’t have much of a layover, maybe a couple hours. Much to our surprise though, when we hauled our luggage into the waiting room and checked in at the desk, the lady exclaimed,
“Your train is boarding now!”
We ran back through the station and out onto the platform hauling our luggage and dodging other passengers and red-cap carts. We made our train and boarded.
We settled in and watched the Chicago skyline slip away.
We watched cornfields and small towns pass by and by early evening we were crossing the Mississippi:
Across Missouri we chugged past ripening soybean and corn fields, winding between the hills.
Darkness came down and we grew quiet, lying in our bunks watching the small town lights flick past the window and thinking about our trip – the waterfalls and covered bridges, plates of fresh seafood and the ocean crashing on the rocky shore. We would miss seeing something new every day, keeping our own time, and the freedom of the road. At home my job waited for me, and harvest waited for Harland. We sighed.
But our own bed, our own little house, our quiet life in the country waited for us. Best of all, Kitty was at home waiting for us and we had missed and worried about her. Was she alright? Harland’s nephew had been checking on her regularly in our absence, but we still worried. Her last illness, the sinus infection, had been sobering for us. She had been well one day and very very ill just the next day. What if she got sick and no one was there to take care of her?
About 11pm the train drew into Union Station in Kansas City. We had gathered our gear together and were ready to get off the train. In the station, we collected our checked bags. As we walked toward Union Station’s large lobby with the vaulted ceiling towering above, the sound of music wafted our way. We entered the lobby, each of us dragging a large suitcase behind us, photo backpack on our backs, and carry-on bag in each hand, and we saw ladies and gentleman in evening wear: black tie and evening gowns – sipping champagne. Bogged down with our luggage we picked our way through the crowd and across the lobby – like hitchhikers crashing a White House gala. Many of the ladies and gents cast odd glances at us. One gentleman asked if we had gotten off the train. We explained we had come from Rochester. He was surprised and exclaimed, “Didn’t know anyone rode the train anymore here.” We smiled as we trudged along and Harland explained how much fun we’d had on the train and it was the only way to travel if one had the time.
We left the ladies and gents behind us and walked out into the parking garage where we found our truck waiting. We had a couple hours driving ahead of us and we were weary and exhausted. But home was waiting, and inside our home was a little calico Kitty. Would she be ok?
We set off down the streets of Kansas City and out onto the highway towards home. Soon it was past Midnight. The day ended and another began… It would be another couple hours before we reached home.