Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Summer 2018 Train Trip

My Partner, Wil, is great at finding deals. We did not want to be away from our dogs for very long. Alaska trips became out of our budget, with the cost of flying.  Wil found a flight to Chicago where all Amtrak trains leave from. "Mom" watched our dogs for few days.

I packed a unopened bag of psyllium hulls, and a unopened bottle of generlac, a regime I was on for adding fiber for my MS and bowels. TSA however did not like that. I had to open each of the factory sealed containers.  So guess next time, only pack half of each, as that's all I needed for the trip, and was packing as light as possible. .  All other twenty medicines and syringes  were of no concern.

We had a car service drive us to Sacramento, as we live in a remote town, no uber or taxis to airport. This was the beginning of another Amazing Race, my mom kept up on airplane ride, posting where we were.  We made clues of what to do when we checked into our hotel.

The Congress Plaza Hotel is about a hour on the train directly from the airport. The train is elevated, going by old brick buildings, apartments, and many different areas that make up the outskirts of Chicago.  not sure how people adjust to The trains feet from their windows.

The Hotel was built in 1892 for the world's fair, and visited by dignitaries, presidents from around the world. It is known to be haunted. The rooms were all redone. Our view was on eleventh floor with architecture all around us. Willis Tower could be seen a few blocks away. Clean rooms, bathrooms in each room. The interior rooms  do not have a view.  the-most-haunted-hotel-in-chicago
 Dinner was at the Hotel with bed following, as fatigue had overcome both of us from traveling.

My Sister, lives in the suburbs, Took the train inand decided to hang out with us for the day, and help finding clues. Wil and I leaving the next day on the southern route Amtrak
I did not let her know, her son Marc, may join up with us for dinner.  Our first clue was to find her on a incoming train.  We sat in a coffee shop below ground level, and looked at the massive amount of people that kept coming off the train.  We did not know they could be in a cattle call  and forced to go two separate ways. Only half the people we were seeing.  A cell phone call located her just up the escalator above us.  It was her first train ride into the city.

Our next place, was a breakfast place. But once found, it has been closed for a year, even though their website was still current.  The guard for the building sent us down the street for a few to try. All were void of customers. It's breakfast time, so not a good sign.  We walked another block, and found a old fashioned restaurant, from the gangsters era. The food was overflowing the plates. So much we were not hungry for lunch. And so many old photos, the wallpaper, booths, freshly upholstered,  the old red felt wall paper and reminisce of the turn of the century.

Diann, Wil and I walked around looking at different buildings, and architecture. Went up to the top of a Tower for beverages, as one of our clues to go.  the cost of anything else on the menu was out of range.  Great view.
Time seemed to pass by quickly. Not hungry for lunch, we stopped back by the Congress Plaza to rest. Telling stories, as Wil and I lay ed down, practically sleeping. Dinner was approaching, and we had bought a all day bus pass. That helped from doing to much walking, by hopping on and off buses. But first we had to find the famous Gold Room

Up and down elevators, down hallways that led to locked doors. Finally on a second floor, poorly lit, we got off the Grand Elevator. But which way? Not locked doors, we were going g in circles, until I pulled in one, and it opened to a magnificent gold room.


There was a grand piano outside my sister found and played with ease. But then another circle to find the elevator, as hallways were dimly lit.

Lots of tourist and masses amount of people made for MS overload

The Dinner place was listed on skaggets by the Grand park, which we rested at.  Confusion was with the names, plaza at the park, plaza in the park. One was inside, with no people, not a good sign.  Outside was bustling, with lots of people, umbrellas and the smell of fresh food. Wrong restaurant I had emailed my nephew, Marc, but he found us. His mom had not seen him in five years, so was glad he came. Ice cream was after wards.



We took my sister to the train station, to find she had a hour till next train. As it was getting late, we sat with her for hour. This is when the night creatures come out. Panhandlers even asking you to go to ATM to get them some money. Same spiel to other people awaiting train.
The night creatures, instead of all the tourist made Chicago change. Not a place for a lady to be.

We took the train back to our hotel, fell right to sleep. The walking had made my calves hard as rock, but knew we could rest on train for next four days. portillos  Sandwich shop was found Friday morning. Best beef sandwich I've tasted anywhere.


Amtrak Train Ride through the southern states,. You need red carpet service if handicapped.   Stairs leading from the lower deck to the view car and dining car are not made for handicapped. But I was able to transverse  up and down the stairs with cane.

Poverty is extreme in southern states, as seen thru Windows of our train.

The Fire going on near mount Shasta  stopped the train in Sacramento. Most everyone bailed in Los Angeles, where the connection train was at.

Breakfast with a old timer, dressed in a suit, "Merv" who was traveling on same train was nice. He was getting frustrated with Amtrak, as they were not fulfilling their contact to get him to where he was going, or offering any solutions.  Many people were upset, as the station agent had no answers, and Amtrak was not providing any options for for this connector route closed, they knew of it A few days before. And to make matters more interesting, is red carpet lounge, led you to a elevator, to a locked room with no ventalation.  The lounge did not open on train schedules. Real maddening, as was getting overheated, with no chairs.  There was no phone, as station agent had no idea, that she was the one who was supposed to have answers on the train delay.
  Hope Merv got the next train.

There was the crew, us, and a group of few people left on the train.  Forgot about us, so we almost missed Sacramento.  The other four people decided to stay on the train, as they announced that the tracks were opened, after everyone has bailed.

 A sleeper car is the way to go, as all meals included.
 The four day Train ride made the whole adventure come together.

Thanks for reading
JoeY

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