Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winter Amtrak Trip, Day Two: Across Iowa and Illinois

 After the first day of our winter Amtrak train trip, crossing Utah, and Colorado, we fell asleep. We didn't have a sleeping compartments, but instead slept in the reclining chairs. The kids slept fine, but my husband and I didn't get great sleep. I didn't get great sleep in the sleeping compartment across Nevada either, I just don't think I sleep that well on trains.

I woke up very early in the morning when we stopped in Omaha, Nebraska to resupply. I quietly asked Desert Boy if he'd like to get out of the train and touch the ground, as our rule to add a new state to your list is that you have to touch the ground. He kept sleeping, and I figured it would be better to wait until he had seen more of it.

 However, when we had a stop in Iowa, we did jump out and touch the ground. Quite a bit of snow had fallen in Iowa and they had only shoveled the wrong platform, not the one the train actually used, so we all got a bit wet.

 As we crossed snowy Iowa, Desert Boy made new friends and played various games. It was fun to see the kids interact, and all the parents seemed glad to have a little free time to themselves!

 Iowa was more interesting than I thought, with rolling hills and farms interspersed with woodlands next to creeks. We were quite happy to be moving along steadily on the train, especially when we saw so many snow plows out and so many roads still to be plowed.

 We paid special attention as we crossed the Mississippi River on an impressive railroad bridge. Part of the river was frozen over, and bald eagles were everywhere.

 As we continued across Illinois, we moved around and did different activities. Desert Boy traced our route on the Illinois state map. Illinois really promotes Amtrak travel, and we were impressed with the numerous routes through the state.

 I had thought the second day of the train trip would be really tough, with everyone bored and crabby. However, it went well, and faster than I thought it would. We were blessed to have been able to make up time and even arrived at Union Station in Chicago a few minutes early. Pulling into the underground station was a bit dark and dreary and it was so noisy!

If you ever go to Union Station in Chicago, be sure to check out the Main Hall. It is so impressive!

Overall, we had a great time on the train. We won't travel that way all the time, but I'm certainly looking forward to another train adventure. It's a relaxing way to travel and the atmosphere is very different from car or plane travel.

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