After a mad scramble Wednesday morning to get packed and take Little Man to his reading class that he's taking this summer (more on that later), my FIL drove me down to Union Station to catch the train. FIL used to be a DC firefighter decades ago, and he filled the drive with all kinds of stories about fires, and places and activities and buildings that used to be and still are in the city. It was kind of nice to have that instead of awkward silence. Nemo and I managed to make it with one suitcase, one laptop backpack packed to the gills with my clothes for the train, one diaper bag packed to the gills with his stuff for the train, and the stroller.
I got to Union Station and got into line to get my tickets, and a very nice Amtrak employee came and got me and walked me through both the process to pick up my tickets and then through the baggage check line, since I knew the sleeper in the train was rather small and there wouldn't be room for my suitcase. He took care of everything, and then since a sleeper is considered first class, Nemo and I got to go hang out in the lounge. Nemo attracts all kinds of attention and he flirted for at least a half an hour with two sweet older women on their way to Florida for a family reunion.
The train ride was fabulous, even if I didn't sleep very well. First I got the pleasure of riding within a quarter mile of my house, making me miss the family before I'd even left MD. Then the view was all kinds of rolling countryside, interspersed periodically with the ass-end of numerous industrial complexes, both small and large. Nemo nursed well and went to sleep reasonably well, around 9:30 or so, but he kicks and rolls so much I was afraid he was going to fall off the bunk and roll underneath it into the black vortex that I was sure contained numerous spiders and filth that he would be delighted to try to eat, so I stayed up and read Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed.
When you travel by train, your meals are eaten in common, meaning several parties that may or may not know each other are seated together. I was relieved to be seated with a woman and her son from Wisconsin, and I learned that the city of LA is outsourcing some of its 9-1-1 service to other areas due to a lack of spanish-speaking call takers. I'm glad that it appears to have better results than the outsourcing of tech support to other countries.
I arrived here in Chicago at 9 am. I went to baggage claim to get my suitcase, grabbed it, and was stopped by security because I didn't have a claim ticket. The woman was actually quite surly when I kept telling her I didn't have a ticket. She asked for my ticket jacket because she insisted that it was attached, and didn't believe me when I told her that I didn't have one, I only had the stub from that trip and my return ticket. I explained to her that an Amtrak employee had escorted me through the lines and taken care of it for me, and he hadn't given me a claim ticket or a ticket jacket. After about 20 minutes of this awful back and forth, with me getting increasingly worried that I wasn't going to get my bag, I convinced her that I didn't have it at that time, and she made me fill out a form to get my own bag. Not satisfied with that, she told me as I walked away "I bet you'll find that stub later."
I went to the hotel about 11 am, after killing time in the train station for 2 hours, but I ended up having to wait until 1:30 to check in to the hotel. After check-in, I got a shower with Nemo in his stroller in the bathroom.
Up next: Day One of BlogHer