AmTrak from Grand Junction to Chicago
Ah, rise and shine at the crack of dawn on Thursday the 19′th. The reason for this early morning call was our 10:40 train ride from the Grand Junction station. The luggage check-in was half an hour earlier so there we where at around 10 o’clock … only to find out that our train was four (4!!) hours delayed. Louis had to do some repacking, since his suitcase was 2 pounds over the limit.
After some magic in the packing department, Selma&Louis headed to the Main street in this quiet mountain town. Breakfast/lunch was consumed at a diner with memorabilia from the 50-60’s hanging all over the wall. We walked around some more, got a deck of cards for the train ride and checked out one of the local pawn shops. You could get almost anything you wanted. A gun, a saddle for a horse, a stuffed beaver in a fishing outfit and what seemed to be a reallife Texas Ranger badge. The two wheelchairs were perhaps the most questionable items in the store. How the heck did the owners get out of the store without their wheels? Well, back at the station Louis tried to teach Selma the basics of Texas Holdem’ poker. Her interest has still some ways to go.
Our AmTrak sleeping car, with our attendant waiting.
Finally, the train rolled into the station. The sleeping car intendant had us sitting in another roomette while he got ours ready, and after a few minutes we where in our room. The roomettes are small, and kind of cramped, but it is quiet and you get some privacy and time alone. Soon after boarding we went for dinner and was seated above two nice gentlemen from San Francisco. We got to talk about everything from where they where from to politics. When dinner was done we tucked in for the night and Louis got to demonstrate his sleeping heart again, with clocking in 14 hours of sleep during the 30 hours trip. Selma had a rougher night, and hardly slept at all. But of course, the miles and miles of corn fields are a blast to look out for an entire night…
Watching the sun rise over the fields
During dinner on board the next day, Selma kicked back and relaxed in the room while Louis had dinner with two guys, a webpage programmer heading for New York, and a music producer heading for Chicago. Closing in on Chicago we got somewhat of a surprise. We passed Gjøvik! No kidding, it was written Gjøvik, with the funny o = ø! Selma was ready to get off and grab a cab home, but luckily didn’t. Then we hit Chicago. 7 hours late.
“Go to the customer service” was what we where told upon arriving in Chicago. Since the train was so late, we guess they felt some responsibilities towards us. We headed in to the area where we where suppose to get some help, but since we did not have a ticket for the bus to Madison they, said they could not help us. Selma was almost in a coma, after the long trip without sleep - but Louis stepped up and got over to another room to talk to someone a little bit higher in the ranks. Here Louis was escorted to the ticket master and paid for the bus tickets to Madison for the next day. He was then returned to the original area and now we where given cab money ($16), some snack money ($10), and a night at the Hilton ($240+)!!
Great service from the AmTrak crew at Union Station, Chicago
We headed for the Hilton and found ourself surrounded by people in tuxedoes and nice dresses. It turned out to be a nice party of sorts going on, a ballet or an opera. Selma got the room keys, whilst Louis guarded the luggage. The rooms where really nice, with two bathrooms (with fake golden taps) and wonderful beds. Louis was tired from the trip, but Selma was exhausted. They called it an early night and set the alarms for yet an early rise - because the bus to Madison was leaving at 10:30 the next morning. Night all’
Chicago Hilton. At last.
(See more photos from this part of the trip at Flickr!)