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Trans USA Train: En Route and to Chicago, Illinois

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«Glacier National Park – East Side / Canada En Route to and in New York City»

3 – 7 September 2004

Train Travel to Chicago

We boarded the train to Chicago on Friday morning (3 September) at East Glacier Park, Montana. We spent most of the day relaxing and looking out the window at endless open plains now that we were east of the Rocky Mountains and the continental divide. The train stopped at many small towns in Montana and North Dakota throughout the day. We also followed the Missouri River for a time. Dinner that evening was at about 8pm local time in the dining car and we had steak and chicken. Sleeping that night back on the train with frequent stops and bouncing around the tracks was somewhat fitful.

On Saturday, we woke up at about 7am in Minneapolis / St Paul, Minnesota. This was a long stop so we had breakfast in the dining car while the train was still in the station. After crossing the Mississippi River, the landscape became much more populated, with much less open views. We ate lunch in the dining car as we passed through Wisconsin. The train reached Chicago at about 3:45pm, only about 15 minutes behind schedule.

Chicago Arrival and Museums

After leaving the train we found our way out of the station to the ‘L’ (subway) Blue Line station. From there we changed trains and then reached our hotel stop on the Red Line. Our Amtrak crew ended up being at the same hotel! We had an excellent dinner at a southwestern restaurant and then walked to Navy Pier to see the sights there.

After a good night’s rest we spent Sunday morning at the University of Chicago campus, which we got to via the Green Line and a short walk. After some brunch at a local restaurant, we went to the Oriental Institute on campus, which had some interesting Egyptian and Assyrian art.

The afternoon was spent exploring the Museum of Science and Industry. Even just a few hours didn’t do it justice, but we were able to see model train and internet exhibits, a miniature fairy tale castle, a 727 airplane, navy ship and main street of yesterday before it closed at 5:30pm.

Dinner was some great Asian food, including spicy chicken noodles, shrimp with rice with coconut curry sauce.

Watching the Chicago Cubs and More Museums

On Monday (6 September) we made our way to the Shedd Aquarium to view the great fresh water and sea habitats. The exhibits on Southeast Asia, Amazon and Caribbean were especially good.
We then headed to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs were playing the Montreal Expos in an afternoon baseball game. After having lunch at an Italian restaurant, we made our way to our seats on the lower level third base side. The Cubs won the game and we enjoyed the baseball atmosphere and watching the fans.

After the game we went back into downtown and to the John Hancock Center. We watched the sunset from the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor as we enjoyed a drink. The views of the city were breathtaking! We then walked a short distance to a French Vietnamese restaurant where we ate outside on the upstairs patio.

On Tuesday morning, we checked out of our hotel and then took the ‘L’ Orange Line out of the city to take in the skyline views. We got off and rode back into the downtown area and then walked to the Art Institute. It was free on Tuesdays and we were treated to Van Goghs, Renoirs and Rembrandts. We also saw some Southeast Asian, Egyptian, Cambodian and Indian art. We had lunch in the museum cafe and then took a self-guided walking tour of the architectural buildings, such as the Rookery, in the Loop area. We also walked along Michigan Avenue.

At that point it was time to return to the hotel to collect our left luggage and make our way to the train station. We waited about 90 minutes in the general waiting area for our train, which left on time at 7:20pm for New York City.

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