It’s already Wednesday. My Spring Break is over half over. Last year I spent the week in the Cayman Islands, visiting my husband’s brother and his brother’s wife, where we finished our scuba certification. This year I went to St. Louis for a few days, returning to Chicago on an Amtrak.
The train makes stops at many small and a few medium-sized towns on its way from St. Louis to Chicago. Along the way there are farms, silos, grain elevators, and fields. You also see backyards. Homes near the tracks are not always in great shape, the yards have items strewn about. It takes you away from the front of towns where the façade is more welcoming. This view from the tracks is perhaps a more accurate picture of the community as a whole. It’s an often hidden piece.
The fields and farms are ubiquitous until you reach Joliet where suburban sprawl begins. The trip is about five and one half hours to Union Station. The temperatures drop as you move north. Flowers were blooming in Missouri, here they are just beginning to bud. Union Station is filled with commuters, travelers and workers. There are two sides to the station – South with even numbered tracks, North with odd numbered tracks making up 30 in and out of this hub. In St. Louis in contrast there were only two.
Chicago can be overwhelming to a novice. It’s big, noisy and busy. At the station it’s easy to lose your way if you’re unfamiliar. I’ve been through this station many times on Metra, our region transit system. I’ve entered on Amtrak as well. While I’m not an everyday traveler, I can find my way around the station and the city. It’s a great place to people watch, shop and visit. After my journey I was happy to be heading North and home again. I still have two days of Spring Break left.