The South West Chief

The Southwest Chief from KC to Chicago (aka the Glory Train). No baggage service as the KC Union Station baggage elevator was broken. Bad news for me as I had to haul my two duffles I had planned to check. Lots of walking. From the waiting room out to the elevated platform, down to the train platform and then down to the train. I was worried wasn’t going to find room for the duffles on the train, but it worked out. I had a seat on the top level and soon discovered I was on the Glory Train. A large church group from Chicago had taken the Southwest Chief out to Los Angeles and was now heading back. It was a lively, friendly group and made the trip interesting. I explored the train after a bit, finding the lounge car that had big windows to view the farmland that rolled past us. The offerings from the snack bar were not the best, but I avoided starving. The seat I was assigned had huge leg space, real comfortable. We had quite a few stops between KC and Chicago. One or two were “smoking stops”, which provided time to actually exit the train for a few minutes. We rolled into Chicago early! I needed to find an ATM to get cab fare and then I needed to find a cab. Although signs were posted, it was very intuitive and I quickly was lost and frustrated hauling around my two heavy duffles. I found the ATM and then found the exit only finding myself on the wrong side of the street. There was no way to cross, so I had to travel back down into Chicago’s Union Station and make my way back up on the other side. Did I mention the heavy bags?

On Tuesday I got to the station at 11am with my departure time being at 2pm. This time things were going my way. Check in at the Amtrak counter was easy and the clerk explained where I needed to go to wait and where I could temporarily check my carry-on bags. He also checked one of my heavy duffles. Sleeping car passengers get to hang out in the Metro lounge, which is almost as fancy as one of those airport executive lounges. There I was able to temporarily check my carry on duffle. I then proceeded to explore Union Station. The place is nice, clean, and modern. A food court upstairs rivaled any major airport’s amenities and I snagged a Jamba Juice for lunch while leeching of the free WiFi from a nearby cafe. Back in the Metro lounge I waited until 1:25pm when they called our train for boarding.

The crowd in the Metro lounge included a wide variety of folks but slightly weighted towards the elderly. The lounge was big, but it was filled up pretty nicely.

An attendant lead us out the back door and to the train platforms. I was directed to my car and found my “room”. It Is small, but clean and in good condition. The attendant for the our car came by and covered some of the basics: where the shower is, where to get juice or coffee, and that someone would be coming around to arrange for times for the meals in the dinning car.

As we headed out of Chicago, the urban areas turned to suburbs and then turned to rural farmland. So far no luck in getting my HT’s GPS to lock, but I will probably have better luck in the lounge car.