Saturday, June 28, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Final Thoughts

This trip was interesting as it had several different focal points; the train, Chicago, Michigan and the reconnecting with my cousins and other family members who I hadn’t seen for a long time.  It seemed like we were always on the move, but never really rushed, it just kind of flowed along.  

My Aunt Judy, who was with us the whole time, was a wonderful traveling companion and we all had a great time together.  It’s nice having an aunt near your own age and the bantering and joking between us reminded me of the times long ago when I lived in Michigan.  We also owe Judy a big thanks for the use of her car, for chauffeuring us around Sturgis and the biggest thanks for arranging the cousins reunion. I really enjoyed seeing my cousins after so long and reconnecting with them.  That was very special, thanks so much Judy.    

It was also great to have my brother Doug and his family fly in and join us in Michigan, we all had a great time together.  As usual, Val also gets a special thanks for all the research and planning she did to find all the great things we did.  As I said, a great trip, here are a few specific comments about several aspects of our travels.

The Train
Traveling by train is not for everyone, especially if you’re in a hurry, but Val and I really enjoy it.  Even with a bedroom compartment it’s not exactly luxury, but it’s certainly adequate and a whole lot of fun.  When we tell people we are traveling by train they always ask what we do to keep from getting bored, but that’s never been a problem for us.  The days go by quickly as we watch the ever changing scenery roll by, there’s time to read and even doze a little as the train's sound and gentle rolling put you in a state of relaxation.  There’s the meals to look forward to with food that’s not exactly gourmet, but actually quite good, and of course the people you meet.  Among others on this trip we met a couple from Australia who were seeing the USA by rail, a retired geologist and his wife who worked in the oil industry and I could compare notes with, and even a CNN Vice President who was traveling to New York City with his wife to start a new position.

Getting in four hours late to Chicago and seven hours late to Davis was a little frustrating, but didn’t really cause us any problems; you just have to go with the flow.  With the huge amount of coal, oil and freight we saw on this trip, I don’t think the schedule delays are going to go away anytime soon. We are big rail travel fans and certainly will take more train trips in the future.

We really enjoyed Chicago.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting such a clean, interesting, beautiful and friendly city.  Our stay in the Aqua Building (another big thanks to Val for finding it) only added to our enjoyment.  We will return.

I moved to California in 1958 and have only sporadically visited since then, but I really enjoyed revisiting many things I remember from my childhood.  Not only was it great to see everyone, but also to visit places that brought back so many wonderful childhood memories was very special.  Michigan is a beautiful state and our five days of touring reminded me of that.  I don’t think I will stay away so long next time.

The Blog
I had high hopes of doing a live blog and updating daily as I always had Internet access, but it just didn’t happen, we were much too busy.  I faithfully kept a journal so I wouldn’t forget things, but there just wasn’t time to publish so I waited until we got home to put everything together.

That’s it for now, we had a great trip.  Stay tuned... We leave for Alaska in a week!

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