I woke up just minutes before the first loudspeaker announcements that normally started at 7 am. My phone battery had died during the night so I had first no idea what time it was. I put my seat into an upright position and soon made my way to the launch car where I got myself some breakfast. While enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin I saw the endless farmlands of Nebraska passing by, a scenery I definitely would have missed if the train would have been on time. Green fields and irrigation systems as far as one’s eye can see. We had a stop in Hastings, Nebraska in between. Then came the surprise, the train conductor informed us that the train had even picked up more delay and that by now we were running 7 hours behind schedule! I cannot remember in all this years and all those trips I have done that I had ever been so severely delayed. Luckily I didn’t had a connecting train to catch in Chicago and I had a longer stop there, staying altogether five days in town. Once again I had to move my clock one hour forward to Central American time. One thing I really like about traveling by train here in the U.S. is that you have plenty of time to adapt to the next time zone as it goes step by step and at about 1 hour a day. When flying we often have to turn the clock for many hours. For example flying back from Tokyo I had to turn back the clock by 16 hours before landing in Los Angeles, I still could feel the time difference until I had arrived in Denver. The morning which I spent mainly in the launch car went quick. I used the time to write a bit while enjoying the scenery. The California Zephyr passed through Nebraska’s state capital Lincoln and the train windows offered a nice view on the city and the state capitol which certainly dominates the otherwise rather flat skyline of the city. Soon after Lincoln, NE we crossed the Platte River heading towards the largest city of the state of Nebraska, Omaha only one hour away. After Omaha the train followed the Missouri River for quite a while before finally crossing it heading further towards Iowa with stops in Creston, IA, Osceola, IA, Ottumwa, IA, and Mount Pleasant, IA. Somewhere over Iowa I had lunch, the standard veggie burger, the only option for me on the menu, which however turned out to be a beef burger. Luckily I noticed it in time and soon received a new burger. I spent large parts of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful and very agriculturally dominated landscape of Iowa in the launch car which certainly had become my favorite spot on the train. Around five o’clock rumors went through the launch car that Amtrak was going to provide free dinner for all passengers due to the severe delay of more than 7 hours. I returned to my seat and just minutes later the conductor came and asked whether I would like to have a complementary meal in the dining car to which I didn’t say no. I was seated with my fellow passenger that had the seat next to me but to whom I hadn’t spoken much during the trip as I had spent so much time in the launch car. It turned out that we had pretty similar professional backgrounds and so we had plenty to talk about for the remaining 5 hours until Chicago. The complementary meal was more a cook together of leftovers, mash potatoes with vegetables and some rolls. Nevertheless, it was a gesture of Amtrak and due to the fact that I am not busy arriving in Chicago on time I didn’t really mind so much the delay. The advantage certainly was that I could see more of Nebraska which we otherwise would have just passed during the night. Finally the train did one more stop in Burlington, Iowa before crossing the Mississippi River entering Illinois. In Galesburg, IL the train had one final smoke stop before then doing the final run down to Chicago with two very short stops in Princeton, IL and Naperville, IL. Finally at 9.50 pm with exactly 7 hours delay the California Zephyr reached the Union Station in Chicago. Unfortunately all connecting passengers had lost their connections, most of them were brought into hotels for some going to places nearby a shuttle was organized. I instead claimed my baggage which took quite a while until it arrived and finally left the Union Station towards the Loop, where I caught the pink line L train to 18th Street. I bought a 7 day CTA pass for $28 which certainly was cheaper than buying single trips and made me also more flexible while discovering Chicago. After a short ride to Pilsen, the area where my Air B’n’B accommodation was located I had to walk for about 5 minutes before I arrived at the building. The neighborhood seemed okay. I let myself into the building with the code that was provided by the host and found my cozy but nice room located in a shared apartment where I pretty soon after settling in went to sleep.
|Leaving Denver 5 hours delayed|
|Accommodation in Chicago|