Riding the Rails

Last Sunday (July 20) we took a day trip to Chicago to see both sides of the family. Instead of driving (or, rather, inching) through the omnipresent I-94 construction delays north of Chicago, we took the Amtrak train. Downtown Milwaukee to downtown Chicago in 90 minutes, baby!

We parked at the downtown Milwaukee Amtrak station (a bargain at just $5 for the entire day) and hopped on board the 8:00 a.m. train to Chicago. The ride was smooth and quiet and we didn't have to stop to pay any tolls or fill up with gas (just three brief station stops along the way). Our fellow passengers ran the gamut from families to what appeared to be a group of ladies' shopping enthusiasts, from snappily dressed German tourists (I understood what they were saying about my shiny magenta purse, by the way. Danke für das Kompliment!) to shifty-looking dudes with scruffy beards who would avoid eye contact with anyone reading the Sunday paper (okay, there was just the one).

We arrived at Chicago's Union Station without incident, and took a cab to LUXBAR, where we joined Ryan's dad Bill for breakfast. We sat upstairs at a table next to a giant open balcony, so we simultaneously enjoyed the fresh air and the humidity-moderating effects of the air conditioning. I know that statement will be entered on a ledger somewhere tallying my remorselessly expanding carbon footprint, but what can you do? (Hey, we took the train - does that help?) It was great to catch up with Bill (unfortunately, Betty wasn't feeling well so she couldn't join us).

Next we went up Lake Shore Drive to visit my mom and Al, who were in town for the week. We spent a few hours talking about this and that, and admiring the satellite views of the sea wall in Belmont Harbor that we zeroed in on using my iPhone.

Later, Katy came over with some take-out lunch from Panera. She had planned to bring the kids but they were in the middle of a nap, so she thought it best not to wake them and drag them across town. Wise choice, but we missed them! After our lunch and a few more hours of conversation, including some time admiring the shower remodel that Katy designed and had built in the guest bathroom (seriously nice job), it was back to Union Station to catch the 5:08 p.m. train back to Milwaukee.

Every time we visit Chicago it seems like we run out of time (for instance, we didn't get to see Aberdeen) so next time we go we will try to make it a full weekend rather than just one day. We definitely want to take the train back over the Christmas holidays, although it might make gift transport slightly challenging. Okay, everyone: You're all getting gift cards. Problem solved.

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