Lake Shore (un)Limited

When I think of train travel, my mind always goes to some old movie, where passengers are all packed away in little rooms dressed in suits and fancy hats, talking with accents, full of nostalgia and looking fabulous. In reality, I imagine they were somewhat uncomfortable, but never mind that. Trains are all about the visual.

A month and a half ago Luke was hired by his friend, Tim, to go out to Chicago and help with The Great American Lobster Fest. Tim has been producing the festival for three years now. It is tons of fun and will have its own dedicated blog post soon. For now let’s focus on the train trip.

At this age, Juliet is a constant ball of directed energy. So flying would have been difficult considering “sitting still” is just not something she wants to do. There is too much to touch, see, do, and I totally get it. I wouldn’t want her to be any other way. It is such a wondrous world to be witnessing, the combination of her curiosity and personality peeling away like the layers of an onion, revealing her precious soul to us in the most miraculous ways.

Hoping to facilitate this growth in the most positive way possible, it was a no brainer when we knew we’d be traveling to Chicago, we would do so by Train.  

We boarded our silver bullet and settled in for our 21 (ended up being 24) hour journey from Boston to Chicago.

We found a perfect group of four seats, and with the car being at about 50% capacity it seemed like we had really lucked out.

Then we arrived in Albany where we had to “switch trains”, which was actually getting off of the train going upstairs for a few minutes while they swapped some cars around then going back down and reboarding.

This is where things got a little hairy. We were some of the last passengers to board out of confusion over the whole process and it quickly became apparent that this leg (8 hrs) would be a while different trip. We could not find any seats together, so Luke sat directly in front of us and we proceeded to pass Juliet back and forth while also making regular trips up to the cafe just to break things up. I sat next to a 22 year old pediatric student on the verge of entering the real world of medicine. Actively pounding away at her application letter, fine tuning and over analyzing every aspect.

She was a lovely self proclaimed “Arab American” girl, who was quick to make friends with Juliet and also quick to tell me some hilariously terrifying stories from her own childhood.

She also spoke of her current relationship and how they are at the beginning stages of talking about marriage with their families.

He is Pakistani-Canadian, and his family is concerned about her coming from a background of divorce and being “damaged” in some way, while both sides are terribly concerned about the clash in their cultures. 

As she departed in Syracuse I wished her luck, and couldn’t help but see the reflections of my own existence in someone who was so incredibly different. I found myself feeling grateful to have the opportunity to expose Juliet to different ways of life and to hopefully help obliterate the fears that stand between basic humanity, which we all share, and culture, which can be incredibly different, but ultimately much more the same.

We were able to all sit together for this leg, and more people left at the next stop, opening up two full rows. This allowed us to stretch out a bit more and get some much needed sleep as the sun had sunk into the scenery and most of what we could see out our windows now was either ominous blackness or the ocassional flicker of lights from the passing towns.

We awoke somewhat refreshed, but very much ready for Chicago, and all that was in store, to present itself to us. Despite being quite weary we managed to enjoy this last bit before arriving 3 hours late to Union Station.

After an intense week of nonstop festival work (we lived and breathed it, all key employees/friends/family, 10 people, stayed together in one two bedroom apartment) 

For our return trip we splurged and booked a roomette last minute. While it was quite pricey it proved to be well worth it. 

Juliet enjoyed the exclusive Metropolitan lounge at the station while we waited for our cart to arrive and drive us to our train car, skipping out on having to wait in line or lug our luggage around.

We were escorted to our room by a friendly gentleman and all let out a big sigh of relief as we sank into our accommodations. Luke and I both proclaiming multiple times through our daze of exhaustion, “this is so worth it”.

Soon the man returned to turn our seats into bunk beds and we all three drifted off to sleep, headed home in style.

​When I awoke, I pulled back the curtains, revealing a bright sunny collection of trees and old abandoned buildings, zipping past us, cheering us onward. 

We headed to the dining car to take advantage of our free breakfast that came with our room.

Having slept comfortably through a majority of the trip, we are now just hours from home. 

Longing for our own bed and the sites and smells of our little country house in the woods. It is so nice to have the ability to jump into the intensity of city life for a week only to return to our chickens, garden, and puppy.

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