Editor's Note: You may wonder why there are no pictures so far. Suffice it to say that my data plan is stretched thin as it is, and there is no wi-fi service on the long-distance routes operated by Amtrak. My plan is to upload pictures in a gallery post when I get to Austin - think of it as the color plates section in an old book.
I'm sitting here in the airy confines (oxymoron?) of the Great Hall of Chicago Union Station. I got off the Capitol Limited from Pittsburgh around 0855 this morning, having been delayed only around ten minutes. I slept most of the way, fitfully. I woke around 0800 this morning, and took pictures of the steelworks of ArcelorMittal out the window of the train as we wended our way towards Chicago.
After around an hour's delay on Monday night outside Connellsville, PA,due to damage to an air-brake hose on the Capitol Limited, I arrived in Pittsburgh. There, I visited T.W. and G.M, and enjoyed their company - I spent most of the day with T.W., and, after a brunch at Pamela's Diner (1711 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, an excellent choice for hotcakes and hash), we went walking around Pittsburgh and visiting sights such as the Duquesne Incline and the Cathedral of Learning.
The Cathedral of Learning can only be described as a Gothic skyscraper, a mass of stone arches and ornate details reaching over forty stories into the sky. Inside are several "national rooms" - rooms fitted out with the cultural details (or at least the 1920s-30s imagining of such) of a given nation. Sadly, only the German Room was unlocked, and inside were wood inlays, glass-fronted bookcases with the works of Schiller and Goethe, and Gothic wood-carved arches around windows and doors. I can only imagine that the others (Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Czechoslovak...) are also as beautiful.
After spending time in the Cathedral of Learning, we took a short trip along the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, a unique facility in the U.S. Built along an old railway right-of-way, it is essentially a two-lane highway used only by buses, and is one of three such facilities in Pittsburgh. We took it one station out, then took the bus to get to G.M.'s house, who was hosting us for dinner. There, we made pizza, made crepes for dessert, and enjoyed each other's company.
After dinner, I packed, briefly visited T.W.'s lab at the Mellon Institute, then went to Union Station to catch the train. There was approximately a 20-minute delay, but I managed to get on board without issue. Journaled a little bit, then slept. Upon arrival in Chicago, went to get some breakfast at Lou Mitchell's Restaurant and Bakery (565 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL). I can strongly recommend it for the train-traveler, as it is only a couple blocks from Union Station and serves strong coffee and sustaining fare without pretense or delay. I then picked up some groceries for the long (28-hour) trip on the Texas Eagle to Austin, then returned to the station.
Hopefully, in my next posts, I will be able to post up pictures from D.C., the Capitol Limited, Pittsburgh, and what little of Chicago I've seen. I also hope to write a bit about the different transit systems I've been privileged to use on the trip so far - Metro in D.C., and the Port Authority system in Pittsburgh., as well as, of course, Amtrak. Consider subscribing to my RSS feed to stay updated on where I am and what I'm doing on this crazy, long, crazy-long trip.