Two Coasts. 7,300+ Miles. 9 Days.
1/17 Chicago --> Los Angeles 2256 miles
Sleeper Room #13, attendant Joan
dep. 2 hrs 49 min late; arr. 1 hr 14 min late
The Three Rivers arrived in Chicago a bit earlier than scheduled so I quickly made my way to an empty Metro lounge. The metro lounge really is a great great benefit for sleeper car passengers if you have a long connection. I loved it. Especially after passing through the coach waiting areas (giant flat screen TVs vs old crappy TVs etc). After checking in, I had my bags stored and left the station for breakfast and sightseeing. Funny thing about Chicago, though, is that it is cold. Really cold. I found a diner and had a great breakfast and then attempted to do some more walking in the financial district. I was numb. The friendly folks at ETrade had a temperature sign that informed me that it was 10 degrees out. Brr. I didn't get to far before I rushed back to the metro lounge for couches, heat and lots of free tea (plus the bathroom is a great benefit as well). After a few hours I braved the elements again and walked down to the Borders Books on State St, though this would prove to be my last destination on this leg, as I had a 3:15 train to catch!
Arriving back in the Metro Lounge I found a couch right near the train status monitors and began to get excited. I noticed with some alarm that the Empire Builder due to arrive that afternoon was very late and split into a bus as well (I later found out this was because of cold weather and the train horn freezing). Eventually, with the clock ticking, came the announcement I was dreading "ladies and gentlemen, we regret...". The SWC was running late, though we were assured that the train would only be 15-20min late. Half jokingly I muttered out loud "or two hours". The 20 minutes came and with that came another announcement. By now the status board had officially been changed to Delayed. This new announcement threatened an additional 2 hours. I smiled to myself and got some more tea. From what I could learn from the Metro attendant is that they were having a problem with the headers(??) and getting power to the rest of the train. This would require a change of locomotive. Eventually the status board was changed to "waiting for locomotive". Which I must say is one of the most encouraging phrases for a train already a few hours late.
We began to board at around 5:45pm and once again I was reminded of the benefits of having a sleeper room: early boarding. I had to trudge through the train station to get my bags that were stored and was almost trampled by the people waiting, in line, for hours now, to board the SWC as well as the other 2 trains that were running late that evening. I was quite thankful to learn that not only would I get to board early but the metro had a special entrance so we could avoid the mass of humanity outside of the rather tranquil metro lounge (note: it was at this point that the "first class" status began to goto my head and I became rather elitist! :) )
ALL ABOARD! Time to board the SWC!