Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back in My Familiar City

I took the bus from Atlanta to Chicago, passing through Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis. A major difference between East and West: we don't have cities every 100 miles or so. Our cities are like 400 miles apart. Zing! Bobby thinks that's because of the 200 year head start the East has in terms of urbanization and population growth.
I tromped around Chicago for a few hours, once I realized that I would not be able to catch up on sleep lying on a hard wooden bench in Union Station's great hall. Lots of echoes and traffic there. I walked down to the lake, viewing the landscape that defined urban studies. Seemed like a nice city, but I was definitely in a tourist district complete with ample Starbucks, CVS, and Corner Bakery franchises. My shoes filled with water because it was drizzling, and my shoes are not seaworthy. I'm not a practical shoes person, after all.
Then I got on the Empire Builder train headed for Portland. My seat was spacious, with lots of legroom. Traveling by train was a blast! I guess I'd only taken the train between Orange County and Los Angeles before, so two days on the train felt very different. Guess what: the train has extremely different clientele than does the Greyhound bus. The train is neither cheap nor swift, so I was surrounded mostly by vacationing families. The Greyhound doesn't have a vacation feel; I saw a lot of servicemen in uniform, single mothers and children, and people clearly not about to spend a week at Glacier National Park.
Sleeping on the train and the bus is equally difficult in my experience, perhaps because of the incessant rocking. And the train is very loud at night. Now I'm somewhat well-rested, and clean. And it's not humid here, not at all, it's actually cloudy and cool right now.
I've got to listen to Frankie Avalon's "Venus" a few more times before I can get started today.