I woke up for Omaha and had the usual breakfast at 06:30.
We were right on time until Burlington, IA where we had to wait for a while. I gathered that the station track wouldn’t be available, so we had to wait for a westbound freight to get out of the way and a switch to get lined for an adjacent track. IIRC, the train had to make some fairly precise spots to allow passengers to get to and from the station. I didn’t record when we finally departed Burlington because I was in the diner for an early lunch, but we were out of the next stop at Galesburg, IL four minutes early. (The eastbound Zephyr is discharge-only from Galesburg to Chicago and so doesn’t have to wait for advertised departure times.)
There are some pictures of my room on the train below the fold if anybody is interested.
We arrived in Chicago 25 minutes early. One couple and I had to wait a while for a redcap to show up, but we were eventually taken to the taxi stand.
I had made a reservation at the Hilton Garden Inn that’s just across the river and a couple of blocks further from Union Station. I had expected to be able to walk to it, but I’ve become less mobile since then and so decided to take a taxi.
The driver didn’t know the address of the hotel and had to look it up on his cell phone. We wound up going to a different Hilton Garden Inn that was a couple of miles away, which I knew was wrong almost as soon as we left the Union Station area; but the driver insisted. It turns out that I should have asked for the “Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Central Loop”. Oh, well. I’m going to have to remember to write down hotel addresses for taxi drivers in the future. This was the second time in a single trip that a taxi driver didn’t know how to get to a hotel from its name. (The first was from SFO to the Hyatt House Emeryville.)
We finally got to the right place. I had planned on giving the driver a twenty dollar bill to make up for the short fare; and so that’s what he got. He seemed satisfied with that.
After checking in, I wrote the last three blog posts; and that was it for the day.
I finally got it together to take some pictures of my room on the train. They’re mostly too dark, probably because of light coming in from the window. I should have closed the window curtains. (I’m still learning about this picture taking business.)
Here’s the Superliner bedroom from the door.
The sink/shower/toilet module is just inside the door on the right in rooms E and C. The sofa module on the left converts to upper and lower berths at night which leaves maybe six inches at most to squeeze your legs between the lower berth and the sink. There’s a small table that pulls out from under the window that I use to set up my computer. Not visible to the right of the window is another chair that’s firmly attached to the wall.
Rooms D and B are basically reflections of that arrangement; and part of the wall between E and D, and between C and B, can be opened to make what Amtrak calls “bedroom suites”. Room A is similar to E and C except that the sink/shower/toilet module is turned around with the door to the shower/toilet near the door to the room itself; and the whole thing is more to the center of the room leaving no space between it and the side chair. I’ve heard that some folks who are claustrophobic won’t ride in room A because of the perception of less floor space, but it’s not floor space that can be used for anything and it doesn’t bother me.
Around the corner from the sink is the door to the shower and toilet.
The best plan is to close the toilet cover and sit on it when taking a shower. 😎
My computer setup:
The round thing stuck in the window is my GPS receiver which plugs into a USB port on my laptop. To the left is a scanner that I bought from Radio Shack ages ago, and which I have programmed to scan railroad frequencies so that I can hear conductors, engineers and dispatchers talking to each other. Plugged into the earphone jack (which disables the speaker so that I don’t disturb other passengers) is a box that generates a bluetooth signal that feeds my hearing aids.
Some cables on the floor under the table:
The black power strip has a spike eliminator to guard against the sometimes spikey current on the trains. The white box is the plug for the power to my scanner. The smaller boxy black plug next to it is the power cord for the “Oticon TV Adaptor”, the thing that feeds my hearing aids.
Not visible is another plain power strip with a six-foot cord for connecting to the AC outlet which is on the other side of the room. The roll of duct tape is for taping that power strip’s cord to the carpet so that nobody trips over it. As I said above, rooms E and D, and rooms C and B, are basically reflections, but the sofa/berth modules are rotations, so that the electrical outlet is on the “wrong” side of the room in E and C, but near the window in D and B. That’s why I prefer D or B to E or C; but I wound up with E on this trip. There’s also an outlet in the sink module which, because of the way room A is arranged, is near the center of the room; and your power cord doesn’t need to stretch all across the room and can be routed out of the way where nobody will step on it.
Here’s a screen shot of my GPS display:
The red arrow near the left of the screen shows my position and direction.
I’m using software called Maptitude which runs on Windows. Back when I had a Mac, I used something called MacMap which also worked but had just a red spot with a circle around it to show the current position. You can get MacMap maps for pretty much the whole world where there’s population; and I used it on an overnight train from Paris to Madrid where we finalized C++11, the first big revision of the standard after the original C++98. I don’t know yet whether Maptitude offers maps of Europe. I hope it does because, about a year from now, I might be riding some trains between England and Wroclaw, Poland.
I once used Delorme’s Street Atlas on Windows which I liked much more than what’s available now. It had a somewhat bigger green arrow showing position and direction, left breadcrumbs behind to show where you’ve been, and had a feature that let you display just roads, city names, and the arrow and breakcrumbs on a black background so that the screen was much darker at night. Unfortunately, Delorme went out of business, and the software quit working after Windows 7.