We're in Boston! I needed to come here for some training, but we came out a couple days early for some sightseeing. Having never taken Amtrak, we decided to try it, as it was also $200/person cheaper than flying. We brought our niece Bailey, who is 15, along for the ride as well (she was only half-price on Amtrak) so that she and Holly can do stuff while I'm at class.
We got up at 6 a.m. on Friday, packed the van, swung through the McDonald's drive-through for breakfast, and hit the road for the two hour drive to Mount Pleasant. We arrived without incident, but soon found our train was running three hours late from the guy who opened the (non-air-conditioned) station. We passed the word along to the rest of the passengers as they arrived, and we all waited together on the platform, as it was (slightly) cooler outside. After about two hours, I waited with the luggage as Holly and Bailey got lunch from McDonald's, which made it our second meal there of the day, but we had passed it a few blocks from the station and we didn't know where anything else was.
There was a "colorful" group of people we were waiting with, and we even got to watch some of their personal life stories dramas unfold in front of us as we waited. One was a serviceman, returning to base in New York. Let's just say it was pretty clear from his continuous cell phone calls to friends that the military has seriously reduced its standards due to the ongoing war. I wouldn't have trusted this guy with a powerwasher, much less a machine gun...
After much sweating, the train finally arrived, and we relaxed in the cool air and comfy seats for the four hours to Chicago. Or so we thought. After about 15 minutes they informed us that they were kicking us off in Galesburg, Illinois. We were originally supposed to take this train (6) to Chicago to catch train 48 to Albany, but train 48 was oversold. So, they decided to take the people from train 6 who were going to be on train 48 (about 15 of us) and remove us in Galesburg to take a charter bus all the way to Toledo, Ohio. That way, Amtrak could offload the passengers destined for the stops before Toledo, and have room for us once we got there.
So, we loaded on to a fairly nice charter bus, and made the 7 hour drive, with a stop at McDonald's somewhere in Indiana. For those keeping score, this wound up being our third meal at McDonald's in one day, which made us all want to throw up. Bailey didn't eat anything, Holly got some apple slices, and I sort of gagged down a Big 'n Tasty, which they don't even have on the menu in Iowa anymore. We loaded back on the bus, and managed to sleep a bit before getting to Toledo. We arrived around 1:00 a.m., but had to wait for our train to arrive at 4:15 a.m., when we resumed our journey as planned. We made it to Albany around 4:00 p.m. and quickly switched trains to the 448 to Boston. On this train, we had the bad luck to sit behind some of the worst parents in existence, as well as their horrible little children, but fortunately they got off at Springfield, so the final 2 hours were blissfully quiet. We got off in Back Bay, bought our passes for the Subway, and checked in to our hotel with enough time to shower before we crashed into bed.