it’s convenient that the first day of our trip coincided with the first day of the month.

we got up early cause the train was going to leave at 9:30 SHARP.

First, we had to pet the kitties a little more.  so sad to be leaving them for five weeks!  but at least they had no idea we were leaving, plus they were going to be in very good hands.

luckily, i kept checking the train status because it was later, and later…and later still.

we finally loaded our many, many bags in mom’s car and went to the train station.  because we weren’t going to ride on any airplanes, we could take whatever we wanted.  so i went overboard with that  oooooverboard.  too many clothes, too much jewelry to wear with fancy dresses on the Queen Mary, too much stuff, too much.  people kept saying PACK LIGHT, and i know to pack light….but i went a little crazy.

kevin brought many, many snacks to eat while walking.  many fig bars and granola bars and energy bars and all kinds of stuff…but this was good, because we ended eating almost all of it!

the train finally left about 11:00, and it was a nice ride up to chicago.  i was still pretty wound up from all the preparing and planning and over-packing i’d been doing forever, it seemed like.

we got into Chicago at around 3:00, and our train bound for NYC wasn’t going to leave til about 8:30.  We were able to leave all our bags at the sleeper-car lounge, which was great, but we decided we didn’t want to check any bags – as we got off the train in chicago, we walked past one of the open train cars, which was piles with a massive heap of luggage, as though it had all just been randomly thrown together.  we didn’t want that.

We thought we’d walk down to the Art Institute, and down to the water.  a nice and relaxing walk.

well.  as we walked toward the lake, there were more and more people.  to be expected, cause it’s a big city.  but then, more and more and OH MY GOD SO MANY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON???!!!

by the time we reached the Art Institute the crowds were so thick that it was hard to stay together and kevin hates crowds anyway and i’m not so fond of them.  we spotted a sign – this was LOLLAPALOOZA!  good grief.

it’s a huge musical festival held every year in chicago; i think it lasts three days, TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY.  nonstop music.  so that’s why the crowd was mostly made up of people in their 20s.


we struggled up michigan avenue, as a big white limo van pulled up and three photographers/videographers got out.  We stopped, because i thought maybe it would be a celebrity.

nope.  an hispanic girl who looked like she was in her teens got out, wearing a really poufy long bright blue dress and a tiara.  she was followed by a guy dressed up, wearing a matching blue bowtie, then a gaggle of girls in shorter bright magenta dresses, then there were some more guys.

was it a wedding?

I finally asked one of the photographers – not a wedding, a Quinceanera celebration!  a 15-year old party.  and a very expensive one.

We continued to straggle up michigan avenue as it got hotter and hotter, and finally sat in a little dog park surrounded by towering condos just north of the river.  it was fun to watch the dogs.  after a whole lot of sitting as i scrolled through my phone looking up the lineup for lollapalooza – we had missed paul mccartney – we got a little food at a nearby grocery store, then started making our way back to the train station.

we strolled along the river walk, and though it was crowded, it wasn’t insane like the music fest.  here’s one of the big boats in the river.

and then we saw a whole boat of guys enjoying the water.

we both took photos of this bridge where the river turned north, and i was going to look it up on my phone, but it didn’t happen.

we got back to the train station, and some fancy event was happening in another part of the station.  i caught this shot just as this car was entering – they were having a lot of difficulty trying to fit it through the doors.  i rushed back to our lounge area to tell kevin so he could see it, but by the time he got there, the doors had closed.  oh well; we’d probably see other interesting things on our trip.

the train left from chicago, so it was on time, and we struggled to get our bags into our teeny tiny sleeping car.  when we’d done this trip before, we’d been able to store our bags outside our room, but this wasn’t the case.  there was a tiny amount of space up by the top bunk, but no place for our two gigantic bags.

the porter, also named kevin, grilled us about why we didn’t check our bags, and then he was going to give us a “deal” – he was going to upgrade us to a bigger cabin for 150 bucks in cash.  we agreed, happy to pay so we wouldn’t be smothered by our luggage, but then the guy delivered the sad news that a family had boarded last minute and needed the room.


here’s kevin with my huge suitcase next to him – he slept on the bottom bunk, which was narrow on one end.  he slept with his head at the narrow end because he didn’t want to have the suitcase right next to his head, and fall and crush his head in the middle of the night.  better legs crushed rather than head.

tiny sleeping car!


slightly crazed at this point

we made the most of it and sorted things out, and had a really good night’s sleep.

whew, made it through the first day.

ok then,