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Written in the observation car of the Texas Eagle as we roll past Marshall Texas 8:00AM 2.4.15…
Woke this morning to a sunrise over Texas. Coffee, a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich, and my sweet Raggedy Man smiling across the table. Doesn’t get much better.

Passing through Marshall, a wave of teenagers were walking through an underpass. I thought, if one looks up, they will be a traveller. A girl with long dark hair stopped and gazed at the train.

Time now, to catch up on my note scribbling, play with some doodles, read and stare out the window. We’ll be in San Antonio by nightfall.

I love trains.

Our car cohorts include a passle of Amish folks with lovely laughs, two soldiers, and a mom with the cutest wee girls. The car was full on the way out of Chicago, but thinned enough for us to each get a solo seat through the night. Ahhhhhhh sleeping on a rocking train….awesome.

Speaking of Chicago….

It was fantastic.

We arrived just as Winter Storm Linus smacked the city – bringing piles of wet snow and wind wind wind.

We explored transporation options to the hotel over coffee in the bus terminal. It was packed with travellers as all the outgoing busses had been delayed. We made it just in time. We decided on a taxi splurge instead of trying to figure out the transit system. Twas a good decision. The roads were already treacherous.

Arrived super early (for checking in) at the Days Inn (644 Diversey PKW) and met an angel named Jaqueline, who gave us a room even though it was barely 8AM. I have to write up a YELP review for this hotel – everyone was so great. Helpful, cheerful, and friendly. Cozy bed, spacious super clean rooms and…. I LOVED the Breakfasts in the Daybreak Room – tasty tasty tasty. Wee omelettes, self-bake waffles, fresh fruit, yoghurt, delicious bread/bagel choices, cereal….and on and on….

We cleaned up and had a wee snooze.

Then I called Steppenwolf Theatre to see if the show would go on…and, of course, it did.
They have this great program where they offer up 20 tickets to each show for only 20.00. I scored two and they were in the fourth row centre. Right up front for an amazing show called Airline Highway written by Lisa D’Amour that is headed to Broadway in April. Beautiful beautiful production that had me laughing and wanting to sing along to "Husband Man" and….weeping so hard by the end that I couldn’t stand up. Yay!

Frack I miss seeing (and doing) live theatre.

Extra special mention of K. Todd Freeman, who played Sissy Na-Na. Super strong. Super performance. It was Sissy who had me weeping hardest at the end.

Getting back to the hotel was…an adventure. Total blizzard time and the 1/2 hr walk was almost an hour through drifting snow, past closed closed closed businesses. It was around 6:30 pm.

Found a pub (the Matisse) open right next to the hotel. Brushed off the snow and settled in for a few punts, some tasty grub and…the Super Bowl!

Slept like babies.

Next morning, I grabbed a tasty breakfast and hopped across the street to Trader Joes to grab room snacks and food for the train.

Then we made our plan…which was to head downtown and try out a "hop on hop tour" and maybe go to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The tour wasn’t running due to the snow clogged streets (which looked pretty clear to my Northern eyes), and none of the current exhibits at the Institute tickled our fancy. We decided to wander through Millenium park in the bright sunshine for awhile.

I noticed a lovely old building across from the park that was the original Public Library.
We had to check it out and…..wow wow WOW…What a find. The building is now the Chicago Cultural Centre. Open to the public. And FREE. We missed the noon concert, but spent a few glorious hours wandering through the three galleries and exploring the building itself. There’s a theatre, a huge and yet cozy reading room, meeting rooms and offices, a memorial room commemorating the Civil War and…the Great Hall that is…. Oh man…. Just stupendously beautiful with a Tiffany dome over it. Breathtaking. Every hallway was filled with art and the three exhibitions where all well worth seeing.

Richard Hunt: SixtyYears of Sculpture
Ian Weaver: Black Knights Archive, Chapter One: Migration
Alison Ruttan: The Four Year War at Gombe, Line in the Sand and A Bad Idea Seems Good Again

I especially liked Ruttan’s work. Again I say….WOW.

I also love that we never would have found it if I hadn’t noticed the building and said, "You think it’s still a library?"

After the centre we walked around downtown for a bit, finding our way to the Theatre district (nothing playing on the Monday we were there), and on down to Union Station for a re-con. Had a pint in the Metro Deli and headed back up towards the hotel.

Stopped off at Duffy’s Tavern for a some food and drink and then…on to Kingston Mines – a fantastic Blues bar about 1/2 way between the hotel and Steppenwolf.

We stayed out past midnight and danced with Carl Weathersby.

In the morning, a big breakfast and onward to Union Station.

Boarded The Texas Eagle around 1:30 yesterday.

Loving the rocking motion and the view from the upper deck.
Plenty of legroom and a cheery crew taking is into San Antonio where there will be a crew change. This train ends there, and our car will be shunted over to join up with another and carry us on into New Mexico, Arizona and California.

All is well.
All is very very well.

Go easy ~p

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