The beginning of the train voyage
These travels occurred in late September/early October 2021. The posts are gathered under the ‘Travel’ category (top right of page) and numbered to indicate the order in which they should be read.
Once we started across the country on Amtrak we were able to watch much of Illinois go by. We expected to see some very flat farm country well outside Chicago. Leaving Chicago it looked a lot like the Amtrak experience outside Boston; a lot of backyards, some well maintained, others not so much. There were industrial areas and scrapyards, pools and lawns as well as the backsides of retail establishments.
However, the view quickly changed to well kept residential yards and homes. The tracks were now going through the center of towns and Amtrak was sharing tracks with local commuter operations. The housing is reminiscent of the starter homes built after WWII, similar to so many towns in New England. Each township or village proudly proclaimed its name in large letters on the side of a very well maintained water tower that could be seen from miles around.
The land is so flat that the need for water towers was obvious. We passed through towns such as Naperville, Mendota and Leland. Then the land opened up to some serious agriculture, Midwest style. We saw miles and miles of dry, brown corn, probably used for silage. Interspersed with that were large fields of hay or soy and some pastures with cattle lazily munching. Then Malden streamed by with its small rolling hills followed by Princeton with their huge wind turbines on the crests of the hills. So many turbines were silhouetted against the horizon, slowly turning to satisfy the energy needs of the area.
Suddenly we are crossing a fairly wide river into Burlington Iowa. We are west of the Mississippi! Does this mean we have to watch for roving bands of desperadoes trying to stop the train for their nefarious activities? No, I’m told that Amtrak has taken care of that.
So we realize that Iowa is a very beautiful area similar to western Illinois with lots of flat land covered with crops and occasionally livestock. As we pass through Iowa we offer a simple wave to friends in Duluth MN and my cousin Skippy in Iowa. Amtrak didn’t seem to want to divert for even a few minutes. But the dinner they served was actually quite good and filling. I was glad there were no desperadoes after such a relaxing meal. As dusk fell we crossed into Nebraska. Because of the impending darkness the landscape seemed to look like a view from a ship at sea. In the immediate area in front of us the land looked empty and featureless. In the distance were islands of lights similar to what a mariner would see in the Caribbean at night. A few miles to the eat or west would be another island of light. Then another. The gentle swaying of the train and the sound of the horn at crossings convince us to sleep.