This morning I woke up in Chicago with no immediate plans, no train tickets booked, no parades or weddings to get to or airports to visit. After the past two weeks of constant movement, this opportunity to rest, recharge, and ruminate on my experiences is a welcome respite from the quick pace of the trip so far.
The past two weeks have simultaneously flown by and been jam packed with diverse and edifying experiences. I met the crunchy hippies of Vermont, the simple folk of New Hampshire who live by one motto: “Live free or die.” I chilled with Ben Franklin and Paul Revere in Boston, went to New York City and wandered the hard streets of Brooklyn, walked the hipster haven of Williamsburg, dropped my jaw before the neon metropolis of Manhattan. In D.C. I slogged across the National Mall through heat and chaffing to pay homage to our nation’s greatest figures. I rode the train, flew on three planes, hopped in my buddy’s rental car in Michigan to see the charming college town of Ann Arbor, the National Lakeshore with its humongous sand dunes and bluffs overlooking Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan, the tough downtown of Detroit whose streets are so quiet you can hear the buildings whisper stories of a golden past.
Then last night I took the Wolverine from Detroit to Chicago, emerged from Union Station back into this city I know so well. It’s time to get to know it again.
The most difficult part of this journey has been finding the time (and internet connection–tethering my iPad to my smartphone on the train has worked like garbage) to update the blog. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken notice of the milieu surrounding me, taken notes and snapshots of people and happenings, written long journal entries in attempt to make sense of it all. And now that I’ve arrived on time to each location and event, I look ahead to the next month with no set schedule except a route of cities and an objective to be present, observant, and reflective at each moment.
Soon I’ll book my tickets and hostels for West Glacier and Seattle, and my ticket to Portland. But I’m requiring myself not to get back on the train until I catch up on my blogging. Expect stories from Washington D.C. and Michigan (read: Canada) soon, and thoughts on trains and ‘Merica.
Thanks again for being beautiful!
Your faithful conductor,