Amtrak Road Trip 2014
January 24-26, 2014
It was the fourth Friday out of five Fridays in the coldest January in thirty years. We escaped from the freezing wind at Ogilvie Transportation Center into the calm air of the freezer that was the two block underground entrance to Union Station from Madison on the north.
We were heading for the Snuggery but were confounded by silver walls of the construction blockage surrounding both levels. The Metro Deli and Café located near the Union Station Great Hall was more than adequate as a substitute, having a full bar and a very wide selection of well prepared food. Though most phone calls about the alternative location went unanswered, the entire group homed in on the café as if led by barkeeps. In what was too short a time, we all headed back to the boarding area where Bill Mennell found a red cap to load some of us on to a motorized cart with the luggage and Ann and John Schroeder, Bob Simon, Ron Gengler, Drake Van Beek, Steve Skeggs, Jim Renkar, Liz and Steve Gore trundled to the train to get twelve seats together. For that feat, Bill was appointed ‘arranger’ for several more issues during the weekend.
We left Chicago on time and had on-board snacks that have become the standard: cheese, sausage and crackers in abundance; carrots, radishes and celery; cookies of several kinds; and Bill’s piece de resistance for this trip, jumbo shrimp cocktail with his own homemade sauce. Had Amtrak permitted Bill in the kitchen area, we might have had seafood soufflé, as well. The trip to Dearborn was enjoyable although we got only about an hour of bonus time on the train, measured as the difference between the scheduled and actual arrivals.
The Greenfied Inn’s van picked us up in two trips, meaning that anyone on the second trip did not have a chance at the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at the reservation desk. After checking in we met in the hotel’s restaurant, O’Henry’s and chose from a very complete menu and a more complete listing of beverages. We reluctantly repaired to the lounge and continued sampling the libations until it was time to sleep. The extra relaxation and the tranquilizing drinks did much to soften the noise of practice of a knee-hockey team (a group of boys about ten years old) who were in the rooms above, complete with ‘mini-sticks’. We never saw a puck, so maybe they were just beating the rug to clean it as that is what it sounded like. Interestingly, not a person from our group noticed anything worth mentioning.
We had wonderful breakfasts that were part of the room charge, itself already considerably reduced. The group split up at this point, with about half going to the Ford Museum and the rest going to the North American International Auto Show, two weeks long with much of the first week restricted to those in the trades associated with motorcars.
We hit the hall with the eagerness of children on Christmas Day and in thirty seconds we had dispersed to all corners. All the American and most of the Asian manufacturers had complex displays.