Monday, January 16, 2012

Country Girl in the Big City, Part 1

Less than 24 hours after getting engaged to the man that I love I left to take the train back to (Little) Holland.  A friend brought be to another friend who drove me to the Amtrak station in Ottumwa.  I was on time and everything looked great.  I checked in with the Burlington Trailways guy (Amtrak and Burlington Trailways share the space and Amtrak is closed on Saturdays and Sundays).  He said the train was running about 15 minutes late.   For a train that was coming all the way from San Francisco, I figured that 15 minutes late was no big deal.  15 minutes turned into half an hour into an hour and eventually, into nearly 2 hours.   I got on the train and Amtrak personal apologized profusely, explaining that a rail further west had broken that morning causing a bottleneck situation.  They figured we'd be able to make good time as we headed east and get into Chicago in decent time.  However, not far from Ottumwa, we were creeping along at a snails pace.  At one point a freight train was backing up beside us and our conductor told us that we would have to do the same maneuver.  Thankfully, we did not have to go backwards at any point, just sit for a very long time. The trip continued to go very slow, with lots of stops in the middle of nowhere.  I got some work done on my computer and even some sleeping.  There were often announcements about how accommodations were being made to get people to connections on time.   The best they could tell me though was to check in with passenger services when we got to Chicago…
My connection in Chicago was scheduled to leave at 5:20.  Our arrival?  Nearly 6pm.  My connection?  Gone.   Cue minor panic.  Actually the minor panic started at about 5:30 when we still hadn't made it to Naperville.   It just got a little less minor once I got to Chicago.
Passenger services at the Chicago station were mostly great.  They gave me a hotel voucher for  the Hyatt Regency at McCormick place, money for a cab and money for food.  If someone was used to  being in a city of any sort, this would have been fine.  However, I am a country girl.  I had never ridden a taxi by myself before (I was in one once in 8th grade when our van broke and we had to get from the service station to the was my dad and 4 of my siblings).  I had never hailed one.  It was dark and cold and I was completely overwhelmed.  My emotions were running ragged.  I stood outside of Union Station and I cried.  I just held my bags and cried.  One taxi driver was waving at me and he didn't seem too friendly.  Horns were honking, there were noises, I couldn't pinpoint any sounds whatsoever (hooray for no directional hearing!) and I cried.  Finally a very nice cab driver pulled up and asked if I needed a cab.  At that point I only nodded.  He asked where and I handed him my hotel voucher.  He loaded my bags and helped me in.   He talked to me as we made our way to the hotel.  There were cab riding "rules" in the back seat but it was too dark to read them.   He got me to the hotel and I nearly had a heart attack.  The hotel I had arrived at was the nicest hotel I had ever seen.  Mommy told me later that it had 4.5 stars out of 5.
I walked into the hotel and felt so out of place I almost wanted to turn around.  But it was warm in there. And warm was a good thing.  I got in, got to my room, called Mom to tell her where I was and proceeded to freak out...over and over and over again. 
Littlest Brother wanted some pictures so here they are:
Crossing the Mighy Miss!  The "H" bridge was always our landmark going to Grandma's house
The view from my window.  All shiney and pretty!
The pretty purple sunrise coming in when I woke up in the morning.
One of the giant comfy beds in my room
Two sinks.  In a hotel room.  Two.
Overall the hotel was amazing.  Way overwhelming though.  I'd rather stay in familiar hotels that is comfortable. :)

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