Day 070b-071: Some things are best left unsaid

7-8 August

No photos – you will thank me.

After departing the train in Chicago Union Station Saturday evening, we went to the Chinatown Hotel in that part of Chicago known as (wait for it …) Chinatown! It was a perfectly fine if basic hotel. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Clean, simple, polite, etc. Near public transportation, and LOTS of Chinese Restaurants and shops that would have been gangs of fun in better times. No elevators as it turned out and our rooms were on the third floor. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have cared but my travelling companion, Marilyn, isn’t fond of stairs. She turned out to be a hero, and very tired.

I won’t embellish this story. In the lobby of the hotel what had formerly been only a vague but slowly growing unease turned into full-blow active food poisoning. It was brutal. Details will be left undefined.

That night, no sleep but I memorized the way to the toilet very quickly (fortunately it was in our suite) and the path will be etched in my memory for years, as short as it was, from pure repetition.

Next day we didn’t even consider using our pre-paid tickets to the Field Museum (damn) and I essentially slept all day except for thankfully, but slowly, decreasing visits to the toilet. That, alone, is probably TMI – sorry.

Marilyn made at least six round trips up and down the 40 steps in the stairway (she counted), sometimes laden with bags for both of us, or food for herself (or for me the next day), or the need to go to the desk to do something we should have been able to do on the phone, etc. She got lost in Chinatown searching for a Sprite for me and was rescued by a really nice group of young people offering to help, then we found the next day that the Sprite was available literally across the street from the hotel.

I may – emphasis on MAY – get Marilyn to approve a written form of the stories from the Chinatown Hotel that were so entertaining to members of her family later in the week. But not right now. To hear her tell her story of getting lost, and the entire incident, is hilarious – – – now.

I do, however, have to sneak in a joke and an acknowledgement of an extraordinary person – Marilyn. We were married 45 years ago, divorced about 40 years ago, and over the years have developed a very deep and appreciative friendship. We travelled well together and she has become one of my most trusted and valued friends. She pretty much saved my life in Chicago (not literally, but it sure felt that way). Thank god she didn’t eat a hamburger on the train for lunch. If we had both been sick it would have been much, much worse.

Now the joke: I found out how to get along really well with your ex-wife – just give her your credit card and shut up. (pause).

So – to keep this brief – Saturday evening and most of Sunday were absolutely miserable for me, exhausting but quiet for her, and will be the source of entertaining stories about travel for years that come from a very dark place in my memories.

And that is enough said about being in Chicago. We delayed our flight from Sunday night to Monday morning, and arrived in Wichita on Day 072 without further incident.

Day 070 – CORN, CORN, CORN, soybeans, CORN, CORN, CORN

Written: 7 August 2021

Woke up in the morning somewhere into Nebraska.

Was asleep in Denver to the left – and we slept through almost all of Nebraska. The first town sign I saw on Friday morning (Day 70) was for Omaha, Nebraska – right against the border on the map, above. And we were then in Iowa.

And then – corn fields. Lots and lots of corn fields.

Corn fields.

Then a bit farther – more corn fields.

More corn fields.

The next stretch of travelling was interesting in that the corn fields were interrupted by a single patch of something …

Travelling through corn fields, and more corn fields, then something different in the middle, then corn again.

SOYBEANS! The scenery on this leg of the journey was incredibly diverse.


Then more corn fields.

Even more corn fields.

Lots of small towns and railroad tracks – all of which were built around and because of … corn fields.

The settlers here had some kind of hang-up on names starting with “O” (Omaha, Osceola, Ottumwa).

And now, for something completely different (thank you Monty Python)…
About 51 years ago, when I was 20, I drove cross country with three classmates to Ottumwa, Iowa, for the Antique Aircraft Association Fly In, where I got to be a passenger in some of the earliest airplanes. My favorite ride was in a Ryan PT-22 where I was a front seat passenger in an open cockpit with NO PARACHUTE! No room in the cockpit), and yes the pilot did aerobatics. I don’t know if it was the same exact airplane you see below, but it was the same design.

Back to corn…
And there were loads of railroad tracks connecting the towns so they could move corn back and forth.

Houses right against the tracks were the norm in these small towns. Note there were no fences!

Bet you thought there was going to be another picture of a corn field!!!

By this time I was in a corn stupor and missed any photos of entering Chicago. Also (as it turned out) I was on the leading edge of getting really sick with food poisoning and didn’t think much about taking photos.

On the way from Union Station to the hotel in Chinatown,

I started to feel “not so good”, and when we got to the hotel lobby, waiting around did it. Story of THAT sad episode in the next post. Let’s just say that was NOT a fun night – nor the next day. The story of that sad occurrence, one of the genre of travel stories that is always more interesting when being retold than in the moment, will be in the next post.

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Day 069 – Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and MUD, Lots and Lots of Mud and Rocks

Written 6 August 2021

Today is mostly a visual tour. No energy to write with much “meaning”, and a very interesting day for travels.

Moving left to right, we were asleep (night time) through most of Nevada. Going through Grand Junction brought back memories of a crush I had on a girl from there when I was in college. sigh…

The mud slides described below occurred around Glenwood Springs, just past Grand Junction.

We woke up Fri morning well into Utah so I (unfortunately) missed photos of the Great Salt Lake.. We were already a couple of hours late because of freight trains ahead of us.

The images below are in rough order of what we travelled through on Friday.

We were warned that mud slides in Colorado may force the train to stop and we’d be given “alternate transportation” to Chicago (busses -blargh!). Spoiler alert – we didn’t have to stop. but it was close. It is hard to give a perspective on the damage and debris from the slide that occurred on July 28 (I think), but if you’re interested, there is a good writeup with images at

Small towns always marked with retro-feeling signs at the train stops – like this one for American Fork, Utah.
We pass through many small towns – like this one in Helper, Utah.
A typical view of the river enroute. Camping out and boating on the river in inflatables in a very popular local outing. We saw dozens of similar setups along the way. Turns out there is apparently a local custom – look carefully at the guy in the photo close to the river “mooning” the train!
Now aren’t you glad I pointed that out to you? LOL.
Farmland under low hills in Utah, gave way to …
High desert scrub desert, then to …
Desert with no scrub brush. Also the next video.
Miles, and miles — and miles.
Small town in spectacular scenery. Somewhere in Colorado or Eastern Utah.
Entering Glenwood Springs – people waiting for the train westbound. Note the Amish (or Mennonite?), or “old school” Morman attire of the people on the right. Sorry, I don’t know for sure.
Entering the canyon – rock walls were about 1 meter from the train!
A view in Glenwood Springs Canyon just prior to the mud slides. Note the two level highway on the left. That I-70 – Eastbound top level, Westbound bottom level, and a bicycle track below that that went the entire distance. Both top and bottoms are 2 lanes.
One of the areas of mud slide. You can make out the two lanes of the freeway on the left side of the photo (bottom level through the trees), and see where the slide in this area covered both roads. The bicycle track can be seen at the bottom. Note the burned trees from previous wildfires – possibly a contributing cause for the mud slides by destabilizing the dirt.
Another slide area in video.
Wildfire damage.
This is looking straight up from my window – the top of the nearest rock peak is probably 100 meters high or more, and there are MUCH higher peaks behind that!
Video of the mountains just beside the train. We went VERY slowly so the engineers could ensure the track was clear. Fine by me!
Starting to come out of the mud slide area, but note the slide on the left covering the upper road and spilling onto the lower road.
The mudslides changed the course of the Colorado River. In this photo, the river literally covers the lower road.
Note the slide went below the upper level here (the vertical beam is the highway support), and completely covered the lower road. You can see bare traces of the bicycle path below the lower road.
After most of the damage. This is what the freeway normally looks like. Beautiful!
The Colorado River after leaving the canyon and before entering Denver.

About this point, I went to bed after dark, and slept through a stop on Denver.