[East: Part I]

Wow, what an adventure this trip has already been, and I'm only done with the first leg! I am currently at a hotel in downtown Chicago because my train was SIX hours late arriving into Chicago [due to crazy thunderstorms and a broken down freight train we were stuck behind], and I missed my connecting train to Washington D.C. by a few hours, so they put me up in a hotel and I'm taking a train out tomorrow evening. Which means I have until tomorrow afternoon to explore Chicago! YAY! The only downside is that I get to North Carolina a day later so I can't go with my grandma to pick up my cousin on Saturday :( So anyways, I feel like bullet points might be best to summarize the trip so far:

  • Union Station in Los Angeles is cray cray. There is seriously every kind of person in there, and they all seem to be rushing down that really long hallway that echoes everything. Not to mention it is steaming hot in there. When did LA suddenly get to be a sauna?
  • Trains seem like they move slower from the inside than they do from the outside.
  • New Mexico goes on FOREVER and is "the place where people go who want to be alone," according to an old man wearing cowboy boots in the lounge car. 
  • I saw an antelope!
  • There is so so so so much empty space in the US! I don't think you can really understand how vast it is until you do something like this...
  • There was a crazy lightening storm in Kansas late last night (hence the delays) and I seriously felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. It lit up the entire landscape for split seconds at a time...I think I got a little to excited about it?
  • Jose from the Dining Car makes many many announcements. 
New Friends
  • People on trains are so dang friendly! Its as if everyone has this mutual understanding that we're all confined to this small space for a long period of time, so we might as well make friends. I love it. My first new friend was this girl sitting next to me named Vanninia who is a photographer studying at Brookes Institute in Ventura. She was going to Snowflake, AZ....what?
  • Then there was this guy, whose name I never actually got, who is a drummer from Guinea (West Africa). He had this sweet accent and was telling me all about his travels around the US doing drumming stuff. I felt kind of cool because I actually knew a bit about West African drumming because I did a piece on it for The Daily Bruin a while back. Woo! 
  • After Vanninia got off in Arizona, a older woman named Charlene got on the train and sat next to me all the way to Chicago. Charlene was rad! Everything she owns is red, and she started calling me a little butterfly because I would always step over her while she was sleeping. She is from Chicago, but left in 1964 and hasn't been back since. She doesn't have any kids but I think she'd make a great mom. 
There are so many other things I could write on and on about, but that's it for now :) Exploring Chicago tomorrow and then a night train to Washington D.C. where I get to see Eugenia for a bit! And then on to North Carolina. 

Much love, thanks for all the phone calls and texts...they kept me sane! Here's a few shots:
All aboard
New Mexico clouds

Crossing the Mississippi River

Rain rain rain is magical on the train 

I loooovee The Royal Tenenbaums!