Monday, August 13, 2012

13 August 2012, Day 69

End of the Road

My journey back to Chicago from Philadelphia aboard the Amtrak Cardinal took a long 27 hours. I met some very nice and interesting people and spent the daylight hours on Sunday looking out the window at some beautiful scenery -- especially in West Virginia. Unfortunately i took very few pictures. I didn't have a window seat, and during my one attempt at photographing the view from the cafe car, the results were rather underwhelming. I am always a little hesitant about taking pictures of people, but especially so in this case since one of my first rules for long-distance train travel is to avoid awkward situations with the people you will be forced to share BO, bad food, and snores with for the next full day. Plus, sometimes the pleasure of passively watching the world rush by far outweighs my desire to capture it with a camera. 

I had some excellent conversations, particularly with my seat mate, a young man from Ghana who is studying Political Science, and a woman who had recently returned to the US with her family after living in England for the past 10 years. Her observations about the polarization of American politics and the lack of any tolerance or respect for differing viewpoints, was especially interesting because to her it hasn't been insidious and slow, but a more clearly defined case of before-and-after. She was especially stunned by the level to which climate change is treated as a political choice rather than scientifically supported reality and is rejected by so many people in this country. This does not, by the way, help to strengthen our image abroad as anything other than the world's big, dim-witted cousin. 

So anyway, here you have it: a picture of the train car that was my home from early on Sunday until mid-morning on Monday; and a final shot of the grand staircase in Chicago's Union Station. I like the wavy unevenness of the stairs after decades of use (although this is something i like much better from an observational perspective than from actually trying to walk up or down them). And, as i'm sure my most eagle-eyed readers will have noted, this staircase -- like the WWII Memorial in 30th Street Station seen in yesterday's post -- was the location of a memorable scene from a movie made in the 1980s ... but i'll leave it to you to figure out what the two movies were.

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