I wound up with a 7 hour layover in Chicago. The nice thing about train travel is that when you have a layover, you can leave the terminal. And when you have a layover in Chicago, you’re downtown, right in the Loop.
The Art Institute is closed on Tuesdays, so I went to Exile in Bookville, a bookstore on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Ave. The Fine Arts Building still retains much of its 1898 decor, and it even still has elevators that need to be operated by human beings. Exile in Bookville turned out to be an excellent small bookstore. I passed over William Cronon’s environmental history of Chicago and the midwest (too bulky to carry on the train) and instead bought The Future Is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. I also stopped at the DePaul University bookstore, which is run by Barnes and Noble.
By then it was half past four. Time to start walking slowly back to Union Station. I stopped to take a photo of part of a public art work on Quincy St. at South State St.
As I continued walking, I looked for more public art….
It turned out to be a very pleasant layover in Chicago.
I awakened in the middle of the night and looked out the window of the upper berth. Rain blurred the view. The GPS on my phone said we were in Buffalo, but I saw nothing distinctive.
I had gone to bed before nine o’clock, so it was no surprise when I awakened at half past six. I tried to doze, but I was awake. I washed my face and shaved, got dressed, and tried to read for a while. At last it started to grow light outside. I opened the curtains of the roomette to watch the world go by. We passed a brightly-painted, brightly-lit water tower in Bryan, Ohio.
We mostly pass through farm fields, with a few patches of woodland, a few small towns, and a few areas of light industry.
I saw no snow anywhere. I’ve taken the Lake Shore Limited several times before in January, and there is always snow on the ground at this time of year. But not this year. Global climate change is taking hold.
Before I knew it, we were in Chicago, arriving at Union Station just before ten o’clock, ahead of schedule. I went up to the Great Hall, to see if it was as spectacular as I remembered it being. It was, and is. The sight was spoiled somewhat by the fact that Amtrak plays bad Muzak which sounds echo-y and terrible in that high space. I did my best to ignore the bad Muzak, and just enjoyed the light and space. It was a very peaceful place to spend a couple of hours while waiting for the connecting train to Milwaukee.
Hiawatha Service, the service to Milwaukee, was delayed half and hour due to a computer glitch. At last we were on our way. I enjoyed looking down the streets of Chicago and trying to imagine who lived there.
I dozed off, and awakened again when we were in Wisconsin. It was a short ride, just under 90 minutes. The downtown Milwaukee train station was nothing special — it looked like a bus terminal, and actually it was a bus terminal as well as a train station.
Carol and her dad were waiting to pick me up outside the station. Supposedly there’s a move to extend train service all the way up the coast of Lake Michigan to Green Bay. That would have saved Carol an hour and a half drive down to pick me up.
While my trip took much longer than the two hour flight from Boston to Milwaukee, my carbon footprint was much, much smaller. And I enjoyed it more, because instead of being treated like animated cargo (that’s how TSA and the airlines treat you), I was treated like an actual human being.
At PRMR, we met with Father David Kelly, a Catholic priest affiliated with the Precious Blood missionaries, and three young men who participated in PBMR programs. Father Kelly said that he had been involved with various prison and inner city ministries before helping to organize PBMR. In his experience, he had found that the criminal justice system is primarily adversarial in nature, and that it does not provide any real support to either perpetrators nor victims. And at times he found himself in situations where he had a relationship with both the victim and the perpetrator of a crime — how could he minister effectively to both?