One Last Trip

Done! Four weeks and eight train rides later, I am officially finished with my November of travel. My final trip home was, unsurprisingly, November Trip #4: Thanksgiving!

After all the time I’ve spent with Amtrak this month, I really feel that I’ve become somewhat of an expert on Union Station. I know exactly where I need to go for my train, I know when to arrive, I know when to get in line to insure prime seat claiming. Interestingly, though, there were more people traveling through Union Station on Wednesday afternoon than my usual early Saturday morning train, which meant all my previous strategies were thrown off.

I don’t know how early all those people arrived. I got to the train over an hour before its scheduled departure, and all of these people beat me. Insane! On the bright side, larger crowds meant we got to wait inside the Great Hall instead of the usual waiting room. If you’ve never been to the Great Hall in Union Station, it’s worth a stop regardless of whether or not you’re traveling by train somewhere. It’s a massive, beautiful space that makes me think of the heyday of rail travel. I highly recommend it for history buffs like me.

My train was sold out, which meant they started boarding Joe Schmoes like me 45 minutes ahead of departure rather than 15-20 minutes like normal. This not only gave me ample writing time (I knocked out just shy of 5,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel between Chicago and home on Wednesday!) but also gave me plenty of time to pull up my ticket on my iPhone after I unfortunately dropped my ticket in the exceptionally small space between the armrest of my seat and the wall of the train. Note to self: from now on, keep your ticket far, far away from the armrest, no matter how quickly you want to plug your computer in.

Thanksgiving at home was lovely, as always. Unfortunately two of my three cousins had to miss out on the festivities–one was traveling to Massachusetts for Central Michigan’s Friday game, the other goes to school on the East Coast and couldn’t swing coming home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas–but my aunt and uncle did bring along their new dog. She’s a little bundle of energy and is OBSESSED with my aunt, but she’s also a bit of a cuddle bug that just wants to love on everyone: my kind of dog!

Friday was pretty low-key around home. I had an appointment at 8 a.m. and was pleasantly surprised to discover that most of the Black Friday shoppers had called it a day, but the Black Friday deals at Meijer had not. I bought some Christmas decorations to bring a little bit of seasonal cheer to my apartment and didn’t have to pay 9.75% sales tax on any of them. I ❤ shopping outside of Chicago.

On Friday evening my family went out for dinner and went “shopping” for Christmas list ideas. This involved a stop to a sporting goods store so my brother could show my mom exactly which U of M sweatpants he wanted for Christmas. I amused myself with all the running accessories while he did that, and then amused myself further with the creative labeling I found around the store.

This must have been why my volleyball team struggled so much this summer. Not once did anyone come equipped with padded gloves! I’ll have to remember that for next year 😉

I had the chance to run some of my old routes on Saturday, which was just fantastic. Running in Chicago is great, but there’s nothing like a quiet, cold run to start off my Saturday. It snowed for awhile on Friday, which did mean the roads were a little slick, but also meant THERE WAS SNOW ON THE GROUND!

I think last winter’s nonexistence is making me crave snow more than usual. I’m so sick of temperatures in the 50s. I want it to be cold, I want it to snow, and I want those things to happen now. kthnx.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great time at home these past four weeks, but man, putting my suitcase away was the best feeling on Sunday. I am so, so ready to spend a weekend in Chicago again.

How was your Thanksgiving?
Any fun or unique family holiday traditions? My family has gone bowling every Thanksgiving afternoon for probably 10+ years now. I thought I stood a chance this year, given the absence of two of my cousins, but alas: I put up an exceedingly poor performance 😦 Didn’t break 100–or even come close to 100–on either game. Boo.

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8 thoughts on “One Last Trip

  1. Who knew Amtrak was so busy at Thanksgiving?? I think I’ve only ever taken it around Christmas and don’t remember it being THAT busy. Crazy!
    The only Thanksgiving tradition we have is that it’s when my siblings and I draw names for who is getting who a gift. The key is that you can’t tell who you got and then you get surprised on Christmas.

    • It was insane! I’ve never seen so many people at Union Station. It probably didn’t help that my train was the only train out of Chicago that day that went to a lot of places in Michigan, but yeah. Madness. Definitely not like the first trip I took where I had both seats to myself both ways!

      My family does a name exchange on Christmas as well, but it’s only among the grown-ups. There was discussion of making me a grown-up this year, but I protested since I’m not the oldest kid in the family, and my older cousin wasn’t going to be part of the name exchange. And I’m a selfish fool and wanted presents from everyone, not one person. Haha. I’m a horrible human being.

  2. That’s crazy! Busy transportation holidays. I’ve never been on Amtrak or Metra, so never really even been in Union station. That’ll change this Christmas time, when I have to find out how to get to Woodstock. I did once find out that there are no ticket machines on the platforms not at Union Station. I’m happy you enjoyed your Thanksgiving with the family that could be there and that dog is adorable!

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