Julie in Michigan

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Saturday, March 13, 2010


I’m taking the train today, Amtrak, heading to Chicago. My beautiful, darling son is there with his wife and children. I asked him once how he learned to be such a good dad. His answer was that I showed him by being both. You don’t get many compliments like that one in a lifetime.

My niece is there with her husband and little boy, plus her big boy who has developed into a good friend as he reached adulthood a few years ago and became an artist and world traveler. Those don’t usually get combined but they did in his case. He was doing air-brushed art at Disney and a New Zealand couple took an interest in his work and now it’s offered on t-shirts on the Island on the other side of the world. I’m looking forward to a more in-depth chat about how his visit went.

Trains are a great way to travel. I enjoyed flying from the first time I got on a Michigan-winter flight to Florida back in the early 70’s. Went by myself and enjoyed every minute of the thrill. Back then the last few rows in the plane were reserved for smokers! Planes changed and while the smoking in closed quarters without any open-windows would be an issue, a bigger one is the rules and regulations requiring shoes, coats and belts to be removed, taking the laptop out of the case, everything in baskets and then on the plane, the seats up and down, trays, electronic devices. Give me a train today.

Trains are easy. You can reserve at the last minute, show up at the last minute, pay in cash, none of that credit card required to be scanned. Change your seat, move around, and take a break by walking back to the dining card and sitting down to have a coffee and bagel. Not the best food to be sure, but available. I can stretch out and open my laptop or read a book or sleep and five hours later, I switch trains in downtown Chicago.

A few blocks away from the Amtrak station is the Metra station. I get to walk along Chicago River and remember the summer jaunts I’ve taken on the Water Taxi. I love Chicago. Navy Pier is a favorite place in the spring and summer.

I visited Tall Ships Chicago in 2006. This year's event is still in the planning stages, but starts August 24th and they are looking for volunteers. Hmmm, if I'm still in the area...

Ships from all over the world, all sailed into Chicago on the same August morning for the Festival. A few of the local tour boat companies offered special cruises during the festival and my grandson and I were in one of these that was heading out into the lake as the ships were sailing in. Phenomenal day, never to be forgotten.

Unfortunately, it is March and not much going on this weekend in Chicago, at least not that I’ll be involved in, just a family visit. It’s good to have family.

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