God bless Amtrak — ride the rails, avoid the TSA!

Union_Station_Chicago_by_delobbo
I’m sitting in the Metropolitan Lounge of the magnificent Union Station in Chicago, having just gotten here from Baltimore, waiting to board the fabled Southwest Chief on my way to Santa Fe. 

In a nutshell: business trip, I won’t fly, private sleeper compartment called a roomette (virtual tour at Amtrak), fab fab fab.

I don’t have enough superlatives for it. I’d choose to do this even if I hadn’t stopped flying in this country.

The little roomette I have is fantastic. Small yet spacious (way more room than miserable cattle car class on airplanes); clean; big picture window; little coffee/water/juice station at the end of the corridor, free for the taking. The white-linen dining car is elegant, the Observation Car fantastic, Amtrak staff friendly and cheerful and helpful and overall delightful.

You can talk or not to as many people as you like. Naturally, I do the former, in spades. Have met so many interesting people with different stories about why they take the train — including those who, like me, have stopped flying due to the abusive thugs of the TSA. The Nat’l Park Service volunteers are also on this route, as they are most Amtrak routes; I love talking to them and hearing their little lectures on the history and scenery.

The whole thing is, in a word, civilized. Unlike air travel.

(Photo: Chicago Union Station by delobbo)