Kenosha Scrubbed, So LaGrange, Instead


Erin is convinced that Kenosha exists in a Brigadoon state, and each time I come close to visiting it, something happens to make it disappear. Numerous times I’ve expressed an interest in going to visit the reconditioned Toronto streetcars there, but we end up diverting on the i-94, or we end up in Chicago too late for me to take the only Metra train going there and back. Or something.

Today, I woke up in my seat in Indianapolis at 6 a.m., which is exactly where Amtrak’s Cardinal should be. But we aren’t moving. Turns out that a private railcar that the train was pulling at the rear popped over the rail as the train entered Indianapolis Union Station. This damaged the coupler to the point where the crew couldn’t disengage it from the rest of the train. We were looking at staying in Indianapolis for hours until possibly buses would come, but instead the crew decided to take the luggage out of the baggage car (which was between the private car and the rest of the train) place them wherever space was available on the train, and abandon the baggage car in Indianapolis. Doing this allowed us to leave Indianapolis Union Station two hours late, at 8 a.m.

This was better than bussing it, but the damage had been done. Now that we’d been thrown off our window, we now had to compete with every freight railroad for space between Indianapolis and Chicago. We moved slowly, and we stopped frequently, and we finally pulled into Chicago Union Station at 2:15 p.m., 4.5 hours late, and nearly 2 hours too late to head to Kenosha.

Oh, well. But it was late enough that I could check into my hotel room for the evening and drop off my suitcase there. Then, after a brief rest, I decided to have some fun in Chicago itself.

At Erin’s suggestion, I visited Anderson’s Books in LaGrange, Illinois. This interesting commuter suburb is well built up around the Metra commuter rail station that’s just 30 minutes away from Chicago Union Station. The trains are frequent and roll most hours of the day and night. There’s good density here, and a vibrant feel that is homely. It’s quiet, and only a half-hour away from the hurly-burly of the big city.

Anderson Bookstore was a nice place to visit, and I talked up Erin’s books (they had stocked Plain Kate previously), and then I spent a little time at a pizzeria for some excellent Chicago Deep Dish.

One benefit of being trapped on a train for 4.5 hours longer than expected, you do get some writing done. I finished a column for the Kitchener Post and over 900 words on The Sun Runners. I hope to push that over a thousand later this evening. So far on this tour, I’ve written nearly 4,000 words, and have pulled the story over 80,000 in total. I am finding that it is more complicated than I’d expected and it may pass 100,000 before some serious revision can be done.

Tomorrow, I board Amtrak’s Wolverine for Detroit, and then VIA Rail to take me from Windsor to Kitchener, and some interesting things to bridge the gap. See you at home!

Pictures of my two days can be found here.

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