Quotes of the day –
“A shout out to Mr and Mrs East on their honeymoon, taking our trains across America. Thanks for travelling with us today” – Amtrak Announcer, Capitol Ltd
“Please do not approach or pet the police dogs” – Station announcer, Chicago Union
“You might want to take a couple of slices home with you” – Waitress, Pizzeria Uno, Chicago
6am on the morning of day eight, and a completely different scene – Toledo, Ohio in the Mid-West. A haven for those seeking a quiet life with hectares of space, and a nightmare for the political elites from DC.This State is the career graveyard for many Harvard educated, sharp-suited congressmen. In the last 10 presidential elections (since 1976), Ohio has picked the ultimate winner of the contest every time (5 Democrat, 5 Republican), and the margin in this State is normally within 5 percentage points. Travelling across this vast expanse, it is easier to appreciate the day-to-day issues facing local people. Foreign concerns seem a long way off. At breakfast we met a lady on her way back to Milwaukee from DC. Her son and daughter now live in North Carolina and London. She does not like flying and cannot be on a plane for more than two hours at a time. The train to Chicago felt like a time capsule, harking back to the golden age of rail travel in the US – a brief glimpse of a way of life quickly disappearing. An Amish family, also at breakfast, got off in Indiana. On the outskirts of Chicago is the town of Gary, known for its huge steelworks and the birthplace of Michael Jackson, and the Astronaut Frank Borman. Chicago Union station is a mixture of modern functionality and historical grandeur – as well as being the scene for tearful goodbyes on the 90s television series ER.
South of the city centre is Museum campus, the site of the 1893 Chicago World Fair and now home to the Field museum, aquarium and planetarium. They can be reached easily by the L, the metro which runs above ground.
On to Day 9, and the weather has taken a nasty turn, with sporadic storms and tornadoes – which interrupted the NFL match in Chicago today (enough on its own to make headline news). Several deaths have been reported elsewhere in the State. Before getting drenched we managed to reach the Museum of Surgical Science.
Chicago is known for taking a normal pizza and making it 3 times as big. Having tried one at Pizzeria Uno on East Ohio Street, it turns out the base is quite thin apart from the crust – the “pizza pie” is basically an excuse to put three times as much cheese on.
Forgive me whilst a fall into a diabetic coma….
Love to all,