July 2, 2011
Hutchinson, KS Newton KS, Topeka, KS, Lawrence, KS, Kansas City MO, La Plata, MO, Fort Madison IA, Galesburg IL, Princeton, IL, Mendota, IL, Naperville, IL Chicago, IL.
I awoke to the muddy corn fields of Kansas. During the night we had descended from Raton
Pass at 7588 feet to the flatness of Kansas at 700 feet. Everything was lush and green but the vistas were limited to ethanol fields. I am somewhere between Topeka and Kansas City, MO but I am not sure that it matters.
Factoid: There are 3.19 deaths per million miles traveled by railroad. It is ten times more deadly than air travel. But the scenery is better.
At mid morning we crossed the Missouri River and it was up to the top of its banks with water. Fields around the area are flooded as there is no place for the water to go to. At some points the train had to slow down because the tracks were holding back a lot of water, weakening the rail bed.
Factoid: Amtrak is actually the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and its stock is owned by the US government.
Later we crossed the Mighty Mississippi at Fort Madison, Iowa in one of the few places where the Mississippi runs from West to East. Once over the river we were in Illinois which pretty much looks like Iowa. And Kansas. AndMissouri.
Factoid: It is a lot easier to Google factoids when there is nothing but corn to look at.
We went through Galesburg, Illinoiswhich is the home town of George Washington Ferriswho invented, you guessed it, the Ferris Wheel. It was also home to Olmsted Ferris who invented,
you would never guess this, popcorn. Not wanting to diminish his accomplishment but couldn’t he have just looked in his backyard and found it? There was also a debate between two guys named Lincoln and Douglas but that has not endured as well as the Ferris wheel or popcorn.
In mid afternoon we got to Chicago Union Station and I was excited to get off. I have always liked Chicago for no understandable reason. I think it must be the buildings, and there are a lot of them. I don’t know how a state that can produce such crooked politicians can have such
magnificently straight buildings. Kickbacks? No, that would never work.
But Chicago is known for tall buildings, working class people and the mob. But I did not have to worry about the Tokyo Mafia here because I a staying in a hotel in Greek Town, which is worrisome in its own way.
I tossed my bags and went off on a hot, muggy day to see what I could of the city. They are
having their ‘Taste of Chicago’ festival along Lakeshore drive so I wandered through that for a while. There was way too much humanity there for me. But they were serving lots of good stuff to eat. I think they even had deep fried butter-yum.
So I wandered through town and got to the Art Institute There were two tall fountains cascading water down and semi-flooding a large section of concrete. It was hot and the kids were having the time of their lives running under and through the water. I wanted to join them but they said I was too big.
On my way back I stopped and looked in the window of Garret Popcorn. I could not get close enough to look in on the first walk by this place because the lines and crowds of people were just too big. Garrett Popcorn must be the Starbucks of popcorn: Chicago Mix=$31/ gallon or Caramel Crisp= $79 for 3 gallons. And there were people buying multiple shopping bags of this stuff! I wonder if Olmsted has any idea how people are cashing in on his invention. Note: You could get 6.5 gallons for $135 proving once again that it pays to buy in bulk.
I went back to the hotel and drank $8 beer while contemplating how I could get a Garret popcorn franchise.