Saturday, December 24, 2005

ROAD TRIP: Greetings from Dreary West Michigan

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- There's some snow on the ground, but it's raining too, so from the looks of things, it looks like it will be a sloppy white Christmas, instead of just a white Christmas.

But I almost didn't make it here. I will eventually write an in-depth travel review post.

But to sum up and give you a quick preview, here is what was supposed to happen: My intent was to take an overnight Capital Limited from Washington's Union Station on Thursday afternoon to arrive in Chicago's Union Station on Friday morning. On the train, I would get some writing done, read and enjoy the ride, not in any particular hurry to get to the Midwest. In Chicago, I would wrap up Christmas shopping and meet up with a friend driving to Grand Rapids from Montana and get into Grand Rapids by late afternoon on Friday. That was the plan.

But here is what actually happened: Because of conditions apparently out of anyone's control, I was not able to get on the Capital Limited, nor any other train heading from Washington to the Midwest as they were all sold out. Instead, I was forced to march up to First and K streets NE to the Greyhound terminal and try my luck at taking a series of buses to Chicago. At 3:45 a.m., stuck in Pittsburgh's bus terminal next to the jail, I almost gave up, seriously considering taking a bus back to Washington and skipping Christmas in Michigan. But I endured the trip, made some friends along the way and met a whole host of other interesting folks who were screwed over by Greyhound's inefficiencies -- including soldiers returning from Iraq and evacuees from New Orleans, floating around from city to city, depressed and demoralized.

But those stories and full transportation analysis will come later. Now I have to get ready for Christmas Eve services at the local Latvian Lutheran church and Christmas Eve dinner with family. Merry Christmas to all those celebrating.


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