Wednesday morning I woke up early (around 6am) to pack myself up, leave my kitty behind and head south by rail. I’ve never really traveled by rail before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I would say overall I was pleased with my trip. I brought half a loaf of bread that I made the night before to munch on which ended up being really weird since everyone else had things like corner bakery muffins and kit-kats. I guess it’s not every day on the Amtrak you see a girl pull a brown paper bag out of her travel bag and start munching a half loaf of bread.
I was taking the train down to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I was asked to give a little talk to the fashion class. There’s only one fashion class in Champaign, no fashion program, but a few students are considering switching schools to study fashion. Since I went back to school after graduating with a Photo degree, Susan, the professor, thought perhaps I could offer some insight into this decision. I think it went alright, I don’t really know, but people asked a lot of questions during the Q & A after my note-card ramblings, so I suppose that’s good.
But back to the train. I was a student at UIUC from 2000-2004 and used to drive Rt 57 down to school quite often seeing the exits for small towns like Gilman, Paxton, Buckly, etc. which from the highway make each town look like not much more than a Burger King, Mc Donalds, a roadside motel and 2-3 gas stations. On the train you get to travel through the old downtown areas of each town where the grand old fancy houses are standing, now a little run down, see the little post offices, the cafes, a few stores and lots of farm repair and supply shops. It was a great new perspective.
And in the end, my train was an hour late due to some signal clearance problems just south of Chicago, but it sure was less tiring than driving down and at $14 (one way, I drove back up with Luke since he’s done teaching on Thursday evening) it sure was a pretty good deal. Now I would like to take a bit longer train trip.