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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Train Trip Across the Country: Part 2

We woke up in Minneapolis, Minnesota to more snow on the ground, but blue skies and bright sunshine above. Gone, however, were the open landscapes of Montana, and we were surrounded by more cities and industry than the day before as we traveled through the mid-west. The juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made still made for some pretty scenic views.

I'm not even sure how the day passed so quickly. We didn't read many of the books or play any of the games we brought along - instead my mom and I were both glued to the window until the sun set near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The view was more smokestacks, this time with hundreds of gulls circling in the blue-orange sky:
We pulled into Chicago's Union Station two hours behind schedule. Many travelers missed their connection but luckily we had a long layover in the Windy City and still had several hours to kill. That gave us time to grab some dinner and tour the impressive train station. It was much larger than Portland's Union Station that we departed from, not to mention all the tiny stations in towns across Montana and North Dakota.

Having traveled the Empire Builder from one end to the other, we hopped on the Lake Shore Limited to travel from Chicago to Buffalo, New York. It was an overnight trip of about 10 hours, and while we had a sleeper car for the first two nights this third night was spent in coach, where it turned out to be much more difficult to sleep comfortably! We woke up after a fitful night's sleep at dawn to spend the last couple of hours on the train taking in part of the New York countryside before pulling in to Buffalo.

I was exhausted by the time we arrived - kind of amazing since all I did was sit on a train for two and a half days, but I definitely hadn't slept the best for the previous three nights. Still, I wasn't ready to crash until I spent some time scanning the backyard bird feeders at the house I'm staying at in New York, eager to pick up some eastern year birds before the end of 2010. My hosts graciously started filling the feeders a month ago, so the birds didn't disappoint. Before falling asleep for my three hour nap, I added the red-bellied woodpecker (230), tufted titmouse (231), and northern cardinal (232). The next day I also added the blue jay (233).

Coming up in the next couple of posts: the 2010 year list in review and a look forward to 2011, plus photographs of all the great backyard birds here in New York.

1 comment:

Blue Heron said...

Must be scary for the country girl to get smacked in the face with the big city. Really enjoy your writing. Happy New Year.