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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

U.S. holiday - Washington D.C. to Chicago

Woke up at 6:30am, packed up and checked out at 7:30am. Thought that I needed half hour to get to Union Station. Turns out that I only needed 10 minutes to walk to the Metro station, then another 10 minutes train ride to Union Station. Shorter walking time probably because now I was walking downhill instead of up. Also overestimated Metro ride.

Had breakfast at McDonald's at station - pancakes, sausage and tea. Waited till 8:30am to board. Altogether, train ride was about three hours. Slept most of the way, waking up at each stop to see if any passengers needed the empty seat next to me. Unlike journey to Washington D.C., this was a full train. I managed to get an empty seat next to me for two hours of my journey, then another passenger sat there.

Train ride was smooth, but still arrived late at New York's Penn Station at 12:10pm. Drizzling outside, but stopped soon. Waited around for a while, then when got bored, took a taxi to La Guardia airport. US$31 + $4 tips. In the taxi, read passenger's bill of rights, e.g. taxi will not speed, taxi will not make any unnecessary honking, etc. Interesting!

Arrived early at airport. Queued up to check in, overheard some other passengers commenting about being late for their planes because of delays elsewhere, hoped it wouldn't happen to me too. Then I saw the self-service kiosk area, which was empty, so left the queue and went there. Self-service was easy, just enter e-ticket number, then go to a counter to tag my luggage, then bring my luggage to the staff who loaded it to the conveyor belt. Was a bit worried when handing my luggage over, because it was locked with non-approved lock, hope the staff wouldn't break it for security checks.

Plane was delayed till 4:45pm, more than two hours away. Wandered around airport, played with a Palm Centro, not impressed with it. SMS-ed Tim to let him know of delay. Bought a box of chocolates for office and magnet for home. Then had lunch at food court, bought a burger from Brooklyn National Deli.

Waited till 3:45pm, then went to waiting area. Found out that plane was delayed till 5pm. Walked around terminal for a while, but with nothing to do, finally just sat on the floor below the flight information monitors. Took the time to people watch, noting how many women were wearing boots.

Due to my location, lots of people milling around to check their flight information. One idiot woman was eating potato chips and dusting her fingers above me. Stupid, dirty Americans.

Checked monitor again, flight delayed to 5:15pm! Finally allowed to board at 5pm. Lousy stewardess served me water when I asked for orange juice, but I was so tired from waiting that I didn't bother to ask for a change. Slept the rest of the flight, two hours and 10 minutes.

Back in O'Hare airport. Collected luggage, lock wasn't broken, yay! Went to subway station, about 10-minute walk, but it's underground, so no need to go outside, where it was drizzling. Saw an option to buy a multi-day pass, made a quick mental calculation and figured my trips wouldn't justify the cost.

Tim SMS-ed me to say that he would meet me at Racine station, instead of me going to his house. Along the way, I SMS-ed him to let him know where the train was, so he could time himself to meet me at the station. Racine station is one of those in the middle of the I-90 highway. Cold and wet. Dragged my suitcase out, saw Tim waiting by the side of the road. He helped me load up my luggage, I said hi to Teri inside, then we went to dinner.

Dinner at Greektown. Chatted about my trip so far and plans for Thanksgiving. Had flaming cheese for starters, then a cheese/pasta dish for dinner. Went back to Tim's house after that, his housemates were still in, so I'd need to sleep on the sofa. Pulled out sofa bed, but it was in no condition to be used, so I would just use the couch.

Tim gave tour of his three-storey house, big for what he was paying! (Later learned that it's due to close proximity to University of Illinois - Chicago.) Bathed, watched TV, James Bond "Live and Let Die". Met his housemates when they returned later. Went to bed with fingers numb from dragging suitcase.

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