Taking the Railroad Less Traveled
by Charles McKelvy
Surely you have taken Amtrak from New Buffalo and enjoyed the ride. Same with the South Shore from Carroll Avenue in Michigan City.
I’m not knocking either method, and, yes, I’ve been there and done that many times, and, yes, they both work just fine.
But if you want to sprinkle a dash of excitement into your otherwise ordered existence, please consider taking Amtrak from Saint Joseph to Chicago and back.
Allow me to explain:
Amtrak train 371, the Pere Marquette, departs at 8:16 a.m. Eastern daily and puts you in Chicago Union Station, or CUS, at 9:11 a.m. Central. That’s almost a commuter schedule.
It certainly is if your first appointment in the Loop is at 10.
Better yet, the return train to St. Joe—the eastbound Pere Marquette—doesn’t depart Union Station until 6:30 p.m. Central, and, like its westbound partner, it runs non-stop between Chicago and Saint Joseph. Train 370 pulls into Saint Joseph at 9:15 p.m. Eastern, and stops right in front of Silver Beach Pizza, so if you didn’t get enough to eat in Chicago or on the train, you can pop in for a late pizza.
What I like about taking the trains between Chicago from Saint Joe is that they give you a full day in the city with plenty of time for business, pleasure and leisurely dining.
Take my recent trip as an example:
After an on-time arrival at Chicago Union Station, I remained in the station and bought tickets for a future Amtrak trip to East Lansing, and then I took a summer hat to Optimo over on Dearborn and Jackson for cleaning, and then I went to Century Pens on Clark and Jackson to talk pens with Ed Hamilton and buy some cartridges, and then a vegan feast at Native Foods next door on Clark, and then Confession with a wise and merciful Franciscan priest at St. Peter’s Church in the Loop on Madison between Clark and LaSalle, and then some music of the gods for free at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert (Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m.) at the Cultural Center on Michigan between Randolph and Washington, and a long walk to Cermak and Wabash for lunch at White Castle, and a ride back downtown on the Green Line, and the closer wandering the wonderful galleries at the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue before hiking west on Jackson for a bite to eat at the Corner Bakery outside Union Station and then an absolutely delightful train ride in the dark back to Saint Joe where my car was waiting, after a free day in the lot, to take me home to Harbert, long after the Saint Joe rush hour (such as it is).
Worked for me.
It sure can work for you if you’re looking to add a dash of disorder to your otherwise orderly existence.
Call Amtrak today at: 1-800-872-7245.