|Amtrak Train 351 at the Ann Arbor Train Station|
Wolverine Service between Pontiac Michigan and Chicago
|Leaving in the dark Saturday morning|
I found the Amtrak website a bit cumbursome to use but I was able to eventually navigate the site and order tickets online. Each ticket was about $30 per person per trip so altogether it was $300 to get our family of 5 to and from Ann Arbor to Chicago and back. This is not the cheapest way to travel to Chicago but it sure was stress-free. The train was warm and relatively clean. Seats were wide and comfortable. Plenty of bathrooms, overhead bins, etc.
|Locking up the bikes. We're not the only ones.|
|Waiting for the train at the Ann Arbor Station along with about 100 other people|
When the train arrived at the Ann Arbor station, I counted about 6 train cars and by the time we reached Chicago, we were more than halfway full. Most seats were taken.
There was even a dining car at the end of the line of train cars. Not like the old Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock heyday with table cloth service but a little place to purchase coffee, hot chocolate and donuts sort of place.
|Dining car with the snack shop at the far end. Conductors in upper left of photo doing paperwork|
|Kris enjoying a snack in the dining car|
|Jake and Kat with a movie, hot chocolate and Dutch almond cookie - tradition|
|Kalamazoo Train Station|
|Conductors were using shovels to knock snow and ice off the train steps when we arrived at Union Station|
|Chicago's Union Station, Grand Hall|
We are now in Chicago - the adventure begins. See the next post here, Part 2 of 8
After we returned from the trip, I happened to stumble on another review of Amtrak and I learned several things.
The "first class" section of the train is located in back of or front of the snack bar, depending on which direction you are travelling. These seats cost about $10 more between Ann Arbor and Chicago. Because of the location of the seats in relation to the rest of the cars, there is not a constant trail of foot traffic in the First class section. Every seat has a power outlet, a complimentary drink is included, and the perk that I find is probably worth the extra money is that each seat can be switched so that it faces "forward.
When we boarded the first time in Ann Arbor, it was all so fun, new and exciting that we just plopped down in the first set of seats that were together. We then discovered a few minutes later that we were sitting backwards! Duh! I get "car sick" and sitting backwards for five hours was not going to work for me. I ended up either sitting sideways, turning to face forward in my seat (not very ladylike), or hanging out in the dining car. So the First class seats has some worthy features in my book.
According to the review I read, not every regular seat has access to a power supply. I don't know if we were lucky to get seats with power both ways or if these were upgraded cars and all seats had power. My kids watched movies on a laptop, read, looked out the window, had a snack, and generally had a swell time.