Train to the Twin Cities

This is a goodie box that was waiting for me in my sleeper car on the way back to the Twin Cities: lotion, Dove chocolate, Cremesavers, vanilla tea, and foot powder! Train Swag.

Well, as Non Birding Bill alluded to earlier, the train ride home was not as action packed as the train for Chicago to Indy. The trip to Chicago was quiet and many of us slept up there. I discovered in Chicago that my sleeper ticket to Minneapolis earned me a place in the Metropolitan Lounge where I could get some work done in peace...sort of. I did have a lady sit next to me and in less than five minutes time I learned that she had two residences (California and Tennessee), at least two daughters--one of whom recently broke her heart by scamming checks from her and stealing money from one of her Wells Fargo accounts--she recently tried reconnecting with her over Easter but her daughter did not apologize or even acknowledge what she had done wrong. The other daughter was moving back from Hawaii and wanted to live in the California house, but she was worried about that--someone had just trashed the California house and she was coming back from a legal battle over that--would her other daughter treat it nicely? Should she have a rental agreement with her daughter even though she is family? She was treated so horribly and disrespectfully by that last person that lived there. Her overall advice to me: Never be too nice to anybody.

OK. I really don't know what to say to people who spill all their beans like that to me. Perhaps my speechlessness allows them to keep talking and telling more than they really need to?

Dan the conductor took very good care of us. He passed by and offered me a complimentary mini bottle of champagne. Not my beverage of choice, but why not? So I set to working on some Mississippi River work for MN Audubon over some bubbly. Maybe I should make a train my full time office? Dan also dropped off some fresh warm oatmeal cookies too.

We had to pause for about five minutes for some freight traffic. I looked out my window and in the field I could see a large red-tailed hawk sitting on a pipe. I tried to digibino (digital camera held up to my binoculars):

The hawk seemed to know I was watching and stared right back--sweet! The train's windows made it impossible to get a clear shot, but you get the idea. At this moment, James from the dining car came to take my dinner reservation. He glanced at my maps and my camera and binos pressed to the window. "Birdwatcher?" he asked with eyebrow cocked. I was tempted to say, "No, just a garden variety pervert.", but thought better of it.

It took two minutes to make my reservation and when I turned back to the window, I discovered the red-tailed hawk had turned into a kestrel! That was quick. What had happened? There was no sign of the red-tail. Did the kestrel chase it off? Did the tail decide to fly over to the other side of the train and then the kestrel popped up on the good hunting perch? While contemplating the scenarios, the train chugged forward leaving me with no good explanation.

Part of the fun is watching life go by and the sites you see from your the Torture Museum. That in itself is intriguing, but even funnier is a wedding chapel on the right that didn't make it into the photo.

We passed several herds of deer, large flocks of turkeys, many sandhill cranes, more eagles than you can shake a stick at and even some pelicans. Maybe someday I'll organize a birding by train trip.

I made it back safe and sound and ready to get some work done this weekend. I end this entry with some sensible advice from Amtrak on safe train travel. I like how calmly the figure on the bottom is standing in front of the oncoming train. I would think the arms would be flailing at least.