I had a better night on the train, well kinda. I worked out a couple of comfortable positions to lie in (for some value of comfortable) and I alternated between them. At one point I thought "There's a blog post in here: 'The 10 most comfortable ways to sleep in a coach seat on Amtrak'" but then I realised I'd have to think up another eight and I'd have to find some way of describing or illustrating them. So yeah I just got foetal basically.
I woke, of course, to more snow, more big blank snow and then some – today was Minnesota and Wisconsin. If I kept my mind relatively blank the day before, today was more of the same. But today I had mobile coverage again, so I could check in on Foursquare (earning myself both the super user's badge and the over sharer's badge) and I could connect a little with others on twitter and by e-mail. It's amazing how clear it is that you receive only small amounts of useful stuff in e-mail when you see a whole day's worth piled up in your inbox.
So, I did enough writing to assuage my work-guilt, plenty more slow video as the train halted or just got going. I'm thinking of finding a way to sew these clips together to make a movie that's just views from the train moving slowly. It needs to not be too repetitive but it will have to wait till I'm back and I've got everything and I've a machine in front of me that can handle editing video comfortably.
The train was filling up. At Wisconsin Dells, I gave the other half of my double seat to Lindsay, a young singer (an actress really) with a blues band in Chicago. I gave her a quick beginner's ukulele lesson and sang her a little song.
I had lunch on the train for the first time because my provisions from Seattle had run out. Not the greatest cuisine on the planet, but it kept me going.
It really didn't feel like 43 hours on that train. Milwaukee is the cleanest, brightest, most modern Amtrak station I've been to. Sadly, it didn't have what I was expecting, a spare seat on the train down to Austin on Wednesday/Thursday. I was told to call after midnight when there may have been some cancellations. So I started to compose a "Solve it while I sleep" post in my head.
Tracy checked into the station on Foursquare while she was waiting for the lights across the road, so I knew when she was there. Always good to see her, but just so good to see a known and friendly face after all that time. After a little detour to her office to pick up choonz we headed for home.
Milwaukee has this weird contrast of being a heavy industrial city but also a lakeside town. There's one stretch of highway up the coast and on one side I could easily have been going through anywhere in the Black Country and on the other there's this great stretch of water that I know is a lake but looks pretty much like the ocean to me.
@tappsestate is lovely and I got to meet @moethecat – I struggled to get on the wifi because I didn't read the instructions properly but once I was on I managed to get my fix of getting through e-mail and catching up on twitter and stuff while Tracy fixed up jambalaya for the evening's festivities: a Mardi Gras party at her church (yes, you read that right – a *family friendly* Mardi Gras party that would be finished by 7.30) Part of me wanted to just crash out, but I'm really glad I said yes to going out – we had a great time, lots of laughter, met lots of lovely people, lots of music, a masked parade – great food and I even got a temporary tattoo and some purple beads.
So we were home by 9pm but I had to work quite hard to stay up to talk to Amtrak after midnight. I wrote my "solve it" post anyway in case I just fell asleep. In the meantime the option of a lift from one of Tracy's friends dematerialised. So I was very relieved when I spoke to Connie in California to confirm my reservation for the following day – so I put a little update line in the blogpost and went down to sleep in the TappsEstate Basement, resplendent, as you might expect, with cocktail bar, rainbow flag and kick-ass drum kit.