Well, we’re in DC. The original plan was for us to arrive here on Amtrak yesterday afternoon, but the fatal flaw with that plan was having “plan” and “Amtrak” in the same sentence. The Empire Builder rolled into Chicago over three hours late, meaning our connecting train, the Capitol Limited, was already rolling east without us. Amtrak basically gave us three options: Take the train to New York and then connect to DC, a route that would get us into DC well past 11:00 Thursday night; stay at an Amtrak-booked hotel in the Chicago ‘burbs, and then run coach on the Capitol Limited (i.e. the “overnight coach with a four-year-old” option); or get a refund and make our own way to DC. While the overnight train trip was supposed to be one of the highlights for the trip for Mathias, with our planned option off the table, I wanted us to have control over our own destiny, so I got a one-way rental car from O’Hare and got us the heck out of there.
Additional train wrecks followed the missed Amtrak connection. After a tedious cab ride out to O’Hare that included the cab driver having to stop for gas, we got the car and made it to South Bend, Indiana, which seemed as good of a place to overnight as any. 1:30 in the morning is not a great time to find out that all the hotels are booked solid, but they were, and it took six hotel stops for us to finally grab a $140 room at the Comfort Suites—the last open room in the hotel. The next morning we learned there was a twirling competition in town, which made the breakfast area of our hotel look a bit like a scene out of Little Miss Sunshine, but at least the kids were quiet.
The drive across Pennsylvania was interrupted by a huge accident backup near Pittsburgh that cost us well over an hour and a half, and a construction backup in Maryland cost us another hour. In the end, it took some automotive contortion for me to get the rental back to Budget by a time reasonably approximate to its due date, only to find their “24-hour” operation at Reagan National unstaffed.
And so we spent today in DC. We drove around, visited the Air & Space Museum (which was packed), and did our best to avoid the heat. We’re camping in a friend’s house out here, and by all indications, Mathias seems to prefer lounging on couch in air conditioning than heading outside. And that’s something I completely understand.
Sometime within the next hour the folks who own this place should show up, and we’ll see what plans we can put together for tomorrow. Then Saturday night we’ll be heading up to Baltimore for a day there, and after that it’s a couple days in Philadelphia. If the heat will hold back for a bit it should be fun, but if not, I expect we’ll be staying indoors a lot.