Monday, January 23, 2012

Holiday trip 2011: Back to the Midwest

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our arrival in Kingman, Arizona was as timely as the eastbound Southwest Chief. I awoke in Flagstaff with little time to catch a breath of fresh air, so I focused on getting breakfast. Having tried the cheese blintz on the trip out, I go for a cheese omelet with bacon, grits and biscuit.

Halfway between Gallup and Albuquerque I find myself tiring of Angus burgers for lunch, so going for broke I opt for a black bean burger with strips of bacon. The black bean patty is a huge improvement over the bland, texturally-disappointing Gardenburger previously offered as the vegetarian alternative in bleaker years’ past.

At our crew change and fuel stop in Albuquerque I’m disappointed to find that my trusty food porn camera bit the dust. Just what I need to have after a costly vacation: an unexpected expense.

Nothing terribly interesting for the remainder of the day except for the usual breaks in Raton and La Junta. Seated for dinner, I found that the pasta for the night was out. I ate a few bowls of side salad, and was halfway into what passed for tiramisu when I realized I could gotten the mac and cheese on the kids’ menu with a baked potato and mixed vegetables. Even though what I saw served at lunch was nothing more than the boxed variety, it would be been more substantial than what I settled for.

Monday, January 2

I slept more soundly on the return trip through Kansas only rising once in Garden City before I woke up for good at Lawrence. Breakfast was enjoyed while creeping through the BNSF Argentine intermodal yard, followed by a crew change outside of Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.

Still feeling poorly I decided to pass on an overnight in either Ottumwa or Chicago, but take a bus home from Galesburg, Illinois instead. I was dejected that I couldn’t buy a westbound bus ticket at the train station. Only westbound service to Peoria and Bloomington sold as an Amtrak connection could be purchased here. For everything else I had to walk a half-mile to the Burlington Trailways agent over by Public Square. Did I mention that the weather was lousy, with high winds blowing around a fresh deposit of powdery snow?

Not quite properly attired for the onslaught, I endured the bitter cold and winds to the agency with a brief stop at an enclosed ATM along the way. With ticket in hand and delighted to find that the local hot dog eatery on Cherry St. nearby was open I braved the cold once again to grab some lunch.

Having stumbled on to Coney Island on my last layover in Galesburg [see blog post], I was intent on trying some more of their cheap, simple, quirky eats. The Taco Dog sported lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and a thin veneer of seasoned ground beef atop the wiener. The aptly named Kraut Dog is just a mess of kraut with a squirt of mustard. Finally the Mud Puppy, and my favorite of the trio, is a dog slathered with a cheesy seasoned ground beef sauce. The flavor was so familiar and comforting.

Returning to the agency once more, I’m greeted with the news that the bus is running over 40 minutes late. So much for rushing around town!

The bus ride to West Burlington was crowded, noisy with dirthead banter, and scented with the bad breath of the otherwise inoffensive youth seated next to me. The bus to Des Moines offered more elbow room, fewer unsavory characters seated around me, but did include the cell phone banter of some newly born-again female travelling to Colorado Springs, promising not to rub her renewed faith in the faces of her skeptical family.

Home again I schedule a doctor’s appointment to investigate my prostate/urinary tract woes and stay put for the next day-and-half. So ends vacation.

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