Yesterday was pretty simple. We finished up the Texas Eagle without further incident and got into Chicago around 5 PM—only 2 hours late in the end!
Having finished our Burrito Lady stash and committed to abstaining from overpriced Amtrak food on principle, there wasn’t much to eat. I finished the last 1/3 of a bag of Cheetos I’d picked up in Mineola for breakfast… don’t recommend doing that.
It’s funny how fast trains can go when they’re really trying to make up time. Just before the train pulled into Bloomington, IL, we were looking out the window and I noticed that the bushes seemed to be passing faster than normal. “Or is that just me?” I asked.
Mattea pulled out Google Maps and started navigation—an easy hack to see how fast you’re currently traveling. And sure enough, we were going exactly 90 mph! Imagine how many hours would be saved if they actually hit the gas that hard normally.
After getting into Chicago’s Union Station again (visit 4/7), we walked over to get some real food at “Au Cheval,” a diner for which my coworker Sean had given me the most effusive recommendation that I’ve ever received for anything.
The name means “by horse” or “on horseback” in French; not sure how that’s connected to the cuisine. They mainly serve burgers, fries, and related cuisine—with eggs on a lot of it. I got a maxed-out burger at Sean’s recommendation; Mattea tried their “Crispy Fries” (which had a fried egg on top along with some mornay sauce on the side (basically Mac & cheese sauce)).
It was very good! I typically like my burgers heavy on the vegetables, but can tell this was extremely well-executed; the bacon was about 1/4” thick and melted into each bite—no tugging whatsoever! The fried egg was a surprisingly good addition; I’ve never had them on sandwiches before, but really enjoyed it. Mattea liked her fries too.
Our seating arrangement was interesting: they put us at a bar that surrounded the kitchen, so we were ~3 feet from the kitchen staff. It was fun to hang out and watch them joke around and have a good time—dinner and a show!
After that, we caught a very long bus northward to our cheap Airbnb, which turned out to be located in the largest LGBTQ district in the midwest. The sidewalks there are really nice, made with a rainbow brick pattern! It’s a pretty old and cozy area; the house we stayed in is 130 years old (and feels it).
Then we settled in: took a shower, connected to WiFi, worked for a few hours to finish out the long but pretty simple day.