Westward bound on the Amtrak

The last few weeks we’ve used the fast-forward method of travel, hopping on the Amtrak to escape the freezing rain and snow of the Northeast and to put us closer to where we would have been if we had left in April instead of October.   With plenty of friends and family to visit in the midwest, we took the 13 hour Lake Shore Limited overnight train ride from Syracuse to Chicago, sleeping most of the way.

Syracuse Amtrak Station

Traveling on Amtrak with Bicycles

View of Midwest Landscape from TrainWe got to the Syracuse station early, as we had not traveled on the train with bicycles before, and it was a good thing we did – it took us a bit of time packing and repacking our gear to accommodate Amtrak’s policies.  We loved the huge bicycle boxes Amtrak offered, as they allowed easy packing of our bikes.  We simply had to loosen the headset and turn the handlebars, take off the pedals, remove a couple of water bottle cages, then simply roll them into the box and tape it up.  The time consuming part came when they weighed our boxes and they were over the 50 pound limit.  We had to rip open the boxes and remove all of our empty water and fuel bottles, our helmets, air pumps, our locks & all the “light” stuff we had loaded on to our bike racks (to ease our own carry-on weight).

Once we got the bicycle boxes checked, we had to find a place for the “extra” gear that had always lived on the frames of our bicycles while also adhering to the checked baggage policy of no liquids or electronics.  In the end, we tossed each of our two packer plus panniers into one PacSafe and the station attendant considered it as one checked bag.  Our rack packs were considered our third allowable checked bag, and we carried our front panniers and handlebar bags with us onto the train.

Chicago!

At Chicago’s beautiful Union Station, we put our bicycles together, repacked our panniers, hopped on our steads, and rode to Jerry’s Sandwich shop, off of West Division, to grab a couple of vegan sandwiches before meeting Sheila’s long-time friends, Charlie and Margaret, and their son, Sam.

Jerry's :: Chicago, IL USA

Jerry’s Sandwich Shop

Chicago - Charlie & Kai

Charlie’s reaction to the amount of gear we were carrying!

Margaret & I working it for the camera

Laughter, love and goofiness is bountiful when spending time with my Margaret!

Missouri!

After spending a few rainy days in Chicago we hopped back on the Amtrak to make our way toward Kansas City, Missouri, to spend some time with Sheila’s family.

Amtrak - Chicago to Kansas City

On the Southwest Chief route.

Riding into Kansas City

Riding into KC at midnight, to Sheila’s brother’s apartment.

View of KC

Morning view from Andy’s apartment.

A Hop, Skip & a Jump North

After a brief night’s sleep at my brother’s apartment, we headed out to explore the city and to make our way toward Smithville, Missouri, to visit one of my sister’s and her family.  What a difference going a bit southwest made – ah, there is the sunshine again!

Kansas City, MO USA

One of our priorities is to seek out good bakeries as we travel and Kai, a previous baker himself, is always on the look out for what he calls “real” bread.  With a quick google search, he discovered a spectacular gem of a bakery was only a couple of miles away and on our way north.  Fervere has got to be one of the cutest, quaintest bakeries we’ve visited thus far.

Fervere (Bakery)

Doug coming out to say hello and welcome us into the bakery.

Fervere (Bakery) interior

Fervere

Fervere Bakery

Kai & Doug discussing all things “bread”.

Thanks to Doug and staff of Fervere for spending so much time talking with us and for loading us up with so much excellent bread!!

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Next Stop:  Smithville, MO with Family

 

9 comments to Westward bound on the Amtrak

  • Bradley Gann

    Great Post and awesome pics guys. Looks like breaking down those sweet rides could really take some effort. Stay warm and safe!

    • Thanks Bradley – hope all is well with you!

    • Kai

      Bradley,

      Thanks for sticking with us! Actually, Amtrak’s boxes are oversized so a quick loosening of the stem and a rapid removal of the pedals (and, in our case, removal of one of the bottle cages located up front and the lowering of my saddle) is all that’s necessary to slide a bike in the box. As Sheila comments, it was meeting Amtrak’s 50lbs weight limit that proved more difficult. One of the three stations was a real stickler for the weight limits. Since that the boxes themselves weigh approximately 10 pounds each, when you add in a ~40 pound bike it becomes obvious that we had to work to sneak in under the limit. The stickler station was Syracuse. Chicago and Omaha didn’t even bring the scale out so no problems there.

      Glad to to be reliant once again on our own two legs and not public transportation. Makes life MUCH easier. 🙂

  • LInda H

    I tell parts of your story to folks I talk with. Your curiosity about the world and your gentle ways are inspiring!

  • Danny

    Wow, the adventure continues! Fervere’s looks fabulous. Keep those stories coming. Safe and fun travels!

  • Mom P.

    Love the pictures. We will have to look this place up the next time in the city visitng Andy.

    Mom

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