While planing this trip, I realized that I would be going on a train for 5 days, but there wouldn’t be a shower. I decided to reach out to friends in my stop over cities to see if I could shower in their apartment. My friend’s in Chicago mostly had work and would not be at home (who would be working on a Monday…), but one friend told me about the public shower at the bike place. That you can pay $3 to use their shower. So that is what I did. It was actually very nice, although it did take me a while to find it, as it was downstairs and in the back of the building.
On my way to the shower, I just had to pass through Millennium Park- which was beautiful. There was so much interactive art. A beautiful garden that seemed like it should be out-of-place in a big city. A concert area that a broadway night was being rehearsed. And a great view of the water. I wish I had a bit more time there or that it wasn’t as hot as it was.
I had a chance to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. It was great to see him, and even though we might not have seen each other in three years, it almost felt like no time had passed. When researching for Kosher places near Union Station, I found one deli, Bebe’s Kosher Deli, so we decided to go there. It was in the midst of a really cool food court, so at first I thought that they weren’t actually Kosher, but surprise, they actually had a teudah. I had a delicious sandwich, and even got another one to take with me on the train for dinner that day.
Following lunch, my friend took me on a walking tour of Chicago, pointing out some of the beautiful buildings that make up the city. Chicago both had bits of a feel of London (beer at noon, the old but short buildings) and Paris (the walk way by the river). I really enjoyed myself, and I would love to find another time to get up there.
We walked back to Union Station so that I would be able to board the California Zephyr for the longest leg of my trip- 50 hours to Sacramento, CA.
Once again we boarded the train and they gave us seats. This time I asked the conductor for a window seat. I also had a seat partner- a woman from CA who is a children’s book author (she became a friend from the train in the end). This time I knew what to do. I knew that I would get on, wait for the conductor to scan my ticket, and then i would head out to the observation car.
As we were starting, the conductor said that we are heading East. This made for a lot of laughter throughout the train, as we all hoped that wasn’t true, and he just made a mistake. (Train tip- always listen to the announcements, the conductors make them quite funny sometimes).
This was the part of the trip that was said to be the most beautiful train rides in the world. So I was very excited to see what was to come up. On this first day, it was mostly corn fields. Well, that and a crazy rain storm. Like it was torrential down pour. Some people also saw crazy lightning, and because the land is so flat they saw things they were not used to seeing (the lightning thankfully was on the other side of the train). Someone then started talking about twisters while one the train…thankfully that was not part of my adventure.
During the rain part I met a guy who takes the train East-West very often, as his wife doesn’t like to fly. So he was telling me some tips and suggestions of where to look (there is SO much to see). (Train Travel Tip- always make friends with people, especially those who travel by train a lot, it will help to know which side to sit on in the observation car).
As the sun set there is less to see in the observation car, so I decided to bring my book there to read. Instead of reading I met two people, this time around my age. A guy who just graduated from Indiana State and was heading to Vancouver-he was also going through Seattle and we tentatively planned to walk through Sacramento together (we did in the end). And a girl who is from France, but living in San Diego at the moment traveling to CO to do some hiking. As we were talking, and I said that I was from Israel, she told me that she was just in TLV for a medical app conference, and that she plans to be back during the up coming year (I obviously invited her over if she comes back to the country).
It was interesting to tell people that I live in Israel. I don’t sound Israeli nor do I look Israeli- so it was not the thing that people expected. I had no negative reactions to that fact of life, at all. People were also fascinated with the fact that I was studying to become a rabbi, and an orthodox one at that. There were some who didn’t know women in general could become rabbis, and then there were others that were shocked that the orthodox movement was starting to allow women to have this role.
It is very strange to be the first (and maybe only) type of person that someone meets. I constantly was thinking about if I was dressed ok or said the right thing. But I realized the more that this happened on this trip (and it happened at least once a day), that I just need to be me, and that is all. I can’t be the representative of everything, and be “perfect”. I need to be who I am, and dress the way I want to dress, and have the opinions that I have. I think that was a good lesson for life in general.
States Passed Through: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska