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Union Station Mummies of the World Exhibit 

Photo Taken from Union Station Website. Union Station Press Room

Union Station in Kansas City has a new exhibit called Mummies of the World. It is very well done. Most of the mummies are from Peru, Egypt and European Bogs. They did have a small section at the end where researchers in Maryland experimented on a cadaver to recreat the process to try and figure out the exact method.  They had the actual body that was still mummified and the tools they used.  They even had shrunken heads. Which was really cool to see! Except for maybe the victims of head shrinking.  

They had a number of computer stations that helps explain the science of how they were researching the mummies. Excluding the DNA extraction, CT scanning and other methods used to studying them.  Which is really cool. In many cases they could tell you how old they were and what may have caused their death. Most of the mummies were children or in late 30’s or early 40’s. Compared to modern times where people are living to their 60’s, 70’s and into their 100’s it is amazing how young and small people were back then. 

Unfortunately, we could not take pictures in the exhibit. Worth the visit. You can even catch the train from Amtrack and leave and never have to go outside.

Traveling by Train For Long Periods

MSN posted an article entitled 12 Things You Should Know Before Traveling Across the Country on Amtrak by Macy Williams.  The article was a slide show of little little tips about traveling on trains, especially for long stints at a time or overnights. Like the article points out the difference between the sleeper cars.  I have not had the opportunity to stay in one as of yet, but hopefully soon.  I have always heard good things about the food on trains but have not really tried it other than the M&Ms I bout that one time but I would hardly count that as train food.  When my wife and I traveled to Chicago, we saw numerous people bringing their own meals onto the the train in big greasy bags.  Which, of you have lived or stays in Kansas City long enough to have a meal that usually means one thing! BBQ! The article did say that you could bring alcohol on the train, but you could only drink it in your sleeping quarters. If that’s the case come prepared. When we traveled they did serve alcohol on the train at the snack bar but it was mostly beer and basic wine.  If those do not appeal to you, plan ahead! I did bring my own bottle of scotch the train ride home but I wanted to save it for a better occasion. 

Traveling by trains something people should experience at least once in their life if they have the chance.  Sometimes it can be cheaper to travel by train than fly or drive.  Just depends on where you go and lots of factors.  It is a great way to see the scenery.  Of course it depends on what part of the country you are in or going through. The Midwest is a fun ride and I can imagine the southwest and northwest would be scenic as well. There are areas that offer short train rides for a few hours of you do not want to travel far.  Many of them are dinner events or an afternoon ride and can be fun as well. 

Train Travel….. Lost in Time? Forgotten? Making a Come Back?……….

The Washington Post has an article By Melanie D.G. Kaplan about a cross country trip she took on Amtrack. The trip took her 48 hours.  Described in the article were all the amazing things she was able to see and experience. Experiencing other travelers on the long journey.  Such an experience can only be matched by an international flight.  International flights you miss out on the sights and are cramped in like sardines in a can. 

Many European and Asian countries have trains and actually have bullet trains. This would be nice to have The Untied States start using. Granite you would miss out on some of the scenery because of the high speeds but realistically if you are in that kind of hurry the scenery may not matter. 

Traveling by train is long passed its hay day or at least in The United States. A day when big buildings with American Gothic architecture were a thing to be marveled. Union Station Kansas City. Buildings like this have a history worth keeping.  This is an iconic building in the Kansas City sky line.  If you go out to the front of the building you can still bullet holes from the FBI and mobsters shoot out. The FBi was escorting Frank Nash at the time.  The shoot out led to some changes in the FBI. June 17, 1933

Union Station Omaha which has been converted to the Durham Museum.  The old ticket booth has been converted to a gift shop.  The old train platform holds an old train you can tour.  Granit it does not move but nice to see history being preserved. 

Chicago Union Station. It is more like an airport.  It is massive.  But still has the historic architecture. 

An observation car from the Kansas City to Chicago route.  You can not get these views from a plane.  One of the last ways to see America and its landscapes.  You can visit national parks, go rafting or even camping/hiking/hunting but this is the only way to truly see and appreciate the natural settings.

Traveling by train remindes me of a different time.  Not necessarily a better time, but a time when people were not in a such a hurry.  When people could actually enjoy their surroundings and the adventure.  In today’s fast paced society it’s all about the here and now with immediate gradifaction and are we there yet mentality. Sometimes, we should all just take a step back and slow down, even if just for 48 hours. Enjoy the trip! The adventure! Make the journey the trip! If you blink, it may be gone before you get a chance to see it all.

Fort Madison

While my wife and I were traveling to Chicago, Illinois, we traveled by train.  One of the brief stops we made on the way and on the way back was for a place called Fort Madison, Iowa.  The only part of the town we could see was the old fort and some water.  I was interested in finding out more about the fort and the town.

Fort Madison

Fort Madison is the Midwest’s oldest American military garrison on the upper Mississippi River.  This historic installation was home to Captain Horatio Stark’s Company of the First Regiment, United States Infantry, from 1808 to 1813. The fort participated in the war of 1812. (1) (Soldier Bios). They do reenactments with soldiers daily or almost daily.  They also sell baked bread.  
Addiotional Reading:

Soldier Bios


1. Visit Fort Madison. Also includes admission rates.

Day 6 Trip to Chicago the Journey Home

Final Thoughts:

At the start of the trip we bought a city pass. The city pass gives you access to a number of museums/attractions in Chicago.  You basically end up saving 51% off ticketed admission. Which if you are in a budget works just great.  You can easily spend through your bank account if you are not carefull. 

CityPass: Link

We took public transit like the buses. It can be confusing as to which train to take and where to get in at. Probably a good idea to have a smart phone or a local. We could ride the train for 4.50 for two people one way. Much cheaper than a cab. There is a mass transit card you can buy for 66 dollars but it is only good for three days. So it may not be worth it unless you will use it.

The Trip Home:

Today we slept in. Had a late breakfast and went to Nordstroms after we checked out. Our train did not leave until three PM.  We walked to the train station which was a little over a mile. 

Part of the grand room where we waited for the train to arrive. 

The ride home was full of entertainment. Unlike the ride up to Chicago. The train staff was trying to get us to put our luggage in a different car than us all together. Hmm. Seemed a little odd. We did not really want to leave our luggage unattended.  

We made it just outside Ft. Madison about ten minutes.   The engineer came on the overhead and said someone jumped out the window of the train.  This guy left his carry on luggage in the train. We pulled into the station and they had to match all the bags on that car to the passangers so that took a little time.  

So as the train chugged on, someone’s bag had been stolen so they had track that down. They made several announcements to try and get it returned.  

We managed to make it Kansas City’s Union Station.  As we were all getting off single file.  There was a steak knife in front of seat. Which normally wouldn’t be to odd but considering we were the last car and the diner car was four cars up.  So like many people our imagination last got away from us about why a big steak knife would be there….

As we got off the train we got an update about the passanger that jumped off.  They did not find him but they did find 3 kilos of cocain in his carry on bag. Weird! 

Day 1 Trip to Chicago

Today was just a travel day.  We arrived at the Union Station in Kansas City, Mo around 6:45 am. Keep in mind I am not a morning person. We finally boarded the train (which was 30 minutes late arriving) at 8:15am.  My wife and I saw someone I knew from college in on the train.  We were surprised because it was a small school maybe 20 minutes south of Kansas University.  So. Small world! The train it self was very roomy.  The seats had leg rests and had more room than a plane. For the most part the train was clean and relaxing.

Our first scheduled stop on the way was in La Plata, MO.  Which was an interesting stop only because I had never heard of it before and it was a very, very small town. Our second stop was on Fort Madison.  There were snubber of other small stops along the way.  We arrived in Chicago, Il around 3:30pm and walked almost (1.8) 2 miles from the Union Station in Chicago to our hotel the Courtyard Marriot, which was located in the miracle mile.

Traveling by train is not what it use to be in the United States.  But… It brings back a sense of nostalgia.  Granit, people do not get dressed up to travel like they use to back in 30’s and 40’s and such.

This is how people use to dress to ride mass transit. http://www.teara.govt.nz/files/p-24986-na.jpg http://cruiselinehistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/84-2+Challenger+lounge.jpg

This is how we travel now…….

    The observation car.

 The observation car.

  My wife in the observation car.
 A boat casino in Fort Madison.
  Fort Madison. The original Fort Madison.

The observation car is a good way to enjoy the view.  Great for kids!

This was pulling into Union Station, Chicago.

 For dinner we went to Mortons.  The original Mortons in Chicago. The food was AMAZING! Expensive! But good.  It is a steak and seafood place.  You can easily spend a few hundred dollars.  So if you are on a small budget you may want to pass on it. Luckily my mother in law provided a gift card for $100. That was spent just ordering the main dish.  The desert was worth it as well.  Some of the deserts you have to order with your dinner.

I would recommend making reservation.  Although it being a Sunday night there was onlyone other table being used. Keep in mind there are three locations in Chicago.  The website for Mortans.  http://www.mortons.com