After nearly 45 hours and 9 states the Obama Express has dumped us on the snow covered streets of Chicago. Flurries, cold wind and temperatures around 15 degrees greeted us upon our arrival and now, with the sun fading fast, it is getting even colder. Icicles hung from the Southwestern Chief as we de-boarded- a harsh reminder that, for most of America, winter isn't always sunny and 70.
]"> Outside Union Station and it appears to be cold
Since New Mexico, the Express seemed to pick up Inauguration bound travelers at every stop. Their Obama pins, "Change" t-shirts, and Washington DC travel guides a dead giveaway to their final destination. Their was Susan, married to a doctor from Ghana and mother of two, choosing to ride the rails to DC while the rest of her family flies, so that she could "see America and celebrate a President that is finally for everybody." Then there was Stephanie Rogers, a volunteer in Obama's campaign for 2 years, who said, "As soon as my invitation arrived from him [Obama] I knew I had to go. I could have sold it on eBay for $6,000 but no way! Not this girl."
_ Stephanie Rogers leans on the Obama Express_
At breakfast this morning, having just got on the train near Kansas City with his mom, was 8 year-old Rexie Planalp Jr. From St. Joseph, Mo, Rexie is the Chairman of Missouri's Children for Obama. Having already met the soon to be President twice before, Rexie, who casually told us that Obama "never gets my name right- last time he called me Reggie", is not only personally invited to the Inauguration but he also has a date on Wednesday to hang out with Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. Turns out he and his mom Karen, who also volunteered for the Obama campaign, were instrumental in helping Barack win the majority vote of St. Johns County, MO by a slim 54 votes. The kid has an impressive resume already and he hasn't even hit double digits. Google him and you are sure to feel inadequate.
_ Rexie is 8 and he is the the Missouri Chairman of Children for Obama. That's his proud momma, Karen, looking on. _
Other highlights included a frozen Mississippi River with a Bald Eagle perched near-by, the slow fade of the Southwest's wide-open country to the snow covered agriculture and industry riddled expanses of Middle America, an impromptu snowball fight somewhere in Iowa and, of course, more flat iron steaks.
Tomorrow we hit Hyde Park, looking for Obama's Windy City roots beneath the snow, and then it is back on the Obama Express right around sundown for an overnight train ride to Washington. Cue the Gil Scott Heron people, the Express rolls on: