So we’re on the LakeShore Limited Amtrak train from New York to Chicago, somewhere between Manhattan and Albany right now. In 16 hours, we’ll be in Chicago, where the “Empire Builder” line will bring us to Portland. At least, eventually it will bring us to Portland.

About 15 minutes before we were set to board our train, after we had checked our bags & boxed our bikes, I check my voicemail to find a message from Amtrak Customer Service. “Heyyyy, Mr. Stanek, we really hope you know about this, but your connecting train from Chicago to Portland has totally been cancelled due to flooding in Montana. Soooo sorry about that. Bye bye!”

In breathless panic, I held my head in my hands and stared around in circles as Penn Station revolved around me. We haven’t even gotten out of New York City, and already our trip has turned into a disaster! Our bikes were already on the train! Why didn’t anyone at the freakin TICKET desk pick up on the fact that the tickets they were giving me weren’t going to be able to be used tomorrow? Can I get some kind of sweet upgrade when I finally DO get a train to Portland? Like a whole car for just us, with a second level, gambling tables, DIRECTV, and the rest of “24” season 1, which I just got hooked on right before we left? How’s that going to happen, and who’s going to make it happen?

When I called customer service, Andy & Quinn were getting food. This phone call totally interrupted my plan to buy Thoreau’s “Walden” for the trip. Now I’m stuck with “Foucault’s Pendulum”. Yeah, Dad, I’m finally reading it. During the call, I found out that the decision to cancel that train was made at about 3:30. Apparently, the Red River is flooding. Still. And somewhere in northern Montana, the trains can’t get across. There’s really nothing we can do, except get to Chicago, and figure out what to do from there. It’s a strong possibility that we’re gonna spend a night or two in Chi-town before heading further out west. Here’s hoping someone in the windy city reads this & can put us up for the night.