We arrive at Chicago’s Union Station at 9:27 a.m. CT, which puts us 57 minutes late for the trip. Yesterday, leaving Washington, my guess was one hour late so I’ll give myself props on that prediction.

The train backs into Union Station and we immediately head to the Metropolitan Lounge to check in for our train to Los Angeles. We are told to return at 2:30 for the 3:15 departure of the Southwest Chief.

With several hours to kill, we decide to have an early lunch at the famous Billy Goat Tavern, which was immortalized by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in a Saturday Night Live sketch where the duo worked in a burger joint and constantly yelled, “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger.”

Not sure if the restaurant was open for lunch that early, I called the Billy Goat Tavern. Here is a transcript of the call:


“What time do you start serving cheeseburgers?”

“What time you want to come?”

“I can come right now.”

“OK. We serve cheezborgers at 6 a.m.”

“I’m on my way.”

It turns out the gentleman I talked to was legendary owner Sam Sianis, who answered the phone several times while we were there.

We both ordered double cheezeborgers because as they say, “When in Rome……” I was still a bit hungry after the double so I ordered a second. I made it about halfway through before hitting the wall. The burgers were incredible and I definitely won’t need dinner tonight on the train.

After leaving Billy Goat Tavern, we took a cab to the Navy Pier to walk around and kill some time.

The Navy Pier has several restaurants (including a newer version of Billy Goat Tavern) and numerous stores. They also have a stained glass museum and a convention hall, which today was hosting a boat show. The Pier was surprisingly packed, including a horde of kids on a school field trip.

We took a cab from the Navy Pier back to Union Station, arriving at 1:15 p.m. With no wireless Internet signal in the Metropolitan Lounge, I headed upstairs to Snuggery to buy WiFi access, update the blog and have a beer.

As of 1:15 p.m. CT, Southwest Chief 3 is listed as on time, with a departure time of 3:15 p.m. I’ll provide a consist and let you know the actual departure time later tonight.