US Road Trip Epilog: 2nd June 2005

Approx. 1:30 PM, Immigration Control at Chicago O'Hare Airport.
The officer stares hard at me again, then back at my passport and visa waiver form. I've already had both my index finger prints and my photo taken. He's just asked me the reason for my visit to the US. I blurted out some sort of stuff about taking a year off and wanting to travel around as much as I could and all the rest of what is, basically, the truth. He looks back at me and says:
"That sounds like fun. There's too much stress around. Have a good trip, buddy."
I even get a smile - and that's a first from any official at an airport - as he hands back my papers and waves me through.

I'm still not entirely sure what he meant, but for me one of the stressful moments is out of the way. I'm back in the US and that's all that matters. I was a bit concerned that they may wonder why I was returning after over 2 months in the US earlier this year and only a 6 week gap back in the UK - the visa waiver forms make it very obvious that entry can be refused for any reason and that there's no right to appeal.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful - greatly improved when the cabin staff shuffled the passengers around so that I had an empty seat next to me. With the latest Christopher Brookmyre and Ian Rankin books to read, it was almost enjoyable, if maybe a bit a bit of overkill on the Scots.

Once on the ground, it's the El train back to the Holiday Inn I used last time. It isn't the best hotel in the world, and the promised wireless internet access is non-existent, but it does have a great location near the El station direct from O'Hare and Union Station. After check-in it's a short walk to the station to book a seat on the early-morning train to Springfield. At $45 it's a lot more expensive than the train around midday but the latter was full and, anyway, I want to get back to the car as soon as possible.

Back at the hotel I was planning a night out at a Chicago blues club. Instead I, er, fell asleep watching the baseball (blame the time difference). Oh well, at least I've got a better chance of making that train in the morning.

US Road Trip Epilog: 3rd June 2005 >