Yes, there’s the ragged hill and the boat on the river…

Where was I?

Minneapolis, I believe.

So! We had a grand time on Saturday signing at Uncle Hugo’s, followed by a pleasant dinner with some local fans at It’s Greek to Me, after which we all adjourned to Scott and Irene’s house for chocolate fondue, vitamin dog, and more conversation. We reluctantly left the festivities to pack up again and fell into bed for +/- four hours sleep.

Sunday morning, Scott valiantly picked us up at ‘Way Too Early and drove us to the Amtrak Station, where in due time we boarded the Empire Builder to Chicago.

We had hoped that our timing was good, and that the Lake Shore Limited would take us up and put us down again at Albany-Rensselaer on Monday afternoon.

Alas for hope.

Amtrak was taking passengers only as far as Toledo, Ohio. At that point, quoth the lady at Customer Services, we were on our own; Amtrak had no responsibility (yes, yes, I will be calling Amtrak. Tomorrow, I’m guessing). We could, alternatively, stay three, or possibly four, days in Chicago at our own expense, until Amtrak could fit us into existing trains once it was judged safe to approach the East Coast more nearly than Toledo.

We opted to go home.

Once again, the cellphones proved their usefulness. From the first class lounge in the Chicago Union Station, we called the Radisson Park Inn in Toledo, where Josh set us up with a room, the number of the closest rental car establishment, and arranged to send a taxi to the train station for us. Well done, Josh; we appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

Monday morning, after about four hours sleep, we rose, breakfasted, and called a cab to take us out to Kistler Ford and the Hertz store, where we picked up a white Honda Civic, and got the hell outta town, heading east on I80.

We drove fourteen hours — about seven hundred miles — including encountering a Gap in the Proceedings on I90 just short of Albany, which meant a loooooong detour to Binghamton, and across the river that way, arriving at the Fairfield Inn in East Greenbush New York about four a.m.

We grabbed another four hours’ sleep, and hit the cellphones again, trying to determine if the train station was open, so that we could retrieve our car, which was parked in the covered lot.

The stationmaster at Albany-Rensselaer did not answer the phone, repeatedly. I finally called the local police station, where the dispatcher assured me that the station was open, and off we went again, to ransom Binjali, shift over all our luggage from the Civic, and then drive another howevermany miles to the Albany airport, where we turned said Civic back into the Hertz Corporation with half-an-hour to spare.

“You drove over seven hundred miles since yesterday at noon,” Manual, the Hertz rep, said to me. “That’s crazy.”

Um, yeah.

I bundled into Binjali and Steve drove us home. The cats are being clingy, but apparently satisfied. There was no hurricane damage at our house, or even signs of anything more than a heavy downpour, with a little wind.

Today has been spent sorting — clothes from the trip, snail mail, email, phone calls — and napping (twelve hours’ sleep over the last 72? Most of the awake hours fueled by sugar and caffeine? No wonder my eyes keep crossing). Tomorrow, we need to get back to work. Oh, and I should call Amtrak.

But right now? Mozart needs his belly rubbed.

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