August is a time to escape Addis.
Imagine that it's been raining like crazy for two months, guaranteed like clockwork everyday around 3pm. Its chilly, and everything is muddy. It's possible to leave Addis and go south or north in Ethiopia and escape the rain, but since most business happens in the capital, you're basically stuck.
Emp. Menelik moved the capital from Northern Shoa to Addis Ababa (literally New Flower) around 100 years ago. Mostly for protection from surrounding mountains, and so his wife Taitu could bathe in the hot springs. I bet he didn’t know then that it would be one of the rainiest climate zones in the country.
This summer I left in late July to go back to the States to refresh and see family and friends.
Ethiopian started a flight recently to Los Angeles, so I decided to fly there first and work my way east. A few friends had just moved there as well so it was a great opportunity to visit them.
I stayed with Matt and Ally, I’ve known Matt since Columbia. He moved to start a new branch of his growing indy book publisher, The Perch. He has had successful projects in Chicago and has now opened a branch in LA.
After a couple of days I was eastbound for Chicago, via Amtrak. I had taken long journeys on Amtrak before, but never for more than 18-20 hours. The time to Chicago on the website said around 40+ hours. In total it took around 48 hours to get from LA to Chicago.
On the way we stopped in Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and through the backwoods of NM, up through southeast CO and onto Iowa and finally Illinois.
It was one of the most scenic rides I’ve ever been on. The food wasn’t great, company was ok (tons of weirdos who ride the train), but overall a really great experience. Next time I take the train I think I’ll opt for booking a sleeper car.
We made it into Chicago about 6 hours behind schedule, sort of the Amtrak mantra. Overall it was a really pleasant trip, regardless if we were on time or not. I would really recommend the trip if you have a couple of free days to spare. I think next year I will consider the Chicago to Portland route, which passes along the border of Canada and through Montana and other pretty sights in the north.