This was my very first Urban Sketchers symposium, it would take place in Chicago! I had been planing this adventure for months. I assembled the materials I sketch with and decided to travel from Vancouver (British Columbia) to Chicago by train. This was due to a combination of several factors but mainly because… why should I take a 7-hour flight when I can spend 55 hours sketching, meeting interesting people and seeing a different part of the planet? What an adventure!
First I took the Amtrak Cascades from Vancouver to Seattle. I immediately realized I had forgotten my sound-cancelling headphones…
So I moved to the dining lounge, occupied a table and spread my sketching gear to immortalize the moment. Still feeling a little bit rusty, I was hoping to sketch as much as possible – so by the time I arrived to Chicago, I would be ready for the challenge!
In Seattle I killed some time at the amazing Zeitgeist coffee place. I started sketching the actual indoors of the place, but noticed quite immediately that what I was truly interested, what was catching my attention, was the gazillions of coffee pots of different shapes in perfect formation, saluting the senior coffee pot in the middle. From the windows I could glance some interesting stuff as well.
All aboard the Amtrak Empire Builder! Tons of interesting scenery and people to meet, greet and sketch (often with their permission, just in case). I found out that I am not fond of grits and that earplugs can save your journey, particularly to catch some sleep.
The observation car is the perfect place to spend most of my trip. Not only I can observe the world outside the train but also the world inside it! People of all backgrounds, ages and cultures lean on the windows and mingle. And I meet and sketch ’em. Stuart is our guide. He knows. I mean, he KNOWS. It is a pleasure to thank him afterwards and get my sketchbook stamped.
A final pleasant surprise. Do you remember the musicians that made our waiting time in Seattle’s train station sweet? They were on the train all this time! Only at the end they came to the observation car – and I was able to enjoy their music again… and sketch them.