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Paul, I didn't consider Amtrak because, guess what? There is NO direct route from the SE to the midwest. I can get to a train station in Gainesville, Ga no problem. It is about 45 miles I think. BUT trains go west to New Orleans, and north to DC.

Looks like I could go to Charlottsville, VA to switch to another train to Chicago (or south to Florida). But some years ago they stopped supporting the route to Nashville and then to Chicago. Trains in this country stink.

Just out of curiosity I checked the price: $328 for coach seat, $1421 for deluxe (room). The Amtrak calculator gave me: 13 hours to New Orleans, then over 6 to Chicago with a long hold over in New Orleans.,0.pdf
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