August 23-August 28
States: Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C.
The Empire Builder was a trip of personal growth, trippy visuals, old people, crazy dudes, spirits in the form of people, rocks and rivers, inspiration, hills, mountains, wine, serendipity, environmental consciousness, mushroom ravioli, Häagen-Dazs, and so much freakin more. The three of us are seriously considering never flying again, because the community that existed on that train was something very, very special. We were truly taken aback by how much of a journey just this prologue to our bike trip was. A man named Louie King was the conductor of our sleeper car on the trip, and he completely appropriately referred to himself as "King Louie." This man sculpted the beginning of our trip with his incredible stories of spirituality, ecological responsibility, family, youthfulness, exploration, and more. One simple example that doesn't even do justice to his incredible wisdom is the following: On only the first day, King Louie asked the three of us what we wanted to be when we grow up. We all gave our normal answers, and he topped all of us by saying "When I grow up I want to be eleven and a half."
We met homeless people, war veterans, former drug dealers, current drug dealers, Renaissance Faire workers, criminals, fellow bikers, multiple mechanical engineers, Amish people (they spoke in a weird Norweigian-ish native tongue), and, again, much more.
In between all of this interaction and goodness, the bond that the three of us now have because of our 10 x 4 x 6.5 foot room was truly amazing. We only realized that the couch could be converted to a bed on the third night, so we spent a lot of time bundled up pretty close together. Lots of indie music, farting, weirdness, and absolutely no showering or changing of clothes made everything wonderful.
We finally arrived in our nation's capital on August 26 at around 1 p.m. We then spent an awesome three days in Chevy Chase, MD with a lovely lady named Lane Peterson. City Bikes rocks. Hurricane Irene ain't got nothin.