Friday, April 17, 2009

The Zephyr. Long ride, Long post...

Greetings from San Francisco, CA. Here is an overview of our 50 + hour train ride from Chicago to San Fran.

Depart Chicago, seamlessly landing in rural back country Illinois. Imagine a rusted water tower labeled "Mendota" as it overlooks freshly prepped farm land and Midwestern industry. That scenery remained fairly consistent for a while. We Crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa, while many passengers discussed how they learned to spell Mississippi when they were younger (double S/ Crooked letter). Rolling hills, cattle, brush fires and abandoned buildings sums this segment up just fine. We slept most of this state of Nebraska after enjoying Ben playing his fiddle in the lounge car and brief conversations with fellow travelers.

We woke up just outside Denver as the conductor announced our hour long stay there. We were quick to explore the city and grab a delicious breakfast and a few pictures. The feeling of not wanting to leave Denver, CO quickly faded as we ascended into the Rockies. 9,300 feet above sea level and the views we're almost literally breath taking. We followed along the Colorado River through "Gore Canyon"; known to be too remote and inaccessible by anything but a train. After hours of snow capped mountains we crossed into Utah. This state provided a beautiful reddish backdrop to our evening on thursday.

In the last coach class car of train #5 California Zephyr, many of us became close. We shared stories, jokes and opinions like old friends. Everyone knew who was heading where and why. We ended up meeting a few other touring cyclists on our train. Ken, Andy, and Quinn were going to Portland, Oregon to bike back to New York. We all shared our plans in detail hoping to learn something new to take with us. We will do our best to keep up with them as they travel in parrallel across the states. Best of luck to you guys, stay safe!

Every time we stop somewhere for any length of time, the smokers get wired up and dash for the platform. As smoking is not permitted on the train, stops along the way are a fix to their sanity. Our friend Ben however steps off the train to practice his fiddle and possibly earn some tips.

The car is noisy but it was time for sleep, last night on the old Zephyr. Once again surrounded by beautiful mountains, waking up in the "middle of nowhere" Nevada was amazing. Nevada proved to be the most arid landscape yet. A quick stop in Reno lead us right into Cali and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Snowy, slow moving, and absolutely beautiful. A historian nearly put everyone to sleep with the vast amount of information he put out about this leg of the journey. However, an interested old man next to me was quick to scream at a loud woman on her cell phone when he couldn't hear the latest on the historical references. He then apologized and told her "its a free country lady".

We descended quickly into the suburban towns of central California and made it to San Francisco right on time. We carried our large bike boxes over our heads with our duffel bags and back packs strapped to our chest and back. The people of this city looked at us like we were crazy...and if asked, yes we are!

We are currently at our hotel on market street hanging out with some old friends of ours. Oh, and we let Ben the fiddler stay with us as well. Full house.

Thank you Brittany, Sean, Will and Dave for visiting us before we depart.

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