We were never supposed to be in Sacramento. We were never supposed to cross the state of California at all. But sometimes weather does some unexpected things, and the intrepid traveler has to make do with what’s available. Lemonade can always be made from lemons. I guess Canada had some massive snowfall this year, and all that stuff’s melting down the Red River into Montana & North Dakota. Since Amtrak hasn’t yet figured out how to navigate their trains underwater, they detoured us under the flood completely.

This turned out, at points, to be massively awesome. First of all, lets recollect that the United States of America has a whole lot of nothing in the middle of it. And if it feels expansive by train, at 60-80 miles per hour, it’s immense to imagine how it’s going to feel by bike, at 60-80 miles per day.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr picks up in Chicago and terminates in San Francisco. We got off in the capital city of Sacramento with an 8 hour layover, but not before passing through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the astounding terrain of Nevada and Northern California. No doubt Minnesota and Montana are just as spectacular by rail, but everything we saw out of our window – at least westward from Denver – was phenomenal. Also, if you ever think about taking train trips, a great segment is from Reno to San Franciso. The commentary by the train staff picks up a lot after Reno, to appease the commuters, tourists, travelers, or whoever happens to have to take that route. And there’s no shortage. The coach section had something like two empty seats after we hit Reno.

like those sculptures on the L train 6th ave stop!

like those sculptures on the L train 6th ave stop!

In Sacramento, we had 8 hours to kill. We hadn’t heard very many flattering things about the city, so we figured we’d see a movie, to sheild us from the depressing reality of a capital city rivaling Albany in lameness. Keeping with our efforts to make our trip as epic as possible at every turn, we found the IMAX theater. And we saw Monsters vs. Aliens. In 3D. On IMAX. With a large popcorn with free refills. And some twizzlers, M&M’s, and Junior Mints from the Rite Aid up the street. Epic.

Not actually the IMAX, but a far cooler looking theater

Not actually the IMAX, but a far cooler looking theater

That finished up by 8pm, and we had at least three more hours to kill. It was bar time on Friday night, so we figured we might find something worthwhile. A little while ago, I had declared my interest in finding Karaoke bars in as many places we visited as possible.We asked a waitress at a local brewery to recommend something – anything – for us to do. And if it had Karaoke, all the better. She pointed us down J Street and at one point mentioned “The Streets of London Pub”. So we went there on her recommendation.

Our recommendation is this: Don’t go there. First of all, as a 32 year old man, I wasn’t in the slightest bit flattered that the bartender asked me for all three of our IDs when I ordered beers. Secondly, I was not just a little bit stunned & aggravated to find out that Andy’s passport wasn’t acceptible as a valid form of ID. This is true. In California (and Ohio, allegedly), a federally issued passport that allows you to cross international borders and get on airplanes is not legitimate enough of an ID to get a glass of beer. I’m not clear why Andy only has his passport, but I think it involves losing a billfold. Irregardless, wtf? He’s 27, and no one in their right minds would mistake him for anything under 24. Except the douchebags at The Streets of London Pub.

We sucked up their electricity to charge our phones and moved on, quickly, having given them a crappy tip. A block or so down the street, in front of “Hamburger Patties”, we heard a boisterous crowd gurgle incoherent ramblings that I was pretty sure included something about Karaoke as they debated where to spend their Friday night. Maybe it was just me who heard this, because I turned away from Andy & Quinn to ask these strangers more about this rumored Karaoke. Apparently, it was happening right there, inside Hamburger Patties. I went in to confirm, and it was true! Karaoke! There, starting in a half an hour. Sweet! But wait, second question: was this passport mumbo jumbo for reals? Yeah, it was for reals, the bartender reinforced. “But wait a second…you guys? Yeah, you’re clearly 21. Go ahead & sit down.” Yes. Thank you, Hamburger Patties. Way not to Suckramento. (see what I did there?)

Hamburger Patties redeemed Sacramento, at least a little bit. For my next cross-country bike tour, I’m going to string along a huge series of Karaoke bars and sing “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” by Neil Diamond at every place, as long as they have it. Hamburger Pattie’s version was whack. It didn’t have the middle section where Neil Diamond freaks out & preaches about raising your hand to God and what not. That’s definitely the best part of the song, and I was forced to adlib. It pretty much worked out, and was the one non-depressing song of the evening, compared to “Cry Me a River”, “Womanizer” by Britney”, and some awful song that literally encouraged you to “cry on the inside, and keep your feelings hidden, and if you fail, remember that you ALMOST had it all.” Yeah. Almost. Except you’re a total screwup and can’t do anything right. But don’t let anyone know you’re bummed about that. Just pretend everything’s alright. Just pretend everything’s alright, Sacramento. We’re outta here.