Saturday, October 30, 2010

In our last episode: Your bold heroes were riding their steeds into the capital of our great nation. As the daylight grew dim, they found themselves with weary legs in unknown areas of the unfamiliar city. With over 70 miles of hilly terrain behind them, your heroes were faced with a decision: continue to pedal in through the dark streets of Washington, or hire a taxi to complete the ride in safety.

Well, we can no longer claim that we rode from Maine to Florida entirely on bicycles. We rode the last 5 miles to Craig's apartment on Capitol a taxi. This proved to be one of the best decisions we've (it was Vanessa's decision) made, because we would have ridden our bikes for at least another hour in the dark to find Craig's apartment. When we arrived, Craig did his best to pretend like we hadn't showered in ***** days (Editor's note: the number of days without shower has been withheld to protect the privacy of your heroes). We then showered, and proceeded to shindig at Capitol City Brewing Co. with a huge pile of friends. Shout out to
Jeff and Erica, their friends Jason and Susie, Shelley, Bobby Chiu!

The next day, Craig became a tour guide for us, and showed us some cool stuff around Capitol Hill that we would have never otherwise found. Our first notable event happened before we even arrived at our initial destination. As we walked past an average townhome, we saw a box set by the curb. The box whispered to us: "Search through me, and take whatever strikes your interest." So we searched. And we found treasure. I found a belt buckle with a built-in bottle opener. Vanessa found 5 seasons worth of Simpson's episodes on DVD. Score!

After our free junk score, we walked through Eastern Market and filled up on free apples,
crab cakes, empanadas, brownies, fried green tomatoes, and iced tea. We were able to justify our caloric intake by repeating to ourselves, "We be ridin' to Flawduh!" That afternoon, we took the Metro for the first time, and checked out Craig's law school, which is a few blocks from the White House and very nicely appointed. Not a bad location for mastery of The Law.

Our afternoon walking around D.C. left us famished. Before describing our dinner that night, I must point out that "ours is a nation of laws, not of men." One of these laws is "Upon sensation of the hunger, thou shalt fill thy belly with a chili dog from Ben's Chili Bowl." Fearing being branded an outlaw, I stopped at Ben's Chili Bowl to sample their chili smothered franks. Ben's is not a restaurant. It is an experience. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best hot dog in existence. Mindblowingly good.

15 minutes after the Ben's-induced out of body experience, we sat down at an Ethiopian restaurant, where we enjoyed the other best-meal-of-the-day that day. Ethiopian food is unlike anything I've eaten before, but the rosy and woozy feeling of satisfaction that I felt after stuffing myself is enough to convince me that Ethiopian food is good in a very serious way. Imagine Indian food with more spice served on a spongy, tangy bread. No need for utensils. A perfect meal!

Our last day in Washington began with more culinary escapades, and ended with more traditional tourism. To start the day, Vanessa, Bobby Chiu, and myself stumbled upon a Salvadoran pupuseria. A few months ago, Bobby showed me and Vanessa around Houston's chinatown, and we had some very memorable and delicious Chinese dishes (stinky tofu was delicious!). That day, Bobby and Vanessa got a taste of the mighty pupusa in......the middle of D.C. It was an unlikely place to find a huge concentration of Salvadoran folks, but the food was almost as good as back in El Salvador.

After the meal, Vanessa and I did like good tourists do and rode around all of the monuments. Normally, the typical monument isn't able to establish a dialogue with the present. They often embody only the days gone by, and their stories are only told by dusty history books. The monuments in Washington are different. They breathe.

As we rode from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, from the Roosevelt to the Jefferson, I felt a connection to those enshrined men. At the risk of sounding excessively reverent, this entire bike trip would have been an impossibility had it not been for the direction of Lincoln during the Civil War. To add some perspective, without Lincoln, we would have needed a passport to cross into Virginia. The leadership of those men in those days past has defined our lives in the present day, and, all political squabbling aside, we have much to be thankful for.

1 comment:

Craig said...

While reading your description of Ben's Chili Bowl, I felt like I was watching an episode of Man v. Food-- right before Adam attempts to eat 400 lbs. of raw ground beef or something. BIKER vs FOOD!