We're currently in Morehead, Kentucky teetering along the edge of the West Virginia boarder. The past few days have been, besides breathtaking and life changing, a series of unrelenting hills leading us on our way to the good 'ol Appalachians. With only two more days as the Colorado sector, where we'll be meeting up with 30 other riders from the Trek, I am a little nostalgic.
Okay... a lot to say, so I guess I'll scratch the surface a bit:
Since the last time I wrote we've found ourselves bumming rides off of church deacons, camping in cockroach havens, staying in 100 year old mansions with environmentalist, swimming under the full moon in a pool with Abba booming over loud speakers, baking garlic pasta and munching brownie slabs with a professional chef, camping in national forests in forgotten pioneer homestead hidden in the hills, and sharing belly laughs beside misty midnight lakes.
Finally, we made it to Louisville (pronounced without vowels apparently) Kentucky, where synchronicity has struck yet again. We just so happen to have rolled in to town the very day the national Forecastle Festival, a massive music, arts, and activism event, was taking place. After a few catchy emails, name throwing, and good timing, we found ourselves toting black and white VIP wristbands on our way to see the Black Keys for free. Luckily Louisville was our planned rest day, so we were able to stay for the entire festival and use our VIP passes to interview all of the bands about their opinions about environmental changes. It was...amazing. I've never been to a true festival before, and a conglomeration of barefooted, happy, hippy people, good tunes reverberating off of skyscrapers, and free bike valet parking made the experience exceptional. We were luckily enough to have a one on one interview with the festival media and publicise the purpose of the ride, as well as run into several local news reporters. By the end of the festival we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, as people would walk by and say "Oh hey! Are you the bikers?" Our little taste of fame was pretty fun. First time raving in fountains and being able to see the world's largest baseball bat were also a plus.
We also were able to meet with the the founder of Bicycling for Louisville, a non-profit that encourages bicycling in the region, for breakfast as well as several other members. I had the chance to talk to a women who was involved in reducing child obesity in Kentucky (which apparently the stats suggest is 1 in every 3 kids). It really made me re-evaluate the way I looked at the roads around me, considering much of what she was talking about was related to transit. Most of the roads in lower income parts of the city don't have side walks and ways of moving around safely and actively, thus ensuring people rely on gas guzzling means. Also, many parts of the city (as well as small towns) don't even have a fresh produce carrier...making gas station and White Castle a staple out of default. More mind food to chew on in attempt to save the world.
Another amazing person we met with was Ben Evans from yert. com (check it out...seriously it is SO COOL!) who travelled to all 50 states in 1 year talking about environmental issues and filming a documentary about the critical issues our nation faces today. Inspiring was an understatement.
Next on the list was Shelbyville, where we were able to visit an organic farm called Earth's Promise. This particular farm was focused on chickens, with an environmental twist. Being a product of a promise to the earth made in a Native American sweat lodge, it was created as a means to produce food that supports the ecosystem and increases health of the futuer generations. In exchange for a decadently cooked organic omelet and french toast breakfast, made with raw milk butter, cheese and homemade cinnamon bread, we were put to work by feeding hordes of turkeys their morning meal. This proved it to me: real food just TASTES BETTER. I would not be surprised if I talked about that meal for hours after eating it.
In Lexington we were housed by a friend, Tim Buckingham, a member of Kentuckians for Commonwealth and avid cyclist. Tim threw us a huge cyclist party, with the intent of inviting all of the people in Lexington who are involved with the environmental movement, including journalists, graphic designers, social workers, and even inventors (of a bike power smoothie machine). Tim has been actively involved in fighting for the end of mountain top removal, a massive problem plaguing much of Kentucky. Being able to talk with him was insightful and empowering.
Okay...so we're slowly being kicked out of the computer lab because we've been on the computers too long, so I suspect I am next to get the boot, so I'll sum up the past few days like so:
Gobs of flowers, mansions upon hills, Saudi Arabian horse trading industry, camping in the middle of a derby race track, loving life, and on our way to the EAST COAST ALAS! Only 12 more days to go, and find myself equally jovial and devastated. I urge all, ride a bike. :)