Changing Lives and Bringing History to Life, One Revolution at a Time!

Jeimy

Jeimy – SnR 2012 Tour of Discovery Completed! Traveling Along the #acaLewisClark and #acaPacCoast Routes

We’ve done it again! Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling has managed to have another successful cycling tour. This year, as a returning cyclist, I expected somewhat of the same conditions we had last year but boy was I wrong!  Cycling the Underground Railroad was nowhere close to cycling the Lewis & Clark and Pacific Coast Hwy routes. We faced different terrains, weather patterns and above all, history.

From the start of the trip to the ride home it was interesting to see us cycle/ride through mountains, deserts and grasslands.  I remember complaining of how flat Iowa was and how after a while I needed to see something else other than fields and fields of corn. Once we hit the rolling hills and grasslands I started to miss those flat road days. But it was nothing we couldn’t handle, especially now since we have gone up some of the toughest passes in the mountains.  The best part of those passes is when you finally reach the top after suffering through going up that hill and just looking straight ahead seeing the most beautiful downhill ride view you’ve ever seen.  I LOVED going down the hills because if felt like you were on a rollercoaster! It gave you an adrenaline rush and only lasted for a few minutes. The only part I didn’t like were the sharp turns because they would freak me out and I’d have to ride my brakes so I wouldn’t crash into the woods or rocks (poetic license in use here to add more drama).

Not only did we do lots of cycling this tour but we did our fair share of hikes, as well.  We climbed (hiked) around in the Badlands, Redwoods, the trail to Jerry Johnston Warm Springs (outside of LoLo, MT), Grand Canyon, beaches, Yellowstone, and so many more places. We were able to see things we’ve never seen before like Banana Slugs (haha), elk, prairie dogs, bison (buffalo), hot springs, national monuments and national parks! I find it incredible how we managed to visit so many places in so little time.  Doing this has definitely inspired me to continue doing this in my future.  I really wouldn’t have changed anything about this trip.  It was fun and we got to meet so many new people and see new places.

Well, there is one thing I would change, or should I say be more prepared for, and that would be next time packing more longsleeve shirts and sweaters because it got extremely cold (to me) when we got to Yellowstone National Park and most places west of there. Those that know me understand that I do not favor the cold. During the cold nights I would sleep with my fuzzy PJ pants and sweatpants. If I still got cold then I would do the next best thing and go ask my sister if I could get into her sleeping bag. When we got closer to Nevada you could immediately feel the heat. The tables on the weather had definitely turned. In our in Las Vegas the temperature was 103* outside (it was a “dry” heat) and I couldn’t stop thinking of how much I wanted that cold mountain weather. Because in the cold you could always put on another layer (if you had it) but as a woman you can only shed so many layers before your image changes (haha).  Anyway, the one thing I will take from this is to always pack appropriately and check the WEATHER beforehand to know WHAT to pack.

In addition to noticing changes in the weather and our surroundings we began to notice how we all were changing mentally and physically. If this tour does anything it would be the fact that it challenges a person to work as a team and be more open-minded.  A very good skill to have in any environment.  I know that I have learned to become more open socially and took the opportunity to grow a bonding friendship with more people than my sister. The skill to become more open socially came in handy as we cycled and encountered other solo cyclists who joined us for a few miles to a few nights. We met Balthazar who is an English professor in New York. He flew to Seattle, bought a bike from a shop very much like The ReCYCLEry and began heading east. We met Rob who stayed with us for about three days.  He was extremely nice and even played Apples to Apples with us. Last, but not least by any stretch, is Michelle who cycled from Chapel Hill, NC to Portland, OR. As you know we had a chance encounter with her in Yellowstone as she was heading west ALONE. She joined us in Portland and rode the Pacific Coast Hwy with the SnR group. She’s definitely an inspiration to all of us!

The historical aspect of this trip granted me a lot more opportunities to learn the history of the Native Americans. In school we sometimes cover the mistreatment of them and how they were forced onto reservations but we never actually focused on how that has affected them as a people and their lives today. We got the chance to bike through some of the reservations and you could always tell when you were in one.  Some neighborhoods wer run down and the schools looked like they could use a little bit more support.  The times we did talk to local residents they all seemed extremely nice and always commented how they hoped they could have some organization that helped their young teenagers to do better in school and in their lives.

When you actually think about it their tragic story of demise began shortly after the end of slavery and is just over 150 years old. Something interesting that I learned is that there were over 200 known treaties between the nations and the U.S.; not one was honored.  Every single one was broken.

On the 4th of July in South Dakota I got a chance to experience the effects of how the Native American identity has been transformed over the years.  We were running some errands that day and a Native American man came up to a few of us and asked some questions.  He seemed nice but what caught me off guard was his last comment.  He said that he was Native American and “not worth anything”.  I was shocked to hear someone say that about themselves but is just shows the harsh reality in which many people live in and how depressing it can be.

Overall, I really enjoyed getting a chance to be on this tour. I had many unforgettable experiences.  For example, I will most definitely NOT forget my big accident where, even though I literally flew into the air, I got no major scratch on myself. This is the day I realized how much we all cared for one another.  I did have a major headache the next day and some whiplash (muscle strain in my neck) but nothing I couldn’t handle.  It is something I can cross of my list of “must do’s” on a cycling tour, just like being getting interviewed by a little kid.

When we were in Seaside, OR we took a short break at the beach to take a picture with a statue of Lewis & Clark. There a little boy, no older than 11, came up to me with his family and started asking hundreds of questions about what I was doing. After the deluge of questions was over (interrogation) I asked him if he would ride his bike one day.  At first, he said no but after I told him it would be SO much fun he changed his mind and said YES.  That was one of my favorite moments. Getting the opportunity to talk to a kid and maybe get him interested in riding his bike, too.

This will always be an unforgettable journey for me. The chance to see several National Parks and monuments in such little time while exploring another part of our vast country.  Even though most of the group is getting ready to go to college this fall I know that the friendships we made during the summer will keep going on. I enjoyed being part of this group and feel extremely lucky to be getting the opportunity to do this again next year. And knowing Kevin and Ms. Sue they will not let me down and will plan another fantastic tour next summer. It’s amazing to say you’ve cycled the Lewis & Clark and Pacific Coast Hwy routes but even more rewarding is the fact that you did it on recycled bikes with a group of friends that helped create some of the most memorable moments in time.

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Jeimy (Luis)~ Tour of Discovery along #acaLewisClark and Pacific Coast Tour along #acaPacCoast Complete!

Once we started this part of the tour you could immediately notice a major difference in the terrain. I really enjoyed cycling the coast because for almost the whole trip we were riding along the ocean. Even though it looked the same at every turn you could never get tired of looking at its beauty. My favorite moments were during the late mornings because when you looked out to the ocean it almost always seemed as the sky and the sea became one at the horizon. After a long day’s ride the sunsets were just as breathtaking and lovely.

Like the Lewis and Clark part of the tour we had so many memorable moments that I will never forget them. Most of them having to do with the relaxing times when we all just “hung out”, climbed around the shore cliffs and explored our surroundings for the evening.

If you didn’t know, I collect shot glasses and have been able to pick one up from every state we’ve visited so far. On our second to last day in Oregon I realized I hadn’t purchased one yet so in almost every town we passed through I’d stop to look but at each stop there were none to be found. Our last day in Oregon I only had a four mile window (not much time in cycling terms) to find one before we entered into California. This is the day I realized how everyone on the trip had bonded with one another because everyone, including the adults, helped me find a shot glass to add to my collection. It was fortuitous that we stopped in a little shopping area to get our touring coffee addicts their daily fix (I mean their thrice daily cup of coffee) and there it was, my Oregon Lighthouse shot glass! I enjoyed this day so much because it was like a man-hunt, except for a hunt for a shot glass.

Another moment I enjoyed was the last day of the Pacific Coast Highway where we made it to San Francisco. We stayed at a hotel right outside the city. Once we unpacked we piled back into the van and headed to Chinatown. Uncle Rich treated us all to “I ♥ San Francisco” t-shirts and I, of course, got my shot glass.  Afterwards we walked around until we found a nice Vietnamese restaurant to have dinner.  The food was great and we got a chance to watch the track and field events in the Olympics.

With dinner over we walked around a little more, poking our heads into shops here and there. In one of them Rich bought some candy in which he let me help decide which flavors were best to select. We also hit up a bakery and got deals on quite a few delicious baked goods. I got some sort of paper cupcake which turned out to be so delicious that I decided to learn how to make some when I got back home.

On our way back to the hotel we were looking out into the city when we saw a random group of people dancing and figured it was a flash-mob. Of course we stopped and went to join them and dance for a while. It turned out to be a pre-wedding event and they wanted anyone who desired to join them in their celebration. So we did. It was extremely fun. Everyone was laughing and having a great time. That was a great idea. Watch out Chapel Hill/Carrboro there might be one coming to town soon. It was a perfect ending to our tour and another moment to add to our collection of beautiful, unforgettable moments.


SnR Badlands Visit-off #acaLewisClark trail

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Badlands Visit, a set on Flickr.

Jul 6

We packed the wet tents and headed toward our next stop of Medora, ND to camp and visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Paha Ska – White Hills (well known as the Badlands). We learned the Lakota word for it is Mako Ce Wankankil (Mahko Che Wha Khan Kil).

 

We stayed the night at Sully Creek State Park in ND. It was a nice campsite at the base of a cliff. We quickly setup tents so they would dry from last night’s rain. The ground was gray and muddy. Horses were nearby and our noses pleasantly reminded us of that fact.

When the tents were complete and lunch was had we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park and learned of his early life. In the visiting center there was the cabin that he stayed in during his visits to the Badlands. The cabin was mostly the original beams with the exception of the header. Some of the furniture was original.

We visited the ND Badlands and had our first encounter with the prairie dog colonies. We hiked along a trail that went above a river which reminded me of a picture out of the Grand Canyon. We saw prairie dogs and bison by the roadside.

Jeimy was nicknamed AJ for Adventurous Jeimy as she loved to explore.

During one of the hikes through the Badlands we found a cute and small horned toad.

Via Flickr:
SnR Youth Cyclist visit to ND Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park


July 5th~SnR #acaLewisClark Tour Day 12

We spent the day learning by seeing and doing. The visit was to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center where there was a walking tour of exhibits dedicated to North Dakota and the L&C Corps of Discovery tour. The YC’s were very interested in the history and enjoyed donning costumes to reenact scenes from the past. Fort Mandan was particularly interesting because it was completed during a time when the temperature was -44* F. Talk about motivating factors.  The guard posts could only be manned in 5 minute intervals!

The tour was the bulk of the day. We camped at Lake Sakakawea State Park. By the time we arrived only the primitive sites were available. Which meant, to some degree, the YC’s had to do a little detox on the technology and talk and play with one another.  This was a good thing. This morning, one electronic gadget was taken from each. What remained was the item that would take photos. But how primitive is running water less than 200 ft away and an outhouse less than 500 ft away? Oh, and by the way, America’s definition of camping is brining along your air-conditioned living room with the flat screen television, possibly satellite hookup, and all that can fit within.  I guess you can say it’s a rolling beach house. But those of us with tents are definitely in the minority.

It began raining just after cooking was completed so dinner was had within the tents. A practice we don’t want to repeat when we get to the National Parks. It stopped soon after and the kitchen area was cleaned up.  Just after 11pm CDT it began to rain again. It didn’t stop.

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Video

Meeting the neighbor

Meeting our French Canadian neighbor in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, ND July 4th, 2012.


Happy 4th from SnR on the #acaLewisClark Tour

Happy 4th from SnR on the #acaLewisClark Tour

Today is a rest day so I only awoke at 6:30 CDT. Nature has a way of creating its own alarm clock when you’re hydrating so vigorously. Some of the YC’s visited a Native American cave dwelling.

Today there is a forecast of thunderstorms so if they come we’ll weather them in the tents.

19:22
Update:
The storms didn’t come but the storm winds did and they came strong! So strong, in fact, that the boy’s tent blew over and both arching poles were severely bent. Serious Bummer! So, as I was speaking with the campground host, who strangely enough is African-American, I had to run off and begin tent repair. Because at the time it looked as if the thunderstorms were still on their way.

The Marmot tents that we have come with an emergency repair tube that helps you when you bend a support tube. The wind bent two so I had to use the repair tube from the girl’s tent. With the rubber mallot left at the other campsite I had to beat the bent poles into submission (and correct shape) with a vice-grip plyer that Mahlique had found two days ago. Repair tubes in place and a little duct tape and we’re back in business. What would have been an “haha” moment for the boys if it had happened to the girls became a valuable lesson for the boys. I like learning moments.

The YC’s spent the day blogging and journaling to catch up on days missed. They had to because we were not going to take them into town unless they completed at least two day’s worth of entries. We had shopping, laundry and lunch to get while in town and they got right to work at it.

During that time Frida, the wife of the campground host, came to see us. She was still moving around their camper when we stopped by earlier. The two of them give Suepinda and I hope that we can volunteer in the state and national parks as hosts. Up to this time we’d never seen an African-American couple performing this wonderful and needed service to the campgrounds. Harold and Frida have been volunteering in state parks for six years. They also do the National Parks. They take their grandchildren out to the parks and teach them all they know. They have a great time. They’ve been to all 50 states but claim to have volunteered in only 48.

My duty in town was laundry. What we learned last year is that people don’t respect the hard work that goes into doing laundry. They take it for granted that their dirty, balled up socks and underwear magically get freshly cleaned by the laundry fairy. You put it in the bag, your mom or someone carries it away and the bag comes back with your clothes nicely folded and smelling wonderfully sweet. Well, just like (hold your ears) Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny that myth was dispelled.

As it got toward evening (hard to tell here) we all ate as a group and also enjoyed the company of our French Canadian neighbor. His wife and he are from Quebec. Sammy and Khin engaged him in conversation speaking French.

We saw the Mandan dwellings which were a great and interesting site. They were replicas but the structures were extremely sturdy. Soon it was getting dark and time for the fireworks display so we heading down the hill and picked up Frida and headed back up the hill by van to take in the spectacular view. For at least 30 miles away you can see people partaking in a traditionally American experience. One half of the horizon was alight with explosions. This was a sight never before seen by anyone on the tour, specially us adults.  A grand close to the evening, indeed. I hope your fourth was just as cool.

 

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Ride Day #10~ Just a short 40mile ride to Pollock, SD on the #acaLewisClark Tour

This was a great morning! Seriously! The weather was a grand 72* and there was a 5 mph breeze keeping everything just special. We climbed the 3 miles out of the campsite and turned left with the wind.

We were only going 40 miles today as we are finishing up in Pollock, SD and driving to Bismarck, ND. A new state, finally.

Itza and I rode with Kate who just wasn’t feeling the day, today. I don’t blame her. We’ve been cycling for 10 days now and it’s time for a break. That’s why we’re driving to Bismarck. That’s our destination of rest. Time to allow our minds and butts to heal. We cycled slowly for Kate and during that time Itza and I came up with a song. With Brentton’s help and his harmonica we could maybe do something with it. But for now, here are the lyrics as I currently remember them:

Andando en bicicletta is life
To take away, think twice
Between the land and the sea
There’s no better place to be
When there’s sunshine there’s rain
When there’s joy there’s pain
When you’re climbing the hill
You’ll find no Spanish word for hill

Sobre cuesta means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill

South Dakota is hot
Let’s find a shade tree, OR NOT
I guess we’ll suffer the heat
Until the wagon we meet.

Sobre questa means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill

El vientro is nice
when you’re by the campsite
But when it crosses your side
your in for a rollercoaster ride

Sobre questa means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still!
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill
(repeat)

I’m no John Legend, I know, but this was fun and it did help us pass the time. When we reached the halfway point of 20miles I suggested to Kate that she get in the van. We had another 20 miles to go and it wouldn’t be good to to drag that out with the sun coming out. So, Kate agreed; knowing that today was not a day that she could double her speed.

As we continued on the grande vistas became more spectacular I went against my promise not to take another video or picture of them. I mean all of SD is beautiful rolling hills. So, I took another video.

When we reached Pollock, a town of 397 people, and lunched at their nice City Park. After lunch we repacked the truck and headed to Bismarck, ND then on to Mandan and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park for the night. Mandan was having a festival in celebration of July 4. The whole town was out and coming to celebrate. It looked like a great deal of fun.

 

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Ride Day #9~ It’s nice of you to visit here on the #acaLewisClark tour

I have to say that climbing out of that valley this morning felt worse than it did going in when I was on my 80th mile!  It must have been the anticipation.  The hills just kept rolling and rolling and rolling. I think the count was 5 hills.  I didn’t count. Didn’t want to. Didn’t want to think about it.

This will be a short entry. We had a great ride, no one was overheated and we had nice cloudcover for pretty much of the day. We clocked in about 75 miles today which includes the 9 miles it took to get out of West Whitlock Recreation Area. So, mapped, it was 66p

The nights are getting cooler now. As I type this at 11:45pm CDT the temperature seems to be around 73* with a slight breeze of about 5mph. Fireworks are going off in the distance.

There was a lovely sunset this evening and a beautiful moonrise. The wind was at our backs today and the DFL team was me, Itza, Jeimy, Maysa and Kate. No repairs has to be made today and all was good.

Everyone went to be in good spirits as I’m going to do now. Enjoy the slide show.

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Ride Day #5~ SnR Cyclists continue to chew up miles on #acaLewisClark tour across the west

What I noticed last night was that not only are we on a schedule (although, not yet keeping to it as perfectly as we would like) so is the wind. We rise begin cycling and almost like clockwork the wind begins picking up during the 8am hour and continues on until somewhere in the 9pm hour (there roundabouts); seriously! It’s done it for the last 4 days that I’ve noticed. Hopefully, it won’t prove me wrong tomorrow.

So, after a beautiful sunset last night there was a storm coming thru the campsite at Northpointe Recreation Center but it wasn’t the type we normally experience out east. It was a dry lightning storm. We battened down the tents and listened as the wind rustled and whipped everything in its path. When asked what they thought about the storm the girls answered “what storm?” Seems they slept right thru it. It must be great to not have a care in the world.

The morning’s ride began with an uphill out of the park. It was a fitting warm up; just enough of an incline to wake you up and not have you mind it so much. Being DFL Leader (DF2L) I now have a DFLL in-training with Itza, my co-pilot. Suepinda was able to join us today and we all rode DFL with dragonflies buzzing about us like dolphins to a ship. We had a combine truck pass us and we did something different in moving onto the other side of the road since he was taking up much of the shoulder and road at the same time. I think he appreciated that, as did we.

With the wind in our faces the three of us caught up with Kate and rode beside her for a number of miles. Itza and I started a game to break up the monotony by racing downhill as fast as we can while I call out the current speed. We were impressed with our best time of the morning with 37 mph; an improvement from yesterday’s robbery of 24.9 mph. But eventually we found another hill where we were able to get up to 40 mph. Suepinda and Kate got up to 37 mph. Their best time to date! We didn’t tell them that 40 was faster than 37, but I think they knew.

Me being a lover of grande vistas I took lots of pictures but realized they meant nothing without the context of a cyclist in the picture. Oh well. But South Dakota, I would say, is home to the rolling hillsides. Miles and miles of rolling hills. What a site. I can’t wait until I see mountains in the background or grande vista. Working on my Spanish this summer: learned to say “Hola, vaca negra, hola, vaca kaffe”

To remind us that we are in the very deepest of the country we only witnessed a few oncoming vehicles and almost NONE coming up behind us for miles. Wow. That’s why I’m DF2L. Because in the country, to quoting one of my favorite movies, “no one can hear you scream”. As we rode on eventually more vehicles past us and two of them were trucks carrying hogs. Dripping, oozing, leaking a foul substance that clung to the road like a paint. And being up wind we began to travel what we now call the “Trail of Stench”! The wretchedness lasted consistently for almost two miles as we could not get away from the headwinds which faithfully brought to us every molecule of that strange substance.

At the campsite tonight the youth cyclists played “Ninja”. A game where they get two moves, defensive and offensive to either block or hit the other opponent’s hand. That’s all I can explain but it looks fun.

Tomorrow we plan to continue with the tailwinds and make good time to Fort Thompson.


Chat

Ride day 3~ spending the day with and against the wind on youth cyclists’ @acalewisclark tour

Short blog today as I get accustomed to the schedule of riding a half day and working till the evening. 

The morning was beautiful, cool and with the wind still at our backs. The first ride was longer than expected because the town we were going to use as a break point was a small college town and we were thru it before we knew it and Ibn and Brenton were not there yet.  We continued on making our first ride a 40 miler.

Along the way we were misted by irrigation systems in one of the many corn fields and Itza played with sheep.  We rode on dirt roads and turned around on roads that were closed.  In all, the cyclists completed 84 miles without me.  It was a grueling second half of the day! 

But Lunch was good

We are now in a cozy town named Springfield, SD

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:42.8614%2C-97.8837

When we ran out of propane during dinner preparation we were given a tank by a very nice man in town!

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