Monday, June 30, 2008
Hello, all. Becky here. Thanks for sticking with my blog for all these weeks. It’s been fun for me to share my journey with you, and very important to feel your support and encouragement.
Yesterday we were headed into Philadelphia. The roads were busy and hilly. Once again, the van broke down. We had it towed into Philly to a Ford dealer, hoping and expecting they would honor the warranty by the Ford dealer who “fixed” the van in DC. No such luck. We’ve thrown thousands into the van and are not the least confident that it will last 2 more days to make it to NYC. We’re also at the point that we just don’t care if it does. We’ll just ride our bikes and have our gear shipped to us somehow.
Today we got to spend a whole day in Philly. Shelby and I went downtown to the historic district and then went shopping for something to wear to our party in NYC. Somehow we can’t bring ourselves to wear smelly, dirty clothes in NYC. Now, you might be asking “why don’t you just wash them?” They’ve all been washed, many times, but they look and smell no better. When we’ve washed clothes in campgrounds, we then tie them to the top of the van to dry on the way to the next town. As they flap up there with the extra bicycles, our clean clothes catch bike grease, dirt, and whatever blows down the highway. I cannot exaggerate how disgusting they have become. We are all looking forward to returning home and opening our closets to clean fresh clothes nearly forgotten.
We’re all a little concerned too about returning to our “real lives”. Today I had trouble remembering my work address. I think it will be rather disorienting to be back in regular communication with persons other than the 10 I’ve been living with. We’re not sure if we’ll know what to do without an entourage.
Tomorrow we’re in New Jersey, staying at the home of Nora’s aunt and uncle. And then on to our final destination. I am equally glad to have made this journey and to be coming home. I know I will be thinking about and learning from the experience for months to come. Here are some things I’ve learned so far:
I can bike just about anywhere, by myself or with others.
I can thank the hills instead of cursing them, for they make me stronger. (thanks, Jack)
I can, with minor limitations, keep up with a bunch of twenty-somethings.
My body doesn’t like extreme exertion for more than four days in a row. But with a couple days rest, I’m always ready to go again.
There are great numbers and variety of people working in reproductive health, rights, and justice and related fields. They do not all agree on language, priorities, methods, or politics. Each is unique, gifted, dedicated, and necessary to the movement. We need to value every voice and its special place in our work. We have much to learn from one another, and the work needs us all. Competing with our colleagues or judging their work as less critical is self-defeating.
A world placed in the hands of the 10 young women on this trip is a lucky world indeed. There is hope.
Eating gluten-free for six weeks on a cross-country trip is nearly impossible.
Every state is struggling with similar political attacks.
Lots of progressives feel isolated, often ostracized by religious forces. In every state activists are desperately seeking religious allies.
Never go anywhere without a Blackberry.
Friends make every challenge worthwhile.
Those are my random thoughts on Monday evening. Thanks again to my awesome staff for holding it all together and keeping this blog up to date: Adele, Saskia, Virginia, Kelli, Sarah, Autumn. I miss you and can’t wait to see you!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Apparently the maps didn't match the actual routes a lot of the time, and the group had to keep stopping to re-design their trip. Sometimes they had to backtrack a bit, and the group had to really stick together. When they finally asked for some directions they ended up at a convenience store surrounded by police cops. At one of the block they saw all of the cars, and they found out that they had someone hiding in a building. At the opposite end of the block, there were more cars preventing people from entering a grocery store. People were unsure if the suspect was in the first building or in the grocery store, so they blocked off both! After they left the stand-off area, they got back onto a 2 lane road that was very curvy. At some point on the small road hey were going really fast down a big hill when they saw a big curve at the bottom. Shelby missed the curve and fell over in some gravel. Becky was right behind her and helped bandage up her scrapes-both legs and elbows :(
After a few more map mishaps the wanderlusters finally ended up within site of Baltimore, and of course it started to rain. Since they had a meeting tonight they had to keep riding. Luckily, one of the riders is from Baltimore and was able to give directions..but not before everyone got caught in a downpour with lightning and thunder. They rode through the city and crossed several large interstate ramps in the storm, all the while attracting quite a lot of attention from people in their cars and hiding under awnings. Someone yelled "look at the hardcore bikers" and then everyone in downtown Baltimore began applauding as the Wanderlusters tried to get out of the rain!
When they finally arrived at their spot for the evening, the van was already there and everyone was able to get out of the rain and get a little cleaner before their meeting!
ps. thanks to the Marylanders for their random acts of kindness. A man saw the riders sitting by the side of the road fixing a flat tire and gave them all a water bottle! They also met a man who commutes 11 miles on his bike to work each day and was really excited to see so many bikers in one place!
Planes arriving at the nat'l airport (above)
For those of you wondering about the van problem yesterday..it's all better now! Becky was in the van when it broke down and then rode in the rental van before getting back on her bike for the 26 miles leading from Mt. Vernon into DC. Some of the Wanderlusters were initially concerned about riding right through DC, but apparently traffic is so slow that it was an easy ride! The picture on the right --> is the view of DC from the Mt. Vernon trail. The trail runs from Mt. Vernon (George Washington's home and grounds) all the way into the city.
Here is Becky talking about the DC meetings which included a trip to Advocates for Youth (picture at left), an abortion clinic in DC and the RCRC reception! Becky said that Carlton said some really nice things about her and the group. Thanks national RCRC! Also, thanks especially to Francis Kissling (Catholics for Choice, retired) and Lisa Kohn for attending the RCRC reception!
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #16 - Washington DC
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Becky is driving the van for part of the ride today, so we'll get an actual mileage count from her this evening! Here is a newest recording!
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #15 - Lake Anna-Northern VA
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The wanderlusters have passed the 1000 mile mark as of today! We spoke with Becky this morning, and they are in Virginia and working their way through some really hilly areas. They will be in DC tomorrow, and the national office (RCRC) will be hosting a reception and meeting! Here are some of Becky's thoughts today:
"The area is very beautiful but hilly. There is something about Virginia, that even though we're on back roads, it feels very historic. The road signs, old homes, and historic sites all contribute to the feel of early America. We even crossed the *James River this morning! The river is very wide, but very shallow. It's as wide as the Mississippi, but you can see the bottom. It made me want to kayak really badly! Overall, the hills are making my knees hurt a little but I've found them a lot easier to take than just a few weeks ago. The scenery is so gorgeous that I also don't mind taking my time, even if it means being one of the slower riders. The roads have been shaded by tall trees, and it has also been a lot cooler recently, or at least feels that way. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that everything is relative! All of the riders standards have changed so much during the ride; now we're excited when a campsite has more than one shower, and if there are laundry machines when we stop! At the beginning of the trip I would have considered a 50 mile ride really hard, but now 50 is an easy day, 65 is average an average day, and a hard ride is 85+ miles. It's funny how our perceptions change!"
That's all for today! But check back for more information about the DC meeting, and listen so some of Becky's thoughts below:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #14 - Hilly areas galore
*For those of you who recognize the name but can't place it, the James River was used by the early colonists. Pocahontas, her father Powhatan and the Johns (Rolfe & Smith) all lived in or around the James River and the settlement known as Jamestown.
Monday, June 23, 2008
It's a small, small world!
Becky mentioned, in her last Gabcast, that she met the daughter of a St. Louis United Church of Christ minister, Rev. Ann Wilson, at the Chapel Hill meeting with Wanderlust. Here, Becky and Lucy both share their experiences in North Carolina:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #12 - Chapel Hill, NC
Missouri sure knows how to raise 'em well!
Hello! The Wanderlusters are more than half-way to New York City!
The next chance to meet with the Wanderlust team will be in Washington, DC. The reception will be hosted by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at Acadiana Restaurant in Washington, DC from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, 2008. Appetizers and drinks will be served. RSVP to email@example.com. Contact 202-628-7700 with questions.
Acadiana is located at:
901 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The second half of the ride has (so far) been much more relaxed in spirit than the first half. As a group we've solidified how we work together and most tasks have become simple routine. The young women with whom I travel have treated me as a peer, while still occasionally seeking my advice about bikes and life. Spending 24/7 for 4 weeks with a group creates strong bonds and I am glad to be among such strong women. They inspire me every day.
I've taken some great photos this past week, but I've had trouble getting them to send to you. Because we are on the go during the days, taking back roads, and then usually in state parks in the evenings, cell phone reception is spotty at best. But most emails get through to me on my phone anyway and it's an incredible delight to read your kind words of encouragement. I am so fortunate to have such supportive friends!
Seeing the country by bicycle is very different from seeing it by car. Slow travel allows seeing beautiful sights and talking to people. I need to go now...more later!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Chapel Hill, NC/Carborro - June 21st
Washington, DC - June 26th
Baltimore, MD - June 27th
Philadelphia, PA - June 30th
Princeton, NJ - July 1st
NEW YORK CITY - July 2nd
Here is the information for the upcoming meeting:
THE WANDERLUST REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE STORY COLLECTIVE AND BIKE CARAVAN IS COMING TO TOWN!
This summer, fifteen women are traveling from New Orleans to New York City with the Wanderlust story collective and bicycle caravan. In solidarity with local activists and rooted in the belief that sharing stories is a powerful way to elevate awareness and create social change, we'll be pedaling from town to town to listen to your stories and document how you and others are working to expand access to reproductive health care, defend reproductive rights, and promote reproductive justice.
The goals of the trip are to document the inspirational, groundbreaking work happening across the country, expand the conversation about reproductive justice, and build horizontal networks to strengthen our collective movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice.
Join the Wanderlust bike riders for an evening of story sharing, delicious barbecua, and good conversation!
WHEN: Saturday June 21st from 6 - 8 PM
WHERE: 117 W. Poplar Ave Carrboro, NC
No parking on the street—park at Basnight and Sons at corner of W. Main and W. Poplar or University Methodist Church (if there's no event going on) or Carrboro Elementary School—on Shelton Street.
At the gathering, you'll be able to:
* Meet the Wanderlust Reproductive Justice Bike Caravan riders
* Share your experiences and talk about what reproductive justice means to you
* Hear from others in your area about what they're excited about and the projects
they're working on
Two nights ago the Wanderlusters stayed at The Grapefull Sisters vineyard! The hosts were the two sisters who started the vinyard about two years ago (hence the name). We have included the link to their site above, and we hope you'll take the time to learn more about this awesome women friendly enterprise. Becky says that they were really wonderful hosts and that she spent the night on the futon on a second floor open air porch! Apparently it was windy, but very fun. Here is a picture of the riders setting up camp on the the vineyard grounds!
Keep checking back for mileage updates and pictures! And don't forget to send some love..
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In Charleston, the Wanderlusters had a meeting at a University. A woman and gender studies professor named Allison organized the event and invited people from the local community to participate. At the meeting, everyone broke into small groups and Becky's group included a woman and her family( originally from CA). Both of the young parents spoke about how concerned they are to be raising their son in the environment in Charleston, because they want him to grow up to respect women and their choices. The woman also said that she never felt the need to get involved in reproductive health issues before, because she didn't feel that her rights were threatened in CA. Since moving to Charleston, however, she noted that she has been surprised by the religious stranglehold on various aspects of women's health and really wants to become involved as an activist. Others in the small groups had equally successful conversations, and were able to speak to people from various walks in life about their interest in making connections with others and becoming more involved.
In Charleston, the Wanderlusters stayed in a hostel called NotSo Hostel and were joined by 3 new riders! The NotSo Hostel is a pretty famous Charleston hostel and they have a great website that talks about their room and space sharing philosophy (it opens dialogue!). After sleeping on the ground for the past few nights, I'm sure none of the Wanderlusters minded having to share a bathroom!
One of the new riders,
Here is the most recent audio file from Becky! She passed the phone around to a few other riders, and you can hear messages from some of the more seasoned rider, Elizabeth, Vanessa and Elisa, as well as Shelby!
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #10 - Meet some of Becky's friends
Monday, June 16, 2008
We have updated the mileage to reflect the last 3 days of biking, and the Wanderlusters are well on their way towards 800 miles!
Here is Becky talking about some rainy weather on their way into Charleston:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #9 - Rain and Sand biking!
Friday, June 13, 2008
As of today the Wanderlusters are in Charleston, SC. Due to some mishaps (a fellow rider broke her arm, all the flat tires etc) the total mileage count is likely to end up around 1200-1400 miles instead of the anticipated 1,800. This means that Becky is now approximately halfway done with the ride! We are going to have to recalculate our pledges based upon this new information, but are really appreciate of everyone who has made a donation or a pledged thus far.
Lately, we (the staff) have been telling a lot of people about the Wanderlust ride and Becky's participation. The response has been unbelievable! Everyone has been so positive, and so impressed with her stamina and dedication. It has also been really interesting to see what happens when we tell someone what Becky is doing; invariably people want to share their own stories about their own bike rides, or experiences they've had meeting with people across the country. We're really excited for Becky to come back and share her stories, because we know that we have just been getting tiny snippets of information.
Please keep up the e-mails, texts, blog comments, and phone calls to Becky! She has been putting up with really hot weather, long days, and other hardships along the way. Please feel free to contact the office if you would like to extend well wishes or make a pledge!
Thanks for reading, and we look forward to keeping you updated as the riders begin the 2nd leg of their trip!
ps. thanks to rhonda for the picture!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
After a few days of playing 'catch up' using the van, the Wanderlusters are back on their bikes! Yesterday they rode 40 miles in 100+ degree weather.
They also had their next meeting in Augusta, where Becky took this picture.
<-- In the audio message below you can hear Becky talk about the trip so far, her appreciation for the UU's in Augusta and some other interesting trip notes. Becky also told us that (sadly!) flat tires are an almost daily occurance. Here is a picture of a bike being repaired on the side of the road-->
You can listen to Becky give a quick update on the ride here:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #8 - 100+ Degree Weather
Friday, June 6, 2008
It's really me this time. This is the first time I've touched my fingers to a computer in 2 weeks! The Wanderlust Riders are in Atlanta tonight, Friday, June 6, and will be staying here for the weekend. We are the guest of the Feminist Women's Health Center, an abortion facility. They have allowed us to take over a huge conference room, kitchen, baths, and laundry--a luxury compared to our nights in campgrounds. Tomorrow they're providing a pancake breakfast and a tour of their extensive facility. This clinic is being targeted by Operation Save America this summer.
We'll also be meeting with local activists tomorrow. We expect this to be one of our largest meetings.
On the last two days we've been on actual bike trails. It has felt far more relaxed than our stressful rides on state and county roads in the hills of Alabama, and much more enjoyable than trying to ride through construction zones. But everyday brings a new adventure. Small bike accidents, flat tires, barking dogs, getting lost, riders getting sick or injured, mechanical problems--there is always some challenge to overcome. Everyone finishes the daily ride exhausted, but usually proud and happy. Sometimes, though, the exhaustion makes us all a bit grouchy.
The riders are from all over the country--New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, and California. The others range in age from 20 to 36, and then there's yours truly, trying my best to keep up with all that youthful energy as we pedal away the days.
I am so grateful to have such a fabulous MORCRC office staff that keeps interesting things happening while I'm away. I'm kind of sorry that I'm missing the most fun office time of the year, that time when we have new interns and allow our creativity to go wild. I'm in touch with Saskia or Adele almost every day. I miss them!
My bike is being good to me, but I think by the time I get to New York I'll be ready to throw away every piece of clothing that I brought. Nothing seems to ever get clean when washed out in cold water in a camp sink.
This is probably the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. I'm pleased with the distance accomplished thus far and believe I'm finding new sources of strength.
Thanks for following along, and thanks so much to all who are sending me emails! I really am encouraged to keep going when I read your kind words.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #7 - 2nd Meeting in AL & thoughts about the meetings
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #6 - On the way to our 2nd meeting
Monday, June 2, 2008
"Today the Wanderlust riders have gone 39 miles. Tonight we are staying at the United Methodist Children's Home. The group has their own cabin, real beds, and the staff is making dinner for everyone! What a nice change from camping on the hard ground!
Here are some pictures of today's ride through Selma. We stopped at the Civil and Voting Rights Memorial. It's a beautiful park under the bridge where marchers were turned away with hoses while trying to see Gov. Wallace. Throughout the day, we went through white towns and black towns, however, everyone was so nice and people along the way stopped to talk, encourage, and offer help! It's beautiful and hard and exhausting! We went up two big hills and had then had a wonderful breeze going down.
Tonight we are going to clean up and try and visit the Civil Rights Museum here in Selma.
It's pretty amazing to see the country this way. You don't miss much on a bike."