Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preparing to get to New Orleans

St. Louis has seen constant rainstorms for several weeks on end. And not just rain, but hail, extremely strong winds, and even tornadoes. There seems to be only one day out of every week that is suitable for riding. But even if I can't be on the bike, there is plenty to do to get ready before I can begin the trip in New Orleans.

I decided to take Amtrak to the Big Easy. It's very friendly to bicycles. Putting my bike into baggage at the airport just didn't sound like a good idea. I want to actually be able to ride it once it gets there!

I put new, top-of-the-line tires on my bike. Just a little bit of tread to get me over the gravel roads. I've been assured these tires are very resistant to flats. I hope so, because I think my bike is attracted to broken glass. I had a rear tire blow-out just last week, only about four blocks from my office. The guys at REI love my bike. They even refer to it as "she". They take loving care with it (I guess I should name it-any ideas, anyone??), and I appreciate all their suggestions and well-wishes.

I've been gathering my camping gear. I need a good-weather day to take it all outside to check it out. I'm taking extra gear for some of the participants who don't have tents and bags, so I need to find a way to carry it all to the train station.

Once in N'Awlins, we'll have a couple of days to get to know each other and participate in an orientation. We all get to take turns leading different parts. It looks like I'll be doing the section on bike safety and health, so I spent some time on different biking sites looking for things I want to be sure to cover.

The core of this whole adventure is the scheduling of meetings in cities along the way to talk to local activists and health providers. I'm helping to locate some clergy in each of the cities so that we can build religious support for reproductive justice.

I haven't really told the others how much I'm looking forward to being in New Orleans. It's been a lot of years since I was there. I went to seminary there and my first two children were born there, so the city holds a very special place in my heart. That's been a long time ago, so I don't have friends there anymore. But I sure was horrified when I first saw the photos of Katrina damage. As I understand it, the neighborhood where we lived (not far south of the lake) is still devastated. I hope I'll get some free time to go looking.