Tag Archives: cycling

Cycles of adventure

In the midst of my wild summer plans, family visits, and national park exploration, I learned that my friend, Jamie Moorby, had cycled across the US for charity, raising money for the DC Area Books to Prisons Project, which has a two-part mission: donate reading material to prisoners and educate the public about prisoner literacy. They aim to bring in reading material because many prisons do not have libraries, and the ones that do often have limited access or selection of materials. This cross-country bike ride was something Jamie and several other people participated in, ending in Oregon last month. I asked Jamie a few questions to talk about her experience.

What inspired you to cycle your way across the US, and how long have you been a long-distance cyclist?

I have dreamed of going on a long bike trip since I was a kid, but never pursued it I until this spring a friend asked me if I’d ride with her from New Orleans to the SXSW music festival in Austin Texas. I was quitting my job at a worker-owned/operated food coop in the DC area and moving to VT this summer anyway, so I said sure. Towards the end of that 10 day trip, another friend called me up and said “since you don’t have a job right now, why don’t you bike across the country with me?” I didn’t have any good reasons not to, so I agreed. Less than a month after finishing my 620 mile ride across Louisiana and Texas, we left Yorktown, VA for a 10 state, 3 month, 4,500 mile ride to Astoria, Oregon. Read More…

ever the sun shall shine

It was in the nadir of the winter that a long-time Walla Wallan approached me and told me to hang in there, the spring in Walla Walla is beautiful and I will really enjoy it. I trusted her, thinking that she wouldn’t knowingly lie to me, except that the people in this town have also declared the following:

1. It doesn’t snow here all that much (we got 40 inches last winter, the height of your average 9-year-old)

2. Oh, you’ll find a job out here, it just may take a few months (9 and counting, is that still “few”?)

3. Vote McCain!

So I took her very genuine statement as well intentioned but potentially far, far off the mark.

Spring did, in fact, uh spring. The wheat started out green on the rolling hills around town, a lovely contrast with the swimming pool blue skies. Daffodils and then tulips started popping up, and in town, the tree buds have given way to bright green baby leaves.

Spring, however, now appears to be over. It lasted something like 8 days. The past three days have been mid-80s, no humidity and lots of bright sunlight. One wonders how hot this desert town will get in the next month, and when we’ll see our first 3-digit degree day. I’ll start a pool on that, I’m sure.

Small town life continues despite the surge in temperature. I’ve been here long enough that shopkeepers know how I like my coffee and my haircut, and ask what I’m going to make for supper when I am in the grocery store. It’s nice and invasive at the same time, and I’m a little surprised that I think that, given that I sometimes was irritated by the constant anonymity of living in a large city. But I do appreciate the friendliness.

Walla Walla hosted a cycling race last weekend, the Tour of Walla Walla. Imagine what my sentence will be:

It was a short race. They looped through the downtown area several times to complete the race. Why they didn’t go through the prison facility or the plutonium plant, I have no idea. We cheered them on, however, and I was happy that someone had brought a cow bell. You really can’t have a bike race without a cow bell.


Tour of Walla Walla bike race

Tour of Walla Walla bike race



Our other excitement of the week was a fire across the street from our house. We had come in our back door from visiting with a friend, and thought the air smelled funny, like barbeque gone horribly wrong. Then we were inside, playing cards with Kurtis, and a few minutes after that, noticing some blinking lights from the street. A quick look with the blinds pulled aside and we could see that one of the apartments in the senior housing center across the way was on fire. The city had sent three fire trucks and a host of police cars, all working to put out the flames and get the residents out safely. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but it was more than a bit unnerving to see firefighters in full gear running up the stairs with hoses and axes.

Walla Walla has 48 full-time fire fighters, and I think the majority of them were there at the scene. The next morning the building bore the scars of the event.


building after the fire

building after the fire

Given that the rain is pretty much over for the season, I wonder how often fires happen in and around town now. We have no Santa Ana-like winds here, but we do have wind, and it is sometimes intense. I suppose given that the town doesn’t own a snow plow, having about 50 people to put out fires is a sign they’ve had to deal with the dryness before. And hopefully that fire last week is the closest it will ever come to us.

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