Thursday, December 8, 2011

Actually on a bike again

I begin this blog with an urgent call to Action! The UN is having climate change talks as we speak, and the USA is poised, once again, to water down any serious progress on a climate treaty. We must rely instead on China, Brazil and the EU to take a stand. Support a strong climate treaty here:

Also, I realize that I have failed to inform readers of one of my favorite organizations of the era, the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG first came to my attention when I was concerned about the chemicals in sunscreen, which I had heard might not be so good for me. EWG has cataloged over 69,000 cosmetics, from lipstick to shampoo to toothpaste, and analyzes the ingredients of each to determine which contain the most harmful and least harmful ingredients. Using their database, you can check out the products you currently use, or find alternatives that are less harmful to you and the environment.

Most recently, I was impressed by EWG's “Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change” which details the carbon footprint of a fairly comprehensive list of edible proteins, both animal and plant.

And finally, I have added a FAQ page to the blog (see above, between the photo thumbnails and the main article), to compliment the "Mission & Goals" as well as the "Route and Itinerary" pages, both of which have gone through minor updates.  Lastly, I will continue to update the trip STATS box (top right of the page, under the photo thumbnails), and my location and photos of the whole trip are still accessible at the top left of the page.

12/7/11, Day 76 (of bike travel since 7/6/11)

Yesterday morning at 12:55 am, I loaded my boxed bike (a monstrous, heavy thing, also filled with 60% of my camping, cooking gear & clothing) onto a Greyhound Express bus in Minneapolis. 8 hours later, I unloaded in Chicago, sat in the bus station there for 2 hours, and then boarded another bus to ride 7 hours to St. Louis. The Greyhound Express is a far cry from the Greyhound buses that I remember traveling on several years ago in California. The last time I took a long distance bus, I specifically remember waiting hours for the bus, which arrived late, had severe mechanical problems which were clearly smellable from the interior, and had trouble squeezing our luggage into small compartments. The seats were cramped, the floor was filthy, and the bus was filled to capacity. Cheap perfume and body odor floated on the air, and the heat was cranked too high. We stopped in what seemed like every city, and it took us twice as long to get to our destination as a car would. I had trouble sleeping because the seats leaned back only an inch or two. The Greyhound Express was almost the opposite experience. Clean, well-maintained buses with new seats and decent leg room. Free wifi and power outlets at every seat. Only 1 or 2 stops in the middle of a 7 or 8 hour drive, making the ride similar in time to taking a car. I slept well. I could smell nothing but myself.
Just before departing from Minneapolis, I spent a few hours with friends, old and new, enjoying a few beers, some music, great company and lots of smiles and laughs. I hugged everyone on my way in and out. I could not properly communicate how excellent they had made my time in Minneapolis.

In St. Louis, I spent over an hour putting my bike back together. I put warm clothes on, and rode out into the dark, cold streets of a new city. I rode east, straight toward the Jefferson Arch that the city is so famous for, then turned south and west toward the home of Stephanie, my couchsurfing host. I arrived at her home 20 minutes later without issue. She welcomed me warmly, set me up in the living room, and gave me a biking map of the city.


My last two days have been spent in the city of St. Louis. My host, Stephanie, provided me with a wonderful itinerary of things to do and see, and I pedaled about 45 miles around the city in the last 2 days. I visited the botanical gardens, the Forest Park, the City Museum (more like a giant playground made from re-used things), a doughnut shop, the Jefferson Memorial (with the giant Arch) and some good restaurants. Along the way I cycled past a park with giant cement turtles, a burning building, the original Budweiser factory and lots and lots of brick houses and giant, old deciduous trees.

I am excited to be heading south! My friend Pete is flying into Jackson, MS on the 20th to join me for the ride into New Orleans. I have set up couch-surfing hosts in Cape Girardeau and Memphis for the ride south. I'm ready to ride!        

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