Questing with the Cultural REcyclists

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Chillin' in PGH

Happy Friday!

We have had some crazy adventures on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) since leaving the C & O trail behind in Cumberland, MD. During our first day on the GAP, we rode only 16 miles up to Frostburg. It was a nice short ride ending at a lecture on Wild Foods and Science by Mimi Hernandez at the Appalachian Experiment Station. After the lecture, Mimi invited us for dinner with Jesse and her. She also let us spend the night on her apartment floor. Her building was very colorful! All of our bikes looks hilarious in the hallway. Mimi has been practicing herbalist for over a decade! She gave us some awesome advice on herbs to take on the road.

We had one of our earliest morning leaving Mimi's just before 8:30am. Then we ventured around Frostburg to the Food Lion, where we diving a huge dumpstered feast! We found apples, oranges, cakes, muffins, ice cream, milk, silk, and all sorts of goodies. After we filled up for the day, we hopped back on the trail and rode about 40 miles into Confluence, PA. We were able to camp in the backyard of a vacant house right by the river. It was a sweet spot. Charlie was the first REcyclist to get the sickness about to overtake most our group. We made some easy mac that Mimi's roommate Rachel gave us for dinner. We knew Charlie must be pretty sick when he turned down food.

The next morning we chilled out for most of the day. We only had 11 more miles until our next stop in Ohiopyle. Will was beginning to feel sick as well. Before we left Confluence we ate at the Lucky Dog Cafe. This is an amazing all organic and mostly local cafe. We all split a Farmers Market Pizza, which had whatever veggies were around at the farmers market. Once we hit the road, it was quick ride into Ohiopyle. We were lucky enough to make friends at the House Cafe. The owner there let us camp behind her quest house and they gave us some FREE fries & chicken fingers!

The next morning we explored the town a bit. We found an 95% LOCAL store called The Backyard Garden. The owner Vici told us about how she got started from selling her amazing mustard to owning her own shop. While we were there, we found out about the Wilderness Voyageur's Beer & Gear Fest on Saturday.We started to think we might hang around for a couple more days. Vici also told us about the Spring Valley Church Community, which is home to 250 people who run an organic farm & a Forest Stewardship Council certified child play set factory. Charlie gave them a call and we were invited to check out the community. We also met Joscelin and Kathy at Oddly Enough who were amazing that day.

In the late afternoon, we biked the 6 miles up the mountain to Spring Valley. It was awesome to get a tour of the gardens and the grounds. Then at dinner, we got to meet the whole community. It was crazy to hear everyone sing in harmony before digging in to the tacos. A couple from the community just arrived back from Haiti so they told about their experience as we all ate. After dinner we were invited to stay the night. Each of us got paired with a "host" family. It was great to ask questions about their way of life and experiences.

The next morning we had our really early day, with a 6am breakfast with our host families. At breakfast they sang again and had a bible reading after the meal. Before we biked back down the mountain to Ohiopyle, we joined the morning gathering with more singing. At this point both Will and Amanda were getting pretty sick. Once we got back to Ohiopyle, they just slept on a hill for most of the day. Kevin, Charlie, and Tina checked out the natural water slide for a while. Tina met Matt who runs Outdoorsman Insight Magazine. He was also going to the Beer and Gear fest later that day.

Once the fest time rolled around, Will and Amanda decided to skip out for sleep. Charlie and Kevin played guitar and juggled by the line for the people entertainment and made $10. Inside the fest Tina, socialized. She met some awesome hoopers selling hoops. One of which saw her speak at All Good Music Festival the year before. She was able to hang out with Kathy and Joscelin. Kathy gave Tina a beautiful peace sign necklace for creating positive vibes throughout town. Lizayla with Friends of Ohiopyle also gave Tina a $20 donation to the group. After the fest Tina camped out with some of the brewers.

In the morning, Tina hunted down the rest of the group a few miles past Ohiopyle off the GAP. She found everyone getting breakfast together down on a beach off the river. Charlie and Kevin decided to bike the rest of the way into Pittsburgh a bit after breakfast. They made it to Kevin's parents house in Squirrel Hill close to 10pm that night. Will, Amanda, and Tina rode for about 30 miles before the finding a great camp site. They met this guy Scott who just got on the GAP and is headed towards Washington D.C. The group decided to just pass out instead of making dinner.

Prepping for the last 50 miles until Pittsburgh, Will, Amanda, and Tina made some curry for breakfast. Tina made friends with a guy Brian who stopped by the site on his way down the GAP towards Washington D.C. He donated $5 towards "beer money" for us. Once we got to packing up camp, Tina finished first. With a blessing from Will and Amanda she headed up the trail to meet them around mile marker 125 or 130ish for lunch. Tina stopped in Boston and waited for over 2 hours for Will and Amanda to catch up. She finally just  rode with Tersea and Orion, Pittsburgh natives, towards the city. While she was waiting she got another $40 donation for the group and met a bunch of awesome people. Later that night Amanda was picked up by her mom and brother to go home for a family emergency.

Since the group has been in Pittsburgh, they have been running around doing a bunch of activities. Tuesday, Will spend most of his time trying to heal on the couch. While Kevin, Tina, and Charlie checked out a Transition Pittsburgh meeting and organized a gathering for the group this Saturday June 26th from 1pm until sunset at Frick Park by the blue slide. We also met the guys at the Electric Garage who are converting a Sicon and a Honda Civic in all electric vehicles. The group is showing Who Killed the Electric Car? tonight at 9pm at their shop.

On Wednesday, the group headed down to the Kingsley House to meet with Tina's fellow Penn State grads Mike and Jess as well as the Larimer Urban Planner Carlos to discuss the Summer Youth Employment Program. The REcyclists crew checked out the duplex fix up site with Mike before heading out to the East End Food CO-OP. Later on in the day, the REcyclists went had a vegan dinner with Claire, her friend Daniele, and her mother Ann. Claire is involved with the Transition Centre County as well as Voices for Animals.

Thursday, the REcyclists got to actually help get the duplex ready for the Summer Youth Employment Program kids. Kristin helped Jess cleaning up the inside of the recently vacant home. Kevin, Charlie, and Tina starting cleaning out the rumble from the caved in garage and pulling out the poison ivy in addition to other weeds from the backyard.Will got picked up by his parents before the group left for the Kingsley House. He will be away from the group for at least 10 days.

Today, Kevin, Tina, Charlie, and Kristin will be gardening, going to critical mass, checking out the farmers market, a music festival, watch the Who Killed the Electric Car? at the Electric Garage, and a bunch of other small things.

If you're in Pittsburgh join us tomorrow for our Gathering at Frick park from 1pm until Sunset!


peace & love,


The Cultural REcyclists

Monday, June 14, 2010

Craziness on the C + O

Day 8, Cumberland, Maryland.
What a trip it's been! In less than a week I feel that we've already experienced enough to write a book! A couple days ago we rolled into Frederick, Maryland with quite a bit of stress on our backs. We got pulled over on a highway we weren't supposed to be on and Amanda simultaneously blew a flat, pretty much guaranteeing we wouldn't make to our campsite that night. It's always in these situations, however, that miracles seem to happen. Tina and I went looking for a motel to stay in that night. I came back with a $70 room. Tina came back with a house! Not just any house. As it turned out, two older folks named Kevin and Gladden had been waiting on their back porch for the arrival of two cyclists biking across America. They had never housed any cyclists before, and on this very day another group of cyclists shows up at their door. Talk about coincidence. So we hung out with them, partied in their hot tub, got ourselves some good food and showers and met the two cyclists with whom we'd be biking the next two days. Their names were Paul and Adam, two awesome guys riding to support their charity, Bike Free (www.bikefree.org). The next morning we rode with them through Williamsport and got onto the C + O canal bike trail, an absolutely beautiful trail bordering the Potomac River. We spent the next night in Hancock in a hostel behind a bike shop, and the next along the trail, on a 12 foot high ledge supporting an abandoned bridge. Many details in between, too many to share with the hour time limit I've been given on this computer, so until next time, LIVE SPONTANEOUSLY!
Peace,
Charlie

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life is Awesome!!!

Hey everybody!

Wow, here we are! Day three of biking across the United States! Six months ago it was nothing more than an idea in our heads, a dream that we shared with our friends. Now it's finally happening and its almost unreal.

Three days ago we all arrived on Woodland Beach, Maryland, just outside of Smyrna. After unloading our bikes we roamed up and down the beach for about an hour, hoping to find a worthy place to pitch our sleeping bags. We quickly realized this would not be possible - the high tide line and the insane biting black flies made sure of that. Luckily we met a man named Ed who so kindly granted us the use of his backyard. So, after a nice walk along the pier and some interaction with friendly (if not a little drunk) fishermen, we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner of pasta and wasabi soybeans and went to bed feeling happy and healthy.

The next morning, day one, we were all finally ready to begin our epic quest. After a few pictures on the beach and few tweeks to our bikes we were ready to hit the road - a wonderful flatland cruise along a quiet backroad surrounded by water on either side. Very shortly after we began, a couple other bikers caught up with us, seeing that we were packed to the brim with gear and sensing we were amateurs. Their names were John and Ed. It just so happened they were from Altoona (so close to home!), and had had a great deal of experience riding on the east coast. They pointed us in the direction of a good bike route through Maryland and wished us well. That positive energy carried us all the way to Elkton, Maryland, where we spent the night in Elk Neck Creek State Park. We all had the pleasure of a real campfire, and Will and I got practice some cooking techniques. We cooked some more pasta with some fresh vegetables we had picked up earlier in the day, and had a glass of warm sassafras tea sweetened with honey for dessert. Absolutely wonderful.

Day two. Oatmeal and sassafras tea for breakfast. Mmmm! Stopped briefly to fill our depleted water supply and we were off. This day turned out to be quite slow, as Will and Tina kept having trouble shifting on their bikes. By midday we made it to Port Deposit, Maryland and had a wonderful lunch on the Susquehanna river. The next leg of our ride was a comfortable trek until Dublin, where Tina's shifting was in dire need of attention. We paused at a convenience store, and met an amazing man named Steve. Him and his daughter Eleanor had just happened to be walking out when they spotted us and realized we needed help. Steve and I (Charlie) got to talking, and I learned that he had biked across the country back in '91. His experience gave me great confidence that no matter what our group may be up against, the odds will always turn out in our favor. You always meet amazing people in the most unexpected of places, don't you? Soon we parted ways and spent the night in Rocks State Park. Dinner, music, and a solid night of rest. Can't ask for much more!