30 September 2013

Climate Ride Recap - Day 1

Let me first say, I've realized I was a horrible photographer on this trip.  There were many times I was riding along thinking, I should take a picture of this or that - but my phone/camera was tucked away in a shatterproof case, in my handlebar bag, and it was just too much work to snap a quick photo.  Looking back, I should have stopped.  I have ordered the photos from the "professional" that accompanied us on the ride, and am hopeful that - provided I credit him properly - I'll be able to post a photo blog of the trip once those arrive.

That being said, here is my recap of Day 1 of Climate Ride!

 I'm actually going to include a little bit from Friday night, as we checked in to The Space.  I arrived in NYC and spent some time lounging at the new Rooftop SkyClub Lounge before meeting up with Gal after she got off work.  She was gracious enough to offer her home to me and two other Climate Riders, just a short subway ride away from the start.  So I headed out from JFK to meet up with her at her apartment in the East Village, thankful I had sent my bike with Tom and the other WABA folks, and wasn't trying to get it and my luggage through the NYC subway system.
She has a great apartment in the revitalized Village, and a car, which we jumped in to travel over the bridge to Brooklyn where we met up with the other riders at The Space - our homebase inn NYC before we would be leaving the next morning.  My bike was there, having safely made the trek with Tom, and I got us both signed in.  I got a tag for my bike, took my photo for the board, and signed away my life.  Seriously, I just signed the medical waiver, but since I don't currently have insurance, it was like signing my life away ;)
Before the evening concluded - with drinks and snacks to keep us happy - Caeli Quinn, one of the Climate Ride co-founders, told us the story of how Climate Ride came to be and prepped us for the amazing journey we were about to embark on.  A group of us left The Space and grabbed a bite nearby before heading back to Gal's to crash for the night - we had a big day ahead of us!

The next morning, Abi, Barbara and I took off from Gal's and made our way to the best coffee shop in the Village before jumping on the subway for a quick jaunt across/under the river to our starting point.  I was glad I'd opted for the bag with wheels, but definitely was excited to turn it over to the crew and not worry about schlepping it around for the next five days!  We got to The Space, filled up our water bottles, grabbed snacks galore, and waited for our first talk from Blake.  Today's ride would be 47.4 miles - with a grueling 4.8 miles from the start through Manhattan to the ferry that would take us over to Atlantic Highlands, NJ!

 Here's one of our amazing leaders for the week, Blake, letting us know just how many miles we had left ;)
We were off from The Space, and I was a little nervous about real city riding, but the New Yorkers were nice, and there were some fantastic bike lines across the Williamsburg bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan.  On the way, a group stopped for a photo for the 350.org Draw the Line campaign, taking a stand against the Keystone XL pipeline and the other political issues that are standing between us and winning on climate change.  It was a great way to start the ride!
We were to be on the ferry for a 10:45 departure, so it was a quick 4.8 miles, but once on the ferry we all spent some time getting to know each other.  The ferry ride was about 45 minutes, and gave us some amazing vistas of NYC and Lady Liberty.  And also, just for dad, I took this great shot of a light house in the harbor.

Once we made it to NJ - our second state of the ride already - we grabbed a picnic lunch, learned more from Blake about the route, and then were off for the remaining 42 miles of the day.  Everyday was going to be an experience for me, as the longest I had ever ridden before this was ~38miles.  I would be lying if I said it was easy, but the folks on the ride - both riders and the amazing support staff - helped make the miles fly by.  Not to mention the beautiful scenery we were passing through.  On today's ride, we rode through the campus of Princeton to end the day, but it was amazing to realize how beautiful New Jersey really is ;)  (and, yes, I will be using the word amazing over and over again to describe this entire experience)

Each morning, we were handed cue sheets to tell us how to get from point A to point B - my first time riding with these - but they were great, along with the pink "Climate Ride" signs that helped point out turns to us.

After lunch, we had a water stop to get to, with a few winding turns and hills, but overall it was a fairly easy day - especially compared to the following day!  I really wanted to be able to track each day's ride with my RunKeeper app, but my silly phone battery is pretty sad (luckily there is a new phone on the way - not an upgrade, just a new version of this one with a spiffy new battery), so I only captured bits and pieces.  I am hoping to go back in with the amazing cue sheets and put in the ride (I did use a Timex GPS watch each day which tracked total miles, pace, and total time), but for now, here's what the ride from the water stop into Princeton looked like on RunKeeper.

It was a great way to start things off!  Once we got to the YMCA camp in Princeton, it was time for a nice hot shower and dinner.  We had a great catered meal from a local place, with locally sourced food.  We had lasagna and salad.  It was great.  Gal and a few others had decided before the ride that since the forecast called for rain, we would princess it up and get a hotel in Princeton.  After the evening speaker series on the campus - with talks from top fundraiser Monica of World Bank and about fracking from NRDC, we hopped in our cab to the hotel just at the right time.  It started raining as we were getting in the cab and apparently rained on all the campers until about 4 in the morning!  We were thankful to be nice and dry indoors.  I had a mild panic attack thinking I had lost most of my cash, so I didn't sleep very well, but it was nice to at least be dry.

Want to know what happens next?  Stay tuned for the next installment of Climate Ride Recaps!

24 September 2013

Climate Ride Update

I had every intention of blogging every day of this trip.  As you can see, that didn't happen.  It has been an amazing journey with some ups and downs, and I'm not just talking about the grueling hills!

This will be a quick update, as I'm using another rider's mini-keyboard and my phone to type it out, but I wanted to just let you know I'm alive and I'm having an amazing experience.  

Day one, we took off from Brooklyn, rode briefly through Manhattan before jumping on the ferry over to NJ.  We had a great picnic lunch after a tough 4.8 miles (joke) then took off on our way to Princeton.  Mentally I broke all of the days up into segments, but no matter how you look at it, it was the longest I'd ever ridden in one day.  47.72 miles according to my GPS.

Day two, we headed out from Princeton (and I'm glad I stayed in a hotel that night - more on that in the in-depth report) and into our third state of the ride: Pennsylvania.  The weather was amazing, the views were gorgeous, and it was quite a hike!  76.52 miles.

Day three, midway through.  We left Camp Innabah and headed through Amish country.  I saw plenty of evidence of horse and buggy, but didn't see my first actual one until just before lunch.  I was feeling a little off after breakfast, but managed to push through the first 3.8 miles to the bakery stop and on to lunch, where I downed a Sprite to help.  After lunch, missed a turn (as did a few other riders) but we were quickly back on course heading to Camp Andrews.  But not before a quick stop at the creamery.  Weather and views were again amazing, despite feeling a little under the weather.  59.53 miles.

Day four, today.  I woke up this morning feeling sick, having started feeling sick last night again after dinner.  Not sure if it's something I ate yesterday (but different foods at breakfast and dinner) or possible dehydration.  I'm feeling better now, but decided to take it easy today, and rode in the van the first 44 miles to lunch.  I managed to eat enough at lunch to sustain myself on the 20 miles to Pearlstone Retreat Center.  I got a shower and a massage, and am about to head to dinner.  

I'm going to try to upload a few pics, but be prepared for a full report - or day by day reports - in the coming days.  And if you're in DC tomorrow, come watch all 200 of us, plus any one who wants to join us on our last three miles, ride to the Capitol and make a statement for sustainability and better transportation alternatives!

20 September 2013

Let the games begin

quick post before bed. today I traveled from DC to NYC to prepare for heading out tomorrow on Climate Ride. If you haven't read my previous post about this adventure, check it out. 

Thanks so much to all the amazing people who helped me reach my fundraising goal of $2400 in time to participate!  I made all my arrangements in the last 4 days to get myself and my bike here but I am ready for the adventure to begin. 

Keep an eye on the blog, my blog Facebook page, and twitter for updates along the ride!!

See you in DC!!

10 September 2013

Longing for Redemption

Preached at Knox Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, VA on Sunday, September 8, 2013:

Have you ever gotten up just before sunrise, and stood out on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee and watched the sun rise over the horizon?  The quiet of the morning, as well as the promise of a new day.  It’s an amazing experience to see the world this way.  I have to admit, I’m not much of a morning person, but when I can experience these moments of the day, it makes up for being up entirely too early. 

In our Old Testament reading this morning, we hear of the psalmist’s praise for God’s universal glory, from every living creature, every living thing, for all the wonders of God’s majesty.  Psalm 24 reminds us that “the earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.”  This morning’s psalm is almost a continuation of that thought, giving praise for creation.  As people of faith, we need to reconnect with this idea of constant praise of God for God’s amazing gifts. 

The world is an amazing place.  I have always been a lover of the beauty and majesty of the outdoors – the opportunity to be outside and reconnect with the God of the Universe is a spiritual moment for me.  One of my favorite places on the planet is Montreat, a very popular Presbyterian conference center in western North Carolina.  I feel like I’m experiencing heaven every time I’m there, either in the valley or up on the mountaintop.  But there are other places in the world where I have to ask, “what are we doing to the glory of God’s creation?”  So many people are able to find beauty and wonder in nature, but then go back to their homes and forget that the actions they take – simply flipping light switches, or running the water while brushing their teeth – are impacting nature.  We take for granted how we get energy in our homes, or how many miles our food travels to get to our plates, and how those choices despoil the natural temple we connect with God in. 

The biblical concept of redemption is the idea that Christ paid the price for our sinful nature in his death and resurrection.  In our New Testament reading for this morning, we read that the redemption bought through the death of Christ is not only for humanity, but for all of creation.  This redemption, this return to the full glory that God intended from the beginning, is coming – and is partially up to us realizing our role as the children of God.  In the beginning we were called to be stewards of the garden, keepers of the kingdom, to care and cherish the creation the same way the Creator does.  But we have strayed from this vision, we have regarded the creation as something to be dominated, something to be used for our purposes, instead of the purpose we read about in psalms – as a way to give praise and glory to the Creator.  Our call is to work in communion with one another and with the natural world to achieve harmony in praise and worship to the King. 

But what does it mean to be part of the redemption bought for us in the death and resurrection of Christ?  How can we be agents of change – the hands and feet of God in the world?  We have a role to play in helping to bring about the redemption bought for us in Christ’s death and resurrection – for the whole world.  We can work towards this redemption in three areas: our church, our homes, and our community. 

My favorite fact about the church I grew up in, outside of Atlanta, is that the city limits of Roswell were drawn at a one-mile radius from the church when the city was incorporated back in the 1800s.  The church was literally the center of the city.  Roswell has since grown and I doubt Roswell Presbyterian is still at the dead center of the city, but the idea of a church as a central hub of a community can still exist.  Sadly, this isn’t the case in many places.  But we can redeem the church – or any faith community – as a central place for important work in the community on all types of social justice issues.  Back in the 1960s, the church, people of faith, were the leaders of the civil rights movement.  People of faith like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., utilized scripture to preach a message of equality for everyone.  Dr. King’s most remembered speech talks about the promised land – and working together to get there.  Many prominent faith leaders today say that the environmental movement is our generation’s civil rights movement – that just like in the 60s must come from the faith community.

We can do this in our congregations by thinking critically about what it means to be stewards of creation and faithful disciples of the Creator.  We can preach and teach about the message of scripture that calls us to praise the creation and the Creator, and to work to relieve the groaning of creation.  We can consider the decisions we make in our congregations about how we use our energy, where our energy comes from; do we source local food and farmers for our congregational meals and gatherings; when we build or renovate our buildings, do we consider ways to do so more sustainably?  There’s a great new term of “green evangelism” for communities of faith that use green activities – placing solar panels on the roof or even installing waterless urinals – to bring more people into the congregation.  Whether your initial decision about doing these things is based on ways to bring in more members, or a genuine concern in the congregation about being better stewards, we are making a difference – based in our faith – to care for creation. 

But it can’t just stop at the congregation.  After church, we head home.  I’ve heard so many preachers talk about our Sunday lives versus our lives the rest of the week.  Preachers work really hard to preach a good word on Sunday morning, but it only means something if our parishioners take it home with them and live out that message throughout the week.  Similarly, if we take measures in our church to reduce our energy consumption, reuse the glasses for communion, and recycle our bulletins, we need to take those actions home.  Sometimes it works the other way – we do these things at home, grew up living this way – and we are the driving force behind getting the people in our congregations to do similar things both at church and in their homes.  We can think about how we get to church on Sunday morning – or to work or running errands – and consider ways to embrace commute alternatives, either walking, biking or taking transit.  Are there things we can borrow from neighbors instead of buying new just to use for one project? 

We hear stories about how crazy environmentalists are for wanting to “live by candlelight” or eat vegetarian.  But we forget how recently our ancestors lived like this.  The convenience of “modern convenience” turns out to not be so convenient.    We’ve tricked ourselves into thinking disposal is a good thing, and single-use products make our lives easier.  But what we’ve done in the last 60 years is created a completely different world for our children than the one we grew up in.  We are now covering over landfills and putting playgrounds and Walmarts on top of them, neglecting the dangerous toxins that come from decomposing trash.  We’ve blown the tops off mountains to get to small seams of coal, so we can power our two refrigerators and five televisions, as well as all our “vampire” devices that aren’t really powering anything, but are drawing energy nonetheless.   If our grandparents were here, they would tell us we’re being wasteful and would encourage us to live like they did, growing our own healthy food in the backyard, interacting with our neighbors while we walked together to church, and enjoying the breeze through a house full of open doors and windows.  We can continue to live a comfortable life, but we need to consider, explore, and invest in new and sustainable ways to do so.  We must remember that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.  And as we consider choices we make in our homes, we have to consider how they impact the children we are raising in our homes. 

Finally, we have to take this understanding of caring for creation – of working to bring about the redemption bought for us in Christ – out into the community.  Of all the people that show up here on a Sunday morning, a very small percentage actually work here.  Most of us go to jobs in the community on Monday morning – in schools, companies, local government, corporations, non-profits, even stay-at-home parents!  Evangelism is an important part of the Presbyterian church, and the growth of the church universal.  Evangelism is sharing the story of the good news of the gospel – of Christ’s saving death and resurrection – and in my mind it’s also about sharing our work as stewards of creation, working towards redemption.  The world is longing for redemption – for relationships restored between brothers and sisters, as well as for a renewed creation.  The best place for this to happen is within our communities.  Once we’ve preached the message in church, and embraced it in our homes, we can take it into the other areas of the community where we interact.  As young people, we can go to school and encourage recycling of paper, using digital books and more natural lighting (which, by the way has been shown to increase productivity in students).  As adults, we can ask our boss about opportunities for tele-working or purchasing decisions that reduce our carbon footprint.  If we happen to have jobs where we can make decisions for our community – maybe we can support a decision to change all traffic lights in our town to LEDs so they use less energy considering they are on all the time. 

We can also remember our role in the community when it comes to being part of a democracy.  We’re not all cut out for public service, but that doesn’t mean that we can disengage from what’s going on in politics.  If we are passionate about an issue – whether it’s putting a tax on plastic bags or encouraging our local utility to invest in renewable energy – we should be meeting with our elected officials and letting them know about these issues and asking them to support them.  We should find ways to keep informed about what’s going on at the General Assembly in Richmond or even on Capitol Hill in DC, so when our critical voice needs to be heard, we can make a call, send an email, or sign a petition.  Or hey – maybe it’s even considering an opportunity to run for office!  In VA we are fortunate – or maybe unfortunate – enough to have an election every year for a few years.  The most important thing about this is to make sure you are registered to vote and to get out there and do it.  Decide for yourself what issues are a priority for you – and then do your homework.  Figure out which candidate best aligns with your priorities – and if you don’t know their stand on an issue, ask them.  Go to candidate forums, or email the candidates, and ask those questions.  You know what matters to you – and you need to know the answers to those questions so you can make the most informed decision.

The good news of the gospel is that Christ has already redeemed all of creation.  But we live in the in-between times of the “already-not-yet”.  We know the end of the story, but we don’t necessarily know how we get there.  We each have a role to play to bring about the fullness of the redemption already won in Christ’s death and resurrection.  Caring for creation is a part of our work to bring about redemption.  It is a faithful response to our call to be disciples and stewards of God’s gifts. 

Dr. King shared a dream of equality for all.  I have a dream of an environmental revolution – a redemption of all of creation.  This dream starts in our faith communities – in the church.  And like a rock hitting the flat surface of a pond, the dream ripples across the waters, across creation – into our homes, into our communities, into the whole world – bring about the redemption we’ve all been longing for since Christ appeared to the twelve after his resurrection.  All the world is longing for redemption – are we ready to play our part to bring it about?

08 September 2013

Club 33 - YIPPIE!!

So, before my friend Krissy blogged about Club 33 back in February, I had NO IDEA what it was.  Well, I read her blog and I was DETERMINED to find a way in.  Amazingly, a few weeks later I received an invitation to join my friends during Disneyland Dumbo Dare Challenge Weekend.  At this time, I didn't know what my travel plans were, and I wavered on confirming my spot.  Sadly, I lost my spot because of waiting.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, after I finished the Inaugural 10K (recap on that to come).  I got a message from my friend, that a spot had opened up and I could join the group for Club 33!!!  I was so glad I managed to pack an outfit at the last minute "just in case."

We arrived for our reservation, and were escorted in to the receiving lounge.  Unfortunately, the glass elevator was out of service, but I did manage to get a photo next to it.

walking to the dining room
Next we were escorted up the stairs and into the dining room.  We were a party of 9, so we had a round table next to the fire place.

Amuse bouche 
We settled in and I started perusing the menu.  There was a prix fix menu option, or you could order from the a la carte menu.  I debated about it, but decided on the a la carte menu.  First, the waiter brought out an amuse bouche - a wafer with chicken and seasoning and a melon shot.  I also ordered a glass of malbec.  Here's the write up of what I ordered, followed by photos:

  • Appetizer: Pacific Coast Clam and Corn Bisque - Buttered Soft Shell  Crab, Manila Clam Corn Salsa, Compressed Melon Salad, Malt Vinegar Reduction
  • Entree: American Kobe Hanger Steak - Mine Shaft Blue Cheese Fritter, Yukon Gold Potato Puree, Chanterelle Mushroom & Buttered Corn
  • Appetizer 
  • Dessert: Banana Cheesecake with Rum Raisin Ice Cream and Fried Bananas


Dinner was amazing!  A few following photos to get a feel for what it was like inside.  For now - I'm giving up trying to make this pretty...


The chandelier/cocktail glass rack

Walt drawing Mickey

"it all started with a mouse"

Keep an eye out for this exclusive address

Post-dinner bliss!
Best part of the evening was sharing it with some of my favorite people.  #OriginalCorralG - can't wait for our big reunion at #WineDineHalf - even if that will be celebrated with a grill out in someone's backyard!
An evening shared with my #CorralG family