Wednesday, May 16

Mishaps by way of Bicycle

I've recently been biking to work. Saves money on gasoline, and reduces my impact on the environment by way of emissions and what not, and guarantees me at least 30 minutes of activity each work day. Lots of good reasons to bike to and from work.

There is a problem, however. Bicycles and I have somewhat of a sketchy past. As if it were yesterday, I can recall my first mountain biking experience with my Wal-Mart Huffy. Handlebars spinning around uncontrollably, rocks, steep descension, thorns, and blood. Need I elaborate? And then there was the time in college when I would ride my Trek bicycle everywhere: to the grocery, to class, to the ice cream shop, to the Gas City Zoo. But the Trek and I, though it was my favorite bike, we had some issues too! Two trips over the handlebars in the street, my hands and face acting as brakes in the gravel. On one such ocassion, the president of the university, Jim Barnes, witnessed my fall, stopped his cadillac in the middle of the street, rolled the window down, and inquired as to my condition. Embarassed? Oh, Yes!

So, you see, I've had quite a time with bikes. My last Trek, I gave away before starting the Appalachian Trail. But when I got out here to Montana, I realized it would have been nice to have a bike. As good fortune sometimes pops up, a bicylce was lent to me for my use, whilst I reside in Billings. And I've been happily riding it to and from work for a few weeks now.

I've lost two things while commuting to work on my two wheel transport. One, was my wallet. The other: a pedal.

Wallet: I still haven't figured out how I lost my wallet out of the side pocket of my backpack, but it happened even without my understanding. Thankfully, a lady found it, called the YMCA when she saw my card in there and the YMCA contacted me to tell me to call the lady. All in all, a great day. I lose my wallet without knowing it, I get a call from the YMCA to tell me to call someone who has found my wallet, I pick my wallet up at the lady's house. Very pleased with that scenario.

Pedal: On my way to work. Pedaling fast and furious. On the downstroke of my right foot, pedal flies off of the bike, clattering into the middle of the street. Car almost runs over my runaway pedal. Retrieve the pedal from street but can't get it to screw back into the shaft. Still two miles from work. Ride to work pedaling with one leg. Charlie Horse in the worst way. But made it to work on time! Fix pedal. Two days, it is great. Today. Pedaling home from work. Pedal flies off in the middle of a street. This time it is not funny. One-legged pedal all the way home. Charlie Horse, again! This scenario, I don't much like.

Bikes! Why do I continue to love thee?

Tuesday, May 15

Emerald Hills Fire Restoration

Last year a fire swept through part of Yellowstone County, burning up hundreds of miles of forest, some houses, and out buildings. Emerald Hills looks more black than it does green these days. Our crew has been doing fire restoration for a few weeks in this area, re-seeding, doing erosion control, and planting thousands of ponderosa pine tree sapplings.

The Wild Places

There are so few wild places left in our country. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt for focusing on future rather than present, we have Yellowstone National Park preserved forever, as our first National Park. If you haven't visited this unique geothermal area, you should find a way out here. It is beyond your wildest dreams. I've borrowed these pictures from a friend of our trip to Yellowstone a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 8

Montana Conservation Corps Youth Crew Leaders

These fine folks will be working with Montana youth out of the six regions of MCC: Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, Helena, Bozeman, and Billings. We just finished our seven day Youth Supervision Training, and Wilderness First Aid Training. Can't wait for showers!

National Youth Service Day

Part of my job description as a Senior Youth Crew Leader for the MCC was to organize a National Youth Service Day. I have no experience organizing events, and being new to a community with little to no connections was quite daunting. But I managed to pull off a rather successful Youth Service Day at one of the local State Parks. We had forty kids and a few parents volunteer with us. Our main task was to resurface a nature trail with mulch. But we had some side projects as well. All in all we had a great time, the weather was great, and we developed some partnerships with a few school organizations and Lake Elmo State Park.