Saturday, September 6, 2008

Farming and building bikes

We woke up the next morning in Zion and decided it was time to go. Though we loved our time in the back country, all the red rocks were starting to look the same, and we were both very ready for a shower (our record for shower-less days: 8). Our next planned stop was Jackson, Wy. We figured we'd stop and camp somewhere in northern Utah to break up the 600 mile drive. Somewhere along the way though we decided not to stop and drove well into the night, finally camping just 2 hours from Jackson. 

Three years ago, John worked as a dog-sledder and then as a ski instructor in Jackson and hadn't been back since, so we wanted to make sure to stop through and see his old stomping grounds. We had a great time revisiting all of John's favorite spots, and I remembered bits and pieces of the town from my ski days. Highlights: Snake River Brewery (excellent adult beverages, Sidewinders (best pretzel in lower 48), Jackson Hole Disc golf course, and of course Pearl St Bagels. We let our belts out a notch after a stop through this town.

On Monday, September 1st, exactly one month after we left Richmond (in 102 degree heat), we drove through snow as we crossed the continental divide in the foothills of southern Montana. It was absolutely beautiful, but it made for a cold entrance into the northwest! 

For the last week (by far the longest we've stayed in one place), we've been hanging out in Missoula, Montana. Once again we are indebted to friends; we are staying with John's friend Luke and his wonderfully accommodating roommates. Missoula is an awesome town with a great sense of community and certainly a place I'd consider living (if it wasn't for the snow in September...and the rest of the year!). The best part--there are bike lanes on every road, and the majority of the population takes advantage of them. People bike everywhere. In fact, I think it's considered 'uncool' to drive. 

Just up the street from Luke's house there is a co-op farm, where you can trade volunteer time for vegetables. 

We went one sunny (and slightly less cold) morning and spent a few hours pulling, cleaning, and bundling leeks while learning tons about farming techniques and vegetable usages. 

At the end of the day, we had a bag full of tomatoes, leeks, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and apples for our work. It was so much fun, and immediately prompted us to look up similar co-ops in areas near Seattle. 

Later that same day, we headed into town (by bike, of course) to a shop called free-cycle. Luke had explained this place to us --a completely free bike shop-- but we didn't believe him; we just had to see it for ourselves. Sure enough, it's a non-profit that provides bikes, bike parts, and bike tools to anyone for no charge. Anyone can walk in and fix their bike or build a whole new one, but they have to do it themselves with instruction from volunteers. Part of the mission is teaching people to take care of their own bikes. So there are a few knowledgeable people hanging around that can point you in the right direction, but for the most part, it's up to you.

John was like a kid in a candy shop, so we mutually decided it would be a good opportunity to build me a road bike (so I can keep up with him on his new road bike). We spent the next two afternoons rustling through old bike parts, searching for the gems among the junk, and piecing together a bike. 

You might be thinking that, having seen a picture of our 'home', the last thing we need is more stuff to cart along with us. And this is a true thought. However, how can you pass up free bikes!?! I'm sure we can find somewhere in the trailer to put it... 

Missoula has been amazing, but it is just about time to move on. We are both anxious to get to our final destination and start the process of settling in. Another week or two and we'll be there. Stay tuned. 


cmherrington said...

Probably my favorite post yet, guys! I love the co-op farm and the free bike shop...that is so cool! Sounds like Missoula is a truly unique and fun community.

Nash said...

gotta agree with chris, this sounds super cool - i'm totally jealous of your progressive-community-building adventures =)

Peggi said...

What a wonderful experience, Becca! Adding this on top of Ghana is amazing! Your photos are fabulous; I'm enjoying being young again vicariously!

Megan said...

What a great post, free bikes! That is amazing. Have you made it to Seattle yet?

Christy said...

Seeing the United States thru your eyes is truely a blessing. I am so enjoying your adventures and look forward to new posts. Take care!