“Our children may save us if they are taught to care properly for the planet; but if not, it may be back to the Ice Age or the caves from where we first emerged. Then we’ll have to view the universe above from a cold, dark place. No more jet skis, nuclear weapons, plastic crap, broken pay phones, drugs, cars, waffle irons, or television. Come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea.”
— Jimmy Buffet, Mother Earth News, March-April 1990
My friend Zack, an earnest environmentalist and sometime cyclist, tipped me off to a young man who’s riding a bicycle across the United States to promote environmental causes.
Nathan Winters set out on May 10 from Belfast, Maine, and plans to spend the next three to six months cycling to Seattle, stopping along the way to write blog posts and shoot still photos and video of the people he meets — all with an environmental theme.
Nathan’s journal, called ReCycling With Nathan, is hosted by the environmental Web site, Greenopolis. “He’ll be spotlighting recycling, reuse, conservation and all the ways everyday folks across North America are transforming waste to resources in their own unique ways,” Greenopolis says.
In a little more than two weeks on the road, Nathan has posted video interviews with coffee roasters who use biodegradable cups made from sugar products to reduce litter on the highways, growers of organic vegetables and producers of organic milk and a young guy who founded an organization that has planted a garden on the grounds of the Vermont state capitol in Montpelier to raise vegetables to donate to a local food bank.
All noble stuff. And that got me to thinking about the purpose of my own trip. I feel somewhat inadequate, considering the lofty goals of a younger generation of cross-country cyclists.
So what’s the purpose of my trip? I’m not riding to help cure breast cancer or multiple sclerosis (although I’ve participated in events of that sort), or to save the environment one gasless mile at a time.
I guess the aims of my trip are simpler and perhaps somewhat selfish: To survive, to get through each day without grinching about the weather or terrain, to meet a bunch of interesting people, to have some fun along the way, and to prove that, in retirement, a person is not necessarily on a slick-as-snot slide to infirmity, death and oblivion, but — as David Lamb wrote in his book Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle — “still capable of extraordinary deeds … like riding your bicycle across America.”