Hi everyone! Sorry we haven’t posted in a number of days. We are currently in Redlands, CA and are just a couple days away from reaching the coast and dipping our toes in the Pacific. Thank you so much to those of you who were worried about why we haven’t posted! It’s been hard for us to get Wifi and we have just been trying to take every moment in during this last week of Trash Freeway. We have been handwriting the posts and will update the blog soon! Thank you for understanding and for following and supporting us throughout our trip. Stay tuned!
Since we were so darn close to the Grand Canyon, we decided to take a min-vacation up there. We took the Arizona Shuttle from Flagstaff to the South Rim, and spent the night with a Couchsurfing host, Shane. Shane works as a carpenter in the Grand Canyon Village, so it was cool to stay with a member of the community! We spent our two days there hiking the Bright Angels Trail and the Rim trail, exploring, checking out many different lookout points, meeting some other travelers, seeing the sunrise on the canyon, and standing around with our jaws dropped. Not to mention, we had some top tier star gazing, and saw a shooting star that will be imprinted in our memories forever. It was pretty incredible, and pictures just don’t do it justice, but check them out anyway:
We had an unforgettable time and are now spending day 81 as a rest day in Flagstaff. The weather report is not looking so good for tomorrow, so hopefully it’s inaccurate and we can get back on the road tomorrow. We will keep everyone posted! Time for some stretching, journaling, packing, and route planning!
We left Winslow at our earliest departure time yet: 6:20 AM, on our bikes! We knew we had a long day ahead of us to Flagstaff, so that really got us moving . We stopped real quick to get some bananas at the grocery store, then really hit the road. We covered some ground, then got off at the rest area for a bit. We were a little chilly from the cold morning ride, and saw they had a coffee vending machine. This is normally unappealing, say, in the Bobst library basement, but when you’re on the road, anything goes. Problem was, we weren’t sure if the coffee would come out in a styrofoam cup or in a recyclable paper cup. To purchase something in a styrofoam cup would be a Trash Freeway sin. So, we called the vending machine company jusssst to be safe, and lo and behold, the coffee would be in paper cups! We sipped and were merry.
Back on our bikes, we were suddenly pretty pooped. Even though we had been hydrating all day, we were wiped out. We spread out on some rocks at a turn off, and rested for a little. The day had been filled with a steady elevation gain, and we were feeling it. But, we gotta get back on our bikes and keeping moving forward. So we did, until the next gas station, where we made a new biker friend!
Allison pulled up behind our bikes wearing sweet shades and on a pretty lightweight bike set up. Our loads looked massive compared to hers! But, we reasoned, we need every pound of ’em, and she’s also staying in hotels and motels, so probably doesn’t need to carry as much! Allison is from New York, and is moving to California, so she’s taking this cross-country trip to figure out where exactly she wants to live in California. She owns a bikewear company, Kor, and was sporting some of her gear.
After saying goodbye, we continued on along I-40 to Flagstaff. Towards the end, the hills were getting more frequent, and we were getting more tired. Our spirits were lifted when we saw a road sign for Los Angeles! We’re almosttttt therrreee!
We turned off I-40 (we had climbed up to over 7,000 feet from 5,000) and made our way to Judi and Bob’s house. When we got there, Bob and their dog, Sedona, greeted us and we headed inside. They’ve got a beautiful house, equipped with a room for their twin granddaughters. That means two twin beds in a bedroom for us! Not to mention the coolest, biggest shower we’ve encountered yet. In other words, we were living large.
After settling in, we sat down for dinner and to watch the democratic debate. Judi had made quinoa, beans, corn and a delicious salad. We spent the evening chatting, figuring out how we were getting to the Grand Canyon, and getting to know Judi and Bob. Tomorrow, we’re off to the Grand Canyon, heading there by shuttle, and saying with a Couchsurfing host! We’re ready to be amazed.
October 13, 2015
Starting Point: Winslow, AZ
Destination: Flagstaff, AZ
Today’s Miles Biked: 58
Total Miles Biked: 2,337
Because we went to sleep before 8 PM, it only made sense that we woke up multiple times between 4 and 6 AM and finally got out of bed, even though we wanted to sleep in a bit! We had bought non-dairy milk the night before and were pumped to have a break from dry cereal, and to have some milk in our coffee! We ate, pumped up our tires, cleaned up the kitchen and the room we slept in, and called Betty to have her come lock up as we were leaving! This time she remembered who we were! Betty arrived with her friend Barbara, and they wished us luck on our journey and even gave us $30 for the road! We were not expecting this at all…just having a place to sleep indoors was enough and then this?! Wow! If the message hasn’t become clear yet, let us reiterate: people are really nice!
We asked Betty if she knew anyone at the United Methodist Church in Winslow, our destination. Turns out the pastor preaches at both churches, and they’d most likely be able to help us out with a place to sleep! Betty said she’d give us a call later in the day to let us know for sure.
We started biking along I-40, and it was a beautiful day. We stopped at a gas station to refill water, because it was quite hot outside, then got back on our bikes. We only had a short way to go today and wanted to make it in good time. While stopped on the side of the road at one point, we decided we’d call the library to see if it was open. It turned out they were closed to the public on Mondays, but the staff was in. We hung up, but then Naomi thought why not, let’s ask if we could still use the computers once we explained what we were doing. So she called back and the answer was yes! Another lesson learned: it never hurts to ask.
Once we arrived at the library about two hours later, we met Dosha and plopped down on the computers to blog, look at our route, and contact Warmshowers. We knew we wanted to spend some nights in the Grand Canyon, but we had to find a place where we could keep our bikes in Flagstaff! This meant sending several messages, and getting creative. In the morning, we had found online that there was a temple in Flagstaff. Temples have been quite the rarity on our route, so we were really excited to find it. Maybe they’d be able to house us! We had left a message at 6:50 in the morning, hoping they’d get it eventually. Naomi’s dad, who’s also a rabbi, was able to send an email to the rabbi at this temple. She responded to Naomi’s dad while we were at the library, and we gave her a call. Rabbi Mindi was super nice and enthusiastic about finding us a place to stay, and really wanted to meet us! She said she would contact some temple members and get back to us as soon as she found someone. We went back inside to get back to work, and Rabbi Mindi called us back pretty much right away, telling us she had found a home for us with Judi and Bob! We were stoked, and called Judi, who gave us directions and asked what kinds of food we wanted! Thankful that we had a place for the next several days in Flagstaff, we got to researching Grand Canyon opportunities, and sending messages to people on Couchsurfing!
While at the library, we mentioned to the librarians that we hadn’t taken a shower in a couple of days…this prompted them to get in touch with the Fire Department, because they were afraid our stench was flammable! Just kidding, one of the librarians was the sister of the Fire Department Chief, who said we could come on by and take a shower there.
Excited by the prospect of a shower, we bid farewell to our friendly librarian friends and biked over to the fire department. Chief James greeted us and showed us where we could shower. Naomi hopped in first, and it was wonderful. Towards the end of her shower, she called to Jaime that she couldn’t turn the shower off, so she should just run into the shower as soon as possible. After Jaime’s shower, still no luck. So, after changing and looking presentable, we called over Chief James and explained that we couldn’t turn it off. He tried, but couldn’t either. They had to turn off the water in the whole building. Uh oh.
James was a super cool about it all and told us they’d fix it, no problem. Guess the fire department is the place to have an issue like this. In the meantime, James told us there was a Chinese restaurant right around the corner that was really good, if we wanted to grab something to eat and leave our bikes at the station. So we checked it out! We hadn’t had Chinese food the whole trip, and normally don’t think of it as a vegan-friendly option, but turns out we could feast there! Vegetable moo-shoo and roasted eggplant filled our bellies. As usual, we opted out of straws and didn’t use the napkins. We’ve become pretty neat eaters. There were paper place mats on the table with Chinese horoscopes, and we made envelopes out of them for thank you cards.
After dinner, we headed back to the station and said goodbye to everyone. A huge thanks to the Winslow Fire Department for helping us out and serving its community!
We biked over to the Winslow Methodist Church. Betty got in touch with us earlier in the day to give us the lock box code to the fellowship building right next to the church. We were so happy to have a roof over our heads! For the rest of the night, we stretched, had a mini ballet class, played piano and danced, and fell asleep at our new bed time: 8 PM. Tomorrow, to Flagstaff!
October 12, 2015
Starting Point: Holbrook, AZ
Destination: Winslow, AZ
Today’s Miles Biked: 33
Total Miles Biked: 2,279
Sometimes we can be really ambitious:
1) “Let’s bike across America!”
2) “Let’s maintain our veganism while biking across America!”
3) “Let’s be trash-free and bike across America!”
4) “Let’s interview people all across America about the issues of trash and food waste!”
As we approach our final two weeks of Trash Freeway, we thought it would be a good time to start the process of reflection. Here is an update on how each of our four ambitions have been turning out:
1) “Let’s bike across America!”
We had absolutely no clue how physically and mentally rigorous this would be.
America has hills?! Headwinds, what are those? Heavy bikes, please, that can’t be so bad if we just carry the bare minimum?! Spending all day on the bike, that’s fine – we have a whole lot to think about! Climbing mountains, we won’t actually have to do that, right? It won’t be getting too cold toward the end of our trip…we think?
We began the trip not having biked long distance before. Nor having biked in any place other than flat land, in pleasantly sunny weather, with calm winds. So to say that we were prepared to bike across America wasn’t quite the case; we were more in shape for a casual commute around the city.
In the beginning, we were shocked in everyway about what we had committed to. The first bridge we had to climb, we pretty much couldn’t catch our breath once we got to the top, and the first rolling hills wore us out so much you would find us laying on the ground at the bottom.
But, after hard work, and a huge learning curve…we have climbed too many hills to count without walking our bikes, made it over a mountain pass, battled serious headwinds and crosswinds, biked a century, and have magically begun to even have energy at the end of a day to stretch and do a few pushups!
We are about halfway through Arizona, somewhere around 10 days from finishing, and we are feeling strong and proud. We have covered so many miles and biked many hard days that we never thought we could achieve! It feels really good to see the progress we have made not only in our stamina, but in our positivity and confidence. We are doing something harder than we could have imagined, and we have almost fully accomplished it! Here’s to the rest of biking across America!
2) “Let’s maintain our veganism while biking across America!”
Naomi has been vegan for about 4.5 years, and Jaime has been vegan for 8 months! When they decided to bike across America, there was no question about whether they would compromise their veganism. However, they were worried about how tough it might be in some of the smaller towns. Will people even know what veganism is? Many people told us their fears: you won’t have enough energy, how will you get your protein? There aren’t vegan options in the middle of America, what if someone cooks you meat?
And we have been pleasantly surprised about how absolutey easy it has been to be vegan all across America, not to mention while working out so much! Every grocery store sells carbs, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts etc. So you guessed it, we have been plant-based completely and all we have to do is restock our food supply whenever we encounter a grocery store, rather than depending on diners or restaurants. The families that we have stayed with have been so open to our life-style, whether it’s been asking us questions, or even cooking us vegan meals (many times with new recipes)! Plant-based foods have all the nutrients we need to provide us with energy to ride cross-country, too, never have we even thought about adding some sort of animal product to our menu! It has been really exciting to find out that this hasn’t been a struggle at all — it just takes a bit of planning out when the next grocery store will be, and some meaningful and important conversations with the people we meet!
3) “Let’s be trash-free and bike across America”
We had no experience with being trash-free before this trip. While planning this bike trip, we remember sitting in coffee shops in New York and becoming aware about how much trash we were creating and wondering how making such a dramatic lifestyle shift would be possible. We didn’t really know how to plan for it. We read a number of blogs and talked to a number of people who practice trash-free lifestyles, and we wondered how in the world we were going to do actualize this on a bike tour. We did want to challenge ourselves in order to spread a message, and of course better our own relationship with the world, so we thought that we would give it a shot.
And it was much different than we expected. We wanted our focus to be on reduing and reusing, not recycling; however, with the reality of biking cross-country, we had to accept that it would be impossible to do without adding recyling into the mix. It’s not like we can bulk shop at our leisure or have an infinite supply of glass jars to store food in. So once we decided that it would be okay to purchase items that were recyclable – it made this whole trash-free thing much easier than we thought!
As we have detailed in our previous posts about being trash-free, we first try to refuse items with packaging. When that isn’t possible, we buy items that we can either reuse or recycle their packaging. And we compost everything that we can. Any waste we do produce, we have carried with us and will display at the end of our trip to show everyone how just making some mindful consumer choices can really help reduce the amount of waste you create!
We do things like bring our Klean Kanteen reusable cups and our Neat-os reusable bags into stores to avoid creating trash, and we have many conversations about what the best item is to buy that will meet our criteria: veagn, trash-free, cheap etc. Sometimes we have to make compromises (never in the vegan realm), but, for example, buy the more expensive unpackaged item or buy the least expensive packaged item, and figure out something to do with the packaging. It has made us much more thoughtful consumers and at this point has become second nature. Once you make something your habit, you tend not to think twice about it!
4) “Let’s interview people all across America about the issues of trash and food waste!”
We thought since we are biking across America, it would be a great opportunity to interview the people we are meeting. We thought we could have conversations about their relationship with trash and food waste!
Now, this is the part of the project that we were a bit too ambitious about. Maybe if we were driving across America, we would have time and energy to conduct so many interviews. But we are biking, and as new cyclists, it takes us all day to get from point A to point B. And when we get there, we are ususally starving and exhausted. Each person we meet has their life story to tell and we have been utterly captivated by hearing such an array of life experiences! By the time we bike all day, eat, listen and exchange stories with new friends, and then blog about our day…you can imagine that it is time to rest up and get ready for the next day of biking and adventure.
Inevitably, we have many conversations about what it means for us to be trash-free while biking and people often share some thoughts about trash and food waste, and we have many conversations as well about veganism and our food system!
With the nature of this trip, our project has morphed into something more well-rounded. It has become less about interviews and more about conversations. Conversations about family life, traveling, work, hardships, experiences, food, religion, trash, and more. People have made us think in new ways just as hopefully sharing our experinces have made others think in new ways. That’s the Trash Freeway!
We woke up this morning in the beautiful hogan. It was really a treat to have the opportunity to stay there. We decided it would be a smart idea to walk our bikes down the dirt road to the main street because it was still dark. Better safe than sorry, right?
Before getting on I-40, we stopped at the rest stop to wash our bike shorts (laundry in a rest stop sink? yup.) and refill our water bottles. We snapped a few pictures with the “Welcome to Arizona” sign and we were on our way.
We pedaled hard, and began to feel the headwinds. We had an ambitious day of 75 miles and made sure to drink a lot of water and to keep a steady flow of snacking. We pulled off at a diner and what do ya know? We passed through our final time zone! We high-fived and changed our watches an hour back. We are officially three hours behind our home states, Florida and New Jersey. At the diner, we made a breakfast burrito vegan. It sure was good to have some vegetables, they seem to be a rarity on this trip because we don’t have a stove to cook them.
While at the diner, we began to call as many churches as we could find in Holbrook. Normally when we call churches, no one answers; however, it was Sunday, so we figured we would give it a shot. And most churches picked up! Many of the pastors were in services, so a few friendly churches took down our names and phone numbers and said that they would have the pastors give us a call back later in the day.
We hopped back on I-40 and continued on our way, hoping that one of the churches would give us a call back with a “yes.” Soon, we pulled off again at a gas station to fill up our waters and have a few snacks. We began to talk to Carlos and Hector, two guys who were driving a van to transport incarcerated folks. They were really enthusiastic about our trip, and when they found out that we were vegan, Carlos had a lot of thoughts to share! He told us to be careful about our bodies because there are certain proteins we aren’t getting by only eating produce. We explained to him how healthy and strong we feel, and that you can get every bit of nutrition you need from plants if you are eating right! Hector ran inside for a minute, and when he returned to the conversations, he handed us $50. We were in shock. Thank you so much Hector and Carlos for not only the support, but also for engaging in conversation with us!
Feeling extremely grateful, we got back on the interstate and spinned up many long hills. We were beginning to feel like pros. We passed by the Petrified Forest and decided that we didn’t quite have enough time to explore it. By this time, we had recieved a call back from the United Methodist Church in Holbrook! Betty gave us her phone number and said to call when we arrived in Holbrook and she would meet us at the church to let us in! Because we had a confirmed place to stay, we thought it would be smart to get a move on so we made it there at a reasonable hour, rather than getting stuck somewhere in the dark with nowhere to stay. I guess we will just have to come back one day to see the Petrified Forest!
We had 26 miles left at this point and we were starting to feel sleepy. It was daunting, but we knew we could do it. It was hard to talk to each other because the sound of the trucks zooming by and the wind blowing against us. We sang songs to pass the time…and by sang, I mean yelled so that we could hear each other! And finally, we reached our exit.
We exited I-40 and headed over to Safeway to pick up some food. While Jaime was shopping, Naomi called Betty to let her know that we would be at the church within the next hour. And Betty said she didn’t know what we were talking about or who we were. And we were confused. Uh…..did we not just talk to her earlier, and she had said to give her a ring? We hung up, and soon after recieved a phone call from a woman named Sandra from another church. Sandra told us that we couldn’t sleep at their church, but they would buy us a night in a hotel! What a generous offer! We told her that we would discuss and call her back. We didn’t want to take advantage, so before accepting the offer, we thought we would try to call Betty back and remind her of our conversation earlier in the day. So we did just that, and she apologized for forgetting and left to meet us at the church, and we profusely thanked Sandra and told her that we had found somewhere to stay!
Betty unlocked the door for us and gave us a tour! We had a couch to sleep on (Jaime got it!) and a kitchen to cook in. She told us to have at the fruit in the fridge and we were welcome to make coffee in the morning. Thank you Betty! She left and we cooked dinner, wiped ourselves off (second day in a row without a shower…hopefully we can find one tomorrow) and got in bed a 7:58pm. We were so tired, we couldn’t move. Who knew we could ever fall asleep so early? We sure didn’t!
October 11, 2015
Starting Point: Lupton, AZ
Destination: Holbrook, AZ
Today’s Miles Biked: 75
Total Miles Biked: 2,246
We woke up waaaaaay early at 5 AM because we had a long day ahead of us to Gallup, NM! At 5 AM, the stars were incredible, and made the early wake-up more than worth it. We got out of bed — well, fell, really — and got ready for the day. We left notes for Peter and Doug, and rolled out the door.
It was FREEZING outside! We were shocked that on the same trip we began in the heat of the July, we were shivering and our fingers and toes were numb. Even with our new winter gear, we were chattering. We knew, though, that the sun would be rising soon and the high for the day was in the 70s. Didn’t feel like it, though!
After about an hour of biking, we pulled off at a gas station to refill our waters. Cold as we were, we decided to get some hot coffee in our Klean Kanteen, and chillaxed on the comfy chairs. There was also a Subway on the other side of the building, and we just couldn’t resist that all-consuming Subway aroma. So we bought a foot long sub at 8:30 AM. What, like you haven’t done that before? We had them put avocado and all their veggies on a whole wheat roll, and the paper they wrap it in is recyclable! We chowed down, sat around, and finally decided we ought to get back on our bikes.
We were six miles away from the nearest town Grants, where we knew there was a Walmart. Can’t get enough of those rollback prices. So we stopped off, restocked our food supply and got another pair of warm socks and gloves. While taking turns shopping and watching the bikes, we called about a thousands churches, community centers, and the fire station, looking for a place to stay in Gallup. We also contacted a bunch of people on Couchsurfing. When Naomi called the fire station, they said they thought we could spend the night, but had to double check with the ciref before giving us the go ahead. When they called back, it was a no go.
We were a tad let down, but knew something would come through for us. We hopped back on our bikes and kept pedaling — we still had about 60 or 70 miles to go! With this much mileage and only so many ours in the day, we had a feeling we’d need a ride for a tiny push forward. When we stopped off to fill our waters, we spotted a shiny RV and a man cleaning the windshield. After a polite, “Are you, by any chance, going to Gallup today?” we had found our ride and loaded our bikes in the RV.
George and Sue were headed to Phoenix, where they live half of the year. During the other half, they travel the country in the RV. Pretty sweet.
They were stopping in Holbrook for the night, and asked if we wanted a ride all the way there. Holbrook is on our route, but it’d be about 150 miles from Gallup! We figured that our tour is coming to close soon, and we’d like to bike a lil’ bit more. So we decided we’d be dropped off in Gallup. Thanks George and Sue for the lift!
When we got to Gallup, it was only 1 PM. And it was a beautiful day! So we biked around town — past all the trading posts, pawn shops, and Indian jewelry and pottery stores — and decided we had it in us to keep going. (Plus, we had no where to stay for the night in Gallup!) We decided on Lupton, which is right on the border of New Mexico and Arizona. It seemed like a big enough town that we might be able to find somewhere to stay. At the very worst, we figured we could either try to get a ride all the way to Holbrook, or turn around back to Gallup and stay in a motel, need be. Lupton was only 23 miles away, and we thought it’d be pretty cool to make it all the way to Arizona!
It was a fairly smooth ride to Lupton, save one moment of biking along a mountain cliff. Just kidding, it wasn’t that dramatic, but it sure felt like it! At about 5, we pulled up to the Teepee Trading Post, right along I-40. There was a string on shops and gas stations for the next mile, so we just knew we’d have some luck at one of them! When we went into the Teepee Trading Post to see, if by ANY chance, they’d let us stay inside or invite us to their homes, they said they couldn’t help us out, but to try down the road. We could always pitch our tent in the parking lot, but with trucks going by and cold temperatures at night, we weren’t so into that idea.
Slightly dejected, we kept going. Convenience store? No luck. Next store down the line? No dice. Next store? “Try next door. Tasba might be able to help you.”
So off we went to Tasba’s store. After about thirty seconds, she picked up her phone and called her mom, Elsie. When she hung up, she said to walk over to the store just past the brown van, where her mom worked. She wanted to meet us before letting us stay in her hogan. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about hogans:
the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan can be round, cone-shaped, multi-sided, or square; with or without internal posts; timber or stone walls and packed with earth in varying amounts or a bark roof for a summer house, with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune. Today, while some older hogans are now still used as dwellings and others are maintained for ceremonial purposes, new hogans are rarely intended as family dwellings
We walked over to Elsie’s store and, after seeing our cute little faces (or desperate countenance), she told us to meet us back here in a hour and she’ll take us over. In the meantime, we headed to the truck stop down the road to see if we could shower there, and to fill up our waters. Elsie told us there wouldn’t be any running water in the hogan!
Turns out it would cost $10 each to take a shower at the truck stop. We’d rather smell than fork over the money, so we decided to head back to Elsie’s shop. This would be our first night without a shower! Luckily, we didn’t smell too bad. At least, we didn’t think so. Back at Elsie’s store, we looked at some Indian Beaded jewelry and chatted with Elsie. After she closed up shop, we followed her car to the house. We passed through an entrance that said “Slim Yellowhorse,” and biked up the long dirt road to her house. When we got there, we were introduced to Elsie’s grandchild and her friends, who helped us unlock the door to the hogan (and pry open some windows). We walked in and fell in love with the place. It had family photos and decorations, and a big table in the middle for celebrations. We settled in, unpacked our things, and Elsie came back with pillows and blankets, and also some nuts, oranges, and water. She said she had made beans for dinner, and we got so excited for some hot food. Then we learned there was pork in the beans, so our cold canned food would have to suffice. We ate our canned yams, apple sauce and canned cranberry sauce and dreamt of better dinners. But hey, we made do.
After dinner, we were pretty darn pooped. We snuggled up on the couches, set our alarms, and hoped we didn’t get attacked by a spider we had spotted earlier. It’s crazy how the day worked out, and we were so lucky to have been invited into Elsie’s hogan!
October 10, 2015
Starting Point: San Fidel, NM
Destination: Lupton, AZ
Today’s Miles Biked: 40
Total Miles Biked: 2,171