By Mary Ann Conrad

‘Thoughts from under a Shade Tree’

Ritzville, Washington, June 3

Such relief a tree brings!  I ride in the support vehicle past the bikers and marvel at their energy and willingness to keep pedaling in 100 degree weather.  Dan and I arrive at the day’s campsite and unpack what we can handle, visit grocery stores and bike shops, pick up ice. 

And then those riders roll in sweaty and triumphant, and I am reminded of why I am here.  These young people are precious and alive.  I want to support this generation in coping with the world we have bequeathed them.  I am inspired by their humor and enthusiasm, their undaunted spirits when heat wilts mine 

It’s the people, along with the trees, who have made this trip a blessing so far—first of all, the climate riders themselves, and second the people we have met along the way.  These are pure strangers who suddenly feel like friends—Brad and Kay, who I met in the KOA swimming pool.  They stopped by our trailer to look at the route, invited us to charge our phones at their campsite, and cheered us on.  There was a California couple whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten who were also encouraging and provided several of us opportunity to practice our Spanish.  There’s the gas attendant here in Rittsville who shared with Dan the local concern for area drought and how it has affected the farmers.  Here in our Fairgrounds campground we are welcomed by hosts, one of whom has written a book related to climate concerns.  Finally, today we are visited by the pastor of Menno Mennonite Church, Bryce L. Miller, with greetings from his congregation and stories of farmer concerns and the soil blessings in past years of ash from Mt St. Helene’s.

Whatever heat we shall endure in this ride and into the future of our planet we will ride it out together.