Anniversary surprise

So guess how Jack and I spent our evening last night? Not celebrating our anniversary in any traditional way, or even assembling a play kitchen... we found ourselves hosting two Obama-supporting cyclists who are biking across the country to the inauguration in January.

We heard a segment last week on NPR's Talk of the Nation about how various people were getting to the inauguration, and Neal Conen was interviewing a guy named Ryan Bowen, a cyclist from Los Angeles who decided he'd bike across the country to DC. He talked about how he slept wherever he could, ate wherever he could, and had a website and blog set up to raise awareness and accept donations, and I thought it sounded like such a cool thing to do. He mentioned that he was in Texas, heading toward Houston, and since we're a few hours on the other side of Houston, presumably right on his path, I dropped him an email on his blog and said we'd be happy to host him or just feed him dinner whenever he was coming through Baton Rouge. He replied and thanked me for the offer, then I wrote him back with our address and phone number, and I didn't hear from him for a couple of days. I figured he'd let me know if he still needed a place to stay, and lo and behold, on Sunday afternoon, I got a call from him that he was a few hours' ride from BR and would love to stay with us if we were still up for it. And he has a friend with him now, a guy named Josh who he found online. Josh is from Dallas and met up with Ryan a few days ago to ride all the way to DC with him.

Ryan and Josh got here around 8, just as I was putting Kent to bed, and we visited with them for a while and served them some Asian veggies with tofu and brown rice; Ryan's a vegetarian and Josh is a vegan, so luckily for them, they happened upon one of the few housewives in Louisiana who knows something to cook for them. Josh remarked that it was his first time eating tofu since he left home, and Ryan said that this food was the closest to his own cooking that he'd eaten on the whole trip. Imagine my delight! They had spent the last few nights in tents, scary restrooms in public parks, etc., so sleeping in beds and being able to take showers was a pretty nice change for them. They're taking things a few days at a time, relying on the publicity from Ryan's interviews on NPR, CNN, and Fox News (!), checking the website to look for people who want to host them along their way, using their PDAs to map out their route and find places to eat, and photographing things along the way. Oh yeah, they both happen to be professional photographers, among other things. They looked at some of my photos last night. I was in heaven.

As part of their welcome to Baton Rouge, they got hit by a guy in a Jeep last night on their way to our house, mostly because it was nighttime and very wet from all the rain we've had; Ryan sustained a muscle injury to his thigh that he's been icing, and they both need bike repairs. The guy who hit them, who happens to be a cyclist himself (proving that *anyone* can hit someone on a bike if they're not paying enough attention), picked them up this morning to take them to a bike repair shop, and they'll come back here in a little while. Ryan said that a lot of his interviewers have asked him what he'd say to Obama if he had his ear for a moment, and he figured out yesterday that he'd tell him this: "More bike lanes!"

Some friends of Ryan's are on their way from Los Angeles in a car to film the last few weeks of his journey, and they just happen to be meeting up with him today, so he'll probably ride with them for a day or two until his leg heals. They have plans to go to New Orleans, even though it's a bit out of the way, and then they're heading across to the east coast and up to DC. Check out the site if you're on the Southern end of the country and want to lend some support.

Crazy, no?

While I was listening to Ryan's interview and the rest of the TOTN segment, I was thinking about how Obama's campaign brought people together in ways they'd never been brought together before (remember the "I am here because of Ashley" story at the end of his race speech last spring?). I feel an obligation to continue what Obama started, now that he's going to be our President. We wanted Obama, and we also craved the unifying spirit he brought with him, so we're helping Ryan and Josh.

It's a good day to be an American.

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I heard a BBC World news story this afternoon about European people who came to the US to volunteer for the Obama effort. They were so excited about the possibilities that they worked here for Obama even though they couldn't even vote! You are right, this thing is more than a political campaign - it is a change in approach. Can you imagine anyone from another country coming to help B*sh elected? I can't.

While I am sure they don't want to ride the mountains of our area, I'll leave a note on their blog in case they pass this way on the way home. I'd love to go to Washington for the inauguration, but I think it would be too intense for me.
That is such a cool story. I am sure they are so grateful that you were listening that day. You continue to amaze me with all that you do. I deem you my coolest and neatest sister (don't tell Morgan).
We have an open space for them here in Raleigh! And some good food that will follow your lead. How can we let them know?

Go to http://www.bikingforobama.com/contact/ and there's a web form to fill out that goes straight to his email. He has a Blackberryish device that he checks regularly. I feel like he's a celebrity and I know him... hehehe.
How cool! I will have to let Z know about this too! I know he and Pete were so thankful to people like you when they were on the App Trail and on their own bike across the country trip. Pay it forward! :-)
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