The Road Not Taken

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This morning, George returned to Rio Puerco with the pedal wrench Jeffrey needed.  High Desert Cycles in Albuquerque did not have one in stock.  When George explained who needed the wrench and why, the mechanic sold the shop’s wrench to George for a pittance.  So many people are looking out for us!

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Jeffrey could eat only half this stack of pancakes. The Rides kill his appetite.  Too bad. He needed this energy later.

On our way out, we met Gilbert, a member of the Acoma nation, who was on his way to see his doctor and proudly showed Jeffrey his artificial leg.  Jeffrey asked Gilbert what he thinks about refugees.  Gilbert thinks America should accept them.  As a member of a First Nation, he should have more of a say in this than do people of European ancestry.  But no one in the immigration bureaucracy has asked Gilbert what he thinks.

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Our first few miles this morning were on fine pavement, sparsely traveled.  Then the road turned into sand.  It took us about 3 hours to travel 10 miles.

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Often the sand was so soft and deep that Jeffrey had to get off and push.

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Which way?

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We took this route to avoid I-40.  It added 9 miles to our trip and wore out Jeffrey.  But it led us to meet wonderful people.

Letisha called out to us.  She was picking up trash along the road as part of a community cleanup.  A full-blooded Navajo, she studies environmental science at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute and works in the records department at a local hospital.  Letisha said she can’t speak for others, but she believes that helping refugees is the right thing to do.  She talked about the American notion of land ownership and the power to exclude others; the futility of much of political life; and the importance of doing what one can in one’s own community.  She asked to take Jeffrey’s photo by the Tohajiilee sign—we’ll share it later (we are unable to receive emails tonight)—and told him the origin of the village and the role it played in the TV series Breaking Bad.

Later we found ourselves outside the Canoncito (band of Navajo) Health Clinic.  Nurse Cindy called out to Jeffrey and invited him and George to join the staff for a lunch to celebrate Nurse Jamin’s new job with the Veterans Administration.  She invited Jeffrey to talk about the Ride.  He did, briefly explaining the history and purpose of the Ride, the plight of refugees, American misconceptions about them, and the mission of Human Rights First,

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Cindy and Janis

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Jamin is standing at left.  The staff presented him with a silver bolo tie and praised his techincal skill and warm humanity.

Many staff members took Jeffrey’s card and said they will follow the Ride.  Dr. O’Shea, who was deployed twice in Afghanistan and has tried for years to bring her interpreter to the USA, has a friend in DC who works in nonprofit refugee law and likely knows our friend Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First!  Candyce and Kerby took rides on the Sprint 26.  Everyone gathered outside for a group photo.

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What warm and generous people!  We made a lot of new friends.

We left the clinic, gave up on back roads, and headed for the Interstate.  It was paved, with a wide smooth shoulder.  For about 17 miles, we even had a 13 mph tail wind!  Then Jeffrey suffered through a dozen miles of rough pavement, in a 15 mph head wind; he had to pedal even when going downhill!

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Out here, where roads are few, bicycles are allowed on the Interstate.

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Officer Mariano of the Pueblo of Laguna Police Department pulled up behind Jeffrey to make sure we were ok.  He offered to follow us through a dangerous stretch of highway.  Jeffrey gratefully accepted.  The officer gave Jeffrey permission to take this photo.

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Officer Mariano guarded our rear through this pass on I-40, which is followed by a curve, a drop, then a long steep climb.

George and Jeffrey worked out a simple chaperoning system.  George drives a few miles ahead of us, then waits until we catch up.  In dangerous places, sometimes he follows us as the police officer did.

Here is a potpourri of some other views of the day.  As usual, we have many more photos than show up on this blog.

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6040 feet (1840 meters)

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A ghost bike, Casa Blanca, NM.

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Railroad tracks seen from an I-40 overpass.  We saw several very long freight trains today.

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Unfenced Navajo horses.

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Bullet-riddled road signs are a familiar sight in rural America.

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Modern windmill, old design.

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Moo.

9 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken

  1. You have set the risk bar high for this adventure, Jeff. I trust you will “make good choices” along the way to ensure your safe return to Nancy. Beautiful pic of the wild horses – such a different perspective of the our country. Sending prayers your way!!

  2. Jeesh, this day looked tough – stuck in sand – pulling a bke through thick molasses and then steep climbs to further punish you. And then, the people! Your incredible good heart shines through your descriptions of the folks you meet. Reading your stories of kind and welcoming Americans always brings encouragement and hope in these discouraging times. Now more than ever. Thanks again, Jeffrey. (and Joey, and George )

  3. I so much enjoyed the posts the last few days. So wonderful you are visiting our native peoples. I am impressed by the warm welcome you received. I think you had something to do with it. Sorry about the rough roads and winds. The rugged West is a test.

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