We’ve pedaled 1,077 miles (1,745 km) from Albuquerque. See the blue dot? We’re at most 3 days’ ride from San Jose.
Overnight, the first rain of this Ride fell in Paso Robles. While we waited for it to stop, Jeffrey had a leisurely breakfast.
After they talked about bicycling—Jill’s father (another Jeffrey) was a bicycling enthusiast—my chauffeur Jeffrey explained the Ride. Jill made an insightful comment: lately a big deal is being made out of what has been the norm. People always have sought refuge in America. Why be afraid now? Jill said, if you can’t say something nice about refugees (who don’t scare her a bit), then say nothing.
The rain stopped by 9AM, as predicted. We rolled past the tony shops of Paso Robles, into a flatter, lower landscape.
At San Miguel, this old weathered commercial building has a modern folksy mural.
A classic motel name!
Are the Camp Roberts tanks threatening one another, or the sign? A military propeller plane flew overhead.
Aaron bicycled south as we rolled north.
Aaron recently resigned a corporate law position to take a year to explore the world. He bought a bicycle, is riding from San Francisco to San Diego, and there will ditch the bike and fly to Peru.
Aaron, sympathetic to asylum applicants, noted that America’s foreign adventures created much of today’s refugee problem. True. (Britain also played a role.) Now what? The least our countries can do is be welcoming and humane to those we displaced—not easy when immigration enforcers’ “id” was released by our respective countries’ new leaders.
We wish Aaron a happy and meaningful Walkabout.
We had some good roads today. And some bad.
Agricultural fields and interesting geology lined 17 bumpy miles of Cattlemen Road north of San Ardo.
Two good guys were pedaling south.
Chris has worked with the Heartland Alliance to protect Central American children who have been abused by United States officials. Tom is a Tour Leader for the Adventure Cycling Association, to which Jeffrey belongs. They talked about human rights. They traded news on road conditions. Tom offered to put us up if a Ride takes us to Portland, Oregon. (Which it might.)
Today’s trail ended in King City.
Danny and Eileen are from Wales. They are driving a truck, escorting their bicyclist son as George escorted us. Their son lives here with his wife and children, and is cycling through California to celebrate a significant birthday.
Our new Welsh friends pity refugees, but believe that Britain is too small, and its social insurance too generous, to absorb very many. They think Brexit is needed to protect Britain.
Jeffrey listened respectfully. It’s not up to us to say what Britain should do to help refugees. But Jeffrey did explain “American exceptionalism”. He said that unlike Britain (where one might be able to say that there is some paradigmatic ethnic Briton), America is the country of its inhabitants. America has five times the population of the UK, and forty times the area. We too need limits, but we should take in a LOT more refugees than we do.
We like exceptional America. Jeffrey and I grasp the extraordinary vastness and richness of this country as not everyone can, because we have pedaled across it, seen it up close, smelled it, talked to the people, FELT the size and wealth and power, FELT the goodness of the people, FELT their common sense and their face-to-face acceptance of newcomers and their gravitation toward the center.
We aren’t afraid to lose our identity because America’s identity is that of its inhabitants.
Let little countries worry about being overwhelmed. Let little countries fret about language purity and ethnic identity. While they do that, big strong diverse America, with our values of mutual acceptance and inclusion, will eat those little countries’ lunch.
We’re not afraid!
Don’t you be afraid either.