If I’d been able to keep up a daily trail of breadcrumbs while riding, they would probably have had a common theme: water.
It it is notable that the issues that face Arkansas, despite its apparent greenness, are similar to those that affect the desert and semi-arid areas of the Western states: cycles of drought and flood; demand from agriculture for a constant supply of water; resulting heavy use of irrigation; inadequate surface water; and use of underground resources.
A decade ago, the authorities were already noting that the alluvial aquifer had fallen by some 40 feet. Recognizing these issues, as long ago as 2008, the state prepared an Arkansas Climate Action Plan: I wonder how much of it has been implemented as politics have swung against a sensible approach to climate policies.
Now we are exactly two-thirds of the way through the ride.
Friday we rode from the bustling town of McAlester to the serenity of the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge just across the border into Arkansas. Getting there was a major challenge, with some steep climbing along the Talimena Parkway (like Virginia’s Skyline Drive, only steeper!).
What goes up, must come down, so today we descended through some beautiful pine forests to Arkadelphia.
If you missed yesterday’s post about Cure Alzheimer’s – one of the causes for which I’m riding – you can read it here.
Today, a spotlight on one of the causes for which I ride: Cure Alzheimer’s. Please consider supporting the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in memory of my late wife Valerie.
Cure Alzheimer’s is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Frustrated with the slow pace of research about the disease, Cure Alzheimer’s founders applied their experience in venture capital and corporate startups to build an organization specifically designed to accelerate research, make bold bets, and eradicate the disease. The organization’s unwavering focus on finding a cure is made possible by our Board of Directors, which finances all of our overhead expenses so that 100% of all donations go to research.
Younger-onset Alzheimer’s took Valerie from us far too early. We were married for 47 years before she died this past January. Though she was just 67, she had been on a journey with dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease or mixed dementia…. for at least 15 years.
Valerie was all about family, making career choices and daily choices that put the interests of her children and husband above her own. When my job meant the whole family moved for 2-3 years at a time—to Colombo, Sri Lanka (1988); Hanoi, Viet Nam (1995); and Abuja, Nigeria (2006)—she ensured that the family had what it needed to learn, to grow and to love together.
Wherever she went she found music, education, faith communities, and good friends. Teaching in schools where she happened to be living; always teaching Sunday School; and wherever the opportunity arose, finding a choir to join.
Four grandchildren were born in her last seven years. Dementia may have diminished the potential for a lasting and beautiful relationship, but there was time for some laughs and giggles, and the chance for them to sense the love that she had for children.
Valerie was a sweet soul, known for joy and empathy, a mischievous and feisty streak, and a distinctive laugh that defined her for many people. She loved and was loved.
Read Valerie’s full story, and consider supporting the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in her memory, and remember that 100% of donations go to Alzheimer’s research.
Please consider helping me in my fundraising efforts, to increase the audience, simply by visiting and “liking” the dedicated Facebook page “A Climate Ride to Remember.” The page contains all the posts I’ve made here, and also the “Climate Breadcrumb” trail I’m posting.
Here are the links for the the rides in the past few days:
Oklahoma has seen a dramatic increase over the past decade in oil and gas production by fracking (injecting fluids and chemicals into the earth’s crust under pressure). It has also seen an extraordinary increase in earthquakes, to a level far exceeding California’s. It disrupts people’s lives.
As a first generation American, I confess that I had been in the US for decades, before I began to reflect on the enormous injustices done to the original occupants of this continent. Now we are riding through areas, nations, in Oklahoma, that bear the names of indigenous peoples—Chocktaw, Seminole, Chickasaw—I still know little of their detailed history. But I do know that they had a profound respect for their surroundings—the environment, the climate, and respect for elders (think Alzheimer’s, dementia). We could learn a great deal from them.
We’ve been riding for 14 days and as of lunchtime yesterday, we had covered just over 1,500 miles of the 2,908 route and about 67,000 feet of climbing (the equivalent of two-and-a-half Mt. Everests!). As of September 22, I’ve covered 55% of the route, and we raised about 61% of my goal.
If you haven’t had a chance to support Climate Ride or Cure Alzheimer’s, consider cheering me on by keying your donation to my overall mileage.
Reached half-way at lunch today! But today was tough, with 20-30 mph headwinds adding 2-3 hours to expected ride time.
In 14 days we have covered just over 1,500 miles of the 2,908 route and about 67,000 feet of climbing (2 1/2 Everests!).
It was also an interesting day, as we followed the track of old Route 66, one of the first US highways connecting Chicago with Los Angeles.
It’s a bit of an open air museum of Americana, with of course more than one museum along the way. And it evokes memories of the Dust Bowl, and the migration of many from the mid-West to LA to escape that environmental disaster (Climate Breadcrumb in the works!)
And finally, a big thank you to everyone who has donated to the causes that I am supporting. More tomorrow hopefully on that!
Our only full day in Texas, the Panhandle in the north-west of the state. A 94-mile ride from Amarillo to Shamrock.
Cross-winds slowed progress. Along the way, reminders of historic old route 66, an early long distance route across the West from Chicago to Los Angeles and immortalized in Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.”
Texas suffers from most forms of climate change: coastal erosion, flooding (e,g, Houston in 2019), drought for many years in different parts of the state, the famous snow event in 2021.
Most of the agriculture in the Panhandle is irrigated, using groundwater from the High Plains Aquifer System. The countryside looks dry, interspersed with large fields that are clearly irrigated. The water comes from below ground.
The EPA reports that since the 1950s, the water stored in some parts of the state has been depleted by more than 50 percent. This snippet of information came from the project to preserve the information on the EPA’s website that the Trump administration shut down as one of its first acts in 2017.