Habitat Photo Petition: "It all starts at Home"

Habitat Photo Petition: "It all starts at Home"

Join Habitat for Humanity’s photo petition!  Habitat needs our help to remind President Obama that human health and well-being starts with having a simple, decent place to live.  Join me in reminding the U.S. government that “It all starts at home.”


Follow the Habitat photo petition instructions to post your photo to Flickr.  If you submit your photo by September 25, 2009, Habitat will deliver your photo to the White House in honor of World Habitat Day 2009.


I was reading the latest issue of Habitat World, and I came across this article I really liked…so I thought I’d share.  It’s the winner of a national essay contest, and I think it gets at the heart of what the affordable housing movement is all about:


The CWP Winning Essay by Kelli Akremi


“I couldn’t do my homework last night. It got dark too fast.”

Sighing softly to myself, I turned to face Edwin. In my many years of teaching fourth grade, I’ve heard a countless number of excuses as to why homework is missing or incomplete. I just did not expect to hear this from Edwin, a bright, gifted fourth grader.

“Why didn’t you just turn on a light?” I asked.

“I couldn’t,” Edwin whispered, his voice nearly inaudible as he fought back tears. “The company turned off the electricity last week.”

As the rest of the class completed a reading assignment, I listened to Edwin’s heartbreaking story. Both of his parents worked long hours at their jobs, but they couldn’t afford to buy a house and barely managed to pay the rent on their townhouse each month. Faced with a mounting pile of bills in the mailbox, Edwin’s parents were recently forced to make difficult choices. Shelter or electricity? Fix the broken lock on the front door or buy school supplies for the children? Purchase food or gasoline for the car? Unlike the math tests I administer, there are no correct answers to such questions. Choices had to be made, though. Ultimately Edwin’s family had started to eat cold dinners by candlelight and, for safety, to sleep crammed together in the one tiny bedroom that had a lock on the door.

It was my turn to fight back tears.

“It’s OK,” comforted Edwin. “We have a place to sleep and my parents love me. I’m really sorry that I didn’t do my homework, though.”

Without realizing it, Edwin gave me a homework assignment of my own to work on that night. What is a “home”? In his young eyes, a home is a place to sleep and a place where children feel the comfort of their parents’ love for them. In my eyes, a home is a place with so much more. Doors with locks to provide feelings of safety and security. Piping hot meals eaten in well-lit rooms. Tables covered with piles of artwork (and devoid of overwhelming mortgage notices). Family areas filled with laughter and memories next to nooks for individual times of solitude. Children at desks completing homework under the glow of a bright lamp.

I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity because of students like Edwin. No child should have to worry about doing homework in the dark. All children deserve a place to learn and discover their potential. And this begins with a decent home, I learned from my young student Edwin.


i haven’t biked in almost two weeks, all my scabs have fallen off, and my quads are still huge and quite bulbous (ppl insist on testing their firmness).  It’s odd to be done, and like most, i’m suffering from bike and build withdrawal.  No worries though, there are plenty of pictures on facebook to immerse myself in the memories and now we even have some vids up from our trip.  check out Alex Nguyen’s video:



So I left off in California…I’ll start back again with my evening in Twenty-nine Palms


  • you’re a good man, Charlie Brown – in Twenty-nine Palms, we stayed at the Little Church of the Desert, which was a wonderful host.  The pastor’s name was Charlie Brown, and he was ever so nice.  He shuttled us to a parishioner’s house so we could enjoy their pool on that hot, hot day.  Then, we had a great dinner back at the church with a huge turnout from the community.
  • slumber party – after dinner, we were all auctioned off to be taken home with the parishioners.  Families would put in requests (such as two females, or three males) and we were split up and sent off for the night.  It reminded me of meeting my host family when i studied abroad…Brad and I stayed with a woman named Cynthia up in the mountains at the edge of the city.  Her house was fairly isolated, so it had a phenomenal view of the stars…we got to see the milky way again that night!
  • rough ridin – everyone had looked forward to/feared the 120 mile day, but in fact the real challenge was the 90 mile day that followed it.  Riding into Victorville, CA we faced brutal head winds, draining heat, and bumpy roads that did not help our serious chafing issues.
  • gas station domination – so at mile 81 on that rough day, we found refuge at a Chevron gas station.  Megan and Cali initiated it, then we all followed, but they just plopped down in front of the tasty cakes, pretty much in front of the front door blocking an entire aisle of goodies.  I’m surprised we didnt get yelled at…we were such a mess.  Megan and Cali were taking pics of each other and laughing deliriously, then Sadie, Tati, and I joined them on the floor as we chatted loudly and sipped on our cold beverages.
  • slumber party part deux – in Victorville, we stayed at this empty house…it was weird, and ever so crowded.  Since there were way too many people and bags inside, i initiated the movement to sleep outside.  It was a beautiful night and we enjoyed several games of “catchphrase” before catching some z’s under the stars.
  • Palmdale build day – we worked with the Antelope Valley Youth Build School and fixed up foreclosed properties.  We ripped up a roof and removed all the shingles, cleared three front yards of overgrown grass and bushes, and did some grading for a pathway.

roofing work

so i’m actually all done and back on the east coast now.  twas an amazing summer and i feel the need to share the rest of it with yall.  its time to catch up where I left off…


first, here’s my last album of pics: last album…rly  (they’re from my disposable camera…so yea)


  • “consecutive flats are the worst” – riding from the Grand Canyon to Ash Fork, AZ I was “sweep” with good ole Brad Milison.  We kind of dropped the ball as sweep since we had so many of our own bike issues.  Brad got three consecutive (and explosive) flats before even leaving the national park.  We would pump them up, get close to the required pressure, then POOFFFFFFFFFF…the tube would explode and when we inspected it, it looked like a squirrel was taking a huge bite out of it…three times over.  ridic.  We used all our tubes, and we even switched out the tire with the spare we were carrying.
  • gimp – on our ride to the Grand Canyon we had a very unfortunate accident.  Sarah Royal, native new jerseyan and author of “Creative Cursing”, had a piece of tire get stuck in her front wheel which immediately flipped her over her handlebars, landing right on her elbows.  She broke her left elbow and had to get a complicated surgery resulting in a nasty, frankensteinesque wound complete with at least thirteen staples.  She was okay, just in a lot of pain, and incapable of riding the last two weeks of the trip.  Even though shes a gimp, we still love her 
precious royals

precious royals

  • Prescott – great little town in the green mountains of Arizona.  It was a short day, so we got in super early (11:45) and got to explore.  We hung out in the town square/park just laying on the grass, got some bargain ice cream, played in a hat shoppe, and then headed back to the church for a delightful dinner.  The ladies of the First Congregational Church were FANTASTIC.  They loaded us up with fresh veggies, south-western chili (with avocados!) and yummy home baked cookies.  Even more amazing was the fact that they came in at 4 am the next morning to provide another phenomenal meal: pancakes, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt with granola…I declared it the BEST breakfast of the trip.  Thanks ladies.
  • desert descent – leaving Prescott, we were excited because we were dropping thousands of feet…but unfortunately, that meant we were dropping into the sizzling heat of the desert.  We thought we had been through the desert, but we were sadly mistaken.  The “real” desert was quite an experience.  The ride started off with one of the greatest descents of the trips.  GORGEOUS.  We were winding through forest-filled, green mountains and as we made our way down along the curves of the mountains, the landscape transformed drastically.  The mountains turned into giant piles of rocks/dirt, the ground became completely void of trees, and cacti started peeking out to say hello.  We saw fields of classic cacti and we were officially welcomed to the desert.

hey there

  •  death – we had been relatively lucky in terms of heat…we had a hot hot day in oklahoma, then it kind of cooled off for a while.  unfortunately, that cool streak was over when we hit Salome, AZ.  It was a ninety-five mile day, so we left at 6 am but we should’ve left earlier because at the end of our ride it was 1 pm and deathly hot out.  It was 115 degrees, and even hotter on the road (radiating heat sucks).  People did NOT handle the heat well…I was doing fine up until mile 91.  At that point, I knew I only had a few left to go, but i suddenly felt really, really sick.  It was an overwhelming feeling of nausea and light-headedness and it really felt like I was going to die.  The heat was merciless and there were NO trees to offer any sort of relief from the sun.  My body started crashing and my legs weren’t working.  They were moving so slowly and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make them go any faster.  At that point, I did the only thing i knew to do when you weren’t feeling well…EAT.  It’s pretty much the universal bike and build solution…”getting grumpy? eat something.”  So i ravishly ate a cliff bar, but in the process I knocked out a package of “smarties” from my camelback!  Smarties are one of my favorite candies and this one was special because it was a gift!  Someone at the Grand Canyon gave it to me when I told them I was biking across the country (candy from strangers, safe right?).  Anyway, i lost my smarties but the infusion of 240 calories into my system saved me.  It allowed me to ride out the last four miles (ever so slowly) and crawl into the air-conditioned paradise that Salome’s First Baptish Church so graciously provided us with.


  • zoom zoom – the next day we did NOT mess around.  We jetted out of Salome to avoid the brutal heat and bang out a short 66 mile day to Parker, AZ.  There must have been a tailwind or something, because we were flying (avg = 21 mph).  We got there in a mere three hours (approx. 9:30 am), which was completely ridiculous.  Skipped lunch and only stopped once at a gas station for some cold water
  • you call that cold water? – so i came to the realization that cold water in the desert is quite the luxury.  If you turn just the cold faucet on, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to have not lukewarm water, but fairly HOT water.  I had never experienced such a thing.  After death in Salome, all i wanted was a cold shower, but what did i find!?  a nice hot one without even touching the hot water faucet.
  • Colorado River – in Parker, AZ we ended up camping right on the Colorado River!! it was SO sweet.  Since we were there uber early, we had some lunch, then headed to the “Roadrunner,” a floating bar on the river.  It was basically a covered, mist-filled dock where you could sit back, enjoy a drink or two, then jump off into the cool water of the colorado river.  It was a beautiful sight…the river’s deep blue contrasted boldly with the brown mountains that rose straight up across the river.  Those mountains looked like giant piles of dirt, or a scaled up BMX course…and it happened to be CALIFORNIA.  We could’ve swam right over if we wanted to.
Nathan and Emmy jumping in

Nathan and Emmy jumping in

  • DM jetskis – the highlight of the day was by far the insane DM we scored.  Brad, Cali, and I stopped to talk to this couple on the river about Bike and Build.  They were really interested to hear all about it, and the husband was a cyclist himself.  He warned us of the days to come and that we needed to take extra caution with these California desert roads.  He had his own jetski and he asked if we wanted to take it for a spin!  Brad went first and zoomed up the river towards the floating bar.  I went next and continued this bragging tradition as i sped by everyone at the “Roadrunner” to show them how cool i was.  Cali went last, and she made the mistake of pulling over at the bar to talk to the other bike and builders.  Emmy tried to climb in and catch a ride, so Cali zoomed off back down the river.  It was my first time on a jetski and yes Bray, you were right…it was AWESOME  

before catching up on all thats happened since the grand canyon, I need to tell y’all about the ridiculous day I just had.  Its been 24 hours of pure madness, complete with dips, desert, and delirium. Let’s start off with last night…


So we were in Parker, AZ which is right across the river from California.  We were camping on the river (the Colorado River that is) and it was hot as…hell.  It was about 80 degrees when we were set to go to bed…which happened to be at 8:30 pm (weird, right?).  Well, twas an early night because we had to wake up at 2:30 AM to start our ride to Twenty-Nine Palms, CA.  Anywayz, it was 8:30 and we were settling down for bed, but it was way too hot to sleep so Aaron and I decided to go put our therms closer to the river so that we might catch a bigger breeze.  Once down there, we decided to take a dip in the river to cool off…knowing that we’d dry instantly once we got out.  We went to sleep around 9 then both woke up thinking it was close to wake-up time…but instead it was only 11:30!  Annoyed and hot and hungry (whats new) we decided to raid the lunch bin for some cooks (aka cookies).  After munching on white chocolate, macadamia cookies (thanks Mrs. Watts!) Aaron had a brilliant idea.  We were disgusted by how hot our water had turned in our two hours of sleep, so Aaron suggested we walk down the river to the floating bar for some ice water.  We journeyed through the dark about a mile down to a place called “The Roadrunner.”  It was a big relief to see that it was open, and when we walked in we got treated like celebrities.  Everyone already knew who we were and that we were biking from Boston to Santa Barbara.  We got immediate and lovely service; the bartender kept refilling my ice water every time she noticed it was empty…I was quite thirsty.  We chatted it up with the locals and they told us how crazy we were and how hellish our ride would be today.  We left after about an hour and got back to our campsite at 1 where we took another dip in the river, then tried to sleep again.

Waking up at 2:30 was rough…but I was excited to start the day.  It was going to be an EPIC day…we were heading through the desert to Twenty-nine Palms, California with a ride of 120 miles!  We all got ready and packed up in the dark, and before heading out, Aaron gave a phenomenal motivational speech.  It was one of those cinematic locker room speeches the coach gives to his team when it seems that all is lost.  Aaron was absolutely ridiculous and during his speech I spit a full mouth of water onto Cali as I busted out laughing.  As ridiculous as it was, Aaron was GREAT and he really pumped us all up.  We rolled out in full force like a gang of bike bandits (does that make sense? No).  We were riding under the stars on a pitch dark road through the desert…it was insane.  Our lights made a sea of red flashes that protected us on our 8 mile stretch back to town.  Since it was only 4:30 am, it took quite some time before the sun rose, so when we crossed over into California it felt as if we were all sneaking over in the dark of night.  We had to search hard for the state sign and try to take some night pics with it.


I rode with the “fast kids,” which was a first for me, but I was running away from the sun because I did NOT want to feel the brutal heat that we had suffered through the past few days.  As it rose, I felt like it was chasing us…so I sped through the first 60 miles and was the first group to both lunch 1 and 2.  After L2 (lunch two), we spread out a bit and I rode alone for the last fifty miles.  At first, I was feeling good, but I had a faint feeling in my stomach that needed relief.  At mile 80, I decided to go for it…I walked off into the desert, squatted behind a short, dry bush and took a poop.  Yup, I pooped on the desert.


After that, I felt really good and I continued to speed along and steadily became more and more delirious as it got closer to noon.  The heat started to get to me and I was singing at the top of my lungs to help me get through the never-ending climbs.  Even though it was the desert, it appeared flat, but of course, was not.  It was a gradual climb that lasted an eternity and didn’t let up until the last three miles of the ride. 


So here’s where things start getting funky…When I got into Twenty-nine Palms, I was extremely excited to be done.  I was starving and hot and tired, and all I wanted was to lay out in the air-conditioned church and scarf something down.  I got to the church (called the Little Church of the Desert) and no one was there!  The doors were locked and I was desperate for help.  I saw an old couple sitting in their car in the parking lot, so I asked them if they knew how to get in…but they were totally useless.  They didn’t even go to this church.  Then I found an open door and hopped inside.  After finding no one, I was about to go to the restroom when the old man from the parking lot came in.  He started talking to me endlessly about this “thing” he wanted to show the minister.  He hadn’t been to this church in four years apparently, and now he wanted to show the minister how he could make money for the church with this internet business…sounded like a load of baloney and it was incredibly annoying since I was starving and dehydrated.  I was also coughing up a storm, sounding like I was gonna drop any second, and yet he kept blabbing about this business.  I finally was able to get in a word, say “Cool idea,” and walk off to the restroom.  When I got out, I called up Ben who I knew was ahead, and he had gone off to some lady’s pool…he gave me directions, but we weren’t on the same page.  I thought I was suppose to go down the same street as the church, but that was SO wrong.  I climbed a huge hill, coasted down for a while, and started to get worried as I was getting back into the desert.  I stopped at a shopping plaza where I spotted a Dominoes and I immediately went in to score some DM.  I gave my spiel expecting DM, and DM I received.  I got two pizzas with pepperoni and ham.  I went around the corner and sat down with my pizzas.  As I scarfed down an entire pie, I relished in my frustration and anger with the wrong directions.  Meanwhile, a woman came up to the garbage can about ten feet away and puked her brains out…so nasty.  Then I watched as countless people approached the nearby DMV and blew up when they found it was closed on Fridays (except the last Friday of the month…which it was not).  I felt disgusting after eating a whole pie, and I could not carry the second one back to the church, so I decided to do a good deed with it.  When I rolled into the shopping plaza there was an energetic guy standing outside advertising for Verizon.  He cheered me on, and I enjoyed the support, so I decided to give him my pizza.  I asked him if he was hungry, and he said yea, and I gave him my hot, untouched pizza.  I asked if he had seen, “Pay it Forward,” which he said he had, so I told him that now he had to perform one random act of kindness to a stranger just as I had done.  He said he would and that he really appreciated it.  I rode off with a smirk on my face…hoping I changed the world just like Haley Joel Osment.


I slowly made my way back up the monstrous hill and suffered through an even worse heat than before.  It was 101 degrees outside, but hotter on the road.  In the end, I had done an extra 8 miles and wasted two hours of energy and time in town…but perhaps i made someone’s day

As you may of heard, my camera passed away in Roswell, NM…I was fortunate enough to have a great friend lend me an extra digital cam, but that time was short lived. I’m currently using a disposable camera, which has made me extremely selective with my picture taking…so i’m sorry, but these are my last two albums until I’m back in jerz:  SW pics and my final pics

I have 19 minutes to blog about all the incredible things I’ve seen in New Mexico and Arizona…oy vey
  • V.L.A.– we biked past the “very large array” on our way from Socorro to Pie town, New Mexico. It’s basically a field of enormous satellites (like in the movie “Contact”). We could see them for miles to come, and it was cool to see them all turn in sync. Brad choreographed a satellite dance that a group of us performed in front of the VLA…look out for it on youtube in the months to follow.
  • Continental Divide – Pie town, NM lies at the continental divide at approx. 8000 ft up. We had heard this was our highest point of the trip, but we actually went a little higher on our ride to the Grand Canyon.
  • Toaster House– in Pie town (btw, real cool place) we stayed in a log cabin called the Toaster House with an iron arch in front filled with old toasters. It felt like a giant tree house and was such a cool host site. We used the showers from the RV park next door, which were some of the nicest bathrooms I had ever seen…uber clean and well stocked.
  • TALENT SHOW – if you check out my final pics you can see what I’m talking about. Our chair of the fun committee, Tatiana Cooke (aka Tattie – pronounced tah-tea) organized a phenomenal talent show with 9.5 acts…including a wonderful rendition of “Halo”, the exorcist walk, a love sonnet, hilarious skits (“Can i have your combo?”, a dramatic play (Tea n’ Scandal), and a hilarious Bike and Build parody (“Frustrating”) of Alanis Morsette’s “Ironic”. The show was a tremendous success and the acts could not have been any funnier…or else we would have peed our shammois’s
  • the talent show winners with our lovely coordinator

    the talent show winners with our lovely coordinator

  • Fire station fun – in Sanders, AZ we stayed at their local fire house…which was AMAZING.  It was an insanely hot day, so the firemen offered to cool us off with their hose.  We jumped and ducked like little kids as we were bombarded from both sides with the cold water from the firetruck.  We had a shampoo party in the process of it all, and then got to enjoy a nice cold kiddie pool they filled up for us.  We all got in early (which is easy to do when you wake up at 4:30 – our norm), so we hung out all afternoon just laying in the grass under the trees, enjoying good company.
  • Bike theft – as wonderful as Sanders was, it was also the site of an awful bike incident.  Everyone left their bikes in the back yard of the firehouse, which is also where a bunch of us slept (including myself).  In the morning, Trey went to look for his bike, and it was GONE.  It was quite stressful…and really messed up.  We thought someone had moved it, but after two hours of searching, we realized it was stolen.  The firemen (and especially the chief, Terry) were extremely helpful in recovering his bike.  They took a ride around town looking for it, and ended up finding it in some kids backyard.  Trey was able to borrow Nathan’s bike for the day, and when we arrived in Winslow, we had a pleasant surprise for us.  Terry drove the bike  90 miles from Sanders to Winslow…which was just amazing.  This trip really shows you the extent of kindness and generosity that can be found in strangers.
  • Freak accident– Even though the town of Sanders consisted of a fire house, a gas station, and a general store, it was quite an eventful day.  As I was chilling on my therm (1.5″ thick air mattress) with Brad and Cali, I was the victim of a final-destination style, freak accident.  I was laying on my stomach with my journal in hand and I looked up to say something and was smacked in the forehead with what felt like a five pound dumbbell.  After letting out a yelp of pain, I looked down to find a full 16 oz. bottle of melon Gatorade.  Completely confused and disoriented, I raised my eyes to Denis who had a look of shock and horror on his face.  Apparently what had happened was that he was throwing a Gatorade to Jenna nearby, but had missed, got swept up by a strong gust of wind, bounced off a fully inflated thermarest in front of me, and flung full force straight into my forehead.  Consequently I developed a large and pronounced bump on my forehead, along with some minor bleeding and a harry potter-esque scar.  quite traumatizing…
  • a thousand splendid flats – our ride into Winslow was perhaps the most treacherous segment of our journey in terms of flat tires.  We enjoyed a wide shoulder on rt. 40, but it was like riding through a minefield as it was ridden with semi-truck tires.  We tried to avoid them as much as possible, but it was the tricky little slivers that did us in.  They were hard to spot, and filled with sharp steel splinters.  Those bad-boys were the cause of over 22 “sniper flats.”  Cali and I had a combined 7, but Robbie took the prize with a total of 11 that day alone.  trucks suck
  • Wind-slow– our ride into and out of Winslow was not suppose to be hard…but harsh winds made it ever so challenging.  We had 21 mph winds going into Winslow, then heading to Flagstaff we had upwards of 25-30 mph gusts.  It was a cross-wind, meaning that we were getting blown all over the place (especially us small folk, but even 6 foot 5 Brad was thrown around a bit).  Everyone was getting really frustrated with the wind…personally I got through it by singing the hit song, “Frustrating” by Brad Milison/Aaron Goldstein.
  • Flagstaff– THUMBS UP.  One of my favorite towns of the trip…super trendy, kind of like a mountainous, hotter, smaller version of Portland.  Lots of bikers, and cool shops/cafes.  We were lucky to be there on the first friday of the month when they were having an “Art Walk”…basically open art galleries, free wine and cheese, and lots of peeps. We saw a sweet concert outdoors (RYANHOOD) and then a short fashion show…twas a hopping town.  Dinner was also spectacular as it was provided by two Bike and Build alums. Thanks Kyle! Thanks Kristi!
  • Bedrock City– on our way to the Grand Canyon we stumbled upon an exact, full-scale replica of Bedrock City (the hometown of the Flintstones).  We talked to the grandson of the owner and DMed our admission…such cool photo ops.
  • GRAND CANYON– AMAZING! if you’re lucky and i like you, maybe you’ll get a postcard…We sat at the rim and watched the sunset, got up early for the sunrise, and went on a ranger-led hike down to Cedar Ridge. SO BEAUTIFUL. words don’t do it justice…pics prob won’t either.  great day off.  We met really friendly german tourists, some cool french tourists (yay tattie), and got to see lots of ELK and  a California Condor!! awesome day off

Today we crossed over into ARIZONA!! We beasted through New Mexico, which was by far one of my favorite states of this trip. The people were super friendly and the landscape was amazing. I tried posting pictures just now, but am failing terribly. This library is just not havin it…

  • Portales, NM – As we rode into Portales there was a sign that read, “Population: 12,004, ‘Home of 12,000 friendly people (and 4 old grouches)”. This town was incredibly excited to have us there. We stayed in dorms at the Eastern University of New Mexico (ENMU), and we got treated like royalty. They had a crew of greeters awaiting our arrival, then they spoiled us with gatorade and goodie bags before they escorted us to our rooms. We had dinner at the United Methodist Church, which was full of more friendly New Mexicans. They picked us up from dorms and treated us to a feast filled with veggies and fruit (a rare occasion on BB). The whole town was there for dinner! The mayor, ladies from the church, the executive board from Habitat, and even a Habitat homeowner. They all got up to speak for a moment and expressed their gratitude for what we do as Bike and Build.
  • Bike and Build Day – the Mayor of Portales declared July 29, 2009 to be “Bike and Build Day” in Portales, New Mexico!! It was really exciting and unexpected and he even awarded us with an official certificate to commemorate the occasion.
  • Police escort – after a fantastic breakfast at the UMC of Portales, we were honored with a police escort through town. We filed up two by two and took the town by storm. The cop car went first, then the 32 riders, then a fire truck, and lastly Angus (our support van & trailer). It was badass
  • Misfortune – the past week has given me quite some trouble. I had an epic crash on my bike, my camera broke, and i mysteriously lost a spoke. The crash involved me overcompensating after swerving off the road, flying over my handlebars, landing on my side and somehow having my bike land completely upside down. I’m having a “lens error” so my camera is out of order 😦 and my spoke has been such a pain/time-consuming endeavour. Its alright though, its bike and build, so we can just laugh it all off.
  • Roswell – Due to some fantastic parents, we had many fantastic meals in Roswell. We were treated to dinner & breakfast by the O’Briens and then another dinner with Mrs. Genco. THANK YOU. Most of our time in Roswell was spent shuttling to and from meals. We were staying at ENMUR, which is the Roswell campus of Eastern New Mexico University and is located about 5 miles from downtown Roswell. Its far away from everything because it use to be an old air base (there were still some planes there just chilling behind the gym). We had access to a sweet outdoors swimming pool which we fully enjoyed on our day off. The UFO museum was quite a treat…sort of. It described the whole history of events dealing with Roswell’s alien encounters. The best part of the museum (according to me) was the poster of ROSWELL (the UPN show)…good memories.

So the library in Springerville, Arizona is closing now and i’ve gotta run. I’ll have to write all about how beautiful the Rockies are here and the amazing rides we’ve had over the past few days. Its really been unbelievable.

First off, NEW PICTURES!! It has been quite the struggle getting these up…but I hope you enjoy them.  We’re currently in Portales, NEW MEXICO! We’re staying in dorms at the Eastern New Mexico University and it has been fantastic thus far.  The people here have been super nice and super helpful, AND we have BEDS tonight! unbelievable…i know.  It’s the third night of the entire trip that we’ll have a mattress to sleep on instead of our two inch thick, air-filled thermarest.


Here are the highlights from the past week:

  • 72 oz steak challenge – In case you didn’t know, Amarillo, TX is home of the world’s largest steak, found at the Big Texan steak ranchThey have this challenge for a free dinner where all you have to do is eat a 72 oz steak within an hour (and a baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and salad of course).  One of our riders, Brando Pofahl, stepped up to the challenge and we all went to cheer him on.  He started out strong and I thought he was gonna make it…but at the end of the hour, he had 7.4 oz left and was not able to complete the challenge.  Still quite impressive…and disgusting.
  • Crowded quarters – In Amarillo, we had an usual host site…the office for Amarillo Habitat for Humanity.  On top of hosting the 32 of us, they were also hosting a group of about 20 high school students that were doing a 6-week service trip with the American Jewish Society for Service (AJSS).  They were a cool group of kids, and i think we jived well with them, but it was way too many people for that office.  Personal space was non-existent and there was always someone (or often a group of someones) in your way when all you wanted was to get to your bag or get in line for the restroom.
  • Cow fields – As we rode into Amarillo and Hereford we were pleased to find such a delightful aroma surrounding the tightly packed fields of cows.  Usually when driving through the country you”ll spot some cattle grazing in a field, however this was not the case.  There were endless empty fields before and after the cattle farms, but where the cows laid you could not see the ground.  They were literally piled up on each other and the stench was unbearable at times.  The mountains of manure we passed were also quite nasty, as were the cow trucks.  Ravi made a good comment about them when we peeked inside…”Yea, thats right, they’re living in a pool of poop then you cut their heads off and eat them.”  The floor of those trucks looked like a filthy river…ew.

feed lots

  • Build day – Our build day with Amarillo Habitat was super productive.  We finished nailing and putting up all the sheathing, lifted up and secured all the roof trusses, and started putting on some house wrap.  I went up on top of the framing to help lift the roof trusses up, which was a little scary at first, but I got used to the height.  It felt really great to work together and see the entire roof go up in a few short hours.  I also got to use a nail gun!  Which I didn’t actually enjoy…but it was another first for me.
look at our roof!

look at our roof!

  • PRESS – A few reporters came by the build site and interviewed/filmed us.  There was a story about us in the local paper and I believe we were also in their local news.  Check out the article: Amarillo news article
  • PROM – Thanks to Tatiana Cooke, and the Fun Committee, we had a spectacular Bike and Build Prom last night in Hereford, TX.  It was absolutely AMAZING, and out did my high school prom by far (sorry MHS).  Tatiana did a fantastic job organizing it, getting flowers and decorations donated, along with our very own MOONBOUNCE!  Everyone was super into it, and it really showed.  We’ve been hard at work prepping for prom over the past few weeks, browsing all the thrift stores from oklahoma to texas, which paid off with some hilarious outfits.  They ranged from space-man beach-goers to amish women to white trash chicas.  I personally acquired a “one-z” pajama from Good Will of Yukon, OK which fit as tight as my spandex bike shorts.  We had boutonnieres and corsages, a professional photo-shoot, a fifties diner, and a pimped out dance floor (complete with stage, mics, guitars, and drums).  Trey DJed for us and facilitated our wild dance party.  The night ended with “SHOUT” and of course, our trip theme song, “Build Me Up Buttercup” in which we all circled up and sang our little hearts out. 
the ladies of Bike and Build performing some Spice Girls up on stage

the ladies of Bike and Build performing some Spice Girls up on stage