Home again

It was a nice ride home with a few light showers along the way. The wind on my face and the smells of sweetgrass and fresh rain were a welcome reminder of the beauty of nature and the precious balance we humans are charged with stewarding.

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After spending time with a band of folks who have come together and decided to show thier commitment to raising awareness to our collective responsibility for the planet and future generations by walking across the country and literally carrying their message in their hands, on their t-shirts, and with their voices in song, was truly an inspiration. Thank you Climate Action Marchers for creating another venue in an already growing movement of climate change advocacy, there is room for all of us to feel empowered and I felt that with every step and bike pedal we took together! Safe travels on your journey to change hearts, minds, and most of all legislation!!

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Early risers

I can’t say I had a restful night of sleeping, partly because I was laying on a thin blow-up mat for the first time in many years and partly because I was excited to be sleeping in my tent! And then our 4:15am wake-up time came too soon, but as the sun began to rise and the food truck started dishing out breakfast and coffee, things started feeling less stiff and sore. The morning started beautifully…

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Sadly, due to the pending thunderstorm, I decided to leave for home sooner rather than later. The group was gathering to discuss important updates and to say hello to the newcomers (myself included), and farewell to those that are departing.

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I began saying my goodbyes to friends I had just met and those that I will see back in Iowa City.

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Turning my wheels on the gravel road headed West I sent a last farewell wave over my shoulder and saw the storm moving in quickly. Luckily I was able to duck into Reid’s Beans, a delightful coffee shop that also serves food, a couple miles down the road.

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Thank you for the lovely oatmeal and pleasant conversation, Laura (co-owner)! And I met someone who turned out to be a neighbor, hi Dana!

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Well, since the storm has passed, I will scoot on home!

Good luck to the Marchers as they continue on! Stay safe and as dry as possible 🙂

Onward!

Today’s journey!

It has been quite the day. Our march out of Iowa City was well attended and folks mostly gathered or walked alongside one another chatting about the journey ahead and how long it would take, excitement edging in their voice.
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We stopped at Earth Source Gardens, a large lot if beautiful community gardens (over 60!) for snacks and a quick tour. Thanks for the delicious peaches, peanuts, and fresh water that kept us fueled!

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And then we kept on trekking toward West Branch where our final destination lay just beyond- Scattergood Friends School!

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After stopping in West Branch for a quick lunch we made it to Scattergood!

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All in all it was a leisurely 13 mile walk/bike and we were excited to pitch our tents and rest our feet 🙂

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Aaaahhh…so nice!

Thanks to all of the Organizers and Marchers who made our journey today smooth and full of fun and engaging conversations!!!!

Salamat!!

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A look back to a month ago… and what’s ahead!

Wowza, it’s August 19th and on July 19th, exactly one month ago, my uncle, my cousin, and I boarded a charter bus to the RAGBRAI start line in Rock Valley, Iowa. It seems only about a week or two ago that we awoke to the surreal experience of a flag-lined exodus sending us on our way amidst ~18,000 other riders.

Farewell Rock Valley, Hello RAGBRAI!

Farewell Rock Valley, Hello RAGBRAI!

And as I look back on all of the fun and memories, I realize that one of the biggest pieces to the whole experience was something I didn’t really share, probably because I was so focused on getting the word out about the campaign– spending time with family. Which may not seem relevant at the outset, but in fact, we were a crew of Fil-Am family members bicycling in the Midwest and supporting a cause for one-half of our heritage~ the Philippines! I felt this more and more throughout the ride as Rich (my uncle) and Bill (my cousin) would field questions and answer remarks about the bambike on my behalf. At one point Rich found me stuffing my face with a shaved-ice treat the size of my face, and walked me over to the Primal Wear booth to meet Dale Hentzell. He introduced us because Dale wanted to tell me all about how their company helps organizations raise additional money by creating custom apparel through their “Give Back Program”. Both Bill and Rich were so excited to connect us (me too!), and I wouldn’t have met Dale if Rich and Bill weren’t spreading the word about the campaign.

Not only did we talk and share stories with each other and folks we met on the way, but we had a blast biking through Iowa towns. We ate food from local vendors and drank beer in local bars, heck, we even threw toilets in Burt, IA on the Karra’s Loop (the same day we biked over 100 miles)!

Burt, IA~ Who knew?!!

Burt, IA~ Who knew?!!

Bill throwing that toilet like a champ!

Bill throwing that toilet like a champ!                                         (He is also half Scottish…)

But most of all, we got to hang out with each other, which we’ve actually never done with just the three of us. I know we will ride RAGBRAI again, and possibly other rides as well, but it won’t be like this first time. This time was special, we got the chance to talk and play around and push ourselves and joke around and to me, that was the best part. 

What’s also cool is that they weren’t the only family members who came to Iowa to witness the ride and support us, my wife Natalie, aunt Teri, cousin Charlie, and my Grandma met us at the end towns on the last two days. It was wonderful having my West Coast family members see the Midwest and to see it through their eyes. They absolutely loved Iowa City and really appreciated the rolling hills of corn and soybean, and of course, they were completely blown over by the People! Every day I heard at least one person remark on how nice people are in the Midwest (Iowa nice!), from friendly folks at the grocery store to farmers waving from their tractors, they couldn’t get over how welcoming folks were. And I am so thrilled to have shared their experience of visiting the Midwest, a place so vastly different then their San Diego roots!!

Herky meets the Family!

Herky meets the Family!

Thank you Family for the memories and experiences (and the bicycling shoes!), we hope you come back real soon!

The fam!

AND NOW… begins a new ride for the BONGGA campaign. Tonight I spoke at the potluck for the marchers and their supporters in the Great March for Climate Action. They are marching from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC to tell the country and our legislators about the need to take action on climate change impacts now. They began their journey in March of this year and will arrive in DC in November and they are a wonderful group of folks that I am excited to get to know better. I will meet them at the rally tomorrow in Iowa City and then begin riding/ walking with them on Thursday. Don’t worry, I’m not quiting grad school just yet, I’ll be in class next Monday 😉

I will be blogging from the road where I will hopefully have ample internet to upload pictures. So stay tuned!!

Salamat!

Onward!

Onward!

Gratitude

Contribute now

It has been 2 and a half weeks since we returned from RAGBRAI, and I am still awed by the amount of support we have recieved and continue to recieve for the BONGGA campaign. Whether it has been donations on the Indiegogo website or checks handed to me in person, I have felt the humbled gong of gratitude. It is not only in financial contributions, but in assistance in spreading the word and in earnest conversations: “That’s so cool, what are the climate change impacts on the Philippines?” I love it! Climate change/ Philippines/ Bamboo are 3 things I could discuss for probably days on end! (Which maybe explains part of the “Bongga” title~ me!)

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Me planting bamboo in the Philippines, like you do…

And I am still reeling from all of the RAGBRAI experiences and moments when folks riding behind me would call out “Is that bamboo?!” and then proceed to ask me where I got it and did I make it, and sometimes I could precariously fetch a calling card for them out of the plastic baggy I kept in the back pocket of my bike jersey. Talking with folks about bamboo and the Philippines was never exhausting, even when biking through a hail storm that forced trees to bend at 90 degrees and froze my hands to the handlebars (I wish I could say that was a huge exaggeration…)

I just want to say thank you, thank you, maraming salamat po to all of those that stopped to ask questions, spread the word through social media, gave money online or held out 5$ bills to me while picking up the bambike and remarking on the feel of the bamboo, it’s strength and smoothness.

All of these offerings have added up to one big success, whether we reach our $40,000 funding goal or not.

And stay tuned! I will be continuing the BONGGA ride next week, joining an Iowa slice of the Great March for Climate Action, a group of activists marching from California to DC to raise awareness about climate change. And, I will be sending out a more snippets of the RAGBRAI experience very soon. 

much love,

vanessa