Despite the fact that many days seemed consumed with wedding errands and Pinterest inspired bridal breakdowns, I have been able to enjoy some of these early June Kentucky summer days. Last week my friend Kristen and her boyfriend Lee passed through town and we went out to Shaker Village for breakfast. I hadn’t been in years, but I have a fond spot for it as I worked there as a server during my senior year of high school. Those Shakers may have denied themselves the pleasures of the flesh, but they certainly enjoyed the pleasures of the plate. I single handedly gaining my freshmen 15 pre-college through sampling one cornstick from every basket I prepared and sneaking “damaged” pieces of Shaker lemon pie.
Now, I really should preface what I mean when I say they “passed through town.” Here is how conversations went towards the end of the year in the French TA office.
“Hannah, what are you doing this summer?” “ Oh, getting married!” (Pretty impressive, right? WRONG.)
“Kristen, what are you doing this summer?” “Oh, biking across the entire country.”
Feel free to go back and read that until it sinks in. They are riding their bikes across the entire country. From side to side. As in, every day they just get on their bikes and ride really far. People, that’s over 4,000 miles. But they did take a break early on so that Kristen could quickly fly to London ( no biggie) to present a paper at an academic conference (because she is super smart). And when they get to the other coast, they are flying to Australia where they might try to dive with sharks.
Apparently this is super cool, which they would know, because Kristen and Lee usually spend their summers teaching scuba lessons off the coast of Honduras.
(Feel free to take stock of your life and feel significantly lazy now, it’s what I do.)
I am super fascinated with their trip and spent lots of time asking questions like what they wear (the same thing every day), where they sleep (in churches, campsites, and random people’s houses), what they do when it rains (keep riding (?!?!?!) ), and what they eat (anything – they have to get like 6000 calories idea to keep on going). I encourage you to go to their website to read their super funny stories, donate to the charities they are supporting, or host them when they bike through your state.
Kristen and Lee are using this trip as a chance to see America, the off-the-beaten-path way. They go through lots of back roads, small towns, and rural areas that do in fact define our nation. And what they are seeing is the reality of our motley patchwork national identity. Which is actually something to be proud of. We are still the melting pot, albeit a messier and more uncertain one with a whole lot less idealism.