Our Hometeachers came by tonight and gave us a nice lesson on the Church Welfare system, and how able the Church is to respond and help in so many areas in the world when there is an earthquake or a hurricane or other natural disaster. This line of conversation led to various points about personal preparedness and no matter where you live, you can find yourself in a situation where you will not be able to buy what you need.
We talked about hurricanes and tornadoes and the possibility of an earthquake along the Wasatch Front. We have had a tornado, but it was a little one and it's damage was not widespread. If an earthquake struck the cities up north, even Sweet Haven might find itself without power, communications, natural gas, and possibly resupply of food and fuel.
We talked about an epic trip that S2 and D2 took one day on their bikes. We were slated to pick Annie up at the airport sometime in the early evening. These two kids were pretty restless and wanted to go on a bike trip, so I told them to take off, and I would pick them up along the way. I had chores and projects - I don't remember exactly what, but I didn't get on the road until they had about a 5 hour start. We drove and drove in the old Ford Van and I kept thinking I would see them over the next hill, but that was not happening and I was getting worried that something had happened to them. Finally about 43 or so miles from Sweet Haven we caught up with them. They hadn't taken much in the way of supplies - if you read this S2 or D2, please fill in any detail that my old brain has forgotten. I think they took some water, but used it up, and didn't take any food. They were expecting me to pick them up much sooner than the 5 hours it took me to get on the road. I was amazed at how far they had traveled. I think D2 was 9 or 10, and S2 would have been 13 or 14.
Many years ago, when I was in college, I was surprised to find a good friend show up at my doorstep, on his bike with little more than a book pack and light jacket. He had biked down from Moo U. to Flatirons U - about 60 miles when he decided that he just couldn't go back to his apartment. He really couldn't. As he approached his apartment, coming back from class, he saw several police cars and police men, and they were packing his roommates into the cars and they were in handcuffs. Lief continued right on by the scene and just headed out of town. It seems that one of the roommates had a marijuana plant in the window of his room, and a meter reader saw it and turned them in. Lief didn't know what was going on at the time, but he knew he didn't want to get hauled off in the confusion and so he just disappeared. I doubt that the police spent any time looking for him, but a lone guy, riding a bike is much less conspicuous than a guy in a car with a color, make, model and license plate. So he just continued on down and stayed the weekend with me. On Sunday I rode about half way back with him, and when he got back to Moo U. everything had been sorted out, and he was in not trouble.
I didn't start this post with the idea of singing the praises of the bicycle, but that must be a little on my mind as these stories came easily to mind. We see quite a few long distance bicyclers on the roads going to and from Sweet Haven. Some of them have panniers and packs, some of them are hooked to trailers. None of them are moving very fast. But they have all come a long distance - we know this because Sweet Haven is near the edge of no-where, and many miles from any city of even modest size. Sweet Haven is not in a well watered, verdant, fruitful landscape. The topography varies from reasonably productive, irrigated farms nearby, to juniper covered desert hills, to parched sandy flats, to empty, seemingly endless greasewood covered plains. And still they manage to come. Carrying water, food, shelter, dodging cars, semi-trucks and buses, the crawl along the roads at a few miles per hour. When night comes, they might be in a town, but they might be on the road and just pull off into the scrub and make a quiet camp. You will never see them, not at all the same as if they were driving.
I guess that I don't have a real conclusion to this other than I am frequently surprised how far you can go, and how much you can carry on a bike. If you had to go from the airport in SLC to Sweet Haven on foot it might take you two weeks. On even an bargain basement bike, a thrift store special, and weather permitting, you would stand a good chance of making it in two days, at the most in three. All with no gas, no electricity, with nothing more than a tire pump, a patch kit, a couple of gallons of water, and maybe a jar of peanut butter and a couple of loaves of bread.
If you have airless, flat free tires your bike repairs are decreased by 95% - just my opinion. You can drive over broken glass, sharp rocks, and puncture weed without a qualm. Try 'em, you will love 'em. We recently and somewhat reluctantly retired our old Yard Sale/DI Specials and are now riding about Sweet Haven on regular tube, and worried about the bumper crop of puncture weed that is everywhere. So far we haven't had a flat, but I know that it is just a matter of time. And after following the adventures of our Intrepid S2, who bikes 7 miles each way to work and home, except when he has to walk 25 blocks in the rain because of a flat tire....well I think I am going to be ordering some new airless tires and then we can ride without worry.