The HAPT Team rolled into Houlihan Park in Planada yesterday morning to find over 100 parents, teachers, school administrators, and students ready to walk to Planada Elementary. The school even arranged to have the buses drop kids off for the event so that everyone could get exercise. The energy was high and kids were excited to have their picture taken with the HAPT Team and their school mascot.
After a short walk to the school we led an assembly for several hundred students and -in partnership with the school and community members- gave away FIVE (!!) bikes. Planada’s community has so much going for them. Already they’ve made improvements – and we can’t wait to see what is in store!
The ride from Planada to our campout at Indian Flat Campground was beautiful, hot, hilly, and wonderful. We rode through rolling hills of grasses and crept up arid foothills until we were riding through a sparse pine forest that peaked at town Midpines before a huge 7.5 mile descent that dropped down to the last winding 12 miles along the Merced River.
We’re halfway through the tour, and while we can’t wait to be home, we don’t want the experiences at schools to end.
“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. …This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment…. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.” – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938).
After a great night’s rest at the Indian Flat campground, west of El Portal on route 140, the HAP Tour team headed uphill to Yosemite National Park. We took a planned “day off” from our school visits to remind ourselves how much fun time spent cycling with good friends on a beautiful day in a beautiful place can be. Yosemite National Park is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and we shared John Muir’s love and admiration for Yosemite and the entire Sierra “Range of Light” as we spent a magical day riding in Yosemite Valley under a clear blue sky.
Whether climbing up one of many climbs into the park from El Portal, or out of the park past Wawona, we each spent part of our riding time today thinking how much fun cycling can be, how healthy and exhilarated we feel on the coast downhill following a tough climb, how fun it is to smell the dry grass, the scent of pine trees, and to see the heights of Yosemite’s grandeur without having the view blocked by the roof of a vehicle.
Cycling can be many different things to many people, but whether one rides for transportation or for fun and recreation, the importance and enjoyment of physical exercise, outdoors in nature seems to fill a basic human need. John Muir said,
“I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found”. – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938). Cycling is a great way to help keep our air clean for all to breathe and enjoy.
The Healthy Active Places Team agrees with Muir after. “Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality. My First Summer in the Sierra (1911).
It’s been another amazing day full of adventure, new friends, and lots of riding. After spending an enjoyable and restful evening in Modesto with our great host, Tom from warmshowers.org, we started our day just before 7am to make sure we could get to our first stop in Ceres in Stanislaus County. We experienced a little bit of morning traffic in downtown Modesto. However, riding as a pack and taking the lane as we needed to, made the experience much safer and less hectic than it could have been.
When we rolled into Ceres, we were greeted by a small group of parents (and a few young children) with cheers, waves, and lots of colorful signs in support of safe walking. We joined in the sign-holding and cheering, which definitely got a few smiles from the students arriving at Ceres High School. Here are Jeannie and Aubree in action.
Next, we met up with the Ceres Safe Routes to School Coalition at nearby Caswell Elementary. We’re impressed with how involved the parents in this coalition have been in supporting Safe Routes to School for the children in their community, and excited to hear about the City of Ceres recent awards under California’s Active Transportation Program. A big thanks to Lourdes Perez for letting us meet with the coalition and an eventful and educational morning!
After Ceres, we headed to Winton via a road that paralleled the Amtrak line, and enjoyed the view of almond tree groves and wild melons along the side of the road. Here we are eating lunch at a park mid-trip:
The best greeting of our trip this far has probably been from Crookham elementary. Check out the welcome signs! We felt like rock stars 🙂
We are resting now in Merced with our awesome hosts Justin and Kristina. Many thanks for the dinner from the Merced Bicycle Coalition!!
Ending my first blog ever with a few more pics! Off to bed… ~Victoria