post author: Jon Brockopp
I’m writing this at 9 p.m., exhausted, but also really jazzed by the great day we had. At about 7 a.m., our hosts at Christ’s Reformed UCC started rustling around in the kitchen, whipping up a delicious breakfast of biscuits, gravy, potatoes and eggs – all the things that keep a cyclist going! Pastor Gregg stopped by again and we a great conversation, thinking about the difficulties of addressing climate change in an inner-city ministry.
He sent us off with a blessing and a reading from Rachel Carson into the crisp, sunny morning air of Hagerstown. We made our way easily out of town, passing a huge solar array on the way. In Sharpsburg, we took a moment to pay our respects at the Antietam cemetery and then headed down a beautiful road to the C&O canal.
I just love riding along the canal – so much history and beauty. Ed pointed out various butterflies and wildflowers to us and Molly added to her list of wild animals along the way: turtles sunning on logs were a hit, but the two Great Blue Herons flying out just feet away from us were particularly spectacular. We stopped off in Brunswick for lunch at the very same café as last year: El Sloppy Tacos! Great food and wonderful people.
The canal route is still one of industry, of course. Coal trains were stationed nearby, waiting to feed the huge Dickerson power plant that we passed (along with its frighteningly large coal ash retaining pond, poised just above the Potomac). We hope in future years to see more solar and less coal.
The climb out of the Potomac valley was a bit of a shock, but Molly motivated us to keep moving. I also knew what was waiting for us: a great meal with Joyce Breiner and Dave Yaney and their son Alex. In fact, Dave was out in front of the house, taking pictures of us as we climbed one last hill, and we were warmly embraced. I have known Joyce since I first conceived of this ride three years ago – she is a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in nearby Gaithersburg and has graciously hosted all three rides.
This year was special, however. Joyce used our trip to bring together a large group of friends and activists – over forty – to meet with us and with a local Montgomery Council member, Roger Berliner. What can I say? Mr. Berliner was an absolute inspiration: a politician who really understands energy issues and has creative ideas how to address them: from sustainable communities to conservation easements to carbon taxes, we discussed a wide range of issues.
We head to bed tonight filled with good food, great ideas, and the hope that people of good will can sit down with one another and solve these serious problems.