|Dates:||6 Mar 2015 - 6 Apr 2015|
Traveling by bicycle from San Diego, CA to St Augustine, FL raising awareness of the plight of youth in our foster care system.
My ride has ended with a crash on wet pavement...cracked collarbone and a small (thanks to my helmet) subdural hematoma. They are releasing me from the hospital today. I will fly home with Dave tonight. I hope I increased the awareness of CASA and the barriers Foster youth face. They are surrounded by some of kindest hearts around (caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, etc) but those people are also very busy with lots of cases. A CASA handles one case at a time. Please check out your local CASA and give of time or financially.
We began passing these bushes on the first of our three major climbs today through the Texas Hill Country. They reminded me of the lilacs that grew next to our driveway at my childhood home. It was such a vivid sweet memory for me. As I climbed, I began recalling more about that home and my youth. --- A similar triggered experience might bring on a PTSD 'fight or flight' response for a foster child. The adults might interpret the change in behavior as 'acting out.' The youth doesn't even understand why they are reacting that way. --- PS. The flowering bushes were mountain laurel
Today is the 1st day of Child Abuse Prevention month in USA In 2013 it was reported that 679,000 children victims of child abuse and 1484 died as a result. This is a great month to learn more about what you can do in your community to reduce child abuse and neglect, whether it's for one child or for an entire organization like CASA
We arrived in Camp Wood, TX today around lunchtime. We stopped at the local smokehouse and had lunch with this little fellow. He only crowed to certain country western songs, but his timing was perfect. The food was great too! Then we found some local shops to look at homemade quilts and cedar furniture, finishing our stroll with a stop for Texas Bluebell ice cream. Great day...we just won't dwell on the large rock Texas chip seal pavement we road over getting here. It seems Time moves slower here in country. --- the average Foster youth spends 2 birthdays in foster care. I'm sure time moves very slow for them during this time. Foster youth with a CASA spend less time on average in Foster care than those without a CASA.
We passed Laughlin AFB today and we are staying at an old fort in the old officer quarters. *A number of veterans return from serving our country suffering from PTSD due to the trauma they experienced. --- Over 20% of Foster youth also suffer from PTSD due the repeated trauma they experienced and/or witnessed. Youth experience PTSD differently than adults.
We completed our 110 mile ride. It was hilly, into the wind and on chip seal roads. We saw some great scenery, the wildflowers were beautiful, the hotel shower had great water pressure and the dinner was excellent, so all in all a good day. --- Foster youth need someone to teach them how to see the cup half full when life gets tough.
Each evening we eat together in the parking lot and receive our cue sheets and other information for the day ahead. Tomorrow is a 111 mile ride through ghost towns on Hwy 90. I think each and every rider can do this ride if they just believe in themselves and set their mind to it. What's in your head is so important to your success out here. ---- Foster youth need to know there are people who believe they can succeed. It helps them believe they can succeed. Success starts with them visualizing success!
Who would have guessed, Marathon, TX has three places to stay and they are all nice. Just shows you shouldn't judge someone or someplace until you get to know them/it. --- Foster youth worry all the time about being judged negatively just because they are in the foster care system.
Enjoying the Texas wildflowers! Mostly downhill today.
Hardest day by far. 15-25 mph head/side winds on 40 miles of freeway shoulder and 50 more miles once that was done with about 4500 feet of climbing with up to 11% grades. As you might guess, I'm exhausted, but it is beautiful here in the Davis National Park. --- too tired for any foster thoughts. Tomorrow is a day off :)
We made it to Van Horn, TX this afternoon, ending with a wonderful after lunch tailwind. Two days of tailwinds, how lucky we've been...according to the weather predictions, that's all about to change. Tomorrow is a tough 90 mile with 2000 feet of elevation gain. It's also our first back to back long rides. On top of that here is the wind advisory for tonight & tomorrow... Wind Advisory 7pm tonight until 8am tomorrow N winds 25-35mph with gusts to 55. Tomorrow: NE winds 15-25mph. Hopefully, they are wrong. --- Foster youth often hear accusations against their parents that they hope are wrong, but often they know in their hearts that they are probably true.
We've passed the 1,000 mile point today, as well as, completing the first third of our trip. Time Seems to be flying by. Thanks to all of you who are sending encouraging comments. Thanks to all of you who rode training miles with me, too. Those miles are paying off now...Colorado Springs Cycling, NM Touring, Cycling Peeps and Women Riding Well. Thanks also to all my supportive friends and family. I miss you all, but I'm having a blast. I also am most grateful to Everyone at Pro Cycling. My bike and bike fit are perfect.
We have arrived in Fort Hancock for the night. Today was an easy short ride, only 51 miles on smooth flat roads (for the most part), often with a tailwind. Great lunch experience. Saw a beautiful mission church. Pretty much everything went our way today. Our family of bicyclists are the only ones staying at this motel. --- help foster youth focus on the days and things that go their way.
After flying down the road with a tailwind, we stopped at an awesome restaurant, owned and run by this family. They treated us like family. We felt very welcome! Earned them a 143% tip. Well worth it. --- make someone you meet feel welcome today. We all need to feel we are welcome and belong. It's what many foster youth crave.
We did find a leaving El Paso sign...and a welcome to Socorro sign just after it. We now feel welcomed! We are riding on the Mission Trail, it is part of the old trail between Mexico City and Santa Fe. It looks to be a smooth day. --- I hope all the foster youth have a smooth day, too!
I just noticed that my blogs have been truncated when I used a symbol. Since I started inserting a bicycle before each link to a foster youth message, that has been lost over the last few days. I am going back and re-entering that message, so check out the last few days again. I won't have it done until tomorrow though. Good night!
Texas did not greet us with a welcome sign..therefore, no pic :(. Instead we were greeted by congested streets with no bike lanes making it difficult to navigate our way to our hotel. --- Foster youth are rarely met at the door of a new home by a welcome sign, but they are greeted by the smiles of some of the biggest hearted people, their foster parents. They also often have other foster kids in residence, which require their attention. If you ever get to see a foster parent's appointment calendar, you will see that with the appointments and meetings for each foster youth, their day is busier and harder to navigate than the streets of El Paso.
We travelled from Las Cruces into Texas today. I took this photo before leaving NM for all of you out there that think NM is a big desert. It's not. NM has lots of fertile soil and grows the best green chili, among things, like the pecan trees in this pic. --- sometimes the beauty of a foster child is not noticed because they try to hide and not be noticed, due to lack of self worth. CASA's help build self worth in a child, giving them a more fertile base in which to grow.
Introduced my fellow riders to my favorite Hatch Green Chili Cheeseburger at Sparky's in Hatch, NM. Oh, was it good! Such a small thing made so many riders smile today. --- Make a foster kid smile, become a CASA.
Beautiful road, beautiful scenery, beautiful but long ride, 89 miles. Today we headed to Las Cruces, our last night in NM. After all the climbing yesterday, 89 miles seems tame as long as it's basically flat. --- we know our destination each day, but when a foster youth is removed from their home, they don't know their destination. It's a very scary ride.
MADE IT TO THE TOP OF EMORY PASS! Our biggest climb and highest elevation of the trip. --- every day can be this hard for a foster youth and they feel no victory for making it through unless someone like a CASA points it's out.
We are approaching our toughest climb of the trip today at Emory Pass. Yesterday I spent some time with Mayra and a few of her CASA volunteers. It was great to see how other CASA's are set up. There all a little different, so check your's out. The common theme seems to be...we don't have enough CASA's for all the kids in need. They had this poster on their wall.
Today is International Happiness Day, the First Day of Spring and a day off of riding for me. Bring some happiness and spring into a foster child's life by becoming a CASA. Over 500,000 children are in foster care in the USA. There are not yet enough CASA's to go around. Together we can change that! Whether you had a great childhood or you've recovered from trauma in your's, you may make a great CASA. You don't have to perfect! * the artwork is from a wall in Silver City, a community filled with artists. A preponderance of foster youth have artistic talent.
Ominous clouds produced what we feared, cold windy rain 8 miles away from our destination, Silver City, NM. We feared cold rain, but youth fear far worst, i.e. Will my mom go back to her abusive boyfriend, choosing him over me? Will my mom/dad actually show up for visitation? Am I loveable?
We are now safe, warm & dry in this great little town. The people are so friendly. My wish for foster kids is they feel safe, warm and loved today!
Half way through today's ride at the Continental Divide. Lots of climbing. Ready for that day off tomorrow, but remembering that foster youth don't get those days off.
We made it to Lordsburg, NM, after another 77 mile day. From the words of former Foster youth, you can understand how you can make a difference as a CASA. https://narrator.leadpages.net/casastory2/
Into each life some rain must fall. When you need to get from point A to Point B and your only mode of transportation is a bicycle, you get wet & cold. Most states don't allow Foster youth to get driver's licenses due to the liability, so if they have a job, a bicycle may be their only way to get there.
10 miles to the border of NM and 36 until we reach Lordsburg, our destination for today!
Trouble sleeping last night...thinking too much...what might keep foster kids awake at night...worrying whether their mom and/or dad is following their treatment plan so they can return home...who will take care of mom now that they took me away...how is brother(s)/sister(s) doing in their home...who is taking care of them...when can I go home?What if it's never... How well do you think they learn at school the next day? Who is asking them what they are worried about?
This was our route today. Gross elevation gain of 3800 in 49 miles, steepest grade of 12%, lots of wind and dicey shoulders at times. Now that we've all made it safely, we are told we've completed the riskiest day. What a great accomplishment. It's important to celebrate every success a Foster youth has, especially when meetings/staffings tend to focus on problems. CASA's can build self esteem by helping the youth and team see the successes.
Stopped for a burger in Miami...where's the beach?
Here's the next hill to climb...sometimes the next barrier in a child's life, such as emancipation from foster care without a safety net looks insurmountable, but with help and guidance they CAN do it successfully.
Pinal County CASA met us along route 60, CASA flag flying. Thanks for the support!
The first 30 miles were wonderful today, the last 30, not so much. A great ride was spoiled by an onset of a strong head wind. However, we arrived safely at our hotel in Gold Canyon. Each day when we arrive at the hotel, we find out who our roommate is for the night. Each time a foster youth moves to a new foster home, they suddenly have new "foster siblings" to get used to, along with the new home's rules. They also frequently have to change schools when they move to a new home.
We made it to Phoenix yesterday and today is another rest day. My childhood friend, Jane Morris, picked me up and we talked about what a great childhood we had in our little town. Both our mothers were strong individuals and great role models. Foster youth don't usually have that in their family, so they need role models. Have you researched CASA in your area, yet? If you can't be a CASA, consider supporting them in other ways.
We started our ride to Phoenix. The first 8 miles sailed by downhill, then we turned and the wind picked up, A LOT. Thanks to the guys at Pro Cycling recommending aero bars, I was able to deal with it a little easier. Foster youth frequently feel like they are always going into a head wind. CASA's find resources for them and their families to help them deal with barriers to success.
We arrived in historic Wickenburg, AZ. Kathy from CASA in Kingman, AZ and her husband drove two hours so they could cheer us on. CASA's go out of their way to advocate for foster youth all the time. You can do it, you know you can!
Passed through Hope today. Don't ever pass up the opportunity to instill HOPE in a foster child
Hello Arizona. One state down! Seven more to go!
We will leave California behind today. Some struggled physically and/or mechanically in California. Arizona will offer them the opportunity to leave those troubles behind and have a fresh start. Sometimes youth need to be reminded that the past does not need to define who they become. Every new day offers the opportunity for a new start on becoming who they are capable of being.
Today was a long day, 89 miles. I am tired. Tomorrow we get a day off. I bet foster youth would love a day off each week! We do have to clean and adjust our bikes, though.
This was a great day! Yes, foster kids have great days too. It's one of the most gratifying experiences to have them share those successes with you as a CASA.
68 miles, started with a bit of an uphill climb, then descending 10 miles to 750 ft above sea level 15 miles into the ride. The rest of the 53 miles were fairly flat, but we descended another 870 feet, leaving us at -118 feet (yes, that's below sea level) in the middle of the California desert!
I've arrived at tonight's destination in Jacumba, CA. It was a tough day's ride, but I stuck with it through the tough climbs. My pre-trip preparation and training helped.
A foster youth doesn't get the opportunity to prepare themselves for their journey through the foster care system. A CASA can be their rock during their journey, helping them navigate the challenges and advocates for Their best interests.
Change a life...be a CASA...or introduce CASA to someone you know would be a great CASA.
Just finished the 1st 9 miles of today's ride, mostly uphill including a short 12-13% grade. We are now at 3400 feet. The last 3 miles were on the Interstate. Cars and semi's flying by. Life flies by sometimes for foster youth. Things are happening so fast and many times they have no say in what is happening. It can be very frightening. A CASA/GAL can help them navigate through these times.
We have arrived at the first night's stop. It was an up hill climb, but not nearly as difficult as the first day a foster youth deals with on their first day of out of home placement.
Thanks to Jennifer from Voices Children for seeing me off and taking that first posted pic at the beach.
Made it through the city. Heading up now
Off we go
|Dates:||6 Mar 2015 - 6 Apr 2015|
Traveling by bicycle from San Diego, CA to St Augustine, FL raising awareness of the plight of youth in our foster care system.