Sunday was our day off, so we visited the Sonoran Desert Museum outside of Tucson. I’m a sucker for animals, but the cacti at the museum were spectacular. Cacti are everywhere in the Southwest, as you can imagine, but in different concentrations in different spots – for example, it seems that saguaros mainly grow on south-facing slopes. I got my fill of them all, some shots below. Look, don’t touch.
Chris & Leslie Kehmeier, the senior Trail Care Crew, have been fun travel companions and good teachers. They’ve been training us for the past couple of weeks, and we’ll travel to New Mexico and Texas together over the next three weeks. Leslie is a wonderful photographer, and captured some great moments of our first week on the road. The pictures are on the IMBA TCC blog, check back frequently for more stories and pictures. More of Leslie’s pictures are available on her personal website, too.
From the IMBA TCC blog: TCC Week 1 in Photos.
Here are pictures of our home sweet home, the IMBAru. Subaru is kind enough to sponsor our education and advocacy work, and supplies the Crews with a brand new Outback wagon. We use every possible nook in there – all 188.2 inches long, 71.7 inches wide and 65.7 inches high!
On Friday January 22, we made our way from Boulder City, NV to Prescott, AZ for meetings and trainings with mountain bike enthusiasts and advocates. We rolled up to Prescott in time for its third worst storm ever, which meant about a foot of slushy snow, icy roads, constant flurries and high winds. We didn’t get to experience any of the weather, save for rain, until about four hours into our trip, as most of the drive took us through the Mojave Desert – a unique ecosystem in the Southwest rich with Joshua Trees, Saguaro Cacti and polished rock formations. However, we hit wintry conditions coming through the Prescott National Forest into Prescott. You can tell in these pictures, though, that the clouds were out in full force throughout the whole trip and headed to higher ground with snow. I experimented with some drive-by photo shooting out of our moving car, and was pleased with some of the resulting pictures.
We had a free morning in Boulder City Nevada. Boulder City is about 40 minutes southeast of Las Vegas, but for our free time, Steve and I headed further east to Hoover Dam. The tempting combination of dam zeal, Depression-era infrastructure and ingenuity, $30 entry fees, and arrogant industrialist propaganda just couldn’t keep us away . The infrastructure is indeed a cool sight. Between 1931 and 1935, Hoover Dam was literally built into a man-widened canyon, manipulated to winnow water into a highly controlled facility, and released carefully down the Colorado River. Before the seed for a dam was even planted, the Colorado River channel through that area was likely narrow, cold, dark and desolate. No roads, no bridges, no dams, no people, no disturbance. The friendly federal agency that manages the dam and that shall remain unnamed tried hard to convince us visitors that the dam was direly needed to save mankind against the River’s destructive seasonal floods. In fact, the Colorado River needed to hold steady against the threat of mankind. She lost, and that’s another story.
Here are some pictures, though, from our visit at the Dam and through Boulder City. In Boulder City, there’s an ordinance against gambling within city limits, so there are lots of local restaurants, parks, and antique shops and establishments that have stuck around to keep the town charming.
I’ll be posting many more pictures online, but will regularly share some of my favorites on the blog. I’ll also keep track of our restaurant and hotel visits on Yelp.
In Outside Magazine or National Geographic Traveler, do you ever read about dream jobs? Or the “job of a lifetime?” Welcome to my new world. And welcome Steve, too! The International Mountain Bicycling Organization (IMBA) recently hired us as part of a team: we’re the new IMBA Trail Care Crew. Our duties include promoting mountain biking advocacy, training local mountain bike clubs and volunteers on sustainable trail building and design both in the classroom and in the field, educating bikers on how to establish and operate a club, meeting with land managers and other decision makers to discuss and help solve trail management challenges, and in general, improving mountain biking experiences for all users across North America.
It’s the perfect time in our lives to be hitting the road for a good cause, and we couldn’t be more excited. We spent two solid weeks packing up our home, moving furniture and boxes with the help of good friends, winnowing down our personal belongings into bags and large Tupperware, and anticipating two years of riding, learning, teaching and getting to work outside. The only desks you’d find outside are those that someone very smart threw out of a 20-story building.
The Trail Care Crew (TCC) program is one of IMBA’s flagship endeavors, and is strongly supported by Subaru of America. As grassroots advocates for mountain biking, we’ll soon become experts on trailbuilding. I’m thrilled to learn the science behind a sport that puts a huge smile on my face every time I hit the dirt. We’re quickly learning that there’s more to mountain biking than shocks, spandex and protective eye wear.
I can’t wait to share our adventures and travels with our friends and family, blog followers out in the mystic, lovers and non-lovers of mountain biking, and anyone else who wants to know what it’s like to teach your passion, travel and work outside. If you would like to follow our exploits and escapades over the next two years – and I’m sure there will be plenty – put on your helmets and listen closely:
- My blog is a good spot. I anticipate that you can find some more personal perspectives on our life on the road with our personal blog and Twitter. Expect topics like: “You can really eat that?” or “Why is your Subaru’s backside so much lower than the frontside?” or even “Your next vacation will start at this trailhead.” We’re both taking a ton of pictures, so I’d like to post pictures regularly.
- Steve and I are also Twitter enthusiasts, and update frequently: @MorganLommele & @SteveLommele. I mostly use Twitter to tell the world how charming Steve is, and he just likes to tweet about the weather.
- In addition, along with Chris & Leslie, the other TCC on the road (there are two TCCs on the road at any given time), we will contribute regularly to the IMBA TCC blog – mostly on the past week’s past visit and work, and other fun news. The blogsite is: onthetrail.imbatools.com. Chris & Leslie just updated the blog with a post on how difficult it is to pack a car for two years!
- The four of us will also be updating the IMBA TCC Twitter account: @Subaru_IMBA_TCC.
That’s all for now, take care and see you on the trails.