By Espoir DelMain, Junior at Great River Montessori
I have been in YEA! MN for the last year. In that time I have learned a lot about what people can do to support the issues they care about. I have also been exposed to some pretty incredible people with incredible stories to share about their own adventures. This has inspired me to tell my own story and to go out and explore the world. To experience it with my own eyes and body, and then tell more people about it!
This summer I will be embarking on a 1400 mile bike trip to experience freedom in the rawest forms. Freedom from restraints caused by age, and what people tell us we can and can’t do, freedom from the status quo, freedom from oil and gas propelled vehicles, and freedom to decide where we go and how we fast we get there. My friend Jeremy and I will be biking from Seattle to San Francisco to Lake Tahoe.
The thought of doing a major trip on our own before we were 18 once felt impossible. We can’t drive. We have always traveled long distances in cars with adults, so we figured we couldn’t travel on our own. Yet we realized we don’t have to rely on engines for our journey, only our legs and our muscles to get from Seattle to San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. The idea for our trip was born last winter and we have been planning and negotiating with parents since then. It is almost here!
This trip has also made me think a lot about how much I want to do activism wise, and much of that has been impacted by YEA! MN. Our trip doesn’t have one certain specific issue we are riding for, partially because there are just so many. We feel empowered and we want to go out into the world and see where that takes us. As a 16 and 17 year old we plan to keep our eyes open and learn as much as we can, and then bring that back to share with our peers.
If it weren’t for YEA! MN, I would feel completely lost about the big issues in the world like climate change, where these problems come from, what actions to take, and how to take them. Something incredible about YEA! MN is having this group of people from all around the cities with similar passions learning together and bringing the vast knowledge and experiences they all have together. In doing this trip I plan to bring back my own knowledge, in addition to the plethora of stories I’m sure I will have to tell.
This past weekend Jeremy and I did a “shake-down cruise.” We did 125 miles in less than 48 hours, from St. Paul to Northfield, from there to Afton, and then back home. It was an eye-opening experience and the perfect kind of thing to make me extremely excited about the real 42 day excursion from Seattle to San Fran, with a loop to Lake Tahoe and back to San Francisco. It also made me realize how different it is to be on a bike. You feel every rut, every rock, every hill, and every blast of wind. Being in a car makes you so completely removed from the world you live in and changes your interpretation of reality on the earth, distance, and travel. This is something that has most definitely changed my perspective on the world, and will much more after the full trip is complete.
We have planned the trip. We will use our savings to cover expenses, from gear, to food, to campsite fees, and a train home. But our savings from work and birthday gifts won’t cover our costs. So we are reaching out for help to those who believe that teens can learn life lessons by unplugging, taking on big challenges and experiencing the natural world.
Watch for another blog from me this summer with a recap of my trip. In the meantime you can follow us on our blog here. If you’re really interested and able we appreciate any donations possible to make our trip happen. Check out our indegogo page here.