Author: Guillermo. Wow.. that was quite something! I'm happy to say that the first Bike2Barn tour has been a success. I've been wanting to do these trips for years, and it's great to finally get one of them completed, even if only a "mini farm tour" for now. The name was Megan's first contribution to the project, and a good harbinger of, hopefully, many more contributions. My idea for these trips had always been to spend a couple of months on a motorbike riding up, down and across the good 'ol US of A, visting all those wonderful places and great people that I grew up admiring in the issues of National Geographic, to which my family subscribed to back in my native Peru. My grandpa had an incredible collection of them in his library, all bound in leather and going back to the 1920's. I would often visit and spend hours and hours browsing through them and reading about the Okefinokee Wilderness or the East Oregon Cowboys, or the farms in the Imperial valley, or whatnot.
When I came to the US in 1991, I was saddened to find that things were a lot more prosaic than the idilic rural settings that I had expected. The US I found was one of strip malls and supermarkets, car lots and stucco mansions. Ugh! But.. where is the real stuff?!! I wondered. Well, I eventually found it in the Local Food movement. Gobs and gobs of authenticity smack in the middle of a culture that's unfortunately become mostly about images, appearances, and make-believe.
These trips are my way to use LocalHarvest as the perfect excuse to go and see all these great places, eat these great foods, and meet all the great people that I knew were around here somewhere, and a great way to do some fun traveling while helping connect people with each other and helping spread the word about the individuals, groups, places, foods, and events that form the mosaic of this thriving and fast growing movement.
Megan and I got in touch through a mutual friend about a year ago. Our friend knew of both our independent plans to do a trip like this. We talked and agreed to partner in the idea. After more than one year, we finally got to it, and this short 3 day trip was a little "test run" to check out the concept. How many miles is it reasonable to cover per day? how many farms to visit? what equipment do we need? How should visits be planned? What's the best use of technology? (Answer: paper and pen are still #1) etc etc etc. there are lots of questions that needed to be answered before we could even think of pulling off a trip like this on a larger time scale. I have to say that we've been pretty good at figuring them out, and although 3 days might not seem like much, it's seemed to both of us to be enough of a sample to make informed decisions for planning the real trip.
We've turned to to be perfect travel buddies. I tend to be scattered and overenthusiastic. Megan is very organized and grounded and brings some sanity into what could otherwise degenerate into some crazy travel-a-thon, like when I arrived in Athens from Cairo with only 3 bucks and hitch-hiked all the way to Frankfurt. That took 5 days and 4 nights of going through Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria and Germany, without food or sleep, and in the middle of the winter. Kinda crazy, but not the only trip I've done like that. I tend to like those, although I know they're not a very good idea. Point being that if I was doing this alone I would probably end up doing some US-farm-trip-equivalent of the above, which is certainly not the best.
What's next? I'd like to try a week long trip, maybe up the coast to Canada before the winter closes some of the passes to safe motorcycle riding. That would be the real test of the idea, and then hopefully, if all goes well, as soon as spring of 2006 makes cross country motorcycle travel comfortable, and before the heat of the summer starts making things too hot, we should hit the road for at least one month of making new friends, learning about farming and places and foods, and just... having a good time.
It's awesome to be part of the Local Food movement and to meet so many great people doing such good work regarding so many different facets of this thing.
And this is just the beginning.
But enough meta-discussion. During the next day or two we'll be organizing our notes and writting down more stuff on our great little 3 day adventure, where we met some of the best people in California. Serious.