Hello all! This post celebrates the official launch of the Western Trails website.
While my site is primarily an online gallery for my artwork, I’ll also share personal stories about my life and about things that inspire me. Topics may include sustainable living, creative ideas, other artists, travel, exploration and more.
In today’s post I’ll introduce you to a unique and amazing team called The Catalina Island Ambassadors of the Environment, or AOTE for short. I was first introduced to them by my daughter, Heather. Every year the AOTE members and organize and participate in the Sustainable Living Bike Tour, which lasts for about 3 weeks during late November.
I’m not sure what impresses me the most about AOTE members – their physical stamina, their dedication to the environmental education, or their commitment to the school children they teach. First the stamina: these 15-18 environmental leaders cycle 750 miles down the coast of California – beginning in San Francisco and ending in San Diego!
They’re on an outreach mission and they visit 14-18 schools along their route, doing grass-roots marketing and teaching children about environmental sustainability including topics such as gardening and composting, turning organic waste into edible resources, alternative transportation, human impacts on coastal ecosystems, and greening the schools in California.
For the past few years my husband and I have hosted groups of AOTE members in our home for one night. We serve a feast of yummy food to help re-fuel them as they pedal through Orange County. This year their route took them west of our home, so we dropped by their host home with some macaroni and cheese for dinner.
While weather in Southern California is usually dry and perfect, it does rain here on occasion and the day before it had been absolutely pouring. I asked one member, Lissa, how they’d managed to bike through the downpour. Lissa responded by pointing out that it wasn’t so bad since peddling creates heat!
She then shared a story about the school they’d just visited in the L.A. area, and how dedicated, informed, and energetic the students were about the environment. What was so impressive about these students is that they live in an area that ranks as the 3rd worst in the U.S. for air quality. Talk about dedication – those students are a great example for all of us.
I chatted with another AOTE member who shared a less inspiring story. While biking alongside the Pacific Ocean, she was saddened to see a large swath of storm drain runoff polluting the ocean. This often happens when it rains in Southern California as the drainage and treatment plants become overburdened. Unfortunately this pollution can cause serious infections, so surfers and swimmers are required to stay out of the water during those times.
As I sat by the flickering fireplace with a glass of wine and a delicious organic meal, I thought about these two contrasting stories, enjoying the music and friendship of this close-knit group.
The members of AOTE are courageous, yet they don’t take themselves too seriously. You always hear the soft strum of guitars, a sweet melody being sung in harmony, and laughter wherever they travel. Thanks guys, for sharing your talents, your passions, and a peaceful and inspiring evening with friends.
I always appreciate any feedback or thoughts, and I encourage you to check out the Annual Sustainable Living Bike Tour blog. ‘Til next time, cheers, and great work again, to the AOTE team!