Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bill Inman, Cowboy, Rancher, Optimist

Bill Inman rode his horse Blackie all the way across the United States to highlight all that is good about America. He left from Lebanon Oregon on June 2, 2007 and finished his trek by riding in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C.

I got to know Bill when he called me from the road and asked for assistance in how best to make it through Northern Virginia to Washington. Almost every day he would ride 20-25 miles, and his wife Brenda and friend Jonathan would travel ahead of him with their trailer and supplies. Jonathan recorded the details of this journey on

Bill and his team were running ahead of schedule and stayed for almost a week at our campground at Bull Run Regional Park. We put the Uncover America team up next to a grassy field where Blackie could eat the grass and clover, and across from our newly renovated bathhouse.

On Memorial Day Weekend Bill made his final steps of this journey. On Saturday he departed from Leesburg riding East on the W&OD Trail. He and his team camped overnight at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (something we only give permission to those that have ridden their horse at least 3,000 miles). On Sunday he rode from Vienna to Arlington on the W&OD and camped the night with special permission from Arlington Parks & Rec. Memorial Day Monday he rode into the City in the morning and joined the parade.

In my time with Bill Inman, I never heard a negative comment. He took this trip because he believed that our Country was a better place than the impression you get from watching the news. Throughout his journey he saw interesting places and met good, generous people everywhere he went. Bill also proved that whether riding your horse over 3,000 miles is for you or not, there are plenty of wonderful adventures to be had event in the 21st Century.

Bike to Work

Today I rode my bike to work. This has been something I have been thinking about for a long time. I planed out the safest route, and stored my change of clothes at work in advance. I was planning to do this on National Ride Your Bike to Work Day a couple weeks ago, but when the day came it was raining, and I am not that hard core, yet.

I didn't break any speed records traveling about 7.5 miles in 45 minutes, but it was fun. While I found a good route and will do it more frequently in the future, it was not as nice as riding on the W&OD Trail.

The W&OD Trail stretches 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville, and since it is a former rail road, the grades are never too steep. It is estimated that the W&OD sees over 2 million users per year. We know an increasing number of people over the last few years have been using this wonderful trail to commute to and from work. With the price of gas continuing to go up, and a greater understanding of the need to reduce our carbon footprint to help address the causes of global warming, I am sure more and more people are going to be biking instead of driving. Besides all the other reasons, biking is both fun and very good exercise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

NVRPA Endorses Leave No Child Inside Legislation

On May 15th, the Board of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority endorsed the Leave No Child Inside legislation sponsored by Congressman John Sarbanes (HR 3036).

This legislation would authorize funding for States to develop "environmental literacy plans" for K-12 primary education. The hope is that this would help bring more outdoor environmental education into the curriculum. On of the shortfalls of the Leave No Child Behind law is that it has driven school district to increasingly "teach the test" for the LNCB standards. One result of this has been less time for children to have environmental education and get outside the classroom.

This dynamic has been combined with a growing fear of strangers, fear of nature, and over structuring of children's "free time" to a point that children today are spending less and less time outdoor. Richard Louv outlines all of these factors in his best selling book Last Child in the Woods.

While the Leave No Child Inside legislation will not address all of these societal issues, it is a good step in the right direction, and might start the process of reengaging children with nature.