• Simone Lassar

Day 22: News Travels Fast and Day 23: We Travel 13.0 mph

Hello blog readers, Simone here. These blogs are brought to you from me with the weight of the Supreme Court decision today. Wishing all of you a gentle weekend. Hopefully hearing about our group's escapades over these past few days brings you joy.

Day 22: Bowling Green Learning Festival

I'll cut to the chase. We've entered stardom. We've transcended the ranks of a group biking across the US to spread STEM education, and we are now in the sphere of a group biking across the US to spread STEM education that was featured on not ONE but TWO local news stations.

Our learning festival in Bowling Green made it into the papers! Sam Ford (a fellow MIT alum! Comparative Media Studies masters to be specific), our contact who set up our Bowling Green Learning Festival, did such an excellent job getting out the word about us, that the news stations came running! It was very exciting to have our workshops filmed, get interviewed for the stories, and see our cute little faces in real life news articles. Feel free to check them out here (WBKO and WNKY)!

Also, as always, huge shoutout to Maxwell for all the very nice pictures you see in these blogs and on our social media. He is, as WBKO put it, "Documenting the trip through his love of photography."

The Learning Festival was excellent. It was in the WKU Innovation campus, which is this space that used to be a shopping mall, but it now houses and churns out start ups. As my sister Antonia once said, "the first step to being an entrapranor is learning how to spell entreuprener." (Also have you noticed how the word "As" looks a little cramped on these blogs? Just something I wanted to address. If anyone reading this has a contact at Wix, you are more than welcome to pass my message along.)

We have a post Learning Festival tradition of getting ice cream, but we were recommended a 24/7 donut shop in Bowling Green called GADS (Great American Donut Shop). So instead of ice cream, we got donuts and ice cream. Also KFC. Because when in Rome, you do like the Kentuckians do. Except according to one local, "Real Kentuckians don't eat at KFC." Despite this, we thoroughly enjoyed our chicken.

After dinner we all shared a single bed, and we simply spent the rest of the night watching YouTube videos. It was cute. Your heart would have been warmed if you saw us.

Some video highlights:

* Basketball hoop that moves to where you throw the ball (Maxwell's rec.)

* First Episode of Nathan for You (My rec.)

* Literally the saddest animated short you've ever seen (My rec. Sophia and I cried. The rest of the team is heartless.)

* Inside the life of a Swartzentruber Amish Family (Robert's rec.)

* Slapping a chicken to cook it (Sophia's rec.)

This was our first media consumption as a group. Watching movies/hanging out/doing things other than biking, eating, sleeping, or socializing is sort of a luxury. Time is always very precious for MIT students, but it has been interesting to shift what is occupying most of my time. Being busy doing physical activity feels very different that being busy from mental activities.

Day 23: Bowling Green, KY to Hartford, KY (50.72 miles, 2,526 ft elevation gain, 12.9 mph)

Flatness! Finally! We've somewhat entered the part of the United States that lacks one thing, mountains. It rocks. The mountains we climbed (mostly in Virginia) were beautiful but hard! Western Kentucky has greeted us with rolling fields (can one refer to flat fields this way? or is rolling reserved for hills?) of soybeans and corn. So much corn! I said this to one of our hosts and he said "You ain't seen NOTHING yet!" I am eagerly awaiting Kansas and its corn.

The ride today was very nice. Especially nice was our lunch spot, a community pool. The waters were so tempting. They tempted Maxwell, who went for a swim, but the rest of us opted for a literal hour long nap. This is right after we had a team meeting in which we collectively and sternly decided we need to shorten our lunch breaks. Let's call today an exception. We also had been hearing whispers that our hosts in Hartford had a pool.

When we arrived in Hartford, you will never guess what greeted us at our lovely hosts house. Any guesses? It was a pool! This was excellent. If your heart was warmed at that picture of us on the bed, well you ain't seen nothing yet. Check out these pictures of us piled onto an inflatable raft. Literally piled.

Our hosts in Hartford (Sharilyn and Tony) were wonderful. Such sweet people. Also their children and son in law came over for dinner (they live right next door), and they are hilarious. It is always fun watching other people's families interact with each other. One moment that killed me and Mariela was when Maxwell was in the middle of explaining his 3D printing workshop to Tony, and Tony asked a question that Maxwell was about to get to. Tara, their daughter, goes "Well if you'd shut up, he'd tell you." Amazing.

We were also treated to a bourbon tasting (it's kosher, we're all over 21). 95% of the worlds bourbon comes from Kentucky! Who knew! Not I! Also I did not know that apparently you can only use bourbon barrels to age bourbon once! And even more wild is some of these used barrels are sent over to Tabasco, who use them to age their hot sauce. A true Bourbon Learning Festival here.

I love how the families we have met in Kentucky live so close to each other. We are usually staying with parents/grandparents, and their kids will often just pop in and out of the house. This is really different from my own family who is scattered up and down the East Coast. I think it is very nice how close families stay here.

In the words of Alexis Nikole (a very cool urban forager, you should check her out): Happy biking, don't die.

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