A Welcome Push

Blow, ye winds in the morning, and blow, ye winds, hi-o, Clear away your running gear, and blow, ye winds, hi-o!

19th Century American whaling song

As Jeffrey loaded our gear this morning, Michelle awaited her granddaughter.


Michelle studied education in college. She found her niche as a care manager for people with developmental disabilities. She helps them navigate impossibly complex and arbitrary rules to get the care and benefits that are theirs, by right, under the law.

Michelle’s work is in the same vein as the work of volunteer asylum lawyers recruited and trained by Human Rights First. Asylum law is nearly impossible to navigate for someone with limited English and unfamiliar with our legal system.

Michelle’s friend married a Mexican who entered the U.S. without authorization. Michelle, sensitive and humane, was amazed to learn through her friend how expensive (in government fees and lawyer costs) and time consuming (years) it is for a good person, the spouse of a U.S. citizen, to get right with the law.

We hit the road at 8:30 AM. The road was empty, flat, smooth, dry—and, mirabile dictu, the wind was at our back!

Horizontal stripes!

The wind gave us a mighty boost. For what it’s worth, when Jeffrey saw a shadow’s edge from a cloud blown thousands of feet up, 20 mph (32 kph) wasn’t fast enough to catch it.

We sped through beautiful desolation. (Ignore the discarded can at lower center.)
Power lines across the road recede into the distance.
Why is an INL energy facility in this desert?
Maybe Atomic City has something to do with it.
Sagebrush to the horizon.
Tumbleweeds—invasive, noxious—bounced across the highway. Like the deer that bounded in front of us yesterday, they were too quick to photograph. The tumbling reminded Jeffrey of playful children . . .
. . . and of the sinister Rover from the late 1960s British science fiction TV series The Prisoner. Middle schooler Jeffrey never forgot the bouncing ball.
Our day’s destination was Blackfoot, ”Potato Capital of the World”, a launching point for tomorrow’s travel. But we arrived before noon: we biked 56 miles in just over 3 hours! To see the world’s largest baked potato and potato chip was tempting. But so was getting closer to tomorrow’s destination.
We headed for Chubbuck, through Shoshone-Bannock Nation territory.
How’s that for an immigration policy, even after millions came here uninvited?
A rail line indicates a flat road. Too bad the sun disappeared, the wind shifted, and sleet blew into Jeffrey’s face.
Lush irrigated fields.
The GPS sent us onto a road that doesn’t exist. We got to Chubbuck anyway.

While I stayed in my pannier, Jeffrey bought supplies. He met Khristi, a former firefighter.


Khristi took an HRF Ambassador card, and gave us one of hers. She founded S.C.A.R.S.: Soldiers Caring for Abandoned/Abused Rescued Souls. She rescues dogs and cats to give to traumatized military veterans who need something accepting to love and care for. Khristi walks the walk. And it’s hard. She’s allergic to cats!

Khristi has been misled about some things. She referred to ”anchor babies”, although an American citizen child can’t even try to give a parent lawful U.S. status until the child is 21. Yet she understands the issues. Khristi told a frightening tale of a friend’s brother, a university professor, kidnapped twice in Mexico, his life spared only on his captor’s whim. She can’t imagine staying in a country like that.

Like Jeffrey, like Human Rights First, Khristi recognizes that our immigration and asylum system is broken. We will have sensible repairs only when members of Congress grow up, listen to stakeholders including Human Rights First, and treat colleagues with respect, as Michelle and Khristi and Jeffrey did today.