Friends, I'd like you to meet Rebecca Rodriguez who is originally from Texas, now lives in Seattle with her husband, and attends college in California.
Rebecca is doing her master's degree thesis in documentary filmmaking by making a trek that you might think only our pioneers would have thought of doing. A lot of them rode in wagons, sailed in paddle-wheelers or covered the long desolate miles horseback. It was an incredible journey then as well as now.
Only the demographics have changed. The pioneers traveled days upon days seeing only the occasional Indian, buffalo and prairie dog, while Rebecca traveled the back roads visiting with and interviewing folks living along the sparsely populated, proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The big difference is that Ms. Rodriguez has walked the entire distance from Port Arthur, on the middle-eastern coast of Texas, to Hinsdale, Mont., and will go on another 100 miles or so to finally end her journey at Val Marie, Sask. If you log in on your GPS, it will tell you that's a distance of nearly 1,900 miles .... just about all of it on foot.
With one exception.
"I accepted a ride to the next town down in Kansas because there came a violent rain and lightning storm," Rebecca told me. "It was only for about 15 miles."
She said she "found very few people in Texas and Oklahoma who were opposed to the pipeline, but the closer I got to the Ogallala Aquifer the more I found folks to be less friendly toward XL ... The generosity and hospitality of people all along the route has been awesome. It's something I will remember fondly the rest of my life."
[The Ogallala Aquifer is a huge puddle of water hidden beneath the soil of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, mainly, with a little bit in Wyoming and Montana. This aquifer is the life's blood for those regions.]
I had the pleasure of Rebecca's company at Chris and Carol Christensen's ranch in Hinsdale over a great supper, with pleasant and intelligent conversation filling my ears. I did, however, suspect that the young lady does not totally approve of the pipeline. Some of her comments tended to lead to protecting the environment and of the cessation of fracking.
That very night the weather turned cold, hitting 17 degrees below zero, so fearing frostbite Rebecca laid over one more night.
The next day wasn't all that balmy either (hovering around zero) but after studying the Google Earth route she lit out north on the North Hinsdale highway, turned left at the scale house and proceeded to the large sign posting at the "Y" north of Saco. A 20-mile trek.
Chris went and brought her back for the night, and the next morning he took her back to the signposts where she again trundled off, pulling her three-wheeled cart along the foot hills toward Whitewater, frosty breath streaming out behind her.
The next time you feel the need to drive the two or three blocks to school, the grocery store, the hair dresser , the Post Office or the Quick Stop, think of this young lady who walked the 1,900 miles from Texas in search of knowledge and a master's degree. The younger generation has possibilities, after all.
That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening