(By Ben Trolio)
Hot and moist. Those two words described the weather of Fayetteville on the Fourth of July. Native Texans would hardly bat an eye at the oven worthy conditions we experienced between Fulshear and Faytetteville. On the other hand, most New Yorkers would melt into a puddle of fatigue. As a life long New Yorker or Yankee as I have sometimes been called this summer, I was proud to pass the 35 mile long test. Our crew half pedaled, half staggered over brown treacherous gravel to find our relief. The first Ride for the Future team had barely survived the trek to the land of pecans and cattle.
By nightfall on the flat, rangeland adjacent to Rudolph Drive, my fatigue had been chased away by a satisfying combination of food and hospitality. Note to future Ride for the Future Teams, nothing beats a bad mood better than gracious hosts and we found no better hosts than the three fine fellows Edwin, Harvey Hayek and Jeff Cook. Harvey had taken the liberty of getting to know us even before we arrived. Prior to our departure for Fayetteville, he had rescued Kelly and her grouchy bike from Fulshear. Her curmudgeonly bike wouldn’t make the trip regardless of willpower, tire irons and brute force. If it had not been for Harvey, our team would have been down a key member or at least delayed. Rescuing a stranded biker and providing a feast for our team was more than enough to place our host trifecta permanently in the memories of our team.
After the bike rescue and wonderful barbecue, listening to Jeff’s musings on the late pecan trees was the least I could do to help my host. Jeff explained how his pecan trees had fallen victim to an ancient murderer; the killer was “cheap coal.” The sparse trees, now stretching their branches to the blue sky once bore so many pecans that their branches sagged towards the ground in full harvest. No such tree is left standing on the property anymore. Harvey Hayek’s trees suffered the same fate. Proud but beleaguered, the pecan trees were a tall, wooden reminder of coal’s cost. The Fayetteville Power Project had deposed trees and the livelihoods of our hosts, Harvey and Jeff. I will carry the story of Fayetteville, a piece of luggage to share with people I met beyond my stay in this town. Sharing this story is the least I can do to pay it forward for the helpful folks in Fayetteville.