Day 7 - To Boulder We Go!
August 7th, 2018
Our morning kicked off bright and early. We’ve been trying to maintain healthy diets while on the road, but Athina found a famous donut shop that our traveling hearts just couldn’t resist. Thus, an apple fritter and glazed donut accompanied our departure. It was 5+ hours to Boulder. This was a particularly special day, because it would mark the day that my mother Teri would join our journey for a week. Neither her nor Athina had ever been to Boulder. I new they’d love it, and surely they did. Boulder is a cute town with gorgeous mountains surrounding. We convened at a darling AirBNB off the famous Pearl Street. We would call this home for the next 3 nights. We didn’t reunite in Boulder with more than an hour to spare before having getting to an event we had scheduled. A book reading & signing! This would become my first “book signing” ever, for Beyond Debate. The book signing aspect was straight forward of course, but the “book reading” was a bit nerve wracking. Fortunately, it all went very well. I read select chapters of Beyond Debate to a small group, one of whom bought a book, and even asked for flyers to pass to friends! The night concluded with a relaxed dinner on Pearl Street. Cheers to reuniting with family!
Day 6 - Provo, Utah
August 6, 2018
We were reluctant to leave our comfortable campsite under a shady tree. But Provo was calling! We had an exciting event scheduled. As we made our way 4 hours north to Provo, we took the opportunity to administer our climate survey along the say. Without the luxury of time to dive into neighboring towns, we surveyed a number of gas station and convenient store employees. We’re pooling this info together, and look forward to sharing our findings with you soon! As we edged closer to Provo, we seemed to be entering a wall of reduced visibility. From a distance I told Athina, “we’re about to enter a rain storm!” As we got closer, it became apparent that rain was not ahead. Fog? In Utah? The haze that we ultimately entered ended up accompanying us all the way to town. We took notice of what seemed to be gorgeous mountains all around, but we couldn't fully appreciate them in the strange haze. I have no doubt that Provo is gorgeous on a clear day. After freshening up at the scenic home of one of our lovely event organizers, we made our way to an Indian restaurant, where our event hosts treated us to a lovely dinner. At dinner, we learned that the town haze was smoke from the wildfires burning in California. I was shocked! This far away!? As it turns out, summertime haze in Provo is somewhat common as meteorological conditions favor the accumulation of air pollution. But things are getting worse, particularly as fires become more frequent. Our Provo event took place at the public library. It was a beautiful building. We had probably 25 or 30 attendees who came to hear us speak about climate change. We had a lively Q/A to follow. As the event concluded, Athina and I packed ourselves back into the car for another 3 hours of night driving, pulling into our roadside AirBNB around 1AM. Going "On the Road for Climate Action" has no doubt come with a tight and tiring schedule, but it's work worth doing!
Day 5 - Bryce Canyon National Park
August 5, 2018
Our visit to Bryce Canyon started of with a solid morning of work. Athina and I hunkered down at the campsite cafe where we had access to wi-fi in order to catch up on emails, which have really been stacking up ever since we hit the road! By 1PM we entered the park, hoping to get a hike in and perhaps interview some rangers about local climate change impacts. Unfortunately the resident climate expert was not in the building. Thus, we couldn't get the lively video interview we had hoped for. We're learning quickly that we've got to contact the National Parks ahead of time if we want to catch a willing ranger for an interview. Fortunately, we've got that arranged for Rocky Mountain National Park coming this week! In terms of Bryce, though we didn't get any formal ranger interviews on video, we nonetheless had some great discussion. We learned that the "hoodoo" rock formations, which Bryce is known for, may be coming under threat with warming winters. To learn more, check out the video to the right! After such discussion with park employees, Athina and I took a short hike down into the canyon area. Bryce is absolutely gorgeous. We wish we could have spent the whole day there. However, duty called! By 5PM we were back at camp on our laptops, where we would remain until nearly midnight; Athina preparing Sunday's newsletter, and myself replying to emails and trying to keep up on our daily blogs. Life on the road for climate action has its fun, but it also comes with a great deal of work. But it's work well worth it! -Shahir
Day 4 - Zion National Park
August 4, 2018
Given the long road ahead, Day 4 of our journey was meant to give us a little time to collect ourselves, while simultaneously getting a closer look at regional climate impacts. What better way to do this than to pay a visit to Zion National Park?! We woke up from a cozy AirBNB, and headed into the park. Upon arriving, we asked park rangers how the changing climate has impacted the park. We got mixed responses. It was clear that Zion has a host of issues, and they're not all climate related. We were told that last year 4.2 million people visited the park, which is having noticeable impacts to the park. Some of the wildlife has also become afflicted by a deadly virus. Finally getting to climate, we learned that Zion did not get rain at all last year! And then, a few weeks ago a storm came through that dumped 3 years’ worth of rain in just a single hour! The result was major erosion and flooding. Because the drought killed many plants, which usually bind the soil with their roots, landslides and rock falls were more frequent during the downpour. Consequently, 200 feet of the iconic Angels Landing trail was washed away, and the trail was sadly closed during our visit. After climate discussions with rangers, we found time to take a hike up to the top of Observation point. It was gorgeous, although we got caught in a flash thunder and lightning storm, which caused us to seek shelter under a rock, as the storm passed over head! In less than 20 minutes, we were once again graced by warm sunshine and blue skies. Thanks goodness! By sunset we were en route to our next destination...Tropic, Utah!
Day 3 - Cedar City, UT
August 3, 2018
Howdy from our Airbnb in Hurricane, Utah (don't worry there are no storms in sight!). This morning we woke up early from our lovely host's home in Las Vegas, picked up the parachute art from the Las Vegas Indian Center, which they hand painted, and set our sights north to Cedar City, Utah. We delivered the intertribal parachute to the Cedar City Paiute Indian Tribe, where a group of youths painted a designated section. It came out beautifully, and the kids were so cute with their creative design ideas! While in Cedar City, we popped into a coffee shop to send off a few emails. The coffee shop is called The Grind, and it is adorable! Upon discovering that it was attached to a local bookstore, Shahir entered the bookstore, and a few minutes later the owner bought three copies of Beyond Debate! How amazing! #proudcopilot over here! After picking up the parachute art, we headed to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was honestly breathtaking. Please go here if you have the chance. Upon arriving, we started chatting with the rangers about climate change. Indeed, the area is being impacted. The bark beetle is damaging spruce trees by the thousands, and local animals are vacating due to elevated heat. In terms of spruce trees, we witnessed this firsthand (see video to the right). Lastly, we got up close and personal with Bristlecone Pine trees, the longest living organisms on Earth! More on our visit to Cedars Breaks National Monument coming soon. For now, good night from Hurricane, Utah!
Day 2 - Viva Las Vegas!
August 2, 2018
Las Vegas was a wonderful place to kick off "On the Road for Climate Action." The first day offered us a much needed break from the chaos that has become our lives over the last several months; from planning this tour, finishing my book, and tying up lose ends with work and Athina's school. The action on day 2, however, would pick right up! I was thrilled to be invited by NPR host Heidi Kyser to interview for a morning broadcast with the radio station. I was there promptly at 8:45 AM. What a beautiful interior of the station (see right). This was certainly the most "official" studio I had interviewed at to date. Heidi and I had a brief, but important, conversation about what climate change means for Nevada. After the show, Athina and I made it back to the hotel just in time to pack our bags and and take a phone meeting with the CEO of an animal-rescue organization in Houston, TX, that has much to say about climate change, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It looks like we'll be paying a visit their on our return journey! The evening of Day 2 in Las Vegas marked our very first climate talk. Our Citizens' Climate Lobby event organizers (Laura and Joanne) booked us at a gorgeous venue at the Springs Preserve, complete with booths hosted by a variety of organizations. There were nearly 40 people in attendance, several of whom contributed to a lively Q/A period following the talk. I was excited that a number of people bought Beyond Debate. Such sales will be key in aiding us along our climate journey as we move east. Thanks to everyone who has donated thus far, or purchased a book. Your support means everything to Athina and I. And thank you Joanne for graciously hosting us at your home for night 2 to in Las Vegas. Now, off to Utah! -Shahir
August 1, 2018
The day has arrived—departure day! Just a year ago, the seed was planted for what would grow into this journey that we're now embarking on. After Shahir came up with a vision, and decided to follow his passion, On The Road for Climate Action was born. Now after months of planning we're on the road, and will be visiting 36 states! It has been a busy few months, between trip organizing, Shahir's endless hours of writing Beyond Debate (now printed and packed in the car), finishing my Masters degree, and moving out of our apartment just two weeks ago. Today really snuck up on us. We spent the morning packing the car and trying to determine which items were essential. Cody (Shahir's 100 lb doberman) didn't make the cut! We needed to depart by 11 AM, as our first commitment was at 3 PM in Las Vegas, a 4 hour drive from home base. Shahir's mom Teri and brother Jalal helped us get all of our ducks in a row, and we even finished packing with enough time to sit down for a farewell breakfast. Saying goodbye is always tough, but the support that we have received from both of them is encouraging. So here we go, dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to climate advocacy over these next few months. Through this blog, we hope to take you with us on our journey ! Now, the road is calling, and we must go! -Athina
Dr. Shahir Masri
Scientist, Author, Public Speaker
On the Road for Climate Action!