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Little Mountain Park Trails, Mt Vernon – Mountain Biking – October 21, 2012

If you drive on 1-5 near Mt Vernon, Washington, you might pass the “little mountain” on the east side of the highway, without even knowing what delightful trails are up there.

Our first visit to Little Mountain was in September 2009.  At the time, we were still new to mountain biking.  We went to LM just once, to participate in a work party for trail building along the Sidewinder trail.  It was one of those perfect late summer days, when Mt Baker was especially magnificent.  I included some pictures from that day in this set of photos.

Click this link to check out the– still ongoing!– work of Jim “JT” Taylor and the Mount Vernon Trail Builders.  They’ve been busting their butts for years to create such a great community asset.  (Thank you!)  I admit that I feel a little bit guilty that we only helped out the one time.  We’re still on the e-mail notification list, 3 years later.

Today we finally went back.  Our ride took just 2 hours to go up and down all of the “Multi Use” trails.  If you live in Mt Vernon, these trails are an ideal location for your after-work workout.  Who needs those cardio machines at the gym?  For bikes, the singletrack trail surface is generally smooth to somewhat rocky and not too rooty…Very nice!  Today the trail offered an additional, “slickish” layer of multi-colored fall leaves.

We parked at the lot between N. Pamela Street and the Silver Arrow Bowmen Archery Range.  I felt extremely unsettled there, as I empathized with the animals who fall victim to the arrow.  I couldn’t help but think of a certain image that I have in my computer– of a deer shot with an arrow.  The arrow entered at the center of her nose and exited at the back of her right jawbone.  I shudder as I imagine the suffering endured by that animal.  She is not alone.

And– as this vegan’s luck would have it, right from our parked car, I could also see the green building for Andal’s Custom Meats.  Those are the folks who were hired to slaughter Barbara’s Cows.  Ugh.  (Breathe, Elisa.)

Let’s get back on a happy note!  At the end of the ride, we stopped in for wine tasting at Carpenter Creek Winery.  It’s located right across from where we parked.  I recommend the 2011 Signature Series Riesling and the 2009 Viognier.

Now for the pictures.  Try to find…

  • Camano Island, Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island and the San Juan Islands
  • the Skagit River and Skagit Valley
  • the (distant) Olympic Mountains
  • the City of Mt Vernon
  • Mt Baker
  • Blanchard and Galbraith Mountains

[Click on an image to enlarge and view in a photo gallery]

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today I was rollerblading on a paved trail near my house.  The side of the path had been freshly mowed.  There, I saw about 5 dead baby possums who must have been killed by the mower.  There was no blood, and the bodies were intact.  I think they were crushed.

Seeing them made me think about all the animals killed during the production of food crops:  field mice, moles, rabbits and others, who unknowingly get in the way of the farm machinery.

Some people like to use the fact that “animals die in the harvesting of plants” as an argument to discredit a vegan’s decision to leave animals off her plate.  I respond:  Should I go back to eating animals because I can’t help the small mammals who meet their untimely deaths out in the farm fields?

If I can’t help it that a bird got killed by my car while driving, does it mean that I should go back to eating chickens?  No.  I don’t want to kill either bird:  not a sparrow by accident or a chicken on purpose.  I want to cause as little harm as humanly possible.

Animals who are killed for food don’t just magically grow big and plump without eating.  Animals who are intentionally killed are fed plants first.  The two main “animal feed” crops in animal agriculture are corn and soybeans.  A high percentage are genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Animals eat plants and then people eat the animals.  More animal death is caused by eating animals than by simply eating plants directly.  Eat organic, non-GMO plants whenever possible.

What about “grass-fed” animals, you ask?  The fact is, grass-fed livestock are rarely 100% grass-fed.  Pastured livestock are raised on grassy pastures, but their diet is supplemented with grains, especially in colder climates.  Pastured cows, bison, pigs, turkeys and chickens are typically at least partially grain-fed even when they’re called “free-range,” “organic,” “heirloom,” and “heritage.”

In addition, numerous animals– wild horses, badgers, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, wolves, opossum, raccoons, skunks, beavers, nutrias, porcupines, prairie dogs, black birds, cattle egrets, and starlings– are killed for the purpose of “protecting” ranchers’ interests (i.e. their livestock, their livelihood.)

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) has been tasked to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources.”  (In this case, “resources” means cattle.  The cattle are physically protected up until the time they are slaughtered.)  Wildlife Services (WS) uses the following methods of “resolution”:  poisoning, trapping, snaring, denning (denning = pouring kerosene into a den, setting fire to it, and burning young animals alive), shooting, and aerial gunning.

Back to my point.

Yes, even in the “best case scenario,” a certain percentage of animals will be killed through not so pain-free methods:  Animals are hit by cars, bugs get squashed, critters are unfortunate victims of combine harvesters and lawnmowers, and animals are routinely consumed by other animals.

I highly doubt that people routinely go into grocery stores thinking– while picking up pork chops– “Well I couldn’t save that possum from being killed by the mower, so I might as well be the reason this pig had to die.”

That’s not how it works.  People typically select animal products because 1) animal products taste good, 2) people are accustomed to buying animal products, and 3) people believe that animal products are essential to a healthy diet.

I think that some people who use the “animals die in the harvesting of plants” line of reasoning are simply looking for an reason to continue consuming animals.

Bottom line:  it all comes down to daily choices.  We can either choose to consume animals that we know for a fact were killed, or we can try our best to avoid unnecessary death.

When shopping for food, we can all choose fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs and spices.  We can strive to choose whole, organic, non-GMO foods.  We can avoid animal products– including, but not limited to– chickens, pigs, cows, fishes, eggs, milk and cheese.

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

“Every time you purchase animal products you pay assassins to murder sentient beings for you.”

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"My purpose is not to offend you, it is to provoke you to think." Unknown

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