The Utah border race was a measly 11 miles with lots of hills, more down than up. Not favorable conditions for myself. I managed to stay with Dan, Paul, and John for the first 5-6 miles, when Dan and Paul pulled away. I stayed with John for a few more before he pulled away. Finished in fourth, leaving me still scoreless in the Sierra border race tally.
Our first day in Utah was spent in a small town named Kanab. We camped in an RV park, but the real highlight of Kanab was a guy named Cowboy Ted. Cowboy Ted is an advocate of healthy living and tries to bring his message to kids, especially when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. He really supports our cause since it's somewhat similar to his. Cowboy Ted was the one who arranged for us to stay in the RV park, who wound up cooking us dinner and giving us firewood. Then we skipped over to the Best Western Hotel in town for a free breakfast, also thanks to Cowboy Ted, and we also had a free lunch arranged at a place that serves buffalo burgers, which I'd never had before (they were delicious). I'd say Cowboy Ted took good care of us.
While we were eating breakfast at the Best Western, we met a guy named Jim who was passing through and was headed through Zion National Park, where we were going that day. He was pulling an empty trailer, so he offered to follow us that day so we could load our bikes in his trailer to drive through the tunnel that leads into Zion. We thanked him graciously. Turns out he's a cancer survivor himself.
To get into Zion, we had to climb a sizable hill, then descend a LOT into the canyon. I was pretty scared on some parts of the descent, since it was really steep with lots of hairpin turns and no guard rail. We all made it down safely though. Once we got to our campsite, Jim gave us the most delicious watermelon I've ever had. We gave him a T-shirt.
It was a short ride that day, so we had half a day off in Zion, followed by a full day off the next day. I did some hiking with some teammates and Zion is GORGEOUS. Angel's Landing was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen, as well as being a really fun (and somewhat dangerous) climb. At one point, the trail walks across a saddle-like formation in the canyon, with a drop of several hundred feet only steps away on either side of you. People die up there every year, and someone sprained their ankle that day and had to be taken off with a helicopter. Once you get across, you have to scale rocks, with chains attached, otherwise it would be innavigable. Athan never quite made it to the summit, despite repeatedly telling himself that Kiera Knightly was waiting at the top. Maybe she wasn't, but he missed out all the same.
The Narrows were also cool, and I think that's about all we saw. There was a lot more I would've wanted to do if I'd had time, so I think I'm gonna have to go back someday.
On our last night in Zion, someone went to a restaurant and returned to our campsite with a pie to share with everyone. I have never seen the team move so quickly to do anything. We'd all been scattered around our large group site, most of us exhausted from a long day of hiking in the heat, and within seconds, the entire time had come out of the woodwork to surround the picnic table, each holding a spoon. The pie was gone in 30 seconds, maximum. I managed to get four or five bites. It was good.
Going out of Zion we were headed to Veyo, or so we thought. After a day of bad directions that gave us about three wrong turns (I added ten miles to the day's ride on bad directions), we wound up going to the wrong city entirely. Instead of going to the old fire station in Dameron Valley to meet our host families, we wound up finding the old fire station in Veyo (where we thought we were going), which is now the home of the local chapter of the Lions Club. The Lions Club only found us after we'd unpacked everything there, and they were gracious enough to let us leave our bikes there overnight while we drove back to Dameron Valley to find our hosts.
When we got to Dameron Valley, we discovered that they had held an entire cookout to welcome us. We were late, but hadn't missed it entirely. We enjoyed some great food and put on a presentation for a lot of people, which we really hadn't done before. Then we split up into our host families. I was amused when we were told by our Mormon hosts, "You can watch MTV if you want to." I suppose they had a legitimate struggle, deciding between the sinfulness of MTV and their desire to be good hosts. Neither Patrick nor I care for MTV anyway, so we watched Mythbusters.
I can't stress enough how much I love host families over any other arrangement, and I never cease to be blown away by the generosity of these people that take us into their homes.
from Texas 4,000