Host van day!
Good morning, and good morning, indeed! We awoke at 5:30 am (slept-in!) in the most comfortable beds, wrapped in blankets and pillows and comforters… quite the luxury on this trip.
We packed the vans, did our dedication circle, and enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast at the hotel before heading out. I am driving the host van today (my first van day in 23 days) with Carolina and Shannon. We are headed to Escalante, Utah, where I have been corresponding with the local high school and townspeople, including the most generous woman, Harriet. This town has been hosting us for 10 years and Harriet and her mother (Winnie, who is 96 years old), have helped organize dinner, breakfast, and lunches for us. We’re all looking forward to tonight. But first, a rough day of riding…
Our tasks today were to chalk the first 20 miles or so, acquire lunch donations, and get settled at the host. However, at the first mountain pass, Mount Boulder (Dixie National Forest), about 10 miles from Torrey, storm clouds rolled in. Shannon, Carolina, and I decided it would be best to stick near the teams before heading out to get food, just in case we needed to shuttle. So we chalked the mountain with inspirational messages and wrote each riders name in huge letters at some point along the ascent. We knew today would be difficult, so it was our job to make it as easy as possible. After that first climb, we picked up Nat, who was dehydrated, and Adam, whose bike was a bit messed up. And with clear skies, we ventured off to find food.
The only town in between Torrey and Escalante was Boulder. We stopped at two of the four buildings for food, one of which was able to donate a crate of apples. It was around 11:30 and we did not have service anywhere. We decided it would be best to drive the last 30 miles to Escalante and see if we could get food there, and then race back to the teams for lunch. We passed the Grand Staircase – Escalante, which was beautiful canyons and buttes. We rode along steep cliffs for a while, which was scary, and some steep climbs. In Escalante, we unloaded the van at the local high school and got bread and cold cuts donated. We raced back to the team, not knowing where they were because no one had service, until we found them around mile 39. Everyone filtered in pretty quickly after that.
Everyone got to the host between 4-6, where we were greeted by Steve, who is a community member that has survived colon cancer. We showered and drove over to the Escalante Outfitters Cafe, a super cool store with all sorts of outdoorsman essentials and a pavilion in the back. Harriet, her mother Winnie, and community members welcomed us. Dana and Dennis, the owners of the cafe, served us pizza, salad, and dessert. Dana is a breast cancer survivor. Everyone was so warm and kind, remembering the 4K as a great organization. Harriet said a few words, I spoke about the 4K, and then the team introduced themselves. The community responded well to us, sharing their stories, words of encouragement, and looking forward to the dedication circle in the morning.