I set my alarm about five minutes early this morning and set my laptop in the living room. I pressed play and the magical Harry Potter soundtrack woke the team up. I texted the groupme (our team text message) “Happy Birthday Harry” because it’s Jeff’s birthday in addition to Harry’s (He’s Harry today. I’m Ron, obviously).
We packed our bags and vans and had a delicious breakfast made by Patti and the Fallon community. All the while, everyone’s running around in British accents speaking about the Yule Ball and broomsticks.
At dedication circle, almost all of the team dedicated their rides to my mother, my family, and me. Over the past 60-something days, my team has learned of my connection to Harry Potter, first being introduced to the story by my mother. We read every book aloud, went to midnight magic parties, saw all the movies, and loved sharing Harry’s story. Now that my mother has passed, I see so many parallels between my mother and I and Harry and his mother. So as cheesy my obsession is, it’s got a lot of meaning beyond the surface of a childhood memory.
After my team dedicated their day to my mom, we picked teams, which meant time for the sorting hat! Hogwarts students and teachers were sorted into classes, Defense Against the Dark Arts being Elliot (Dumbledore), Jeff, Shannon (Madame Pomfrey), and myself. Other classes were Charms, Transfiguration, Divination, Potions, and Herbology.
As we left the Burrow (Mrs. Weasley/Patti’s house), we rode through Fallon listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack. We got onto Highway 50, which was a bit better from yesterday. To be safe, we put on our visibility cloaks (neon safety vests), cast the lumos spell on our bike lights, and rode as safely as we could. If anyone felt uncomfortable, we encouraged people to shuttle via the Knight Bus.
For a while, we rode with Mr. & Mrs. Weasley (Patti & Mike). We met a man on the side of the road who was taking his horses for a trot. Harshini was right ahead of us and asked if we all could ride the horses. He said yes and gave us turn riding them, on the side of Highway 50 nonetheless.
At each water stop, Emily asked us all trivia questions about Harry Potter while we enjoyed all the amazing snacks we got from home. Thanks to everyone’s friends and family for spoiling us with great treats. We had lunch in Carson City, consisting of sandwiches, hummus, and guacamole! Lauren (Fred Weasley… Kos is George Weasley. That should give you an idea of who they are) felt bad she was driving the van and couldn’t ride for my mom with everyone else, so she bought me an iced mocha. Right before lunch, Lauren played a prank on us, just like Fred would’ve done. At a driveway, she chalked “4K right,” and then proceeded to make us turn around and get back on the road we just turned off of. She signed it, “Haha gotcha. Love, Fred Weasley.”
We said goodbye to Patti and Mike and continued to South Lake Tahoe, climbing 2,500 feet in 10 miles. It was a giant mountain with switchback after switchback. The teams got pretty spread apart on the mountain, so I decided to climb at my own pace alone.
The climb was one of the hardest this entire trip. I kept recalling memories of my mother and Harry Potter moments. I repeated over and over Lily saying to Harry, “Be brave, be strong.” My mom fought so hard for not only herself, but for me and my family. She never gave up. And I wouldn’t give up on my mom either. I took a couple of breaks along the way, out of breath from the heat, the steep grade, and the dramatic change of altitude. After about an hour and a half of climbing, I made it to the top, welcomed by cheers of the teammates that had already made it: Draper, Jeff, Sarah, and Elliot. It was definitely an emotional moment. I reached the top sobbing, emotional with thoughts of my mother but also incredibly proud of myself for tackling that mountain by myself. This trip has tested me in so many ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Reaching the top of that mountain made me so much stronger in every single way. I can’t describe the feeling of pride and accomplishment at that summit.
Because of how steep it was down to the host, the water van drove behind us to block traffic. I got a flat about 20 feet down (number 11, I believe) so I changed it and waited for the next round of escort. We got to the Felton’s, our host, around 5 pm. Some teammates stayed elsewhere, but about 16 of us stayed at the Felton’s beautiful home. It was a gigantic, modern mansion that overlooked South Lake Tahoe. They had beautiful bathrooms, an open kitchen overlooking the lake, a movie theatre (where Draper, Kos, Lauren, and I slept), a full bar, a rock climbing wall in their house, and a hot tub on their deck with the most breathtaking views. And we have a rest day tomorrow, so we’re spending two luxurious days here.
After a lasanga dinner on their deck, we got ready, and went out to the casinos in town. Lauren and I played the penny slots for a while, resulting in her big win of $20! We got free drinks and had a great time with the team. Once we got back, we stargazed out on the deck, taking in the thousands of lights in the night sky. It was super magical to be here in South Lake Tahoe.