Hello everybody! Yes, a little has happened since Taos. Wait, nevermind, a lot has happened. I have more than 20 pictures to show you that tell quite a cool story. Let’s check em out.
After Taos, we went to Alamosa, CO. One of our hosts from Taos, named Bob, was such a cool guy. He was the manager of the tennis club we stayed at, and in the morning, he joined us for the first 15 or so miles. With him, we were cruising! He pushed us to 24 or 25 mph, but it felt good to be going race pace. Our first stop with him was a gorge right outside Taos. It was a canyon that had the Rio Grande in the center. Here is a pic:
It was unbelievable seeing that big of a slip in the land. Not too long later, we stopped by a community completely powered by solar power. They only pay $100 a year for utilities! Here the sign outside their community:
Here is a picture of us with Bob!
He is wearing red. Such a nice guy and friendly with everyone. We got to Alamosa, and after we quickly ate, we went to Great Sand Dunes National Park, just outside Alamosa:
It felt like we weren’t even in the USA! The views were spectacular.
The next day, we made our way to Pagosa Springs, CO. This was one of the most hectic days on the trip. I was actually in the food van for this stretch, which meant I had to help secure some food donations for lunch (which we succeeded in. Burritos for days). This day involved going through the Rocky Mountains, up to an elevation of 11,600 feet. It was through Wolf Creek Pass, and here are some pictures:
As you can tell, it felt like we were in paradise, until about 2 hours after these pictures were taken. A torrential hail storm hit the mountain, forcing riders to find shelter, stay in random cars, or just get off the road. I helped rescue some riders and shuttle them back to the host, considering the temperature dropped to just below 40 degrees, and many were only at the top of the mountain, with about 20 miles left.
The storm did subside, and we warmed up by going to some hot springs! Natural pools that ranged from about 96 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit! It was really cool sitting in there, and one random person we met even made a $200 donation to our team! Things like that really make me appreciate the kind of people we stumble into along the way. Though the hot springs were cool and great for our skin, the sulfur content in them made all our swimsuits and towels smell like rotten eggs! Oh well, you win some you lose some.
The next day, we made our way to Durango, CO. I dedicated my day to a friend of friend from St. Olaf who is struggling with cancer now. Although I don’t know her, she will be going back into treatment at the end of July. So, I wrote her name on my calves!
This was a cool little town of about $10,000 people. We got there somewhat early, even after numerous flat tires by one person in our group. We explored downtown and even had some great Coldstone at night. Here are some pictures from that day:
The next day, we made our way back into New Mexico. We were finally out of the mountains! Though they were tough, they were absolutely beautiful and I loved Colorado. We stayed at a Catholic Church in a little town called Shiprock in New Mexico. We had some great grilled food, air mattresses, and got to explore the famous Shiprock (shown below)!
We also saw the famous Four Corners National Park that day! This meant that we went to the point where the borders of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and the New Mexico meet at one corner. Here is me awkwardly in all four states:
We had an amazing breakfast the next morning, then made our way to Chinle, Arizona! This was our first real entry into the Navajo Nation of Arizona. It was definitely different, since they were much poorer, independent areas. Places much of the team was not used to. However, the scenery we have been seeing was absolutely beautiful! This specific day was personally the most difficult. We climbed Buffalo Pass, which crossed a mountain that involved a climb of more than 2000 feet in 8 miles, with some category 1 hills. Here are some pictures from the ride:
The first pictures is actually the mountain before we crossed it, and the last picture is me on top of it! Most of the middle pictures are some of the rock formations we saw going down the hill. We had to make some stops, and the slope was a 14% grade! Essentially, if we didn’t press our brakes, we could easily have hit 60 mph. However, with the switchback turns going down the mountain, this definitely would not have been a good idea!
We finally arrived in Chinle that evening, and immediately went to a Burger King to get smoothies. It was more than a 12 hour day for us, and we were exhausted. We rested up, and made our way to Kayenta, AZ, the next day. This was also on the Navajo Indian Reservation, and we had homestays that day. This meant we stayed with individuals willing to host small groups of us for the night.
The left pictures are the rooms we stayed in, and the right picture is us with our wonderful host, who cooked us a great breakfast and even gave us cherry slushies and a roast beef and rice dish at around 10:30 PM that night! That same evening, we also visited Monument Valley National Park, which was absolutely captivating. Below is a picture:
The next day, we made our way to Page, AZ, for our rest day (another time change!). It was a 100 mile day, and though the first 20 miles were windy, and even a bit chilly, we ended the day with 102 degree heat and hills like no other. The desert is crazy! However, we made it there, and it was really beautiful. It was the location of Lake Powell, a beautiful, man made lake that was formed by redirection of water from the Colorado River by a dam. It gives more than 5 million people electricity from the surrounding areas. Here are some pictures. The first is from our route that day, and the second is from Lake Powell itself:
Also part of Lake Powell is a section called Horseshoe Bend, which is an amazing rock formation in the water. We visited that the day we got there:
The next day, we went to the Grand Canyon! We wanted to see it at sunrise, so we got up at 3:00 AM, left by 3:30, and got there by around 5:30 or 6:00 AM. It was absolutely beautiful. I cannot even describe the size of the canyon, it was so big! Here are some pictures:
After this wonderful rest day, we made our way to Tuba City, AZ, which actually took place yesterday . This was also part of the Navajo Indian Reservation. The ride that day involved almost all uphill climbs for the first part of the day, but pretty much downhill for the rest of the day. Once we arrived, we stayed at a boarding school, which meant getting our own dorm rooms and beds! I was really the only one who stayed in a dorm room, since they were quite hot. I thought they would cool up. Ya, they didn’t. Oh well. I had a nice, comfy bed, and I also woke up 15 minutes before everyone else and did an ab workout (though I got about 4.5 hours of sleep).
This morning, we set out to Flagstaff, AZ. We officially left the Indian Reservation, and the route went back into a mountain range! Here is a picture before entering it:
Flagstaff is actually at an elevation of 7000 feet, meaning we had a lot of climbing to do! There was also a bad headwind today, leaving our pace less than 12 mph for most of the day, even though I was with strong riders. Yet, we finally made it into Flagstaff, which is actually a beautiful, green town (which is something you don’t really see in dry, red rock Arizona)! We are staying in a nice YMCA tonight, and I am typing on a desk in a “Teen Zone.” We have less than 2 weeks left on this trip, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I will try to blog soon, so stay posted. Thanks everybody!