Sunday, July 26


Utah was so beautiful! We're talking scenery of which I had seen nothing like before. Canyons and canyons, mountains and mountains, reds, yellows, purples, oranges, and a whole slew of shades of each. Frankly, gorgeous.

If you were following on Twitter, one of the most memorable days there in Utah was when I had to travel from a town called Blanding to Hanksville. It was 132 miles between the two and 74 miles west of Blanding, at the Hite Recreation Center at the North tip of Lake Powell, was the first and only gas station or service of any kind that I would find before arriving in Hanksville. What a day that was! But again, completely worth it as the scenery was breathtaking (so was the heat). I cannot wait to post pictures, its one of those you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it things. But perhaps the pictures wont even capture the beauty,

The next morning I rode to Boulder, UT, but not without first climbing Boulder Mountain. I'd have to say this was one of the hardest climbs as I thought I reached the summit what seemed like 14 times. I would climb, climb, and climb, and then see the road begin to level off, indicating the summit, and sometimes it would even begin to drop down, but it always seemed to go up again, and again, and again. And finally, when I did reach the summit, I had cows to worry about.

Utah was notorious for "Open Range" signs and cattle guards - which basically means the road goes through ranches and cattle pastures. There are no fences along the road. In fact, the road is just as much of the pasture as the pasture is the pasture. The only thing keeping the cows from getting into the small 50 person villages I traveled through were cattle guards, which are big metal bars across the street. The cows don't walk on them because the bars are spaced out too far for the cows to walk on without falling through (empty space below) and cars traveling have wide enough tires they don't affect them either. Now bikes on the other hand, that's a different story (lots of slowing down, sometimes even at the most inconvenient times, and careful crossings).
So back to the top of Boulder Mountain. I finally got to the summit but instead of just bombing the downhill, I had to dodge the occasional cow chilling in the middle of the road. And then, when I went over the last cattle guard (again, in an inconvenient place as no one likes to slow down when going downhill), I had deer to worry about. Apparently Boulder Mountain is quite the deer and elk habitat, as I saw the most deer I have ever seen in my life. Now if you're a driver, you know how deer on the side of the road have the option to turn towards the grass/woods/etc that they are already closest to, or that sometimes they can choose to cross the road completely and come in front of your car. This same scenario happened to me while on the bike.

I was cruising, getting comfortable with most of the deer hearing me in the distance and getting out of the way, when all of a sudden a buck decided to cross the road in front of me. I can still hear the hoofs scratching on the pavement, trying to grip, and I can still see the look on the deers face and the texture of its fur as it crossed but 5 feet before me, as I pressed the breaks fearing the worst. Had I hit it, I would have probably flung from the bike for who knows how long. I mean, think about how much damage a deer does to a car. Imagine a bike hitting one between 30 and 40 miles an hour. Could have been bad.

Once down the mountain I had the loveliest stay with a couple on a farm. Recovering from the near deer incident, I pulled into a gas station where I met Josh, a long haired and bearded mid 20 something man, much like myself. After a brief questions and answer session regarding my trailer, he asked me where I was staying for the night. After explaining that I wasn't sure, he invited me down to his farm. I quickly agreed and followed him a mile down the road to a beautiful red farmhouse with a green tin roof.

I met Jill, his love, Jill's sister Carly, and another friend (opps). Before dinner, Josh gave me a tour of the farm where I found they had 1/2 acre of veggies, 1 1/2 acres of oats, and another acre or so of root veggies (potatoes, squash, beets, you name it). Josh and Jill had moved onto the farm a year ago, working to help Boulder gain food independence along with other local farmers there, and were quite anxious and excited about their first year's yield. After the tour, Josh cooked up a chicken on an open flame outside and threw in some veggies that had been prepared by Jill and Carly, for a fabulous stir fry dinner of sorts in which everything except the chicken had come from the farm. We ate by candle light, sharing with one another about our life, dreams, and even theology (they hadn't been familiar with Liberation Theology and I learned a bit about Mormanism). After dinner, I retired to a hammock in the backyard.

Before falling asleep I noticed Josh and Jill had stepped outside and were approaching my sleeping quarters. I watched, not saying a word, as they passed me walking to the edge of the field where they grabbed hands and then began to run into the field. Their headlamps were lit and from my perspective it wasn't long before I could no longer see their bodies but only the shake of the light from their forehead as they got further and further across the field. The light grew dim and I assume they made it to the woods which housed a creek they drew their water from for the farm. So picturesque. Though I'm sure the two probably have their share of difficulties, whether the difficulties that come with laboring on a farm all day or the difficulties that arise in any relationship, it was nonetheless a beautiful sight to see, that at the end of the day, the two could run with such passion into the dark to be together. The only word that came to mind was pure.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of several roosters. The sun lit the valley where the farm lay, bringing those colors I mentioned at the start to life on the canyon walls. Thankful for a wonderful stay I made my breakfast and headed out, challenged to spend the day thinking about what food independence looks like and the ways in which movements like that are important to places like Boulder.


skip said...

postcard picture life. are you keeping a photo log of everyone's farm that you sleep at?

Will said...

Hanksville, Utah, ahh the memories. Had I known you were headed to Hanksville, I would have told you about the best breakfast sandwich in the world! Hanksville is the staging town for IU's CORE program because right outside of hanksville, you have the Henry Mountains (Mt Ellen) and the dirty devil (robbers roost and other outdoor hotspots etc). Both visits to Hanksville left me wanting more! That part of Utah is amazing and mornings and evenings in the desert, well you said it well enough! I'm jealous I can't be out there! See you in a week!