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  • Writer's pictureThomas Delker

Day 27 7/28/21

Day 27 7/28/21

Tough nights sleep with no ac and no cross ventilation. Eventually I opened the door which helped a lot although the bright lights from the gas station didn’t help.

With the weather prediction of heavy rain in the afternoon, we set an early alarm and when it went off at 5 am, we started our packing. By 6.30 we were rolling out, unfortunately before the coffee shack opened.

A fast 20 miles to a dam where we had morning snack and bowled rocks down the spillway. We finished our sad breakfast of hostess pocket pies and donettes. By 11 am we were standing at the spot that the guide showed our expected informal campsite for the night, just as the storms were building. Unfortunately, for the first time, the guide appeared to be wrong as there was no place to put up a tent, the water was a nasty cow hole, and no shade anywhere. Without water we were willing to filter, we had to push on. The next campsite was 20 miles further, for a long 50 mile day.

Sara was really worried about being able to make another 20 miles and we coaxed her along as we tried to outrace the storm. In a few miles the storm was on us and we hadn’t had lunch or even much for snacks since the dam. We were hurting, Sara was struggling mentally, and we needed some shelter. Another poor fact of our circumstances was that it was all private land on both sides of the road. With no where to set up a tent we decided the best option was to stop and and ask one of the houses would let us set up our tent in their yard while we were recombobulated and to give Sara a chance to collect herself.

All for of us walked up to the door of a very nice house with a huge yard surrounded by farm fields. As the door opened I was very encouraged by the saying on the shirt of the older woman who answered the door - “Sometimes you just need a helping hand.”

As we asked if we could set up our tent in their yard with the rain pouring down outside in the shelter of their wrap around porch, I noticed the rest of shirts message - a stick figure person standing next to another stick figure on the edge of a cliff. One of the stick figures is ‘lending a helping hand’ by pushing the other off the cliff. Uhoh…

After a little explanation they said we could set up the tent in the cowfield next door and we went back in the rain and threw up the tent. We all piled in to the one tent to collect ourselves. We got an updated forecast from our inreach device as the rain slowed and we saw that the forecast was describing what was happening - clearing for the afternoon.

Sara reluctantly agreed to head back out and push for the next closest site - 8 miles up the trail. It was 3 miles off the route, but 5 miles closer than the site in the route. We kept turning the pedals against the headwind and by 3.30 we were pulling in to the campsite on Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, tired but happy to arrive after 50.5 miles 2000 rolling ft of climbing.

The scenery was amazing! Mountains to our backs, a huge savanna layed out on both sides of us, and before us a lake teaming with birds - trumpeter swans, black ibis, ducks and a beautiful bird that someone said was called a “yellow-headed American bird” (?). As I looked around I noticed there were only 2 other occupants, one car camping, and the other in a large trailer. I also noticed that there was a lack of any pump or spigot. As I walked over to the lake, my heart sunk - the teaming water was exactly what the birds wanted - swampy, full of vegetation wetlands, but terrible for a biker in need of filtering water. Our gravity filter would plug in seconds if I tried to use it. I approached one of the occupants, the car camper and inquired if there was any potable water?

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to help you out there,” he responded. “What do you need?” We were in decent shape, but needed about a gallon to get us through the night and to the next water source. As he let me fill up our blatter, he said “why don’t you come back after your settled and done with dinner for a glass of wine?” What luck!

Dinner of pasta shells in white sauce was eaten early and quickly and we finished up with a packet of rice side since we were all so hungry After setting up camp,Crys ans I headed over to thank the couple for their generosity with their water.

We sat down and started talking and quickly the chilled wine, cheese, crackers and whiskey came out as we shared stories and got to know David and Pauline. Both kids showed up as their sixth sense for cheese was activated.

David and Pauline were on vacation from Salt lake, but she was a Parisian who came over to work and eventually own an advertising agency. David was more interested in asking questions and hearing our story so we didn’t get to learn much of his story but I’m sure it was interesting! David was likely retired but Pauline was younger by a decade or so and not quiet there yet.

Their generosity to us was immense and lifted our spirits tremendously. After such a hard day we were so lucky to have experienced the kindness of strangers! And Sara learned that just becuase things are hard in the moment, she is strong, can get through those challenges and come out the other side happy!

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