Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 17: Kayenta, AZ

We woke up this morning in Bluff, UT. Nathan & I didn't want to get up because we were freezing our butts off! And the rest of the team didn't want to get up because they had to take their tent down. I took pride in the fact that my tent was the first one up and the first one down. However, I did learn the value of a good sleeping bag (thanks for packing the summer bags, Dad!).

We left Bluff and drove to Mexican Hat to start this leg of the journey. Once again the hills were nearly impossible to overcome and we found ourselves doing ten mile stretches. The scenery made up for all of it though.

Justin and I said goodbye to our farmers tan today as we crossed into Arizona. We wore our sleeveless jerseys and forgot about the Arizona sun. :-) As Justin finished the last leg for the team, the guys and I spotted a Barbecue Truck on the side of the road. Nathan got two of the best beef ribs ever and the rest of us shared some of their famous fry bread. Yum!

We reached Kayenta, AZ late this afternoon and met with Father Jerry of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. He filled us in on the Navajo culture as he has been a Priest here for eleven years. We learned that the Navajo language was strictly an oral language until the 1950's. The Navajo are very proud and private people. Everyone that we encountered has been so friendly and kind.

As we speak, Justin is doing yoga in the living room, Nathan & Kyle are organizing the van (again!), Andi is taking a shower, I am dictating this blog to my Mom (no wi-fi here), and Father Jerry is currently making home made apple pie for us.

Tomorrow we'll be traveling to Page, AZ.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 16: Mexican Water, NM (Bluff, UT)

Today it was great to wake up in a beautiful, comfortable home. The Zents took great care of us, with one of the most amazing dinners the night before, and a glorious breakfast this morning... I'm always in the mood for breakfast pizzas and cinnamon rolls. :)

We departed and headed back to Hwy 64 with a 85 mile day in front of us. Of course there were hills, and man a lot of them! The wind wasn't too bad, though, and we were excited to see the Arizona sign as we crossed the border.

After we crossed into AZ, we headed up for a slight detour to the FOUR CORNERS- I actually stood- well, laid- in four places at once! Now I can say I've been to Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

The detour was great, and we went back to 64 to finish the rest of our mileage for the day. However, the day had it's, uh, interesting moments. Just as Nathan was coming in for the last stretch, an elderly gentleman pulled over next to us asking us for directions. Sadly, he thought we were in Sioux Falls, South Dakota! And when we told him we were in Arizona, he thought we were kidding. I think he had Alzheimer's or something... I felt bad for him, so we called in his vehicle to the P.D. just to make sure he would be okay.

The story doesn't end there. Just as we were pulling a U'ie in our Van, we got stuck in the gold ol' AZ sand. The P.D. came and pulled us out of it, thank God. Definitely good documentary footage. :)

As soon as we reached Jct 191 @ Hwy 160, we were at our destination. We hopped in the van and headed north toward Bluff, UT, for a beautiful campsite. We only paid $22 for the night... it has showers, Wi-fi, a great BBQ place in walking distance, and the most amazing view I've ever seen.

All in all, it's been one of the most scenic trips I've ever taken. If anyone thinks the US looks bland and boring, you need to travel out here to Northern Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Utah... it's a sight to see.

We're enjoying the smell of campfires, the blinding flashlights, and sound of crickets, and we hope that tomorrow night we have a computer for our blog.

Enjoying all of God's beauty in Utah,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 15: Farmington, NM

I woke up this morning in a cold, cramped motel room in Cuba. We "splurged" on a cheap motel for the night, just to keep our bikes safe, and allow for showers... oh, and wi-fi, to keep up with our blog. :)

We hesitated on getting up at 5:30 this morning, but knew that we had a 100-mile day ahead of us, and didn't want a repeat of our hot trip to Snyder. We shivered our way to the van with our belongings, and began our drive to our start point for the day.

Because we were doing a 100-mile day, we decided to run it in leap frog fashion. So, as one person was biking their 10-mile stretch toward the van, another person was taking off away from the van. Eventually, the first person would catch up to the vehicle, and the van would drive ahead to meet the second on their end, etc. etc.

Nathan took the first leg, and unfortunately caught 10 miles of straight hills. Sorry Nate. :(

As he was doing his part, I began mine. I took off and decided to play a little game called "Let's see how far I can get before the van catches up to me." Fortunately for me, I had very little hills, and was already up 15 miles when the van pulled up... I only had 5 more miles to complete my section and so I told them to catch up with me in 5. It felt good to beat my previous records. I did 15 miles in 51 minutes!!! :) Justin, as always, contributed a lot of mileage for the day. Sometimes I wonder what we'd do without him.

Looking back on the past 15 days, I have begun to see us in somewhat of a routine:

Justin- aka "Alarm Clock"; athlete/bike extraordinaire/group motivator, photographer; works on bikes, bikes a LOT, and updates the blog.

Andi- documentary director & camera-op, speed-racer (loves hills, especially going downhill), comedian; films documentary, makes a lot of messes, wanderer of the group.

Nate- head of the logistics dept., "Dad" ; talks to the Mom In Charge, keeps group together, helps organize the van, navigates and drives.

Kyle- aka "GPS"; main navigator, clean freak, Devil's Advocate (good at stimulating conversations).

Me- "Mom"; does laundry, makes sure the boys have on sunscreen (all Mom duties fall under this section), "Traveling Office", assists in filming and cleaning.

I see how all of us use our strengths to benefit the team as a whole, and even when we're struggling and arguing, we still seem to accomplish our "mission", so to speak. I am so proud of our team. We still have work to do, we're not as tight and cohesive as I would like for us to be, but hey- we just started this. We have 9 more weeks to get into the groove.

Our hosts this evening, the Zents, were AMAZING!!! Their friends came over, and- sorry Mom and Dad- I rode on the back of a motorcycle for the first time... just around the block. So fun! I think our trip has kind of been like that- fun and crazy at the same time. You don't know what to expect...

See ya'll in AZ!!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 14: Cuba, NM

We had a late start today, unfortunately somebody (not going to say any names, just that it starts with a k) left one of our wheels on the back of the trailer...we learned that wheels aren't indestructible to trailer spills. So we had to leave late because we needed to buy a skewer from an Albuquerque bicycle shop. When we arrived, after hearing what we were doing, one of the bicycle workers took the skewer off of his bike and gave it to us. Bicyclist stick together.

When we started on the road we were amazed at how beautiful the route was, me and andi both agree that man was meant to live close to the mountains. We sped down the mountains at 38 mph with the wind at our backs, we were literally going 20 mph uphill, it felt like the mountains were sucking us up into them.

I thought that riding a bike cross country would help slow down an otherwise fast trip, but I have realized that even a bike is too fast. The cliffs, the purple mountains, and the natural formations truly made this my favorite ride thus far.

When we arrived into Cuba we were filled with energy and adrenaline, excited to continue on our journey. We had a little pizza and crashed out onto the beds, and when I say crashed out onto the beds I mean it literally, Nathan happened to crash on the bed and break it. Lets hope that breaking stuff isn't a routine, especially when it comes to flying downhill (don't worry mom).

-Justin Brown

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 13: Albuquerque (Its about to get difficult)

We sat around each other reflecting over our journey thus far. One conclusion was that it has been fairly easygoing, I hope you don't begin to think that its all been sunshine and lollipops because God knows we have had our stuggles, biking everyday takes it toll, not to mention the early morning shuffles but because of our wonderful mothers we have been able to come into each town with a warm meal in our stomachs and a roof over our heads. In fact, I'm sitting on a warm bed thinking about the juicy steak and tender chicken I had for dinner, and knowing that I'm going to have a comfortable night before heading out tomorrow. Not exactly what you might call living in difficulty. But all that is about to change. Unfortunately our route from here to California is going to be much different. We no longer have the safety blanket of housing and a warm dinner every night. Hopefully this past week has prepared us enough for the challenges that lay ahead. The sleepless nights, the cans of tuna, the sandy deserts, and the rocky mountains, its about to get difficult. The difficulties we will face can be mastered, if we come together as a team. Since a week ago we have grown much closer. We look after each other, make sure we are taking vitamins, making sure each others bikes are in proper shape. We only have each other, by the time we reach California we will be a much closer team. I look forward to looking at my team with pride in knowing all we have accomplished. But right now I'm going to enjoy the comforts that I have often taken for granted, because after the rockies I'll cherish them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 12: Albuquerque, NM + REFLECTION

It's sometimes strange how so much can happen in such little time, 13 days ago I sat at the long table of a Johnny Corino's with Justin, Kyle, Alyson (Nathan was home at the time) along with some of our best friends (call it our last supper if you will) it was the night before our kickoff and we sat there eating, joking, laughing. We tried being serious at first and asking questions about our impending trip but we had few answers as none of us knew what to expect the next day, and no one was there to tell us, so why not laugh, ignorance is bliss right? Without realizing it though we left that restaurant with many of the same unanswered questions that we would be asking each other everyday for the next two weeks (and most likely for the rest of our little trip.) Questions like: Where to go? Where to eat? Where to sleep? And how well we would get each one. Now 13 days later we sit on the answers to those day-by-day questions of yesterday and today, here at our biggest stop yet Albuquerque, New Mexico. A city of about 500,000, where we now are staying with some of Nathan's extended family, we were treated to a movie (Indiana Jones of course) and dinner by some of Justin's family tonight, and we hope to spend time with them tomorrow. It was a relaxing break for us on this relatively arduous 90 mile ride through what is beginning to be the start of the Rocky Mountains. It's been pretty comfortable so far but if rumors are true things are about to get a little harder. We have a rest day tomorrow but the day after that we are back on the road asking the days questions yet again and hopefully getting the answers just as we need them. Its seemingly just another of life's microcosm's, to live day by day, hour by hour, mile by mile not knowing what lies beyond the next bend until you start turning.

-Andi Isao Nakasone

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 11: Vaughn, NM

We woke up tired entering into our 11th day of the trip. After playing a little bit of piano to wake the guys up : ) We headed off. We entered into Vaughn, NM fairly early but we truly felt the soreness in our legs heading into it. We know that the mountains are getting nearer, by the way our legs feel at the end of the day.

Vaughn is a town long ago abandoned by the railroad, thus it houses a little below 500 people, it has never truly recovered. The town intersects several major highways, so it is more or less a town built for weary some crazy college bikers. The church we are staying in is 100 years old! The fellowship room in the church was used in the Manhattan Project and was donated by the U.S. government after the project was retired. There is a lot of history in this lonely town.

For lunch we headed into the only restraunt open on Sunday, and its exterior was modeled after the old 50s diners. We enjoyed the classic food and are getting ready for a dinner with the town's Baptist Congregation.

Tomorrow should be intense because of the high winds and the long distance. But once we get to Alberquerque we have a day of rest. We need it...

-Justin Brown

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 10: Fort Sumner, NM

"As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.'"-The Little Engine That Could

This is how the begining of our journey into New Mexico started. Like the Little Engine, from our childhoods, we say "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." A little bit of optimism goes a long way.
Down in New Mexico, on the road towards Fort Sumner, we saw a lot of trains and this story came into mind. "I think I can!" I said this to myself as my legs felt tired and the road kept dragging on. The winds were horrific in New Mexico and kept blowing us off the road. Many of us got tired. Kyle decided to walk a lot of the way (he figured it was faster). Nathan kept rolling (we're all excited to see that he is getting better). Alyson has a nasty sunburn so she decided to ride while it was cooler and less sunny. Andi...well Andi is consistent and a hard worker. And I fought the wind just like everyone else, with the words from the Little Engine that Could "I think I can"

Before we left and faced the plains of New Mexico we said our goodbyes to the comfort of the DeWitt family home, their nice pool, and their Baylor Pride!

On the road we took the sleep from our eyes and did our best to keep alert...

I don't know what it is about New Mexico but they love to welcome their visitors with extravigate entrances. We had a police escort!

Its an awesome reward for our hard work today, even though we sometimes think about giving up, we will continue to remember the rolling trains (and try to forget the rolling winds), because we'll continue to say "I think I can."

-Justin Brown

"It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, 'I thought I could, I thought I could.'"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 9: Clovis, NM

Farewell Texas! We can now really say that we have crossed our first state, but that doesn't mean we will forget our Texas roots. We were talking about it and we have decided that Texas is the only state that has its own nationalism. The other states don't even know there is a competition...but that doesn't keep us from acting like there is.

The ride was an easy one except for Nathan learning how to ride with bike clips. For those unfamiliar with what bike clips are, they are shoes which hook onto the bike pedals. Nathan, finally getting the hang of biking without clips, had a fun time (sarcasm) learning a whole new way of riding and balancing with being connected to the bike. This picture sums up his experience:

He'll get the hang of it.......eventually.

We entered Clovis and got a warm welcoming by the Mayor and County Judge, as well as the DeWitt family (our hosts for the evening). We took a relaxing swim in their pool and had a delicious dinner. We had so much fun.

But now, as we look onto the days to come we try not to think about the huge undertaking we still have left to accomplish. It's all about taking one day at at a time, one road to cross, one hill to climb. I mean if we think about it, our journey has just begun. We've proven that we have the drive to cross the Texas heat and the west Texas winds, but do we have the drive to cross the dry deserts of Nevada, the steep hills of California, or the wild lands of the North- Western Territories? All I have to say is:

One state down 8 more to go.........

Oh and one more country....Can't wait!

-Justin Brown

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 8: Lubbock (Rest Day)

So we made a funny mistake today...well not really funny when it happened but something you can tell stories about later. I was called yesterday night to do an interview with NBC however they forgot to mention something very was LIVE! So I'm under the impression that its just going to be a simple cut and shoot interview little did I know that it was very important to be there on time! So they told us to be at the studio at 5pm and I'm all like "well lets go get our bikes and get freshened up, we can be a little late..." (its 4:45). We arrive at our guest home and Carolyn (our host and amazing chef) comes storming from her room saying, "Aren't you supposed to be at the studio, they just did a advertisement for all of you on the 5 o'clock news." We all were like, "Its alright Carolyn they just want to film us and they'll edit for their later show." Carolyn just stared blankly at us, " I think its supposed to be LIVE."

We just stared at each other and were like, "Oh....(explicit)." We stormed out of the house with me, alyson, and andi dragging our Alive Campaign shirts on. We sped, if you can call a 15 passenger van speeding and we arrived at the news station 5 min before we were supposed to be on air. We talked with the news anchor briefly and were mic'ed for our first LIVE interview. Safely to say it went well but we learned another new lesson, be on time!

Right now Andi is reading "The Old Man and the Sea" and I'm reading "The City of Ember", we are finally able to read and relax before our journey out of Texas. Alyson is looking at pictures and Kyle is buying Benedral for his cat allergies (for some reason we've been staying with people that have lots of cats...poor Kyle). Nathan is surfing the net and getting down to programing the GPS.

We got to see Chronicles of Narnia yesterday, the movie wasn't as good as we hoped but still gave us a few laughs. However I did get to hear Switchfoot's new song and off the Chronicles of Narnia's soundtrack "This is Home"...and I have to say that being with friends and having a family that is a lot bigger, a lot larger, crossing all boundaries and creeds, can let you be at home just about anywhere.

-Justin Brown

News from Yesterday

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 7: Lubbock

Thankfully this was another easy ride. The wind was at our backs and the day was cool. Are legs felt stronger then ever, so we blazed by the cotton and sulfur smelling oil fields of West Texas. Although the gas smell stinged our nostrils, we did get to see a beautiful sunrise.

When you fly by moments like that, you can't help but feel humbled by the beauty of what is real. The things that we take for granted. It was my favorite part of the day.

When we entered into Lubbock, our final rest stop in Texas, we can't help but feel like we are leaving home. We love Texas. We have met the greatest people. We just don't know if any of the other states can top Texas hospitality. We'll see...

After our moment of silence : ) We did a couple of interviews and even got to watch an actual news broadcast take place in the station. Alyson and Andi (film students) thought it was great, even all the other non-film students (me, Nathan, and Kyle) had fun.

Hopefully tonight we'll finally get to rest. Oh Texas how can we ever leave you!

-A proud Texan

Justin Brown

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 6: Post, TX

We learned our lesson from yesterday. We woke up at the crack of dawn and ready to go. The ride was smooth, no flat tires, no problems.

We entered into Post and went straight to Holly's Drive-In for a small town favorite. They had amazing burgers and fries (i know not the healthiest food) but it was delicious. Then we headed into town because we had time to kill and met with a nice lady at Plum Crazy who purchased some of our t-shirts and gave us some words of encouragement.

We then headed into another little shop where we were giving some cool Post, TX t-shirts for our trip. We really don't know what to say when we meet such giving people. Since this trip began we have been able to take our time with small towns that other people normally pass-by, but I have realized the great things these small towns to offer. The wonderful shops and the wonderful people. We are so humbled by how much people care.

A funny coincidence is that we have made some rivals with people we don't even know. Every place we stay, also seems to be a place that 3 other guys have passed through. What they are doing is running cross-country (a little too crazy for us). Every time we have stopped in the past 2 towns they ask us about these guys, we don't know them but some how we feel a close connection with them. They are on the same kind of journey of self discovery and adventure. They are about to finish their trip on monday and we a rooting them on. Seeing what they have done has given us a push to do more. Knowing that they are out there running, makes biking a whole lot easier! We wish those guys the best.

Nation Run