*mile 3,260* Days 33-41: 618 miles: August 1st-August 9th: Mancos, Colorado to Grand Canyon, Arizona to Zion National Park, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada

10 08 2011

The dynamics of the journey became more rugged as we trekked through the heat of the desert in Arizona. We had another run of flat tires and James’ back rack snapped in half, forcing him to improvise and create a rack out of sticks and duct tape. We carried an extra amount of food due to the fact that stores and restaurants were unavailable for up to 80 miles at times. Unfortunately we did not get to shower for five days in which we covered two 70 milers, an 81 miler, a 92 miler, and then an 82 miler. We then had a 91 mile excursion day to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon cutting down south and returning back north to Utah. The vast cliffs had us in awe; we felt lucky and humbled by the experience to have made it to such a phenomenal destination from good ol’ Spring Lake beach. We then decided to cut back on the mileage as we were far ahead of our projected schedule and were fortunate enough to book a hotel for 4 days on the Vegas strip for a short recovery vacation with my best friends from home.

A 52 miler, 70 miler, and a 51 miler have brought us to Las Vegas, Nevada where we are currently letting our legs rest until Saturday morning. The only route to get here was the I-15 freeway- two days ago we were in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada on the same 70 mile ride. Although it was exciting to be quickly descending in on Vegas, it was a bit reckless and frightening to ride the freeway- we had no other choice. In most areas it was legal to ride I-95 but in others it was not. The police pulled us over just outside of Vegas and kicked us off it but we were able to use the GPS to navigate a backroad route here.  The absolute highlight of the desert-trek to Vegas was not the Grand Canyon- it was Zion National Park in Utah. In Zion we slept in sleeping bags on the sand, next to a stream surrounded by a stadium of mountainous cliffs.

We spent an hour or so in silence before falling asleep gazing at the stars and the silhouette of mountains covering the stream. It was a defining spiritual moment of the trip that I can not capture or encapsulate with just words- we were transcending our lives’ petty worries and anxieties and making the astute realization that the universe is nothing short of a miracle…and we are dam lucky to be a part of it. Life will always have drama and problems but at the end of the day the infinite, mysterious sky reminds us that we are just a small part of the world. It made such sense in that moment that time is so significant since we are just passing guests existing in this world- I feel a stronger sense of responsibility to somehow leave it better than I found it after my short time here has passed. I’m not sure how, but I do know that we’re at mile 3,260 and we’re heading in the right direction. To my family and friends- I love you. Thanks for believing in us, this journey, and life itself. When the dust settles with perspective, there is clearly so much to live and fight for.



3 responses

11 08 2011
Kathleen Gill

…your letter vividly captures both the perils and wonders of this amazing journey that you have engaged ….. clearly, a mind=body=spirit experience…… both exhausting and exhilarating …… i am honored to pray and root for you daily …. to the Pacific! this world is already a better place due to the likes of you ……

12 08 2011
Emily M.

rooney! this is so inspirational! good job and good luck with the rest of the trip 🙂

12 08 2011

Sounds like you’re harnessing a little bit of Thoreau and Emerson, Joe. Very Transcendental. It is the beauty of nature that, when tapped into, provides clarity and understanding that cannot be achieved during the motions of our everyday lives. I love the new perspective you have gained and hope you can share your wisdom in the fall with me. All the best as you both continue your journey. Namaste.

And PS– I assume you haven’t heard… we are all getting new MacBooks and iPad2s to start the year, and students are each getting an iPad as well. Mac will have Word, so it shouldn’t be a hassel at all. Sick, right 🙂

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