Spirit of Adventure

Assistant Ride Leader’s Log. Bike Date 42.15-07-04.22:45

The past several days have all gone by in a blur of excitement and exhaustion. As we rode through Iowa and Nebraska on some of our longest days of Illini 4000, it was a strange blend of familiar flat land and unfamiliar large town spacing. We’ve completed 2 centuries and several 90 mile days since Rochester.

Riding into Denver was a really cool experience. We started seeing the Rocky Mountains that morning after coming over a ridge and kept approaching those sleeping giants. Despite some bike path confusion as we rolled into Denver, everything ran smoothly.

During our 2 rest days in Denver, I had the privilege of getting to go to Vail to see my family. My mom flew in to pick me up the night we arrived in Denver and I met up with my Aunt Stephanie and cousin Katie that night. Over the couple of days, I got to see my Uncle Bob and cousin Grant. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Womacks, some of my extended family. It was great spending those two days enjoying the beautiful weather, catching up with family, getting to know my newly met family, sleeping, and even riding bikes. I was so lucky to be able to spend that time with everyone and I really want to thank them for hosting me those couple days.

Our first ride on fresh legs was a 6,400 foot climb from Denver, over Squaw Pass, and down to Idaho Springs. The idea of climbing a mountain was quite daunting, but my group and I learned through out the day that such a continuous climb simply just required perseverance. We stopped several times for both water and great conversations with people that were also out enjoying Squaw Pass, but we made it to the top after a slow 40 miles of climbing. Yesterday seemed to capture the essence of Illini 4000: you set out to tackle something you’ve never tried before, but take the time to appreciate the people and sights around you as you do it.

Today I spent my first Fourth of July away from my family. It was really strange, but I also felt that I have a greater appreciation for the size and diversity of this country in terms of both geography and culture. My group and I hiked an additional 1,000 feet during our lunch stop in order to go play in some snow that hadn’t melted yet. Definitely a first for me to play in snow in July. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple fireworks just before going to bed, which was an added bonus to a great day.

From here, it seems like the rest of the trip is about to fly by. I intend to make a point of taking in as much as possible, because I know I’ll blink and we will be in San Francisco.

Comments (4)
  • kathi grant says:

    Dear Carrie, What a lovely and thought provoking message. Feeling bummed I didn’t come to Denver/Vail to meet you, but so happy you had a good time in Vail. A different summer experience being there in the summer. I’m sure it was beautiful with wildflowers and a big sunny sky. I know Mom was thrilled to be with you, and loved every moment. Blessings
    on your continued adventure….rather envious. i hope to maybe drive the route to also experience our big wonderful and beautiful country. I love you so much…you are always in my prayers, Nini xxoo :)

  • David Watkins says:

    Beautiful message, Carrie. You have a rare gift of insight, curiosity, observation and the ability to meld them together into a prose that melts my heart. I love you kiddo.

  • Susan Watkins says:

    My Dearest Carrie, I so enjoyed being with you in Denver and Vail. As we were driving down to Denver from Vail, I was silently overwhelmed by the idea that you were going to turn around the next morning and begin to climb those very inclines! Wow! What a feat of perseverance! You have definitely traveled up hill and down dale ;))! Your blog posts certainly are the highlight of my day!
    Since you are camping tonight in Maybell, I find myself reminiscing about the night we decided to camp out in our backyard in our new big tent. You were all able to invite a friend, so we were 7 in total. After grilling out and roasting marshmallows under the stars, we played cards, sang songs and told stories with our flashlights lit – we laughed and laughed! Bedtime soon came, so lights were out. Upon morning though, there were only 4 of us in the tent!!! You and your sisters, Chelsea and Abby, had rolled out of the tent into the house! I woke up with your friends!!!! Here’s to your first true camping experience tonight!!!
    I love you!!!!

  • Jay Fleischman says:

    Dear Carrie,

    I’m happy to hear that you’ve made such progress on your trip across the US. Right now, I’m in Western Colorado and spent a few hours hiking through the mountains. By noon I was completely exhausted and ready to nap. I couldn’t imagine riding a bike over these bad boys, let alone after having ridden so far already. I am thoroughly impressed, and can’t wait to hear more stories from your travels.


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