Keep it Hot (Day Twenty-Seven)
Act One was an exercise of overcoming challenge; there wasn’t a day that went by that didn’t bring with it some sort of opportunity to overcome. From altitude-driven lightheadedness to climbing into the steepest of heights unknown, guttural thunderstorms and kicking winds, these were twenty-five days that will never be forgotten. It was surreal seeing it come to an end. With its closure, we fell upon a rest day, and that day happened to be the 4th of July.
It was quite something, really, to feel the full weight of the summer’s holiday while knowing that we were doing what we’re doing. Forget about the fact that there had been a shift change, but due to the rest day and the holiday, we were surrounded by family and friends. After some media engagements, we went down to the ‘Rollin’ in the Riverwalk’ music festival. We’d had a booth there, and took full advantage of opportunities to promote our cause. It seemed like the entire surrounding county came out to the event, and let’s just say that the people-watching was excellent. Lots of laughter and good-natured fun.
By far the most memorable thing for me was our select invitation to the Center for American Values, which is a museum-like tribute tastefully-designed to honor America’s Medal of Honor recipients. The long walls were framed with the photos of those that have given us the title, ‘Home of the Brave’. It was pretty humbling, all in all. The Center was closed for a private event, but due to our cause and that which surrounds it, we were granted hospitality and access to its legend and air-conditioned walls. Each photo told a story in its character, and all were accompanied by quotes by an honoree. It’s amazing to think about how our veterans have provided us – all of us – with opportunities. I’ll never forget it. If you ever find yourself in Pueblo, be sure to check it out.
Day Twenty-Seven started with a new support crew (Ron and Karen Mincio, AKA Mama and Papa Bear) and a few guest riders. The Ridettes (Dorothy and Kari) will be with us for a few days, and I was very proud to have Justin ‘Dusty-D’ Smith with us just for the morning. When it comes to friendship and loyalty, I couldn’t be more grateful for Justin. He’s the same person with whom I became fast friends 22 years ago. Ed Hager gave us an admonition, just before saying a prayer for us and sending us on our way. The admonition was great food for thought throughout the day. I’ll paraphrase, here, “what you do doesn’t create who you are. People who try to define themselves by what they do will have them spinning in circles. It’s actually who you are that defines what you do, and that we should remember it. I found it to be very profound and a great message.
We pedaled out and said goodbye to the mountains. We gained twenty degrees as we dropped down in the wide-open plains. The only siblings to these stretches of vastness were other stretches of vastness. They went on forever, only varying by whether they held carefully-nurtured corn crops or sun-scorched grass on a barren landscape. There were no rocky fortresses guarding these prairies, but only an occasional cotton tree or ranch house. If you’d yelled at your lungs’ tops, there would be no echo. Somewhere, though, a sweaty cow would hear it, though she would be too heat-beat and lonely to reply.
Did I mention it was hot? Lowest temp we saw was at 10am, and it was 96 then. We saw 106 at times, and I’m not sure a gust of wind is considered a breeze if it’s hotter than the sauna-like still air that’s the makeup of reality in these here parts.
Our two stops unrelated to the scheduled SAG stops were A) borrow some cold water from sprinklers to cool down and B) slam down a Snow-Cone. Beating the heat will be a full-time job for the next 40 days. Glad that we have some experience in overcoming obstacles.
Please don’t be surprised to see a theme of introspection in Act II.
For Families of the Fallen…To The Limit,
Care creates community,