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This entry has been a long time coming, but throughout our travels internet has been hard to come by.  Nonetheless, here an attempt to sum up the Southwest…

San Francisco was an absolute whirlwind.  The last few moments crew had alone, we took the opportunity to explore the city – venturing from Lombard St. to Fisherman’s Wharf.  To mention a highlight or two: I saw “the bush man” (a guy who sits on a sidewalk with tree branches and shouts at passers by).  After the cyclists arrived, though, things got extremely busy.  From airport runs to training sessions, most of our days were rather filled.

Still, kickoff arrived before I knew it, and I found myself driving across the Golden Gate bridge saying goodbye to San Fran.  From the city we progressed through the Napa Valley and into Sacramento.  Day four was the first “BIG” day, better known as Kirkwood.  It entailed a 7000 foot climb over the span of 85 miles from Jackson to Markleville, CA.  The local Lions Club took incredible care of us – providing us with three meals and constant encouragement.

Before long we crossed the border into Nevada – a long, hot, desert filled week of cycling.  Just to mention our route, we jumped from Carson City, to Fallon, to Hawthorne, to Tonopah, to Beatty, to Indian Springs, and finally to Las Vegas.  Carson City was our first day off and a rather small capital city. Nonetheless, we did have the opportunity to eat at an all you can eat buffet in the Nugget Casino.  Hawthorne (population 2000) turned out to be the ammunition dump for the US military.  Bunkers covered the desert landscape, but on an interesting note – there was an ordinance museum with old bombs.  Tonopah was a particularly unusual encounter.  The town could bee seen from over 25 miles away sitting on top of a hill, which made it a pain for cyclists.  But moreover, we were lead on a mine tour by a rather eccentric and unusual woman.  At dinner too, we met a group of Lions who were both extremely proud of their town and dead wrong about its history.  It was entertaining to hear them talk, but they made claims that UPS, the World Bank, and Charles Schwab were all started in Tonopah, NV.  Another had to smoke pot to keep down food.  I even met a girl who had recently graduated from high school as a guard on her varsity football team.

The remaning days were an elongated cruise into Las Vegas.  In Las Vegas we we stayed at UNLV (within walking distance of the strip).  And while we didn’t have too much of an opportunity to “experience Vegas” we did get the chance to walk around and see the sites.  We were welcomed by the Mayor of the city, though, and recieved a proclamation declaring it Push America Day.

Shortly thereafter, we parted ways with Nevada as we headed into Bullhead City, AZ – our hottest day of the trip.  Peaking at 117 degrees, it literally felt like riding into an oven.  Following Bullhead we had our most enjoyable day of the trip thus far, a day off in Lake Havasu.  We were greeted by Bridget, who had made every possible arrangement for us.  From donated food and drinks, a live band at our friendship visit, to a houseboat party on the lake, we were treated like kings.  It was certainly a sad day when we had to part ways and head on.

The next big stop was Tempe, where we were welcomed by the Arizona State University chapter.  The school was HUGE, but incredible.  The highlight was a pool party and private movie in the university theatre, as well as, personally guided tours of the town and local hot spots.

Yesterday, we crossed the state line into our third state – New Mexico.  We spent the night in a mission just over the border in an Indian Reservation.  And tonight, we wound up in Grants where we were welcomed with open arms by a United Methodist Church.  In true style, we were greeted with a massive potluck dinner and great company.  Tomorrow, we have a short day into the Albuquerque, and luckily a day off.

Just to summarize a typical day…

Wake Up from lodging (usually a high school gym)     5:00AM

Pack, Eat, and hit the road…

Cycle approx. 80 miles with crew stops spaced 10 miles apart.  Throughout the day, the crew will “leapfrog” around cyclists to ensure everyone is accounted for.  Lunch is usually served on the road at a specified mile point – consisting of two slices of bread, two slices of meat, and a slice of cheese, then a handful of chips, and a cookie.

By mid afternoon we arrive at lodging and generally have time for a quick nap.  Most days, though, we have planned friendship visits with  special needs facilities and sponsored dinners accompanied by advocacy presentations. 

Bedtime 10:00PM – 11:00PM

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