Fortuitous Encounters

By: Jesse

June 24, 2019 – The majority of the day was spent in Boulder, Utah, at a self-proclaimed art-coffee shop, where the owners can really take advantage of their unique location of being in the middle of nowhere, which was reflected in the prices. The coffee was expensive, and the internet was reliable. John, Sarahann, and Lidia wrote to 32 different colleges to arrange meetings with interested students.

Before cycling to our camp site, we stopped to use the facilities of the last gas station in town. A gentleman named Dave took notice of us and started a conversation. Dave is very familiar with the DC environment as he lived there for various years as a presidential appointee. He was sympathetic to our cause, and he told us about local Native American tribes that would be interested in meeting with us. We exchanged contact information and said our goodbyes.

As soon as Dave left another man approached. He immediately recognized our jerseys, and we knew this to be true by his correct pronunciation of SAIS and not S-A-I-S. He is the country manager for the Peace Corps in Tanzania, and he said a lot of the Peace Corps volunteers have worked with SAIS alumni and some enroll into the school after their service. We gave him the link to our blog and he sincerely wished us the best.

June 26, 2019 – After cycling through the mountains that involved avoiding cows and spectacular views, we arrived to Hanksville, Utah. In such a small town, it didn’t take much time for John to make friends. After speaking with Jill, the proprietor of the only grocery store, we were directed to the city’s town park to sleep on the lawn of the local community center. She also encouraged us to return in the morning to restock with supplies. We cooked ourselves a quick meal and then went to Duke’s Slickrock Grill to reward ourselves with some delicious corn bread. In the morning we were awoken by horses.

We then returned to Duke’s Slickrock Grill for bottomless coffee. On the way out of town we stopped at Jill’s once again. She insisted that we pack lots of groceries and filled our bags to the brim.

At the time it seemed like we were carrying too much food, but in reality, it was hardly enough as we didn’t see a grocery store again for 3 days.

June 27, 2019 – We finished one of our most treacherous rides. We ran out of water 5 miles before our campsite – Hite, Utah. While it was very uncomfortable to run out of water, it was never a real danger as people passing by in their cars were very generous with their supply. Cycling through the desert generally evoked sympathy and awe. Arriving at our destination, we were met by a camp site that clearly saw better days. Apparently, Lake Powell was 100 feet higher just 20 years ago. From what we can understand, the changing water level is a result of new water policies and climate change. While cooking our dinner at the abandoned ranger station, we were approached by two lost travelers, the Powell family. They missed their turn for the National Bridges Monument by 40 miles. Luckily for them the gas pump was one of the few facilities that was maintained. We invited them to join us for dinner, and I do believe they considered accepting. In the end they declined to join us for dinner, but they wanted to assist us. The Powell family donated money for our fund, cold water from their car, and an invitation to join them at the beaches in Delaware, which is where they currently reside.