Ok THAT was hard. Maybe not the most climbing that I’ve done in a day, but once again I felt the lack of O2 up around 10,000 feet. Just seems to sap all the energy out of me. Or perhaps I didn’t get enough calories and water. I felt kinda “bonked” getting in this afternoon. In any case, that’s probably the highest pass I have left on my trip. But I jump ahead.
Last night we had a rousing political discussion in the campground. I met Shannon and Stacey who are geology researchers staying in the campground working in the surronding area. It seems to be a treasure trove for geologists and archeologists (who are apparently way different socially – who knew?). Stan (local chef), Jeff (self described as “sudying alchohol” – not a typo) and mystery guy joined. Before I got there they’d already grilled a bunch of steaks, rolls, potatoes. So I helped them finish them off and stuck around for the beer and discussion course. I’d just had dinner but it wasn’t much and I’m a bottomless pit for food these days.
They had lots of questions about my ride and I told them I was raising money for climate change action. So that set off a discussion of facts vs. hoaxes, Milankovitch cycles, blue vs. red and of course that’s a short distance from POTUS and Hillary etc. It was spirited and I owe it partly to the beer that the discussion sort of meandered all over the place. But what was really great about the whole discussion was that people were respectful, we talked about issues, differed in opinions, had our assumptions challenged and nobody walked away mad. The great thing about a live conversation is that people will never treat each other as awful in person as they will online, on Facebook, forums, etc. Even Hillary and the Donald ended their October debate with a handshake after debating face to face. So I left that discussion hopeful, and with a renewed interest in live discussions of political issues as an antidote for news outlets sniping at candidates and each other and driving us all further apart, isolating us beyond the isolation that our devices and online addictions already do.
The discussion also went into healthcare which frankly I’ve been too fortunate to have any real first-hand issues with the ACA or previous models. It was sobering to hear from more than one person around the table who either don’t have healthcare or have it but have no real access. E.g. Stan’s caught in the catch 22 of making too much money to get discounted coverage, but can’t actually afford what’s offered him. And Stacey’s daughter was covered by Medicare but was required to find a provider in her locality – which there wasn’t any. Big crack for her daughter to fall into. As I said, sobering to come face to face with these failings. The table was pretty split though as to what to do about it. Personally I’d be happy to pay Scandinavian tax rates if we got Scandinavian (or Canadian) level of care.
I just couldn’t seem to get out of town this morning. Slow breakfast, wet tent, etc etc. I was still on the road by 8:45 but if felt like noon. I wanted to get a jump on the pass, and avoid the heat of the day. Perhaps I could let go of this obsession with being on the road early but when I’m late out, I just feel sort of behind all day. I’m a born early riser I suppose.
There was a big fire in the area that started June 17 and burned for a few weeks. It’s known as the “Brian Head” fire, for the small town and ski resort near the fire start. It had a huge impact on Panguitch, causing lots of cancellations and lost income for local hotels, campgrounds, restaurants. Apparently the news media made things worse by protraying it as much worse in Panguitch than it really was.
I pedaled through the edge of the burn zone today and saw first-hand some of the impact.
In areas near the fire zone, it was still hard to breath completely normally. I can only imagine what firefighters have to endure in terms of inhaling smoke because weeks after this fire is out, I could still feel an impact. The charred smell permeated everything and I realized how spoiled I’ve been lately on high quality, O2 rich, pine and cedar scented air.
I’m convinced that there are a few areas of southern Utah are going to see some serious growth ounce they’re “discovered.” Sun Valley Idaho has nothing on Torrey except an overpriced airport it’s already full of rich folks. You heard it here first. Torrey, Utah.
I didn’t remember that Cedar City was so nice. It has a thriving downtown, a great coffee bar, is home to Southern Utah U., a Tony award-winning Shakespeare Festival (featuring a replica of the Globe Theatre), a contemporary arts museum and I’m sure more (I’ve just been here a few hours). I suppose it gets crazy hot here but not as bad as St. George at a lower elevation.
I spent some intensive planning time in the last couple of days and I’ve got all my stops planned out for the remaining 750 miles. I had to think it through because Nevada has some areas where there are no services for 70 or 80 miles. So I want to avoid getting stuck with a decision to do 40 miles or 110 miles some day.
My plan puts me home on Aug. 12 sometime in the afternoon, likely coming in from Sac or Davis. If anybody wants to join me for any part of that, you’re welcome to come along for the ride – I’d love the company.