Day 7: Morning in Vernal, Night in Colorado

Another early morning to make sure I made it to the temple for the first session of the day. Our campsite was only two miles from the temple so I put on my shirt and tie before leaving the campground.

The Vernal Temple is a remodel of Vernal’s old tabernacle. Walking around inside I was overwhelmed with a very 1990’s church aesthetic. The paintings were the classic paintings that the church has adopted from the likes of Carl Bloch and others. Gold leaf wall stickers decorated the walls, and, as had been the case in most temples of this trip, I was the only young Asian boy in a room of elderly Caucasians. The session was splendid, though I was admittedly super tired from yesterdays ride and the early wake up time. Despite my exhaustion I received 3 very distinct thoughts, or promptings of sorts regarding some people I deeply care about, my relationships with them, and our relationships with God and each other.

After a lovely temple visit I exited, got my pictures, and made my way east towards the Colorado border while Mom went grocery shopping. After trying out multiple different routes for the pilgrimage, we found that the most efficient route would actually force us to cut into Colorado for a while. We covered some good ground, making it just over 20 miles before stopping at a scenic overlook. After a quick drink and bathroom break we carried on for another…2 miles.

Pfssssst. A burst of air shot at my right calf and my back tire went completely flat in seconds. Surprised, I stopped, stepped off the bike, and walked back to Mom’s car behind me. As I sat down in the passenger seat of the car now parked on the shoulder of Highway 40 we decided to pull out a new tube on the bike, and patch up this flat later that night. Using the tire irons that Parker’s dad had so sagely advised me to purchase, I popped off the tire and tube, and slid my fingers around the inside of the tube, trying to find the sharp object that popped my tire. Nothin’. Confused but relieved, I slip in a new tube, and pumped it up as my mom is waved off courteously concerned cars and trucks passing by. Figuring I may have over inflated the tube, or that the hot, blazing sun might have increased the tire pressure, I pumped the tire to about 95 psi instead of my normal 110 psi range and biked on for another… .4 miles.

Pfssssst. A burst of air shot at my right calf and my back tire went completely flat in seconds. Surprised and frustrated. I stopped and walked back to Moms car, pulled out the tube, and checked the tire again for sharp objects. Nothin. Concerned for time I decided to open yet another new tube up, and replace the flat one yet again, planning to patch both of the now popped tires when we make it to our final destination for the night. Thinking that under inflation was the problem I pumped it to about 105 psi and biked on.

Pfsssst. A burst of air shot at my right calf and my back tire went completely flat in seconds. Everything sucks. Third tire down. taking the tire off and examining it more closely, a split on the tire wall is finally visible. Double crap. I don’t have any spare tires. We were forced to head back to Vernal and stopped by Altitude Cycle. The employee (I wish I could recall his name), was awesome. I wanna say he was from Michigan or Minnesota, one of those “M” states, and had lived in England, Aspen, and is now living Vernal, Utah. We bought two new tires that he kindly put on the bike for me while I was patching up my sacrificed tubes. Now equipped with new tires, a better bike pump, and freshly patched tubes, I did what any not-actual-cyclist on a l0ng bike trip would do: ask him where the best place for lunch is. Following his suggestion, Mom and I then ventured to the local Mexican eatery: Tacos El Gordo, a counverted gas station that now houses some of the most friendly restaurant owners I’ve ever met. Finally, three hours after deciding to go back to Vernal, we made it back to the spot where my tire popped so I could keep riding.

The rest of the day was, thankfully, uneventful. We made it to Colorado! The town of Dinosaur, Colorado was far less rad than the name implied. I was actually super stoked to go through it, but it ended up being a boring bummer.

We rode until night began to fall on us and finally stopped for camp in the mountains of Colorado along Highway 139. We pulled off onto 1246 Road, a random dirt road for dirt biking and ATVs, and set up camp. While I built the tent in a dried, sandy washout area, Mom made kimchi chigae, a traditional Korean kimchi and pork soup, and rice on a camp stove without chair because she’s a boss and an amazing human. Asian squat is real. We talked and talked for a few of hours, way later than we should have. We talked about the trip, our past, our hopes for the future, what we’d already accomplished so far, what lay ahead, and the reasons we were both there. Finally, we decided we should probably get in the tent to escape all of the gnats and mosquitoes.

We talked a little more in the tent and then fell silent. Just as I was about to fall asleep Mom realized she had one more thing to say.

“You know what? You really believe in Jesus. There’s no way you’d be doing all of this, not just the bike trip but all of the stuff you do, if you didn’t.”

Her realization hit me like an unexpected pillow swung decently hard to the chest by a friend. I guess she’s right. It’s a weird thing, to be told you believe in something or someone, especially something or someone like Jesus. I mean, I guess I was aware of it, but it’s another thing for someone else to be so aware of it, without you actually saying anything about it. It felt like I was acting out, living my testimony so intensely that she and other people had no choice but to realize that I really do believe in Him.

I was honored. She was right. We were tired.

We fell asleep, happy, loved, and ready for another day.

Daily Stats:

  • Total Miles: 79.64

  • Running Total: 492.88

  • Temples Visited: 1

  • Running Total: 13

  • Ordinances Performed: 1 (endowment)

  • Tires Popped: 1

  • Tubes Popped (there’s a difference) and patched: 3, cuz I’m an idiot

  • New Tires Purchased: 2, cuz I’m an unprepared idiot

  • States biked in: 2 (Utah and Colorado)

  • Burritos Devoured: 2 (between my mom and me)

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