Up early again. Time to get out of my bed, head downstairs, and pick Mom up from Alia’s place. It was pretty hard leaving the comfort of my own bed, knowing how much more lay ahead of me over the next few days. With Mom at the wheel we began again, heading south to our most recent checkpoint, Manti. I really didn’t sleep well the night before, only for about two hours really. I think that after exerting myself so much over the past week and a half, and then resting so hard for two days straight, my body just didn’t know how to handle all of the spare energy.
We arrived in time for the first endowment session of the day. I had been to the Manti Temple before for my friends Matt and Eliza’s wedding, but for some reason this time felt super different, like I was seeing it for the first time. Maybe it was because last time I was here, I was here for my friends. This time I was here as a part of my pilgrimage. After hundreds of miles of biking and days of waiting I was finally able to go inside.
I was overwhelmed almost as soon as I entered, in a good way of course. The Manti Utah temple was one of the first temples built in Utah, finished back in 1888. As I entered and marveled at the beautiful design, and architecture. I felt like I as walking into a storybook, the kind with beautiful pictures that a young child would beg their parents to read to them every night because they know how beautiful and happy the ending is. Even more overwhelming than the visual beauty of the temple was the reality and magnitude of the love of the early settlers for the temple and for their God that I felt. It was like a hug, one of those hugs that lasts longer than most because you both have just shared something special, something that other people can appreciate but might not be able to fully understand, something that brought you closer to one another. Their love and sacrifice was immortalized in the bricks, the paint, even the carpet, and filled the entirety of the temple. This temple stands as a monument to the sacrifice of the early pioneers that had settled this land. This was the perfect place for me to realize the importance of a day like Pioneer Day. Only true love of God could motivate for them to build such a structure as this.
As I went through the temple, the uniqueness, the singularity of this temple experience continued. I was able to see and feel the love and devotion of all of the volunteers who were both visiting and working in the temple. Our church’s temples are said to be made exclusively of the finest materials out of respect to God. That’s the ideal anyways. As I walked through the temple I was appreciative of all of the fine things used and contributed, but the thing that resonated most with me were the people. It’s the people who make the temple the special place that it is. I have visited many beautiful buildings, but it is the personal, private sacrifice of the people in the temple that set it apart. Everyday, these people are trying to live worthily that they can continue to visit the temple. They set aside time from their busy lives to come and worship God. They kindly, patiently, lovingly help one another, both in and outside of the temple. Now, after visiting the Manti temple, I have realized that the “finer things” that make the temple what it is are the people involved therein.
As I exited the temple I was greeted by Mom who had grabbed some food for a makeshift picnic on the temple grounds. We sat, ate, and talked, probably for longer than we should have considering how much biking I needed to do, but the past two days had helped me realize that spending this time with her was more important than rigid schedules. We watched as cute old couples came and entered the temple. One couple in particular caught Mom’s eye.
“Did you see how he opened her door and held her hand as soon as they got out of the car? That’s like the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. They held hands all the way to the temple. They really love each other. You can just see it all over.”
I don’t know a lot about love. I’m a 24-year-old, single dude, who is apparently more concerned with going on adventures that dating. I know that I love my family, my friends, and I am just bold (or maybe naive) enough to say I have been in love romantically before. Watching that couple enter the temple together was in fact one of the cutest things ever. I want to find love like that. Simple enough that you can just be happy with each other, helping each other come closer to God. You could see that they just loved spending time with each other, that they did it as much as they could, and enjoyed every minute of it. They didn’t need to scream about their love from rooftops, but who knows, maybe they did they were younger when they found themselves on top of roofs. Their love wasn’t something they needed to brag about, everyone could see it, and everyone was happy for them. Theirs is the kind of love that people see and say “I want that.” Not in a covetous way, but in recognition of the fact that a love like that is what makes life worth living. Simple, dedicated, eternal, happy love.
Sorry for the sappiness. It was just too freaking cute.
Then the biking began. I biked back to Salina, for the most part following the same path I took from Salina to Manti in reverse. I got a flat tire just as soon as I entered town which was a little annoying, but this repair went a lot smoother than the last one. I biked on and on through towns I had never heard of like Aurora and Sigurd until we got started nearing I-70 again in Richfield. Google Maps Recommended a frontage road that ran alongside I-70 which we checked out and decided would be a really crappy ride, so I back tracked about a mile and a half and rode down I-70 past a town called Joseph where I hopped on Highway 89. IT was kind of funny to think about how terrified I had been of biking on the freeway less than a week ago, and how it was now my preferred route.
Just south of a town called Sevier is a bike path that runs along Highway 89. This trail was absolutely gorgeous. Before my ride I actually decided to take the GoPro I had brought along for the trip off of my bike and leave it in the car, assuming that this bit of biking would look like everything else I had recorded. I was wrong. At first I was bummed that I wasn’t gonna have pictures or videos of this area, but then I realized that not having those thing made it special in a different way. At the end of the bike trail Mom and I talked about how awesomely beautiful that canyon was. We were happy that this and so many other unpictured moments would be memories for just the two of us to share.
I biked and biked down Highway 89 through nothingness sporadically interrupted by tiny towns up and down rolling hills (I swear it was mostly up). We had made plans to stay with some distant family members in St. George for the night, but as the day waned on and we realized how far away that really was it dawned on us how that plan wasn’t really going to work out. It appeared to Mom that I was starting to significantly slow down (she was right, though at the time I didn’t want to admit it). She let me keep going until about 6:00 pm I think. We pulled over in Marysvale, another tiny town. We loaded up with the intention of scouting out the ride ahead for the first part of tomorrow’s ride, find some decent cell service to tell our awesome hosts about the change of plans, and figure out a place to stay for the night.
As is usually the case, mom was right, I was super tired, and I fell asleep almost as soon as I got in the car. I woke up after we had arrived on the other side of the mountain pass I was going to have to pass tomorrow. We contacted our hosts, told them of our change of plans, and booked another cheap motel room, this time in Beaver, Utah. Mom and I were pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of our meal at Beaver Taco, and then I passed out, my body making sure I got sufficient rest for tomorrow’s ride.