An End, Before the Middle

There’s a lot missing between the last entry and this one. We have so many stories to tell, and images to share. We’ve been home for just over a week and are knee-deep in summer farm work and life. Stay tuned; when time allows, there are more updates yet to come.

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Cycling through the desert was ill-advised at this time of year, and we were told a few times that we weren’t going to be able to do it. It’s been challenging; there was an infamous 65-mile stretch through a blazing-hot valley with no towns, services, or shade; we rode at 5AM that day, each carried 15L of water, and finished the day delirious and spent, pushing through to the campground in Palo Verde because there was nowhere else to go.

The hot asphalt softened our tires and we changed flats in shadeless desert under mid-day sun. On a particularly rough day, when the patching glue turned to liquid and wouldn’t adhere to an inner tube, Kini rode five miles to the next town on the rim of her wheel.

It’s been full of unexpected joys: we rolled into Prescott AZ and found a quaint, artsy city; we lived a tiny, cozy four-day life in the travellers’ hostel there, in the company of the owner and her other guests. And when Kini’s wheel collapsed in the middle of nowhere, far from any bike shop (see earlier: riding on the rim), we were picked up by a kind stranger and for the few days that we camped on her lawn and sorted things out, we were as welcome into her orbit as she was into ours.

The South Rim is over 7000 feet in elevation. There was a day when we climbed 3000 and we had to pull over, short of breath and hearts pounding in the dry heat and thin air.

At the end of it all, we came into the park and set up our tent amongst the pines. It feels like another campground in the forest; you’d have no idea it was right on the edge.

This is how we finished our journey: on the bicycles, light and unloaded, weaving through streets and paths like a couple of kids ripping around their neighbourhood in late-afternoon light. And then we stopped, and everything stopped, and there was this space too huge to swallow with my eyes, and stratifications of rock slanting down to the Colorado River.

For a while I couldn’t move or speak. Family vacations played out behind me; parents scolded and friends called to each other, but I was lost in the grand, sweeping silence before me, standing on the edge of this immense crack in the earth, standing at the end of three months that have just held everything and when you ask me about them I will not have the words.

-Sara

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