Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alex and Emelio Differ When it comes to Certain Music Videos, it Seems

Hey guys, we just found the title out! No biggie! We have time to make such discoveries on a day like today, because to-day is............... REST DAY 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For real guys, we decided to take a rest day here in fanciful funktastic Ely, Nevada, "Home to more motels than people (it seems)." Now don't freak out everybody, but Alex is currently exeriencing some extreme patellar complications right now at this moment in time. Basically, every time he bends his knee beyond 25 degrees, it feels like a highly-trained, deranged and sadistic dwarf is banging him in the side of the knee with a venom-laced ball-peen hammer. For those of you less up-to-date on certain laws of physics, that means two hammer bangs for every single pedal stroke on the bicycle. Read: this sucks.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut: This is a day for miracles. A day for joy. We have committed ourselves to treating ourselves like the kings that we are (JK LOL (not JK (and not LOL))). We shall be loafing in this library for as long as these witchy bookmarms permit, at which point we will head out to find the least-pricey and most-dirty motel room in town (for the record, it will be the first time we spend $$ on an overnight for this whole trip, so ha). Emelio will then commence with the nursing, perhaps swaddling and hopefully at times physically breastfeeding young Alex back to health. Certain details of Emelio's nursing techniques may not be disclosed on this blog due to their exceedingly smarmy nature. Please visit if you would like to know more ;)

Anywayzzz, we left you last time in the depths of the Utah desert along the most supernatural stretch of highway we've been privy to, camping under the crystal night sky. We woke just as dawn peeked its curious little face over the bloodred cliffs to our east. It was September 15, and it was clear that it would be a very special one from its beginning moments. Many of you probably know that September 15 is a very significant date for Alex and Emelio; it was on that date last year that we lost our wonderful friend Sylvia Bingham when she was struck by a truck while riding her bicycle to work in downtown Cleveland.

Sylvia shared a house with Emelio in the Tremont neighborhood and was his first real friend in Cleveland (they were both new in town as Americorps VISTA volunteers). This is Alex writing now: she was my girlfriend and we were just beginning a new life together in Cleveland. She had moved to town only a few weeks before her accident not just for her new job at Hard-Hatted Women, but also to be near me and Jill (her best friend from high school back in California, who also happens to be the girlfriend of my brother David). Jill and I--as well as everybody else in our Cleveland community--were thrilled to have Sylvia in Cleveland. It was almost too good to be true. Her death was unimaginably tragic and all of us are still very much recovering from our loss.

In the wake of Sylvia's death I felt very lost. I found myself looking for some sort of direction, but found very few answers at all in the following months. It was during that time that I realized I needed to do something large and purposeful as a way of remembering her. Riding my bike across the country (from her last home in Cleveland to her first home near San Francisco) in her memory seemed to be a meaningful and appropriate thing to do. Cycling was important to Sylvia and has been important to me for a very long time as well. It is a statement of personal freedom, environmental responsibility, and fun! Some of my most lovely memories of Sylvia are times we spent riding bikes together. She was committed to living a car-free life and Emelio and I feel very strongly the same way.

Sometime in the late fall Emelio and I were having a conversation and realized that we had both been thinking independently about making a long, cross-country trek by bicycle as a way of honoring Sylvia and her dedication to living responsibly and joyously. It made perfect sense for us to do it together. We talked about it often throughout the winter, and in the spring our plans finally came together. Emelio's VISTA term was set to end at the end of July, so we committed to leave in the first week of August. From the beginning, we conceived of San Rafael, CA (and the home of Sylvia's parents) as our ultimate destination. When we get there, we look forward to spending time with Sylvia's parents Steve and Francoise in their home and at some of Sylvia's favorite places around the SF Bay Area.

With this background, it seems somehow fitting that September 15 (Day 43) turned out to be our most challenging day of riding of the entire trip. So you all must remember our Australian mate Matthew who oh-so-highly recommended the Burr Trail detour the day before.... well, we soon found out that he had sent our poor, frail American frames down a veritable TRAIL OF DOOM. A few miles into our day, we reached the end of paved-ville and entered world-of-pain-ville, a loose gravel/sand road that showed little mercy for us and our ill-equipped touring rigs. It was all we could do to keep from skidding out on the unforgiving surface, and this was on the flat stretch leading up to Capitol Reef National Park. At the entrance to the park, we were already a bit worn, but we lifted our spirits with sammies and even had the wherewithal to snap this cute little pic:

We had thought it was "Carnival Beef National Park" -- what a disappointing surprise!

A little background on Capitol Reef: it's claim to fame is a massive 100-mile long mountainous backbone of death called the Waterpocket Ridge. Early pioneer-heroes/white imperialits identified this geologic feature with a oceanic reef because it's a freaking dastardly barrier to pleasure. As soon as we set our watery eyes on that Reef, our knees started a-knockin' and our teeth started a-chatterin' and our penises started a-shrivelin' (even more than usual!) -- we knew we were in for a world of pain.

The Burr Trail boasts a quaint mile-long series of switchbacks creatively known as The Burr Trail Switchbacks. We might suggest a few other names for this loveable section of trail: "Darth Vader's Pleasure Tour"; "Stalin's Favorite Place for an Afternoon Stroll"; "The Darkest Place on Earth"; "Godzilla's Footsteps"; or perhaps, "The 'What The Fuck Were They Thinking?' Highway." This series of eight or so switchbacks basically very nearly transport you up the face of a sheer, freaking, rock, cliff. At times the grade must have been beyond 14%, seriously (seriously (for real)). The steepest section rises over 800 feet in half a mile. Our bikes would often hit a particularly thick layer of sediment, resulting in near disaster each time. Regaining the momentum necessary for continuing our pedaljourney required powers and skills that we very scarecely possess.

Green Day titled one of their recent hit songs after this road

Once past the "Boulevard of Villanous Calamity" (AKA THE BURR TRAIL), things got way easier.


The road surface maintained its gravelly grimace, and relieved of the burden of switchbackery, streched straight off upward infinitely into the distance for miles and miles. Jeepers! We basically had to glaze our brains over in order to continue this impossible climb. Thanks, Matt!

Fortunately, a Jeeping Californian couple, as they passed us for the third time that afternoon, took pity on us couple dudes and presented us with an excessive amount of homegrown watermelon. We gratefully accepted their tribal melon-offering in the most anthropological way as they continued driving their Jeep.

Alex made a point to slurp this watermelon as loudly and defiantly as he could. Emelio sends his condolences to all those who have had the misfortune of dining with this Neanderthal around a dinner table.

With our stomachs sloshing around layer upon pulpy layer of red cucurbitaceate, we groggily continued our climb up Mt. Burr. Not long after, God sent a Prophet from Arizona to our rescue. It was one of the lesser-known prophets, a Mormon prophet in fact (JK!). His name was Kent, and he was Good. Kent pulled over, half drunk and sober, to offer us a ride "to the top of the hill" (Kent, 4:15-16). When we squeezed ourselves beside Kent's animal familiar ("Spot"), the Prophet cracked open a can of Ambrosia (Bud Light) and we sped away up the dusty trail.

Kent let us off on a magnificently magnificent summit in the midst of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, with views of all types of crazy shit that most of you will never get to see in your meager, pathetic existences (JK! We hope! AWKWARD!). The road from this point was actually rideable (aka not rocks or sand), and we cruised through a striking long canyon known locally and world-wide as "Long Canyon." At one particular point, we passed through a gulch, known locally and world-wide as "The Gulch." It would behoove us to mention that this stretch of riding is made available only to those willing to abandon all reason and survive the Burr Trail -- but the Long Canyon really is a sight (a good one, doyyy!).

We found a couple bicycles in the Long Canyon, and totally jacked them! Suckers!

We did encounter some steep climbs out of Grand Staircase-Escalante-Fire Escape, but our destination, the town of Boulder, UT was minutes within our clammy grasp. Upon exiting the Monument, we encountered a sign announcing the steep, winding grades that one finds within. We thought we would stop and take a pic, because we knew you would think it was a cute one:

A "sign" of our "despair"

Unfortunately, the Burr Trail was not about to take any photographic mockery laying down. As he snapped the pic, Alex lost control of his disobedient bicycle which tipped over and whose chainring ripped a malevolent gouge out of his fleshy inner-upper ankle. This was not something that Alex wanted to have happen at that moment in time, but it sure was funny for Emelio (though at the time he had to feign compassion)(JK!). The wound has since healed somewhat but at the moment it really did seem like it might hinder our forward progress.


After such a taxing day, we decided it was time for a little treat. And by "treat" we mean "dinner" and by "dinner" we "mean" "eating at the local eatery"! Our dinner was filling and we had beer. Characters encountered within the establishment include: Our waitress, who, in a winking contest with Sarah Palin would give the Alaskan Governor a run for her money; the rich, snooty New Yorker, who, in a talking-about-himself contest with Osama Bin Laden would give the Militant Islamic Fundamentalist a run for his money; the perky young Taiwanese exchange worker, who, in a having-been-transplanted-to-an-incongruous-locale contest with Elian Gonzalez would give the young Cuban a run for his money; the bombastic ambiguously European heiress from Texas, who, in a what-the-heck-are-you-doing-in-this-realm contest with this guy would give the Angeleno waste-of-space a run for his (lack of) money. On such a hard day it was key for us to give ourselves a taste of comfort. At the end of the day, as as the end of every day on this trip, we were glad for the struggles that we encountered and overcame.

Finding a campsite proved to be a little difficult in the tiny town of Boulder. Public lands were spare, but a we thought we might try our luck asking at a local lodgery marketed to rich hippies (Organic Garden! Zagat-rated Natural Foods Restaurant! Tibetan Peace Flags!) if we might set up camp on their spacious grounds. Emelio, in as polite a way as his smug little ass could figger out, approached the hippie-queen behind the check-in counter and asked whether we might set up camp on their spacious grounds. With a cold, corporate glare, the "alternative" Mother Earth-worshipper revealed herself to be a Capitalist hotel-baroness and issued a stern, almost violent refusal to our admittedly humble query. Emelio wishes he had had the gumption to grip her jaw with one of his suntanned paws and slowly crush her lower mandible into a fine powder which she then could have used to make into some type of stupid lotion or salve and sell for $38 per three-ounce tin. Sorry about this burtal rant, but this lady was a majorly rude hipocrite and it really annoyed the pants off of us!

We eventually made camp on a gravelly patch of earth next to a Dutch-filled Recreational Vehicle. What a day!

We woke early the next morning to pack up before the RV-campsite proprietor could find us illicitly camped on her site and charge us this. Our ride that day would take us through the town of Escalante (Austin, one of our Louisville agents in the field, recommended that we make a scenic waterfall stop between Boulder and Escalante, but Alex's ankle was hurting him such that it would have been an arduous detour. Thanks for the tip anyways, Austin!) The route into Escalante is along Highway 12, which proved to be an immensely spectacular road perched upon what is known as the Hogback, a ridge within Escalante-Grand Staircase (we dipped in and out of this massive park all day) that overlooks some dinosaurly-epic landscapes.

The day was splendid and the day was long, but eventually we rolled into the rather strange town of Tropic, UT (we never found out why it's called that; you can invent your own fun reasons!). It's a town apparently inhabited by equal numbers of German/other weird European tourists on BMW motorcycles and publicly flirtatious Avril Lavigne-wanna-be Mormon teens. We bought snack packs at the town grocer, then ate them (along with other supplements of alimentary nature) under the pa-V in Tropic's town park. That's where we slept, our tent nestled up next to the conveniently located prep table!

Next morn the epic detour continued.... OOOOoooo-EEE! We had a tough one, but our objective was clear and it was legit: Zion National Park. We knew we had over 90 miles to go, but we didn't know just what conditions we would be facing along this stretch (remember, we were "off-route", which means we were floating in a world of certain mystery). The day started with 10 good miles (read: about 2 hours) of climbing up to the area around Bryce Canyon NP. We didn't have time for a visit to Bryce, but the payoff came with about 15 miles of yem-yem-yemmy (!) downhill cruising through Red Canyon along a curvy-swervy dedicated bike path. It was no Bryce, but the hoodoos were still 100% of da hoo(doo)k. Hoo noo?!?!

Boy; Barrel; Hoodoo

That's when things got hairy. Twenty-something miles of wicked uphill riding into an even wickeder headwind left us battered and doubtful that we'd reach Zion before nightfall. But theeeeeennnnn...... we drank some milk! As it has time and again on this trip, it did the trick and we re-mounted our stallions for an all-out attack on the day's remaining mileageage. Once you hit the entrance to Zion you are basically entering into Martian-style alien spaceship-land. Throughout our mindbending 12-mile descent into Zion Valley, we experienced-- up close and personal--an endless array of massive, monumental, mystical mounds of ancient sand. They were pretty much freaking our faces off the entire time.

Two days earlier, while in the rugged depths of the Utah desert, we met a sweet couple from Boulder, CO and their mega-sweet 3-year-old son. At the time, they happened to mention that they'd be spending the weekend (as in when we reached Zion) camped out in the park's south campground. Looking to reunite with the friendly Colorodans, we made our way to the campground to "see what was up." The campground was massive (120+ sites) and completely booked up. We arrived feeling triumphant but then we were kinda like, "Hmmm...." After a few minutes of aimless tooling, however, we heard, like the call of a glorious angel (like from the Bible!) "Hey, you guys made it!" It was Alex, the kind woman from the desert. We'd found them.

The family that Sportsmobiles and Bicycles together, stays together

We were too scared to ask, but before things could even get awkward, they'd invited us to camp with them and join their budding family unit as two (strangely older) adopted twin sons (JK about one part of that last statement; you decide which). Let's just say they fed us, played with us (3-year-old Lake in particular), and talked to us about all sorts of neat-o stuff--especially their super-fun life of traveling the country in their Sportsmobile.

After many nights in the same tent, we finally conceived! The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Rick (the family's patriarch) happens to be from the Cleveland area and we can't wait to hang out with them next time they make it out to the North Coast.

"I kick the ball!"

We laid our tent down next to their super-hero quality vehicle for a quick visit to old la-la land. Then next day was to be a rest day, and by "rest day" we mean jam-packed with two of the most insanely scenic and thrilling hikes our sloppy bags of bones have ever had the privilege of walking. In the morning it was Angel's Landing, which is basically a hike straight up the face of a 2,000-foot high sandstone monolith. If it sounds daunting and/or dangerous, that's because IT IS! There are signs all throughout the park warning of the danger incurred when attempting such a hike.

The best way to experience Zion Canyon also happens to be in silhouetted profile.

At pretty much all moments during the 90-minute (for us; 3-hour for mere mortals) ascent to the landing, you are walking within inches of a sheer drop to the canyon bottom. Parents, don't be worried, we made it. Otherwise we couldn't be writing this blog, sillies! At the apex, the hiker is granted the equivalent of two stone tablets to bring down to the several tribes of Israel: a veritable G-dGift freakfest canyon viewpoint of wackadoobular proportions.

"I tried to chuck him right over the edge, but he has surprisingly good balance", Emelio and Alex simultaneously remarked.

Our eyes nearly jumped out of their sockets and did a 360-kickflip McTwist-to-fakie on this greatest halfpipe of all God's creation.

Totally radical stuff. Neek freekin.

The afternoon's bipedal excursion (read: hike) was wet. And Wild. And it was The Narrows. We unfortunately don't have any pictures of this walk, but we have an excuse. For the better part of the hike (this one took us nearly 4 hours) you are actually penetrating with your body the wet depths of the Virgin River. At it's northern end, Zion Canyon squeezes down to no more than 20 or 30 feet across, hence the name of the hike. At the same time, 600-foot high cliffs rise up vertiginously on either side of you, creating a sense of almost cave-like enclosure. You could basically consider us two spermatozoa fighting our way up the East-bound fallopian tube toward our Egg (read: the end of the hike). Upon fertilizing the egg (you know what we mean, guys) we turned around and made our way back downriver. The river flowed at a quite lively pace and the riverbottom was littered with stones of unpredictable size and nature. Good thing we remembered to bring along our handy-schmandy walking sticks or we would have ended up a couple a soggy dudes. Basically this hike was tiggity and we liked it very much. Amen.

The next day we had to get out of Dodge (read: Zion National Park). We had CouchSurfing arrangements for that evening in Cedar City, about 70 miles due North of the Park. It was mainly uphill but the wind was finally at our backs so we made good time. Interesting to note: this day marked the first time we rode on an interstate, specifically I-15. Scary as that may sound, we found interstate riding to feel much safer and more comfortable than riding on other seemingly benign stretches of pavement. Check that one off the old list!

In Cedar City we ate Frostys. Furthermore, we proceeded to the gracious home of our gracious hosts, the Dalton family. This family basically kicks major butt. A run-down of the get-down: Lynn is the father. He is a self-taught rockhound and he is very nice. He served us a delicious zucchini soup that had been prepared by his lovely wife Celine (nice name, eh?). Celine is the mother. She made us eggs in the morning. Iain is the son. He went on bike tour earlier this summer and showed us his awesome homemade panniers. Natasha is one of the daughters. She is a very diligent high school student and also very kind. Adrienne is the 6.5-year old daughter. She is immensely creative and playful and we had a lot of fun exploring her little special world (not JK). We played animals, she showed us the garden, and Alex played with her for like 2.5 hours straight (not JK; it was more exhausting than biking the Rockies). We showered up, did laundry, and had a restful sleep. Alex slept on the trampoline like a freak, but he really did enjoy it.

After running some AM errands in Cedar City, we booked it out of there on our way to Milford. We were cycling out of Utah's trademark landscape, leaving behind the cliffs, arches, bridges, mesas, buttes, gulches, gizzards, belches, bears ears, and hiccups. Nearing Nevada, the riding went even smoother than we could've expected, and we got to Milford in no time flat. After a very early supper, we made the uncharacteristic decision to keep on riding into the night. This seemed like a good idea for a couple reasons: we had plenty of leftover energy to spend, the next town (which would be our destination the following day) was 84 miles on down the road and we thought it best to knock out some of those miles before making camp, and we knew the road would be relatively empty and that the moon would be mooning us with its gloriously shiny derriere. Lo and behold, we cranked out 24 bonus miles before pulling off and making camp in the middle of freaking nowhere. Quite lovely, actually.

The next day, not much to report from a couple dudes on biketour from Cleveland to San Francisco, California, USA, North America, the Western Hemisphere, the World, the Solar System, the Milky Way, the Ziltra-Nova (2.*) MetaPlex, the Universe, the Cosmos, BABY JESUS. We rode up, we rode down. Some wind and sunshine just to spice things up. PS: We crossed into Nevada, the Silver State, the 36th state, the 7th largest (in area) state, and the most prostitute- and gambling-addicted state. Allahu Akbar.

That Emelio sure is a real old-fashioned Wild West gunslinger (and by that I mean "idiot").

Our evening's campsite was Baker, a eety beety leettle town. It's smallness, however, was offset by its pizza parlor where we ate some delicious pizza from that there parlor joint. We considered "pulling a Milford" and continuing on after supper, but Alex was feeling kinda wiped out and basically went to bed at 6 PM. End of day. ASL?

All I can think about is the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" installation at DisneyWorld.

The final leg we'll cover here today, class, brought us from Baker to Ely. We were strangely drawn to this town by the blinding glow of neon lights from the overwhelming number of motels in this wacked-out, yet wackily fun locality. Example of wacked out and wacky fun: last night two pickup trucks drove around for hours with approximately 15 high school-age girls in each truckbed. The girls shouted out indiscernible messages and things and generally hooted and hollered all round town while the sheriff escorted them. With so many dang motels, this town hardly has room for a public park (our preferred small-town campground, you may have noticed). We were at a loss as to where we'd sleep until we found the high school football stadium. After making out for hours under the bleachers (JK you guys, EEEEEWWWWWW!) we found a dark spot and it was lights out.

Peace and blessings to all our people and non-people. We luv y'all very much ;)


  1. first.

    No wonder you got kicked out of the library - this post was a doozy.

  2. *cucurbitaceae

    i misss you emelioooo you are funny i laugh and make other people in this office jealous. thank you for the lovely postcard i loves it berry munch. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU SOONZ!!!!!!!!

    oh and i lost your visa. oops!LOL!!!(justkiddingididn'tjustkiddingidid(jk))

  3. i just have to let pete and maria know that each time they commented 'first,' i actually had viewed the blog entry while there were still 0 comments. i was just trying to think of a better comment to write than 'first.'

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  5. ok here's the real question: what is wrong with emelio's beard? why is it so diminutive and shy in comparison with alex's mega awesome, totally bodacious zz top extravaganza?

  6. Alex, I hope your knee stops bothering you soon! That darn knee is always causing you trouble.

    The photos you posted of Angel's Landing make it seem like possibly the most beautiful place on earth.

  7. What a lovely tribute to Sylvia. Thank you.

  8. also, just have to add what i've been thinking all along - that this ride is beautiful and that you are two wonderful people. Lots of love and may you have a strong finish!

    Jon (K)

  9. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    .....thats all i can manage to type after reading this posssst

  10. at the risk of paying a late registration fee for SappyFest 2010, i'd like to echo everybody in saying how amazing this blog is, how wonderful and impressive (and buff) you two are, and how much i love you. mostly emelio; alex - maybe after a few more drinks?

  11. The only reason I come to this site is to see what hilarious / snarky / snarklarious comment Hannah will make next.

  12. just got caught up, and I gotta echo what everyone else said. love this post, love you guys. Colorado and Utah look like some of the most stunning places on Earth. stay tuned for imminent snark, but today I'll give yall a break.

  13. can't you guys proofread? ugh, it's like reading a 3rd grader's blog

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