Entering Pueblo, CO, on our bikes certainly felt great from an accomplishment perspective, but also because we knew it meant that we would have a good week of rest, relaxation, and quality time visiting with family and friends in Boulder, CO- just a couple-hour ride in a rental truck. And we were not disappointed!! My cousin Steve and his wife Cindy graciously hosted us at their comfortable and spacious home. They also fed us so well- Cindy is a very knowledgeable and gourmet cook. While we were able to be the unworthy recipients of such incredible cooking, she and Russell connected as Russell became her apprentice in the kitchen every now and then. We were also schooled by Steve on the intricacies of the Tour de France, which was happening while we were there. Steve is both a huge fan of bike racing and quite an avid bicyclist himself.
It was a treat to be able to spend some time with my brother Rick and his wife Sarah. We enjoyed an outdoor concert (Rock and Rails) in their town of Niwot, which is just outside of Boulder. And we enjoyed some great meals together (much of it cooked by Cindy), a trail run with Rick, some yummy local pizza, bowling, and a fun game of wiffle ball where I managed to hit Rick, the pitcher, straight in the face with the ball (Oops! -see an earlier Instagram and Facebook post for the video).
I was so grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect with a friend from Richmond- Caty Winyard (who moved just outside of Boulder about 2 years ago). She and her family used to attend our church and we used to be in a women’s Bible study together.
Another friend we were able to spend some time with was Molly Gibney and her daughter, Ella. (Molly’s husband, Tom, was on a business trip, so we didn’t get to see him, unfortunately). We hiked, picnicked, climbed on boulders and through rocky tunnels, ate Glacier ice cream (local to Boulder), and on another day enjoyed Water World together.
We were also thankful that we were able to work it out to see Craig Peterson, his wife Susan, and one of their sons- Nathan- while in Boulder. Jerry and Craig go way back to their days at VA Tech and in the Navigators Ministry.
As we resumed our biking in Pueblo, CO, after a wonderful week of rest, we headed northwest, attempting to reach the town of Florence 40 miles away. We were soon reminded that we are not in control. Not only was our first day back to biking a physically challenging one (mild climbing and the effects of the altitude), but it also proved to be difficult in other ways, as well. Just a few miles before a town where we planned to refill our water bottles, a storm quickly blew in. We found ourselves pulling off the road to a hillside (think: desert, dirt everywhere with a few scrubby bushes and tufts of grass, dark clouds letting out their water with a fury, winds blowing so hard that the rain starts to hurt, thunder booming). After we lowered the bikes to the dirt- soon to become mud, we all huddled under our tarp to gain protection from the wind and rain. After a minute or so, hail began to pelt us, with only the tarp as our protection. The size of the hail was somewhere between a pea and a marble, and it hurt! Thankfully, our helmets came in handy for this, and we were able to position the boys so that they were not in contact with the tarp. Whew! Were we glad when the hail stopped, the rain subsided, and sun peaked out. We were a cold, muddy mess, as were our bikes. But we came out of it and now have a crazy memory and story to tell. Lesson learned: we need to start biking earlier in order to reach our destination and beat these afternoon thunderstorms that have become quite a phenomenon in the Rocky’s this summer.
After the hailstorm, we made it to the town of Wetmore. There was no obvious place where we could refill our water. But as we were stopped and pondering whether we should continue to Florence (only 10 miles further and mostly downhill) in light of another possible looming storm system, a local man pointed us to the library/community building where we could get water and use a bathroom. We arrived just in time as one of the librarians was closing the library. To make a long story short, while two of us were inside, Jerry and the other two boys prayed that God would guide us as to what we should do. About 2 minutes later, two folks came into the building (just to water some plants), and one of them, Nan- the library/building director- began chatting with us about our trip. Without any prompting, she invited us to stay in the community building, and she even reopened the library and kitchen for us to use. Well, I guess that was the direction that we needed.
On Thursday we pedaled through Florence, then stopped in Cañon City for lunch. We had just gotten food at the grocery store for lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next morning. Then we realized another storm was heading our way. While at the grocery store, we got into a conversation with a woman who works as a cake decorator in store’s bakery (she was on a short break). The next thing we know... she has invited us to stay at her house. Our alternative was camping at a nearby campground. We accepted Kim’s kind invitation and she and her husband welcomed us into their house, giving us beds to sleep on, dinner to eat, showers to take, and laundry to do. Wow! Such generous hospitality! We were particularly appreciative when we looked out of their window at the gushing rain we would have had to camp in. So thankful for the blessings of people who care and who freely show kindness!