Crossing For Cancer

We’re all part of the journey…

Posted by crossingforcancer on September 10, 2008

September 2, 2008

Hi everyone,

To pick up where I left off last entry: I was in Panguitch, Utah for a while and as it was starting to get dark, I rolled out of town for about two or three miles and started walking into the woods to set up camp.  As I was walking, all of a sudden, this guy pops up in a sleeping back from the pitch black – we scare the daylights out of each other.  His name is Abdul and come to find out, he’s on the lamb, but I chatted with him for a bit, made friends walked about another 50 or so feet and pitched my tent.  The cast of characters I’m meeting on this journey never ceases to amaze me.

My trip leaving Panguitch the next day was mostly one of descent, in order to get below 8,000 feet and avoid the first snow they’re expecting.  The scenery just keeps getting better and better.  My body is getting stronger and I feel more Nomadic daily – open to whatever happens.  Random detours for unknown reasons, until I arrive and realize that I’ve found someone or something I was destined to meet.  The beauty of the world under my feet.  Free to roam, my heart is pure with no fear.

September 4, 2008

I’ve made it to Bryce Canyon and needed to do laundry desperately.  I’ve been keeping all living things away from me – bugs, humans, animals – because of my stench.

At Bryce I run into some amazing people, including Johnny, an Apache Indian whose portrait I complete. He’s lost members of his family to pancreatic cancer and it’s just so apparent in his eyes.  If you look at the portrait, you can see it.  We’re all affected by loss and tragedy.  I’m learning that as I ride through the country.  I set out with the intention of completing portraits of people battling pancreatic cancer and have completed many more, of people fighting cancer, people who have lost someone to cancer, people who have overcome the disease.  We’re all part of this journey.

These epic sights and the people I have encountered – words can hardly describe what I’ve experienced so far on this trip.  The magic in this part of the world is so breathtaking.  

Leaving Bryce, I headed to the KOA campgrounds in Cannonville before continuing my trek toward Escalante, UT and the Grand Staircase.  If there’s one place to be or see before you leave this earth, I would say it’s the stretch of road on Highway 12 through Escalante all the way to Hanksville.

Around this time I hit a 12% grade and thought my leg was going to fall off from a cramp – I’m clipped in and my bike basically falls over sideways, as I’m trying to strecth this cramp out.  The grade going over these mountains is intense and my bike is having just as hard a time as I am.

After kicking it a few times back in Vegas, I was reminded that the bike is the boss.  My bike is my home on this trip – I need to take care of it, whatever happens.  But.  I’m having a problem with my wheel again and thankfully Loway is building a special rim for the bike to send to Grand Junction.

But, I feel like my bike and I have a good understanding now.  For example,  I pull up to this town called Tropic and lean my bike up gently against the rail to eat and as I’m quietly walking to the restaurant – pop!  I hear a spoke brake.  I just laughed, went inside and ate a massive hamburger.  After the meal I went outside to give her, the bike, some attention – spoke to her for a while…

As I’m riding along Highway 12, I turn off on a small road, just on a feeling – a hunch.  I discover a rock shop and meet Scott, the owner.  He gives me a small rock from the shop and I do his portrait in return.  Scott suggested an amazing cafe called Georgettes, where I eventually ate and completed the owner’s portrait too.  You couldn’t miss the place – there was a teepee in the front yard.  Thank you to everyone there for the delicious meal and generosity.

September 5, 2008

I’m descending out of Escalante, trying to reach Hell’s Backbone to a view that is indescribable.  I can hear the river 200 feet below.  The rock is an incredible orange.  I’m at about 4,000 feet and have to climb to about 10,000 feet soon.  Of all my travels, this is the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen.  It makes me want to stop here forever with this pure soil under my feet.

I’m rolling into Boulder, UT – it’s an incredibly magic place.  A utopia.  On the short 30-mile ride from Escalante and Hell’s Backbone I don’t take any photos.  I don’t want to undermine the incredible beauty that’s happening before my eyes by trying to capture it with a camera.

Just outside of Boulder I encounter a guy who’s riding along on this hybrid mountain bike.  He looks like a local – looks like he hasn’t shaved in three years.  His name is Josh and he’s headed into Boulder to move irrigation, which I’ll discover first hand later on.  He came to Boulder from Palm Springs on his bike; stopped here and never left.  Which, believe me, if there wasn’t a mission to my madness here, I would have stayed in Boulder or one of these towns for years.  

Josh offers for me to stay at a friend’s place (that he’s house sitting) and in turn, I agree to help Josh move the irrigation systems.  Just moving the sprinklers forward, every day.  He makes very little money but is so happy and content.  A brilliant man with a masters degree.

I wish I could describe what it’s like in these little areas.  It’s all farmland.  The air smells of soil.  The sprinklers are going, the sun is rising and Josh and I are working in the land.  We finish and go back to the house.  Josh cooks a great dinner.  His friend Jill comes over and I complete a portrait of Josh that evening.  I’d really like to say thank you to them.  

My plan is to ascend into Boulder Mountain to get to Torrey, UT by night.  As I’m leaving a woman runs out of Boulder’s small country store to give me a muffin.  I want to express how incredible the food is out here in Utah – there’s such a big difference in being able to taste the freshness of what you’re eating.  So, she gives me a muffin and says that she has heard about the Crossing, wishes me well.  At that point I remembered that I wanted to go into the store to see some of the local artwork, which I do.  Beautiful photographs, oil paintings – really nice pieces.

As I’m leaving a man approaches with a bunch of photographs.  He’s a German photographer named Anselm Spring.  We began to talk and our spirits truly connected.  We were meant to meet on this journey.  He invited me to his studio which wasn’t far, but at the very top of a mesa.  This gravel road that I pull my bike up to get there was about a 1/2 mile long – it was crazy.  

When we arrive at his place it’s so much to take in.  Beautiful sunflowers, a garden.  His work ranges from religious paintings to beautiful landscape photographs.  Anselm’s been published in a number of books, which he shows me while I’m there.  One of the most interesting things in his maze of a studio were the mounds of vegetables.  Anselm grows his own squash, photographs it, sells the photographs so he can make money to buy the supplies to grow another crop and eats what’s left.  Truly incredible.  He has about 15 different guitars – such a creative mind.  We jam for a while and he offers me his couch to rest, but I needed to get on the road to Torrey, so I head back down the crazy driveway and back to the road.

September 6, 2008

I finally leave Boulder.  It was hard, I was sad to leave after meeting incredible individuals like Josh, Anselm and everyone else in the community.  I’m rolling up this mountain, after eating breakfast at Hell’s Backbone Kitchen, through such amazing scenery, completely without back brakes until I get a new wheel (again).  I start rolling down the mountain and I come about two feet from nailing a cow broadside in the middle of the road!  The cows out here are everywhere.

I didn’t think it possible, but when I make it to Torrey, the landscape is even more breathtaking.  At Capitol Reef National Park there is this brilliant red orange in the rocks – it’s not even mixable by paint.  Even more amazing than the landscape though, are the genuine people that I have met.  I feel homeless, but I feel that I am home.

September 7, 2008

I’m beat.  72 miles today.  I’ve realized that when the scenery is less desirable, and there are fewer towns and people to meet, I cover so much more ground.  There were times in Capitol Reef that I walked my bike for a few miles in awe of the landscape.  The 10 miles an hour (on bike) was just too fast.

As I leave Hanksville today I see some Lamas for sale for only 100 bucks!  I consider buying one and training him to take me on this next 100 mile stretch of nothingness to Grand Junction.  And I mean nothing.

I’m exhausted and will lay low here in Green River, thinking of the incredible generosity of everyone who has donated to the Crossing and to my cause so far.  Even more so, thinking of how each person I met was connected by the common link of being touched by cancer – either personally, through a loved one, in overcoming the disease, or in losing someone to the struggle.  That’s what keeps me going.

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2 Responses to “We’re all part of the journey…”

  1. Harold said

    Scott, I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying your trip. Your descriptions are as good as any picture. I can feel the people you are meeting. Remember about the trip I described to you, two buddies and I drove across the US and down and up Mexico, for 3 months in ’61? I told you that people offered us food all the time. Bon Voyage! Harold

  2. Laura Sellers said

    Keep going strong my friend. You are in beautiful country indeed and touching many hearts and souls in the process. You have a ton of support and love holding you up from Venice, CA!

    -Laura and Jim

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