Written by: Kert Emperado
Gallup, NM – Grants, NM
Today’s ride from Gallup to Grants was spectacular. We saw rock formations, caves, mountains, and plateaus, as we paralleled Interstate-40. My riding buddies for most of the day were Dan Sheridan, from Ohio, Stephany Escalante Galindo, from LA, Tom Weber, from Geezerville, CO, and our young trip leader, Joel Derksen from Winnipeg, Ontario. Each one of them have a unique and interesting life, and all of them are wonderful people.
Dan is a pharmacist, specilaizing in medication safety. He has the sincerest laugh and he posts (on Facebook) the most interesting pictures and descriptions of his many biking adventures. Stephany is a middle-school teacher who talks about her students in the most caring way. This year, she is the trip’s chore “master” and manages us “big kids”, and keeps us straight. I like that she laughs at all my corny jokes when nobody does. Stephany also documents the bike trip very well through social media, and I can always refer to her Facebook wall to be updated on the journey. Joel is a hardworking, adventurous dude. Because he is a fellow Canadian, he is naturally nice, eh. As trip leader, he has committed his time and efforts as a volunteer to organize and lead the group across the country, as well as also ride his bike just like the rest of the riders. That means, before and after our average 70 mile daily ride, Joel is working to make the day (and night) successful. I truly admire and impressed with anyone who takes on the role. Thanks, Joel! Tom is a FCBA legend and he contributes more to the trip than anyone I know. He has been riding with the group since 2011. Tom, however, took my favorite chore team task of trailer packing this summer, so I was sure to “help” him a little bit when I could. I like big bags and I cannot lie…
Anyway, we rolled into Grants, NM in the afternoon as it was getting really hot. Surprisingly, we were cheered on by a car full of youth heading in the same direction. It turns out, they were part of the church who were hosting us that night, Grants Church of Christ. For lunch, a big group of us decided to try the local Chinese restaurant, Tasty Kitchen, which was just across the street. The food was good, the Thai tea was even better, and the service was the best. After lunch, some of us took naps, some tended to their bikes, and some went grocery shopping for food and supplies. Dinner was provided by the church members, which was a spread of various New Mexican dishes. My favorite was the spicy green pepper casserole. Yum!
I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to join FCBA again this year. Today is my second to last day before I return back home to Philly, so here is a recap of my three-week adventure, which blew by so quickly, but I enjoyed every moment: This was my first time riding through California, Arizona, and New Mexico and the desert terrain. Although quite beautiful, once is probably enough. It makes me appreciate (even more) the green landscapes and abundant plant-life back home. We saw a lot of light-brown and red sand on the flats and on the mountains of Southern California and Arizona. The sun rose early and the temperatures just the same, so we woke up at 3:30 am to ride as the light peaked through the horizon (in hopes to beat the heat, or at least the worst of it). With much shade and ice at the rest stops, and quirky jokes enjoyed by most, we always arrived to our destination; an open space on the floor at a church or school. We were welcomed by the gracious hosts who provided us with delicious meals and encouraging company. We even made it on the local (live) news in Yuma, AZ, and the paper in Wickenburg, AZ, and Gallup, NM. Many of these experiences have grown part of me and I find comfort in the routine of simple living. The morning devotions, the meditative effects of riding a bicycle, and the prayers before meals is a distinct contrast from the complex, busy, hustle and bustle life I lead back home. This is why I love this adventure. It slows things down for me. It allows me to reflect on what is really important in life and what God may be calling me to do next. Since 2013 when I first participated with FCBA, I have learned to be more frugal, more generous, more thoughtful, and more loving.
Till next time…