Empire, CO – 40 Miles

July 5, 2010

We reached our highest point today, Loveland Pass at almost 12,000 feet above sea level. The climb actually wasn’t that bad, but it was absolutely frigid at the top. The road down the other side was so steep and dangerous that each group of five cyclists was escorted down by a crew van. As we descended the temperature warmed up very quickly. It was still cold at the bottom mind you, it was just noticeably warmer than at the top.

Once down the mountain, we were told the news that we would get to hop onto interstate 70 for a few short miles. There are no frontage roads, or bike paths for this small section, so it is actually legal to ride a bike on this section. We were actually passing the cars, as they sat in traffic watching us fly by at 35-45 mph. We then got onto a bike path that was sandwiched between I-70 and a very steep drop off. To our right were mountains and a beautiful view, and to the left, traffic.

Our day ended at the Easter Seals Rocky Mountain Village Summer camp, where unfortunately there were not many campers this week. This week was specifically for kids with autism, some of whom were overjoyed at us being there, others could care less, and were maybe a bit overwhelmed. We started our visit with some time in the pool, which was great for us, as it gave us a chance to really stretch out our legs and relax. We then broke off into different activities, which included arts and crafts, fishing, a tractor ride, a zip line, and possibly some more that I’ve forgotten about. My activity of choice was the tractor ride, I chose it because I assumed it would be like Camp Sunnyside’s old Jolly-Wagon (which believe it or not, was one of the reasons I decided to work at Sunnyside oh so many years ago). It turns out that I was correct, we got on a trailer pulled by a tractor, and drove around the camp singing camp songs. After a few of theirs, I taught them my old favorite “ooh ahh went the little green frog”. We all had a great time, and it really made me miss life at camp.

The great thing about today though, was that it just didn’t seem to end. Next up was dinner with staff and campers, followed by an all camp activity. We were split up, and each group was given a different cartoon to dress up as, and the campers were then escorted around to each station by their counselors to interact with us, and take pictures with us. My group was the smurfs, so naturally I was Brainy Smurf. At our station, myself and three other smurfs asked the campers if they wanted to go to smurf village. If they did, we started walking them into the nearby woods, at which point Gargamel would jump out and start to chase us. We would run a little ways, and then set a trap together with the campers. Once we caught him, we led him up to prison, and then took pictures with the kids. One of the girls was very calm during the whole running and capturing part, and almost seemed non responsive to us, but for some reason when we all lined up for a picture, she started giggling more than I’d ever seen someone giggle before. It was that moment that really made the whole day worth it all, and reminded me of one of the reasons that I’m on this trip in the first place.

The sun soon started to set, and we started thinking about the days to come. Tomorrow we have a huge arrival in Denver, so we spent a little time cleaning the vans so they would look their best for that arrival. We’ve got a 5am wakeup tomorrow, so I guess it’s time for me to sign off.

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