Monday, July 10, 2017

When I woke up in Minden High School, I treated the morning as I would any morning: wake up, enjoy a delicious breakfast courtesey of our Crew Chief Troy, and have a great morning circle up to discuss the ride ahead – a 50 mile ride into Grand Island, Nebraska. As a native Coloradoan, I never considered Nebraska to leave a lasting impact on me. It’s just a fly-over state, right? Little did I know, the events ahead would change my perspective on the Journey of Hope, and leave an undying impression on me.

The ride itself went smooth and steady. I took some amazing pictures of our cyclists, and we made great time into Grand Island. I saw we were staying in a hotel, which helped motivate me (hard to not be motivated when you have a nice hot tub waiting for you!). As the cyclists staged up for the arrival at the Grand Hotel, some crew members and myself shot up ahead to ensure the arrival was ready.

Waiting for us was the ARC of Central Nebraska, which contained some of the biggest hugs and warmest smiles I have ever witnessed. Brad, a recurring honorary team member, joined the cyclists in their welcome line, holding our Journey of Hope banner with our excited boys. We recieved some wise words from Grand Island’s mayor, Jeremy Jensen, along with a bunch of high fives. I had some “competition”, in the form of a local news reporter with some very nice camera gear. Thanks to him, we received a front page article about Journey of Hope in the Grand Island Independent, a local newspaper! We then proceeded to a lunch with Brad, Craig (another amazing honorary team member), and some other great local Grand Islanders. They spoiled us a bit with Sonic Drive-in Slushies, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Dairy Queen ice cream. It was an amazing way to prepare for an all-team nap, which inevitably happened once we all got into our rooms.

After our food-coma’s passed, we rode our vans down to the local Elk Club, which greeted us with a large sign that read, “Welcome, Journey of Hope Riders”. There, we chowed down on home-cooked hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and anything else our hearts desired. After putting down all of those calories, what better way to work them off than a dance party? We took to the dance floor and had a ball with our friends. Hours felt like seconds, and before I knew it, we were heading out. We took a picture and said a temporary goodbye to our friends, as they will be meeting us tomorrow. We had a great time tonight, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Patrick Carlson

University of Northern Colorado

Crew – Historian