If you haven’t been reading about our journey so far, then check out previous updates here.
It’s Day 20 and Salt Lake City is just on the horizon. We woke up in Eureka to find out that word of us skating the country had spread across the whole town. As we set off David and I were waved off by countless locals as we descended down the hills and out of the town. These hills were perfect but sadly we weren’t the only ones on the road and we were forced to regularly jump off our boards in to the grass to let traffic past and then jump back on as quickly as we could in order to make the most of the effortless progress.
When we were reunited with the van we found that it was swarming with flies. Literally swarming. Matt – one of the guys from the van is noticeably irritable – and so David slid in a quick question: ‘Fancy coming out for a skate’? Within literally a few seconds Matt is by the door of the bus with water and a board in his hand. We spent the rest of the afternoon skating along a beautiful lake and struggling to keep up with Matt’s fresh legs, and finished 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.
It wasn’t until day 21 that we reached Salt Lake City with Matt still skating along with us. We met the van by a hotel that Tom was staying in for a couple nights, guided by directions written on the side-walk in chalk by Josh: “This way fuckers” – I am sure the Mormons loved that. So relieved to finally have a rest day we decided to drive up to the mountains by Salt Lake, and hiked 3 miles with all our camping stuff for the night to take refuge just down the way from some natural hot springs and waterfalls.
After a great night’s sleep we packed up our stuff and made our way back to the hotel where we finished the day before to sadly hear that Oli – one of our support team members – is leaving the trip, and returning to England due to unforeseen circumstances that we can’t really go into here. All bummed out by the news we tried to make the most of the time we had left with Oli on the trip.
Day 24 and we have the second wave of bad news. A Toshiba hard drive that I had bought only a few weeks earlier on the trip has decided to stop working and all of the footage and images so far contained within it had disappeared. So the next few days were extremely frustrating and mainly spent running around Salt Lake City, ringing up hard drive repair centres, saying goodbye to Oli and trying not to lose the will to carry on with the trip.
We even bought a new hard drive for the repair centre to back up the recovered data onto, only to find out that someone had already purchased the drive, opened it up, stolen the hard drive, put a rock inside to make it seem heavier and then return it to Walmart, claiming it was broken. It seems that you couldn’t make this stuff up, but this really happened.
At the time of writing we still haven’t been able to sort the Toshiba hard-drive, and Toshiba have been extremely unhelpful. NEVER BUY A TOSHIBA HARD DRIVE. This also explains the lack of photographs in this post, as many of them were stored on said hard drive.
So after days of disaster upon disaster we had a late start out of Salt Lake where we were greeted by what seemed like a vertical up hill into the mountains. We slowly made our way into the mountains, spurred on by the countless cyclists pushing up the hills. The further we get up the hills the steeper they seemed to get and as the night fell we decided that there was no other option but to do a small section of walking. Despite the up hills we get some amazing scenery and as the night fell the moon was so bright it was casting our shadows, guiding us up towards the bus where we would camp up for the night.
Early in the morning the next day as I lay outside of the van, having turned the wheelchair lift into a bed, I was woken up abruptly by a cyclist who was also documenting his travels. He seemed amazed by our project and had no worries waking me up to grill me with a video interview before he left me bewildered to makes his way up the mountain. Cheers for that dude.
We all get up and it luckily didn’t take long to reach the peak, where we came across some incredibly steep downhills. Matt and I made the most of the hills whilst (predictably) David held back. To Matt’s downfall the wheel on his board managed to come off as he was carving down a hill causing him to bail off his board. Luckily it was only a slightly scraped up hand and a little trip down a ditch to recover the lost wheel for him. Phew.
We then discovered that we didn’t have any skate tools on us and no other means to reattach the wheel. Thankfully we managed to hitch-hike a small lift to the bus by a passer by who I had a great chat with, as he was also a film director.
We called it a day at 45 miles as Matt had managed to get us free showers at a truck stop, which was an INCREDIBLE experience after 3 days without showering. We ended up the night by starting to plan our route for the next day – one that sadly and unavoidably would involve us skating on the interstate (the US version of motorway). Fuck.