Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Pioneer Day

Date: July 24
Mileage: 35.4
July mileage: 678.4
Temperature upon departure: 58
Inches of rain today: 0.02"

That's right. Pioneer Day. In most states, people couldn't even tell you the specific dates on which their respective state holidays fall (isn't Alaska Day in October sometime?) But in Utah, July 24 is second only to Christmas.

Everyone comes out of the woodwork to celebrate the day, 160 years ago today, that Brigham Young and his motley band of American dissidents trudged over a mountain pass, looked out across the cracked-mud valley surrounding a giant dead lake, and said, "Well, I'm sure no one's going to kick us out of this place." (A quote later aesthetically revised to "This is the place," which looked better on T-shirts.) Thus, Salt Lake City was born.

Among that crew were my great-great-and-so-forth-grandparents. I've always been proud of my Mormon pioneer heritage. I like to believe that the same adventuring spirit and irrational zeal that would drive someone to schlep a handcart across the Great Plains lives on in me. So I thought about them today as I was churning the pedals up to Eaglecrest ... about how painful it would be to ride on wooden wheels ... about the insane audacity of carrying things like furniture and pianos across the wilderness ... about how the pioneer children sang as they walked ... and walked ... and walked.

I like that no matter how artificially hard I make my life, I will never live up to their standard. They shredded everything they had in their lives to hit a dusty trail to nowhere. There, in an America before pavement, they experienced a world of extreme suffering and extreme beauty that I will never know. But I like to think that they passed the torch on to me, and that here, on the relatively-well-traveled Alaska frontier, I can blaze my own path to the future.

12 comments:

  1. Beautifully written!

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  2. this may be interesting for you:

    http://briancon-infos.fr/index.php/2007/07/19/2117-iron-bike

    It is about a race in Alpes mountains in Europe.

    Regards

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  3. Another address about race in the Alps mountain.

    http://www.ironbike.it/default0.asp

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  4. You go with your proud heritage self then, you go.

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  5. Anonymous6:22 AM

    Your ancestors are proud and smiling down on you.

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  6. Well done! I love the stories of the pioneers as the endured the elements and journey. I am grateful for their efforts and the Lords blessings.
    Happy Pioneer Day!

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  7. Cristine10:40 AM

    I remember Pioneer Days! The parties, the fireworks, the carnival in Liberty Park, the fun! We'd go to the monument near Hogle Zoo, then go to Lagoon for the day and ride the rides. I like to think of myself as a pioneer in Alaska. I may not be blazing new trails into the wilderness, but the new trails I've blazed in my own life just by being here and learning more about myself and what I'm capable of makes me feel like a bit of a Pioneer. Happy Pioneer Day!

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  8. Amen to that -- I am going to start celebrating that day too, since I am one of the Pioneers.

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  9. It seems to me that you do live your own modern day version of what they did. I am sure you see the beauty (and it sure seems like you experience some measure of suffering to do what you do!!).

    Thank you for taking us along for part of the ride.

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  10. Anonymous4:07 PM

    I love reading your blogs-they give me inspiration. I love the mountain pictures. I miss the mountains. Happy Pioneer Day! It's such a wonderful blessing what our pioneer ancestors did for us!

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  11. When I decided to make the move from Southern California to Alaska, I thought of my Mormon pioneer ancestors, for generations ago.

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  12. Nowadays Mormons are more likely to go for the big SUV. . . in spite of the biking missionaries.

    I used to live in SLC; I remember biking home from a party in North Salt Lake at 2 a.m. in 20'F weather. I didn't own a car, and I was well equipped, with cold weather gloves and two sets of lights.

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