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  • Franklin Zhang

Day 65: Year 23

Updated: Aug 9

August 4, 2022

Rest Day & Maxwell’s Birthday!


The day we’ve all been waiting for…… Maxwell’s 23rd birthday! This day was slowly being planned even before the start of the trip (I guess you could say this about most of our days). We’ve been subtly probing Maxwell to figure out what he likes in preparation for this day. We asked questions like “What is everyone’s favorite cake?” and “How did everyone celebrate their previous birthday?” and we took mental notes of Maxwell’s answers. To discuss our top secret plans, the rest of the Spokes created a group chat that was inconspicuously named “Grocery Run” in hopes of hiding it from Maxwell and also giving ourselves secret codenames. We took these extra precautions because in the past I’ve uncovered a birthday surprise when accidentally reading a notification from the secret birthday group chat on a friend’s laptop (you know who you are).




The previous night we sang happy birthday with the birthday cake (unfortunately Bryce Canyon area doesn’t sell tiramisu so we had to settle for a chocolate cake) and revealed our plans for his birthday. Pies + Mountain Biking + Buffet + Movie!





This morning, Maxwell will wake up to a special breakfast of 5 different types of pies! Simone and I woke up extra early and picked up a boysenberry pie, cherry pie, coconut cream pie, lemon pie, and banana blueberry pie!


After our sugary breakfast, we headed to go mountain biking. It was Maxwell, Sophia, Simone and I. Fun fact, Maxwell was the mountain biking chair in MITOC (the outdoor club at MIT) and he took some of the bikers on some mountain biking trails during the ride to Moab (we had our touring bikes then, so that ride was literally a little rough). Sophia and Simone have never been mountain biking, so they were a little apprehensive. Despite being dropped off at the wrong trailhead and biking in a riverbed for half an hour before getting on the actual trail, we had a blast! We did an out-and-back climb up a mountain, passing by lots of horse poop. Sophia was feeling adventurous on the descent so when given the option to go around a giant tree root or straight into it she decided to ride straight into it! She brought back a little souvenir on her leg from that incident. I got a couple of souvenirs of my own! Simone decided that she didn’t want our type of souvenir and carried back a giant tree branch instead.



The sources of the poo


Accidental river bed biking



We rode back to the bike shop and got some ice cream. Since the buffet hadn’t opened yet, we decided to do a scenic drive into Bryce Canyon NP (that is in fact the reason why we decided to have a rest day here). We got to see a bunch of hoodoos! You might be wondering…… hoo-daat?


A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, or earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock formed by erosion. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoodoo_(geology)




We ended up staying at the park for a little too long because Simone was starting to bonk. She grabbed my snack bag and devoured the whole thing (minus the bag, but everything else inside)! Good thing we are heading to the buffet next! At this point, we were sooo ready to eat at a buffet. We’ve been preparing our mind, soul, and body all day for this moment.



Maxwell ended up getting plate after plate of pot roast, while I found that my favorite item on the menu was mashed potatoes and gravy. Five plates of food later, we kinda just sat in our buffet booth in a food-induced coma. Simone ended up grabbing one of those drawing worksheets for children and a crayon. Sophia and I tried to write out the Japanese alphabet to see if we still remembered anything from the 4+ semesters of Japanese language we took in school, which then devolved into a confusing game of foreign language telephone. The way it worked was that Simone started a message in French, which Maxwell translated into Chinese for me, which was translated into Japanese for Sophia, who then translated into Spanish for Robert. Unfortunately, Mariela wasn’t here, but if she was we could’ve added Russian into the mix as well. I was quite impressed by all the different languages we could speak with each other in.




The final surprise was a handwritten thank you card with personalized messages from each one of us to Maxwell! In fact, Maxwell himself designed these cards which we gave out to all the wonderful people who helped us out throughout the trip! But Mariela and Simone took his design and printed out one that looked more like a birthday card.


Giving the birthday card to Maxwell, while I joined via zoom.


Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to watch the movie, but it was safe to say that Maxwell was thoroughly surprised and happy by the end of the day.



Also just wanted to share this great picture of Maxwell. (This didn't happen today but I thought it would be nice to share)


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