23 Days for Davis

Inspired by the life of his son, Garry Carlson set out on a bicycle journey in 2007 that would last 23 days and cover 1,310 miles from Davis Slough, separating Stanwood and Camano Island, Washington, to the town of Davis, South Dakota. He solicited pledges for his ride that would be donated to the Stanwood–Camano Area Foundation for what would become Davis Place Teen Center. The roots of the DCM Community Service Scholarship were also formed during this ride. Finally, donations were made to the Ronald McDonald house in memory of Davis Carlson.

In his pledge letter to the local community, Garry explained, "A bicycle ride, '23 Days for Davis' will start on Camano Island and continue east for 23 days. Why 23 days? The Carlson family has always worn #23 on their sports jerseys." Davis always wore the number 23, just like his father and his grandfather. His sister Taylor also wears 23. It is the Carlson family number.

After months of training, route planning, a black eye and a few mechanical issues, on July 6, 2007, Garry clipped his cycle shoes into the peddles and began a 23 day adventure. The following are excerpts from Garry's original blog on this trip.

Day 1 - Starting from Davis Slough

Day 1 - Starting from Davis Slough

Stanwood, WA to Clinton, MT

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Snoqualmie Pass

July 6, 2007 (Day 1) - Went 101 miles to Summit at Snoqualmie. Steven Anderson rode the first 23 miles with me. I rode for 7 hours and 8 mins. The last 10 miles to the top of the Summit were the toughest.

Steve Anderson and Garry after the first 23 miles

Steve Anderson and Garry after the first 23 miles

George, WA

July 7, 2007 (Day 2) - 101 miles to George in 6 hours riding time. It is very hot, the places without shade are killing me. My legs don't get tired but what does? My butt, hands, arms, and feet.

Ending Day 2 at George

Ending Day 2 at George

Creston, WA

July 8, 2007 (Day 3) - Today I went 94 miles, This puts me in 46 miles ahead of schedule. We are now in Creston. I couldn't find internet access so Taylor is paraphrasing this for me and I will update this when I find access.

Dry Falls - Ancient waterfall near Coulee City, WA

Dry Falls - Ancient waterfall near Coulee City, WA

Coeur D'Alene, ID

July 9, 2007 (Day 4 & part of 5) - After 20 miles this morning, I stopped in at a Century 21 office in Kellogg, Idaho. They were nice enough to let me use their internet access,I really appreciated that. This is day 5, yesterday was 91 miles, just east of Courde Alene. I rolled into Kellogg at 8am. I have 30-40 miles to go to get to Montana.

I still feel pretty good. I hit a pothole on day 1, and I got a 'stinger' up my arm and my elbow hurts as well as my two fingers are numb. Not sleeping real well at night, I wake up a lot. Getting up at 5am is pretty refreshing.

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog. I will post when I can, otherwise I will relay the info to Taylor and she will post for me.

St. Regis, MT

July 10, 2007 (Day 5) - 80 miles to St. Regis. Stayed at relatives house, Rusty and Margie Teether. Rumblestrips on shoulder of road every 40ft., those are the little indentations on the side of the road so drivers know when they are driving off the side of the road. They took off the whole shoulder and I had no choice but to ride over them. That lasted 20 miles. Brother, Terry called to pep me up, that was nice to hear from him.

Entering Montana

Entering Montana

Clinton, MT

July 11, 2007 (Day 6) - Time change as we crossed the Montana border and now I have to get up an hour earlier. Had to switch bikes after 16 miles because of a flat. And that I didn't want to fix right than. So I just switched bikes. The ride seemed pretty flat even though I was gaining altitude throughout the ride. I'm a little slower, it is really hard to ride hard for an extended period of time. Got another flat 17 miles later. I had no choice to fix the flat so I fixed them both. Mentally it is tough to stay focused. Todays ride was 84 miles and we made it to Clinton, Montana which is 20 miles past Missoula.

Clinton, MT to Ten Sleep, WY

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Butte, MT

July 12, 2007 (Day 7) - 100 degrees. Traveled on I-90 which had a nice 10ft shoulder. Gradual uphill which was fine for riding. Terry (my father in-law) and I spotted a pelican in a lake. I got pictures for proof. Slept real well last night. Was trying to get to Butte and got another flat. I was very frustrated and headed to the KOA camp. Took my bike to the bike shop and had them fix the flat. Hopefully this will cure the problem. Went to Safeway and bought some food. Terry and I had a nice big dinner. Thanks for reading the blog I really appriciate the comments. Talk to you soon.

Climbing a hill near Butte, MT

Climbing a hill near Butte, MT

Ennis, MT

July 13, 2007 (Day 8) - I fixed the flat problem. There was an exposed wire on the inside of the tire that kept puncturing the tube. Ran into road construction they had loose gravel all over the road, I had to skip that part. To bad, it was all down hill. I slept in this morning, didn't start riding till 8:00 am. That felt good! Stopped in Ennis.

Cowboys and city slickers drove cattle across the road

Cowboys and city slickers drove cattle across the road

West Yellowstone, MT

July 14, 2007 (Day 9) - Massive headwinds today. First thing this morning it poured for 45 min.. Then I had a 25 mph headwind for 30 miles. I had to struggle to get to 10 mph. That was a real pain. Went passed Lake Hebgen, this was the area of the famous 1959 earthquake. This area is really pretty, weather too. I made it to West Yellowstone and will enter the park tomorrow morning. So far, 750 miles!

Earthquake Lake was formed when a quake caused a slide

Earthquake Lake was formed when a quake caused a slide

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Entering Yellowstone National Park

Entering Yellowstone National Park

There were plenty of elk to see

There were plenty of elk to see

After searching the North Rim, this was the first buffalo

After searching the North Rim, this was the first buffalo

July 15, 2007 (Day 10) - What a difference a day makes. Enter Yellowstone. I got up early and was one of the first in the park. Wide shoulder to ride on, and not much traffic. Told Terry I would meet him at Old Faithful in 2 1/2 hours, since it was 30 miles away. I pedaled into the forest, it is beautiful. First thing I saw was this "Bald Eagle Nest" and they had cones up that said, no stopping, no standing, no walking, and you had to proceed through the coned off area at normal speed, so as to not upset the Eagles. Well, I pedaled at normal speed, and there were no other cars around, and I got a picture while pedaling and not disturbing the Eagle. When we drove by later that day, no eagle was not visible, so my early morning timing was outstanding... and I didn't even break the rules. Then I headed towards the geysers, bubbling pots, sulfur pots, and finally towards Old Faithful. What a great ride, so much to see. Saw a bull elk rubbing his fur off his rack, right by the road. He paid no attention to me. Saw many other herds of elk out in the fields. One wolf too.

Then we left the park to get the pictures developed. Upon return to the park, (I'm done riding for the day, and Terry is driving the truck around with me) we head to the north loop to see the falls and the animals. Well, the north end is scary, bad roads, no shoulders, up to 11,000 feet and back done to 8,000, and back and forth. It was a rollercoaster ride, and I hated it. NO animals either. The falls we saw were ok, but it was NOT worth the 2 hour drive it took to make the loop.

Steering clear of Momma Grizzly and her cub

Steering clear of Momma Grizzly and her cub

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Then we went to the canyon, the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" AWESOME. Yellow cliffs, the river running below, way below, it was fantastic. Then we headed down south towards the East entrance. That is where we saw the buffalo, and lots of buffalo. They run in herds of 100-200, and we saw 7 such herds. They were not crossing the road, but they were close enough. As we were leaving, we saw a grizzly and her cub, that was a rare sight. She kept her eye on all the cars, but didn't react too much. Got a picture, hope it turns out.

Well, that was the day in Yellowstone... I appreciated all its beauty and highly recommend it to everyone.

Near Burlington, WY

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

July 16, 2007 (Day 11) - Heading towards Cody. Guess what, it was mostly all downhill. I flew. Made the 44 mile trip in about 2 1/2 hours. Then went past Cody another 26 miles, and boy is that part boring. Same road all the way, no sights, just flat out boring. It will probably be that way for a while.

Hope to get to Ten Sleep tomorrow. They call it Ten Sleep, because that is how many "sleeps" it took to cross the Big Horn Mountains back in the day.

Thanks for all the comments and just taking the time to read the posts.

Ten Sleep, WY

July 17, 2007 (Day 12) - Truck trouble. The brade controller on the truck was not working as well as the speedometer. We were just short of Worland so we went to the first brake shop we could find. A little spendy for repairs, but aleast we are on the road again. Headed to Ten Sleep for the night, after the three hour delay on the truck. Today's ride was excellent, a little boring, but the road was good and I had a bit of a tailwind.

Ten Sleep, WY to Kennebec, SD

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Near Buffalo, WY

July 18, 2007 (Day 13) - The big climb! I knew this would be a tough day. Climbing The Big Horn Mountains. Here are my times for the day.

  • 1st hour: 9.2 miles
  • 2nd hour: 5.8 miles
  • 3rd hour: 6.5 miles
  • 4th hour: 7.6 miles

That is 29.1 miles in four hours. It was all up hill, 29 straight miles all up hill! It was possibly the hardest, physical thing I have ever done. My legs got tired for the first time. It was brutal! The next 27 miles were all down hill and took only 1 1/2 hours. The climb was 5,000 feet to the summit, which was at 9,666 feet... Ten more days!

It's not easy being this sexy!

It's not easy being this sexy!

Gillette, WY

July 19, 2007 (Day 14) - A day of insight. After complaining about the winds and hills this morning, I finally figured out why I'm here. This is not about me, this is about remembering Davis and getting people to understand the importance of being involved in a charity and helping out others. I was feeling sorry for myself this morning as the 30mph winds whipped in my face and hill after hill approached the horizon. I was on a huge "pity pot". Then I woke up, the song I had written for Davis (Hey Dad) came on my I-pod and I decided to listen to it this time (as before I would always skip it). This time I listened. I cried as I remembered the struggles that Davis went through and the pain he suffered. I cried when I remembered all the joy he brought to me and to others that were close to him. That's when it hit me, I needed to quit with all the internal complaining I was doing in my head and do this for the right reasons. My struggles are nothing compared to what Davis went through. I rode the next 18 miles in a better state of serenity, and I owe it all to Davis. He is and always will be my ROCK. I love him so much and I miss him dearly.

Not much news to report about the ride. Today, all my energy goes into learning how to become a better person. When I struggle in the future, I will always remember this day.

I love you guys, go tell someone you love them too.

From Wyoming, with much LOVE,


Beulah, WY

July 20, 2007 (Day 15) - I met up with Merry, Taylor and my father as we reached the South Dakota Border. I finished my ride there and spent the rest of the day with the family. We played a game of mini-golf and Taylor won the match fair and square. She was awesome.

We went to dinner, dad and I had elk steak, yummy. Tony turned me on to the elk when he cooked it on like day 4 of our trip. I talked dad into trying it and he thought it was very good. Neither Taylor or Merry would dare take a taste.

We drove up to Crazy Horse. What a magnificent sight. We are going back tomorrow night for the laser show.

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Day Off!

July 21, 2007 (Day 16) - Today is a DAY OFF from riding. It is about 5:45 here in SD. We went to see the Mammoth Exhibit and Mt. Rushmore. Rushmore was pretty cool, took some good pictures. Merry's cousin Joanie (from Kansas) and her family joined us today for our adventures. That was a good surprise.

We are going to play another round of miniature golf, I hope Taylor beats me again. We are also headed up to Crazy Horse to see more and watch the laser show.

I feel really tired today. I took a nap in the car, took a nap when we got back to the hotel, and just feel groggy. Body is not used to such ease!

Back to riding tomorrow, up to the famous "Wall Drug Store" and then down through the Badlands.

It sure is good to see the Family.

Did you go tell someone that you loved them?

Garry, Merry and Taylor Carlson at Mt. Rushmore

Garry, Merry and Taylor Carlson at Mt. Rushmore

Interior, SD

July 22, 2007 (Day 17) - The morning ride was great, good weather, flatter land. Made 25 miles in 1 1/2 hours, then the wind returned. Made the 40+ miles to Wall and toured Wall Drug. Quite the little tourist trap, but we enjoyed it. Taylor thinks she could never live this far from a MALL. Makes her appreciate little old Stanwood a little more.

The Badlands were quite the site, and hot too, 110 degrees. There wasn't much of a shoulder and the riding was pretty dangerous, so I didn't ride completely through the Badlands. Very interesting land.

We made it to a KOA in Interior SD.

While we were in one of the viewing areas, this Harley Riding couple approached me and said "She a little overheated, could you spare some water" I said sure. I thought he was talking about the motorcycle so I said "Just as soon as I take this picture." I felt bad when I realized he was talking about the lady and I didn't get the water right away. I gave her a couple of bottles of water, asked if she wanted some Gatorade, she said she didn't want to bother us, I told her it was no bother. I suggest she needed something more than water to replenish her fluids, so I made her a cytomax drink. I hope she drank it and is okay. They were on their way to Sturgis.

Well, looking forward to some flat land and some massive heat.

Kennebec, SD

July 23, 2007 (Day 18) - Let's see, today is the 18th day, and we left the Badlands and headed to Davis. The backroads are nice, but the same scene repeats itself continuously. We stopped in a town called... ?????? ...I'm drawing a blank... oh yea, Kennebec. It is on I-90. I wasn't planning on going that route, but Terry insisted it would be better to travel near the Interstate rather than these backroads where towns consist of a few buildings. He was probably correct in thinking that we may never find a place to stay on these roads... so off to I-90 we headed.

They had a nice pool, Taylor enjoyed that, so did I. It was quite refreshing. Another hot day, 109 degrees, but I do most of my riding in the morning when it only 95 degrees. Those extra 14 degrees are mighty hot.

Garry with the Badlands behind him

Garry with the Badlands behind him

Kennebec, SD to Davis, SD

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Mitchell, SD

July 24, 2007 (Day 19) - We headed to Mitchell, [SD]. Davis' full name is Davis Mitchell Carlson, so we had to add that as a stop. Turns out that Mitchell, South Dakota is home to the famous "Corn Palace". They decorate the interior and exterior of the building with corn, pretty cool. Taylor was excited because this town actually has some shops. We went to K-Mart, WalMart, and Cabelas. I bought a hat at Cabelas, thanks Dad.

We are less than 100 miles away from Davis, SD. We plan on staying in Souix Falls tomorrow night, then heading to Davis the next day, then returning to our wonderful community of Stanwood–Camano.

Hopefully we will be home on Saturday, the 23rd day of the trip. Boy do I miss home, friends, family, and the community. Taylor has a whole new appreciation for little old boring Stanwood after riding in the truck through some of these towns of less than 50 people.

I have some things to share about next years ride. I will write it up on the web site when I return home.

You guys are wonderful, you keep me inspired with your messages.

Mom, I love you.

Take Care, Garry

Garry and Taylor Carlson wearing silly hats

Garry and Taylor Carlson wearing silly hats

Sioux Falls, SD

July 25, 2007 (Day 20) - Finished today with over 5 hours of riding. Still hot, very hot, over 100. Guess what, I'm 23 miles from Davis, so I will finish the ride tomorrow morning with a celebatory 23 mile ending ride. That will be special.

We are staying at a Best Western tonight, we needed a night out of the camper. Souix Falls is a big city, Taylor and Merry are headed to the MALL. Terry and I will go to and sit in the food court, I still love food. Tomorrow after the ride we head home, should travel Thursday, Friday, and be home Saturday.

I got a call from Steve Anderson today... He asked how I was holding up? Well, it is strange... Here is a rundown.

Head: Feels pretty good, I have to wear a sweatband under my helmet to keep that annoying sweat from dripping into my eyes. The sweatband get a little tight every now and then, and causes a slight headache, but very slight. I was a little worried about the sweatband causing a rash on my forehead, but there has been no rash or itching so far. B+

Eyes: I was a little worried too about my eyes (contacts). As you know, I hate the wind, wind blows stuff in my eyes, bad mixture with contacts. I wear sunglasses that curve to my face, cheap ones I bought at the hardware store, but they work fantastic. I have had zero issues with my eyes. That was unexpected and very pleasing. A

Neck: I have also had some neck issues in the past, stiff neck. All the looking up I have to do is a problem. I move my neck around a lot when I ride, and it does get achy after a bit, but when I stop riding, I have no lingering problem. It feels like my neck will hurt when I get off the bike, but nope, feels fine. B

Shoulders & Arms: I think I'm getting a bit of a workout on the shoulders. Nothing hurts, but you use them more than you'd think. A

Lips: Oh yeah, I put good sunscreen on my lips, that was a savior, good suggestion from my Mom. I love my Mom. B

Hands: The two fingers on my right hand are still numb. They don't really hurt, but it is annoying to ride, they get uncomfortable, and it feels funny (strange). This is from that stinger I got on day 1. My wrist gets crampy, I have to shake them out quite often, but once I'm off the bike, my wrists are fine. B- Fingers left hand: B+ right hand: D-.

Back: pretty solid. I stretch often, when going slow, I stand up on the bike, or sit and arch my back, this keeps me loose. A

Rear End: now here is a real shocker. I have no chaffing problems, and no real pain, it just gets a little tired and I have to stand up and stretch, or just ride through the uncomfortableness. But once I'm off the bike, I'm fine. When I get back on the next morning, no soreness, the tiredness just appears within the hour. Tiredness... is that a word? B

Legs: oh the legs are great, I have had zero cramps, zero tightness, and zero soreness. My legs are hoilding up great, and I also have a great tan, and some serious tan lines to boot. Taylor wishes she had my tan, but she laughs at my "tan lines". And let me tell you, they are distinct. I have some pictures you'll get a good laugh at. A+

Feet: this is an issue. I get that numbness in my toes too. It get better at night, unlike the fingers, but it is the same feeling. Two toes on each foot. No other problems though. C

I hope that was interesting, I'm holding up pretty well, I'll give myself a B+.

Until tomorrow, and if you haven't told someone you love them as often as you should, go do it right now, it will be good for everyone.

I could not have made this trip without my support group, especially the drivers, Tony and Terry. Thank you so much for putting in all that time. It is truly awesome to have Merry and Taylor here too, I love them both very much, and of course my mother and father, I love them.

Enough babbling... Love Ya, Garry

Davis, SD

July 26, 2007 (Day 21) - We made it to Davis, South Dakota, a town with a water tower, a nice one, one that had Davis written in nice clear lettering. Actually one of the nicest we saw, and every town has one. The town has a post office, a fire hall, and a bar, that's it. We got a picture of the Davis town population sign, and it was right into the early morning sun, so we drove about 1/4 mile, and got the sign entering the town from the other direction. Taylor said, "that's it, that's the town?" that was pretty funny. I think she spent a lot of time sleeping and missed all the other small towns that we zipped through, but Davis did have a population of 104. We took many pictures, then headed home.

It was nice to be done, I rode my bike a total of 1,310 miles.

Thank you again for the support.

Davis, South Dakota's water tower

Davis, South Dakota's water tower

Taylor, Merry and Garry Carlson outside Davis, SD

Taylor, Merry and Garry Carlson outside Davis, SD

Merry, Taylor and Garry Carlson on the other side of Davis, SD

Merry, Taylor and Garry Carlson on the other side of Davis, SD

Going Home

July 27, 2007 (Day 22) - Drove 575 miles yesterday, and other 565 miles today. We are in St. Regis, Montana. I'll tell you what, that sitting in a car (truck) for that many miles is exhausting. I'm more tired than the days I rode my bike.

The scenery is really boring. I already saw it once, and once is enough.

Can't wait to get HOME>>>>>I love HOME.

Home at Last

July 28, 2007 (Day 23) - I rode a total of 1,310 miles and it took 94 hours and 30 minutes of riding. Once I saw how long it took to DRIVE home, I really had more of an appreciation of what I had just done. I know people ride from coast to coast, and I know how tough that really is. This was tough enough.

I know Davis is proud... and I'm proud of Davis. He is my hero, I love him so much and this ride was just the therapy I needed. The time along was invaluable, priceless, irreplaceable, etc.

The total distance to Davis was just over 1500 miles, not quite as far as I originally thought, although plenty far. I skipped over some of the road construction, and there was a lot, and I also skipped over parts of the road that were just deemed unsafe.

So it wasn't a continious route, but pretty close, I'm still proud of what I accomplished...

Please keep reading, and consider getting involved in creating something special.


© 2018 Davis Carlson Memorial