Day 15 [Pompano Beach, FL]

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2014

Hmmm.

It is raining this morning, or at least a hard drizzle.

And I REALLY dislike packing up when it’s wet. Means stuff you pack INSIDE your bags is wet. Remember our trip into New Orleans in 2010?

Same idea.

Drizzly day

[See our trikes, under blue cover behind the white fence in the lower right hand corner?]

SOOOOOOO….we have decided to stay in today, take care of some business, some trike repair, and give Earline’s stomach and knee a chance to recuperate. By the way, her stomach is FINE this morning.

Hmmm.

We are grateful.

Tomorrow, then, the goal will be to get packed up early, and be in West Palm tomorrow night, a distance of about 40 miles. Perhaps God will allow us to minister at a church on Sunday in the West Palm area.

Please pray! Thank you!

TGG,

jon

 

Day 14 [North Hollywood – Pompano Beach, FL]

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014

[Distance traveled: 18 miles]

Happy Thursday!

[By the way, if you want to be on our mailing list, just text GHA on your phone to 42828 to get started. That will then ask you for your e-mail address, and we can get you on the list!]

It was raining when we woke up [ACK!], so we packed for rain, but it DID stop before we got on the road, and we did not have rain all day, so we were grateful.

But the WIND! Ooooooofta!

[Okay, Ric, how am I REALLY supposed to spell it?!]

Riding into the wind all day, so, yes, it was a STRUGGLE.

And then, we turned on the news tonight for our first TV in a couple weeks, and everybody’s talking about government crisis, and school killings, and threats to kill police, and I’m thinking, wow, nothing’s changed…or, actually it is getting worse.

Fearful?

Yes, there is reason to be afraid….EXCEPT:

God has COMMANDED us to NOT be afraid….why? [Hint: FEARLESS Song #1]

As I think about the last words of that song, though, I was thinking….does God “go” with EVERYONE? WHEREVER they go?

And then my thoughts go back to the matter of trust….when my son Torin was very young, and he would jump into my arms from a ways away, he trusted me to catch him. No doubt, no fear, and I always did.

But, if he did not jump, could I catch him?

No.

He HAD to jump….and maybe that’s why God said we should have faith like a child. [Matthew 19:14 in the Amplified version: “But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed.”

So God is THERE, He is available, but we still have to jump. WE have to trust.

And today, we had MUCH evidence of what happens when you trust God….as we left the motel this morning, Earline stopped to give a flyer to the young man who did her nails yesterday, who believed that Buddhism and Christianity were compatible. [No, they are not, 2+2 cannot equal both 4 and 5.]

Right next door is the SuperCuts where Earline got her hair trimmed yesterday, and she had a chance to share with the young lady from Michigan and her friend that works at Little Caesars about the power of God to FACE your FEARS.

And the young lady from Michigan was moved to tears, and KNEW that God had sent us to give her that message.

Earline with 2 girls front of Supercuts

As we continued down the road, we came to the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

Ft. Lauderdale airport

And then Earline saw something in the road ahead, that jumped into the woods to our right. What was it?

I did not see it….maybe Earline will share about it on her blog [go to earlineblumhagen.com]

[By the way, Earline is also posting on her Facebook page and GHA’s Facebook page, so maybe you will find the answer THERE! Ha!]

She thinks it might have been two baby cougars playing!

There was MUCH construction going on around the airport, especially on the northeast side between the airport and the Port Everglades.

Trying to find way around FT. L airport

I was studying GoogleMaps to find a way around, and saw a route, but the way was blocked, so I went to ask permission to go thru the construction area.

Let us through!

Let me across

Then, we we finally got through the construction, we ran into THIS!

Do NOT Enter

I don’t see THAT on GoogleMaps!

[I guess you can’t always trust GoogleMaps either….ONLY God!]

So we had to go BACK by the construction we just came through, and wind our way through the front of the Port.

Around the entrance to Port Everglades

Stopped at a Firehouse and got a great turkey sub AND they filled all our containers with ice. Thanks, Firehouse!

Then we continued…..WAIT!

Where’d Earline go?

Oh, oh.

There she is.

We had to stop where?

Brand new store, but the prices were not what she expected. [Well it IS in Ft. Lauderdale!]

NOW we continue.

Up a bridge….let’s kick it in!

Oh-oh, another bridge

Oh, the struggle!

The struggle

Made it!

Made it to the top

And the view from the top was nice.

View of cruise ship from top of bridge

View of boats

View from top

But now, it is time to go DOWNHILL!

Wait!

Out of the way!

On a DOWNHILL, MOVE

Ha!

When we got to the beach, the kite surfers were jumping 30 feet in the air, it was so windy!

Earline at Lauderdale beach

Sometimes the condos would protect us from the strong northeast wind, so we were grateful for that.

We had the chance to share our mission with a young man outside of Hess gas station.

Explaining the mission at gas station

And then more of A1A…..

Toodling down A1AAs it was getting dark, Earline’s knee was really hurting again, and we needed a place to stay. But where?

I checked a couple places along the west side of A1A, but they were just too high, or filled up. Lord, we need a place!

So with Earline praying, I checked out another place, and met Nazih and Gabriel. They were both great! AND they gave us an excellent rate. AGAIN we are grateful.

Nazih is 65, and looks in GREAT shape….says he takes vitamins and works out every day [so he appreciated OUR endeavor!].

Gabriel, it turns out, has a sister who is Deaf! His family adopted her when she was 1 and a half years old or so, and the whole family learned sign language. His sister’s name is Jessica, and she is around 31 years old now, and lives in the Tampa area, and is going to a community college down there.

Then we met Donna, who is temporarily living here at Shores Terrace. She’s 28 years old, and originally from New Jersey. She graciously agreed to drive us across the river to 7-11 so Earline could get some coffee! We had much fun talking with her in her clutch-repaired Mustang, and then we had the “adventure” at 7-11….

….Donna had ordered one of 7-11’s scrumptious hot dogs, you know, all smothered with onions and stuff, and the girl behind the counter was great, fixing food, waiting on folks, making pizza, all by herself!

BUT….she thought that Donna was with this other couple standing beside her, so she gave the hot dog to them! I think they may have been from Europe, possibly, and they graciously accepted the hot dog and started eating it!

Donna was wondering where her hot dog was….and as they were trying to figure it out, we have visual evidence of where the dog went!

Donna in 7-11

[Eating Donna’s hot dog it in the background….see it??!!]

The 7-11 hostess finally figured it out, and quickly made another hot dog for Donna, and the couple sheepishly figured out that yes, they had to pay for the extra food they were given.

Much laughter ensued. Ha!

BUt, the real wonder, is that Earline had a chance to share with Donna when we got back to the motel, that with God ALL things are possible, and that she does NOT have to fear, because for those who trust Him, He PROMISES to help them, and strengthen them, WHEREVER they go!

And Donna knew that his was a message just for her.

So know….KNOW that YOUR prayers are being answered.

Continue to pray for Earline’s strength….not only her knee, but her abdomen as well. Not sure if it is her stomach, or what. She had acute pain last night, but was able to find a position in bed that minimized the pain. We did a little research on-line, and found that pancreatitis seemed to best match her symptoms.

But now this morning, she has no pain. So we’re not sure.

We will keep an eye on it, and ask you to pray for wisdom, as well as healing and strength.

We DO KNOW that God is able….and we ask that He continue to bless EACH day.

TGG,

jon

 

Day 13 [North Hollywood, FL]

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2014

[Distance traveled: 2 miles]

A day to rest Earline’s leg, and a day to do some repairs, and a day to get laundry done. Yea!

When we came in last night it was dark and still drizzling….[okay maybe it was not THAT bad, but some of you up north DO have MUCH snow….be careful!]….

Jon arriving at Kenwood

But this morning we could see better the cute little courtyard here at the Kenwood Motel.

Kenwood courtyard

And in the far right corner of the photo, you can see the washer and dryer. So convenient! Thanks, God.

The room also worked out great for us, because they were nice and big, AND both trikes fit thru the door. That is a BIG plus…otherwise we would have to dismantle the panniers, which is fairly easy on Earline’s trike, but on mine, so so much.

Inside room

[I made sure that I wiped off the tires with a rag before we brought them into the room….we want to be courteous and GRATEFUL for a gift like this room.]

[And honestly, we did not watch a minute of TV….too much to DO!]

Real cool this morning, in the mid 50s, but the forecast is for close to 70 degrees tomorrow, so we’re good!

Tonight we had the opportunity to minister at Elder Elaine’s church, the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church here in North Hollywood where Elder Connail Johnson is the Pastor. [Another plus of the motel is that it was only a mile to the church, so add just 2 miles to our distance traveled. Ha!]

It was a cute little church, and the people were very warm and hospitable. We sensed a spirit of deep love for the Lord, and were impressed with how many young men boldly expressed their love for God. One of the ladies created this beautiful Thanksgiving wreath:

Thanksgiving wreath

When the first young man spoke at the beginning of the service, I had a hard time hearing what he was saying. It might have because of the music they were playing during his talk. Probably my fault, because I am involved in the music ministry at Iglesia Gracia de Dios in Orlando, and one side of my brain was trying to hear the Word, and the other side was saying, “oh, listen to that transition, oh, that was a nice melody, oh, did they just modulate there?, oh, they need to pull pack the mids on that section, and up the highs, oh, that was a nice harmony, oh….etc., etc. ACK!”

They did eventually turn the music down, and that helped….whew!

The young men in the back were able to pull up our blog and put it on the screen in the front of the church. I had never seen that done before with our blog…great!

NHMBC screen

Earline and I then shared a little about our ministry to the Deaf, and why we do these Mission POSSIBLE Tours. Earline also talked a little about Facing Your Fears, including getting your hair trimmed at Supercuts. Sometimes things don’t turn out like we hope….I will let HER explain!

And finally, I taught the congregation Joshua 1:9, the first of the FEARLESS songs. They did great!

Pastor Johnson was home sick tonight, so please pray for his health! Elder Elaine gave Earline the opportunity to interpret the message, then, from Eugenia Bonds, who we found out after the service has a Deaf daughter in Orlando! Small world!

Earline interp Eugenia Bonds

Earline was interpreting for two Deaf ladies [I remember Cora on the right from our Deaf revival last year at Mt. Sinai], and Ernest on the front row, who is learning sign language.

Cora, Ernest and one other deaf lady

After the service, some of the folks had an opportunity to sit down in the trikes and test them out. Here’s Daniel, who loves the Lord, and got married only about 4 MONTHS ago. [Earline, we HAVE to tell them about the GORGEOUS Winshape marriage retreat center up in Mt. Berry, GA. See Day -2.]

Daniel testing trike

Pastor’s wife, “Lady J” WAS at the service, and took a picture with Earline.

Earline and Lady J

Earline, [OF COURSE! Ha!], got a selfie with Elder Elaine and Lady J:

Selfie with EE,EB, and Lady J

But not to be outdone, I ALSO got a selfie with Elder Elaine!

Jon and EE selfie

We are grateful for the opportunity to share our story, and how EACH of us has a special part in the body of Christ where we can thrive and be useful in building up HIS Kingdom.

Only THROUGH GOD’S GRACE,

jon

Day 12 [Miami – North Hollywood, FL]

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014

[Distance traveled: 24 miles]

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday we were hot and sweaty, with all kinds of bug bites from the past week of camping [I counted about 20-25 bug bits on each leg….oh, the scratching!]….and then this morning….it started out warm:

Leaving River Front Hotel in dntn Miami

Here, let me zoom out a little bit:

Zoom out

And even as we exited downtown, Earline still had the SouthSport Cool Rag wrapped around her neck that she got from Cousin Vicki.

Leaving Miami SouthSport Cool Rag

[Earline LOVES her Cool Rag!]

BUT….you could tell something was up, because maybe 10 minutes after we set out this morning, the wind switched, and it started to feel a little cooler.

And then a little became a LOT! Specifically, after riding in temperatures around 85° yesterday, the temp today gradually fell to the current temp of 56 tonight here in North Hollywood, FL, a difference of almost 30 degrees. Brrrrrrrrr.

Bundling up:

It got COLD

And it is still drizzling a little. We did not have HEAVY rain today when we were riding, but it drizzled pretty steady, enough for us to have to cover our side bags.

AND we were riding into the wind….so the miserable factor was pretty high.

It gets dark early now, before even 6pm….so we rode in the dark the last hour of our ride. We did find an inexpensive motel that had HUGE rooms, WiFi, and a laundry, so it is perfect for us….just a mile from Hope Baptist Church where we will be giving a short presentation tomorrow.

And now it sounds like it is raining HARD outside…..OOOOOO, glad we missed this! [Earline says that is what she prayed….God is gracious!]

Condos, condos, and more condos everywhere. And lots of construction going on, especially in Miami Beach and North Beach.

Construction

As we were headed out of downtown Miami, we saw these condos:

Condos and covet

But look at the sign at the bottom of the condo on the left:

Thou shalt covet

What in the world??!!

But isn’t that the way sin always starts out? First it is a little rebellious, maybe cute, and funny. Then it becomes a little more serious. And then it is outright defiance.

So now I guess it is cool marketing to come right out and say the opposite of what the God commands.

And isn’t that really Satan’s device all along?

It goes wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay back to the Garden of Eden. What was the temptation Satan used?

He said, “Did God RE-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-A-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-LY say you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the Garden?”

Getting us to question what God said. God’s Word versus man’s word.

And then, as recorded in Genesis 3, Satan told Eve that “You won’t die,” which was an outright lie. But she bought the lie, and we’ve ALL been dying ever since.

All but two, that is. The Bible records 2 people in all of history that did NOT die. Do you know who they were?

A FREE WiFi Pedaler t-shirt to whoever gets the answer right first!

[And to those of you from 2010 who were promised that they MIGHT get a t-shirt….YES! It is actually going to happen! Whoo-whoo!]

Just respond with a comment to this day’s blog entry, and the first right answer gets the t-shirt.

In Psalm 37, it also says that we aren’t supposed to fret about those who are rebellious towards God, or who are outright defiant and wicked:

“Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes….For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly!”

We did see more evidence of the struggle today:

More evidence of the struggle

And we had our own struggles, having to go over several bridges, including 3 drawbridges:

One of three drawbridges

The last one was when it was dark and drizzling….couldn’t get a good photo.

The Venetian Causeway is how we got from Miami to Miami Beach:

Crossing Venetian Causeway

The ride up A1A was very busy, but slower, because of the construction, business deliveries, residential areas, and even many signs and road markings specifically for bicycles.

A1A

We ran across a 2-story Publix, where we got lunch and a few supplies. This Publix had parking on the first floor, and the store was up on the 2nd floor. They also had an innovative way of getting your grocery cart down to the first floor.

2-story Publix

Again, condos, condos, condos everywhere. Many Trump Tower condos. And these Oceania Island Towers.

Oceania Island

And there was a whole row of houses to our right in Golden Beach, oceanfront homes, that sometimes had the front gate open where we could see in….whoa!

Beautiful home example

Continue to please pray for Earline’s health….her knee seems a little stronger, but it still gives her a lot of pain by the end of the day. And then today she has been experiencing a lot of stomach problems.

God – you know our needs, even BEFORE we ask them. Thanks for Your provision, and YOUR faithfulness to our well-being. Again from Psalm 37, You promised:

“He [God] DELIGHTS in every detail of their [good men’s] lives.” [v. 23]

And DO pray for our short presentation tomorrow night at Hope Baptist here in North Hollywood. This is Elder Elaine’s church, who is a certified interpreter and works with many Deaf down in this area.

Can’t let you go without showing a picture of Mr. “Don’t talk to strangers!” Dennis.

Infamous Mr. Dennis

We had a delightful conversation with him at a bus stop in Sunny Isles. He asked many questions, and seem to quickly grasp what this Mission POSSIBLE Tour is all about. He works right now as a part-time private chauffeur, and recently shaved off his full beard. He was a hoot! Pray for him and his endeavors.

TGG,

jon

Day 11 [Homestead – Miami, FL]

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014

[Distance traveled: 31 miles]

Happy Monday!

The South Dade County Trail starts just behind the RaceTrak at the corner of Hwy 1 and Card Sound Road. From there it continues for some 30 miles all the way to downtown Miami, and that was the route we traveled today.

Sometimes it was just some pavement beside the bus lanes….

BUSway

Sometimes it was woodsy, like in the University of Miami area….

Wooded area trail

Sometimes it was over a wooden bridge….

Earline on wooden bridge

Sometimes over a cement bridge….

Earline on busway bridge

Sometimes UNDER an elevated train bridge….

Earline under L-Train

Sometimes over a metal bridge….

Over a bridge

….and, of course, that meant being able to come DOWN from a metal bridge!

Earline going down bridge

WHEEEEEEEE!

Sometimes it went behind a bus station….

Bus station

Sometimes it went THROUGH a bus station….

THRU bus station

….so basically, a lot of bridges and busses today.

BUSway near downtown

There was even a drawbidge downtown, at the END of the South Dade Trail.

Drawbridge

One GREAT THING the trail did, was go past a SubStation.

SubStation

Earline had GREAT things to say about their Philly cheese-steaks! Mmmm-mmmm!

Philly cheesesteak

They sit right on the bike trail, at the corner of Flagler and Campbell, just north of Homestead. Check ‘em out!

In the SubStation we also had a chance to meet Kevin and Karina. They were both respectful and well-spoken, and we thought very highly of them. They WILL BOTH be in our prayers and thoughts as Kevin plans on joining the Army soon.

Kevin and Karina

One thing that DID concern us today, though, was the number of homeless people that we saw, almost always older men, just sitting, or sleeping in a variety of places. We actually saw one guy talking a leak at the back of one of the bus stops as we rode by.

Ugh.

No wonder many of the bus stops reeked of urine as we rode past.

Miami has got a PROBLEM.

Now we understand that EVERYBODY has a story, or as our niece Coco puts it, everyone has a STRUGGLE. And today, riding on the trail, we saw many examples of The Days of Our Struggle:

Guys sleeping along the Trail…

Guy laying down struggle

White guys approaching cars with cup in hand…

White guy can in hand struggle

Black guys approaching cars with cup in hand….

Black guy can in hand struggle

Or even a makeshift homeless campground, anchored with shopping carts, in the parking garage of the Dadeland Mall….

Makeshift campground at Dade mall

Oh, the STRUGGLE, the STRUGGLE!

Even Philippians 1:30 says:

“We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.”

FEARLESS Song #1 says: “Have I not commanded you be strong and of good courage??!!”

Commanded!

Beat the struggle! You can do it!

Through God’s grace,

jon

Day 10 [Key Largo – Homestead, FL]

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2014

[Distance traveled: 25 miles]

Had a really good night’s sleep at King’s Kamp, and the weather is almost perfect….light breeze, and maybe 75, 80 degrees.

As we were packing, a small C-Class RV pulled up beside us, and it was a young couple from Switzerland! They were in the U.S. for about 3 weeks, and are on their way to Key West.

Earline and Regula had a chance to talk for a while. Regula’s first language is German, so I sprechened a little Deutsch with her. We found out she is a Christian, and an Emergency Room nurse in Switzerland. When we left, we had a chance to have little prayer time with Regula, for their travels and ours.

Regula from Switzerland

After leaving the camp, we went next door to a little eating place called Evelyn’s of Key Largo. What a friendly little restaurant! For those of you familiar with Mr. Quick in Orlando, it was kind of like a fancy Mr. Quick, with a Spanish/Mexican/Keys flavor. [We love Mt. Quick!]

The food was scrumptious, and after we finished eating, one of the waitresses helped Earline fill our water bottles and small igloo with ice. How nice and thoughtful of them! For those of you who read my blog yesterday about customer service….THIS is what I was talking about. THIS is customer service, and we love it! Evelyn’s in Key Largo, about Mile Marker 104, on the north side of the road. Go there, and tell them the Wifi Pedalers sent you!

Headed out of town with bellys full, and fresh ice, and stopped to take a picture of the “You Are Leaving” sign.

Earline take picture of sign

So what exactly does the sign say? Check it out…

Key Largo sign

Oh, NOOOOOOOOOO! Back to reality!!!!!

Ha!

Here’s Earline officially leaving the Keys….you made it! [Only 375 miles to go….whoa!]

Officially leaving the Keys

But we hadn’t even gotten to the first big hill, when….thump, thump!

What?

Did I run over something?

There were some grates along the side of the road, next to the turquoise-painted walls [did you notice?….turquoise – I guess it is a Keys thing].

When I ran over one of those grates, apparently it knocked my tire pump loose, and that’s what I bumped against. Earline picked it up, and it looks like it survived any damage, and I had to reattach it.

Fixing loose pump

NOW we can go over the big hill.

Biggest bridge

When we got to the top, I stuck up my camera to the side and took this picture. [Earline, this is what you didn’t didn’t want to look at….see what you’re missing??!!??] [This is a higher-rez picture.]

Higher rez look over bridge

Then we had fun coming DOWN this hill…got up to 30 MPH going down. WHEEEE!

But that was it pretty much it….over 20 miles of a mostly straight, boring road, and….WAIT!

What does that sign say?

Crocodile crossing

Okay, so let me figure this out.

[Uncle Dan, maybe you can help me with this one.]

First of all, the Florida Department of Transportation wants us to know that there MAY be crocodiles trying to cross the road for the next 6 miles.

Okay, question 1….WHY in the world are they trying to cross the road?

Okay, question 2….if I DO see one trying to cross the road, is there something I am supposed to do?

[This seems especially significant for those of us ON A BICYCLE, OR TRICYCLE, don’t you think??!!?]

Okay, question 3….if I DO see one, and it starts to chase me, can I fight back? This seems to me to be an important fact that I should have figured out BEFORE I actually see one trying to cross the road!

Comments or suggestions are appreciated!

[Isn’t this Mission POSSIBLE Tour called FACING YOUR FEARS? I guess I did not understand that meant I would have to face…a CROCODILE!] [I think song #3 is probably the best song for this situation: “I (God) will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!”….especially if it is high above the jaws of some ornery crocodile!]

By the way, we did NOT see any crocodiles.

Whew!

So, OTHERWISE, it is basically just a straight shot north, and Earline got a nice picture of the skies.

Facinating clouds in hwy 1

By the way, we had to be careful NOT to drink too much water….there are NO services for this stretch through the swamp…no trees to hide behind, no cornfields….you just have got to hold it!

Whew!

There were some rumble grooves along the side, but for the most part they were within 3 feet of the outside white line of the right lane, and then there would be another 4 to 5 feet of blacktop surface OUTSIDE the rumble grooves for us to ride on. So mostly a smooth ride, and this was also very beneficial for Earline and her knee…it got sore again today, but it was almost 10 miles before it really started to bother her.

She does seem to be getting stronger each day. Thanks God!

FINALLY we arrived at the RaceTrak across from Card Sound Road. YES!

We did look for a church to go to a Sunday night service. Found one not too far away, the new Branches United Methodist Church.

But, alas, apparently they do not have a Sunday evening service.

We then stopped at a Bike Hostel we saw just off the bike trail coming from the Keys. They have got quite a set-up their courtyard…impressive! Even a flowing waterfall that you can drink and swim in! [I hear it IS a little chilly, however! Think warm thoughts.]

Hostel

Bike hostel in Homestead

Thanks, Bonnie, for taking the time to show us around! [I hope I remembered your name right!]

She and Earline, of course, HAD to take a selfie:

Bonnie at Bike Hostel

Alas, they didn’t have any private rooms available, so we found somewhere else close by to stay.

One final thought….and this is from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

He writes:

“It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life.”

….”even the most humbling tasks”….

Our routine these days means unpacking and packing the tent, or gathering up scraps of trash, or Earline helping hold the hand pump still while I pump up the air mattress, or rubbing down Earline’s knee, or putting Cortizone on that mosquito bite that the other person just cannot quite reach…

….ALL these tasks should be done to the glory of God. ALL.

What are some humbling tasks that YOU do? What are you doing where there is “no one paying even the remotest attention to”….THAT is “the true test of a saint’s life.”

May all YOUR tasks today be done in “faithfulness” with gratitude and thanks to God.

“God…working in us.”

Thanks again to ALL of you for your prayers and support.

TGG,

jon

Day 9 [Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe Key – Key Largo]

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2014

[Distance traveled: 23 miles]

Liquid nitrogen, killer lobsters, and sexy mannequins make up the news from today’s adventures in Facing Your Fears, the 2014 Mission POSSIBLE Tour!

We got kind of a late start today, because I was up until 4:30am working on the blog. [We slept in a little!]

What? A new element in the periodic table?

Cream in the periodic table

It is actually a new ice cream place called SubZero. I happened to stop by the place last night on the way to CVS to grab a Ginger Ale for Earline. Look at these tanks!

Liquid nitro tanks

Yes, folks, that IS liquid nitrogen. [Torin! Remember the freeze pops soaked in liquid nitrogen on the Tiger Cruise? That is some cold liquid!]

In this store it flows out of these faucets into bowls that the attendant shapes into a scoop or two of ice cream.

SUBZERO faucets

Interesting! [And yes, it also tasted quite good!]

Guess who we saw on the road today? James and Paula from the Campground at Long Key. Good to see you!

More bike trail construction detours today, including this one past the marine mammal theatre in Islamorada.

Marine mammal park

Not to be outdone by the mammals, this huge crustacean made its presence known!

Killer lobster

Hey, nephew Dexter! Of DEXAIR fame….we saw this sign on the side of the road….it looks like you have a long lost cousin!

REXAIR

Right on the bike path, we found this Tom Thumb and found chocolate milk, $2 subs, and Honey Buns. Okay, we are happy.

Tom Thumb

We also went across our first drawbridge of this trip. It brought back scary memories of the drawbridge in St. Augustine from our 2011 Mission POSSIBLE Tour.

First drawbridge

We saw this mannequin along the road next to a place that said “Antiques,” and Earline….well, I will let you write your OWN caption for this one!

[Send it to Earline on Facebook!]

Earline and

Finally arrived at the JP State Park about 30 minutes before they closed, but unlike the other parks, they refused to let us in.

JP Coral Reef SP

They said they were full, and that Boy Scouts were in their primitive area….so in 53,000 acres, you only have one primitive area? And you have no accommodations for bikers? [Or trikers?]

[As one State Park official earlier this week put it, they understand that bikers and kayakers may not know exactly when they will reach a certain destination, because of the slow speed that they travel.] [JP Coral Reef SP was the ONLY State Park that would not accept us.]

Here on the Keys you have what is supposedly the most bike-friendly area in Florida, that has a multi-million-dollar bike trail that we saw being worked on this past week, and it goes right past your front door, but you have no room for bikers in your facility?

Hmmmm.

I understand that this is the busiest park in Florida, but this sounds like another taxpayer-funded program that has let success go to their head. If you are not hungry enough, you won’t do whatever it takes to provide the best customer service possible.

Clark Howard on his radio show calls it “customer-no-service.”

See John 13:4-17. [I’ve included a link here in The Message version.] Jesus sets the PATTERN for us. It is servanthood, thinking of others as better than yourself, and being willing to help them, love them, to do what THEY need, over your own needs. Philippians 2 shows the depth of what Jesus did for us: “When the time came, He [Jesus] set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life…”

Okay, that’s enough rant….I am sure that the ranger we spoke to was following the rules, and doing her job, and that she will probably sleep okay tonight, but having owned a business myself, the MINUTE that you think you don’t need to be the best “servant” you can be for your customers, your business will deteriorate, and you have literally STOLEN from your clients the time and attention that they deserve.

NOW I am finished with my rant.

Sigh.

The ranger DID provide us with a list of other camping facilities in the area, though many on the list did NOT accept tents, or were ten or more miles away, and 30 minutes before sunset were laughably not viable alternatives for us.

Ride in the dark? Don’t want to do THAT!

But God….

We only had a few choices on the list, and only ONE that was close, that accepted tents, AND was in the direction we wanted to go [not backwards]. So that is where we headed, and after asking a few people for help finding it, we DID find it, AND they had 4 tent spaces available.

But God knew our needs, even BEFORE we asked Him. [See Matthew 6:8]

Kings Kamp. They were nice. They were helpful.

And they are privately owned. Hmmmm.

Thanks, God. We appreciate it….we truly do.

Settled in for the night, and had our tent set up, and showers taken, and IN the tent before 8pm.

[Now we DID have some interesting entertainment from some drunk, cussing young people playing “Sweet Home Alabama” at VERY high decibels at 10:30pm….but I’ll let Earline share those details with you.]

Ha!

Grateful, yes, grateful for another day’s journey.

TGG,

jon

Day 8 [Long Key – Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe Key]

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2014

[Distance traveled: 16 miles]

Good Friday morning!

I actually got up before the sun, and got some really nice shots of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Now I KNOW sunrise shots can be a dime a dozen, but we were there! We saw this! And seeing such a pretty sunrise, well, it does something to you…there’s a sense of joy, of comfort, of wonder. Do yourself a favor and check one out, just for YOU.

Let me share OUR sunrise with you:

Sunrise 1

Sunrise 2

Sunrise 3

Sunrise 4

Sunrise 5

Sunrise 6

Sunrise 7

Sunrise 8

And we could see all this FROM our tent:

Sunrise from our tent

Here’s another view of our campsite:

Another view of campsite

Just a little after this, though, the sky got overcast [which we actually WELCOMED, because the sun was making us really SWEAT while we packed. Ha!].

Of course, I HAD to get the sand out of the tent!

Sand out

Paula from next door brought us some coffee…thank you!

Then someone noticed a group of porpoises swimming by, and our neighbor on the other side went out to investigate….he said he saw 6 or 7 adults and one baby porpoise. Neat!

Family of porpoises

With the clouds on the west looking threatening, we decided to pack as if it would rain. [Our 2010 MPT taught us how to do that REAL well!]

After leaving Long Key State Park, we ran across a wide bike path, and being separated from all the truck traffic is ALWAYS preferred!

Wide path

It looks like there is a lot of work being done on making some nice trails along the water. And remember, we are STILL surrounded by a lot of water.

LOTS of water out there

Even this bridge we came across has construction work being done on it.

Construction on bridge

Sometimes the trail was nice….

Sometimes nice

And sometimes it was NOT so nice….

Sometimes not so nice

When we crossed over into Islamorada, we stopped at Bud & Mary’s to order sandwiches, and especially cole slaw, to get the bad taste out of our mouth of the AWFUL cole slaw we had yesterday. [It lingers, it lingers….]

Good cole slaw

Then, as we started to look for a place to stay, we first went to the motel that the biker from Canada we had met at Curry Hammock State Park recommended.

But when we found the place, it was sold out! Why?

It seems that there is a big NASCAR race event in Homestead this weekend, so ALL the motels are full, even down this far. Even talked to the local Chamber of Commerce that said all campsites were full, all hotels were FULL except for 4, and they gave PRICES that were from $169 a night to $350 a night.

ACK!

Can’t raise money for a non-profit THAT way! And Earline’s knee NEEDED some rest!

And we needed to wash clothes! [Truly!]

AND, I need to get this blog caught up.

So what happened?

We knew we needed to wash clothes, so we were directed to a brand new laundromat that was on our route, called SeaFoam. Earline and I encouraged each other that God knew what He was doing, and that He WOULD help us find  place to stay!

SeaFoam

So we went to the laundromat, and then I happened to notice a motel across the street. Can’t hurt to check, right?

Well, not only was it the cutest little place, it SMELLED clean, and they had ONE room left! AND it was about HALF the price of the other motels with rooms left. AND the clerk gave me a 10% discount on top of that. I asked her why, and she said, “Because I can!”

Wow.

Well, as a result, we DID get our clothes washed, we DID find a place to stay, and I DID get 3 days worth of blog caught up.

Wow.

Say it backwards.

Wow.

Say it upside down.

MOM.

Ha!

Grateful AGAIN for God’s providence, and looking forward to what ELSE He might have planned!

TGG,

jon

Day 7 [Little Crawl Key – Long Key]

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2014

[Distance traveled: 13 miles]

Happy Thursday!

After setting up in the dark last night, and I’ll admit, not having a very good attitude about it, and then having to grumble my way through a cold shower, and THEN losing about an hour’s work trying to blog with my phone’s tiny screen…..I don’t know why God gave me a good night’s sleep, but He did.

I got up shortly after the sun did….oooo, wet! HEAVY dew last night. We were about 70 yards from the ocean, and I walked around some trees to the left, and found a little alcove with a picnic bench. There I stood and just watched the wind rippling the waves a little, and I sang “How Great Thou Art” to God….just between me and Him.

The WORDS to that song….I mean, it STARTS OUT:

“O, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder; Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”

Down here in the Keys, you don’t find many city lights, and the starry sky has been spectacular. Earline said she had never seen stars like this. I told her that I grew up with stars like this.

I remember the night at Bahia Honda….you could easily see the Milky Way. And when the moon came out, even though it was only half visible [“first quarter” for you astronomical types], it was SO bright that you could even read by it.

And how interesting that, as postulated by the book and DVD Privileged Planet, the ONE PLACE in the universe that we know of that has human beings that can admire and appreciate a beautifully designed and coordinated system of stars and moons, and planets, just “happens” to be situated in a VERY unique location in our galaxy, not obstructed by a dense galactic core of stars, or enveloped by clouds of gases; instead the Earth is positioned PERFECTLY where the entirety of the universe is laid out before our seeing eyes IN ALMOST ALL DIRECTIONS, to look, and to contemplate, and to wonder.

Folks, folks, folks….a tornado in a junkyard does NOT make a jumbo jet. Anyone who has ever been raised on a farm, or biked across the country, KNOWS that things just naturally break, and rust, and fall apart. Anyone who has aged beyond 40 or 50 knows that their body is breaking down, it is going back to the dust.

Evolution is such a sneaky word…natural evolution, things changing or adapting, yes, we can see that, but evolution from a rock to a living cell, from an ape to a man, evolution that adds information to something and becomes something more complex, has NEVER been shown to occur, and is a damnable lie.

Any modern-day cellular biologist knows it, any astronomer with half a brain knows it, and if we just open our eyes to the BEAUTY of the world around us….well, we should know it, too.

Our educational system will be so ashamed one day, by the foolishness that they have allowed to be promoted.

In Romans 1, verse 20, Paul makes it pretty clear: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have NO EXCUSE for not knowing God.”

After letting the sun dry the dew off our tent, we slowly got packed up. While packing, we met a nice couple from Vancouver, Canada. Gary and Linda, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary, and have canoe races and running adventures with their 4 sons.

Gary and Linda

As you can see in Linda’s hand, we have been passing out dozens and dozens of our quarter-page info cards and tracts, just letting everyone know that “With God, ALL things are possible!”

We finally got underway around 11am (Why does it take us so long to pack?!). One reason is that we were looking for a couple items that we could not find.

We lost a tent stake….could not find it. I am guessing that we maybe left it in the Bahia Honda campground. And my sunglasses that wrap around my existing glasses….where are they?

You can see the closely cropped area where our tent was, in the background. Hard to miss anything there!

Where we camped

Can’t find them. We checked at the bathhouse of “cold shower” fame, as well as at the registration cabin where we first checked in, but nothing there either.

Hmmmm.

Earline is really hurting this morning, so we are taking our time.

Leaving CHSP

You can see the barrels that we had to do some navigating around….it seems as if the final design is going to be something like this: eight-foot shoulders with rumble grooves and bumpers between the traffic and the bike lane. We like this!

8-foot shoulder

Wait!

Something moving!

What is it??!!?

Yes, we have seen a few of these iguanas along the way, sometimes sunning ON the path, but this is the first that I was able to snatch a picture of it. Let me make this picture big so that Earline can see it clearly! [She says she does NOT want to see it! Ha!]

Iguana

Saw this DEAD END sign, but one of the locals said the bike path goes all the way across the bridge. So we took his advice, and it did! Nice to have a separated path.

Dead End not

It was so pretty today. And we saw a lot of cyclists, too. Most of them headed the other direction.

Cyclist

You could see miles and miles of blue water and skies!

Here’s a higher rez photo of the views we saw today.

Beautiful horizon

We stopped at a pretty spot and got some more photos, with Earline and her knee wrap.

Pretty spot by shore

Knee wrap by shore

We went over the Long Key bridge which was pretty long – maybe 2 miles – but it DID have a separated path for cyclists and pedestrians, especially fishermen. Not nearly as hair-raising as the 7-mile bridge.

Long Key bridge

Even saw some fish being caught!

Fish being caught

Speaking of fish “biting,” the mosquitoes and “no-see-ums” have been biting, too! Not too bad, thanks to the cooler weather and some mosquito control we saw.

Mosquito control

Finally made it ten miles, and with Earline’s knee still hurting, we pulled in early at the Long Key State Park. We liked this park, and we had a spot right next to the ocean (and the bath house so that Earline did not have to walk too far, thanks to our Park Ranger from Christmas, FL!).

And as we were setting up, we made new friends with James and Paula from Virginia.

Paula and James from VA

Here’s a sneak peek of tomorrow’s sunrise from our campsite….some SPECTACULAR shots of God’s handiwork.

Sneak peek

And as I had earlier watched the moon come up over the far horizon, I happened to catch a shooting star go a good long ways, from east to west, across maybe 45° of the horizon. Wow.

Thanks, God.

ONLY through God’s grace,

jon

Day 6 [Bahia Honda Key – Little Crawl Key]

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2014

[Distance traveled: 21 miles]

Tonight we are at Curry Hammock State Park on Little Crawl Key.

Here was our campsite at Bahia Honda State Park:

Campsite at Bahia

There were some very FAT pigeons that looked a little TOO tame….

Fat pigeons

…so I tested them, to se if they’d been “trained” to go after food….I took a few small rocks by the table…

Tiny rocks

….and tossed them in the middle of pigeons. Yowzer! Mass hysteria!

Mass hysteria

SOMEBODY’s been feeding these birds. So now you know – if anyone ever calls you “bird-brained”, do NOT take it as a compliment! Ha!

The beach and the grounds really WERE beautiful at Bahia Honda.

Bahia beach

Bahia grounds

South facing campsites

They even had a little cafe on property, and Ora and Rhonda made us some great sandwiches to eat and take with us [with  little help from “BatMan!”]

Ora, BatMan, and Rhonda

OKAY!

Now it’s time to tackle the 7-MILER!

And it didn’t take too long to reach the start of it….here’s Earline’s first view of the bridge:

Earline shoots photo of 7-mile bridge

Here’s what she saw….one mile to go!

One mile to go

And at the start:

At the start

No potty breaks for the next 7 miles!

The beginning….the shoulder was not too bad, maybe 5, 5-and-a-half feet. But I should mention here….one thing I had been trying to figure out, is….where was the picture taken of the bridge that we have on our flyers, and on the front of the GodsHandsAgency.com site, as well as the front of the WiFiPedalers.com site?

Well, I have since learned that the bridge really has three parts:

1) the west end

2) the “hump” that lets ships pass under the bridge

3) and the east end.

But the two ends are NOT equal.

The west end is almost 5 miles long, while the east end is only about 2 miles long. And because of the curve of the bridge, I realized that the picture was taken from north of the east end of the bridge, looking back at the bridge, in a west, southwesterly direction, as if you were pointed at Key West.

In that photo, you really don’t see ANY of the 5-mile southwest stretch of the bridge!

That is why at the start of the bridge, headed east, you really can barely see the hump at the far end.

Along the 5-mile beginning

After we had a gone a couple miles, we stopped and took a couple pictures…..a lot of water out there! Are we halfway yet?

Whew are we halfway

Approaching the hump:

Approach the hump

For the next three pictures, where Earline is climbing the hump, at the very top, and then descending the hump, I am going to insert them here at a larger size, for those of you with BIG screens. It may look the same size as the other photos here, but you should be able to click on the photo itself, and bring up a much larger and clearer version of the photo.

Here are 3 higher resolution photos of Earline at the top of the 7-Mile Bridge:

Earline climbing hump

Earline at top of hump

Down the hump

I am grateful that we had no storms or high winds on our trip over the bridge, or any flat tires!

When we got to the other end, it was time to celebrate!

With God’s help, and only by His grace, I did this!

With Gods help I did this

Slurpee reward time!

Slurpee

Well, after all the excitement today, Earline’s knee was REALLY starting to bother her, similar to what she experienced the first few days of the 2010 Mission Possible Tour. We ran across a Walgreens in Marathon Key, and picked up a wrap for Earline’s knee to help support it. We decided to limit our day to only about 20 miles, and camp at the Curry Hammock State Park.

Actually “decided” is probably not the right word, because by the time we got to CHSP, it was only about 20 minutes before sunset (when the park closes). The park ranger told us they had a grassy area where we could pitch our tent, beside a man from Canada on bicycle, and two girls from Minnesota also traveling by bicycle to Key West.

So Earline hobbled around on her wrapped knee, we struggled to get the tent set up in the dark….

Headlight

….and then the hot water in the men’s shower was not working.

Ack!!!!

BUT….

FEARS FACED, and FEARS CONQUERED….now we have to take care of that knee, because we still have over 400 miles to go!

Only through God’s grace,

jon