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 86 [Baton Rouge, LA]

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010

After struggling to crawl out of our air mattress hole (see yesterday’s blog!), we got some more e-mailing, letter writing, and blogging caught up. Walker invited us out to lunch at Mike Andrews Seafood, just a few blocks away.

Walker and Betha brought their grandson Christian with them, and a little later on, their daughter Leslie came in. Like many other CODAs (child of deaf adult), she is an excellent signer, and uses her skills to help support herself and her son.

5 of us a tMike Andrews Seafood

Leslie and Christian

Grandpa and Christian

After our nice lunch, Betha had the opportunity to try out Earline’s ICE Trike…..she looks to be enjoying herself!

Betha on the ICE trike

For the Wednesday night service / Bible study at First Baptist Deaf Church we decided to do the Sermon on the Mount, along with some special singing, and sharing about our Mission Possible Tour.

We got to hear their Deaf praise team lead a couple songs. We really enjoyed their ministry, especially the anointed signing of Faye Hayes, the girl in the center of the front row…..here is a sampling:

Worship team at First Baptist Deaf Church in Baton Rouge

Fay Hayes

Singing at FBDC of BR

We have already talked with them about the possibility of coming and sharing with us in Orlando some time on the future. You have got to hear these folks….they love the Lord, and they’re fun!

We had the opportunity to meet and enjoy Pastor Michael Mack earlier in the day. Here’s Pastor at the evening service, and after the service with his family:

Pastor Austin

Austin family

The church had a sweet and giving spirit about it, and we appreciate the opportunity to meet them, and share our testimony and our talents with them. God bless you!

TGG,

jon

Day 85 [Baton Rouge, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

After the LO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-G trip from Natchez to Baton Rouge, we slept wonderful on the floor of the church Monday night. The air mattress seems to be loosing air a little quicker than normal, however, so by morning we were basically on the floor.

They had a box of Cheerios in the refrigerator, so I got to have a breakfast that I had been craving for several weeks….thank you, God.

Earline and I had a chance to work on some paperwork and the blog during the day, and we also prepared for our talks with the elementary kids and high school kids at the Louisiana School for the Deaf just one block west of the school.

We met Walker at the gate, and he escorted us through campus to the dorms.

We follow Walker

Front of Elementary door

We talked first with the elementary kids. They seemed fascinated with the trikes and our story:

 

Elementary talk 1

Earline taught them about the different parts of the trikes, and how we examine them before we start each day. We used the A-B-C-QuickCheck list from the League of American Bicyclists. Watch and listen to Earline teaching about “C” for chains, and how that can be the same idea in life:

Video of: Fixing things in your life

I also had the opportunity to teach the kids how DEEP and WIDE the Mississippi River is, and taught them a song about it!

Deep and Wide (in only 19 seconds!)

Afterwards we gave all the kids an opportunity to sit on the trikes, and many of them paused to check out this web site as well!

Kids try out trikes

And the kids could even pop on the wifi pedalers web site, and look where we had been before we got to them!

Next we went over to the high school dorm, and many youth stopped by to hear our presentation.

Presenting to LSD high school

High school wide shot

Youth back of room

Watch as Earline encourages the high-schoolers to pursue their God-given passions, for truly, “With God, ALL things are possible!!!”

With God, ALL things are possible!

Afterwards we talked with a lot of the kids, and answered their questions about our trip.

6 LSD high schoolers

After making lots of new friends, we headed back to the church. I was able o get some more work done on this blog.

Because of the fast leaking of our air mattress last night, we decided to try putting Betha and Walker’s air mattress UNDER ours to keep us off the floor. Problem was, I think theirs leaked a little, too, so that by morning, we were in a DEEP HOLE with the air mattresses up all around us!! Ack!! Many laughs were shared!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to speak into the lives of the students at the Louisiana School for the Deaf. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your purposes for them!!

TGG,

jon

Day 73 [Lexa, AK – Lula, MS]

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2010

Special message for NEW readers of this blog:

[For those of you new to the blog, please pardon our dust!….er, ah, grammatical and technical imperfections!]

[Most nights, we do NOT have wifi – an internet connection – except thru my Blackberry – which I just got a replacement for [that story is coming up in a couple days] tell God thank-you – but still lost ALL my contacts – still CHOOSE to tell God thank-you – I read this morning in Psalm 50:23, that:

“giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me (God)”….

…actually, that would be a great thing to pray for….if you ALL could pray that I somehow get all my contacts back!] [Or even better, continue to THANK HIM in ALL situation!]

[So what I’m TRYING to say, is that I will upload text about the events of each day to the blog here, and when I do have access to the internet from our laptop, I will upload the photos that go WITH the text….whew!]

Now, to Day 73….we stayed overnight with Bill and Carrie north of Helena / West Helena (yes, that’s the official name now). Bill and Carrie were great hosts, and in the morning Bill even helped me do some repair work on my semi-truck-and-mini-cyclone-damaged umbrella (see yesterday’s blog). Ha! We actually taped wire hanger pieces to the damaged grooved arms of the umbrella (I think we’re on to something….this will work!) Carrie had a chance to try the I.C.E. trike….she’s a natural!

Carrie bookin

[Did we tell you that Bill and Carrie have a grandson name Eli?!]

Carrie and Earline

Miss Loretta came by, and we got her picture as well.

Carrie Earline Loretta

Hey, Miss Loretta in Orlando…Carrie and Bill’s Loretta reminded us so much of YOU!…she was great!

Said our goodbyes, as soon as Bill checked that we hadn’t forgotten anything!

Pretty entryway

Actually, we tried to get lost heading to Helena / West Helena, but Bill checked up on us, and pointed us in the right direction. We even on the way met Eli’s OTHER grandfather.

Proctor family

[Did we tell you that Eli has grandparents named Bill and Carrie?!]

In fact, Bill checked on us one more time (I think we are appearing a little scatterbrained these days).

[Oh, did I mention that Bill AND CARRIE have a grandson named Eli??!!!!!!!] [Ha!]

We finally got into town, and stopped at Walmart for some supplies (wow, is it hot today….over 100 degrees again. We have our umbrellas on again.)

Beatin the heat

We stopped at Wendy’s, explaining our Mission to them, and they were so nice. They gave us a whole bunch of ice (that is like gold to us these days!). Tried to get their picture, but some PEOPLE were NOT cooperating.

Easier to smile picture at Helena Wendys

While we were still at Wendy’s, Kevin Smith stopped by….he was our original point of contact from warmshowers.org.

Kevin Smith and Jon

It turns out that not only did he ALSO bike the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to New Orleans, but his wife works with the Deaf! (Definitely a couple that we need to come back and spend more time with!)

We headed for the bridge across the River into the state of Mississippi. On the way we saw some lush hills…the vines completely cover some of the trees and create odd shapes of foliage. (and there’s hills down HERE along the Mississippi….who knew??!!)

Hills and foliage

Lush banks of MR

We went thru some of old Helena, and saw a LOT of closed stores and shops.

Downtown Helena

Downtown Helena2

Downtown Helena3

Most of the town and cities along the Mississippi River are displaying similar financial hardship – it has been very disheartening to see the economic hardships that so many are experiencing. America…wake up! We are in a mess!

One other note (Florida take heed)….the hardest hit communities (Helena, AK, Dubuque, IA, East St. Louis, IL, etc.) coincidentally seem to have a gambling establishment close by….is it possible that good money that could have been spent on establishing and promoting local businesses has gone instead into the hands of those who establish and promote the game of gambling or lottery, the amusement of casinos?…..just asking.) (see Proverbs 28:19, and Proverbs 23:19-21).

We called ahead to the local police, and made a request for assistance across the bridge…and I’m glad we did. It is a L-L-L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-N-G-G bridge. Here’s Bridge #40 (wow, we are WAY past 36 bridges!):

Bridge40

Of course, one reason it was long, is because the Mississippi River is getting wider the further south we go. Compare this picture to ones of the river up in Minnesota [Days 1 through 25]:

Wide river at Helena AK

Here was our escort, and Earline appearing to be running away from him (oooo, it’s HOT, running from all these cops!!)

Escort from the Helena West Helena PD

STOP that lady Earline crossing 40

Thanks, Helena / West Helena…we appreciate it!

One thing that was interesting about this escort that had not happened before, is that everybody went AROUND the police car and us….cars, trucks, even semis, all the way across the bridge, even when the no passing line was on our side!! (This did NOT seem to be a safe situation to us.)

Passing semi

Passing dump truck

Passing cars

Were the police telling them to do this? Not sure…..hmmm.

WAIT!

I DID get a picture of him waving the vehicles around! Whoa!

Officer waving around

Even saw this semi barreling down on the police car as he turned around (this does NOT look good).

Semi vs cop

Our man DID get turned around safely, however…..whew! THANKS, AGAIN!

New state! [Signage tomorrow.]

Our guy turned to head home

By the time we got over the bridge, it was getting late, and Earline saw RVs across the way…there was a camping area next to the casino! We checked it out, and for $16 we were able to pitch our tent, and had full access to the amenities, including showers, indoor pool, and wifi! Sounds great! Whoa!

1st night in state9

Well…..REALITY is a little cruel sometimes.

Yes, there was a pool and showers…but the showers and pool area were NOT air-conditioned or dehumidified….apparently the unit had been busted for some time (but we STILL appreciated the pool), the wifi was VERY weak – the computer couldn’t see it, or if it did, there were ZERO bars, and it was unusable, AND the blacktop that we had to set our tent up on stayed HOT ALL night, and even our air mattress picked up the heat, creating a hot air sauna for us to sleep on (I worked on photos until about 5am, but even then, the air mattress was still miserably hot….rough night.)

VERY rough night.

We WERE grateful for the CASINO accommodations. (Proverbs 13:22 says that “….the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the godly.”)

And, we learned a few things – (do NOT set up on black asphalt that has been exposed to the summer sun) (let me repeat that…..do NOT, EVER, NO WAY, NOT EVER set up on sun-exposed black asphalt) (Ha, do you think we mean it??!!).

But like the wonderful Merlin Carothers always taught, we can truly thank Him in ALL situations, because HE is worthy of our praise and appreciation!

TGG,

jon

Day 23 [Maiden Rock, WI – Merrick State Park, WI]

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010

Still no wifi, and not even any phone service here, but I can compose and upload to the blog later.

Where’s here?

Wisconsin’s Merrick State Park, just a few miles from Winona, Minnesota. We were trying to make Winona or the Great River Bluffs State Park, but we got a REALLY late start.

Why?

We had a really WILD night at the park in Maiden Rock. If you remember from yesterday’s blog, the lightning kept getting closer and closer. And about 2:30am it hit.

WOW, did it hit!

Here are remnants of the storm this morning. As you can see….

Wet view from tent

View from the all metal pavilion

Tent and sun on Lake Pepin

ICE trikes all loaded and ready to go

….we had an absolutely gorgeous view of Lake Pepin, a naturally occurring “wide spot” in the river.

Last night we had a front row seat of the lightning flashing back and forth in the southeastern sky – a constant light show displaying just a hint of God’s power.

As I was finishing up Tuesday’s notes, I realized that we were indeed going to experience this storm system. Thinking about it, though, I did NOT want to be sitting out in the open with aluminum poles of our tent above us, but when I went to the little pavilion at the north end of the park, I realized it was COMPLETELY metal – roof, girders, bracing, beams…NOT the place I’d want to be in an active lightning storm.

So…..

I went back to the tent, explained our situation to Earline, and we prayed. And the storm hit, and we prayed some more.

Whoa, did it blow!

We just hung on to each other, and kept praying. The drunk, cussin’ kids had even given up and drove off. Ha!

The top tent tarp seemed to be flapping too much, and the riverside wall seemed to be collapsing in. Earline tried to talk me out of going outside, but I felt I had to, to see actually what was happening with the tent, and affect possible repairs.

When I got out of the tent, I realized THREE of the corners of the tent had pulled loose. The park apparently had been man-made on a dike of boulders, and the stakes were not holding in the thin layer of topsoil.

I tied off two corners to the trikes, and finally located one of the uprooted stakes, and was able to find a spot between the underground boulders and secured one of corners. I went back inside the tent, Earline helped me get dried off, and we slumbered off and on the rest of the night. But, oh, how the wind howled, and the thunder boomed out across the Lake Pepin valley!!

At 9:00am it was still raining, but calming down, and we started getting ready to ride. The drizzle soon stopped and we were able to squeeze and wipe as much water as we could off of everything, although IN the tent we had stayed basically dry.

Suck air out of tent

Tent kite

As you may have noticed above, we even saw a little blue sky, in between the fast-moving clouds, and finally headed out. It turned out to be a pretty nice day…mostly flat roads right along the river…quite a lot of traffic, including trucks and semis, but the shoulder was for the most part at least 4 foot wide.

Met LOTS of folks one-on-one along the way. John and Marti even passed us on the road and waited at a wayside stop to meet us.

John and Marti

Bill and Barbara were on their way back to Colorado from a visit to the Mayo Clinic.

Barbara and Bill from Colorado

And Barbara got a chance to test drive the trike.

Barbara tries the trike

Lou lives in Orange Park, FL, close to Earline’s brother, and he also got a chance to try out the trike (THAT photo is on HIS camera!)

Lou and Jon

Kyle, Travis, and David chased us down on their bikes to get a closer look.

3 boys outside of Alma

Passed some interesting sites (this coal-fired power plant in Alma)….

Large coal plant utility south of Alma

…this L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-NG stairway (good training stairs for track or football, huh?!)….

Many steps

…..and saw many gorgeous bluffs along the river.

More pretty bluffs outside Alma

Buffalo city view

This last picture is from a beautiful little river-front community called Buffalo City. We were trying to make Winona before dark, but as we came around the corner, and just before the sun set, hey, there was Merrick State Park.

AND, we found a paid-for campsite that had been vacated a day early, with showers nearby. YEA!!!

Clean at last, clean at last!

Good night!

TGG,

Jon

Day 7 [Grand Rapids, MN – Palisade, MN]

JUNE 7, 2010

“Red sky at morning, sailors take warning, red sky at night, sailors delight.”

Red sky

This was the sky at 5:30am, Day 8. An hour later it was POURING. [SOOOO glad we’re under a roof.] It’s 10am now and we’re packing up. It’s still drizzling, but a local guy says that the radar shows it should be clearing up. Praying it is so.

Did you know that the “red sky” phrase actually is based on a verse from the Bible? Jesus said the original phrase….the first person who can give me the reference wins a free WiFi Pedaler T-Shirt (if we ever get them made!)! (Sorry, previous winners, only one prize per month. You ARE eligible again on July 1.)

Day 6 was a long day yesterday. We had a lot of business to take care of for our Orlando home before we headed out from Grand Rapids. (After a week of going EAST, we are finally going SOUTH….yea!)

Saw the youth pastor, Eric, from the Alliance Church we visited Sunday. Earline says we look alike.

Eric and Jon

Earline as we left the Country Inn motel [can the DAH nursery grow something like this?]

Hanging plants

Beautiful weather, heavy traffic leaving on Pokegama (pronounce it: po-KEG’-a-ma so that the locals don’t laugh at you). I had called the Aitkin County highway department (see Bob Robinson’s book for contact info) and they informed me that they were STILL working on getting Hwy 10 paved.

He also noted that one of the bridges on our route on Hwy 1 was down, and there was a detour in place. We have learned, however, that car detours are sometimes L-L-L-O-O-O-N-N-N-G-G-G trike detours…..NOT good.

Since we were getting such a late start, we decided to take Pokegama south, which is also 169. Very heavy traffic, BUT a wide shoulder.

Here’s Earline on a bridge overlooking Lake Pokegama [Should I count this bridge? Hmmmm.]:

Lake Pokegama and Earline

Hwy 169 was pretty much a straight shot, with long hills, some up (ugh), some down (whee), and we ended up going about 55 miles. We followed a bike path south from 200 by Hill City for a couple miles, but eventually it curved east, and we had to abandon it. (Thank-you, Google Maps.)

Earline’s leg was starting to hurt again. We did see a few deer heading into the town of Palisade, as it was starting to get dark. No places open in this town of 150 to ask directions, so we hunted around for the Bergland Campground, as mentioned in Bob’s book, and finally found it.

There was NO ONE around, kinda creepy, and Earline was a little scared. We decided to set up our tent in the pavilion, cuz the dew was pretty heavy already at that point (and only 50 yards away from the Mississippi!). I was so glad we did, because of the rain we experienced the next morning.

Hard cement floor, but the still-holding-air (for the most part!) air mattress made our night not TOO uncomfortable. And as Bob had mentioned in his book, the restrooms and showers were very clean. (Maybe the same folks who maintain that pretty Lutheran Church in the center of Palisade.)

There was a little stand we found that had envelopes in it, for the purpose of paying $15 for each night’s stay, and then a little metal post with a slot in it to slide in your envelope with the monies. Nice to be trusted!

I, too, would recommend this camp as a great stop for cyclists ONCE then get the roads paved.

Good night!

TGG,

jon

Day 4 [Becker’s Resort, MN – Lake Winni Resort, MN]

JUNE 4, 2010

It rained all night – but the tent did its job, and kept us dry (as long as we stayed in the tent….HA!)

[By the way, not only are we on an air mattress (which SOMETIMES stays inflated…ha!), but we also have a ground cloth under the tent. Highly recommended. Helps protect the tent – just another layer of protection between you and the ground.]

Remember last night, and the garbage can that was pilfered? Here is the site, and you can see the can behind the tent [must have been a raccoon]:
Rainy night at Becker Campground
It rained into the morning, so we stayed put and gave Earline’s leg a little more rest. Finally headed out around 2pm.

Her leg is feeling MUCH better today….thank you for ALL your prayers!

View of the Mississippi from Becker’s Resort (this is mid-morning when the skies were still threatening):

MR from Beckers Resort
The MR flows from left to right past here.

Eventually the sun came out, and it turned out to be a really nice afternoon – as miserable as it was Tuesday afternoon, it was wonderfully nice today. Check it this pretty cloud formation around 4pm:

Pretty clouds on Friday

[BTW, don’t tell Earline that the state forest we are passing through has the largest concentration of coyotes in the country….SSSSSHHHHHH!]

Where were we?…..Oh, yes, we crossed over the MR one more time today – Bridge / Dam #13:

Bridge13

Here’s the MR and Lake Winnibigoshish on the west side (the locals call it Lake Winni):

Lake Winni

And the Mississippi River looking east, after it flows out of the dam on the other side:

MR east at WinniDam

MR continues east of dam

Earline and I are putting together an idea that we believe God gave us concerning an effective way to impress Deaf awareness on complete strangers. Please pray for us as we assemble the details of this “dram-u-sign.”

Earline ILY on Friday June 4

We love you!

THANK-YOU for your continued prayer and financial support.

jon

Day 1 [Camp Itasca, MN – Bemidji, MN]

JUNE 1, 2010

Oasis.

Like the Israelites journeying to the oasis at Elim where they found 12 springs and 70 palm trees (Exodus 15), we have had an oasis open to us, and it is right on the banks of the Mississippi River!

So how did we find this oasis?

The day started out getting packed up, ready to head out on the Mississippi River Trail, or the MRT, Day 1….YEA!

Jon pumping air mattress
Here I am sucking the last of the air OUT of the air mattress (to make it tighter for packing) (which didn’t take too long because most of it leaked out during the night….TWICE) (I pumped it up in the middle of the night).

Craig and I had found a leak in it the day before, and patched that, but obviously, I found another leak. Craig gave me the patch kit to take with, so that I could patch the second hole as well.

Here’s a photo of Craig and Rosann from Camp Itasca. They were super!

Craig and Rosann
Heard there wasn’t anything to eat between Lake Itasca and Bemidji, so we stocked up at the convenience store across the street. (Thanks, Don!)

The day was cool, but absolutely beautiful starting out.

Now remember, we are counting bridges, ‘bridging the gaps’ in communication among Deaf, Youth, and Families (there are some bridge pictures on yesterday’s blog).

Remember, on Saturday, May 29, Day -2, we crossed our FIRST bridge on Hwy. 200. You can see the picture of that bridge on that day. Yesterday, we crossed our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bridge….that is in the order that WE crossed them, not in order from the source.

We said our goodbyes to Craig and Rosann, and Camp Itasca…..

Jon and Earline front of Itasca sign
It was a pretty day starting out, cool, and there was not much traffic, so it was a pleasant ride.

Loaded down Day 1
And as they say, the “road stretched before us”….

Road stretched before us
Earline shows that she’s “boss,” she’s “groovin’.”

Shes boss shes groovin

Here is Bridge #5 from today’s ride:

Bridge05
And then……the sun went away, and it REALLY started to cool down….

We did go down one hill at speeds over 45 miles per hour, first time doing that together. It was kinda fun, but a little SCARY with all the gear we were carrying.

But the trikes proved again to be good and solid. NO problem controlling them at all.

And COLD, though, as we created a 55 degree, 45 mph wind in our faces! Here’s a picture looking back at the hill:

45mph hill1
Bridge #6 from today’s ride:

Bridge06
Yes, this IS indeed the Mississippi River. Wow.

Growing up in Iowa just 15 miles from the river, where it is 3 miles across, I just never imagined it to be this size!

At this point the Mississippi reminds me  little of the way the St. Johns River winds its way around the marshes east of Orlando.

Bridge #7?

Bridge07 nope
At first, I thought this was also the Mississippi River, or MR [as I will abbreviate it in the future], but there was no sign here indicating it as such, and upon further study of the map, I realized that this was just a slough leading into the MR.

It’s just that at this size, it is hard to tell!

Also notice that the skies are getting grayer now. We started getting drizzled on around 9 miles into the ride, with the wind blowing from the north, northeast, right into our faces. It seemed to get even colder……..I would guess around 55 degrees or so. We layered up some more, but this was NOT fun. (Why do you think I moved to Florida??!!…..HA!)

She’s wet, she’s tired, and she just wants to make it to Bemidji:
Shes wet shes tired

[Jon’s note: Earline might look a little unhappy above, but what you might not know is that she again is in some very miserable pain in her legs at this point, the reason which we won’t discover until tomorrow.]

By now we ran into some heavy drizzles, and I started to get concerned about hypothermia.

Finally, a few miles from Bemidji, the rain stopped, and we started to see a little sunshine again. Yea!

Here’s bridge #7: [for real]
Bridge07 for real

Bridge07 with Earline

A family with a NEAT playhouse in the back yard, offered to take our picture:

Jon and Earline by Bemidji playhouse

And I HAD to take a quick picture of this really cool playhouse! [I guess they need it that big – there are 10 children in the family!]

Play house for family of 10

Now here’s where the story REALLY gets interesting….we had NO place to stay. Earline was experiencing some pretty severe pain in her right leg. We stopped at the first gas station we ran into, on the outskirts of Bemidji.

While we’re discussing where to go to stay (it is past 7pm at this point), a man who was pumping gas into his pick-up comes over to us, and asking a little about what we were doing. As we were talking, we discovered that he was believer, AND that his daughter was an interpreter for the Deaf!

Wow!

We had prayer in the parking lot right there, and then a few minutes later, he asked if we would like to stay at his place for the night. He called his wife (and got the okay!), and he gave us directions to his home, only a couple miles away.

As we headed there on our trikes, however, Earline’s trike was giving her fits. She couldn’t move forward. It looked like the parking brake was too tight on the back wheel. I loosened it up some.

We continued on, but Earline’s right leg was REALLY bothering her. Then she said she smelled something burning! (answer in tomorrow’s blog)

We could not SEE anything wrong, but I came alongside her like I did on Saturday up some of the hills, and we finally limped into the yard of Miles and Brenda Rouland.

What a blessing there were to us! And right on the banks of the Mississippi River! [Our oasis!] Here’s a view of the river from their porch:

MR from our Day1 oasis
Miles helped me do some repair work on Earline’s trike (paralleled the parking brake pads, so that they were even top and bottom to the tire).

Meanwhile Brenda works in education, so she and Earline had MUCH to talk about. And they are also a blended family, so we were able to share notes on that endeavor as well.

THEN, they gave us our own room and bathroom to use down in their basement! (Earline didn’t know what a BASEMENT was!)

After the cold, wet day, it was truly a time of recovery and refreshing for us. Brenda even made a delicious hot dish for us between the time her husband called her about us staying there, and the time we got there. She actually had it in the freezer, ready to pull out whenever they had visitors. Amazing! [Editor’s note: Phyllis, we got the recipe for you!]

Thanks, Lord, AGAIN for your provision. Pray for Earline’s leg. (I am writing this on Day 2, and she is in a lot of pain below her right knee. It may be shin splints.)

ONLY thru God’s grace,

jon

[Please ignore the map below…it does correctly show the starting and ending points of this first day, but I have not yet figured out how to get it to comply with the ROUTE that we actually took [back roads, hugging the MR as much as possible, as opposed to the route that a car would take. Thanks.]

Day -1 [Camp Itasca, MN]

MAY 30, 2010

We’re SO close to the OFFICIAL start!

Recovering from yesterday’s ride. Slept great…well, almost great. Our air mattress sprung a leak somewhere, and we woke up flat on the hard ground. Ha!

Tent at Camp Itasca
It rained some on the early morning, but we stayed dry, so the tent is doing its job.

After the rain it turned windy, misty, and cold. Walked over to the convenience store for a couple food items. I triked into the Lake Itasca State Park to the see the campsites I had originally reserved. Even though they were tent sites, I was kind of disappointed by all the trucks, and cars, and boat trailers filling up the tent sites. The tent site that I had reserved had a pickup with an RV home sitting in the bed.

I am WONDERFULLY glad we ended up in Camp Itasca.

Stopped at Itasca Sports which is a bike shop that also rents watercraft. Met Sam and Caren – she said she had SEEN us yesterday on the highway! Sam helped me look for a screw for my handlebar.

We had an evening meal on the picnic table with Craig and Rosann outside their motorhome. Had some “one-of-a-kind-goulash” that Craig made – MOST excellent. It was a WONDERFUL evening of fun and fellowship, swapping stories and encouraging words with each other. More of God’s provision that we desperately need and ache for.

TGG,

jon