Day 91 [New Orleans, LA – St. Bernard State Park, LA]

MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010

Because of the excellent speed of the internet in the church hall where we were staying, I stayed up until 6:30am last night (this morning) getting completely caught up with the blog (whoo-whoo!).

(Needless to say, I then slept in a little bit this morning….HA!)

We finally left the Canal Boulevard Deaf Baptist Church around 3:00pm.

Leaving Canal Blvd DBC

We saw these cemeteries along Canal Boulevard, where the tombs are all ABOVE ground.

Cemetery on Canal blvd

And then, as we continued down Canal Street…..oh, no, it’s raining again.

Oh no rain on Canal St

It didn’t rain too hard, and by the time we got to the French Quarter, it was only drizzling a little. We were hungry and looked for a place to eat.

In the French Quarter

I turned down a side street, and wondered, what is this….it looks like a red light district. It was then that I realized after looking at a street sign that we were on THE Bourbon Street!

Bourbon Street

Well, we weren’t sure that we trusted the food from the places we were passing, so we continued on out of town, before stopping to eat.

Even though it has been 5 years, we passed so many places that obviously had just been abandoned from the flooding after Katrina.

New Orleans mess 1

Gas station

Weed

Charles Colton middle school

But even this school had a sign in front of it saying the the Colson School will RISE AGAIN.

And we saw other encouraging signs like this church next to some dilapidated buildings…..

Rough street and church

…..and this Think Positive sign.

Think positive

We saw this “Urban Organics” store….ah, what is “Urban Organics?” Ha!

Urban Organics

And then, we saw ANOTHER casino….

Another casino

It looked so nice and fancy…but it gets me to thinking….the money for this nice building, where does it come from? If someone wins a pot, or whatever they call it at the casino, say $500 at a slot machine, where does it come from? The income that the owners of this casino make…..where does IT come from?

It comes from the game.

It comes from the dollars and pennies that people who can’t control their urges spend their food money, and their rent money, and their mortgage money, and their light bill money.

Proverbs 10:2 says that “Ill-gotten gain has no lasting value….“. The King James Bible says “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing….

Let’s not do this to ourselves. Let’s put money into worthwhile endeavors, and let’s invest in people.

‘Nuff said.

We went through several industrial areas as well, and there does seem to continue to be companies surviving along the Mississippi River and using the resources that this huge flow of water provides.

Gas industry

More industrial areas

After it got dark, we pulled into our only Louisiana State Park that we stayed at, St. Bernard State Park. It wasn’t the cheapest park in the world, but it was clean, and it was secure. We knew we had 75 miles yet to go, but we felt it better to get some sleep now, and then continue on early in the morning.

Michael from Texas got us checked in around 9:30pm, and we set the alarm for 2:30am. [WHEW!]

Camp site at St Bernhard State Park

Thanks, Lord, for a place to lay and rest.

TGG,

jon

Day 65 [Samburg, TN – Chisholm Lake, TN]

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2010

Day 65 started out in one of the nicest, cleanest motels we had been in all summer….the Southshore Resort on the southeast side of Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee. Thanks, Rick, for an outstanding establishment. You are to be commended. (Now if you can just get some great internet access in there…..ha!)

South Shore Resort

Starting out day 65

Yes, the Southshore did not have internet.

That has probably been on of the biggest challenges and disappointments of the Mission Possible Tour….I really had no idea that getting a halfway decent internet connection, or even phone service for much of the trip, would EVER be as difficult as it has been.

Maybe that is the challenge of living in a metro area like Orlando. You get spoiled.

Very hard to even FIND an internet connection, and when I do, it is often unreliable.

As I sit right now in a Super 8 in Ripley, Tennessee, the internet is down. The front desk said that they were also experiencing problems, and couldn’t help me. Neither Earline or I have phone service (although Earline was able to pick up an occasional signal outside.) My phone, which had been fine earlier this morning, now is in a perpetual state of reboot, and I cannot get it to come on. Which means my phone service, my google maps, my text blogs, my addresses, some photographs, my voice notes, my Scripture notes…..NONE of it is accessible at this time…..wow….

And YET…

I KNOW that the God of this universe, the One who is the creator of ALL life and physical matter, the One who holds EVERYTHING together (see Colossians 1:16 and 17) knows ALL of my frustrations, knows ALL of YOUR frustrations, knows every detail of EVERY circumstance….and is able to fix everything in an instant, and I pray and hope that He will do so, for my benefit, for your benefit, for HIS glory….I cannot complain.

I won’t.

Day 65 also became one of the longest and hardest days of our Mission Possible Tour. Since the actual temperature during the past couple days here along the MR has been over 100 degrees, with heat indices between 115 and 120 degrees, we again stayed out of the heat of the day. With our nice, large, air-conditioned room I was able to do some repair work on the trikes with the supplies I picked up at the Post Office yesterday, putting the liner and Flat Attack goop that Mark sent me in my back tire, tightening up Earline’s side bars, fixing my mirror that got beat up when I went upside down in the ditch the other day….it was a productive morning.

[If you EVER get the chance to do repair work in an air-conditioned area….DO IT!…..HA!]

And even though I did not have an internet connection, during the morning hours I was able to prep on the computer all the photos to the current day, ready to be uploaded to the web site when I can.

We said our goodbyes to Joi, who works in the Pier restaurant, along with her sister Velvet, who waited on us last night.

Joi at Southshore Pier Restaurant

Their step-mom is Deaf, and has been encouraging Joi to learn some of the language so that they can better communicate. Joi, we add our voices to what your step-mom is saying…you CAN do it. Use the cards we gave you…..check out www.godshandsagency.com…..explore the resources that we list on the site. It does take some time and effort….but it is worth it, and again, you CAN do it.

Ask God to help you….He WILL, you know.

We headed over to the Reelfoot Lake Visitor Center, and saw some pretty homes and scenery all around the lake. This lake covers almost 30 square miles, but is only 5 to 20 feet deep, created in the early 1800s by the most severe recorded earthquake ever to hit the North American continent.

Cypress trees along Reelfoot Lake

Cypress trees along Reelfoot Lake2

The Visitor Center was closed by the time we got there (4:30pm…..boo, hiss), but we did get a chance to eat next door at Boyette’s Restaurant, established almost 90 years ago. We met Erin, who waited on us, and was interested in our Tour and our purpose. Thanks, Erin for your most excellent service!

Boyettes

Erin and Earline

Right next door was Hillbilly Junction, and OF COURSE, I HAD to take our pictures!

Hillbilly Earline

“Here I is!”

Hillbilly Jon

As we headed down to Ridgley, TN, we were again headed across huge fields of corn and soybeans. We saw this field of…..something. It kinda looked like soybeans, but there were many of these white and pink flowers…..is this soybeans? Maybe one of you farmers out there can help us out.

What is it plant

Speaking of……the WIN-A-FREE-T-SHIRT-IF-WE-EVER-GET-THEM-MADE alert! We ran across this field of “something” for the first time this summer. A FREE WiFi Pedaler T-Shirt goes to the first person who can correctly identify WHAT this 3 to 4 foot tall crop is growing in this field:

T shirt contest plant

On our way into Ridgely, we saw this decorated wagon wheel….neat!

Decorated wagon wheel

The sun was on its way down.

Pretty sunset over cemetery

In Ridgely, we met Courtney and Ann at Ray’s One Stop; Courtney is going to school to work with special-needs kids. We applaud you, Courtney!

Courtney Earline Ann

On our way through Ridgely, we decided that the 30 mile stretch of Highway 181 is something that we did NOT want to do the next day in 100-plus heat, so we decided to keep riding.

And so we did.

All night.

Bob says in his book that the waterfowl viewing out here on top of the levee is really good…..but, well, this is all we saw:

Night time scenery

Trike at night Earline

Nightime greenery

We did occasionally see some vegetation along the side of the road, and as it eventually got light early in the morning, we were able to see some of the scenery we had been missing:

Overlook Tenn Valley2

Vines and kudzu

Riding at night is hard….you can’t see that far ahead of you. And we find that dogs that can’t see you tend to be more aggressive when all they can do is smell you. (Plus their eyes reflect the flashlight, so they ALL look like demon dogs….weird!)

The darkness also means that if you DO have a downhill, you CAN’T go down them fast because you would be overdriving your lights, which is dangerous, so you don’t get the reward for your efforts going up those hills.

Bummer!

We did take a break and sat alongside the road to take a quick nap around 4:30am to 5:30am. One of the locals did stop to check on us, to see if we were alright.

We appreciate that!

Interesting area…..especially the Hobe Webb Road. LOTS of ups and downs.

Big Tenn trees

Hobe Webb Road

We decided to head into Ripley, because we needed to find ANY services available. We needed some place to crash during the heat of the day, and we did find a Walmart where we could pick up few supplies (batteries, some CO2 cartridges, etc.)

Walmart after 65 mile ride

I’ll break here, to close this day [it IS the next day!….HA!]…..total mileage overnight:  about 65 miles.

ONLY Through God’s Grace,

jon

Day 63 [Belmont State Park, Columbus, KY – Cayce, KY]

MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 2010

After an extremely warm night at Columbus Belmont State Park, we decided to stick around for a few hours until the heat of the day was past. That gave me a chance to get caught up on 2 days worth of blogging, and Earline a chance to do some reading and get some rest.

[Trying some manual spacing today.] [Whoops!….that didn’t work either.]

View of Mississippi River from SP

Barge from CB SP

We met Cathy, one of the park’s hosts, and she was so kind to bring us some ice for our water bottles. It has been so hot – heat indexes well over 100 degrees each day, so ice is like GOLD for us.

About 5pm we headed south through some more rolling hills. (They have some serious hills in even western Kentucky!)

Still have hills in Kentucky

At one point, in the middle of 100s of acres of soybeans and corn as far as we could see, we were getting 5 bars of reception on our phones with no tower in sight, even though last night on top of one of the highest bluffs around, we had no phone service.

What?!

Too much technology for me!

(In other words, I’ve been dealing with technology all my life, and I STILL can’t figure some of this stuff out!…..ack!)

A lady sitting on her porch in Oakton greeted us and asked us if we needed some water or ice….absolutely! Here’s the Stinson family AND Howie Houghton.

Stinson family

Perfect timing! (Thank you, God!) We went past this little church…..and take a close look at the name….

Past little church ins outhern Kentucky

Mt Sinai sign

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church! How about that! I believe this was also in Oakton. They even had a little cemetery in the back.

Mt Sinai cemetery

Continued through some more farmland (and past yet another cemetery)….

Southern Kentucky road

Oakwood cemetery

We got down to Cayce (pronounced “casey”) as we saw another beautiful sunset.

Sunset near Cayce

Stopped at a little convenience store and met Judy Blackburn. Judy was so kind – she made Earline a fat ham sandwich, and gave me a big tall glass of milk. Yea!

Judy and Earline

Please pray for Judy and her daughter, Victoria. At the age of only 30, Victoria was recently diagnosed with the first ever recorded tumor growing in her heart. The Mayo Clinic was involved – complications from the surgery and medications caused her to have a stroke, debilitating her whole right side.

She IS walking again, but much of her right side is still not functioning, and the ability to engage in conversations is a whole new struggle. But they ARE believers, and we do know that with God ALL things ARE possible!

After leaving the convenience store, we met 2 more young ladies and their young son or nephew outside, and spent about 15 minutes talking to them, and explaining our Mission Possible Tour.

By now it was very dark, but I remembered seeing a sign for a Methodist church just around the corner. And sure enough, there it was. There was a big cemetery on the west side of the church, and they had a large cement platform in front by the main entrance. In the corner of that platform, right under a big oak tree is where we set our tent.

Tent in corner of cement

(Here’s a picture of where we set up our tent from the next morning.)

Campsite front of Methodist church

Again, it was dark, who do you ask?….the house to the right might have been the parsonage, but maybe it wasn’t. So….if someone didn’t want us there (we weren’t hiding – we were RIGHT in front), I’m sure they’d let us know….we quickly set up the tent, and laid down to rest.

And there’s something peaceful about laying down right next to a building where they worship God. Even David extolled the idea of living in God’s house. [Psalm 27:4]

Earline says she heard wild dogs and wolves, but that’s another story!

ONLY TGG,

jon

Day 61 [Twente School Road/Hwy 3, IL – Hwy 1203, KY]

SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010

The mosquitoes are dead and we aren’t, so we survived the night. (And we’ve agreed to use the bug bomb only when we AREN’T in the tent….ha!)

I got up around 5:15 as it was just getting light, and noticed what I had not seen last night….literally dozens of garden spiders above our heads, hanging from various support beams of the wooden poles holding up the pavilion roof. Some small, some pretty good sized.

Now spiders kind of freak me out, and I had been doing some pretty intense praying before I noticed them, dangling from their webs. My first thought was, “look at all the danger just over our heads, and how God protected us.” My next thought was, “Wait! Don’t spiders eat mosquitoes? Maybe this was a good thing!”

Alexander pavilion

What I have a question about, though, is something hopefully one of YOU will be able to answer:  after we packed up our things and started to leave, I rode around in the pavilion looking for the spiders to show Earline, and I could not find one!

Huh?!

When it gets light, or hot, do they hide? Where did they go? (Sounds like a special for “Wild Kingdom” or “Animal Planet.”)

We headed out from yet another hospitable (unbeknownest to them) church grounds.

Alexander church sign church pavilion

Alexander church sign

We appreciate it!

And we always leave a thank-you note and a WiFi Pedaler flyer to let them know we were there. We also always try to leave wherever we stay “a little better” than it was when we came.

Like bending back the tumbler plate on “mom’s” guest bedroom door so the door would close easily, fixing someone else’s toilet flapper so water didn’t waste, or here, picking up the pieces of a broken glass bottle that someone had dropped on the northwest corner of the pavilion.

WIFI TIP – Resolve to leave each place better than when you found it! Good habit.

We rode past the Horseshoe Lake camping area that Bob talking about in the Bicycling Guide. It really is a pretty area.

Horseshoe campground area

This also gave Earline a chance to act out Psalm 91:13 (look it up):

Psalm 91 try out

One thing we did notice, is that there didn’t seem to be as much standing water here. Along the Mississippi, yes, because the river is so high….but a couple miles away from the river, like this Horseshoe Lake area….dry.

BARN ART alert! (This certainly must be in memory of SOME barn’s passing.)

Barn art barn mailbox

We learned later in Cairo (pronounced like “Carol” without the “L”), that this area hasn’t had hardly any rain in nearly 2 months! We saw cornfields with browning roots and curled up leaves. What a difference a few miles makes!

We went past the National Cemetery in Mound City, and saw the gravestones of many unknown soldiers who lost their lives in defense of freedom.

Gate of Mound City Nat Cem

Graves at Mound City

They had some verses from a poem by Theodore O’Hara on plaques lining the sides of the driveway. Some of these same verses are on display at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C. Here’s one:

1 of 7 plaques of poem by Theodore O Hara

Also saw this interesting sign from The War Department, Adjutant General’s Office in Washington, dated September 1, 1875, that among other things stated:

“Information having been received of the desecration of soldier’s graves by picnic parties in a National Cemetery, and by vending refreshments therein, it is hereby ordered that hereafter no such practices shall be allowed….”

Vending refreshments??!

Refreshments rule sign

After we left the cemetery, we stopped to rest a minute….it is HOT!

Leaving Illinois cemetery

Later, we passed by this place that was……watering logs? Whatever for? Anybody have any ideas about this?

Watering logs

We finally made it into Cairo….(pause for photo-op)…southernmost town in Illinois….

Welcome to Cairo

….through a tunnel under an overhead road….[hmmm….looks a little unkept]

Under Cairo tunnel

….and headed for what we were TOLD were 2 great bar-b-que places. Stopped at Mac’s on the north side….and left. The “spirit’ of the place just did not seem right….and it was empty….not a good sign. They only had pork, so Earline begged hypertension and we left gracefully. (They did let us get some ice water, so thank you, Mack’s!)

Leaving Macs

Then we stopped by a sign that said Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, and met a member who recommended Schemmwell’s. Here’s 2 sistas in the Lord:

Mount Moriah

Cairo is a very depressing place. One of locals gave us some history….what had been a bustling town of 28,000 is now barely 2,000. We saw many boarded up homes, broken-windowed buildings.

Apparently racial tension was a large factor.

And then there was a mayor who put them millions of dollars in debt which they haven’t recovered from. We were told even the POLICE CARS were repossessed.

We saw one 2-story building burning, gutted out, with yellow police tape around it, and smoke STILL coming from rubble in the center of the ash pile. (I should have gotten some pictures of this, but I was so shocked at the…..the devastation, that I was kind of embarrassed to take a picture of this mess.

We did stop at Schemmwells, and got some sliced bar-b-qued beef….

Inside Schemwells

…Earline and I didn’t want to eat too heavy because of our triking, so we split an entree and each got two sides. It was….how shall I say it….very disappointing.

The place wasn’t much bigger than a Waffle House. There were only 4 customers in there when we got there, and 1 when we left (granted, it was 3 in the afternoon).

But the spirit of excellence was lost somewhere. Our server was pleasant enough, but we had to request her to come clear off the table. When the phone rang, she seemed upset that it was ringing, and that she had to answer it.

The portions were served on styrofoam, and were minuscule. Each of us got a half slice of bread with 2 little strips of beef on it. Together the sandwiches would have barely made a kid’s meal at Subway, and this meal cost us over 9 dollars. (and we drank only water.)

Say something nice!……..okay, well, the sweet sauce they gave me in a bottle was good.

I think the spirit of the town has put a damper on everything here, though.

Pray for them….Cairo, Illinois.

Since we had no T-Mobile phone service in town, we called the local police and asked for police escort across the bridge. (Apparently someone from FLORIDA donated them some cars.) They seemed reluctant, but agreed to help us.

We headed down to the very southern tip of Illinois. The bridge to the right went to Missouri, the bridge (our bridge) to the left went to Kentucky.

Bridges sign

Bridge #37.5 to the right:

Bridge we didnt take

Here we are, waiting for our police escort:

Waiting for the po po

Bridge #38 to Kentucky:

Bridge38

Making the climb on 38

Looking to the right from the bridge, just past the barge, you can the see the Ohio River we are going over, where it runs into the Mississippi River coming in from the right:

Barge under Cairo to KY bridge

How many more bridges over the MR? Three that I know of, but we’ll see. We had 1 or 2 more ferry rides planned, but those might not be in operation, as we found out up at St. Genevieve, Missouri.

As we were going across the bridge, it started to rain!

Ack!

Can’t stop here to put on rain gear. We prayed it didn’t get too heavy….and by the time we got across (long bridge – like the Chain of Rocks bridge) the officer was gone….not sure where he turned around. HAD to have been the little side road of the northeast side of the bridge….we think. Anyway, no picture of him except this.

Cairo police escort

THANKS AGAIN Cairo police for help making this Mission Possible Tour POSSIBLE!

It was starting to rain hard now….Welcome to Kentucky! State number 6!

(Notice the narrow shoulder and rumble grooves? ACK!)

Welcome to Kentucky rain

…..ON with the rain gear….mile later, rain stopped….OOO, this is hot; off with the rain gear. Whoops! It’s starting to rain again. On with the rain gear….WAIT! It’s stopping! Off with the rain gear….(what kinda mess??!!…HA!)

On off again Earline rain gear

Mississippi river rain

Eventually it did stop….and we got to Wycliffle, Kentucky. We met the John Kinder family from Cape Girardeau. John said he used to play tennis with “mom’s” son, Matt. Small world! HA!

Thanks for your encouraging words that you sent through the web site, John! Yes, Psalms 121 and 91 are turning out to be big hits with us this summer.

Looked for a place to camp in town, but nothing looked acceptable or safe (guide us, Lord!). Here’s the bridge we just crossed from the Wycliffe river front.

Bridge we just crossed from Cairo to Wycliffe KY

We saw a big cross through the trees, and thought there might be a church just south of town.

We had 2 four-legged guides follow (guide?) us from down by the river front.

2 friends from riverfront

Earline thought they were going to get run over, and they almost did a couple times, once by a semi that burned MUCH rubber to avoid them.

Finally were able to find the cross, and realize it was just….a cross. On a scenic overlook.

Interesting story…..(Link to the cross at Wycliffe, Kentucky).

Famous Fort Jefferson cross

Cross trikes silouette

It was about an hour before sunset. There were some great views from up on this hill:

Barge from cross scenic view

Scenic sunset from cross

We decided to move on. We rode past this factory…..

Factory amongst woods

….continuing thru some dense woods….

Thick woods

….saw a sign for a Beech Grove Missionary Baptist Church, and……THERE IT WAS, between a cornfield and a soybean field. We decided to camp under a tree on the north side of the church.

(So, let’s see….is this a Black congregation or a White congregation?….we’ll see.) (Either way, we figure we’ve got it covered! Ha!)

We found a faucet on the side of the building, so we were able to take sponge baths. We figured that if someone stopped to ask us what we were doing……we would tell them we were just a little early for church!

Thank you, Lord, for a place to camp, for bringing us safely through the day.

TGG,

jon

Day 55 [cornfield by Modoc Ferry, IL – Chester, IL]

SUNDAY, JULY 25, 2010

Okay, so last night the ferry’s flooded out, we have a flat tire, we camp in a cornfield…..what will today bring??!!

Well, yes, it rained last night…..but it did cool down the temperature!

As we were moving things to the lane to dry out, the farmer and his wife happened by, on their way to church. They were nice, but we didn’t have much time to talk, so we left them a thank-you note, written in corn leaves:

Thank you in corn leaves

Eventually got back to Modoc, and even though they didn’t open for another hour, they were kind to supply us with water and ice. We met Brailee and her mom. Brailee now knows how to say “I Love You” in sign language!

Brailee and her mom

Although the wind has a bit of coolness to it, the sun us still very powerful, and it is hot again today.

We try to take it easy, and rest during the heat of the day. We stopped by this yard on the edge of Ellis Grove, that was selling homemade benches, tables, and swings. Very nice! Earline showed Kierra and her sister the ASL a-b-c’s, and shared the wordless book with them. Here’s Earline and Kierra:

Kierra and Earline at Big Als

Earline even found the energy to go trampolining with Kierra and her sister:

Trampolining

Okay….maybe she overdid it:

City Park in Ellis Grove

This was a nice little city park in the town of Ellis Grove….and a gazebo with electricity! We spent a couple hours here, during the hottest part of the day.

There was a cemetery nearby that had this interesting headstone for the founder of the town, in 1852:

Tree headstone

On the way to Chester, we saw this clever mailbox. Isn’t this interesting??!!! Saves some walking, huh?!

Mailbox north of Chester

We made it to the next town of Chester, home of the creator of Popeye the Sailor Man (it’s said that he used local personalities as the basis for his cartoon characters; they have a BIG festival here each year in September that pulls in THOUSANDS of people….how about that!).

There was only one hotel in town, a Best Western, but what they wanted per night was beyond our budget. The clerk, however, did mention a place in town that catered to bicyclists….and boy, do they ever.

This article from the Adventure Cycling web site tells a little bit about the history: Cycling Haven

The local Fraternal Order of Eagles noted a lot of cyclists coming through town, staying at city parks, camping wherever they could (know that feeling). Apparently, Chester, Illinois is on one of the Adventure Cycling cross-country routes that runs east/west, as opposed to our north/south route. But because the ferry was closed, we had to come this way, on the Illinois side of the river.

We knew nothing about this.

The FOE decided to raise money to host these cyclists (and us!) with a little AIR-CONDITIONED cabin, bathrooms, and a SHOWER. For FREE! Wow! Again….God knew what we needed, before we knew we needed it (and the shower was DEFINITELY needed!…..ha!)

Here are a B. and Gaynelle showing Earline and I the facilities, and Earline and Maggie inside the bar:

Gaynelle and B from FOE

Maggie and Earline

And I understand a big thanks is due to current president Andy Clarkson and his wife, and to bartender Donna, for putting in a lot of the work that makes this retreat possible. You don’t know how you have BLESSED US! Thank you, and all of the FOE members, for your wonderful hospitality!!

May God bless you all!

TGG,

jon

Day 32 [Balltown, IA – Dubuque, IA]

FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2010

Woke up to clear skies again (yea!) and a stiff breeze from the south, southeast. We took a walk over to the pavilion which had restrooms. In Balltown, this pavilion is on just about the highest point in town. There is a memorial there for veterans, a playground for kids, and the town cemetery.

Cemetery in Balltown

Playground by cemetery

This juxtapositioning might seem odd, but number one, this is a small town and really, EVERYTHING is close to everything else, and number two, this actually nicely fits the verse, Ecclesiastes 7:2….“It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is time.”

Even kids while playing should occasionally give pause to their fragility. After working in the funeral industry for over 10 years, we have done some programs for people younger than 20, even some toddlers and babies. No tomorrow is promised, except the heavenly tomorrow offered by the Creator of life itself!

Here is our tent site up on the hill between the restaurant and the local baseball field, that I think my dad and uncle Dan actually played on more than 50 years ago.

Tent site in Balltown between rest and ball field

View of the Breitbach restaurant from where we camped

While we were packing, Mike Breitbach came up and asked us about breakfast, and told us that breakfast was on him. Wow! Thanks Mike, and thanks be to God who works thru so many different people. While eating breakfast, we were waited on by Mike, Jr. (we could see and hear the resemblance)…..

Mike Jr

……and dad Mike took us back to meet Cindy, his wife (and boss!):

Cindy Breitbach and Earline in kitchen

(By the way, later that day in Dubuque, we had two separate individuals talk about the hospitality of Mike and Cindy….what a wonderful thing to have such a great reputation! Like it says in Proverbs 22:1….“Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver of gold.”)

If you get a chance, read their story in the February 2010 Reader’s Digest. Their restaurant has burned down twice in the last 5 years! Their story is just another example of doing the “impossible” as friends and relatives banded together to rebuild their establishment….twice!

We walked over to the Scenic Outlook….the view from Balltown really is incredible, and I don’t know if these 2-dimensional photos will do the vista justice, but I’ll try:

NE Iowa 7

NE Iowa 6

One more picture of the Breitbach Country Inn. Under the text “Iowa’s Oldest restaurant and Bar” it says “Mit Gottes Segen Freunde and Familie”….which is German for “With God Blessing Friends and Family.”

Breitbach Country Inn

Headed to Dubuque, down the rolling ridge into that city – some uphills, more downhills….and Earline’s legs are getting even stronger – she was able to go up several hills without stopping!

On the way to Dubuque from Balltown, we went through the town of Sherrill, and met the family of Lynette Moore. They were so nice! Got some ice for all our water bottles, and made a donation to GHA as well. Thank you!

Lynette Moore family

Made a couple contacts once we arrived in the city of Dubuque, including a local church that occasionally has Deaf interpretation. They will be contacting the Pastor for us.

We were referred to the only campsite in the city itself, Riverview Park [Camp 17] by a bike shop on Hwy 52 that had a Breitbach Restaurant poster on the door! So we set up our tent in the park, along with hundreds of other people. Apparently this is the place to be, because Dubuque has their fireworks display Saturday night, from the north end of the island right where the campground is located!

Here’s the view of the Wisconsin bridge over the Mississippi River from where we were camped [NOT going over this one, so let’s call it Bridge #27-1/2]:

View of Wisconsin bridge from Riverview Park

Should be an interesting weekend!

TGG,

jon

Day 29 [Monona, IA – Pikes Peak State Park, IA]

TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010

Frantically trying to finish processing the last of the photos so that you all can be caught up on the blog.

We are leaving Danny and Joanita’s today. And we DID receive all of the packages that all of you left or sent to their house for us. Thank you all!!

And here’s a list of things that we have also lost along the way (which we can’t figure out, because we look SO carefully before we head out each morning):

• A spare yellow, WiFi Pedalers flag, quadrangle shape, and looks like this:

ICE Trike flag 31

• The colorful spiral flag that blew off on the Ford bridge in south Mpls. (Maybe somebody downstream will find it!) They looks like this, before we lost both of them (yes, that is Babe, the Big, Blue Ox in the background):

PB and Babe

• My main, gray and black tire pump, with an air gauge (Topeak Road Morph)

• One 8″ long metal TENT stake (maybe at Maiden Rock after the storm? See Day 22)

• One black USB cord, with a camera connector on one end (I do have a spare of this, but I still wonder where the other one went…hmm!)

Got all packed up and said our good-byes….Joanita sent along an extra batch of brownies (yumm!) as well as some of Susie’s GREAT Amish bread.

Joanita behind jons trike

Danny and Joanita took a quick seat in our trikes…..they look GOOD, don’t you think?

Danny and Joanita on the trikes

We headed out to the Gateway Park (which used to be our land!) and took pictures by the Monona sign. Saw for the first time a special memorial for armed service personnel from Monona (of course, we HAD to get a picture by the NAVY guy!):

War memorial

Navy statue

Monona sign

Went uptown to try and find some Monona postcards (no luck).

After picking up supplies at WalMart in Prairie du Chien last night, we noticed that the wide shoulder that existed on Hwy 52 was gravel, and that the immediate 4 ft. shoulder had a 2 ft. rumble cut groove cut in it – NOT good at all for our trikes. So we decided to take the old Marquette Road, no shoulder, but a lot less traffic.

What a pretty day! All the rain we’ve been thru really makes us appreciate days like this….and some real pretty views of the Iowa countryside from the top of the ridge.

Big round bales on Iowa hayfield

PLUS, we got to go THROUGH the big, little city of Watson:

Big little city of Watson

Yup, that’s it. That’s the whole town! Ha!

We also stopped at a little, country cemetery:

Country cemetery in NE Iowa

Nice and FUN downhill into Marquette (almost 2 miles…..whee!)

Went over the Marquette /Prairie du Chien bridge – Bridge #27, and a view to the south from the bridge:

Bridge27

Looking south from Prairie bridge

Back to Iowa, we HAD to stop and get a picture by the Pink Elephant (it used to be the name of a fancy restaurant up on the bluff; the restaurant no longer exists, but the elephant remains!)

Earline smile with pink elephant

Pick elephants nose

EEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!

Riding through MacGregor, we met the Mayor, Miss Gaylinda Hallberg. She sends her greetings to all of you, and says, “Come visit McGregor!”

MacGregor mayor

At the top of the main street saw this pretty Funeral Home, and met the new owner, a Doug DeVries. We found the inside quite charming, actually:

Funeral home in McGregor

Funeral home in MacGregor

As we headed up the hill to Pikes Peak, we met the burger and cigarette lady….it was late, but we think she tried a little too hard to get us to camp in her yard….“It’s a really long hill”…“I’ve got burgers on the grill”….“It’ll be like Ringling Brothers – it’s a real circus around here”…. “I’ve already got one camper”….ah, no thanks. Like Nehemiah on the wall, we did not want to get distracted. [See Nehemiah 4:7-23]

Climbing Pikes Peak hill

Made it up the Pikes Peak hill without too much difficulty – called Danny and Joanita to let them know WE MADE IT – and the entrance to the park was just 100 yards past the top of the hill.

Here is the sunset behind us – a few minutes before we arrived at Pike’s Peak State Park:

Sunset a few minutes before we arrived at Pikes Peak

It was getting late, so we set up quickly. We met (and got some fire starter help from) Ezra and Molly. Earline was able to give Molly some tips on starting her own business. Neat couple.

Continuing on TGG,

jon

Day 28 [Monona, Iowa]

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2010

Today we tried to get as much visiting done as we could before we head out of town tomorrow.

Saw the small manufacturing plant in Monona where Susie works, where they receive things like tractor parts from foundrys, and take those parts and do detailed cutting and drilling to prep them for assembly lines at other companies.

Susie gives tour of her work place

We visited Tom Neuhaus, who was a co-captain of the local wrestling team with me senior year of high school.

Tom Neuhaus and Jon

We visited a couple local cemeteries, and saw where my father’s body lies, and where my mom’s body will be laid to rest.

Jon by folks tombstone

We also saw Uncle Danny and Aunt Joanita’s headstone, as well as that of my Grandpa Arno and Grandma Hazel Blumhagen.

Grandpa Arno Grandma Hazel

This cemetery also had some interesting rules that must be strictly observed.

Cemetery rules

We saw some headstones that went as far back as the 1850’s. This bizarre headstone was in the shape of a tree trunk, with a scroll on the side, and a dead bird carved on the top. Does anybody have any idea what possible reason or significance for the dead bird?

Scroll and dead bird

We also stopped at Uncle Dan’s office and met his office mate, Terry Cushman, who took a little ride on the trike. Terry also gave us a great, personal contact in New Orleans that we will be following up on.

Terry Cushman on trike

We also had a chance to go out to the farm where I was raised, and meet the family that is living there right now.

Farm I grew up on

They were very hospitable and let me show Earline all around the place. Their names are Terrie and Jessie Moses…..here they are with her sister’s family who happened by at the same time:

Terry and Jessie Moses and family

Their son tried to hide from photos with his bicycle, but I got him! Ha!

Terrie and Jessies son

We also had a chance to stop by the Monona Historical Society where Joanita volunteers, and the museum that they are developing. Here are some photos from the museum, as well as Earline having a chance to try on some hats over 100 years old!

Dining room in museum

More carvings from Elmer Sr

Elmer Marting shows carvings

Here is an 1855 dress worn by local Dr. Kettlekamp’s wife’s mother.

1855 dress worn by Dr Kettlekamps wifes mother

Dolls

Fan tastik

Hats worn over 100 years ago

Earline tries on a hat

Finally, at the end of day, we had a chance to restock some supplies at the WalMart over in Prairie du Chien, and also visit the Dairy Queen there that, yes, is STILL open after all these years!!!! Excellent…..and DQ #7:

Jon at Prairie du Chien DQ

Thank you again so much for your daily prayers and financial support.

Thru Jesus,

jon

Day 10 [Brainerd, MN – St. Cloud (Foley), MN]

JUNE 10, 2010

(Oops, I forgot to mention to mention, that on Day 8 we saw TWO Dairy Queens on the ride, bring the total up to 4 – Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Aitkin, and Crosby. We heard there was also one in Brainerd, but we did not see it on our route.)

(See how I blogged the important stuff done up front….HA!)

3:30am came EARLY (I guess it doesn’t have any choice!) and after cleaning up and having a WONDERFUL breakfast (okay, minus the raisins), we got packed up with the radar AGAIN showing rain headed our way!

Saw another “red sky at morning” (doesn’t anybody know where that verse is found??? A T-Shirt is WAITING to be claimed!) (see Day 8).

Andy and Sue
Andy and Sue front of red sky

Covered up everything to make it rain-proof, said our VERY grateful good-byes, and headed out about 5:30am.

It was light already (longer days up here), and it was drizzling, but look at the gift we received at the Brainerd water tower….a rainbow!

Rainbow in Brainerd

Yesterday Andy had taken me out to see if we could figure Bob’s instructions for the MRT in Brainerd. Andy is an avid biker himself, and couldn’t quite follow what the book said. We found the bicycle trail that went in front of Walmart, and how it winds around a little before coming to the bridge over the Mississippi on the 371 by-pass (the new 371).

The trail actually goes under road at the north end of the bridge, does a left-hand cloverleaf loop to the bridge, and connects to a separated pedestrian/bicycle trail that goes north/south along the east side of the bridge.

Then at the south end, it loops to the left again, and goes UNDER the road to the southwest corner of the bridge. It ends right at the edge of the bridge. There is a dirt path that continues south a little bit, and as Bob mentions in his book, there are plans to extend it all the way to Crow Wing State Park, about 15 miles away. [But not yet!]

Bob suggests then climbing up the road bank, and heading south on the 371 by-pass.

Here is the bridge that I crossed (but not on my trike, so I’ll call it Bridge #16.5):

Bike trail on bridge 16point5

Because of the steep climb up the grassy slope, which would be harder on the recumbents to push, and because of the rain that was already starting to fall, and knowing that the dirt path end would be messy, we decided to head straight south on the old 371 out of town, a distance of about 7 miles (not 3, Andy….you kind of estimate your mileage like I do….“it’s just a little ways further”…HA!)

We saw 2 deer on the way out of town. They thought about retreating to the woods, but then just stood there and watched us go by in the rain (thinking “who in the world are THESE crazy folks!”).

Had rain off and on most of the day. The wind and the cold really made it a miserable ride.

We went past the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery:

MN state veterans cemetery

Veterans cemetery tombstones

This was also right next to our busy, NARROW Bridge #17:

Bridge17

It was a little hairy getting across this….MUCH traffic. We just had to assert ourselves and say, “Here we go!”….and the 4-wheeled folks will just have to be patient behind us.

Just on the other side of the bridge was Camp Ripley, a 53,000 acre state-owned base that serves as a world-class military training center for all branches and components of service, just north of Little Falls.

And yes, it was STILL drizzling.

Damp outside veterans cemtery

We stopped in Little Falls and had a DELIGHTFUL lunch at the Royal Family Diner….one of the BEST meals we have EVER had!!!!

They came out with a coffee drink for Earline and hot chocolate for me that were in HUGE mugs, so big you could hardly put your hands around them (GREAT for warming cold hands). They had a sirloin steak buffet for only $6.99, with FRESH veggies and home-made bread. What a blessing!

After that, we continued on past the Charles Lindbergh State Park (it was clean, but empty – no people, no staff….it appears again that the tight economy has eliminated PEOPLE jobs.)

The road to St. Cloud was slightly rolling, low traffic, and could have been a nice ride, except for the rain and the cold. This is mostly rural Minnesota here, with lots of evidence of the agricultural business in action:

A barn with a covering for railing and pulleys that lift with forks the hay off the wagons

Barn with overhang

Some beautiful, but curious horses….ah, recumbent WHAT??!!

Curious horses

Loading corn from a bin on to a wagon – this brought back memories!

Loading corn

LOOK! Another manure spreader (must be a fad). I am calling this phenomenon: Farm Implement Lawn Ornament, or FILO.

ANOTHER manure spreader

Saw several glimpses of the Mississippi on the left. Saw beautiful homes north of Sartell overlooking the river, and it was obvious that the lawns were LOVING the rain.

Nice house north of Sartell

FINALLY got to Whitney Park, and the softball fields, where we knew the game was being held, and saw FIFTY other softball fields and games! It’s about 8:30….gotta hurry up and find them, cuz it will be dark pretty soon. So, which one?

We started driving around the loop, looking, looking, looking, for signing hands, and….AT LAST!

Total time on the trikes today, about 14 hours. Total mileage covered (in the rain, against the wind): 85 miles (whoo-whoo!).

Talked with several of the Deaf who were there, and got some good insights about the local Deaf community.

Shukri (from Kenya) who is Deaf, and Earline

Shukri and Earline

Brandi and Earline (our contact through our stay with Brenda and Miles in Bemidji)

Brandi and Earline

Brandi’s baby girl (and proud Brenda’s grandbaby!)

Brandis girl Brendas granddaughter

Mitch (who is Deaf) graciously offered to let us stay at his house (yes, ladies, he texted his wife FIRST to get the okay!) AND they already have 6 children at home, with another one on the way. AND they live in an old church (our second night in a church in 3 days!) Here are some photos of their family:

Mitch’s dad (who is Deaf), Earline and Mitch (who is Deaf)

Mitchs dad Earline and Mitch

Mitch’s dad, Jon, and Mitch

Mitchs dad Jon and Mitch

Timothy and Trinity

Timothy and Trinity

Tiffany and Tabatha

Tiffany and Tabatha

We will stay in St. Cloud this weekend to look for ministry opportunities (AND get some much needed rest).

TGG,

jon