Day 64 [Cayce, KY – Samburg, TN]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2010

Spent a VERY muggy night suffering in our tent. NO breeze, and I understand the low for the night only reached around 85 degrees.

We were grateful for the place under the tree in front of the Methodist Church here in Cayce, and got up with the sun around 5:30 saw that we wouldn’t startle anyone.

Tuesday morning at Methodist church

Earline mentioned how she was really CRAVING a cup of coffee.

I discovered what happens when you roll up your glasses in the tent!

Cant find glasses

We left a thank-you note in the church door, and headed west towards Hickman, Kentucky about 7:00am. We had gone 2 BLOCKS, when what did we find but a CAFE….open for breakfast…..with COFFEE!! (Earline says “Thank You, God!!!)

Cayce Cafe GREAT French toast

Inside there was a group of about 8 men sitting around a table. I introduced myself, and asked if any of them were members of the Methodist Church. 2 of them were. They hadn’t seen us camped out, but I told them we left a thank-you note!

I handed out quarter page flyers to them, and explained a little about our Mission Possible Tour.

It is HIGHLY recommended that if you are in the area that you stop for breakfast. Excellent food, great prices, and some of the BEST French Toast I have ever had. Truly GREAT!!

THEN, as we were eating, one of the men from the table came over and introduced himself…..his name was Darrell Powell, and he was part of a construction team that goes every year to do construction work for the Deaf in Puerto Rico!!

Darrell Powell Construction Ministry

Apparently the Deaf are very ostracized in Puerto Rico….they can’t get any government assistance, and are generally shunned and labeled as “undesirables” by the rest of their society. Kudos to Darrell and his wife for the wonderful work they are doing for the Deaf!

After we had gone a few miles, the road to Hickman widened……we LOVE roads like this!!!!

We LOVE roads like this

Once we arrived in Hickman, Charlotte Smith of the local paper, The Hickman Courier, stopped us to get a picture and our story. Here’s Charlotte:

Charlotte Smith of Hickman Courier

[Does anybody know if we made it in THIS paper? I wonder….]

While we sitting there talking to Charlotte, a gentleman from Coy’s Place across the street brought us some cold Gatorade…..THANK YOU!!

Guy at Hickman gave Earline Gatorade2

The bluff overlooking the river valley is pretty impressive, but the view wouldn’t have been possible without some aggressive bluff stabilization work. Great ingenuity!

Scenic overlook preserved

Bluff erosion prevention

As we traveled through Hickman, there is like a lower and an upper part of the town. The upper part seemed to have more modern, newer stores and businesses. Some of the lower parts of the town reminded me, though, of Cairo, IL, and they had one area down by the Post Office roped off for demolition.

Lower Hickman KY

You can see a flood gate in the back center part of this picture. In bad flood years the Mississippi has apparently been up near the top of this flood wall. Here you can see a barge just over the top of the flood wall.

Barge at Hickman, KY

MOST of these little towns have been hit hard by the economy these past years. I think the economic impact of the 9-11 hit us deeper than we realize. And the ever-growing lack of support, with increased taxes and regulations from the state and nation’s capitals has combined to drive a lot of businesses OUT of business.

We see it just about every day.

Here another part of the town in the lower section.

Lower Hickman demolition bldg

We finally found the Post Office, and stopped in to get a package of tire supplies that Mark Power from Power On Cycling in Riverview, Florida sent to us. Post Offices WILL hold mail for you that is sent General Delivery for up to 10 days.

That’s good news! Here is the Post Office where I picked up the package.

Marks package received

The BAD news is, it is hard to know what the topography of the Post Office might be. Here is a HUGE hill to the left of the Post Office that I now must go up. [By the way, Earline wisely decided to NOT come back down this hill, after just going up it a few blocks earlier….HA!]

Steep hill from PO

ACTUALLY, the 2-dimensional photo above of the hill doesn’t do the hill justice, because I am at a lower angle taking the picture looking up, and the hill appears kinda flat, which was NOT the case. Let me distort the photo a little to give you a more true idea of what the hill REALLY looked like:

Distorted picture from PO

Now THAT’s more like it REALLY was!

We stopped at a convenience store on the way out of town, and again talked with several locals about our Mission Possible Tour. This is a scene that has been repeated day in and day out throughout the trip:

Hickman southside convenience store

It is SO hot again today….we saw more dried-up cornfields:

DRY cornfield

More dry corn

What is so weird is to see this condition of the fields, and it is NOT THAT FAR SOUTH of where we saw FLOODED fields just north of St. Louis.

Amazing.

We were out in the middle of the fields, with no shade to speak of:

Long stretch of field

Ran across the state line sign out in the middle of one of those fields. State #7! (little different conditions than the LAST state boundary crossing, huh??!!) (Could someone please straighten out the sign?……thank you.)

Tennessee sign state 7

By 1:00pm, because of the heat, we decided to hunker down under some shade we found, and waited there for about 4 hours. So what did we do with our time in the shade out in the middle of nowhere?

Take a look:

Find shade and shave

Find shade and polish

We eventually headed back into the Tennessee heat….it felt like an oven! (We learned later that day that the actual temperature reached 105 that day!):

Back into Tennessee heat

A dad and a little girl named Leia with a cool camera stopped us on the road to take our picture:

Leia and dad and Eric

As you can see in the picture on the left in back, an officer also stopped us and asked if we needed any help. His name was Eric from the Obion County Police Dept., and he graciously offered to escort us almost TEN MILES into the town of Samburg, Tennessee…..wow! Thanks! Here’s Officer Eric behind us:

Erics Obion County police car

Finally got to Samburg, and Reelfoot Lake, and had a nice evening meal lakeside at the Pier Restaurant…..what a relief to be in some air conditioning! We talked with some parents in the restaurant who were teaching their young children sign language. We offered them some resources and encouragement. You can do it!

By now it was dark, and the man at the motel across the street offered us a room at a discount. We are MOST grateful! Thank you, Jesus!

TGG,

jon

Day 62 [Hwy 1203, KY – Columbus, KY]

SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 2010

(Still no WiFi….sending this from my Blackberry, wherever we find phone service!)

(Here’s the entry, now, with the added pictures.)

Up with the sun, and saw this beautiful sunrise:

Sunrise from Fellowship tree

(By the way, I DID hear a couple wolves howling last night….don’t tell Earline!) And another view:

Sunrise2 from Fellowship tree

We got cleaned up and packed up just after sunrise (in case one of the Deacons came early!).

Tent outside Beech Grove

I was so glad we had camped under the tree. We had heavy overnight dew, but it was much less under the tree, and we were still trying to dry out from the last 2 days.

We learned that the congregation calls this their Fellowship Tree, because when the weather’s cooler (and they don’t have a Fellowship Hall) they’ll pull up a pick-up, put down the tail gate, and have something to eat by their Fellowship Tree. (Note to “I-CAN”….this is where the term “tailgating” comes from!)

The name of the church is Beech Grove Missionary Baptist Church. We learned that it was the OLDEST church congregation in the county (about 150 years old!), and that many years ago, however, some members of the church had been dismissed from the church for whatever reason, weren’t too happy about it, and had burned down the old church building! Thus the newer facility that you see today. [Oh, no!] [A mess!….see www.MessMinistry.com]

Front of Beech Grove

When the folks started arriving for Sunday School, we realized it was a White congregation. There were about 15 people there for Sunday School. It seemed to be a pretty traditional church – they used the King James Bible, and the first song we sang was “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”

The teaching came from Galatians 6, and was really good! This pastor knew his Word!

They were going thru Paul’s letter verse by verse, and talked about some teachers at that time who were trying to add a practice, or a ritual, or a tradition to what Jesus did on the cross….and they were doing it for THEIR own benefit. (It reminded me of Mormons trying to add that you must swear allegiance to Joseph Smith, or Roman Catholics who insist that you pledge devotion to Mary….so this is nothing new….it goes back at least 2,000 years!)

The service at 11am had a few more people come. The trio of Gayla, and her mom, and her mom’s sister sang a song about God protecting us from the storms of life.

Trio singing in church

You could tell their voices all came from the same gene pool – they blended so well together! At the end, I applauded….I was the only one. (Oh, well.)

Pastor David Callison preached from Jonah…how Jonah moved when God called…but the WRONG direction. And when the storm was raging, and the hard core sailors were panicking and crying out to their gods, Jonah, who knew the True God, was in the bottom of the boat, fast asleep.

And Pastor made the point…..are we, as God-knowing Christians, sleeping our lives away, sleeping away our opportunities to study, and witness to others about what God has done for you?! Good lesson.

We did learn that one of the young men in the congregation is dating a Black girl, and that the parents are trying to keep it secret. (Of course, interracial dating is never discouraged in the Bible, but a Christian dating someone who isn’t a Christian IS discouraged.) Maybe God had us at this church for that specific family. Pray for them!

Afterwards the Callison’s took us out to eat in Bardwell….I had the roast beef…..excellent! (And FAST!) Here’s a picture of Pastor and his wife, Rhonda, and their daughter, Mitzi:

Pastor Callison family

Mitzi is confined to a wheelchair, but she goes hunting! Please e-mail Mitzi at callison4@windstream.net, and tell her she needs to write a book about her experiences!

After our meal we triked over to visit Gayla right on the MRT, who had offered to let us use her washer and dryer to clean our musty clothes. AND she and her sister Jennifer even stopped and got us some goodies for the road!

Gayla Earline Jennifer

Thank you! You don’t know how much that ministered to us! Thank you!

After we got packed up we continued south on 1203…this has to be one of the prettiest roads we’ve been on the whole trip….gently rolling hills, VERY little traffic [what, maybe 2 cars in 10 miles?…well, it IS a Sunday afternoon], trees almost up to the side of the road. Very nice!!

Prettiest road

After we got off this road, we headed south on Highway 123 towards Columbus, and when we saw another very dry cornfield, I stopped to show Earline how the corn ears were small and stunted.

Mistake.

The roads through here are slanted around the curves like they were south of Balltown, Iowa. Not a problem for 2-wheeled bicycles, but a definite concern for 3-wheelers. I was carrying the bookbag and the extra food we had just picked up on TOP of my panniers, so I was very top heavy.

Above my single back wheel.

And when I got up off the seat by the 2 front wheels….Whoops!….over I went.

Down I went into the ditch, which thankfully was dry, but I was completely upside down! I didn’t think to get a picture, but here’s Earline, holding my trike after we righted it.

Hold my trike upright

The grass behind Earline hides a ditch that is actually about 2-1/2, 3 feet deep and a couple feet wide. No real damage (thank you, God)….just ripped off one of my mirrors from it’s seating, but it’s fixable. (What kinda mess??!!)

Onward!

A little later I saw all these birds having a townhall meeting on the line.

Birds on wire

Just 2 seconds after I took this picture, they all left the line at once. I guess meeting’s adjourned.

We continued on into Columbus, to stay at the State Park there, on the small bluff overlooking the Mississippi River….and as we were setting up our tent, who should stop by but Gayla and her friend Phil, whom I had traded farming thoughts with earlier at Gayla’s house while we were washing our clothes! They just stopped to check on us. What a nice surprise!

During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, it was proposed that our nation’s capital be moved from Washington, D.C. to Columbus, Kentucky, because it was more centrally located. The proposal failed in the U.S. Senate by 1 vote.

The park was pretty much deserted after the weekend (I think there are just 4 occupied sites), so we got a fire going from firewood the previous site owner had left, and had a peaceful night, thanking God again for his provision.

Sunset from Columbus Belmont SP

Thanks again to those of you who have been contributing to the cause of GHA….we have personally engaged and shared with over 1,000 people…..yes, over ONE THOUSAND people the past 6 weeks that with God, ALL things are possible!

We have given them ABC sign language cards, Deaf culture cards, and handed out all the GHA flyers we had made in St. Paul, Minnesota…and we need to get more made!

We have been diligently keeping our expenses low to better serve the Deaf, and families, and church cultures that God puts us in contact with. But now we need you to assist us in building on the foundation we are laying here. Some of you have been faithful in your monthly pledges, some have not.

We need you to prayerfully consider doubling your efforts for the Mission Possible Tour, and the work of God’s Hands Agency. If you want to see some of the work we did last year, look at the resources on our web site at www.godshandsagency.com

Contributions can easily be made on our web sites, at GHA’s site using a major credit card or Visa debit card. We are hooked up through Paypal, which is an extremely secure financial site, better than most banks!

Remember, GHA is SOLELY supported by the efforts of friends and partners, and is a 501(c)(3) that permits tax deductible contributions. These next few weeks will be especially difficult, because of the extreme heat.

Pray for us – we have finished almost 1,300 miles, been over 38 bridges already, and have a little over 900 miles to go. Thanks again to ALL of you for your continued prayers and financial support.

Through God’s Grace,

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 54 [Valmeyer, IL – cornfield by Modoc Ferry, IL]

SATURDAY, JULY 24, 2010

My “owl” was singing away this morning, loud enough that I think I WAS able to get an audio recording of it. [It is soft, but you can listen to it here.]

While setting up last night, we had moved a bench over by the doorway….and apparently a spider saw that as an opportunity to build a web. Now, I do NOT like spiders, and I strongly dislike giving human intelligence to the “animal/insect/sponges” kingdom. These are all creatures of God’s designs and creation, and show HIS ingenuity and character.

But I still HAVE to appreciate the instinctive industrious-ness exhibited by something God designed…this bench was moved in this position about 9pm, and this web was finished before 6am:

Spider web

Officer Chandler stopped by to check on us, and I got his picture (thanks, Officer Mike!):

Officer Mike

It is hot out today, but these donkey’s didn’t seem to mind the heat!

Donkeys

Saw lots of grain bins….storage and drying facilities….and lots of Pioneer seedcorn fields (my dad used to sell Pioneer seedcorn):

Grain bins

Pioneer fields

Corn and bluff

We saw this little house SURROUNDED by flowers, and marveled at the work and care that went into maintaining all this beauty:

Pretty garden house

It was SO hot today. And it was in the middle of all this heat that we experienced one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip.

We were pedaling along, trying to make progress in the heat, when all of a sudden, between some trees on our left and corn on our right, we felt…..coolness!

Huh??!!

Where is this coming from?

After some exploring, we found this cave behind and above the trees on our left. And there was some COOL AIR coming FROM the caves, spilling out on to the roadway! These caves (I understand many of them used to be salt mines) were very interesting:

Bluff cave

Cool cave

And then there was another one, and another one….and the temperature coming from the caves was wonderful….I’m guessing, maybe 65 degrees, on 100 degree day….the relief it provided was incredible! Earline had to get a closer look….AND FEEL!

Earline and THE cave

Earline and THE cave close1

Earline also at this same time, had her prayer answered about a butterfly alighting on her arm. It is like God was saying, “I’ve got this…I know it is hot out here….here’s a little coolness for your day, an oasis of cool in the middle of all the heat!”

Butterfly on Earline

We stopped in Prairie du Rocher, and got some supplies at a small grocery there. Met John, the tri-athlete, who was also biking in the heat…he shared his left-over ice with us. Thanks, John!

There was a disagreement among the locals as to whether the ferry was open….the general agreement was that IF it WAS closed, they put up a sign saying so at the turnoff to the ferry. So after going about 4 miles, we saw the turn-off to the ferry, and there was NO sign, so we headed down the 4 mile road to it.

Well….

Sometimes the street committee gets things right, and sometimes they don’t.

When we arrived at the area from which the ferry departs for St. Genevieve, Missouri, this is what we found (the road for the cars is to the LEFT of the two timbers):

Road to ferry

And another view of the road to the ferry (I know….because I was walking on it):

Road to ferry2

And one more view of the road, that takes you right up to the ferry…..that is, IF the ferry is docked on this side of the river….

Road to ferry3

….instead of on THE OTHER side of the river, safely in St. Genevieve, while the dock that these plants sit on, on THIS side of the river is, sadly, under water.

The Modoc ferry in St G

Okay….so now I’m walking back on the road to give Earline the news….

Walk back to Earline

And she takes a picture of me walking back to her….to give her the news….

Walking back to earline

Ack…..back the way we came, along the railroad track, beside the road that’s covered with water, back past the cornfields and….

PSSSSSSTF!

Yup….

Flat tire….Earline examines the scene of the crime….

Flat tire on ferry road

After we fixed the flat, it’s time to set up camp….and it looks like there’s a cloud bank coming up in the northwest…..

Torin, this is when you called, during the ALMOST full moon….setting up our tent next to a cornfield!

Cornfield camping with Jon

Thank God in ALL situations…right?….Right??!!

TGG,

jon

Day 53 [Cahokia, IL – Valmeyer, IL]

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010

Sitting here on the morning of Day 54, writing about yesterday’s events, munching on a chocolate pop-tart and a Yoo-hoo, and you can see we are in a pavilion again, in Valmeyer, Illinois. You can see an old pavilion in the background….apparently this area was devastated by a levee that broke in 1993, and the entire town of 1200 was underwater for two months.

Valmeyer pavilion morning

The devastation was so complete, that many residents decided to move the town up the bluff to a safe location.

A memorial plaque nearby says that the pavilion we are in was built in 2001, and dedicated to Floyd Floarke, Sr. who was a die-hard baseball fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the local Midsummer Classic baseball tournament.

Apparently the local ball field and park, Borsch Park, is one of the few things that did survive the flood, and the new pavilion was built in his honor.

Officer Mike Chandler stopped by about 11pm last night, and asked if we had permission to stay here (at 9pm when we set up camp, who do you ask?). Anyway, he checked out our IDs, and told us to have a safe journey.

HOT around here….yesterday I saw temperature signs in the upper 90s.

So how did we get here?

The night before was kind of miserable….we couldn’t seem to get ANY breeze in our tent, it was warm and muggy, and the truck traffic just over the fence was REALLY loud. This was at the Camp Cahokia RV Parque and Campground just south of East St. Louis. Being on a cement slab helped make tearing down easier, though. No dew to deal with, and the hard surface makes rolling up the sleeping bags and tent pieces easier.

We were told that there were a number of services available just a mile to our east, so we headed down to the Walmart to pick up a few supplies, and stopped to eat at Dairy Queen #12….yea!

We found these “neck ties” in the Walmart sporting goods area….they have some kind of gel in them that you can fill with water and then refrigerate or freeze, and then wear them around your neck to help keep you cool. We think we like them….give us another couple days to evaluate.

After leaving Cahokia we went through Dupo, a heavy industrial area with lots of truck and train traffic. There was even a terminal  for coordinating all this traffic (yes, this was part of our route, right were the maroon van is heading):

Busy truck area

Terminal for truck train coodination

Ran into 2 boys, Dustin and Darryl, at one of the truck stops where we were getting some more ice for our bottles. Shared our mission with them, and taught them some of the phrases from our sign language cards:

Dustin and Darryl2

Also went past this……van? Somebody got happy with their air brush!

Air brush van2

Once we got through the Columbia area, it is again out to rural America, in the “bottoms” area between the bluffs of Illinois and Missouri (yes, there are bluffs, and LOTS of corn down here, too….check this out):

Bluffs in Illinois

Bluffs in Illinois2

Also saw this nursery in the bottoms….can anyone from the DAH Nursery tell me what it is they are growing?

Nursery in bottoms

DAH Nursery question

Headed down into the town of Valmeyer…it was almost sunset…..

Curve thru the bottoms

…..and seeing the park with this huge pavilion next to the ball field seemed like a wonderful place to stay for the night….but as I mentioned before, who do you ask? There was no one around, except for 2 boys digging in the trash bin by the old pavilion. I learned that they were trying to find wood for a ramp for their bicycles, to do some stunt riding….now where did they learn that? TV, or the internet, I guess.

Valmeyer pavilion

Settled in for the night (until Officer Chandler stopped by at 11p!), cozy and dry (and praying for a breeze!).

TGG,

jon

Day 50 [Foley, MO – St. Charles, MO]

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010

When we woke in the morning, it was still drizzling, but once Paul got everything restarted from the power outage at his Evergreen Farms store, he opened up around 7:30, and we went to get some food. It turns out he has a little kitchen in the back, and he made us eggs and bacon and wouldn’t accept any payment for it. Thanks, Paul!

Eggs at Pauls place

While we were eating, it started raining HARD again….ACK!!

But that gave Earline time to do a little shopping! This store also had a little second-hand section, and as you can see in the photo above, Earline found a cute little blue-jean top for 50 cents (the proof is on the shirt!):

50 cent shirt

It FINALLY stopped raining, and we laid things out on the fence post to dry (we are SO country….HA!)

Tent set up in Foley

Clothes on fence in Foley

We met a one polite young man who was deaf in one ear. He had been to church camp and really enjoyed having fun and learning more about God. We encouraged Tyler to get involved in Deaf culture….he would make WONDERFUL interpreter (and monetarily it would be a great skill for him to have):

Tyler and Earline

Also met Noah and Isaiah….Isaiah also knew some sign language! They were both “bundles of energy” and fun to get to know.

Isaiah and Noah

We had a nice long 2-mile downhill as we left Foley….what a great way to start a day’s ride!

We went right past a thrift shop in Winfield, and, of course, we HAD to stop!

Thrift store in Winfield

(By the way, it is my mom’s birthday today. Happy birthday, mom! Born in 1932, and she still walks 2 miles every morning….way to go!)

BARN ART alert!

Unlike the earlier organic barn, this barn was made beautiful by all the gorgeous flowers that surround it, and the flower shop that it was turned into….a lot of time and energy went into this….looks nice!

BARN ART flowers

So evidence of a lot of flooding today….how would you like to try and pick corn in THIS field?

Flooded cornfield

Flooded cornfield2

Even the ROAD was flooded in some places….

Road flooded

Apparently the flooding is an ongoing issue in this area….saw this sign by some flooded fields:

Flood issue sign

We did see this pretty cloud formation close to sunset (looks the sun is TRYING to shine!):

Sun TRYING to shine

Ended up in St. Charles for the evening (past Dairy Queen #11!!!!!….ha!) and stayed in the back side of this cute little cabin (mostly to try and get dried out from the night before….we seriously try to keep our expenditures low, but water, even though ESSENTIAL to life, and GOOD for us, is ALSO potentially very destructive, as we have seen in this river bottom area north of St. Louis. Gotta make sure we keep down the mildew and dry our clothes, etc.).

Cabin in St Charles

Thank you again, God for your blessings and provision!

TGG,

jon

Day 49 [Clarksville, MO – Foley, MO]

MONDAY, JULY 19, 2010

Got up around 8 (but it was tough, after being up so late, but I was SO grateful for the time and circumstance that allowed me to get caught up with the blog) (All that’s left is fixing the formatting of the text and uploading the already prepped photos.)

As we were packing, Kaley came over and showed us on the radar on her Blackberry a rapidly approaching thunderstorm that would be here (Clarksville) within 30 minutes. So….no need to rush packing…I figured we could wait out the storm, which looked to be an intense, but narrow line of showers. Some views of the rain:

Morning storm at Eagle Bluff

Morning storm at Eagle Bluff

I read Psalm 19 (one of today’s Psalms – you can read 5 Psalms every day – just add 30, 4 times – 19,49,79,109,139; this way you can read  ALL the Psalms every month).

I think it is interesting how the heavens silently “declare” God’s glory. Whether during the day, or at night (and we’ve ridden at both times), God’s creation is all around us, around every single person on earth, and available for us to observe, and watch, and study….to get a sense of WHO God is and what His character is like.

Sometimes in the city, we miss these clues that are staring us in the face if we only look.

Earline and I have felt the power of a beating, summer sun. We have enjoyed the relief of a cloud that provides shade, and coolness. We have seen the explosion of stars in a clear, rural sky (I showed Earline the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, the North Star, and even the Milky Way). We have longed for and enjoyed a cooling breeze that comes from the depths of the shaded forests that we venture through.

We have seen the various stages of crops like corn that grow and mature into abundant harvests.

An old hymn goes like this: “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land; but it is fed and watered by God’s Almighty hand.”

It’s all God…it really is. And how fortunate we are to be able to see glimpses of Him in our daily walk, if we only take time to stop, look, and contemplate.

The storm finally let up, we finished packing and said our good-byes….

Final goodbye to Eagle Bluff

Before we left I got a picture of Clarissa and her 6-week old German Shepherd pup. She breeds and sells pups like this (she also rescues “retiring” horses from race tracks….what a tender heart!):

Clarisssa and pup

We headed down the hill (this is what we had to come UP in the dark Saturday night!)

Road up down Eagle Bluff

And these are the lighted signs we saw Saturday night, wondering how could we ever possibly stay there?!!!

Signage for Eagle Bluff

Thank you, Clarissa, Diane, Kaley, and the whole crew of Eagle’s Bluff Golf Resort. May God bless you RICHLY for your warmth and hospitality!

We headed down to Elsberry (shared a meatball marinara at Subway…..yumm!). (Later, Earline had some….er, “problems” with her sub. Ooops!)

ALERT! ALERT!

PLEASE, MRT, encourage Missouri to put a paved shoulder south of Elsberry….there was only a gravel shoulder, AND there were rumble grooves carved into the outside white line that extended out on to the 1 foot shoulder that was there. We had to ride (and bicycles would, too) on the INSIDE of the white line on this 2-lane road. Most of the motorists were patient, but some weren’t.

The grooves would stop a little ways before each driveway or side road, but enduring the 15 or so miles of side grooves was tough.

We had a few rolling hills enroute…again some uphills and some downhills….here’s Earline getting ready to drive off a cliff…..(well, it LOOKS like it!):

Drive off cliff

Saw some beautiful clouds, and a pretty sunset along this Hwy 79 route.

Golden sunset

We were headed towards Winfield (another town named Winfield) (see Winfield, IA), but only made it as far as a little north of Foley (yes, another town named Foley, as in MN) where we camped for the night. Paul (and his partner Wayne) owns a little 6am to 10pm convenience store, called Evergreen Farms (they grow a lot of their own FRESH produce behind the store!), and graciously let us camp just to the side of his store. Here’s Paul hard at work:

Paul a tEvergreen Farms

About 12:30am we woke up to BLOWING winds and thunder (reminded me of Lake Pepin, and I thought, oh-no!) But I had secured all 8 positions around the tent, we have the tarp that Gayle gave us (THANK YOU, GAYLE) and secured that over the trikes, so we should be okay.

I have been monitoring the side and floor of the tent, and everything seems to be staying dry, but WOW….I have NEVER in all my tent camping life EVER experienced as much rain as we just had. It has just recently started letting up a little (it is 2:30am, and yes, since I’m awake anyway…..I’m blogging from my Blackberry) but I would not be surprised if we received 4 or more inches in the past 2 hours….talk about displaying the sheer power of God.

The electrical power to the convenience store went off about a half hour ago, so, sorry, Earline, there may not be coffee in the morning!

Everyone have a blessed day, and thank you all for your continued prayer and financial support.

TGG,

jon

Day 47 [somewhere along County Road B, MO – Clarksville, MO]

SATURDAY, JULY 17, 2010

Thank you, Lord for our little garden farm campsite!

Little garden farm

I don’t know if their neighbors knew they were gone, but no one stopped to ask. Bless them anyway, Lord, even if they didn’t know they were being a blessing.

(P.S…..we recently received a phone message from Mrs. Burroughs, saying that they had RECEIVED the note, and that they were sorry they had missed us. We appreciate that! Thanks again for your hospitality! Send us your contact information through our web site here – the link is way to the right on our home page – and we’ll keep you informed of some of the latest things happening with the WiFi Pedalers.)

We continued east on Hwy. B….some pretty grueling ups and downs….kinda reminded of the Horrible Hundred in Clermont (see blog from Nov. ’09). Earline is actually really starting to get the knack of speeding down the hills to help make it up the next one with less difficulty. Here’s Earline in action:

Up a rolling hill

This area is also a strong agricultural area, and we passed many tractors carrying a variety of farm implements.

Tractor and Earline

Went thru a long flat bottom, even slightly downhill, and then saw this looming….ah, hill…ugh…

BIG hill approaching

What you DON’T see is that this hill CONTINUED UP as it curved to the left. No, not as bad as the 15% Chestnut Mtn. south of Galena, IL, but it was pretty bad.

BARN ART alert!

I call this an organic barn…ala naturale….

Barn Art organic

Maybe if we leave it alone for 400 million years it will turn into a red barn with multiple barn quilts!! [a little evolution humor there].

Let me inject just a couple quick facts here:

It is turning out that evolution….

(We’re talking about what some call macro-evolution, not micro-evolution. Micro-evolution, or the changes that can take place as things mature or adapt to surrounding conditions….we can see these changes, this natural selection, all around us. Darwin’s finches would adapt to the changes in weather conditions at the Galápagos Islands, and their beaks would become longer or shorter…..but they REMAINED finches.)

(Maco-evolution is what you would call the addition of genetic information to an animal that results in changes from, say, rocks to cells to apes to man. This has NEVER been observed….ever. And the obvious absence of transitional fossils supports this!)

….is one of the cruelest, most preposterous hoaxes ever perpetuated on human kind. And these things are STILL being taught to our young people in our schools.

Evolution HA

As the technology has gotten better, as microscopes have gotten stronger, we are discovering MACHINES, millions and millions of machines inside of EACH cell in our body. Machines with screws and pistons and rotors….machines that are obviously DESIGNED. I heard one gentleman estimate that there are more machines in EACH cell in our body than there are machines on the entire planet earth!

Charles Darwin himself admitted over 100 years ago, that if cells turned out to be anything more that gelatinous blobs, that his theory of evolution would “most certainly break down.” Well….

It is estimated that there are now approximately 30,000 scientists worldwide with their masters and doctorate degrees that believe in a literal six-day creation, and are presenting scientific evidence to back that up. And that number is GROWING! Awesome.

[Exodus 20:11…“For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them…”]

It was so hot today, and it made the hills even tougher. Close to 100 degrees. Finally made it to….to….wait….the trip’s over? It says we’re in Louisiana!…..oh, the TOWN Louisiana. Got it.

Louisiana sign

Finally got to a convenience store, JUST as we were out of water. And in the store we met a Deaf man, Bill. We spent almost 30 minutes talking to him. His profoundly deaf wife had died about 10 years ago, and he had lost touch with other Deaf friends. He had some speech skills, and there weren’t really any other Deaf close around that he knew of.

Deaf Bill

He did go to the state school for the Deaf, after going to a public high school where the hearing kids were so cruel to him, and teased him about his hearing aids. He has 2 hearing sons, one retired from the Marines, and the other is a Pastor in a neighboring town.

Bill learned the trade of printing at the state school and did that for almost 20 years. He encourages all young Deaf to get a trade, to become more independent. Right now Bill does landscaping and helps mow lawns for additional income.

We headed downtown, and discovered the Eagle’s Nest Diner and B&B. And they had wifi!

Eagles Nest dining in Louisiana

Thanks to Shelly, Brittany, and the whole crew at Eagle’s Nest. You let me work several hours on this blog. Your food was SCRUMPTIOUS, and your service was even better!

Stocked up on water at the town’s edge convenience store, and headed to Clarksville. (Great story ahead alert!!!….you won’t believe this!)

But first, a word from these cows: (moooing)

 

Amazed cows what huh

(You’d think they’d never seen a recumbent before…well, maybe they haven’t!)

It was so hot…Earline was getting tired. Here’s our weary (yet still looking good) traveler:

Sun sets on weary traveler

I was looking for what Bob’s book described as the Silo Campground. I thought I saw it on the left, but the only sign there was “Road Ends at Water”. I saw some guys and pickups down by the water, maybe boating or fishing, but it just didn’t look like a safe situation to bring my wife into.

Shortly after that we entered Clarksville, and it seemed a little run down….I understand that this is the midway point between the Canadian border and the Gulf of Mexico, and we have traveled (I just checked) over a thousand miles, so we’re close to the halfway point of our Mission Possible Tour!

Clarksville river front sign [dark]

By now the sun has set, but there’s still some light. We went down to what looked like a fairly new riverside park by the Lock & Dam, and met an older gentleman who looked a little rough, carrying a Bible, talking about his brother’s Holiness church that he attends in another town.

When we asked him what we could pray for – he said “that he would obey God better.” But then he didn’t know the “obedience is better than sacrifice” verse [1 Samuel 15 :22, as well as Proverbs 21:3], and I “got a flag” (sensed I needed to use caution concerning his character).

We went back up the hill to the only motel we saw, and Miss Beverly assisted us. She was nice. HOWEVER, the AC in the lobby wasn’t on because she said the owner wouldn’t let her turn it on, the wifi and the TVs weren’t working from an earlier storm, and she said the owner said that she still had to charge over $60 for the night.

Ah…no, thanks.

She said she used to go to the Baptist Church in town, but she hadn’t gone in years, she didn’t know what time their services were, and didn’t know the names of the other churches in town…..pray for her!

Miss Beverly mentioned the Clarksville Station Bed & Breakfast on the edge of town, so we thought we’d check there. (Why, I don’t know, because I KNEW we didn’t have money for a Bed & Breakfast.)

We found it fairly easily, and it was a gorgeous place! Kinda reminded me of an upscale Cracker Barrel restaurant.

We inquired about a place to stay (and again, I don’t know why) but a young lady named Hanna said they only had 14 places/rooms, and they were booked for the night. (We were told Hanna has an excellent singing voice!)

We met Tim, the Executive Chef there who used to work at Disney World and lived in Kissimmee. He said that this Clarksville Station was a chef’s dream, because they got fresh produce daily from local farmers and developed each day’s menu from what was available.

Hanna mentioned that there was another place just a mile down the road (keep in mind it is now dark), and tat they also had a Bed & Breakfast where we might stay, called Eagle’s Bluff. She said her mom worked there, and Hanna tried to call for us, but couldn’t get an answer.

Lord, you know our needs.

It is late, we’re tired, we’re stinky, and a shower would be so nice, but you know our resources. Help us.

So we ventured out on the dark road, and eventually did come to lighted sign that said “Eagle’s Bluff Golf Resort and Lounge”….this a golf course!

What?!!??

They’re not gonna have anywhere for us to stay. But this is the place Hanna mentioned, and Lord, we’re trusting you to lead our steps (even if it means going up this long, steep driveway!) (VERY steep!)

So up we trudged up the hill, using the technique we’d learned going up other steep hills….go a little ways, stop, hold your hand brakes, rest your legs, and then go a little further. It took us 8 to 10 stops, but we made it!

Some staff we met at the top by some kind of clubhouse went to get Clarissa, the manager. Apparently they had had a wedding earlier and the reception/party was in full swing. (Everybody was admiring the trikes and our efforts coming up the hill!)

We explained as we had to Beverly, Tim, and Hanna along the way about our Mission Possible Tour, and what our current situation was. They were in the process of converting the owner’s farmhouse into a B&B, but didn’t really have it ready yet.

Clarissa asked if we had a tent, and we said yes, if she’d let us pitch a tent, that would be wonderful….just, could we have access to some bathrooms?

She then asked if we had some sleeping bags….we told her yes….and then she said we could sleep on the floor of the room the bridesmaids used to get ready for the wedding in, and it had a shower!! Yea!! Thank you, Clarissa!

(Side note…..Earline asked Clarissa a couple times if there was anything we could do to help…..hmmm…..kind of an odd question for our situation, but Earline said she felt lead to ask, and did so, a couple times even. There is an answer to this mystery tomorrow.)

Apparently this big room is also used as a men’s locker room for golfing parties, but it was not being used. Wow….tell God thank-you! And here’s what it looked like:

Fancy God gift place

Where we slept

Are we happy or what??!!

We are TRULY grateful for His leading and protection!!

TGG,

jon

Day 45 [Quincy, IL – Hannibal, MO]

THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2010

[Story continued from yesterday…hey, technically it IS the next day!]

So at like, 2:30 am we come traipsing into the American Best Value Inn and we met Ashley behind the front desk with a cast on her arm (all 90 lbs of her) from trying to move some furniture. And her little son couldn’t understand why Ashley couldn’t pick him up and hold him. Pray for her!

And when we explained our predicament, she didn’t hesitate. She said we could use the bathrooms by the pool, and they had showers! We got excited! Tell God thank-you!

Okay, continue to thank God in all situations but don’t get TOO excited….explanation…..

…..the shower in Earline’s bathroom didn’t work, and the shower in mine had a 25 ft garden hose attached to it, and no hot water…..ACK!

BUT….after a little finagling (my spell check has NO idea what that word is!) I was able to figure out that the handle was on backwards, so we DID have hot water in the men’s shower. And (with the hose removed) the shower-headless pipe could have its flow calmed by turning the water on only slightly. That’s all we needed!

I took my shower and then stood watch while Earline took hers. Clean again….yea!

So, by now its after 4am….and we STILL haven’t had any sleep. Ashley wasn’t sure her boss would want the TV camera there, so we decided to head back to the Visitor Center and pitch our tent. Thanks again, Ashley, for your kindness and quick thinking….you’ll be general manager someday!

Here’s Earline, later in the day, in front of the hotel:

Front of Americas Best Value Inn

Okay….back to the Visitor Center (it’s still dark, but barely!)

We pitched our tent, let Jim Whitfield at KHQA know WHERE we were, wrote the visitor center folk to let them know WHO we were, and WHY there was a tent on their lawn, and got to bed around 5am. Whew! Here’s our setup at the Visitor Center:

Tent outside Villa Katherine

It was hot, but we were tired and “fell out.” We woke up at 10am, no TV crew, no message….huh??!

Looked around, and found a hand-written note from the TV station….they had been there at 9am, and didn’t want to wake us because they knew we were tired! (They also said that Holly at the Visitor Center had coffee for us when we woke up….wow!)

So I called Jim at KHQA, let him know we were up, got cleaned up a little, and went to the Center for coffee.

Holly was very gracious, and Craig answered questions about the house the Center was in. Here’s Holly and Earline:

Holly and Earline

By then Tegan (the weather meteorologist) from KHQA (lugging her camera herself – thank you very much!) came by and talked to us.

Tegan and Earline

Earline did the taped interview (she did a most excellent job).

Earline talking to Tegan

Earline actually saw the piece on Hannibal TV the next morning. It’s also available online, but I haven’t seen it yet myself! When I do, I’ll link it up so you all can see it as well. (She did make a little mistake and say that all 3 of our kids were Deaf….Torin, you’d better be brushing up on your sign language!)

Before we left Quincy, Earline found a thrift store (Earline loves thrift stores) AND they were having a 50-cent sidewalk sale!

Loves thrift shops

I was stuck! I waited patiently….I did….truly….sort of…..ack-k-k-k-k-k……

Hwy 57 south of Quincy was a killer, one of our toughest stretches so far…..for 10 miles, with lots of these:

Hwy 57 lined with grain elevators

And LOTS, I mean LOTS of truck and tractor-trailer traffic….and NO shoulder….at all.

Very difficult ride. Use caution on this road.

Once we got on the flats, headed towards Missouri, the MRT took us on a side road with minimal traffic.

And…..NO rain today….how about that! Whoo-whoo! And actually none yesterday, even though night-time lightning chased us into Quincy. Pretty blue sky today:

Pretty blue sky into Hannibal

Saw this interesting field…decided to have a little graphic design fun.

A soybean field with one not-so-soybeany plant….before:

Think different before

And after:

Think different after

By now we were on I-72, the only Interstate Road in Illinois where cycling is allowed….

Bicycles CAN ride

….which leads across the MR into Hannibal, Missouri. Bridge #32:

Bridge32

And the obligatory Welcome photo:

Missouri State5

And this Mark Twain side hill “stoney-o-gram”:

Stoney painting Mark Twain

Almost nightfall….found an inexpensive motel to let me get caught up on the blog. And showers 2 nights in a row! Thank God!

TGG,

jon

Day 40 [Winfield & Burlington, IA]

SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2010

Saturday was a day of rest and catch-up, along with planning for Sunday’s activities.

Jon and Gayle at Gayle and Jeffs house

I got in a quick picture with Gayle before trying to spend some time on the blog. Earline got a chance to see and learn some REAL farm concepts from cousin Jeff, like rolls of tile for the fields, corn tassels and corn silk, and big, rugged farm tractors.

Jeff and a roll of tile

Jeff explains tassels and corn silk

Big blue tractor

Jeff gives Earline to chance to take a look “under the hood.”

Big yellow tractor insides

We took the trikes and signage down to the Symphonic Blast in Burlington. Met the Southeast Iowa Symphony Manager – Kate Gerst, the “farmer-conductor” – Bob McConnell, and a spokesman from KBUR, Steve Hexom.

Manager Conductor Announcer

Here’s a look at the performing symphony, and the huge crowd that turned out on this gorgeous night!

SE Iowa Orchestra

Audience1

Audience3

The conductor was kind to mention our endeavor, our Mission POSSIBLE Tour, and because of that, a young man from the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper, came and made an appointment to interview us for tomorrow for a story in their paper. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the fireworks near the end of the concert (along with the 1812 Overture and some peppy patriotic music) were THE best fireworks that Earline and I had ever seen. Bravo!

Fireworks1 in Crapo Park

Fireworks2 in Crapo Park

Trikes and signage

Always TGG,

jon