Day 25 [Cocoa – Orlando, FL]

MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2014

[Distance traveled: 47 miles]

OOOOO….4:30 came EARLY!

Got packed up about 5:30, and then headed over to iHOP….literally only 50 feet from our front door!

Yea!

Hmmmm…..French Toast and scrambled eggs….mmmmm.

By the time we finished breakfast it was starting to get light. [As you can see, we actually were put in a handicapped room again, AND there was a ramp right up to the door of our room. How convenient!]

Light at 6,45

Yes, we again were able to fit both the trikes IN our room.

Trikes IN room

So the GOAL today is to MAKE IT HOME!

Earline here multi-tasks, drinking her coffee and posting photos on Facebook:

Earline multitasking

It was pretty cool this morning, maybe mid-to-high 50s, but the weather forecast seemed to indicate that it would warm up fast after the sun came out, and that indeed is what happened.

Gorgeous day….great for triking!

Early start

We came upon our LAST bridge, over the St. John’s River….and there was a truck in the way!

FINAL bridge over the St. Johns River

Turns out there were working on the mechanism that monitors the flow of the river.

Monitoring water flow

And looking over the railing, here is the river they were monitoring:

St Johns River

The St. John’s River, one of the few rivers that flow from South to North in the United States – a few in Wisconsin and Maine, but that’s about it. The St. John’s ends in Jacksonville, FL, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

The watershed area of the river is very marshy, which explains not having much in the way of service for many miles.

No services

Here we stopped under the Beach [B] Line Expressway to take a break in the shade [getting HOT already, although the breeze stayed fairly cool – a very enjoyable ride!] and have a bite to eat:

Sitting under BLine

After going through most of the Scripture I knew, and all the Fearless Songs, we found other ways to amuse ourselves….like looking at cows and bee hives:

Cows and bees….bees chase cows maybe

Whoa, Bessy! So, did the one cow just get stung, or what??!?!!

Then we saw this tower with all these birds on it….hmmmm.

Tower with birds

But what ARE they?! Let’s take a close look.

Closeup tower with birds

Oh-oh….looks like vultures to me!

[Don’t trike too slow, or they might think you’re a potential meal!]

FINALLY reached the overpass on to Highway 50.

But good news/bad news…..yes, this mean we are over halfway home, and it’s only 11:00am….but the road shoulder through Bithlo was so rough, and only about 36 to 40 inches wide…..rough goin’. And THEN, we ran into THIS:

More CONSTRUCTION

The dreaded CONSTRUCTION zone….

CONSTRUCTION

We even had a few sprinkles on our head, but we quickly prayed against THAT demon! Ha!

FINALLY got past the construction area, and we hit the Lokanotosa Trail that starts at Alafaya and goes behind University High School, the ECON Trail, the Cady Way Trail, and the Dinky Train Trail….a trail of TRAILS!

Ha!

That made the last 15 miles MUCH nicer that the earlier part of the day’s journey.

We even got a little of the FLORIDA change of season leaves that we experienced in Rome, Georgia earlier this year at the WinShape Conference Center.

The ECON Trail goes all the way from Rouse Road to Forsyth Road, for 7 pretty miles.

Florida change of seasons

 

It LOOKS like FALL, doesn’t it??!!

Earline up wooden path on Econ Trail

Jon on ECON Trail

However, with 9.5 miles to go, we stopped in the park to use one of the bathrooms and stretch, and Earline experienced the inability to bend her left knee. This is the same one that has been hurting her the whole trip, and she was in a lot of pain. She had already taken 2-800mg Ibuprofen, and popped two more….she wanted to finish the trip!

After a few minutes she was able to proceed, but we had to go slow, and I did my best to find paths that were mostly flat, clear of any traffic.

We proceeded on Hanging Moss over to Semoran, and caught the Cady Way Trail on the south end, where there is no overpass. We went over through the Fashion Square Mall area, crossed the very busy Highway 50 that we had been on earlier, and jumped on Livingston to take us the rest of the way downtown.

We stopped in at the apartment office to say hi to the staff, and who should appear but our nephew DJ [who took us down to Key West back on the 6th] along with his two kids, Zaria and Isaiah!

Great to see them! And then Melisha showed up with Rashord as well. [Melisha helped check the mail for us all the while we were gone.] What a wonderful surprise to see them all!

And, of course, we HAD to get a selfie with all of us:

Family selfie

After about an hour, we chased them all out, got cleaned up, and then went out to treat ourselves with a bite to eat at 4 Rivers, one of Earline’s favorite bar-b-q places.

Then we went over to the hospital, to have them check on Earline’s knee.

Sitting in waiting office

And there we still sit…..it is 2:09am….and they did an x-ray and an ultra-sound on Earline’s knee, and will probably recommend her to an orthopedic doctor to check further the structure of her knee.

Ooops, the doctor just came in, and said the blood was clean, nothing septic, no infection, so they are going to give her a few meds and crutches, and a recommendation to go to Jewett Orthopedic.

Sports medicine….heh. Just triking over 450 miles in 3 weeks qualifies as sports, don’t ya think??!!?

Time to wrap this up. I will do a summary and “reflections” blog entry in a few days, and my goal is to keep this up at least once a week, so you can stay up on any future MPTs [Earline says 3,000 miles is ENOUGH….Ha!], bike/trike news, and spiritual insights that God gives us.

We love you all! And thank you so much for all your prayers and support!

ONLY through God’s grace….

jon

Day -1 [Orlando, FL] 2014 MPT

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2014

Well, everybody is still buzzing about the election returns from last night, but much as I would love to sit and prognosticate, I have trikes to prep!

I’ve got Earline’s trike finished, mostly work that needed to be done on her tires and side bag bar, and now I’m working on mine:

Trikes with panniers

Remember, this is a different trike for me, so I am having to do some modifying as I go. One thing I discovered with the new trike rack from Catrike that they just released a few months ago for this model, is that it doesn’t have the thoughtfulness of design that the ICE Trike rack on Earline’s trike has. Take a look:

Earline’s rack has bars that extend down along the side of the rear wheel, preventing the pannier from getting too close to the wheel.

Earline trike rack

Sadly, my new rack does not have the long descenders:

Notice bottom of side bar

Notice where the bottom of my rack ends, and how the bag is almost touching the wheel. Sigh. I am going to have to take the time to deal with this.

Ended up with this idea/solution: taking some PVC thick pipe, about 16 inches long, and adding it to the existing frame.

Solution

Just one heavy duty 3/4 inch, I think it is, and cut it to the length you need, with the edges filed and rounded so as not to cut:

Pipe end

Then I wrapped the entire pipe with gaffers tape:

Wrapped with tape

Finished wrap

And then attached it to the existing frame:

Attached to rack

Voila! Now it will keep the bottom of the bag from brushing up against the moving tire.

So now to finish prepping my tires.

Jon trike on side

It turns out, I had an ADVENTURE trying to prep the tires on my trike…I WANTED to put some Flat Attack goop in my tires like I put in Earline’s. If you want more info on Flat Attack, you’ll have to go back to our 2010 blog, and read about the instances where Flat Attack SAVED us! Yes! [Love that stuff!]

Flat Attack goop

BUT….when I tried to install it on MY tires like I did Earline’s, I realized that the tool included in with the Flat Attack for removing the valve cores of the tubes so that you can pour the stuff INTO the tube…well, the tool doesn’t work on my PRESTA valves. Grrr.

Presta valve

NOW what do I do?

Well, I TRIED to remove the valve manually myself with a pliers and a vice grip, but that did not seem to work, and I ended up busting the valve of two tubes!

Ack!

So, I called up Orange Cycle which is only a few miles north of where I live, and YES, they have a tool for removing the Presta valve core.

YEA!

BUT THEN…..my goodness, how does it work??!!

Presta vavle tool

So, MORE research online….and I see some photos and some videos, [it seems that the long silver piece is an extender for guys with wide BIKE rims. The actual TOOL is the little black piece.] but I cannot seem to get it to work! I cannot see how the little black tool accomplishes the REMOVING of the valve core….I doesn’t seem to attach in any way, shape, or form to my Presta valve? Hmmmm!

So, MORE research…and I discover that there are Presta valve tubes that do NOT have removable cores. In fact, one guy said that MOST Presta valve tubes do NOT have removable cores. What??!!? Only Continental tubes had them, that he knew of.

ACK!

So all this work and time, and I STILL cannot put any Flat Attack goop in my tires.

Sigh.

[This is one of those, ‘okay….praise God in all situations….yeah, right….hmmm…..okay…..grrrrrr……all right…..praise the Lord…..hmmmm….sigh adventures’]

[Ha!]

[Okay, maybe I don’t even feel like ‘Ha-ing’….bleh!] [See Psalm 77:9-14]

So I put the tire back on the rim….THEN it turns out I noticed that I had put it on backwards. [Yes, normally the tread is only supposed to go one specific direction….I forgot about that. And I had it ALL the way on, so I had to take it ALL the way off, flip it, and then put it back ALL the way on again!]

Whew!

Now, I know, some of you are probably bored silly with this stuff, if you have even got this far in this day’s blog at all. BUT, I wanted to give you at least one detailed experience at what it takes to maintain and fix these trikes, so that they can be reliable and safe vehicles for us to ride. And now I just heard my “Cuckoo Cow Clock” strike 12, and I am STILL not finished packing.

Sometimes I do not know how these Mission Possible Tours POSSIBLY get done!

Gonna catch a few hours a sleep, and then get up and finish packing, and get ready to head to down to Key West.

Lesson in all this? One thing that comes to mind is that there are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many details required at even getting these trikes up and running, and I know that our bodies are INFINITELY more complex and detailed than these trikes, and YET, God enthusiastically promises in Psalm 37 that He: “delights in EVERY detail of the lives of the godly!” Wow!

I don’t know how He does that…but then, He’s GOD, and I am NOT! Ha!

Good night. Thanks, God, for YOUR help and protection.

Because it is ONLY thru YOUR grace that we thrive and persist,

jon

[WOW….just as I entered my name, my computer CRASHED….it has been acting a little squirrelly the last week or so. Really, I thought I lost everything, and that it would take ANOTHER hour and a half to recreate it, but then I just hit “Edit draft” at the top, and it came back. Why, I don’t know, but I AM TRULY grateful. TRULY.

So, the moral of the story, Save, SAVE, SAVE!]

Good night!

Day 92 [St. Bernard State Park, LA – Venice, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010

Okay…..so the alarm went at 2:30…we heard it….we rationalized that we could sleep a few more minutes (why do we DO this to ourselves….HA!). Well, after a few tries, we did get up a few minutes after 3. We both took showers to help us wake up, and I had some good prayer time right here:

Day 92 prayer closet

Earline thought she heard something….

Did I see something move

Actually, she did! We saw several raccoons terrorizing some garbage cans by the bathrooms…..tried to get a picture, but couldn’t get close enough, and too dark.

After packing and stretching and praying, we headed down Highway 39 about 5:10am…..and the traffic was HEAVY! [What??!?]

We were very thankful for a 6 foot shoulder. We got to English Turn Road, and headed down it, and realized…..no more shoulder! So like English Commander Banks did over 300 years ago, we TURNED AROUND and headed down Highway 39.

We stopped at the corner store and got a Honey Bun for…..ah, energy? Yummmm!!

Honey bun breakfast

We saw some beautiful clouds in the south that the rising sun poured out its light out on….

Southern cloud bank

….but we actually couldn’t see the sun itself, because of this cloud bank….

East cloud bank

….and I looked at the red lining under the cloud, and THEN I remembered: “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning….” (remember? from Matthew?)….

….and I thought, “oh, oh!”

There OVIOUSLY had been quite a bit of rain here during the night, because the tires were picking up the water and SPRAYING US as we went along.

(Hey, Mark, about those fenders….!)

As we continued south along the east side of the Mississippi River, the sky got darker….

OH NO, more rain

….and the sky got heavier….

Rain storm on levee

……and we got soaked again. [Yes, I had climbed the levee to visit mother nature.]

Through the rain

(Already taken the rain suit OFF, because it is so HOT!)

(Of course, after a few minutes, we had to put them back on again, because it started raining again.) (Ack!!)

Finally got to the turn for the ferry, and it was there waiting for us!

Enter ferry

The ferry took off just minutes after we got on board. [Doesn’t Earline look GOOD??!!?] [We’re CLOSE, Honey!]

 

Ferrying across the river

Boy, this River has gotten BIG!

Lookee how BIG

Saw this bumper sticker on one of the cars on the ferry….interesting! Hmmm!

Kiss bumper sticker

This ferry knows where it’s going, right??!!

Ferry knows where going right

We actually got to the other side pretty quickly, and off we were, down the WEST side of the River.

Exit ferry

The road was 4 lanes, and had a nice 8-foot shoulder…..for a while. Then we ran into this:

Road closed

Still had a shoulder for a while….we tried to find someplace to eat, and after a couple tries, someone sent us to Ann’s Restaurant. Just a little trailer…

Anns trailer

…..but Ann was GREAT, and busy!!

Anns restaurant Port Sulpher

And we soon found out why….not only was the food good, but the portions were HUGE. We ordered one Poor Boy cheeseburger, and both of us TOGETHER could hardly finish it. Wow. The phone was ringing, people were lining up, and I think she’s only open from 11 to 2 each day, but the word was out, and the people came by in droves.

Do yourself a favor. Check out Ann’s Restaurant in Port Sulpher. GREAT!

Full of lots of carbohydrates (ha!), we sped on down the road. The shoulder ended in Port Sulpher….and riding got a little tricky.

We had heard about a huge overpass up ahead, and realized even today, in the Mississippi River delta, we had one more hill to climb:

WHAT another hill

We were warned that this road had lots of truck traffic, and that trucks coming over the hill COULD NOT SEE slow traffic over the hump of the road.

So we went cautiously up the hill, and then I stayed at the top while I sent Earline down the other side.

(I did have a nice view of the delta from the top of the overpass.)

View of Gulf from top of overpass

As it turned out, we only had about a dozen vehicles that came over the overpass while we were on it, and only ONE tractor-trailer. Thank you, God!

After we both got safely to the other side, some people stopped to ask questions or take our picture…

Taking pictures

…..Steven Turner stopped to check out WHAT IN THE WORLD we were doing!

Steven Turner and Earline

We saw lots of damage down here as well from the various storms….

House hurt

People told us that Port Sulpher used to be full of homes….but no more. Venice was the same story.

Wrecked house

We saw this Community Prayer Center that had a replica of a Garden Tomb right on the side of the highway….

Community Prayer Center garden tomb

….and we saw a LOT of RV Parks, and temporary housing…..

Temp houses

….and we saw signs of the BP oil spill having an impact on this area. I image the news reporters and oil workers all needed places to stay, and that some of the RV parks and motels probably did pretty well. We also heard, though, that tourists for the most part were scared away, especially the charter fishing industry.

We even saw this sign by some a company trying to take advantage of any possible legal action!

Oil spill claim sign

And then….

…..rain clouds threatened AGAIN.

MORE rainc louds

We did get rained on a LITTLE more, but not too heavy, and we were grateful.

We did have a police officer for the first time all summer, stop beside us and tell us to move on to the shoulder. I explained that the surface was not very good, and had a lot of debris, and that I felt that it was dangerous for us to ride there. I also explained that we had just come all the way from Minnesota, and he said, “well….” and then he took off.

Here’s what the shoulder looked like at the time (it was some kind of sea shell mixture, it looked like)….

Shoulder huh

The Mississippi River was just to our left, and sometimes we could see the top of ships on the other side of the levee.

Ships on MR

We even saw cows on the levee to our right (why do the white birds seem to flock around the cows….hmmm??)….

Cows and birds on levee

As we got to the south end of Venice, and headed out on Tidewater Road, we saw these huge sand bags…

Jon on sand bags

….OOPS….what I did NOT realize is that these huge sand bags had WET sand in them…..ACK!!!!

Oops wet sand

There was lots of industry down in this area, and actually lots of traffic!….

Industry

Lots of cars

Near the end of the trail there was even this huge plant….

TARGA plant

But there was a little more pretty scenery, and a beautiful sunset before we reached the sign…

Near sunset

Sunset on delta

Left side of delta

…..and there it was…..THE SIGN! (even the sign showed evidence of disrepair)

At the sign Earline

Jesus is ONE way

Ack! Getting dark! But still snuck in a couple more pictures.

 

Jon at the sign

Jon and Earline at sign

Just across the road from the sign was a local fisherman, and he shared how the fishing moratorium was hurting so many.

Fisherman at the sign

Diane’s son, and “Sistah Eva’s” nephew Frederick, came with his Jeep to pick us up and take us back to New Orleans.

Everything fit! [Whew!]

Both trikes in the Jeep

Thanks, Frederick! (And thanks to you and the fisherman for taking our picture together.)

Frederick 2

A WONDERFUL end to a long journey!

Thanks to God for His gifts, and His grace. [And a HUGE congratulations to my wife, the FIRST Black woman to cycle the entire Mississippi River Trail on a cycle of ANY kind! Bravo!]

Kiss

Only TGG,

jon

Day 84 [Woodville, MS – Baton Rouge, LA]

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

Rose up a little later than the 5:30 I had my alarm set for….about 6:15…..we were sleeping so GOOD, yes, even in the twin bed!

It was starting to get light outside, so we packed up and said our goodbyes to Al, after meeting his aunt next door who raised him (who wondered what these strange contraptions were sitting in her carport!).

Goodbye to Big Al

Headed back to the convenience store where we were last night, and filled up on ice. Again, we had the opportunity to explain our Mission Tour to the morning patrons.

Morning patrons

We continued south on 61….the rain cooled things off  little, and it was nice riding early in the morning.

We soon came to the Louisiana state line (again)…..(a little easier to see this time!!!):

State 10 again

This, then, will be our FINAL state line crossing…..are we excited??!!!

Our last state line cossing

We stopped at the State Line gas station/restaurant/casino for some breakfast, and met some more people who became friends of God’s Hands Agency. THANK YOU ALL!!

Friend of GHA

FARM IMPLEMENT LAWN ORNAMENT alert!

Ahhhh….not quite sure what this is….a cultivator? Any “more-mature-timers” have any idea what this is? [Aunt Joanita made me say that!]

Cultivator maybe

Oh-oh….as we approached St. Francisville, we entered a major 10-mile-long road construction project….this is going to be a challenge, because we lose our shoulder, AND there is lots of truck traffic on this road. Help us, Lord!

10 mile construction zone

Construction

Even along the construction, though, there were gas stations where we could get more ice, and engage the patrons in discussions about deafness.

Motorcycle guy 1

So….apparently this dog sent his owner in for some coffee!

Sent owner in for coffee

Continued on through the construction zone. And SOMEONE got the bright idea to put rumble grooves on our single-lane side of the road (AACCKK!…..have they been collaborating with the guys in Northern Illinois?….hmmm), so we had to cross over these each time semis wanted to get around us. [Of course, we let them!]

Rumble grooves 1

Rumble grooves on single lane

FINALLY got past the construction zone, and the road flattened out as we got closer to Baton Rouge.

Past the construction

Saw some, ah, interesting cuisine signs….is this what they serve in southern Louisiana?

Fresh coon

As we came into Baton Rouge, we went past the Exxon/Mobil oil refinery….what a HUGE operation!! We went past this for at least 2 miles!

Exxon Mobile 1

Stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box and had something to eat. We’re following the route suggested by Google Maps for those on bicycles (it is in “not-quite-ready-for-prime-time” beta right now), but it actually is working pretty well for us.

Saw this pretty rainbow downtown (Mr. Alvin….I was talking with you on the phone when we took these pictures!):

Jack in the Box rainbow

Rainbow downtown

We saw an MRT sign down by the levee, and the Google Map route took us up on to that path on the levee.

MRT sign in BR

The levee trail took us right under the Interstate 10 bridge…..it is HUGE (Earline….really….wouldn’t you LIKE to go over this bridge?)

BR bridge 1

BR bridge 2

Just past the bridge we met Gavan Jackson, with the Baton Rouge paper, The Advocate. He had been following us, taking pictures, and got some information from us. He said the article would run in the paper the next day, but maybe the editors nixed it. We haven’t been able to find it. Can anyone out there see if it ran in the paper? Thanks.

Gavan Jackson

We went past the famous LSU campus [and curious cow]….

Famous LSU campus and cow

…..and past this eating place [Reggie, you didn’t tell us you had moved to Baton Rouge??!!…..wink.png ]….

Reggies

….and then scurried a few more blocks as it was getting dark, and came to the First Deaf Baptist Church of Baton Rouge.

Betha Estes, and eventually her husband Walker (who had originally contacted us several weeks ago when someone sent him a link to our web site) met us at the church. Theirs is a totally independent Baptist church that a group of Deaf started themselves over 10 years ago. (Here is  picture I took the next morning):

1st Baptist Deaf church

These folks opened up their church for us, brought us some food, and told us to make ourselves at home (a roof and a clean dry floor….wonderful!! Here’s where we set up our bed…in the nursery!)

Sleep on nursery floor

What a wonderful thing, to see an independent Deaf church….and right next to the Louisiana School for the Deaf. Walker, who is Deaf and works for the school, set it up so that we will be speaking there tomorrow night. Great!

Lord, give us wisdom as we prepare to speak to those kids, and thank you again for providing a place for us to stay.

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 42 / July 12, 2010 [Winfield & Mt. Pleasant, IA]

MONDAY, JULY 12, 2010

Happy Monday! Slept great last night….listening all morning to my “owl.”

Even slept in a little – feeling ESPECIALLY guilty about THAT while staying on a farm!….growing up in NE Iowa, we had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go “FIND” the cows. You had to go get them – they wouldn’t just come if you called them. And especially in August, when it would be foggy in the morning sometimes, you really had to HUNT for them!

I had a chance to work on the blog some more, and Earline again had the opportunity to get some more “farming” education.

This morning she even got to FEED the cows.

 

Cows fight for grain

 

Earline say, “Look at me! I am RIGHT NEXT to the cows!”

Earline right next to the cows

One of the cows decided they didn’t like the flavor of the feed that Jeff was feeding!

 

Dont like this flavor feed

The article by the paper in the Burlington Hawk Eye came out today. We thought it was nicely done….and the photos by John on pages 1 and 3 were most excellent…..thank you! I even heard from yet ANOTHER cousin in the area (hey, Jens!) because he read about us in the paper! A link to the article can be found here: Hawk Eye Newspaper article

We swung by John and Vicki’s one more time to say good-bye.

 

Vicki and Jon and John

What was especially nice this weekend, was getting to know some cousins even better (and for them to meet Earline!). After all these years, each of us has lived life, has experienced the joys and struggles of failing and succeeding. I enjoyed “comparing notes” and sharing those lessons learned. Let’s do this more often!!

So…..getting ready to head out on more of the journey tomorrow.

TGG,

jon

Day 31 [Guttenburg, IA – Balltown, IA]

THURSDAY, JULY 1, 2010

After a good night’s sleep in the Ahrens’ camper, Earline and I had a wonderful breakfast lovingly prepared by Elizabeth and “GrosMutter”….

GrosMutter show biscuits

The family tried out the trikes, and seemed to catch on quickly. Adventurers, every one. Here’s Pastor Duncan, Megan [with no shoes – ouch!], and Mallory, with Duchess guarding the activities.

Pastor Duncan trikes

Megan trikes

Mallory trikes with Duchess

Thanks, Ahrens family! Because of your generosity, may God add a special blessing to all your endeavors this summer!

We road back into the town of Guttenberg (and saw this doe with 2 fawns!)….

Doe with TWO fawns

We stopped at a Disability Center (they have about 5 Deaf that normally come during the day for various activities, but just not today!), a Family Resource Center (funded by the hospital in town, and operating as a hub for many resources available for residents of Clayton County….Cari, whom we spoke with, knows and works with my cousin, Ruth Hilgerson from St. Olaf!), the City Information Center, “The Press” newspaper – where Katie, an intern, interviewed us for an article next week, and the library, where they had wifi, so that I could get some more photos uploaded here to the blog. Whew!

Here’s Katie with Earline:

Katie at The Press

About 10 minutes after we sat down in the library, Joanita and Danny dropped in! I had just txt’d Danny that we were in the library, and he said they were coming down the hill when they got the text! They drove all the way from Monona to bring us some mail that had just arrived today from Florida. Thank you!

Shortly after they left, Earline was anxious to get on the road, so we headed out, saying goodbye to Carolyne the librarian, who apparently knew many of Uncle Danny’s relatives!

Carolyne at Guttenberg library

Small world.

Headed up the Guttenberg hill south of town – this is the hill that I had been concerned about for Earline, but – nice wide shoulder, and Earline made it up without too much difficulty! Way to go! Whoo-whoo!

Long haul up Guttenburg hill

Saw this pretty homestead near the top of the bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River valley…..saw quite a few homes like this, sometimes seemingly precariously close to the edge!

Homestead top of bluff

The downhill after that to Millville and the Turkey River was great – almost 2 miles – but NO shoulder (well…..a gravel shoulder). NOT good for cyclists, especially with all the heavy truck traffic on this State Highway 52.

Down the Millville hill

After that we headed along the Turkey River up and down hills to North Buena Vista and Balltown.

Turkey River little bridge

Turkey River in Millville

Remember when the Mississippi River was this big in northern Minnesota? This Turkey River that runs into the Mississippi is actually pretty “swollen” now – with all the rain in Minnesota and Iowa the month of June. It is normally about 1/4 this size. I have actually canoed on this river a couple times.

It takes a while for all the water to run from the drains and the streams to the rivers, and even though the weather is nice now, the rivers are showing the after-effects of all the rain. We noticed that the dam gates in Guttenberg were wide open, letting the high, rushing water pass through.

Here, next to the downtown park, is the dam in Guttenburg we saw yesterday:

Guttenburg dam with gates open

Later we saw these cows, like the ones on Day 8, wondering what these contraptions were going by their field!

Curious cows

We also saw more of the white worms, that we talked about on Day 25:

More white worms

The hills to NBV and Balltown were KILLER, but the views from the top of the ridge were truly spectacular! Here are some photos that hopefully do some justice to the beauty of the vistas we saw:

Approach downhill by Balltown

NE Iowa 1

NE Iowa 2

NE Iowa 3

NE Iowa 4

NE Iowa 5

At the Breitbach Country Inn in Balltown (which is actually the oldest operating restaurant in the state of Iowa – since 1852!) Mike actually held the buffet open a little longer than normal as we struggled up the last hill to get there. He then donated the meal to us and the cause of GHA! Bravo!

Here’s Earline with Sam, our waitress:

Breitbach waitress Sam

AND, then he turned around and let us tent up the hill from the inn right by electricity and water. Thanks, Mike!!!!!

Jon and Mike and Earline

(By the way, the food was fresh and excellent….another reason why everybody told us to be sure and stop at the Breitbach!!)

Good night!

(Now if God would just help me ignore the wind that is making the tent flap in a very aggravating way….ack! Ha!)

TGG,

jon

Day 8 [Palisade, MN – Crosby, MN]

JUNE 8, 2010

The day started out with a pretty red sky, but went downhill from there (and this was NOT the good kind of downhill.)

Rainy and cold. COLD…..maybe 50 degrees, 55…..this is not fun.

We put our food UP in the air last night, per our raccoon experience a few nights ago. (see the Mississippi in the background?)

Food up in the air

Earline was mad at me when yesterday I told her we had an easy day today, and this morning I told her it was about 35 miles. I guess “easy” and “35” don’t go together. Hmmmm. Easy and 20….okay….but NOT easy and 35 (it ended up being 42….whoops).

Here’s a railroad bridge we saw a picture of in Bob’s book:

Railroad bridge from Bergland CG

And here Bridge #15 for us over the Mississippi:

Bridge15

Technically, we did go over this bridge over the MR, but we then turned around and went a different direction because of the info we received from the local county highway department. IF we had proceeded on the Great River Road, it would have knocked 5 to 7 miles off our journey, but at this point it is not yet paved, and with all the rain this morning, I am sure it was impassable.

We did then make a stop at an eating place, on the north side of the road back in Palisade, before heading out of town (Earline, can you remember the name?) Here’s Sue (the cook), Zanna (the waitress), and Earline:

Sue and Zanna in Palisade

The few people that were in the place gave Earline a long look when she first went into the place by herself. [Not many Black folks in this area?] But after I came in behind, they all seemed to “calm down.” Ha!

Sue and Zanna were both warm and friendly, and the food was good. Besides cooking, Sue also takes care of her very sick daughter full time. AND Sue has a neighbor who is Deaf….but who never really had a job, or the ability to communicate effectively with those around her. Now around 40 years old, the Deaf lady takes care of her aging mother.

Growing up on a dairy farm in Iowa, I always thought cows were stupid, standing out in the rain….now I realize, it was the other way around, as we passed a group of cows standing under a tree, watching US pedal by in the rain!

Cows watching us in rain

Bridge #16 (does Earline look happy?……)

Bridge16

The Walmart bags over our side bags actually did a pretty good job keeping the contents dry:

Walmart plastic onside bags

This is the scene I saw most of the day [oh, joy]:

Rainy behind

Again, we stayed on 169 because 10 was still gravel between the campground and 169, Hwy. 21 is still gravel, AND the bridge is out on 1. Got many wet kisses from semi trucks as they whooshed by!

FINALLY stopped raining around 7, and saw some pretty scenes…..this is a golf course outside of Deer River:

Golf course in Deer River

Can’t we ALL just put on a happy face?

Dental office window in Deer River

Finally got to our destination, where….well, we will tell you all about this interesting stop tomorrow!

Nordic Inn inside1

Only Through God’s Grace…..

jon