Day 10 [Jacksonville – Saint Augustine]

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2011

I got up at 4:45am, and went to the outhouse…not really outhouses per se, but you did have to go “outside” to get to them. And they did not have hot water. I decided, however, that I HAD to wash my hair, so there I am, 5:00 in the morning, sticking my head in the sink and running cold water over it to get clean.

Hot water is a LUXURY! May we never forget to be grateful for the little pleasures that God allows us to have!

Got all packed up and ready to leave as it was getting light. [You can see the “outhouses” in the background.]

Ready to leave Jax

We had some prayer time before heading out….Pastor Kenneth was there, but where was Pastor Pat?! [smile] [She actually did wake up soon enough to text us and tease us as we were leaving!]

Prayer time before leaving

We got over to Highway 1, and proceeded to head south to St. Augustine….in this part of Florida, the only choices are A1A on the coast, Interstate 95 [which bikes and trikes can’t use], or Highway 1….4 lanes and VERY busy. But it DID have a shoulder the whole way.

Still cloudy and very cool

Yes, it was busy, but that also meant that there were more convenience stores along the way that we took full advantage of, and we were grateful for that.

Busy Hwy 1

Once we got south of 295/9A, we did get a freshly black-topped road with bicycle signage that lasted for several miles, so that was nice.

Bike lane signage

It was pretty much a straight shot the whole way….just mile after mile after mile, heading south/southeast. It is kind of hard to get a photograph to show this, but maybe this one with a train going by gives you some idea….we could sometimes literally see, I would guess, 5 to 7 miles of road and electrical line poles.

LOOOOOONG road and train

We stopped for lunch in the sunshine, beside an overpass that looked like it went to some new golf resort, or retirement community. [Yes, I had my graham cracker, peanut butter, and Spam sandwich….mmm, mmm, mmm.]

Lunch time

FINALLY made it to St. Augustine. [Actually, we made good time, in about 7 hours….I think all the semis and dump trucks whizzing by us gave us a little boost of air every time they went by!]

St Augustine sign

Does Earline look tired? She said she was. We need to find you a DQ!!

Earline tired at sign

We stopped in at FSDB and talked with Ron Stafford at the security gate. He said that they indeed had received the e-mail that we would be coming on campus the next evening at 6:00pm for a presentation with Young Life at the Music Building.

A quick stop at the DQ [ah, yes]….

DQ in SA

We continued on to the Lion’s Bridge drawbridge, and Earline didn’t seem TOO concerned….NOT a big bridge, and a separated walkway [with LOTS of joggers and cyclists].

Little did we know the adventure ahead of us!

[See, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be kinda neat if Earline got to see the drawbridge work…..oh,oh.]

Ready to cross Lions bridge

The walkway climb to the drawbridge was more than wide enough for us to maneuver comfortably.

Separated bike path

HOWEVER…..

….the walkway over the drawbridge itself was not. I would guess probably 36 inches.

Well, my trike is 33 inches wide [Earline’s, 31], and when I tried to go thru the drawbridge walkway, I got STUCK! My side bags stick out a few inches on each side, and I couldn’t get through.

THEN, the bells starting dinging, lights started flashing….what??!!

Apparently the drawbridge was about to be raised!

NOW what do we do??!!

Well, this older gentlemen stepped out of the gatehouse with a reflective vest on, briskly walked towards us, seemingly asking “what in the world were we doing??!!”

So the man is talking fast, Earline is talking behind me, the bells are still ringing, the lights are still flashing, cars are backing up at the red and white striped guard bar BEHIND us, and I didn’t understand the man’s question, so he asked [rather sternly], “Don’t you speak English?!”

So I just said, yes, but I didn’t quite catch his question.

He then asked, will it fit? And I said, with the side bags off, that I thought that, yes, it would. [Even though my custom handlebars stick out an inch or so on each side!] I also said that Earline’s trike was more narrow, so she shouldn’t have any problem.

So he waved us on through, and I proceeded across the drawbridge, with about a half inch to spare on each side!

Then once we got across the drawbridge, the black gate closed behind us, but the red and white guard bar AHEAD of us was down, and we couldn’t get through.

We were stuck!

However, I guess that was okay, because our walkie-talkies were apparently on the same channel as the bridge staff, and we could hear them talking about the bikers that were caught between the gate and the guard bar, and that apparently it was going to be alright for them to raise the drawbridge.

So there we sat, all by ourselves, while the drawbridge was slowly raised. I DID get a picture of that!

Stuck on drawbridge

Talk about drama!…..HA!

We WILL have to go back across the bridge to go to the school for our presentation, but at least now we have a little better understanding of what we need to do to get across.

We continued on a few more blocks to the home of Sam and Ann Thompson, that everyone at Neighborhood Alliance Church in Longwood asked about, and had a delightful time of fellowship [and teasing] with Sam and his family.

Sam and Ann EEB and Grace Ann

Thank you again, Lord, for your blessing and your provision in times of boredom [the long ride on Highway 1], AND excitement [Lion’s Bridge].

TGG,

jon

Closing Thoughts for the 2010 Mission POSSIBLE Tour

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2010

Earlier this week I already saw my first Christmas decorations in a shopping center in Orlando, and then I remembered that Esther, my next-farm-neighbor growing up, had recently reminded me that I had not yet put a summary up on the blog.

Whoops.

So let’s get to it:

The WiFi Pedalers 2010 Mission POSSIBLE Tour Closing Thoughts

Jon and Earline FINAL on 42

I’ll be covering a lot of things in this summary, including:

• The TOP 5 Eating Places that we ran across this past summer.

• The WORST and BEST Bridges we crossed of the 42 bridges we went over (from a TRIKING standpoint!]

• The WORST and BEST Sections of the Mississippi River Trail that we experienced (Remember, there is an MRT on both sides of the river for much of the way south of the Twin Cities, so you may have some different stories to share….we’d love to hear them!)

• GOOD SurprisesBAD SurprisesBEST Views of the Mississippi River, and MORE. Let’s get started!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

First, some things I thought we may not really need, but brought anyway, and used….a LOT:

• Old pair of tennis shoes

• A pair of jeans

• A big, honking LED light…didn’t like the weight, but used the darn thing a LOT

• Waterproof covers for the panniers (MUCH thanks to Terry and his wife from Jannd Mountaineering for their foresight)

• A simple, inexpensive, needle-nosed pliers

• Extra rechargeable batteries and recharger for recharging the cell-phones, GPS, walkie-talkies, etc. when you can’t find electricity!

• The hand pump for the air mattress….it was super-bulky, but my arms got exercise, it was much lighter than a battery pak for blowing up the mattress, and the $10 pump lasted almost all summer (I did eventually strip the plastic threads the end of August).

Some essentials things to bring with you (for summer touring):

• LOTS of suncreen. This became part of our morning ritual, and we STILL turned colors [Earline turned PURPLE!]

• Flat Attack tube juice (LOVE that stuff…probably prevented at least a dozen flats)

• A couple vacuum thermoses each (you’ll need and appreciate the ice that lasts more than 2 hours)

• A (or 2) set of Allen wrenches…do NOT forget this (like I did!)

• Enough tires and tubes for the unexpected (we went through two sets each)

• The ground cloth under the tent (worth the extra effort to protect your tent)

• Bungie cords of a variety of shapes and sizes

• An 50-foot electrical cord with at least a 3-way at the end (it can be small in width/capacity, but you’ll need the length)

• A small fan for the tent at night (Earline says it is the best gift I ever gave her)

• Patch kits for repairing the tent, or the air mattress

• A tarp to cover your bike/trike at night

• Batteries for your various devices

• The full-sized SMV (slow moving vehicle) signs were an excellent choice, especially for night riding. These were seen on various construction vehicles and farm equipment throughout the trip, and it was an easily recognizable and FAMILIAR warning of caution to other vehicles. We got the ones that reflected to 1200, which were up to the current State of Illinois standards, and only a couple bucks more than the 600 foot reflective signs (around $12 a piece). I have seen a lot of “cutesy” smaller SMV signs, more flexible and lightweight, but these are NOT FAMILIAR to drivers. You can avoid the weight of the signs on metal backing by just getting the adhesive signs, and sticked them on some plastic cardboard cut to size.

Okay….NOW, some award giving!

First, the Top 5…okay, Top SIX eating places of the 2010 Mission Possible Tour

Yes, we had great bar-b-q eating in Memphis (and great tasting water!); we found 12 Dairy Queens we took advantage of along the route (but none south of Cahokia, IL…hmmmm, need to call DQ to get that FIXED!); the Happy Hours at Steak and Shake that were a pleasant surprise (and RIGHT on time); places like Cape Girardeau, Baton Rouge…..LOTS of good eating in a lot of towns and cities.

And I can’t move forward before FIRST mentioning all the GREAT meals we had at the homes of the families that we stayed with this summer. Final tally:  we stayed with 14 families (including 3 connections through warm.showers.org). These and MANY other stats, photos and videos are available on the new 2010 Mission POSSIBLE Tour DVD just completed, which will soon available on this web site. Stay tuned!

We can’t really put our favorite eating places in some kind of arbitrary order, because each had a speciality or a characteristic that warrants recognition. So, here are our SIX favorite eating places, in alphabetical order:

Ann’s Trailer in Port Sulpher, LA (had to go thru a couple locals to find this place, but WORTH the effort….HUGE Poor-Boy sandwiches, literally DOUBLE what you expect) Link to our visit on Day 92

Anns trailer

Breitbach Restaurant in Balltown, IA – Excellent customer service. It is Iowa’s oldest restaurant that has AMAZINGLY risen from the ashes TWICE in the last five years (see the February 2010 Reader’s Digest for this great story!) Link to our visit on the night of Day 31

Breitbach Country Inn

Buck’s Restaurant in Greenville, Mississippi (Both…and that’s a rarity…BOTH Earline and I got happy with the GREAT TASTE of the food here.) (We understand that MRS. Buck does most of the cooking….BRAVO!) (AND….thanks to Firehouse #1 in Greenville for recommending Buck’s….you were right!) At Buck’s on Day 77

Bucks Place store front

Cayce Cafe in Cayce, KY (the BEST French Toast I have ever eaten, period, and GREAT prices – if you’re anywhere between St. Louis and Memphis, you need to stop here!) Our morning visit to the Cayce Cafe

Cayce Cafe GREAT French toast

Julie’s Cafe in Albany, Illinois – a great little menu, neat desserts, an excellent view of the river (with supplied binoculars) AND the owner waited on us! (How’s THAT for service!) Lunch at Julie’s

Julie fom Julies Cafe

And last, but not least…..the Royal Family Restaurant in Little Falls, MN – a GREAT little buffet, and good prices, but what makes this place stand out is the HUGE mugs of coffee and hot chocolate that you can wrap your cold Minnesota hands around….EXCELLENT! Our grateful lunch at the Royal Family Diner

Sorry…NO PHOTO! But they are right in the center of town, on the northeast corner of one of the main intersections. They’ve been there for years….just ask one of the locals!

WORST BRIDGES

Tie – Bridge #26 in Hastings, MN and Bridge #39 in Memphis, TN. Well, enough has been said. To review, follow the link through these photos.

#26 – Hastings, MN….this was just a scary, shaky bridge with MUCH traffic, and a narrow, 4-foot sidewalk raised up just 4 inches on the one side. (This biker had to get on the shoulder so that WE could get by!)

Hasting meeting biker

Oh, and a quick note to the Minnesota Department of Transportation:  the following photo shows an MRT sign, but the arrows need to be rotated clockwise 90 degrees. We saw this sign just after we crossed the Hastings bridge, headed north, and we were making a right hand turn to head down into Prescott, Wisconsin. The MRT does NOT go north from this intersection.

Arrows need to be turned clockwise 90 degrees

#39 – Memphis, TN….Okay, you’ve seen the video (if you haven’t, check it out). The DVD even has a LONGER video of this crossing, with a view of the water through the railing…..it is scary.) Now, granted this is an Interstate Highway, I-55…..so should we NOT have gone on it? What other choice is there?

On page 143 of Bob Robinson’s  “Bicycling Guide” book, he has a picture of himself on what looks to be the north side of the bridge, heading west, on the same side that we crossed on, but we certainly did not FEEL welcome. Look at these photos of the entrance and exit of the pedestrian walkway.

(Does Earline look like she’s fussin’? Ah….well, yes….ah….that would be an accurate statement!)

Entering Interstate 55 walkway

Bridge 39 path

Exit for Bridge 39

What was also curious, is that after we took Exit 3 (thank you Bob, for telling us NOT to take Exit 1, and for a working GPS on my phone that CONFIRMED that advice, because it took all that and MORE to convince my nervous-wreck wife NOT to take Exit #1!!!!)….where was I….oh, AFTER we took Exit 3 and took the video of our reactions to that Bridge #39 crossing that is on the DVD, we noticed a couple MRT signs.

As we were sitting on the road that looped UNDERNEATH I-55 just east of Exit 3, one sign was directing us to continue west on the south side of I-55 on a frontage road that would take us into West Memphis, Arkansas.

But the other MRT sign, was sitting on the southeast shoulder of that road underneath I-55, and was facing toward that west, so that you would see it if you were COMING FROM West Memphis. (And there was NO road there, though we COULD see what looked like “off-road” dirt trails in the humps and ridges looking East under the highway).

(Wish I had a picture of this. WAIT! I found one….here it is….)

MRT sign southwest side of bridge

Is THAT the official MRT trail, which I imagine might then take you to the SOUTH side pedestrian pathway of the Memphis bridge? Maybe THAT side is maintained, but with all our gear, going on those dirt trails would NOT have been an option.

Hmmmmm.

So, I guess we took the only option available. I understand that there IS planning taking place to make the train bridge on the north side of this interstate into a PEDESTRIAN bridge, so that would be GREAT!

And now, our FAVORITE bridge….YEA!!!!

#19 in St. Cloud/Sauk Rapids, MN – wide shoulders, scenic view turn-outs, and a wonderful (at least in the direction WE were going) downhill spiral ramp at the end. Link to more photos from Day 14 of Bridge #19, our favorite!

Bridge 19 in St Cloud

Also we enjoyed and appreciated the wide separated lanes of other bridges in St. Cloud and Minneapolis, and even the recently remodeled Eads bridge in St. Louis….the bike lane there was a little narrow, not much over 3 feet, but clean, with several little scenic view turnouts of the river and the Arch. Nice.

Arch from Eads Bridge

Worst routes or sections of the MRT

5. The 2 miles of bike path north of LaCrescent, MN – VERY creepy, narrow, lots of debris, sitting water, AND lots of spider webs. EEWWWW! (and for extra points, try doing this path at night with a dying headlight….you know, just for FUN!…..HA!)

4. The lack of signage along the Illinois side of the MRT, especially north of the Quad Cities. It switched often between roads, and bike paths, and shoulders, and sidewalks, and….ACK!!! Without help and guidance from SEVERAL locals (one couple even personally GUIDED us to the Government Bridge) we would have been completely lost (just keep the river on the right, the river on the right, the river on the right….)

3. The roads in Cass County in Northern Minnesota….cold winters have dealt harshly with roads in this county. It seemed like every ten-twenty feet there would be a crack running across the pavement, with some obvious (but unsuccessful) attempts to fill in the cracks with blacktop, making for a very rOuGh RiDe….oomph!Now, when we would switch county lines, like into Itasca County….much better. Seems to be some obvious financial challenges in Cass County. Hope you can get that fixed!

2. The 10 miles from East Dubuque to Galena, a construction area with cement barricades on the left side of the east-bound lane, and rumble grooves along the right edge (now officially, this road is NOT part of the MRT, but we encountered RUMBLE GROOVES several other places along the route…..so ANYWHERE we encountered rumble grooves, like from Elsberry to Winfield, Missouri)….a smooth blacktop, but a very BUSY road, and just 2 to 3 feet of shoulder with 18 inches of rumble grooves in the middle of that shoulder.

Rumble grooves for closing thoughts

Where do you ride?

NOT fun.

(The ONLY exception to this, of course, where there was, say, an eight foot shoulder, like between Cayce and Hickman, Kentucky, and the rumble grooves were way to the inside edge of the shoulder, so we could ride safely and smoothly outside of that. We LIKED those roads!!!!!)

We LOVE roads like this 1

And finally…..the #1 worst section of the MRT….the 10 miles south of Quincy, IL….many grain elevators along the river, and many semi-trucks supplying those elevators. NO shoulder of any kind on this 2-laned road, and a minimal grassy area to pull off on. A very hectic, unpleasant stretch of road.

But, NOW….

Our FAVORITE sections of the MRT

6. The ride south of Nauvoo, IL. Fairly decent shoulder, not too much debris, and right on the river, with shady overhanging bluff trees on the left, and scenic views of the river on your right (even saw ICE on this 100 degree day on one of the ravines on the left) (there IS a scientific reason…..see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_cave)

Between Nauvoo and Hamilton

5. The Natchez Trace (saw 5 deer in 2 days – neat!)…..there is no shoulder, but NO commercial traffic allowed, so very little traffic, truly a peaceful and tranquil ride (well, okay, maybe a little boring!)(after a couple days of trees and, well, trees and, again, trees, we were ready to move on!)

Natchez Trace Earline

4. The Illinois route as it STARTED at Savannah, IL (some areas still under construction), but a separated route for about 10 miles through woodsy areas, over little bridges….shaping up to be a real pretty ride.

South of Savannah

3. The route through the Twin Cities, some industrial areas, but MANY beautiful, woodsy secluded areas, interesting sights and local attractions, AND well signed and maintained.

South side of Stone Arch bridge

2. The ride along the top of the bluffs from North Buena Vista to Balltown and even past Balltown….truly amazing, jaw-dropping vistas

Approach downhill by Balltown

View of MR from Balltown

1. The 6-1/2 miles of 1203 around Bardwell, Kentucky from Hwy 51/62 to Hwy 123; no shoulder, but a smooth road, gently rolling hills, trees overhanging the road, very pretty, and maybe 3 or 4 vehicles the entire distance!…just simply a GREAT, peaceful ride. We LOVED it!

Smooth 1203

And now….

Most UNPLEASANT surprises and the most WONDERFUL surprises about the ride down the Mississippi River (we obviously did not ride BOTH sides of the Mississippi, so I don’t hesitate to tell you about OUR surprises, because I am sure YOU can find MANY more!)

BAD SURPRISES

6. Discovering the only real flaw in riding recumbent tricycles:  slanted or tapered roads (my center of gravity was a little high with Earline’s books on TOP of my panniers!) We both tipped over one time.

5. The coolness, the poor customer service attitude of a certain tourist attendant at the “Welcome” Center in Galena, IL

4. The abundance of rain, which made for some miserable riding, and responsible for the closed ferry at Modoc, IL. This IS the dock…..HA! (And you can SEE the ferry on the other side….c’mon!)

Dock and ferry at Modoc

3. The lack of WiFi, phone service, gps, or even electricity…ACK. Words to the wise: Plan ahead – we got MUCH use out of our little Ryobi charger which kept two 4-volt batteries charged up which in turn could recharge our phone (AND my GPS….that is, WHEN I could get a satellite connection!)

2. The high percentage of devastation of many towns along the entire route—closed stores, businesses, and boarded up homes, indicative of the current economy, especially still in New Orleans, and even MORE especially, Cairo, IL.

1. The truly awful condition of the Great River Road State Park in Mississippi

But now….

….our GOOD SURPRISES!

7. How much BETTER food tasted after being outdoors so much. (yes, even graham crackers, peanut butter, and honey were edible after the 20th time) (we were ESPECIALLY fond of the plums that Philip and Ana gave us from the organic store – amazing flavor!).

6. The CYCLING HOSTEL in Chester, IL, donated by the Local Fraternal Order of Eagles. (Chester is also on a major East/West cross-country cycling route). Way to see a need and fill it…YEA!!!

Chester hostel

5. The ACCURACY of the book “Bicycling Guide to the MRT” ….a huge APPLAUSE to Bob Robinson for the literally THOUSANDS of details that you WILL need to know about the Mississippi River Trail…..close to PERFECT! (the ONLY mistake that I found, besides some expected updating, was the distance between the start of CR X56 by the big church at the west end of McGregor, Iowa, and the turn on Marina Road in Guttenburg, Iowa. The distance listed is 6.3 miles, but my odometer read closer to 17 miles, and I confirmed that on Google maps with their distance measurement tool….they show the distance to be 17.4 miles.)

I also did get really confused north of Rock Island/Moline—couldn’t get the book to match what I was seeing, but I think this was not so much the book’s fault as that of the COMPLETE LACK of signage in Illinois.

4. How long ice will STAY ice in a thermos, esp. a vacuum thermos. Earline had a silver vacuum thermos she brought for coffee, but we soon discovered that it would hold ice for almost 2 DAYS (we called it her “Silver Bullet!”….OUTSTANDING!) However, a sad discovery was that even if we had access to a freezer the night before (which we usually didn’t) the ice just did NOT stay ice very long in our insulated Polar Bottles. I consider these bottle a complete waste of money.

We did an experiment one day, and froze one of the Polar Bottles solid ice, and a Zephyr Hills water bottle solid ice….you know, just the thin plastic water bottle that you buy in paks of 24 in the store. The Zephyr Hills bottle kept ice LONGER than the “INSULATED” Polar Bottle! The only thing nice I can say about the Polar Bottle is that it is a convenient size and shape for drinking liquid, but that’s it. But the THERMOSes….great stuff. NEXT trip (shhhhhhh…..don’t tell Earline)…..we’ll only have the vacuum thermos…absolutely worth the extra weight.

3. The number of CHRISTIAN messages we ran across throughout the trip….the cross at Wycliffe KY, the JESUS IS satellite dish north of Memphis, the HE IS RISEN wheel in TN, the sign in the Family Dollar in Hughes, AK, and others. Christianity is Alive and Well in America…..BE ENCOURAGED!

Decorated wagon wheel

Family Dollar sign

2. THE CAVES…simply amazing!! The cool air on a sweltering day was SCRUMPTIOUS! Link to the CAVES

CAVES

1. The way God “coincidently” SUPPLIED NEEDS (I guess we should have understood this better).

For example, the “Oasis” at top of the Prescott, Wisconsin hill; the tent stake we found at Nauvoo State Park after we had just lost one; funds from the St. Louis church just we we needed them; the delicious brownies from Aunt Joanita and the scrumptious Amish bread from cousin Susie (hey, we had just had 2 days of very hard riding, and these goodies truly “hit the spot!”)….

…..the continued places “developing” for us to stay – from the Roulands at the end of our VERY first day (when Earline was in a lot of pain), to meeting James on the trail, to the pavilions that appeared JUST when we needed them, to the Beech Grove MB church that just “HAPPENED” to appear out in the middle of nowhere when the sun was going down…..

…..the graciousness of Jandd Moutaineering in San Diego, who had the thought to donate waterproof covers for our panniers, which got MUCH use THIS particular summer; the service attitude of Mark Power of Power On Cycling from where we got our trikes….his tubes and tires arrived JUST IN TIME, even the exact day we needed them….

….and it ALL pointed us again and again to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches his disciples AND us that God knows our needs even BEFORE we ask Him!

And we have proof. Period.

BEST VIEW OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

The roads around Balltown, Iowa, and the view from the old Columbus-Belmont State Park in Kentucky are stiff competition, but the winner here has to be Pike Peak State Park south of Macgregor, Iowa. Truly beautiful!

Pikes Peak 2

Pikes Peak 1

FAVORITE signs along the route

(By the way, this is a good place to mention it….even though Baton Rouge is not officially on the Louisiana MRT route, we went that way because of the invite we had from a Deaf church in Baton Rouge, as well as from the Louisiana School for the Deaf right next to it. And we DID notice that there WAS a Mississippi River Trail SIGN underneath the I-10 bridge in Baton Rouge, right on the levee.

MRT sign by levee in Baton Rouge

There is talk of eventually being able to ride the top of the levee all the way from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, so it looks like that plan is being implemented.)

And now our three FAVORITE signs!

3. The Coon and Seafood / “FRESH Coon” sign north of Baton Rouge, LA

Fresh coon

2. Entering and Leaving Watson, Iowa (Less than 10 miles from the MR, we happened to catch THIS sign because of the side trip we took to my boyhood home of Monona, Iowa.)

Watson

And finally, our FAVORITE sign on the MRT…..

1. You have reached the SOUTHERNMOST POINT in LA

Southernmost Point

The PRETTIEST sunset that we saw all summer.

It has to be the one we saw as we approached New Orleans on the levee on the northwest side of the city. The hard rains we endured earlier in the day were NOT pleasant, that is for sure; but the storms DID make for some beautiful, colorful skies.

Levee sunset

And personally, here are my three most favorite memories about the MP tour:

3. Warm showers wherever can find them – after a day of long, hot riding…..I’ll never take warm, clean water for granted again! (esp. the aptly named warmshowers.org web site, just for cyclists – all 3 hosts we had were EXCELLENT)

2. People’s generosity and encouragement – from Pastor Scott and Believer’s Temple Word Fellowship in St. Louis, Pastor and First Lady Williams from Zion Baptist Church in Greenville, MS, all the people of Swedesburg Lutheran Church in Iowa……

……all my various cousins along the route; Sharon Black from Mt. Sinai (the song she left on our voice-mail is ON the DVD!); the lady with disfigured face in Warsaw, Illinois who bought water for us; the man of simple means in Mounds, Illinois who gave us $5; Big Al, who gave us a place to lay our heads at 1am; and ESPECIALLY Mr. Alvin Taylor who was SO gracious in helping to supply our needs; and many, many more….

AND, my NUMBER ONE favorite memory of the Mission POSSIBLE Tour:

1. Listening to Earline sing old hymns as we were riding…doesn’t get any better than that.

Silhouette Earline

And finally, WHY did God have us go on this Mission POSSIBLE Tour?

I can think of several Deaf individuals, and a few Deaf groups that we personally ministered to, any of which might have been THE specific reason He had us go on this trip.

And I can think of several HEARING individuals, among the literally THOUSANDS of people we personally ministered to this summer, encouraging them, boldly declaring without reservation or hesitation, that TRULY, with God, ALL things are possible [see Matthew 19:26]…..any of whom might have been THE reason He took us on this journey.

Or even those individuals who said that this BLOG has personally ministered to them.

Are YOU one of those individuals? If so, would you let us know? You can do it here, and publicly share it with others who are reading this blog….OR, you can do it privately, by going to the contact page here on the web site, and send us your testimony that way.

We would appreciate it, and would LOVE to hear from you.

And as always…..it has ALWAYS been….

…..ONLY through God’s grace,

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 43 [Winfield & Burlington, IA – Nauvoo, IL]

TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2010

Packing up…saying good-bye. Finally got a picture with Cousin Ian – Gayle and Jeff’s son.

Ian Earline Jon

Cousins Gayle and Jeff put up with our messy room for the weekend, and Gayle made sure that our nutritional needs were MORE than met….thanks, guys….more the Lord return many blessings back to YOU!

[Example of what Gayle was feeding us…..look at the size of this cantaloupe!]

BIG cantelope

As Jeff and Gayle helped transport our trikes back to the Mississippi, they took us past Oakville, and showed us how the dike had broken 2 years ago, and the Iowa River had flooded the whole valley. It’s amazing  that even though the cleanup involved thousands of hours of manpower, it was actually hard for us to see evidence of all that devastation. I guess that’s a GOOD thing….our prayers are with all of you in this recovering area.

Jeff took us over by Burlington’s “Crookedest Strreet in America”….Earline wanted to trike up it!

[Not really!]

Even DOWN, we thought it might be too rough for our trikes, so we passed – but I got a picture:

Crookedest street

Stopped at the Visitor Info Center in downtown Burlington, and Dorothy was so friendly and helped answer some questions:

Dorothy and Earline

Gayle even got  chance to try out the trike….whoo, whoo! Look like a pro!

Gayle tries trike

Headed out of town, and within one mile ran across a Dairy Queen (#10!)….we had seen one in Mt. Pleasant where cousin Vicki lives (#8), and another on the outskirts of Burlington (#9). But of course we HAD to stop and get a hot fudge malt, at least!

Just then, Gayle and Jeff drove by from picking up copies of the paper, and they HAD to join us for a chocolate cones! Ah, yes…..

BARN ART alert! (okay, it’s a little Christmassy, but maybe they’re just trying to think cool!) (Or maybe it’s been up since Christmas…..whoops!)

Barn art Christmas

Highway 61 south of town was a BUSY road….lots of truck traffic, with ONLY a gravel shoulder, but the lanes were wide, so we just hugged the shoulder and tried to stay safe.

Busy 61 gravel shoulder

As we got close to Fort Madison, a blacktop shoulder appeared, for which we were grateful, and I got the idea to call ahead to the Ft. Madison Police Department and see if we could get an escort across the Mississippi River bridge.

They said YES!

BARN ART alert! (I believe this IS an actual Barn Quilt….Ila! Right?!?)

 

Barn Art quilt

We began the long drop into Fort Madison (whee!).

Deep descent into Fort Madison

And there was the officer waiting for us. As we approached the bridge he went in front of us, turned on his lights, and slowly escorted us across….Bridge #31:

Police escort over Ft. Madison bridge

Bridge31

Thru the toll booth

His name was Officer Gerry Morgan, and afterwards he even gave her a ticket! (was she triking too fast??!!) (and why is she SMILIING??!!) Thanks to ALL of you at the Fort Madison Police Department….you’re the BEST!

Ticket hand cuffs smile

We discovered quickly that even southern Illinois has some hills.

Hills in Illinois

But eventually, we got on the long straight stretch into Nauvoo.

Road to Nauvoo

Nauvoo is the place where the Mormons lived for several years in the early 1800s before they moved on to Utah after Joseph Smith was killed. The sun was just starting to set as we road right past the restored temple on the banks of the Mississippi. Here you can see the river way in the distance.

Around corner from Nauvoo State Park

We found the Christian Visitor Center that I had seen in an article in World Magazine about 2 years ago, which is why I had routed us through this town. The sign on the door said that they were closed until tomorrow, and that they didn’t open until noon, but that they DID meet by appointment. All I could do was leave a message at the listed phone on the door.

We went down to the State Park just 2 blocks south of the main street, and we met Ray and Sherma, who have a Deaf 4-year old great granddaughter. We shared some ideas with them concerning the struggles they were experiencing, and wished them well.

We learned that they were in town as Mormon missionaries for the month of July for the Nauvoo pageant going on EVERY NIGHT in the park just west of us in the State Park.

We then met a wonderful Christian family in the park, the Philip Nelson family. [There were there witnessing to the Mormons!] [How about that!] Mrs. Nelson herself is one of 13 children, and they had 8 kids of their own, as you can see. They were so nice, even giving us some of the baked goods that they had packaged for sale at a local function.

Philip Nelson family

Then, as it turns out, they KNEW Cousin Gayle, and more so especially, her younger sister Gloria who ALSO has 13 children! Small world! (Big families!)

They shared about some of their ministry and what God is doing in THEIR lives. What is really interesting to me is that we understand that the Holy Spirit is one person around the world who lives in every believer (Ephesians 1:13). When talking with other Christians we see evidence almost daily of His demonstration and power in the lives of other Christians, in the same way. Yea!

Even simple things like the Epistle and Gospel lesson this past Sunday at the Methodist Church in Mt. Pleasant and the Lutheran Church in Swedesborg were exactly the same Scripture! Amazing!

Gloria and her husband travel around the country in their bus with their family doing Christian concerts at schools, parks, and churches. Check out their web site: The Wissmann Family.

We set up in the park under some trees, and got some great rest. (This is a photo from the next morning.)

Campsite in Nauvoo State Park

TGG,

jon

Day 39 [Davenport, IA – Winfield, IA]

FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2010

I had set the alarm for 4:45am…..and we were on our way from the Westside Assembly of God Day Care Center about 5:15….didn’t want to scare any of the incoming staff or kids!

I was so glad we had not tried the road southwest of Davenport in the dark, because it was in really rough shape.

LOTS of truck traffic and the wet spring season had made for a cracked and pot-holed road.

There were many what appeared to be limestone production plants…..HUGE building to our left; elevators and augers over out heads from the right; and mysterious fences and “Danger – Explosive” signs to our right, with glimpses of deep holes and quarries just beyond our sight.

Buffalo limestone plant

Buffalo limestone plant2

Mysterious fences

We’ve been seeing deer every once in a while, and this morning was no exception. I understand it is a pretty big problem in East Central Iowa, with HALF of all car body work is made necessary because of collisions with deer!

We DID see a couple deer this morning, but they are usually too quick to catch with the camera.

Down in Muscatine (talk about those re-occurring, heavenly “coincidences”)….clean-up maintenance forced us to find a detour around the area just south of Muscatine, and we discover a NEW, pretty river-side park not mentioned in our MRT guide. The park ran right up to the water’s edge, and then a bike path continued right on top of a small levee for I would guess at least a mile along the northwest side of the Mississippi River.

Detour park discovery

This made for some great views of trucks line up with some kind of grain (maybe white corn?), and an augur continuously loading bins on the barge. (See how weighed down in the water the back of the barge is?)

Loading white corn

Loading barge

Then, using my GPS, we were headed back to the MRT route from the end of the levee, when we happened to see “signing” going on the schoolyard. It turned out to be a YMCA Can Do Camp, and we met the young man “Draven” who had 2 cochlear implants, but was also learning ASL.

Draven at YMCA Can Do camp

If the detour hadn’t been required, then we wouldn’t have found the park, or the levee bike path, or gone past the park where Draven was. All we can say is “Thank you, God!”

We went down the roads through “Muscatine Island” with some very HEAVY truck traffic.

(We heard a rumor that the inspectors were out and about today, and trucks were taking a lot of back roads to avoid the inspectors….interesting!)

Headed along the Mississippi and Iowa River flats towards Burlington, when we were picked up by Cousin Jeff and his trailer, which held our trikes quite nicely.

Jeff took us over to their farm, where he and Gayle (my second cousin) live. It was good to see Gayle again! And just a few miles away also lives one of my FIRST cousins, Vicki (Suckow) Schroeder!

It’s like a family reunion! (A few days later, I found out ANOTHER first cousin lives just 8 miles south! Ha!)

We decided to head over to Vicki and John’s place for supper.

Earline and I (AND Jaxon!) had steaks that Cousin John had EXPERTLY prepared at their house in Mt. Pleasant.

Patiently waiting for chef John

Afterwards Cousin Jeff and Gayle brought over Dairy Queen (yea!) that we all sat around and enjoyed along with Vicki’s brownies made especially for me (boy, we are getting spoiled!). A very nice evening with relatives we hadn’t seen for years.

Icing Jons brownies

Jeff John Vicki

Vicki Gayle Earline

And I know God smiles when He sees the love that we all hold for each other.

TGG,

jon

Day 28 [Monona, Iowa]

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2010

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

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

Susie gives tour of her work place

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

Tom Neuhaus and Jon

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

Jon by folks tombstone

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

Grandpa Arno Grandma Hazel

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

Cemetery rules

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

Scroll and dead bird

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

Terry Cushman on trike

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

Farm I grew up on

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

Terry and Jessie Moses and family

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

Terrie and Jessies son

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

Dining room in museum

More carvings from Elmer Sr

Elmer Marting shows carvings

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

1855 dress worn by Dr Kettlekamps wifes mother

Dolls

Fan tastik

Hats worn over 100 years ago

Earline tries on a hat

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

Jon at Prairie du Chien DQ

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

Thru Jesus,

jon

Day 24 [Merrick State Park, WI – Brownsville, MN]

THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2010

Left Merrick State Park and headed for Winona. Here we’re leaving Wisconsin and headed back over the river to Minnesota.

Hello again MN

And since we didn’t see a Welcome to Wisconsin sign when crossing the St. Croix on Monday, we took this picture on the other side of the road!

Just leaving Welcome Wisconsin

And yes, there is a bridge coming up…..Bridge #26 (but at least this one had a separated walkway/bikeway….even if it WAS a bit of an obstacle course….guess they were working on something UNDER the bridge).

Winona bridge obstacle course

Winona bridge bikeway

Here is an aerial view of the Bridge #26 that I found. We crossed from the top right to the lower left:

Bridge26

And after we finished crossing, we examined where we had just been:

Whew made it over another one

Once in Winona, we desperately needed to find someplace to wash our clothes, and found a laundromat just 1 block from the Kwik-Trip store where we stopped to ask. (And the Kwik-Trip had a special running on some great large pizza for only $5….yummmm!)

Hozone for missing socks

Outside the laundromat, Earline here is either thanking God for something, asking Him for something, or putting lotion on her hands. Can you guess which?

Thanks petition or lotion

We went past this huge church named Stanislaus in Winona, with all these figurines at the top of many points on the rooftop…..can you guess which is at the VERY top?

Stanislaus in Winona

So, the highest priority figure, according to this Christian church is:

Mary holding baby Jesus

Mary? What?!

Wow….sad.

Dairy Queen alert here in Winona…..this is #6!

Dairy Queen in Winona

Headed south of Winona, it was turning out to be a BEAUTIFUL day [nice change!], with interesting bluffs and really pretty water scenes. This particular bluff, I believe, is named King’s Bluff.

Unusual bluff south of Winona

Overlooking MR south of Winona

We were really disappointed when we discovered that the Great River Bluffs State Park for Bikes was CLOSED (even though the signs on Hwy 61 alerting us to its presence were still up.) (More ominous signs of the economy?) We walked back in there a little bit, and it seemed real nice, if unkept. Really a shame.

I was on the phone with Jim “Wied” Wiederhoeft as we headed towards LaCrosse; he was my college roommate all 4 years of college. He and his wife Phyllis live outside of Madison, but Wied said he’d come over and meet us “somewhere” along the route. (Of course, WE don’t hardly ever know where we’ll be!) It ended up being the intersection of CR 101 AND Hwy 61.

Many thanks to Arlinda and her grandson Mitchell. She graciously agreed to let us store our trikes beside her garage while we went out to a late lunch with the Wiederhoefts.

With Arlinda and gs mitchell

After a bit of driving around and having an ernest conversation with Wied’s GPS, we found a poolside eatery where Earline proceeded to have the first brat that she had ever had in her life. Much fun and stories were shared. It was so good to see the both of them! (Sorry, Phyllis, my photo of you didn’t turn out good….how did YOUR camera do??)

Wied and Jon

Phyllis took a picture of Earline and I together, and we honestly don’t have many of the both of us:

Earline and Jon on trikes by LaCrosse

Headed south for a while in the dark, but we HAVE to be in Monona this weekend, so we thought we’d try it.

Went we along the river on this VERY CREEPY bike trail [dare I call it a TRAIL?] – 2 MILES of un-mown grass on either side, low hanging trees, and lots of spider webs or trails of SOMETHING that we had to swipe our way through…..YUCK!

AND, our flashlights/headlights were dying.

We were signing the fearless songs OFTEN during this stretch.

Eventually we were south of LaCrescent, and it was  pretty ride because of the FULL MOON.

Whew!

Finally arrived safely at the Wildcat Landing Campground in Brownsville around 2am, eventually found an area that we THOUGHT might be okay to pitch our tent, and set up our tent by feel so as not to disturb other campers!!

But AT LAST, we were safely inside our tent, laying on clean, dry sheets we laundered today in Winona. Thanks Arlinda! Thanks Phyllis and Wied for everything.

Good night….er,ah….morning!

TGG,

Jon and Earline

Day 21 [St. Paul, MN – Prescott, WI]

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010

Happy Monday!

Though blogging from my phone works, I have found that sometimes the words come in as one jumbled paragraph, no matter how I try to format it. So if it does come in as one long sentence, please be patient…I’ll fix it up as soon as I can.

It’s about 11pm Tuesday night, and our tent is set up on the banks of Lake Pepin (some GREAT photos tomorrow.) Sunday night at the Cole household, we got packed up and headed out of St. Paul about 6:30 yesterday morning. Found our way back to the MRT and the Wabasha bridge, and it was all DOWNHILL from north to south – a real pretty bridge – and our Bridge #24:

Bridge24

Looking west from our Wabasha Bridge:

View from Wabasha bridge

Just south of the bridge, we stopped at a very cool Holiday convenience store (where they even in June carry firewood for sale).

Holiday store firewood

And just after we left the Holiday Store, it started to rain AGAIN! (And it had been such a nice day yesterday…..ack!)

One thing, though, about all the rain we HAVE experienced, is that when it does start to rain now, we’re actually kind of nonplussed about it, and we have a routine worked out that waterproofs everything we have. And again, isn’t that like life?….If you have faced a particular adversity, especially multiple times….and if that adversity comes up AGAIN, you usually have a process, or a strategy…a MATURITY that allows you to be better equipped to handle the familiar challenge.

(Kids take note….no matter WHATEVER challenge you’re facing….more than likely one of your parents has been through it before! Use THEIR experience – you might be surprised at the ideas they have!) Okay…..you want pictures? Here’s us in our stylish rain gear! (Okay, maybe Earline; but me….definitely not!)

Black rain coat

Jon in the rain

The South St. Paul Bike Trail was enjoyable as it traveled along the top of the levee – great views of the river – but it was very poorly marked. There were many forks in the road, and it was often unclear which way to turn. Even ran into this detour:

Closed St Paul Trail

(Ooooo – just saw a very pretty lightning bolt flash in the sky to the south. Wonder if I could catch a picture of it. Hey, wait! AH….you don’t suppose that it is headed THIS direction! Hmmmm.)

We weren’t the only ones on the trail – met this fellow toodling down the same direction:

Turtle on the trail

Even saw this flock of BUZZARDS beside the trail…..so who are THEY waiting for…..expired cycliists????!!!!

Buzzards along the trail

There is a bike trail under construction along Concord Avenue, and one of the locals said the plan was to build it all the way to Hastings (that would be wonderful). For now, though, it’s county roads for the MRT, and some of them have a LOT of traffic.

Went past this road bank FULL of bull thistles…….what??!!??

Side hill full of bull thistles

Can someone explain this to me? It looks to me like they were obviously planted…..to hold soil? But when I think of the thousands, or millions of seeds that these thistles will release….the neighborhoods around this area can NOT be happy!

Later on, we saw some beautiful landscaping with some of the development entry ways. Maybe some ideas for the DAH Nursery folks? (Deaf Anointed Hands)….(bet they’re fussing at the thistle people!)….

DAH Nursery signage landscaping example

DAH Nursery example left of sign

Later we met three gentlemen at the A&W, across from a WalMart, and one of them made a contribution to GHA….thanks!

We also passed this man-made lake, as a result of Lock and Dam #2:

Trike on dam ridge

Speaking of Mission Possible, one Biblical guy who did a lot of seemingly impossible things was Samson, like killing a thousand Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone, or lifting the city gates of Gaza. (Can you think of more?)

Well, these 2 silos reminded me of the last day of Samson’s life…..what do YOU think? [Judges 16:29-30] Like Samson, YOU TOO can do seemingly impossible things!

Jon pushing silos CLOSEup

Jon pushing silos

Arriving in Hastings, we had a chance to look over the bridge we had to cross. Here’s Earline studying the bridge:

Hastings Bridge coming up

Earline look at Hastings Bridge

What some of you may not know, is that Earline is terribly afraid of bridges, even with a car! So this Mission Possible tour is a VERY BIG stretch for her! To PROVE ALL things are possible, here’s proof – Bridge #25:

Bridge25

YOU CAN DO THIS!

You CAN do this thumbs up

Yes, ALL Things are possible!!!!!!!

TAH DAH on Hastings bridge

She was actually literally crying after we made it over the bridge, but SHE DID IT! (BTW, the arms outstretched photo was HER idea.)

(Wonder what the guy in the blue semi-truck was thinking?!)

We went over our first drawbridge as we went over the St. Croix River going into Wisconsin. And, yes, you could see right through the grate to the river below!

First drawbridge weve gone over

You can see thru

[Hmmmm….I did not count this bridge….should I??!!…..It was certainly bigger than a lot of the bridges we went over in Northern Minnesota!]

Also saw this interesting lift bridge next to the drawbridge:

Lift bridge over the St Croix

When we got into Prescott, Wisconsin, coming out of a gas station store were this father and daughter waiting for us, curious about the trikes. (By the way, there was a Dairy Queen in Prescott….number 6!)

Dairy Queen in Prescott

Even met Sheila on her bicycle just on the outskirts of town….Cathy Lemand, isn’t this your twin?

Cathy Lemand twin

Okay….back to the father and daughter at the gas station. Kelly (the daughter, who also owns the tattoo parlor in town) asked Earline if we had a place to stay (we didn’t) and she asked her dad if we could stay in the trailer home that she wasn’t using!

Wow! It was wonderful! (Yes, God is good….here’s some photos):

Trailer in box canyon

Box canyon

Notice the flat thing on the grass on the right hand side? It is a trampoline. They got tired of kids falling off, so they dug a hole, and made it safer for everybody. How about that!

They even had a chicken coop that creative Kelly and her sister had decorated up:

Colorful chicken coop

The chickens were so proud of their home, they thought they were PETS! [Creepy, TOO friendly pets, if you ask me! Ha!]:

Chickens thought they were pets

They even painted the outhouse (though Earline wasn’t so sure about using it, no matter HOW nice it was painted!):

Colorful OUTHOUSE

And the back story behind the little box canyon is extraordinary….it used to be literally FILLED with over 600,000 tires!!!! Here’s the dad, Dan Geister, who with HIS dad in a year’s time personally removed about 70,000 of the tires. He said local farmers built up berms with the tires. Eventually, I believe he said it was the county who brought in heavy equipment and removed the rest in 2 weeks.

Dan Geister and Jon

Many stories and laughs were exchanged, a good night’s sleep was enjoyed, and in the morning, they left a contribution for GHA sitting on the seat of one of the trikes!

THANKS guys!!!

May God bless you MUCH for your warmth and hospitality!

TGG,

jon

Day 19 [St. Paul, MN]

SATURDAY, JUNE 19, 2010

Okay, okay……yes, it was my birthday, and thanks to ALL of you who sent greetings….it helped make the day special!

How old am I? 67…..and as Earline says, “Don’t I look good??!!”

Okay, okay…..I learned that from a cosmetologist who said that whenever people asked her about her age, she always ADDED 10 years. She said that THEN people would tell her how WONDERFUL she looked, and she said she liked getting the compliments!! Ha!

We went to the Cancer Awareness seminar at the New Hope Baptist Church this morning, and had a very informative session on some of the details, characteristics, and contributing factors of this disease. Makeisha Nesbitt from the American Cancer Society was the MOST EXCELLENT facilitator:

ACS facilitator at conf

On our way to the cancer Awareness seminar, we went right past the Minnesota State Capitol Building (yes, the skies look threatening, but surprise…..we DID NOT get rained on today…..YEA!!):

Capitol building in St Paul

Uncle A had a chance to test drive the trike:

Uncle A test drive

And Earline met someone at the seminar who spelled her name EXACTLY the same way! Here’s Earline AND Earline:

Earline AND Earline

On the way back to the house, after making some printed copies of our new survey, we went a different way and what should we see but……a DAIRY QUEEN! (Number 5, for those of you who are keeping count!)

I had, yes, a Brownie Batter Blizzard (Torin, wish you could’ve been here! I had a spoonful in your remembrance….ha!). But you know, what is INTERESTING about that is…..earlier in the day, I had teasingly said that I was ‘praying’ for brownies…..and look what God made available!! Who says that He is not intimately involved with the details in our lives!

I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  I have found that when I stop praying, the coincidences stop happening!

Cousin Jhawn stopped by for a photo op:

Jhawn with J and E

We’ve decided to stay and go to church tomorrow with Uncle and Auntee, and then head south early on Monday.

Thru God’s Grace alone,

jon