Day 14 [North Hollywood – Pompano Beach, FL]

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014

[Distance traveled: 18 miles]

Happy Thursday!

[By the way, if you want to be on our mailing list, just text GHA on your phone to 42828 to get started. That will then ask you for your e-mail address, and we can get you on the list!]

It was raining when we woke up [ACK!], so we packed for rain, but it DID stop before we got on the road, and we did not have rain all day, so we were grateful.

But the WIND! Ooooooofta!

[Okay, Ric, how am I REALLY supposed to spell it?!]

Riding into the wind all day, so, yes, it was a STRUGGLE.

And then, we turned on the news tonight for our first TV in a couple weeks, and everybody’s talking about government crisis, and school killings, and threats to kill police, and I’m thinking, wow, nothing’s changed…or, actually it is getting worse.

Fearful?

Yes, there is reason to be afraid….EXCEPT:

God has COMMANDED us to NOT be afraid….why? [Hint: FEARLESS Song #1]

As I think about the last words of that song, though, I was thinking….does God “go” with EVERYONE? WHEREVER they go?

And then my thoughts go back to the matter of trust….when my son Torin was very young, and he would jump into my arms from a ways away, he trusted me to catch him. No doubt, no fear, and I always did.

But, if he did not jump, could I catch him?

No.

He HAD to jump….and maybe that’s why God said we should have faith like a child. [Matthew 19:14 in the Amplified version: “But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed.”

So God is THERE, He is available, but we still have to jump. WE have to trust.

And today, we had MUCH evidence of what happens when you trust God….as we left the motel this morning, Earline stopped to give a flyer to the young man who did her nails yesterday, who believed that Buddhism and Christianity were compatible. [No, they are not, 2+2 cannot equal both 4 and 5.]

Right next door is the SuperCuts where Earline got her hair trimmed yesterday, and she had a chance to share with the young lady from Michigan and her friend that works at Little Caesars about the power of God to FACE your FEARS.

And the young lady from Michigan was moved to tears, and KNEW that God had sent us to give her that message.

Earline with 2 girls front of Supercuts

As we continued down the road, we came to the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

Ft. Lauderdale airport

And then Earline saw something in the road ahead, that jumped into the woods to our right. What was it?

I did not see it….maybe Earline will share about it on her blog [go to earlineblumhagen.com]

[By the way, Earline is also posting on her Facebook page and GHA’s Facebook page, so maybe you will find the answer THERE! Ha!]

She thinks it might have been two baby cougars playing!

There was MUCH construction going on around the airport, especially on the northeast side between the airport and the Port Everglades.

Trying to find way around FT. L airport

I was studying GoogleMaps to find a way around, and saw a route, but the way was blocked, so I went to ask permission to go thru the construction area.

Let us through!

Let me across

Then, we we finally got through the construction, we ran into THIS!

Do NOT Enter

I don’t see THAT on GoogleMaps!

[I guess you can’t always trust GoogleMaps either….ONLY God!]

So we had to go BACK by the construction we just came through, and wind our way through the front of the Port.

Around the entrance to Port Everglades

Stopped at a Firehouse and got a great turkey sub AND they filled all our containers with ice. Thanks, Firehouse!

Then we continued…..WAIT!

Where’d Earline go?

Oh, oh.

There she is.

We had to stop where?

Brand new store, but the prices were not what she expected. [Well it IS in Ft. Lauderdale!]

NOW we continue.

Up a bridge….let’s kick it in!

Oh-oh, another bridge

Oh, the struggle!

The struggle

Made it!

Made it to the top

And the view from the top was nice.

View of cruise ship from top of bridge

View of boats

View from top

But now, it is time to go DOWNHILL!

Wait!

Out of the way!

On a DOWNHILL, MOVE

Ha!

When we got to the beach, the kite surfers were jumping 30 feet in the air, it was so windy!

Earline at Lauderdale beach

Sometimes the condos would protect us from the strong northeast wind, so we were grateful for that.

We had the chance to share our mission with a young man outside of Hess gas station.

Explaining the mission at gas station

And then more of A1A…..

Toodling down A1AAs it was getting dark, Earline’s knee was really hurting again, and we needed a place to stay. But where?

I checked a couple places along the west side of A1A, but they were just too high, or filled up. Lord, we need a place!

So with Earline praying, I checked out another place, and met Nazih and Gabriel. They were both great! AND they gave us an excellent rate. AGAIN we are grateful.

Nazih is 65, and looks in GREAT shape….says he takes vitamins and works out every day [so he appreciated OUR endeavor!].

Gabriel, it turns out, has a sister who is Deaf! His family adopted her when she was 1 and a half years old or so, and the whole family learned sign language. His sister’s name is Jessica, and she is around 31 years old now, and lives in the Tampa area, and is going to a community college down there.

Then we met Donna, who is temporarily living here at Shores Terrace. She’s 28 years old, and originally from New Jersey. She graciously agreed to drive us across the river to 7-11 so Earline could get some coffee! We had much fun talking with her in her clutch-repaired Mustang, and then we had the “adventure” at 7-11….

….Donna had ordered one of 7-11’s scrumptious hot dogs, you know, all smothered with onions and stuff, and the girl behind the counter was great, fixing food, waiting on folks, making pizza, all by herself!

BUT….she thought that Donna was with this other couple standing beside her, so she gave the hot dog to them! I think they may have been from Europe, possibly, and they graciously accepted the hot dog and started eating it!

Donna was wondering where her hot dog was….and as they were trying to figure it out, we have visual evidence of where the dog went!

Donna in 7-11

[Eating Donna’s hot dog it in the background….see it??!!]

The 7-11 hostess finally figured it out, and quickly made another hot dog for Donna, and the couple sheepishly figured out that yes, they had to pay for the extra food they were given.

Much laughter ensued. Ha!

BUt, the real wonder, is that Earline had a chance to share with Donna when we got back to the motel, that with God ALL things are possible, and that she does NOT have to fear, because for those who trust Him, He PROMISES to help them, and strengthen them, WHEREVER they go!

And Donna knew that his was a message just for her.

So know….KNOW that YOUR prayers are being answered.

Continue to pray for Earline’s strength….not only her knee, but her abdomen as well. Not sure if it is her stomach, or what. She had acute pain last night, but was able to find a position in bed that minimized the pain. We did a little research on-line, and found that pancreatitis seemed to best match her symptoms.

But now this morning, she has no pain. So we’re not sure.

We will keep an eye on it, and ask you to pray for wisdom, as well as healing and strength.

We DO KNOW that God is able….and we ask that He continue to bless EACH day.

TGG,

jon

 

Day 10 [Key Largo – Homestead, FL]

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2014

[Distance traveled: 25 miles]

Had a really good night’s sleep at King’s Kamp, and the weather is almost perfect….light breeze, and maybe 75, 80 degrees.

As we were packing, a small C-Class RV pulled up beside us, and it was a young couple from Switzerland! They were in the U.S. for about 3 weeks, and are on their way to Key West.

Earline and Regula had a chance to talk for a while. Regula’s first language is German, so I sprechened a little Deutsch with her. We found out she is a Christian, and an Emergency Room nurse in Switzerland. When we left, we had a chance to have little prayer time with Regula, for their travels and ours.

Regula from Switzerland

After leaving the camp, we went next door to a little eating place called Evelyn’s of Key Largo. What a friendly little restaurant! For those of you familiar with Mr. Quick in Orlando, it was kind of like a fancy Mr. Quick, with a Spanish/Mexican/Keys flavor. [We love Mt. Quick!]

The food was scrumptious, and after we finished eating, one of the waitresses helped Earline fill our water bottles and small igloo with ice. How nice and thoughtful of them! For those of you who read my blog yesterday about customer service….THIS is what I was talking about. THIS is customer service, and we love it! Evelyn’s in Key Largo, about Mile Marker 104, on the north side of the road. Go there, and tell them the Wifi Pedalers sent you!

Headed out of town with bellys full, and fresh ice, and stopped to take a picture of the “You Are Leaving” sign.

Earline take picture of sign

So what exactly does the sign say? Check it out…

Key Largo sign

Oh, NOOOOOOOOOO! Back to reality!!!!!

Ha!

Here’s Earline officially leaving the Keys….you made it! [Only 375 miles to go….whoa!]

Officially leaving the Keys

But we hadn’t even gotten to the first big hill, when….thump, thump!

What?

Did I run over something?

There were some grates along the side of the road, next to the turquoise-painted walls [did you notice?….turquoise – I guess it is a Keys thing].

When I ran over one of those grates, apparently it knocked my tire pump loose, and that’s what I bumped against. Earline picked it up, and it looks like it survived any damage, and I had to reattach it.

Fixing loose pump

NOW we can go over the big hill.

Biggest bridge

When we got to the top, I stuck up my camera to the side and took this picture. [Earline, this is what you didn’t didn’t want to look at….see what you’re missing??!!??] [This is a higher-rez picture.]

Higher rez look over bridge

Then we had fun coming DOWN this hill…got up to 30 MPH going down. WHEEEE!

But that was it pretty much it….over 20 miles of a mostly straight, boring road, and….WAIT!

What does that sign say?

Crocodile crossing

Okay, so let me figure this out.

[Uncle Dan, maybe you can help me with this one.]

First of all, the Florida Department of Transportation wants us to know that there MAY be crocodiles trying to cross the road for the next 6 miles.

Okay, question 1….WHY in the world are they trying to cross the road?

Okay, question 2….if I DO see one trying to cross the road, is there something I am supposed to do?

[This seems especially significant for those of us ON A BICYCLE, OR TRICYCLE, don’t you think??!!?]

Okay, question 3….if I DO see one, and it starts to chase me, can I fight back? This seems to me to be an important fact that I should have figured out BEFORE I actually see one trying to cross the road!

Comments or suggestions are appreciated!

[Isn’t this Mission POSSIBLE Tour called FACING YOUR FEARS? I guess I did not understand that meant I would have to face…a CROCODILE!] [I think song #3 is probably the best song for this situation: “I (God) will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!”….especially if it is high above the jaws of some ornery crocodile!]

By the way, we did NOT see any crocodiles.

Whew!

So, OTHERWISE, it is basically just a straight shot north, and Earline got a nice picture of the skies.

Facinating clouds in hwy 1

By the way, we had to be careful NOT to drink too much water….there are NO services for this stretch through the swamp…no trees to hide behind, no cornfields….you just have got to hold it!

Whew!

There were some rumble grooves along the side, but for the most part they were within 3 feet of the outside white line of the right lane, and then there would be another 4 to 5 feet of blacktop surface OUTSIDE the rumble grooves for us to ride on. So mostly a smooth ride, and this was also very beneficial for Earline and her knee…it got sore again today, but it was almost 10 miles before it really started to bother her.

She does seem to be getting stronger each day. Thanks God!

FINALLY we arrived at the RaceTrak across from Card Sound Road. YES!

We did look for a church to go to a Sunday night service. Found one not too far away, the new Branches United Methodist Church.

But, alas, apparently they do not have a Sunday evening service.

We then stopped at a Bike Hostel we saw just off the bike trail coming from the Keys. They have got quite a set-up their courtyard…impressive! Even a flowing waterfall that you can drink and swim in! [I hear it IS a little chilly, however! Think warm thoughts.]

Hostel

Bike hostel in Homestead

Thanks, Bonnie, for taking the time to show us around! [I hope I remembered your name right!]

She and Earline, of course, HAD to take a selfie:

Bonnie at Bike Hostel

Alas, they didn’t have any private rooms available, so we found somewhere else close by to stay.

One final thought….and this is from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

He writes:

“It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life.”

….”even the most humbling tasks”….

Our routine these days means unpacking and packing the tent, or gathering up scraps of trash, or Earline helping hold the hand pump still while I pump up the air mattress, or rubbing down Earline’s knee, or putting Cortizone on that mosquito bite that the other person just cannot quite reach…

….ALL these tasks should be done to the glory of God. ALL.

What are some humbling tasks that YOU do? What are you doing where there is “no one paying even the remotest attention to”….THAT is “the true test of a saint’s life.”

May all YOUR tasks today be done in “faithfulness” with gratitude and thanks to God.

“God…working in us.”

Thanks again to ALL of you for your prayers and support.

TGG,

jon

Day 9 [Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe Key – Key Largo]

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2014

[Distance traveled: 23 miles]

Liquid nitrogen, killer lobsters, and sexy mannequins make up the news from today’s adventures in Facing Your Fears, the 2014 Mission POSSIBLE Tour!

We got kind of a late start today, because I was up until 4:30am working on the blog. [We slept in a little!]

What? A new element in the periodic table?

Cream in the periodic table

It is actually a new ice cream place called SubZero. I happened to stop by the place last night on the way to CVS to grab a Ginger Ale for Earline. Look at these tanks!

Liquid nitro tanks

Yes, folks, that IS liquid nitrogen. [Torin! Remember the freeze pops soaked in liquid nitrogen on the Tiger Cruise? That is some cold liquid!]

In this store it flows out of these faucets into bowls that the attendant shapes into a scoop or two of ice cream.

SUBZERO faucets

Interesting! [And yes, it also tasted quite good!]

Guess who we saw on the road today? James and Paula from the Campground at Long Key. Good to see you!

More bike trail construction detours today, including this one past the marine mammal theatre in Islamorada.

Marine mammal park

Not to be outdone by the mammals, this huge crustacean made its presence known!

Killer lobster

Hey, nephew Dexter! Of DEXAIR fame….we saw this sign on the side of the road….it looks like you have a long lost cousin!

REXAIR

Right on the bike path, we found this Tom Thumb and found chocolate milk, $2 subs, and Honey Buns. Okay, we are happy.

Tom Thumb

We also went across our first drawbridge of this trip. It brought back scary memories of the drawbridge in St. Augustine from our 2011 Mission POSSIBLE Tour.

First drawbridge

We saw this mannequin along the road next to a place that said “Antiques,” and Earline….well, I will let you write your OWN caption for this one!

[Send it to Earline on Facebook!]

Earline and

Finally arrived at the JP State Park about 30 minutes before they closed, but unlike the other parks, they refused to let us in.

JP Coral Reef SP

They said they were full, and that Boy Scouts were in their primitive area….so in 53,000 acres, you only have one primitive area? And you have no accommodations for bikers? [Or trikers?]

[As one State Park official earlier this week put it, they understand that bikers and kayakers may not know exactly when they will reach a certain destination, because of the slow speed that they travel.] [JP Coral Reef SP was the ONLY State Park that would not accept us.]

Here on the Keys you have what is supposedly the most bike-friendly area in Florida, that has a multi-million-dollar bike trail that we saw being worked on this past week, and it goes right past your front door, but you have no room for bikers in your facility?

Hmmmm.

I understand that this is the busiest park in Florida, but this sounds like another taxpayer-funded program that has let success go to their head. If you are not hungry enough, you won’t do whatever it takes to provide the best customer service possible.

Clark Howard on his radio show calls it “customer-no-service.”

See John 13:4-17. [I’ve included a link here in The Message version.] Jesus sets the PATTERN for us. It is servanthood, thinking of others as better than yourself, and being willing to help them, love them, to do what THEY need, over your own needs. Philippians 2 shows the depth of what Jesus did for us: “When the time came, He [Jesus] set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life…”

Okay, that’s enough rant….I am sure that the ranger we spoke to was following the rules, and doing her job, and that she will probably sleep okay tonight, but having owned a business myself, the MINUTE that you think you don’t need to be the best “servant” you can be for your customers, your business will deteriorate, and you have literally STOLEN from your clients the time and attention that they deserve.

NOW I am finished with my rant.

Sigh.

The ranger DID provide us with a list of other camping facilities in the area, though many on the list did NOT accept tents, or were ten or more miles away, and 30 minutes before sunset were laughably not viable alternatives for us.

Ride in the dark? Don’t want to do THAT!

But God….

We only had a few choices on the list, and only ONE that was close, that accepted tents, AND was in the direction we wanted to go [not backwards]. So that is where we headed, and after asking a few people for help finding it, we DID find it, AND they had 4 tent spaces available.

But God knew our needs, even BEFORE we asked Him. [See Matthew 6:8]

Kings Kamp. They were nice. They were helpful.

And they are privately owned. Hmmmm.

Thanks, God. We appreciate it….we truly do.

Settled in for the night, and had our tent set up, and showers taken, and IN the tent before 8pm.

[Now we DID have some interesting entertainment from some drunk, cussing young people playing “Sweet Home Alabama” at VERY high decibels at 10:30pm….but I’ll let Earline share those details with you.]

Ha!

Grateful, yes, grateful for another day’s journey.

TGG,

jon

Day 1 [Key West, FL]

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2014

A very special day today, as our 2014 MPT got underway….I would have to describe it as seeing the Bible come alive, to see God’s Word demonstrably presented in a number of ways.

DJ got up early to enjoy a beautiful sunrise and get bitten by thousands of mosquitoes. Ha!

Sunrise at Coppitt Key

He then headed back home so he could be there in time to pick up Zaria and Isaiah after school. And after he left, Earline sat here with tears in her eyes because DJ told her “he got it!”, that he was really starting to understand what mission work is all about, about making yourselves available for HIS purposes, whatever that might be.

I spoke this morning on Facebook briefly how, even though we don’t deserve it, God is being KIND to us again at the beginning of THIS tour, like He did in 2010, because He provided the Keys Presbyterian Church apartment as a wonderful retreat place for us to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for our upcoming journey.

East side of church

One interesting characteristic of this location, is that there is a naval training center/airport just a few miles southwest of here, and as soon as it gets light, you will experience pilots taking off in their F-18s [think Top Gun movie]. No sleeping in around here! Ha!

We walked to a little restaurant a couple blocks away, where it looked like a lot of locals were going and had a GREAT lunch. [Great idea to always look for where the locals go!]

Even found a place next door with microwavable ice cream! [See, Earline isn’t the only one who microwaves her ice cream….hmmm!]

Shake

Pastor Bill then picked us up, along with a ministry friend, John Dunn, and we headed to Mallory Square, on the northwest tip of the island.

Pastor Bill and John Dunn

Pastor Bill then set up his board…he said they discovered the plans for the easel he was using in the ancient ruins at Ephesus, Turkey, of how to construct this board presentation that apparently Paul used when ministering to the Greeks in the Roman Empire. [smile]

Prepping the boards

He also said Peter, though, wasn’t a big fan of the easel board presentation of the Gospel.

HA!

A lot of expensive water craft can be seen from here.There is also apparently a speed boat festival going on this week that draws a lot of people [and vendors.]

Girl and daughter with speedboat

sailboat

Coconut lady

Including this guy who was apparently telling everybody their future [wonder if he ever plays the lottery?!?].

Future guy

I found this gentlemen over by the restrooms, with orchestration coming from his little portable speaker, as he played along on his wooden flute “Ave Maria.” He was quite good!

Ave Maria flute

Pastor Bill does about a 20 minute presentation a little before sunset, and then another one right after. He has several topics he can do, and this first one he did was called Two Religions.

Two religions pres

Pastor Bill comes alive when he’s preaching….and he was just coming straight from the Bible. Simple Gospel message. It really was fascinating to watch! Some people would stop and watch, most would just saunter past, sometimes right in from of him while he’s talking!

[By the way, Pastor Mills, I am not sure which is you is more “height-challenged”, but I think Pastor Bill might have you beat! But as with you, sometimes the best comes in small packages. Pastor Bill is actually an avid swimmer, and 63 times has swum the 12 miles around the island of Key West! He said it takes him about 6 hours. Whoa! In fact, in September 2009, as far as he knows, he was the FIRST person to swim across the Sea of Galilee from north to south, a distance of about 14 miles. He said it was tough, especially when the wind picked up – it took him about 10 hours.]

After Pastor Bill’s first presentation, everybody then was calling attention to the gorgeous sunset, apparently awed by what they were seeing, but oblivious to the One who MADE what they were seeing.

Sundown

So, how many people were watching?

Sunset watchers

Then Pastor Bill did his second presentation, this one called “Is God Narrow-Minded?”

Pastor Bill starts narrow minded

Narrow minded pres

Sometimes people will react to him. Some will ask questions, some will make fun of him, most will just ignore. All the while John Dunn would be there PRAYING….John is a member of Pastor Bill’s church. John had a bad accident up in New York some 30 years ago, and he is in an increasingly tough physical condition, and yet he has been doing this with Pastor Bill for 28 years. Wow!

Earline and John

So, what’s the point?

It is like Paul told his tearful friends in Ephesus after he had ministered there for 3 years, and knew he would never see them again:

From Acts 20: When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Pastor Bill puts it out there….he is being faithful to preach. But it is the Spirit that changes the hearts: “a change of heart produced by the Spirit” it says in Romans 2:29.

And Jesus plainly stated, in John 16:8-9, some of His LAST WORDS to His disciples, that:

And when He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me.

So, share the Truth, tell the Good News, and let the Spirit do His work…because the PROMISE is:

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It WILL accomplish all I want it to, and it WILL prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

And that TRULY is Good News!

Okay, time to pack up!

Tearing down

[Are you sure that piece goes in there? Ha, after 3 times a week for 28 years, I think he’s got it!]

Thanks, Pastor Bill, and thanks, KEM, for letting us join in your ministry.

[Tomorrow we trike over to Key West!]

TGG,

jon

Day -2 [Orlando, FL] “Facing Your Fears” – The 2014 Mission POSSIBLE Tour

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2014 [Day -2 for our 2014 Mission POSSIBLE Tour]

Wow! A busy couple weeks.

Getting ready to prep Earline’s trike today, make sure everything’s in working order. We leave on Thursday!

Prepping Earline trike, Day negative 2

I did also want to tell you about a GREAT resource that I knew nothing about, but should be known in the Christian community. We found out about it through All Pro Dad’s, a Family First program that had Tony Dungy, who used to coach football in the NFL, for the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, with the Colts, he was the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl.

All Pro Dads made the decision to PAY for all of the leaders of All Pro Dad groups across the nation AND their spouses, for our 3-day retreat at this place [which made it even more special, don’t ya know!]. There were approximately 70 to 80 group leaders that decided to take advantage of the retreat week.

There was a lady named Martha Berry, a philanthropist who established a school/working farm for very poor children in Southern Appalachia in the early 1900’s, designed to give them Bible teaching and a place to learn good work ethics. She died in the 40’s, but the school continued, eventually becoming a college named Berry College, the largest acreage college in the world, at over 25,000 acres, almost 50 square miles of land. [That’s like from Orlando, to Cocoa, to Daytona, to Deland, to Orlando…..we are talking a BIG campus!]

In the 80’s, Truett Cathy and the Cathy family of Chick-fil-A fame started the WinShape Foundation, which converted the existing farm buildings into a retreat center for boys and girls camps, foster homes, and marriage retreats. There are over a dozen marriage retreats that take place each year, and organizations like Family Life and 5 Love Languages take part. There is even a retreat for engaged couples, or a retreat for couples who are separated and contemplating divorce. Truly an amazing place, a simply GORGEOUS campus, and a first-class facility.

[And even if you have to pay for it, the prices we found were quite reasonable!]

So a special thanks to the Cathy family for OUR retreat, and for the continued investment you make in kids and marriages….wonderful!

Here are some photos from that retreat:

WinShape sign

WinShape campus

Now we are talking about the Northwest Georgia in October, and the fall foliage was extraordinary.

Colors in north Georgia

There was an obstacle course on campus, for the kids and marriage retreats [yes, I was tempted to climb it…ha!].

Obstacle course

What was REALLY neat, however, were the Scripture signs that were WAAAAAAAAAY at the tops of the trees, I guess that could only be seen when you were using the zip lines up in the trees. One of the signs was this reference from Matthew 14, a right-on-time message for OUR upcoming MPT:

Matthew 14,27 sign

As I mentioned, for about 70 years this was a WORKING dairy farm. In front of the main lodge, there was this statue [Jyl, Cressa – does this look familiar to you?!]:

Statue of girl feeding calf

There were some large photos hanging on the the walls of some of the buildings [I guess they had mostly Jerseys and Guernseys from the photos I saw]:

Cows on the farm

And here are some pictures of the retreat center as it is today:

Normandy Inn on campus

Actual working dairy

Earline and Jon in auditorium

 

These rooms were among the top 3 cleanest rooms that we have EVER stayed in! [The true test is when even Earline does not feel compelled to pull out her can of Lysol, don’t ya know!}

Bedroom in WinShape

And, of course, Earline HAD to do a selfie!

Earline selfie at WinShape

OKAY! Check out the WinShape Retreat Center in Rome / Mount Berry, Georgia.

Now I have to get back to work on the trikes…putting liners in the tires, tightening and lubricating everything that needs it. Clock’s ticking!

ONLY through God’s grace,

jon

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Because my internet provider discontinued the blog software I was using, I am having to REDO the entire WiFi Pedaler BLOG, updating it with entries from our 2010 Mission Possible Tour on the MRT, our 2011 Mission Possible Tour in NE Florida, AND preparing it for the NEXT trip in November 2014. Please be patient, and come back often, as we will be providing YOU with new examples, and encourage YOU that “With God, ALL things ARE possible!” [Even updating this entire blog….whew!]

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 92 ADDENDUM [From THE Sign, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010 ADDENDUM

Both Earline and I are SO grateful to all of you for your prayers, your financial support, your openness to give of your time and share whatever you had to make this whole 2010 Mission Possible Tour a success. Even something as simple as access to the internet, or ice and water for our water bottles meant more to us than you realize, and we thank you ALL!

Jon and Earline at sign 2

We’re staying with “Sistah Eva” in New Orleans, I’ll be finishing the final 2 days of the blog tonight, and we’ll be headed back to Orlando by Greyhound tomorrow.

It is important to us that we take the time to share with YOU some of the things we’ve learned this summer, to give you the opportunity to share in the lessons that God taught us through the trials, the frustrations, the joys and the circumstances that revealed His mind and His character to us.

It’s been humbling, it’s been scary, it’s been funny, and it’s been comforting to know that God truly IS concerned about the intimate details of EACH of our lives. He cares about you, and you, and YOU!

Give us a week or so to get our thoughts together, as we ourselves go back over the blog to help us remember the events of each day, and we’ll blog those lessons that you can benefit from, as well as some fun things like our favorite eating places (including one we just found YESTERDAY), the scariest of the 42 bridges we went over (oooooooo….you can probably guess this one), our most inspirational moments, or what it is like to ride a recumbent trike all that distance, the clothes and tools that you SHOULD take on a tour (as well as what NOT to take), and our favorite memories from the Tour.

THANKS AGAIN, and we’ll talk to you soon!

ONLY Through God’s Grace,

jon

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

MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010

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

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

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

Leaving Canal Blvd DBC

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

Cemetery on Canal blvd

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

Oh no rain on Canal St

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

In the French Quarter

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

Bourbon Street

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

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

New Orleans mess 1

Gas station

Weed

Charles Colton middle school

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

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

Rough street and church

…..and this Think Positive sign.

Think positive

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

Urban Organics

And then, we saw ANOTHER casino….

Another casino

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

It comes from the game.

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

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

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

‘Nuff said.

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

Gas industry

More industrial areas

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

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

Camp site at St Bernhard State Park

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

TGG,

jon

Day 90 [New Orleans, LA]

SUNDAY, AUGUST 29, 2010

We were OUT last night, and didn’t hear EITHER of our phone alarms. But God DID wake us up around 6:45, which gave us enough time to clean up and pack up our gear to get ready for the Sunday School class that we were told started at 9:30.

Hall clean up

Conversing before Sunday school

About 9:40 or so, I asked when does Sunday School start, and they said that their teacher was out of town at a funeral.

Okay.

So Earline asked if they needed a Sunday School teacher….she said SHE’D teach….and she did! AND it was an excellent lesson!

Earline teach SS

Thank-you, God.

We headed next door to the sanctuary. “Sistah” Eva was already there, and it was good to see her! [Eva is the sister of Diana Stewart who used to live in New Orleans before Katrina, but now lives in Orlando and attends our home church of Mt. Sinai MBC.]

Church before service

The Deaf church service started out with hip-hop singing from the Pastor Lovas’ wife, Barbara. (Lisa McClung, you would love this service!)

Barbara leads worship

Pastor Lovas was the object of somebody’s height-challenged joke!

Height challenged

Earline and I did the entire Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Jesus found in every book of the Bible segment. Pastor got up and talked about the 5-year anniversary of Hurrricane Katrina, and how the sanctuary we were sitting in had almost 4 feet of water in it. He showed a slide show with a bunch of before and after pictures.

Before after photos of Katrina

Afterwards we had a time of snacks and fellowship in the hall where we were staying…..there were actually several people from other churches, even hearing churches, who came to the hall to fellowship with THIS church….interesting!

[Was it the food?]

Afterwards Sistah Eva took Earline and I out to eat at Appleby’s, and then to HER place to wash some of our wet clothes, and for me to get some more blogging done. [Diana, Earline was talking with YOU on the phone when I took this picture!]

Cousin sister Eva

Cousin sister Eva in kitchen

Thanks, Eva! God used you!!

She also drove us past Rev. Stewart’s refurbished house where brother Philip now lives.

Refurbished Stewart house

When we got back to the church hall I decided to take advantage of the fast internet access here, and I stayed up to 6:30am getting the blog caught up – took a nap, and then finished up yesterday’s thoughts to be current. It is about noon, Day 91 now, and we are packing up to head out on the last 2 days of our Mission Possible Tour.

Since we may not find any more internet access, I will blog short segments from my phone [as long as I have phone service!]. The goal is to be at the “Southernmost Point in Louisiana” sign by tomorrow night. We’re excited! Pray us through! We love you!

TGG,

jon