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

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

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

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

Goodbye to Big Al

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

Morning patrons

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

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

State 10 again

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

Our last state line cossing

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

Friend of GHA

FARM IMPLEMENT LAWN ORNAMENT alert!

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

Cultivator maybe

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

10 mile construction zone

Construction

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

Motorcycle guy 1

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

Sent owner in for coffee

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

Rumble grooves 1

Rumble grooves on single lane

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

Past the construction

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

Fresh coon

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

Exxon Mobile 1

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

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

Jack in the Box rainbow

Rainbow downtown

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

MRT sign in BR

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

BR bridge 1

BR bridge 2

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

Gavan Jackson

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

Famous LSU campus and cow

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

Reggies

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

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

1st Baptist Deaf church

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

Sleep on nursery floor

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

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

TGG,

jon

Day 79 [Lake Providence, LA – Vicksburg, MS]

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010

Woke up as it was getting light (really warm again last night) and I realized there were DARK CLOUDS from the south headed straight for us!
[Okay, so I didn’t get a picture of THESE clouds, but this sample will suffice…ha!]
[I was….concerned.]
[I really DO hate getting wet.]
[ESPECIALLY when packing!]
[Enough parentheses!]

During the night, we decided that sleeping in our trikes again was NOT an option, so we went around from the front to the back of the church, and set up the tent, and got a FEW hours of sleep!

Spurred on by the approaching dark clouds, we quickly got packed (whoops….so fast that I didn’t get a picture! The tent was right behind where the trikes are.)……

Site behind church

…..and headed TOWARDS the rain. [I know, I know….] Really dark clouds…..but they seemed to kinda dissolve as we rode towards them. Thank you, Mt. Zion Baptist Church for being a place of refuge for us that you didn’t even realize. May God bless you!

Saw this interesting marquee at a church further down the road:

Marquee about texting

I think that message is pretty clear, huh!?!!

Okay, Earline wanted me to go back and take a picture of this armadillo.

Dead armadillo

Yes, the joys of riding in the open air.

We did see (and SMELL!) a fair amount of road kill on our entire trip, and most were in various stages of decay. This one was intact yet for the most part, before the flies and sun got to him. Death is something we saw almost every day on our trip, and death is something we ALL will experience and have to go through.  Best to think about it now while there is time. [See Ecclesiastes 7:2]

Farm equipment lawn ornament alert!

Farm implement lawn ornament mower

And yet again!

FILO rake

The logging industry also seems to be pretty big in this area….note this L-L-L-L-O-O-O-O-N-N-N-N-G-G-G-G stretch of logs:

BIG pile of logs

One thing we had taken note of in Bob’s Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail is that this stretch of Highway 65 would have a good number of eating places and food service. Because we are moving slower than your average bicyclist this is an important factor for us when choosing a route. (ESPECIALLY ice on these hot summer days is like GOLD to us – the small IGLOO that we picked up a few weeks ago south of West Memphis TRULY was a God-send.)

So small rural roads may be good for weekend trips, or small excursions, and appropriately marked as part of the MRT…..longer, slower, and UNSUPPORTED trips like ours have a much higher need for services – food, water, bathrooms, even ELECTRICITY to charge our phones are things one has to consider when planning a trip like this.

Unfortunately, one of the things we have experienced this summer is that MANY of these roadside eating places and convenience stores have been hit hard by the economy, and closed doors are NOT good for us. Along Highway 65 we saw closed shop after closed shop. The convenience store/cafe in Transylvania…..closed. Other shops along the way…..closed. Between the truck stop we were at last night just south of Lake Providence and Tallulah, a distance of almost 30 miles, there was nothing.

Nothing.

We finally did reach Tallulah, and after getting a couple things at the IGA there, Earline noticed a couple ladies signing in their car in the parking lot. We had the opportunity to talk with them for a good hour, discussing their situation, as well as Deaf culture issues.

They talked about the pathetic lack of services available locally for the Deaf. (If I remember right, they were part of a group of four Deaf that lived together in Sondheimer, Louisiana. They said they had to go to Monroe or Baton Rouge for any services for the Deaf.)

Thank you, Lord, for the timing that allowed us to have this discussion with them! Here’s Elsie and her friend….

Earline with Elsie and her friend

Signing at the IGA

Elsie and Earline

2 Deaf ladies at the IGA

I did not want to be TOO obtrusive with my picture taking, but I did want to get a few photos.

I found out later that they had actually asked US for money….[little did they know!…heh].

BUT, Earline was compassionate, and gave her some of the few dollars we had. God, please bless our kindness…you KNOW our situation.

What do those of you who are Deaf think? Was it a good idea to give her money or not?

We decided to stop in at the Popeyes to grab a quick, inexpensive lunch with the few dollars we had left, and WHILE WE WERE IN LINE ordering our food, Alvin Taylor, our contact from attorney Willie Griffin in Greenville, called from Vicksburg, and said he heard that we were eating at the Popeyes in Tallulah.

WHAT??!!

(HA!…..you never know WHO’S watching you!)

He said that everything was set up [after the casino checked out our web site and confirmed that GHA was a 501(c)(3)] for us to stay in a nice room at one of the casinos in Vicksburg – a WARM SHOWER, a SOFT BED, AND an evening meal and breakfast…..YEAH!

[And I MUST interject here, that I strongly feel that God here was almost IMMEDIATELY answering our prayer to bless our earlier giving….one of those “coincidences” that kept happening to us time and time again along this journey. Just awesome….really!]

AND, it turns out that Mr. Taylor not only knew and had been talking with our evangelist contact Gertrude, but that he ALSO KNEW my contact with the Vicksburg Bridge Commission, Herman Smith, and had been in touch with him! He said he’d meet us up on the other side of the bridge.

Wow….

We took the old US 80 highway about 20 miles over to the old bridge (still a fairly busy road with a number of semis, so be careful.) I seem to remember getting drizzled on a little bit between Tallulah and the bridge, but it was light….and I was GRATEFUL!

Came up to the closed bridge, and Herman Smith was waiting for us.

Entrance to bridge 42 with Herman Smith

Herman helped me load the trikes on the pickup, and we headed across the bridge:

Herman Smith helping unload our trikes

Even though this bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic for some time, there IS a train that runs across it several times a day. And it gets used a lot by various cycling groups. They just have to have a permit / permission / insurance waiver to use it. [An EXPENSIVE permit, from what I understand.] It seems that this bridge is the only bridge across the Mississippi River that is owned entirely by a municipality, county or city. There is apparently a legal battle going on between Warren County which wants to open it up to pedestrian traffic, and the railroad, which doesn’t. It should soon be decided by the courts.

Here, then, are some photos of Bridge #42 (is this our LAST bridge over the MR?…..we’ll see!) (We even happened to catch a train going over at the same time!):

Vicksburg bridge over MR with train

Bridging the gaps over 42

Herman and Jon front of Warren County truck

So, welcome to Vicksburg, Mississippi! (back in State #9)

Mr. Taylor was indeed in the parking lot waiting for us, and led us straight to the casino. What I didn’t realize is that Vicksburg is hilly! In fact, it reminded us of Burlington, Iowa, with all of the hilly streets.

Down Down along the river

Mr. Taylor helped us get checked in, along with some special attention from Lana at the front desk!

Checking in at the hotel

Lana at front desk

Alvin even helped us move our baggage up to the room…..he was SO HELPFUL!….he truly became our special angel with his kindness and helpfulness. He was like an armor-bearer that waited on us with exactly what we needed. He is retired from the Army Corp of Engineers, where he helped with the regulation of levels and study of the Mississippi River. He is now a GOLFER who represents various companies, and has a handicap of only 5 (Pastor Mills, that’s pretty good, right?!!)

Helping us check in

Oh, and did you notice he’s 6 foot 6?!?! Ha! This photo maybe shows it better:

Alvin and Earline

We had a WONDERFUL buffet down in the restaurant, and had a chance a chance to share with some people that Alvin brought to meet us…..he actually became one of our best advocates!

Advocate

2 ladies at dinner

Mickey the Sous Chef even stopped by…..by the way, the broccoli and cheese soup was absolutely scrumptious!

Mickey the Sous Chef

Headed up to nice, dry, soft, bed….exactly what we needed after spending 2 nights sleeping on the ground……thanks, Alvin, And thank you, God, for bringing into our world people who can provide exactly what we need.

TGG,

jon

Day 75 [Great River Road State Park, MS – Greenville, MS]

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 2010

[Again, please excuse our dust as we work around grammatical and technical issues…when we DO get somewhere that has reliable wifi, we will update this blog with correct paragraph spacing and a WHOLE BUNCH of photos (there are already 500 photos here), so check back often!]

Do you realize that there are only about 2 weeks left in our Mission Possible Tour? Hard to believe!

And have you seen the video yet of Earline and I from Day 71 at the Tom Sawyer Campground just south of West Memphis, Arkansas? The link to its posting on YouTube can be found right on the top center of the Home Page of this web site (see if you notice the “something” floating down the river behind us as we’re talking!).

Back to the Great River Road State Park….it should be closed.

As we were coming in at midnight last night, a truck pulled beside us on the road inside the dark park, and said we needed to pay $20, or something like that. It was late [and I don’t remember if we even HAD $20, but we said we’d take care of it in the morning.] [Plus we didn’t know who these folks really were!]

Good thing we didn’t, because I don’t really even think the place was open, and SHOULD be closed, at least until there is some major clean-up completed.

The campground is filthy….I won’t belabor the point, but here are some photos, including from the dining and office area which signage says was open daily, but it was locked down and the doors were chained.

Lonely campsite in GRR State Park

Blown light

Torn shower curtain

3 lights out of 18 working

Plateless socket

Busted railing

Chains on door

Appropriately so, even the bugs know this place needs prayer. I saw my first ever praying mantis, and he hung around our campsite almost all morning.

Praying mantis

Had our morning breakfast of Vienna Sausages and Spam….yummm…..

Vienna sausage

[….doesn’t Earline look excited??!!] Left the campsite and checked the main area.

GRR SP pretty place empty1

I mean, as this last picture shows, it is a pretty area…..that’s the Mississippi River way in the background….but even this area around the office was unkept – cobwebs and leaves unswept, sidewalks cluttered….and totally empty. Really left you with a sad, sick feeling.

Has the economy hurt them as well? Is there mismanagement going on here? Not sure….someone later in the day told us that Hurricane Gustav a few years ago had completely flooded out the place, so maybe that’s part of it….or ALL of it.

Just be forewarned….do NOT bother to go to this mess [in less you check first and see if repairs have been done]….

….and WE proceeded to head south towards Greenville [where my phone should be waiting!]….little knowing….

…..what special things God had in mind for our week to come!!

As we left the Great River Road Campground [the ONLY one leaving, ‘cuz no one else was staying there!], we saw a house with some people around 80–100 yards away [maybe the ones from last night?], and we waved good-bye, but we didn’t go any closer.

As we exited the campground, we saw a payment box, so we left one or two dollars in the box along with a “concerned” note about the campground.

Only right to leave SOMETHING, right?

It is HOT again today….we heard 105 was the forecast. Earline and I still have our umbrellas goin’ on.

Under umbrella at GRRSP

We saw our first farm equipment lawn ornament [FILO] that we had seen in several weeks. [I think they need some pointers, tho, from the folks up north!]

Notice the feisty guard dog protecting the FILO!

Lawn ornament cultivator with dog

At a convenience store in the little village of Beulah, and were again talking to many of the patrons of the store, when we met music minister Eldridge Jenkins. Looking for a church to go to tomorrow morning, we asked him what church he recommended in Greenville, and he didn’t hesitate: Zion Baptist Church, apparently one of the churches where he rotates as music minister.

We called the pastor, and after several tries with our on-again-off-again phone service, we were able to get thru. He recommended the Salvation Army as a place to stay (not what we were hoping for….but we were fine with ANYPLACE God led us.)

Yet another beautiful sunset (The heavens reveal His glory!).

Sunset north of Greenville

It was again dark as we pulled into town (but not nearly as late as last night – only about 9pm). We went to the Salvation Army…we had been trying to call them all late afternoon and evening, but no answer.

And now, no one came to the door. Hmmm.

Weird.

Salvation Army in Greenville

We called Pastor back, but it went to his answering machine.

Okay.

Maybe they’ve gone to bed….now what?

Should we find the church and camp out, like we did at Beech Grove in Kentucky?

What other option is there?

Suddenly, they called back. They had been outside, talking to relatives. They were going to come by with their pickup, and transport us to the local Fire Station #1!! (It turns out the pastor’s wife works downtown and called the Fire Chief for us!)

So the Pastor and his wife showed up at the Salvation Army with their big pick-up truck, we loaded our trikes in the back, and they drove us down to the fire station.

They suggested setting up our tent on the grounds, but the guys at the Fire House said we could sleep in the air-conditioned barracks with them. After the experiences we had the last 2 nights, we enthusiastically said YES!

In the fire house

Jon in firehouse washroom

Earline in firehouse

Jon on bunkbed

Great showers, actually very comfortable bunk beds that the guys slid together for us, WIFI connection!!, the AC was CRANKIN’!, and…..VERY COOL ambiance.

Thanks, guys! (Some photos of y’all in tomorrow’s blog!)

And thank you, God, AGAIN for your protection and provision.

TGG,

jon

Day 46 [Hannibal, MO – [somewhere along County Road B, MO]

FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2010

Day 46 started out with a pleasant surprise…Andy and Sue Cairns (you may remember them from Day 9 and 10) stopped by on their way to see his mom in St. Louis.

Andy and Sue

Had a wonderful morning sharing stories (they both ride recumbent bicycles) and encouraging each other’s walk with God. GOOD friends that have resulted from this Mission Possible Tour. Earline even tried out Sue’s bike (oh-oh…gotta remember how to balance!).

Earline on Sues trike

For a short time, the WiFi Pedalers were a 4-some! Bye, you guys….see you soon! God bless!

Andy and Sue wave bye

Tegan from KHQA had mentioned that Hwy 79 south of Hannibal was closed by a mud slide from all the rain recently. So we reluctantly headed out to Hwy 61 to detour around. Very busy road…lots of truck traffic…BUT it DID have a nice wide shoulder, and we were grateful for that.

Now after about 12 miles the MODOT tried to get funny and put in rumble grooves like Illinois (see Day 34)….but the shoulder was wide enough that we were able to go around the outside (THANK-YOU, JESUS!!)

Long tough hills going up, but long fun hills going down…..whee!

Hwy 61 south of Hannibal

Finally saw an exit for the detour to 79….stopped at a little town beside the exit, but the only convenience store in town was already closed. Hmm. We stopped to ask some directions from a family getting out of their car, and the family they were coming to visit gave us some much needed water from their kitchen sink. We appreciated it!

County Road B headed west was pretty hilly, and it was starting to get dark. We knew we’d never make it to the town of Louisiana, and I didn’t want to ride again at night, so after we saw this pretty yard (with yet more farm-implement-yard-art):

Old plough

……we stopped (actually turned around and went back to it) to ask if we could set up the tent in their yard. No one answered the door, so I started to head back to my trike. I noticed the lawn hose scattered across the yard, and it didn’t really match their tidy yard, so I decided to roll it into a nice circle by the faucet. As I was doing that, Earline all of a sudden heard “psssssssst.”

Oh no, flat tire #4 (and again the back tire….ugh).  But it WAS a pretty sunset! (sigh)

Flat tire 4

Flat tire with house and pretty sky

I didn’t have any CO2 cartridges left, and for some unexplained reason, I didn’t spin the tire and try to hand pump it up. I just took all the gear off and changed the tube. (This was the tire that I forgot to transfer the protector strip to.) (Hmmm.)

By now it’s getting REALLY dark, and we decide to camp beside their garden anyway. Earline wrote a note and left it on the door with our little 1/4 flyer.

THEN their dog started barking while we were setting up our tent. He came closer (Earline got out the pepper spray), but he just sniffed the trikes, wagged his tail and let me touch him, and then trotted away as if to say, “You’re okay….I’ll be YOUR guard dog tonight, too!” And we never saw him again.

Only thru God’s grace,

jon

Day 44 [Nauvoo, IL – Quincy, IL]

WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2010

What a day! Beautiful morning!

Campsite in Nauvoo State Park

As I was waking up, something told me to turn on my phone that I had turned off last night to save the batteries. It was about 7:45. Within ONE MINUTE, the phone rang. It was Steve from the Christian Visitor Center, responding to my phone message from yesterday!

We set up an appointment for 9:30, because he had another 10:15 commitment. I was excited to find out more about this Christian ministry in the middle of a Mormon stronghold….to visit a place we had listed on our route for almost 2 years.

As we were packing up I noticed that it was REALLY warm….already starting to “sweat a bead.”

Couldn’t quite finish packing before our appointment, so we left the campsite and headed up the hill to the main street and the Christian Visitor Center. The Mormon temple was on our left, with a Catholic church just to the left of that.

Next to Mormon Temple in Nauvoo

Sitting right on the edge of the bluff like they are, they’re pretty impressive structures. I understand that the temple had been updated/remodeled not too long ago.

We met and talked with Steve Dealy at the Center. He’s been the executive director of the ministry for almost 2 years. He has never been a Mormon, unlike some of the past directors, but grew up around Mormons.

In some ways that is a better position for him – Mormons consider those who turn away from Mormonism apostates, and refuse to have anything to do with them, even discussion. Since Steve has never been a Mormon, they are more open to conversation with him about their faith, and Steve is able to give them information and history that many of them know nothing about.

It really was an enlightening conversation.

Steve knows his “stuff.” Earline and I could have spent hours talking with him! Pray for this man and this ministry!

There are many good people involved in this cult of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” i.e. Mormonism, who just don’t know about the rotting foundation that is underneath it all.

Outside Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center

Remember Jesus said at Judgment Day many will stand before Him saying that they “prophesied in His name” and “performed many miracles in His name,” but that He will say “Go away (to the outer darkness), you who refused to obey God’s Law. I never knew you. The things you did were unauthorized.” [excepts from Matthew 7]

I was trying to think…which law do the Mormons break?

They do so many thing well…but the BIGGIE for them seems to be “bearing false witness.” Unfortunately, Steve says their emphasis on evangelizing is so great, almost high pressure from the church hierarchy, that they will accept lying or twisting the truth about their church past or present practices if it brings someone new into their fold.

And although some of their church leadership actually knows that lies are being told and propagated, some have just told lies for so long that they’ve become callous, or even inoculated to the truth, and really believe what they’re doing is okay.

Sad.

We headed back to our campsite to finish packing. We had received an e-mail from Jim at KHQA-TV in Quincy, IL, that they wanted to do a story on us as we came thru their town, so we wanted to get as close to Quincy as we could by morning.

I almost forgot to mention, with so many things going on….remember that HUGE storm a few weeks ago on the shores of Lake Pepin, where our tent was assaulted by the winds and the rain, and somehow that morning we lost one of our tent stakes. We have been getting by with 3 stakes since then, but as we were packing here at the Nauvoo State Park, a noticed a tent stake on the ground, just a little heavier in width and length, but obviously a tent stake, and obviously exactly what we needed! What are the chances??!!

How “coincidentally” cool is that??!!!

[A wise man once said, “When he stopped praying, the coincidences STOPPED HAPPENING!”]

Heh.

I had noticed yesterday in the park across the street that the stage for the pageant appeared to be positioned from southeast to northwest, with backstage facing the northeast, and I remembered thinking that was kind of an odd layout for a performance platform along the Mississippi. (You normally see amphitheaters with their backs to the Mississippi, like the one in Burlington, Iowa, to take advantage of the view.)

Steve had told us about the “historical Nauvoo pageant” that is really just a proselytizing vehicle for Mormonism. The temple stays dark during the show at dusk until a dramatic moment near the end when floodlights bathe the temple in light. (And thus, the reason for the positioning of the pageant stage!)

We actually found some of those floodlights:

Lights on temple for pageant

As Steve told us, apparently the TEMPLE ITSELF is a BIG deal in Mormonism. Like the cross for Christians (John 3:13-15), the temple really is the means of salvation for them (almost an idol…just a really BIG idol.)

And their temple attempts to copy Judean/Christian history in one other way….it used to be the place where God’s presence could be seen on this earth – in the Temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:9-21) (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) But after about 400 years His glory LEFT that Temple (Ezekiel 10:1-5,11:18-19,22-23), never to return until IN the person of Jesus (and today thru the Holy Spirit in every believer) (Ephesians 1:13).

After we finished packing, it was still so hot, we stayed in the Nauvoo State Park until 3:30, working on e-mails, trying to line stuff up for Sunday, taking care of business back in Orlando, talking to the occasional camper curious about what we’re doing. We met 3 kids who were inquisitive about the trikes. They said they were there for the whole summer. Benjamin, Jislene, and Joseph.

Benjamin Jislene Joseph

They said they were in town selling books. They were very polite and poised, especially the little Black girl. The older boy said they were all part of the same family, and the last name of all of them was Richardson. I showed him the picture of our family, and he seemed a little surprised. Why, I wonder.

Eventually we headed down through Hamilton and Warsaw. The road between Nauvoo and Hamilton was really pretty and RIGHT along the river.

Between Nauvoo and Hamilton

Fun downhill into Hamilton

Saw these 2 houses on the river north of Hamilton within a short distance of each other (I wonder if they’re connected….hmmm…..)

Huge house on water

Tiny house on the water

Even saw some more farm machinery lawn art [Farm Implement Lawn Ornament].

Lawn Art JD mower

We had a wonderful little meal in Scoops in Warsaw, where we were waited on by Deaven and Jen. Great ice cream, and they even let us recharge our phones while we were there….THANK YOU.

Deaven and Jenin Scoops

By now it was starting to get dark. Saw these HUGE bins on the west side of town, right down by the river.

Huge bins in Warsaw

It was beautiful night, with hardly any traffic, so we just continued following county roads south of Warsaw. We (and the geese) saw a pretty sunset.

Geese at Warsaw sunset

We went past the turnoffs to Lima and Ursa (Earline even did the Absorbine, Jr. anti-gnat dance) (The WHAT??!!?)…..

Absorbine Jr dance2

….but we could NOT find any Valley View campground!….saw a KOA campground on my GPS…..but no signage….was this the same campground?

It was just south of Lenane Park. My GPS said River Valley Campground….saw some RVs there, saw an office and a building that said “showers”, but didn’t see tents anywhere, the bathrooms and showers were key-code LOCKED, and I wasn’t going to try waking someone up at 1 in the morning!

Continued over to Hwy 24 using Cedar St….went past the PAST the big Bay View bridge. Past several “not-cheap” hotels….we’re trying to RAISE money, not spend it.

But we’re terribly hot-and-bug-spray-absorbine-jr-sun-screen-funky, and we desperately need someplace to wash up. (Especially if we want to be half-way decent for the TV reporter from KHQA!) (Earline says it’s tough being cute!)

The MRT Trail book listed the address for the Visitor Info Center, and a block past the motels we arrived at The Villa Katherine Tourist Info Center. Apparently it was built years ago by a very wealthy man (Earline says he obviously built it for a specific woman!).

There were some public bathrooms there at the center that were almost as funky as us, so Earline got the idea that we should head back to the hotels to see if they’d at least let us use their lobby restrooms. By now it’s 2am, and the first hotel we stopped at was the closest one, the American Best Value Inn.

This day’s blog is long enough. I’ll tell you what happened…..tomorrow!

TGG,

jon

Day 22 [Prescott, WI – Maiden Rock, WI]

TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010

Left the “quarry” at a little after 8am, and WHOO!, what a day!

(Actually, what a lightning show going on right now!! And yes, those clouds continue to get closer!)

This morning we had some pretty strenuous hills….Earline’s leg HAS been feeling a little better – she will still sometimes experience the “shin-splint-like” shooting pains, but not nearly as often, or of the severity she experienced early on.

Now, her legs just ache. (Welcome to the club!) And after today…..hmm! It took us almost 3 hours just to go the first 7 miles!

Here’s Earline in the middle of the climb. (I think she looks kinda cute!…..she is FOCUSED!)

Cool dudess focused

We tried to take pictures of the climbs, but the roads curve a lot, and you really can’t get feel for what it looks like, or how steep it is, with just these n-dimensional photos. (You’ll just have to join us on the NEXT tour!)

Long uphill from Prescott

Long uphill from Prescott2

Long uphill from Prescott3

It was TOUGH!

BUT…..not quite the adventure of this little guy. One of the times we stopped to rest, Earline noticed him dragging his work ACROSS the road….and he dragged (WHATEVER it is he is carrying…..if anyone can figure it out, let us know) ALL the way across the road, through trucks and cars, to the other side.

Ambitious fly ant

Also saw some llamas on our climb…..curious looking animals!

Llamas

Saw ANOTHER manure spreader parked on the front lawn….some kind of manure spreader art? Mmmm. It WAS clean. Hmmm. [As I mentioned in Day 2, I am now calling these FILOs – Farm Implement Lawn Ornament!]

FILO Manure spreader new

Still climbing up the hill……we’re tired, we’re almost out of water, we’re hungry, and we see a sign:

“Food” – “Drink” – “Ice Cream”……WHOA!!!!!!

We had lunch at what is called Nesbitt’s Nursery – truly a cyclist’s OASIS, as it sits just about at the TOP of the ascent up from Prescott.

And guys….it’s a NURSERY! Asked many questions, and got many insights into possible ideas for the DAH Nursery.

Here’s Donna and Leon Nesbitt

Nesbitts owners

Their son, Lee tries out the trike for a spin.

Lee Nesbitt test drive

Check out the plant art on the right closely…..what’s it made of? Manure spreader parts! Son-in-law Sam is apparently the creative genius behind many of the wonderful creations we saw on the premises.

Manure spreader plant

Nesbitts Nursery bye

We went down [whe-e-e-e-e-e-!] the hill inspired and refreshed.

Met Norris and his crew at a local gas station…..they were going pizza tree hunting! (Earline ALMOST believed him!) Norris is the tattoo guy on the left.

Pizza tree hunting

Norris actually learned a fair amount of conversational sign language when he was dating a Deaf girl that piqued his interest. (Knowing the language helps!)

Road up another mile-plus long hill (wow, did you hear that train….WOW, THAT’S LOUD!) and saw this farmer just finishing baling a field of hay (ahead of the 70% rain forcast for tomorrow….make hay while the sun SHINES…..make HASTE when it doesn’t!). Brings back memories for me.

Baling hay in Wisconsin

And THEN we had an almost 2-mile DOWNHILL (now THAT what I’m talking about!)!! 25 to 30 mph, 35 tops. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

We finally ending up camping in Maiden Rock, in a little city park right on the banks of the Mississippi, a wide area of the river called Lake Pepin….check THIS out:

Fuzzy night shot

Beautiful view, frequent trains to spice up the experience, and a carload of cursing teens enjoying a campfire beside us with slamming hard rock providing a restful ambiance…..ACCKK!

(And the storm clouds in the distance are getting even CLOSER! Continuous lightning…..It’s 1:30am….let me try and get a FEW winks of sleep.)

Blurry lightning

Good night!

TGG,

jon

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

JUNE 10, 2010

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

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

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

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

Andy and Sue
Andy and Sue front of red sky

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

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

Rainbow in Brainerd

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

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

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

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

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

Bike trail on bridge 16point5

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

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

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

We went past the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery:

MN state veterans cemetery

Veterans cemetery tombstones

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

Bridge17

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

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

And yes, it was STILL drizzling.

Damp outside veterans cemtery

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

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

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

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

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

Barn with overhang

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

Curious horses

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

Loading corn

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

ANOTHER manure spreader

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

Nice house north of Sartell

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

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

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

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

Shukri (from Kenya) who is Deaf, and Earline

Shukri and Earline

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

Brandi and Earline

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

Brandis girl Brendas granddaughter

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

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

Mitchs dad Earline and Mitch

Mitch’s dad, Jon, and Mitch

Mitchs dad Jon and Mitch

Timothy and Trinity

Timothy and Trinity

Tiffany and Tabatha

Tiffany and Tabatha

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

TGG,

jon

Day 6 [Grand Rapids, MN]

JUNE 6, 2010

After a wonderful (included) continental breakfast here at the Country Inn (we couldn’t figure out if the food REALLY was that good, or because we roughed it all week we really APPRECIATED the food as it was!), we headed over to Alliance Church, just a few blocks away.

Although it was walking distance, we decided to take the trikes (sans luggage), and it was a good thing we did. It started to drizzle on the way over there, and it was raining and cold on the way BACK to the motel. (We had put our Bibles and some paperwork in one of our WalMart dry sacks – about 2 ft by 3 ft, yellow, and completely waterproof….they have been GREAT!)

Met Pastor Randy Junker (not like the car, but with a Scandinavian “soft-J” sound, like HalleluJAH!). Please pray for him…although a few years younger than me, not only is he himself battling Parkinsons, but they lost a son in a boating accident of sorts just about a year ago – he lost his life trying to save someone else’s – and the anniversary of that is coming up soon. The young man left behind a wife and four young children – the Pastor’s grandchildren.

Jon and Pastor Junker
Pastor Junker and Jon

Like my mom, who also has Parkinsons, who walks 2 miles every morning at the age of 77, Pastor Junker says he plays LOTS of golf, not only for the physical exercise, but for his mental and spiritual well-being as well.

He did a sermon topic on suicide, and the value of a person in God’s eyes. He had a lady come up to talk about taking x-rays of suicide victims at the morgue.

He used a wonderful illustration:  he brought that same lady up front, and asked her for some money, preferably a 20 dollar bill. She had one.

He asked her what she planned to do with the money.

She said she would probably buy lunch with it.

He pointed out to her that it states right on the 20 dollar bill, that the Federal Reserve says that piece of paper is worth $20.

Then Pastor Junker proceeded to SMASH it and TWIST it, and throw it on the ground, and then JUMP on it, and THEN he asked for someone to SPIT on it!

No one wanted to do that!

Finally, though, one of kids volunteered, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it, and one of the older high school kids said HE’D do it (and he did!) and then they took and smashed the bill between 2 hymnals.

Great fun!!

Pastor took the 20 back up to the stage, to the bewildered looking lady, and asked her if she wanted it back?

She said yes.

“But it has been mangled, and twisted, and even spit upon!!”

But it was still a 20, it would still buy lunch, because the Federal Reserve says that it is worth 20 dollars.

And isn’t that what God says to each of us? Not matter how we’ve been treated, or what others have done to us, God still says that we are important to Him, and that our value to HIM has not diminished in the least.

Great lesson!

Made some good contacts at the church – even met a girl who’s best friend was from Garnavillo! [For those of you in Rio Linda, Garnavillo is a small town in Northeast Iowa, a suburb of National, Iowa] [HUH??!!]

Did some shopping at WalMart, and are getting ready for the week ahead….thanks AGAIN for YOUR prayers and financial support.

OH….I almost forgot – in between the rain showers yesterday, we DID go over another bridge over the Mississippi – Bridge #14:
Bridge14

Oh-oh….looks like Earline’s texting and triking!

Texting and triking in MN

And finally [no, Jyl and Cressa you CANNOT answer this question!]….for 10 points, and a FREE WiFi Pedalers T-Shirt to the first person who answers the question correctly (if we ever get them made!)….

What exactly IS this strange contraption we saw sitting in the middle of the field?
Mystery object inf ield

TGG,

jon