Day 23 [Melbourne, FL]

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2014

Today was OUR Thanksgiving, as we were able to spend time with my sister, and even have some leftover turkey!

Dennis and Jyl have a dog named Riley, 5 years old, and was gentle enough even for Earline to pat [just like Thor back in 2010]. Hey, Riley!

Earline and Riley

And we had to get a selfie with Jyl:

Selfie with Earline Jon Jyl

In the evening we went to a local church named Faith Fellowship….real pretty sanctuary, and the folks were friendly….

Faith Fellowship sanctuary

The assistant pastor gave a message from John, and they were true to the Word….boldly declaring that Jesus is God in the flesh….in verse 14 of John 1, the Greek word that is translated flesh, or human, is the word sarx, which literally means not a soul or a spirit, but strictly the meat of an animal….”meat and bones” as some would say. God IN THE FLESH.

John was THERE….he should know!

[John confirms this in his 1st letter….see 1 John 4:2. To test if a person is an authentic prophet, they HAVE to believe that Jesus came in the flesh.]

Jesus is also described as LIGHT in John 1:5. The light that darkness can NEVER extinguish.

Today at the house I saw some lights that can go out, but they are definitely stronger than any bike light I have ever seen. My brother-in-law markets bike parts and accessories to dealers across Florida, and he showed me his suitcase of lights from Serfas, one of which is 2500 lumens. 25 HUNDRED lumens.

Check your light bulbs in the store sometime….400, 800 lumens. Not this….

Serfas light

2500 lumens! That is brighter than a car headlight! Wow.

[Of course, Jesus’ “LIGHT” is even brighter than that, and it NEVER goes out! Ha!]

If you want more details about the Serfas light, leave me a comment here, and I’ll get back to you.

Time to pack and get ready to hit the road tomorrow morning. Only 2 days left!

TGG,

jon

Day 12 [St. Augustine – Port Orange]

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2011

After getting to bed past 1am, we were up and packing at 6am. We said goodbye to the Thompsons [and Bentley, as well!].

Bentley

Thanks again for your warmth and hospitality. God bless!

As we headed down A1A, we had some bike lanes to enjoy….but it was COOL! Glad we brought some sweats to bundle up in.

Leaving St Augustine bike lane

A1A, of course, goes along the beach, and through some neighborhoods, so the traffic was not as bad as Highway 1. We got to see some beautiful homes, and a lot of homes that were either for sale or abandoned…..sad.

The wind picked up from the north/northeast, and it was behind us, so we were bookin’! Because of the schedule change from Monday night to Wednesday night at St. Augustine, we needed to cover a lot of distance today to make sure we get home by Saturday night. And God gave us favor. We averaged 2 to 3 miles an hour faster than normal.

We stopped at a Publix for a “convenience” stop, and all of a sudden the lights are flashing, and horns are blaring [why does this always happen to us?!?] – there’s a fire truck going to the Publix…..and there’s a bunch of people standing around taking pictures….

DING, DING, DING, DING, DING!!!

Wait!

It’s Santa! No snow in Florida, so he had to arrive by fire truck……what fun! [I think the adults were enjoying it more!]

Santa

Most of the construction for the Mantanzas bridges was done….nice wide shoulders and some real pretty views of the water.

Mantanzas bridge

Nice wide shoulder Mantansas bridges

We also went through some pretty bike trails through Palm Coast.

Earline on bike trail in Palm Coast

We stopped at Miss Daphne’s, but she wasn’t home. [This is the Beach House that International Seminary graciously allows us to use from time to time….you can see the 40-foot porch that I refurbished a few months back.]

Beach House

The ocean was showing the effects of the strong northeastern winds that were pushing us….there were white caps out as far as you could see.

Rough ocean

We stopped for lunch at the Pier restaurant in Flagler Beach….good food and great views.

Outside Pier Restaurant

Pier Restaurant view at lunch

South of Flagler Beach the road was long, and straight, and looooonnnnnnggggg.

LOOOOOONG A1A

But the wind was still good and strong behind us. We actually covered the 50 miles to Daytona Beach in less than 8 hours, including our lunch break, convenience store “ministerations,” potty stops, and Santa!

We decided to head over the bridge to Port Orange…..the LAST big bridge we’ll go over [I don’t think Earline believes me!].

Last bridge to cross

There was a long ramp leading up to a separated walkway…..but it was a tight squeeze.

Tight bridge ramp

It truly was a nice walkway separated from the traffic, but it was a big bridge….

Long ped path up bridge

….and it was tall….

Port Orange bridge

….but that just meant the views were prettier when you got to the top!

Sunset from Port Orange bridge

We stopped at a Christian thrift shop, and they recommended a nice, inexpensive motel to stay at [so we could shower!]. Total mileage covered today: 58 miles, in 9 and a half hours.

Thanks, God, for your provision, and your favor.

TGG,

jon

Day 11 [St. Augustine and FSDB]

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2014

We spent the morning with the Thompson’s, had a wonderful breakfast, and then got some more rest, washed some clothes, worked on the blog, and prepped for the program that we would be doing in the Music Building at FSDB [Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind] tonight.

I got the trikes ready for the ride over to FSDB [minus the panniers.]

Trikes in Thomas yard

UNLIKE the shoes and clothes of the Israelites those 40 years in the desert, our tires seem to be wearing out rather quickly. I’ll probabably make a run to the Walmart tonight to see if I can find something to get us home with.

The Thompsons treated us to a taco place just walking distance from the house – blackened fish wrapped in a soft and hard shell – good eatin’!

As it was getting dark, and heading over to FSDB, we needed to cross over the [dreaded] Lion’s Bridge.

Lions Bridge at sunset

You can just see the red and white guard bar in a vertical position behind the post with the flashers on it. That’s what came down the when we tried to cross yesterday!

But we were ready this time! Just took off our side bags before attempting the narrow drawbridge walkway.

Narrow draw bridge path

At the school security gate, we were again helped by Ron Stafford. The reflective sign on the wall blew out this picture, but I wanted to include it because Ron was so helpful and pleasant to Earline and me. Thanks, Ron!

Ron Stafford security

There was a Young Life leader’s meeting and prayer time before the program started, with Don Lohr going through the agenda. [Whoops! It likes like someone – girl in the middle of the picture – was up late last night studying!….Many of the leaders are actually students at Flagler College…..Psst: Maybe just remember to cover your mouth when you yawn next time – you never know who might be taking a picture!] [And yes, Caleb, I remembered your name!]

Don Lohr and leaders

I also went ahead and tuned up the guitar for a guitar for a warm-up song I would be doing, with some help from Trevor, a sophomore blind student at FSDB.

Jon tune guitar

After the leaders went and got the kids, they had a fun and goofy mixer to get the kids warmed up – kind of like a cakewalk chairs game. This game had different colored tape on the floor that you had to run to and hope that your shapes’ color wouldn’t be eliminated when the music stopped.

Colored shapes mixer

[And yes, Caleb, I DID remember your name!]

I estimate there were around 120-140 students there….not only those who participate in Young Life, but also from some other Christian groups that serve the students. Here is a small portion of the students that were there.

Some of the students

Earline and I shared about not only last year’s Mission Possible Tour, but this year’s 400 mile trip.

We did [of course!] “Deep and Wide”, sharing how the Mississippi River is not only only as much as 7 miles wide through Lake Winni, but is at times during floods more than 50 feet deep in some sections of the river. And then we talked about God’s love, and how Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 expresses his desire for us to understand how deep, and wide, and long and high God’s love for us truly is.

After we had seen the vulture on the road past De Leon Springs, we had written a little song about not being afraid: “Birds, dogs, bridges, and bears – I will not be afraid.” And we talked about how perfect love, the type of LOVE that God demonstrates for us, CASTS OUT fear!

You know, road kill will preach. If you aren’t careful spiritually, you can get RUN OVER by the cares of this world. And if you’re DEAD, if you’re not moving and growing spiritually….if you’re not reading His Word and actively using the gifts that God has given YOU….Satan, like a vulture that will only eat dead stuff, will keep nibbling away at you until you are only a dried, dead carcass that one can barely recognize on the road of life…..AMEN!

Afterwards it was DONUT TIME, with many gooey delights to enjoy. We met Q and Kelly.

Q and EEB and Kerry

Q is a senior and actually lives in Orlando, not far from us. He even volunteered to use his young, strong muscles to help us move some things next week….thanks, Q!

Afterwards the Young Life crew went to the Village Inn for free pie night. How do you guys stay thin??!! [Ah, yes. Young, fast metabolism is a wonderful thing.] [And yes, Caleb, I STILL remember your name!]

Pie at Village Inn

Sam and Ann treated us to some pie, as well…..thanks, guys!

Sam and Ann and us at PIE

And thank YOU, Lord God, for allowing us to minister at FSDB….may Your Words have a lasting effect on the lives and thoughts of those who saw and heard what YOU had to say through us.

TGG,

jon

[Yes, Caleb, I STILL remember your name!]

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

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010

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

Day 92 prayer closet

Earline thought she heard something….

Did I see something move

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

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

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

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

Honey bun breakfast

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

Southern cloud bank

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

East cloud bank

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

….and I thought, “oh, oh!”

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

(Hey, Mark, about those fenders….!)

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

OH NO, more rain

….and the sky got heavier….

Rain storm on levee

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

Through the rain

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

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

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

Enter ferry

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

 

Ferrying across the river

Boy, this River has gotten BIG!

Lookee how BIG

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

Kiss bumper sticker

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

Ferry knows where going right

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

Exit ferry

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

Road closed

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

Anns trailer

…..but Ann was GREAT, and busy!!

Anns restaurant Port Sulpher

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

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

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

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

WHAT another hill

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

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

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

View of Gulf from top of overpass

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

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

Taking pictures

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

Steven Turner and Earline

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

House hurt

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

Wrecked house

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

Community Prayer Center garden tomb

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

Temp houses

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

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

Oil spill claim sign

And then….

…..rain clouds threatened AGAIN.

MORE rainc louds

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

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

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

Shoulder huh

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

Ships on MR

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

Cows and birds on levee

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

Jon on sand bags

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

Oops wet sand

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

Industry

Lots of cars

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

TARGA plant

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

Near sunset

Sunset on delta

Left side of delta

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

At the sign Earline

Jesus is ONE way

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

 

Jon at the sign

Jon and Earline at sign

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

Fisherman at the sign

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

Everything fit! [Whew!]

Both trikes in the Jeep

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

Frederick 2

A WONDERFUL end to a long journey!

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

Kiss

Only TGG,

jon

Day 92 UPDATE 2 [Port Sulpher, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010 UPDATE 2

We made it across the Pointe al a Hache ferry to the west side of the Mississippi River, and right now are eating lunch at the FAMOUS Ann’s Restaurant in Port Sulpher. Only 35 miles to go!

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

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 91 UPDATE [East St. Bernard Hwy., LA]

MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010 UPDATE

Left Canal Boulevard Deaf Baptist Church in New Orleans about 3pm. Accidentally ended up on Bourbon Street, looking for a place to eat. Going thru St. Bernard Parish (county) to the State Park, just a few minutes away. We’ll head out around 4am to push through the final 75 miles. Pray us through!

TGG, jon

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Day 87 [Baton Rouge, LA – Geismar, LA]

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010

Working again feverishly to get this blog caught up.

My desk at church

That really has been one of the more challenging aspects of the entire Mission Possible Tour…..with all the riding, and talking to people, and making ourselves available to serve them, and yet still plan ahead for the next day, and still try and get some rest, and still find a couple hours each day to select and edit photos, and put down these thoughts, and try to be encouraging to YOU…..I just pray whatever priorities and fine-tuning that I have learned this summer might be something that I can pass on to you as clearly and effectively as possible.

Part of all of our daily routines MUST be some kind of spiritual and physical exercise each day. Now back in Jesus’ day, of course they were doing a lot of walking, and getting physical exercise….but even Jesus had to get alone many times to pray and spend time with God the Father. So I pray that Psalm 119:147 be a rallying cry for ALL of us….“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help, and I put my hope in your words.”

We ALL need DAILY spiritual nourishment. Let’s commit to that even stronger! Amen!

We’re trying to eat up the last of our nasty crackers that have disintegrated into crumbs along the way….heh, heh.

A spoon and a cup work nicely….yummm!

Crumbs into cup

Crumbs in cup close up

We got packed up from our stay at First Baptist Deaf Church of Baton Rouge, and found a route that would take us to Geismar, Louisiana, on the east side of the Mississippi River. This is probably one of the first stays of the summer that was penciled in several months ago, through Bobby Sue at New Vision.

At that time, we didn’t even know that we would be ministering in Baton Rouge, or specifically at the Deaf school, but Geismar is only about 20 miles south of the school, so it worked out perfectly with our schedule. (ANOTHER one of those “heavenly coincidences!”)

Nicholson Drive

The route was a fairly straight shot, most of it along Nicholson Drive, with a shoulder the whole way. Traffic was VERY heavy, so we again appreciated that shoulder, albeit, because of being a heavily traveled road, the shoulder was also full of quite a bit of the usual debris….rocks, glass, animal bones, ripped up tire pieces, various pieces of assorted metal, hula hoops, shovels, electric generators, etc. (okay, so I maybe I made up a few things) (no flats or punctures, Mark….or at least, none that I know about!….ha!).

The sky was pretty again, even if viewed through a variety of power lines….

Powerline sunset

As it was getting dark, along an unlit, woodsy road by the river, an officer stopped us and said he had gotten a call about some bicycles out on the road, and that the caller was worried about hitting us. But as he was saying that, he just shook his head and said that he had seen us a little earlier, and he was impressed at how well we were lit up!

I told him we had less than a mile to go, so he said fine, and told us to just be careful. (When the authorities are impressed, you know you’re lit up pretty well!)

We finally arrived at the son’s house of the friend of Bobby Sue. They have a beautiful home (and fast wifi….yea!!), and prepared a nice home-grilled meal for us….wow, great!

Philip and Anas home

Philip and Ana

Philip and Ana are a young Christian couple who have a wonderful testimony. Married only about a year, Philip met Ana on a mission trip to Columbia, South America. (And I found a soul-mate in Philip, who is also enthusiastically interested in Intelligent Design, and the evidences for a literal six-day creation and world-wide flood….in other words, people, evolution is a HOAX….let’s get back to faith in what the Bible teaches. See Exodus 20:11).

Thank you , Lord, AGAIN, for your provision and your guidance.

TGG,

jon

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

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

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

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

Goodbye to Big Al

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

Morning patrons

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

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

State 10 again

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

Our last state line cossing

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

Friend of GHA

FARM IMPLEMENT LAWN ORNAMENT alert!

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

Cultivator maybe

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

10 mile construction zone

Construction

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

Motorcycle guy 1

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

Sent owner in for coffee

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

Rumble grooves 1

Rumble grooves on single lane

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

Past the construction

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

Fresh coon

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

Exxon Mobile 1

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

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

Jack in the Box rainbow

Rainbow downtown

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

MRT sign in BR

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

BR bridge 1

BR bridge 2

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

Gavan Jackson

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

Famous LSU campus and cow

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

Reggies

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

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

1st Baptist Deaf church

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

Sleep on nursery floor

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

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

TGG,

jon