Day 13 [North Hollywood, FL]

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2014

[Distance traveled: 2 miles]

A day to rest Earline’s leg, and a day to do some repairs, and a day to get laundry done. Yea!

When we came in last night it was dark and still drizzling….[okay maybe it was not THAT bad, but some of you up north DO have MUCH snow….be careful!]….

Jon arriving at Kenwood

But this morning we could see better the cute little courtyard here at the Kenwood Motel.

Kenwood courtyard

And in the far right corner of the photo, you can see the washer and dryer. So convenient! Thanks, God.

The room also worked out great for us, because they were nice and big, AND both trikes fit thru the door. That is a BIG plus…otherwise we would have to dismantle the panniers, which is fairly easy on Earline’s trike, but on mine, so so much.

Inside room

[I made sure that I wiped off the tires with a rag before we brought them into the room….we want to be courteous and GRATEFUL for a gift like this room.]

[And honestly, we did not watch a minute of TV….too much to DO!]

Real cool this morning, in the mid 50s, but the forecast is for close to 70 degrees tomorrow, so we’re good!

Tonight we had the opportunity to minister at Elder Elaine’s church, the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church here in North Hollywood where Elder Connail Johnson is the Pastor. [Another plus of the motel is that it was only a mile to the church, so add just 2 miles to our distance traveled. Ha!]

It was a cute little church, and the people were very warm and hospitable. We sensed a spirit of deep love for the Lord, and were impressed with how many young men boldly expressed their love for God. One of the ladies created this beautiful Thanksgiving wreath:

Thanksgiving wreath

When the first young man spoke at the beginning of the service, I had a hard time hearing what he was saying. It might have because of the music they were playing during his talk. Probably my fault, because I am involved in the music ministry at Iglesia Gracia de Dios in Orlando, and one side of my brain was trying to hear the Word, and the other side was saying, “oh, listen to that transition, oh, that was a nice melody, oh, did they just modulate there?, oh, they need to pull pack the mids on that section, and up the highs, oh, that was a nice harmony, oh….etc., etc. ACK!”

They did eventually turn the music down, and that helped….whew!

The young men in the back were able to pull up our blog and put it on the screen in the front of the church. I had never seen that done before with our blog…great!

NHMBC screen

Earline and I then shared a little about our ministry to the Deaf, and why we do these Mission POSSIBLE Tours. Earline also talked a little about Facing Your Fears, including getting your hair trimmed at Supercuts. Sometimes things don’t turn out like we hope….I will let HER explain!

And finally, I taught the congregation Joshua 1:9, the first of the FEARLESS songs. They did great!

Pastor Johnson was home sick tonight, so please pray for his health! Elder Elaine gave Earline the opportunity to interpret the message, then, from Eugenia Bonds, who we found out after the service has a Deaf daughter in Orlando! Small world!

Earline interp Eugenia Bonds

Earline was interpreting for two Deaf ladies [I remember Cora on the right from our Deaf revival last year at Mt. Sinai], and Ernest on the front row, who is learning sign language.

Cora, Ernest and one other deaf lady

After the service, some of the folks had an opportunity to sit down in the trikes and test them out. Here’s Daniel, who loves the Lord, and got married only about 4 MONTHS ago. [Earline, we HAVE to tell them about the GORGEOUS Winshape marriage retreat center up in Mt. Berry, GA. See Day -2.]

Daniel testing trike

Pastor’s wife, “Lady J” WAS at the service, and took a picture with Earline.

Earline and Lady J

Earline, [OF COURSE! Ha!], got a selfie with Elder Elaine and Lady J:

Selfie with EE,EB, and Lady J

But not to be outdone, I ALSO got a selfie with Elder Elaine!

Jon and EE selfie

We are grateful for the opportunity to share our story, and how EACH of us has a special part in the body of Christ where we can thrive and be useful in building up HIS Kingdom.

Only THROUGH GOD’S GRACE,

jon

Closing Thoughts for the 2010 Mission POSSIBLE Tour

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2010

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

Whoops.

So let’s get to it:

The WiFi Pedalers 2010 Mission POSSIBLE Tour Closing Thoughts

Jon and Earline FINAL on 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Old pair of tennis shoes

• A pair of jeans

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

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

• A simple, inexpensive, needle-nosed pliers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Bungie cords of a variety of shapes and sizes

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

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

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

• A tarp to cover your bike/trike at night

• Batteries for your various devices

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

Okay….NOW, some award giving!

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

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

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

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

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

Anns trailer

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

Breitbach Country Inn

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

Bucks Place store front

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

Cayce Cafe GREAT French toast

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

Julie fom Julies Cafe

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

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

WORST BRIDGES

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

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

Hasting meeting biker

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

Arrows need to be turned clockwise 90 degrees

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

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

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

Entering Interstate 55 walkway

Bridge 39 path

Exit for Bridge 39

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

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

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

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

MRT sign southwest side of bridge

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

Hmmmmm.

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

And now, our FAVORITE bridge….YEA!!!!

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

Bridge 19 in St Cloud

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

Arch from Eads Bridge

Worst routes or sections of the MRT

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

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

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

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

Rumble grooves for closing thoughts

Where do you ride?

NOT fun.

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

We LOVE roads like this 1

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

But, NOW….

Our FAVORITE sections of the MRT

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

Between Nauvoo and Hamilton

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

Natchez Trace Earline

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

South of Savannah

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

South side of Stone Arch bridge

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

Approach downhill by Balltown

View of MR from Balltown

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

Smooth 1203

And now….

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

BAD SURPRISES

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

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

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

Dock and ferry at Modoc

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

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

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

But now….

….our GOOD SURPRISES!

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

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

Chester hostel

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

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

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

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

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

Decorated wagon wheel

Family Dollar sign

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

CAVES

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

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

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

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

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

And we have proof. Period.

BEST VIEW OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

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

Pikes Peak 2

Pikes Peak 1

FAVORITE signs along the route

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

MRT sign by levee in Baton Rouge

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

And now our three FAVORITE signs!

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

Fresh coon

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

Watson

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

1. You have reached the SOUTHERNMOST POINT in LA

Southernmost Point

The PRETTIEST sunset that we saw all summer.

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

Levee sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silhouette Earline

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always…..it has ALWAYS been….

…..ONLY through God’s grace,

jon

Day 85 [Baton Rouge, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

After the LO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-G trip from Natchez to Baton Rouge, we slept wonderful on the floor of the church Monday night. The air mattress seems to be loosing air a little quicker than normal, however, so by morning we were basically on the floor.

They had a box of Cheerios in the refrigerator, so I got to have a breakfast that I had been craving for several weeks….thank you, God.

Earline and I had a chance to work on some paperwork and the blog during the day, and we also prepared for our talks with the elementary kids and high school kids at the Louisiana School for the Deaf just one block west of the school.

We met Walker at the gate, and he escorted us through campus to the dorms.

We follow Walker

Front of Elementary door

We talked first with the elementary kids. They seemed fascinated with the trikes and our story:

 

Elementary talk 1

Earline taught them about the different parts of the trikes, and how we examine them before we start each day. We used the A-B-C-QuickCheck list from the League of American Bicyclists. Watch and listen to Earline teaching about “C” for chains, and how that can be the same idea in life:

Video of: Fixing things in your life

I also had the opportunity to teach the kids how DEEP and WIDE the Mississippi River is, and taught them a song about it!

Deep and Wide (in only 19 seconds!)

Afterwards we gave all the kids an opportunity to sit on the trikes, and many of them paused to check out this web site as well!

Kids try out trikes

And the kids could even pop on the wifi pedalers web site, and look where we had been before we got to them!

Next we went over to the high school dorm, and many youth stopped by to hear our presentation.

Presenting to LSD high school

High school wide shot

Youth back of room

Watch as Earline encourages the high-schoolers to pursue their God-given passions, for truly, “With God, ALL things are possible!!!”

With God, ALL things are possible!

Afterwards we talked with a lot of the kids, and answered their questions about our trip.

6 LSD high schoolers

After making lots of new friends, we headed back to the church. I was able o get some more work done on this blog.

Because of the fast leaking of our air mattress last night, we decided to try putting Betha and Walker’s air mattress UNDER ours to keep us off the floor. Problem was, I think theirs leaked a little, too, so that by morning, we were in a DEEP HOLE with the air mattresses up all around us!! Ack!! Many laughs were shared!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to speak into the lives of the students at the Louisiana School for the Deaf. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your purposes for them!!

TGG,

jon

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

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

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

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

Goodbye to Big Al

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

Morning patrons

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

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

State 10 again

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

Our last state line cossing

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

Friend of GHA

FARM IMPLEMENT LAWN ORNAMENT alert!

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

Cultivator maybe

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

10 mile construction zone

Construction

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

Motorcycle guy 1

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

Sent owner in for coffee

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

Rumble grooves 1

Rumble grooves on single lane

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

Past the construction

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

Fresh coon

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

Exxon Mobile 1

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

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

Jack in the Box rainbow

Rainbow downtown

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

MRT sign in BR

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

BR bridge 1

BR bridge 2

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

Gavan Jackson

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

Famous LSU campus and cow

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

Reggies

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

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

1st Baptist Deaf church

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

Sleep on nursery floor

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

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

TGG,

jon

Day 78 [Warfield Point Campground, MS – Lake Providence, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2010

Our campsite at Warfield Point campground shows how close we were to the Mississippi River……we could hear the barges all night.

Warfield Point tent site

We found this tree next to us, that had this weird seed or fruit on it…..anybody know what it is?

Weird tree seed or fruit

Weird seed fruit on tree

We decided to have…..okay, do we really have a choice?….graham crackers, peanut butter and honey (hey, if John the Baptist could live on locusts and honey, well, we have got it going on! Thank you, God, for your continued provision.)

Graham crackers and peanut butter and honey

Lovingly prepared, of course, by MY Honey:

Honey making honey

[Linda, did you notice we are using the honey-sticks you gave us? They’ve worked out good!]

We ran into some drizzles as we left camp, but our handy-dandy umbrella not only protect us from the hot sun, but also from….well, RAIN.

Warfield Point Campground riverside rain

Hot, yet again today, but we decided to take the umbrellas down before heading over the bridge. Good thing….the winds were a little gusty on the bridge. We were excited to cross this bridge, because it had only been open for ONE WEEK! I think we can safely claim that we are the FIRST recumbents to go across this bridge. We understand that this bridge now is the longest cable-stayed bridge on the Mississippi River (similar to the Cape Girardeau bridge). It WAS long, and here it is, Bridge #41!

Bridge41

At least the new bridge DID have a nice, wide shoulder. [No need for a police escort here!]

Oh, oh…..texting while triking…..do you think she is starting to get comfortable on these bridges??!! (You can see the old bridge in the background).

Texting while triking on 41

Oh, by the way……to experience what some of the older bridges feel like when going over them, I have just posted a video back on Day 70 of the I-55 Memphis bridge pedestrian walkway. Check it out.

Nice wide shoulder

Semi not so ominous here

Some of you might have noticed that our proposed route stayed on the EAST side, the state of Mississippi side of the River, but after realizing that the Arkansas route had an 8-FOOT SHOULDER the entire length of Highway 65, as well as being about 15 miles shorter, we both agreed that we’d try the Arkansas side of the river.

[And again, we’re fighting a proposed schedule here, too….I had made arrangements to pick up some more tires from Mark Power, and he mailed them to Herman Smith, a bridge manager in Vicksburg, MS…so we are tentatively supposed to be there by tomorrow afternoon, and highway 65 should knock 2 to 3 hours off of our arrival time.]

As we left the bridge we saw some beautiful homes on our right, on the banks of Chicot Lake…..I understand this is the largest oxbow lake in North America.

Interesting home on Chicot Lake

At the corner of 82 and 65, off of Chicot Lake, we met this road construction crew that not only gave us water, but guided us through the busy intersection. Thanks, guys!

Guys at 82 and 65

65 turned out to be a very busy road as we suspected, and the shoulder sometimes was closer to 5 foot than 8, but we still were VERY glad for that shoulder the entire way.

Saw this….well….what is it? (Looks like the Martians from War of the Worlds!) A FREE WiFi Pedaler T-Shirt (if we ever get them made!) to the first person who can tell me WHAT THESE ARE??

Martians

Saw this gorgeous skyscape north of Eudora. (The heavens declare/announce/proclaim/tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship……Psalm 19:1)

Beautiful sky north of Eudora

In Eudora…..interesting…..an officer stopped us, and said that somebody had “reported” to him about some bicycles coming through town. He seemed to kinda laugh it off, and he offered to escort us through town. We said “sure,” and he followed us for over 3 miles. Earline was a little suspicious of the offer…..she thought that maybe they were making sure that we went THROUGH their town and didn’t stop! HA!…….well…..maybe…..hmmmm.

Escorting Earline

Officer escort

Thanks for the escort, officer….we DID appreciate it!

Meanwhile, we kept trying to reach the 2 contacts in Vicksburg that attorney Willie Griffin had given us in Greenville. Our phone service was very intermittent in this area, and when I did get through to Alvin Taylor, it said his voice mail service was not set up. Hmmm.

We finally did get ahold of the lady, but she said that she was going into the hospital the next day, and couldn’t help us with a place to stay, but that she knew an evangelist friend who could provide a safe place. We finally then did talk to Miss Gertrude, and she said she’d get back to us. But, we didn’t hear from her…..hmmm…..maybe she tried, but couldn’t get through….well….

We saw this weird mailbox, and I guess I took a picture of it because, well, it’s weird!

Robot mailbox

By now it is getting dark, and we came to the Louisiana state line (Our final state – State #10!!). Here’s a picture of the sign and Earline:

Welcome to Louisiana State 10

Ack!

Okay, so you can’t really see Earline…..after several attempts, I COULD NOT get both the sign and her to show up. Something about the light bouncing back off of the reflective sign….hmmm.

Well, here SHE is by herself!!

THERE she is

Soon after this we had a Louisiana officer stop us…..he was curious…..wondered what we were doing. I gave him our flyer, and explained the Mission Tour. He told us our flashing blue lights on our wheels were ILLEGAL in Louisiana, but when I asked him if he wanted me to turn them off, he said no, that they helped make us more visible. He said the SLOW MOVING VEHICLE SIGNS showed up real well. He asked who was in the other trike (he couldn’t see from the back), and I told him that it was my wife.

He then warned me that there was a rough area in the town coming up that had a lot of Blacks in it, and that we should be careful. I thanked him for his concern, and then I went up to talk to her, and the policeman proceeded to go around us, and then made sure that Earline waved at him as he went by, with a surprised look on his face.

HA! Oh, well…..

We had decided to keep riding because it WAS a wide shoulder, much cooler than riding in the daytime, a straight shot to Vicksburg, and we figured we could make up some time……and we wanted to make Vicksburg before it got too late the next day to make sure that we could get a ride across the river.

I had called ahead, as Bob had suggested in his book, and talked to Herman Smith. The interstate bridge there has been open for 30 years or so, but the old bridge was closed down to traffic around 15 years ago. Large bike groups can apply for permits to go across with the appropriate liability insurance, but individuals or small groups like us can actually get rides across the bridge in a pick-up if you call ahead.

We went through the “bad” section of Lake Providence, and continued to a truck stop that the officer had mentioned would be on the south side of town.

There had been a car that kept turning around, and seemed to be following us, and we thought….what?……hmmm. When we got to the truck stop, Janie and her son stopped to talk to us….apparently THEY had been following us, and hoping to catch up with us at the truck stop.

Janie and her son

They were excited to hear about our Mission Tour and Janie even called another son and daughter to come “check us out.”

Janies 2nd son

Night time picture taking

There was another couple there that tried out the trikes, and donated some money to GHA…..

Riding trike

Couple lost child

It turns out that the couple had recently lost a young child, and were struggling to deal with the grief of that. We had the opportunity to share some words of encouragement, as well as some Scripture that tells of a God who blesses those who mourn, and who fulfills promises to those who cry out for help.

We continued another mile or two down the road, but we were both getting pretty sleepy, so we took a nap in the shadows of a roadside church, that turned into setting up our tent on the backside for a few more hours of sleep.

Parked in the shadow

An interesting thing about this picture….yes, you can see Earline beside a door on the east side of the church, but this location was actually in the shadow of a yard light that sat on the north side of the church. And Earline, sitting in this shadow, it was so dark, that from the main road, only 60, 70 yards away, even with her white clothes on, she could NOT be seen.

It was really amazing to see!

It reminded me of the verse in Psalm 17 where it says that we can “Hide in the shadow of God’s wings.”

Lord, protect us, and give us some refreshing rest. In Jesus name.

TGG,

jon

Day 25 [Brownsville, MN – Waterville & Monona, IA]

FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010

Woke up close to river, with tugboats pushing their barges up and down the river.

Wildcat Landing Campground2

Barge beside Wildcat

We slept in until 8:30 (but Earline says that isn’t sleeping in when you don’t go to bed until 3am!!) Well…..maybe…..

We stayed next to a neat family there on an annual trip to this area. Here is James Kammes and his son Kaden, getting prepped for some fishing:

James Kammes and Kaden

And here is Grandpa Bob, giving Kaden some sage advice on the finer points of catching the BIG ONE:

Grandpa Bob and Kaden

Also camped next to us on the west side was Dr. Terry and his wife Michelle. Not only was he excited about our long trek down the river and his own vintage bicycle, but he noticed Earline’s scar and asked about it….apparently he specializes in open heart surgeries, and using technologies that make such surgeries less intrusive.

Terry and Michelle

Again headed south went through some more great scenery, and the last of our trip through Minnesota:

On the road in SE MN

But now, it’s time for a NEW state….one familiar to me….IOWA!

Look another state

Thank you, “Vanna!”

It looks like it gets cold in the winter time in Iowa, too. [Like I don’t know….why do you think I moved to FLORIDA!] Check out THIS stack of firewood:

Gets cold even in northern Iowa LOGS

When we got to New Albin, I had $2 in my pocket, but we soon discovered that it was a special promotional day put on by the local bank….free BEER and BRAT! (root beer) Thank you, God!

Festival in New Albin

And we even got free entertainment – the Good Friends Trio out of Decorah, Iowa.

Good Friends Trio from Decorah

Full of brats and beer, we continued on our way….gotta make it to Monona by tonight!

We had been seeing these large white worms in the fields the past few weeks, but we finally saw how they were created:

Wrapping big round bales in white cocoon

The wheel on the platform kept turning around, as the white wrap encircled each bale, with the farmer loading another bale just in time to connect it to the previous bale. And now you have protected feed for the cattle without the expense of a building. Interesting!

In Lansing, because the day was getting away from us, we made a decision to make an adjustment to a more direct route, with help from a guy named Jon as well as Allie in the convenience store there. Because our cell phones were not working, they let us make a call to Uncle Danny and Aunt Joanita to let them know that we were close and not to worry! Allie had lost hearing in one ear, and expressed an interest in sign language. Be sure to check out th resources at www.godshandsagency.com

Wave hi, Allie!

Allie and Jon

Headed southwest of Lansing, up the Lansing hill towards Waterville, and on to Monona.

Here is an aerial view of our route out of Lansing:

Aerial view of our route south of Lansing

The climb was very steep going up from Lansing, and the traffic was heavy, making our progress slow. We even saw some deer on the right hand side headed up the hill. We could also see lightning in the distance ahead of us…oh, no!

[THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS FROM AN UPDATE I SENT FROM MY BLACKBERRY AT 11:30PM, FRIDAY NIGHT. -jon]

Just wanted to let everyone know we arrived safely at Danny and Joanita’s in Monona about 10:30 tonight, thanks to some special angels from Waterville named Tim and Kristin.

Tim and Kristin

Kristin said they had seen us passing by when they were in their boat on the river. Then when headed home with their boat, they passed us on the road.

They knew about an oncoming storm that we didn’t know about. From their home, Kristin was so convicted about our plight, that she told her husband that they needed to find us.

So they actually came looking for us with their pickup.

Did all of you who are praying for us understand what we said?

They came LOOKING for us.

The Spirit of God Himself convicted Kristin to such a point that she urged Tim to go out into a gathering storm to find us.

They picked us up outside of Waterville, Tim helped me load the fully-loaded trikes on to their pickup, and they DROVE us all the way to Monona as the lightning flashed all around us.

Awesome! Simply an awesome God we serve, because He continues to bring people like Tim and Kristin into our lives. All of you together (and you KNOW who you are) have helped to make this Mission Possible Tour POSSIBLE.

What is God doing in YOUR life?

With God, it is absolutely true that ALL things are possible. [from Matthew 19:26]

TGG,

jon

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

P.S. Danny and Joanita were happy to see us!

Dan and Joanita

 

Day 21 [St. Paul, MN – Prescott, WI]

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010

Happy Monday!

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

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

Bridge24

Looking west from our Wabasha Bridge:

View from Wabasha bridge

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

Holiday store firewood

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

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

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

Black rain coat

Jon in the rain

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

Closed St Paul Trail

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

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

Turtle on the trail

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

Buzzards along the trail

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

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

Side hill full of bull thistles

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

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

DAH Nursery signage landscaping example

DAH Nursery example left of sign

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

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

Trike on dam ridge

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

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

Jon pushing silos CLOSEup

Jon pushing silos

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

Hastings Bridge coming up

Earline look at Hastings Bridge

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

Bridge25

YOU CAN DO THIS!

You CAN do this thumbs up

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

TAH DAH on Hastings bridge

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

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

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

First drawbridge weve gone over

You can see thru

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

Also saw this interesting lift bridge next to the drawbridge:

Lift bridge over the St Croix

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

Dairy Queen in Prescott

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

Cathy Lemand twin

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

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

Trailer in box canyon

Box canyon

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

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

Colorful chicken coop

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

Chickens thought they were pets

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

Colorful OUTHOUSE

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

Dan Geister and Jon

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

THANKS guys!!!

May God bless you MUCH for your warmth and hospitality!

TGG,

jon

Day 20 [St. Paul, MN]

SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2010

While we have a few minutes utilizing the WIFI at Nesbitt’s Nursery [a wonderful cyclist’s oasis south of Prescott that we’ll tell you more about on Tuesday] here are  few photos from Sunday:

Uncle A and Auntee Liz dressed for church:

Uncle A and AuntLiz

Cousin Cassandra and her phone came to church (girl, turn that off for a FEW minutes….HA!):

Cousin Cassandra at church

A picture of the Praise Team at the start of the service (my MOST EXCELLENT Sunday School teacher Sam is leading the singing in this photo) (note to Pastor Mills….they have the same disease in Minnesota. A half hour later all of these back pews were filled by those folks coming in “fashionably” late!)

Praise team at New Hope Baptist

Honestly, though slightly ‘tardy,’ the folks at New Hope Baptist Church were warm and hospitable, and we absolutely enjoyed our time with them all. A special thanks to Rev. Patterson for the opportunity to take a few minutes and share our message at the end of the service, and to the whole congregation for your graciousness and willingness to help share in our Mission Possible Tour. We appreciate it!

In the afternoon, we had a big feast at Auntee Liz’s house, and many folks and relatives stopped by to say hello and take part in the ‘eatins’….here’s some photos from the get-together…..Mike and Anita caught over a HUNDRED fish that they brought for the feast, and Mike did the ‘special touch’ cookin’…..

Mike cooking

Ooooooo, Earline….did you spill something?

Afternoon eatin Earline spillin

Jhawn and friend

Gabby!

Gabby

Maurice and a friend:

Maurice and friend

Look at how FOCUSED she is!

Serious garden watering

Earline and Auntee Liz cleaningup

Auntee Liz and Earline did some cleaning up, Earline and I said most of our good-bye’s, and we went ahead and got packed for an early Monday morning departure.

Thanks to all of the St. Paul household for your warmth and acceptance, and your prayers. We truly appreciated your hospitality!

TGG,

jon

Day 16 [Monticello, MN – Columbia Heights? or something like that!, MN]

JUNE 16, 2010

Started out the day from Monticello, foggy this morning, overcast, but they SAY it is supposed to clear up. Praying so!

Speaking of prayer, met a new friend on the way out of town….Remme (who said his name was spelled “R-E-MMMMM, MMMMMM, E”). He asked to pray with us, and so we did, right in front of the Walgreen’s store……way cool.

Remme and us

The skies finally did lift, and road thru some very picturesque, rolling farmland along the south banks of the Mississippi.

Beautiful blue sky

Stopped for lunch at Cloquet Overlook Park, on the north side of the road, that had a nice separated bike trail for about half a mile before it gets to the park. Careful, though…..the trail that runs south east from the park does NOT return to the road.

Wait!!!! Did you just drop that?

Wait did you just drop that

Earline is NOT “studyin’ me”….blow off the dirt, it’s fine! (with a little extra, ah, protein).

She is really catching’ on to this camping thing, huh!?! Ha!

Stopping for lunch

Cloquet Overlook park

As you can see, we are starting to encounter some rolling hills along the river. As we went over the Crow River, we saw our very first MRT sign of the trip (Mississippi River Trail). This is the trail that Mississippi River Trail Association out of Arkansas has been coordinating with the 10 states along the Mississippi, and the subject of Bob Robinson’s MRT book that we have been telling you about.

First MRT sign

In Dayton we went past this huge, magnificent church – St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. To better show you the size of it, here is Earline in front of the front doors:

Front of church door

And then the whole church of St. John the Baptist [as much as I could fit in the frame!]:

St John the Baptist catholic church

Whoa!

Here’s where we parked to take the picture, next to the SECOND [maybe it was our third….hmmm] MRT sign:

Parked here for church photo

Saw a couple dozen geese and their babies along the way. Couldn’t tell if they were more interested in us, or the fish that the guy on the dock might be catching!

Geese and fisherman

Eventually we made our way to the Coon Rapids Dam. Pretty impressive. There is a pedestrian/bike path that goes along the top of it. This is Bridge #20:

Coon Rapids bridge dam

This lady was trying to sneak a peek at these weird contraptions!

Lady double-take

Here’s Earline, overlooking the massive water falling…..

Earline looking at CRD

This sign gives some facts and figures about the huge watershed of the MR:

MR fact sign at CRD

After leaving the dam, we headed south on the east side of the river, through some real pretty, wooded areas, testament to a parks system that the area has been establishing along the river for over 125 years. (And also rather hilly…..Earline trooped up ALL of the hills by herself……she’s getting stronger!)

Bridge on trail south of dam

Trail thru woods

By this time we needed to find a place to stay for the night…..NONE of the couple dozen or more churches in the Twin Cities area with Deaf ministries had responded to our e-mails. We understand that it was VERY last minute notice to try and organize anything specific, but to not even acknowledge receipt of a communique….. is everyone THAT busy?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

(Our son Reggie has an automated response that goes out when someone e-mails him….Reggie, maybe you can share with us how to set that up, so that people could know that when they send out an e-mail, they receive at least the assurance that their attempt to initiate communication has been successful.)

We decided to set up camp alongside the trail, in what appeared to be a utility easement.

We didn’t want to disturb anybody….and WHO DO YOU CALL FOR PERMISSION at 9:00 at night?

This easement was about 100 feet from the trail, and hidden from the trail by some trees. Some people call this “stealth camping” but I am uncomfortable with that term….I don’t want to be stealing from anybody! What do YOU think about this?

Here was OUR set-up:

Stealth camping1

Stealth camping2

The ground and the roots were a little hard, but we slept well (and no raccoons!). Even the mosquitos weren’t too bad (though that MAY be because of all the OFF that Earline poured on each of us….almost choked ourselves out! HA!)

I am reminded of Jesus, who pointed out that, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

Thanks again to all of you for YOUR prayers and financial support….if you would like to be a blessing by making a secure, online donation, go to www.godshandsagency.com, or you can mail in a donation made payable to GHA, Inc. to his address:  God’s Hands Agency, P.O. Box 585766, Orlando, FL 32858.

Thank you!

TGG,

jon

Day -8 [Orlando, FL and Plymouth, FL]

MAY 23, 2010

Wow….I’m going to need that 3 day train ride to sleep!! Up all night – finished the DVD for this morning’s service about 5am.

Great time with the CORE group – handed out assignments for the summer!

Rushed back home, because I still had to do the program for this afternoon’s prayer service. Here it is:

What a humbling service – had over 150 people or so come, people I haven’t seen for a long time, new friends that I met for the first time – very thought provoking. Reinforcing what I have been saying – that so many people are investing not only dollars but their energies and prayer time in make this trip successful. And THAT is a beautiful thing.

As you can see on the program, we did a foot-washing of 11 various leaders in areas of our non-profit, God’s Hands Agency [GHA], who have been instrumental in growing and expanding our efforts and work with the Deaf in Central Florida.

GRATITUDE is SO important!

Many tears.

Received the letters from Pastor Mills, just like Nehemiah receiving letters of recommendation from the king. I am also including here PDFs (portable document format) of those items.

Letter of Recommendation  /  Evangelism Certificate

Will finish up errands in the morning, pack the trikes out with hopefully EVERYTHING we need, and THEN, tear them down and try to fit them in boxes. (Should be INTERESTING!)

TGG,

jon