Day -1 of the 2011 Mission POSSIBLE Tour

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2011

Jon here…we’ll be doing the BLOG on this trip from a different phone than last year, so we’ll see what kind of “improvements” have happened in a year’s time. [Hmm!]

This time we’ll “only” be going 400 miles in 12-14 days. We leave this Sunday [Day 1], and should be back in Orlando no later than Saturday, the 3rd of December. Neighbors and relatives have graciously agreed to “house sit.” May God grant them a SUPER blessing for their thoughtfulness and graciousness!

We will be leaving directly from Mt. Sinai MBC after service, and Dr. Mills has graciously agreed to have a little prayer time for us….we need it!

This time we will NOT have a wonderful book like “Bicycling Guide to the MIssissippi River Trail” like we had last summer, but I was able to scout the route a couple weeks ago by car.

Good thing!

One of the county roads I had planned for us to take was a dirt road!….a muddy, wet, dirty-dirt road. Oh-oh….

Dirt Road

Would NOT have been a pleasant make-a-u-turn-and-go-15-extra-miles-while-smiling-sheepishly-at-my-wife kind of day….HA!

One thing that will be different – I quickly realized that there aren’t any ‘small county roads’ hardly at all. [At least, that weren’t DIRT!] Much of where we’re headed in Northeast Florida is either interstate highway, major state roads or…..nothing! [well, okay, maybe swamps!…but no roads!]

So we will have some traffic to fight. Except a few sections of the journey, MOST of the route will indeed have a small paved shoulder, though, so that will help.

[Thought I’d be positive, just in case Earline decides to read this….HA!]

Earline’s trike ready to go! [well, almost]

Earlines trike set to go

I still have to melt the head rest.

Melt the head rest? Yes….

Did I tell you about that? I discovered that putting some thick (NOT the thin) PVC pipe in the oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes makes it very pliable. After taking it out the oven [after it starts twisting from the heat], you have a few minutes to shape it however you want, including into a nifty (and inexpensive!) headrest!

Didn’t get it quite right the first time before it hardened? Just stick it back in the oven! Neat trick, huh?!

Then just take a pool noodle, cut to the appropriate length, and slide it on one end. Tah-dah!

We will be making a stop in St. Augustine, anywhere from Monday to Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Like the kids from Louisiana School for the Deaf [say “Hi!”], I’m sure the kids will be fascinated by the trikes, and we’ll able to teach some good life lessons.

Okay!….I, as always, have 15,000 last minute things to do [ha!], so good night, God bless you, and may God bless our efforts to serve Him and do HIS purposes.

TGG,

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 4 [Boothville, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010 UPDATE 4

It’s 5:38pm…only 6 miles to Venice, only 10 miles to the end of the MRT! Whoo-whoo!

[Wow…a cop stopped us and told us for the FIRST time of our entire trip, to get off of the four-lane highway, and on to the shoulder. I explained to him that the shoulder was very rough, with weeds growing up through the asphalt, and lots of debris, and we felt that it was not safe.]

[He just said, “Okay,” and then sped off. Hmmmm.]

[But that does NOT diminish our EXCITEMENT about being near the finish of our journey!]

TGG,

jon

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Day 92 UPDATE 1 [Highway 39, LA]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010 UPDATE 1

Good morning!!!….on this FINAL day of the 2010 Mission Possible Tour down the entire length of the Mississippi River Trail. We left St. Bernard State Park at 5:15 this morning, and we’re over halfway to the Pointe a la Hache ferry, where we’ll cross over to the west side of the river, and continue to four miles south of Venice, Louisiana.

It is there that a sign declares “The southernmost point in the state of Louisiana.” YEA! Pray us through (some Elijah-running-speed strength for our legs would be good).

(Know what I mean?!)

(If not, read 1 Kings 18:46.)

Thanks!

TGG, jon

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

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 51 [St. Charles, MO – north side of St. Louis, MO]

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2010

The cabin were stayed in last night was cute with all the woodwork on the walls and ceiling, and this is one of the cleanest campgrounds we have been in all summer…..but….Earline got BIT all night by some little tiny bugs she found the next morning. They weren’t fleas, but about that size.

After the bugs

And the ADVERTISED wifi was really weak – only about 50 yards from the antenna, and I couldn’t pull it up in the cabin with the computer, and only 1 bar with my Blackberry.

So…..I got up around 6am and sat on the sidewalk by the plug-in by the laundry to work on the blog. After about an hour and an onset of “butt-itis” I realized I could move the picnic table over, and the cord would reach:

Picnic bench at Sundermeier

We left the cabins campground, and headed over to the Missouri River bridge….the MRT signage was the BEST we’ve seen in any state so far, BUT the maintenance of the path….well, it was rough, at best…..paths were rough, grass and weeds growing up IN the path and encroaching on both sides:

Crusty path

We even found this fellow with a little living room set up, sleeping right along the path (nope, I don’t think he even knows I took his picture….he never woke up…..wonder if he’ll ever see this??!!):

Guy sleeping by bike path

And now we come to Bridge #33 (over the MISSOURI river, just before it joins the Mississippi):

Bridge33

Truck traffic on Missouri River bridge

Crossing the Missouri River

In the above picture, the bridge on the right is a train trestle that runs parallel to the bridge we were on. The Missouri River runs from right to left, NORTH at this point, as it winds around to meet the Mississippi.

On the other side of the bridge, still in the state of Missouri, we were also greeted by an un-maintained path:

Cement dividers on path

Trash along trail

I imagine the economy is at least partially to blame for this mess.

We continued on through more bottom land and eventually saw….a mall! And the 1st Steak and Shake we’ve seen on our trip…..yummmm!

AND we found out that since it was between 2 and 4, drinks (including chocolate shakes) were half priced! Thank you God for great shakes at half price. Yea!

At 1st Steak and Shake

We continued south through some neighborhoods, and ended up near a St. Louis airport…..we were thinking and praying….God could still get us to Vegas for tomorrow’s presentation….and we KNOW He is able….so why isn’t He providing?

Airport tower

Well, it turns out that God actually loves us SO much that He had something else in mind….building our character was more important than the trip. And Earline had some special insights into that. More on that in a minute.

As we went past the airport, we could see the storm clouds coming:

Threatening skies past airport

Again, we were SO grateful how God used Gayle and Jeff and Vicki to find some old rain coats for us, because we put them to good use! As the clouds scurried overhead, we scurried to put on our outfits:

Rain gear for Earline

Rain gear for Jon

And then the heavens opened up….BOOM, crack, boom….HARD rain….scary hard, and it lasted for at least 30, 45 minutes….similar to the hard rain we experienced on Day 34 going into Galena, but this lasted MUCH longer. A police officer even asked us about our trip, and told us to be careful.

In the middle of this we sought temporary shelter beside a Dollar General, and Earline and I had some “intense” conversation….scene of the crime:

Outside of Dollar General

I think we were both hurting from the trip to Vegas falling through, a trip that we both felt would have been so helpful for so many Deaf, as well as furthering the work of GHA as well. So what did God want from us?

Both of us were sensing a desire to find a Bible Study to go to, and we passed several churches along Airport/Chambers Road that we discussed going to (dare I say “argued”?….). Yeah, we were having our first big argument of the trip. And even through that, God was showing His glory:

Rainbow before Bible study

Eventually I noticed a church to our left, that had a number of cars headed to it; it was about 7:15, and their marquee listed the Bible study as starting at 7:30.

We went up the hill to the church, took off our rain gear (we were still SOAKED, perhaps more from sweat than the rain), so went into the bathrooms to clean up a LITTLE, found some cardboard to sit our wet selves on, and joined the Bible study.

It was well-attended….there were maybe 100, 140 people there. The name of the church was the Believer’s Temple Word Fellowship Church, on Chambers Avenue.

Dr./Bishop Calvin Scott is the pastor. He had just gotten back from a mission trip to, I believe he said, South America. And WE had a chance to get some GOOD teaching about the 7 Levels of Desire for Brokenness. (Kind of reminded us of Pastor Mills.)

Dr. Calvin Scott

Here’s his outline, and the included Scriptures:

[Base Scripture: Isaiah 57:15….God lives in eternity with those who have a contrite and humble spirit !!]

1) Seek the Heart of God (Ps. 105:4)

2) Repent from dead works (Hebrews 13:9-10) (James 3:13-18)

3) Pray for restoration (Jonah 2:1-2)

4) Thirst for God’s presence (Ps. 42:1-2) (John 7:37) (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

5) Desire to please God in EVERYTHING (Ps. 16:7-9)

6) Live a life of discipline as a disciple of Christ (Luke 14:25-27)

7) Desire to be in the house of the Lord (Ps. 27:4)

During the Bible study, one of the leaders of the church stopped by where we were sitting, and got our information. And then, Pastor Scott, at the end of the study, introduced us, and gave us an opportunity to speak. Earline shared her testimony that she had just learned (God IS more interested in our character, than our comfort!), and we soon discovered there was a Deaf lady who was a guest there that night:

Deaf Patricia Ford

Her name was Patricia Ford, and Earline interpreted for the remaining few minutes of the evening.

Pastor Scott then made the decision to give us the freewill offering for the evening….wow….God continues to surprised and humble us. (And we were almost flat BROKE that evening – didn’t know where we were going to stay….Maybe we SHOULDN’T be surprised, huh?! ….after all that we have witnessed this summer….again, wow!)

By the way, Pastor Scott’s (and the church’s) benevolence falls right in line with a commandment that God gives in Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (thanks to Andy Cairns for this verse):

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the terrible God, Who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger or temporary resident and gives him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger and sojourner, for you were strangers and sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

The assistant pastor gave us directions to the only motel nearby, just a mile away, and we headed there for the night. Thank you again, God, for your loving care and protection.

TGG,

jon

Day 30 [Pikes Peak State Park, IA – Guttenburg, IA]

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2010

Slept in a little bit, up at 8:30.

Question for any of you recumbent riders out there: I’ve been experiencing some numbness in my left foot toes. I normally can shake my foot while I’m riding and the feeling comes back. But this past week, the numbness has continued when I’m OFF the trike, even through the night (like right now, at 3:30am). Any ideas?

By the way, Earline’s leg has been feeling much better. Her legs will sometimes ache at night, but she seems to be getting stronger, and she doesn’t have the sharp pains like she did at first. She wears a wrap on each knee, and that seems to help.

Got a chance to view the Mississippi from the Park’s FABULOUS overlook. Check out these photos:

Approach south overlook

Looking east from Pike’s Peak, you can see where the Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi.

Wisconsin River flowing into MR

Here are barges waiting to be loaded or shipped. In the background you can see the east leg of the MacGregor / Prairie-du-Chien bridge.

Barges waiting to be loaded or shipped

Does the photo below look familiar? Check our the ROUTE page on this web site. The river is almost 3 miles wide at this point [and yes, if the winter is especially cold, the river freezes over, and you can DRIVE from one side to the other!].

Route header photo

Zooming in, you can see the west side of the MacGregor / Prairie bridge. In the distance on the left, you can see the Riverboat casino that we went past yesterday.

West side MacGregor bridge

Tugboat pushing barges

Jon on the overlook

And God sees, DESIGNED every detail…..“The heavens declare His righteousness, and every nation sees His glory.” Psalm 97:6 (In other words, not one person has any excuse….His power and majesty is clearly visible to those who take time to notice.)

Met Lloyd this morning, who has biked all the way from Cairo, Egypt to Capetown, South Africa. He’s also biked across the US a couple times, and Canada.

Earline and Lloyd

The fellow in the Park gift shop knew Uncle Dan (EVERYBODY knows Uncle Dan!….ha!)

Headed down the road towards Guttenberg, again along the top of the ridge with some wonderful, scenic views. Although there was one dip – WHOO! – it was a fun downhill, but a tough uphill. Got passed by a family on bicycles (but no extra gear)…the boys were keeping up with mom and dad for the most part. Now THAT’s family involvement!

Two boys chasing dad

Went down the county road into Guttenberg – got up to 41 MPH. Glad we didn’t have to go UP that hill!

County Road MRT into Guttenburg

Saw a WONDERFUL view of the town as we went down, but I was NOT stopping! Guess you’ll have to come see that for yourself!

Toodled around Guttenburg for a little bit. Real pretty riverfront park. The MRT really should route itself this way….just continue straight on Marina/3rd street. A lot of cute little shops and eating places, too. Just turn right when you get to the end of the park to get over to Hwy 52.

Stopped at a Subway….ask Earline to explain the phrase for the summer: “I hope it’s good and not nasty.”

Met a Pastor and his family who were headed to their vacation place on the island, and they asked if we needed anything! (Well, a place to stay would be nice, and MUCH appreciated!) The daughter Megan gave up her sleeping spot in the backyard camper, so we ask that God give her a special blessing, as well as the whole Duncan Ahrens family.

Ahrens backyard camper

Ahrens family

God used you! And we are extremely grateful. They sometimes have an interpreter at their church, but no Deaf. Earline gave them some tips for seeking out the Deaf.

Thru God’s Grace,

jon

Pre-Horrible 100 [for REAL] Thoughts

NOVEMBER 14, 2009

Here are some thoughts I wrote earlier THIS morning for the Florida Free-Wheelers mailing list:

It is late (2:50 am) and in a little more than 24 hours I’ll be headed out on my first “official” Horrible 100.

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you, and those of you who I already know, pray for me, that I can finish this ride before all the food runs out! Ha! (Mike says it’ll likely run out around 3, so maybe that’s a little incentive for some of you to ride a little faster!)

I’m just trying to finish by 5. For those of you who don’t know, when the maps came out several weeks ago, I decided to “test and verify”…..and let’s just say it was an interesting, dare I say “Horrible” experience! So for those of you feeling a little trepidation about the ride, or just want a good laugh at my expense (!), (as well as some GREAT pictures) check out my web site blog at:

http://blog.thewifipedalers.com/2009/09/12/adventures-on-the-horrible-100.aspx

My wife and I will be setting up a little booth at the event, and if I may, I want to also share a couple quick notes about our heart, and the purpose of this ride.

I have only joined the Florida Freewheelers in the past year, and have already seen a number of great causes come thru the e-mails, but let me just share this with you. A lot of us don’t pay too much attention to these causes because, well, they just don’t really pertain to us, and on top of that, money is real tight right now, etc. etc.

And I say to that, well it may be partly true, but what do we have, over 1,500 riders this weekend on some rather “expensive” bikes? There’s some money to go around, and what I’M talking about according to the latest stats affects 1 in 4 American families.

My wife and I went thru the experience of raising 2 Deaf children, but they, along with a “hearing” Gator freshman are now all VERY independent adults. And the stats say hearing loss affects 1 in 4 families.

Two quick FAQS, and then I’m outta here:

1) 90% of Deaf children are born to HEARING parents, and 2) (and this really tears us up) Less than 10% ever learn to effectively communicate with their own children thru sign language. Only 10%. (And most Deaf do NOT read lips….okay, I snuck a third fact in there!)

Well, these and other faqs are what we are trying to teach the community as well as individual parents who are struggling with this “invisible” disability. This is why we are headed out on a mission tour next summer down the Mississippi River Trail. We’ll be exploring and surveying Deaf culture all throughout the trip, staying at people’s homes, talking at clubs and functions and churches, wherever we can share what we’ve learned.

We also are using it as a BIG venue, with lots of publicity, to raise funds for our non-profit to help continue the services we provide right here in the Central Florida area.

So stop by our booth (The WiFi Pedalers), take the “Deaf or Hearing?” test in one of our brochures, and pick up an “ABC” sheet. Get involved!

Sign Language ABCs sheet

I mean, all of us crazy “Horrible-Hundred-ers” know how to get involved, right? And if your heart tweaks you a little bit, we sure would appreciate your sponsorship of one or more of our miles. $35 a pop gets you on the list, and we’re going to have drawings, prizes, and lots of cool stuff to give away to nudge you to pick a mile, but you’ve got to have a MILE NUMBER! So join in! (you can contribute thru the Paypal connection on the web site – and if you have a specific mile in a certain state that you want, check out the approximate mileage on the Route web page.)

Oh, by the way, the weird 56-year-old on the trike? (This “T” for the Horrible 100 is compliments of one of our sponsors, Power On Cycling in Riverview, FL – check out their site!) That’s me on the trike, and that’s what MY WIFE and I will be riding down the MRT. Stop by the booth and tell her, SHE CAN DO IT. And check out the route at:

http://www.thewifipedalers.com/The_Route.html

If you know any contacts, or have any family along our route next summer, we’d appreciate any connections you could give us.

(Oh, and Tom tells me that in the 30-year history of the HH, I am the FIRST registered trike to attempt to complete the 100 miles.) (arrrive by five, arrive by five, arrive by five….)

Anyway, thanks again, and may the wind always be at your back, and all (okay, MOST) of your roads go downhill. (I told my wife the MRT was all downhill…..rivers run downhill, right?!)

HA!

jon