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 71 [Tom Sawyer Campground, West Memphis, AK – Co. Rd. 7, AK]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2010

A new night, a new state, but the same story recently –  we had another very uncomfortably warm night last night. I understand the low was around 85 degrees, after highs that have been running around 105 actual temperature.

As you can see, we were RIGHT on the banks of the Mississippi.

High and wide MR

Kinda of reminded me of the Army Corp of Engineers Wildcat Landing Campground in southeast Minnesota, DAY 25, with barges being pushed up and down the river, but of course, the River is much bigger here [AND faster, and much higher than normal….people tell us we should be able to see sand bars, but there are none….it’s running bank to bank.]

Huge barge on MR book downriver

Once the mosquitos disappeared at dawn (Earline wants to know….where do they go? She says that maybe we can create something to KEEP them there!) we opened the tent fly and got an hour of at least some sleep.

We liked this Tom Sawyer Campground. Not the fanciest place, but it was only $12 for the night, a 7# bag of ice was $1, cans of soda pop were 50 cents, and laundry was free. We liked it!

Saw some gorgeous scenery this morning – here is a sampling:

Beautiful morning from TSC

Had a breakfast of graham crackers, honey, and peanut butter (sorta yumm…..ah….sorta….well, maybe not) and the last of the fruit from Gayla and Jennifer from Beech Grove MBC.

We received a wonderful e-mail from a lady in Memphis who saw our photo in the Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal. Here’s some of the text of that e-mail:

“I saw the photo in this morning’s edition of the Commercial Appeal. Just last night, I began writing a book about our deaf son who went to heaven just 4 months ago. In writing about his life, I hope to not only memorialize his awesome life, but encourage other parents who are faced with the daunting task of raising a hearing impaired child. Nathan was 37 when he took his life, and we will never be the same. BUT we know he went immediately into the arms of Jesus, instantly into a new and perfect body, equipped with ears that now hear music we cannot imagine. If you are still in the Memphis area, I would love to just meet you or speak on the phone briefly to say, ‘Way to go!’ Have a safe and wonderful journey.”

Awesome! Thank you, God.

I got the idea to try and do a flip video, so we spent about 2 hours trying to set that up, and speak to the camera without make TOO many mistakes. HA! And here it is:

Video clip from Tom Sawyer Campground (you can also find this on the home page of the thewifipedalers.com)

Did our warm-ups and stretching…..yes, this is part of our daily routine. We stretch before heading out every morning – we have found that it makes a significant difference in the energy and power we have the first 30 minutes of our day’s ride.

Stretching at TomSawyer CG

Finally packed up and headed out….got some ice from the office.

Leaving the TSC

It took me about an hour to figure out how to get BACK to the road we were supposed to be on from the campground. Cutting across the south side of West Memphis, we only had to backtrack about 2 miles.

Then stopped at convenience store down the road for a little more ice (and Earline got a Honeybun…she REALLY likes them).

Several people talked to us about the trikes and the Tour. We talked about the Deaf, and various stats….one guy asked to test drive:

Natural rider outside W Memphis convenstore

One lady took pictures [SMILE!]:

Lady taking picture of us

I spent another hour on the phone with T-Mobile and UPS…BOTH of them had policies in place that would NOT allow them to hold a package (my replacement phone) shipped to the UPS store. It was actually T-Mobile that went against their own SOP and called UPS to tell them to hold the package in Greenville for me. Thank you, T-Mobile!

We had a couple other phone calls and e-mails to make, so by the time we left the convenience store, it was almost 4:00pm, and our ice was melted. Ack!!….how do we ever get anywhere?!

Went about 3 miles down the road, and POW!…the back tire blew out!!

I had noticed Sunday that it was looking really worn, but I thought I could get another week out of it. (Yes, Andy, this is the brand new tire that I put on to replace one of the original tires on Day 38, so it only lasted 33 days??!) That was around Albany, Illinois, so…..maybe 800 miles? Hmm!

(Of course, having 500 pounds in my panniers probably isn’t the best thing for the tire, huh…..HA!)

Blow out of tire new from day 35

And after putting new tires on my fronts (after Sunday’s blowout) and Earline’s back tire on Sunday night, I was down to one worn spare. I decided to put the new right front tire on the back of the trike (which seems to be wearing out faster), and put the worn spare back on the front. Whew!

Swapping tires

Finally got going again….by now it’s 5:30.

BARN ART alert!

I would call this BARN ART because of the innovative roofing that allows equipment to be stored next to the barn and out of the rain.

Barn art ALERT plantation

Of course, the implementation of that design requires some maintenance, or the design doesn’t work!

Whoops!….

…..Deduct points for this oversight:

Implementation of innovation

Saw a mother and a group of 4 boys on the side of the rode. Apparently the mother’s grandfather had hit a coyote with the truck 2 nights earlier, and she was showing the boys the decaying coyote. We explained about our trip, and handed out some ASL cards.

(No, I did not get a picture of the coyote…wasn’t much left after 2 sunny days anyway!)

Continued past more playful farm dogs (NOT Earline’s favorite) and I felt led to stop at a house by the side of the road, and ask a gentleman there if we could camp in his yard. It turns out he pastored Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Helena, Arkansas for 10 years. He and his wife, Lord willing, will be celebrating their 60 wedding anniversary in December.

Pastor Cordell and Jon

Pastor Cordell gave us permission to camp, and access to water. Thank you, Lord.

Really muggy again tonight, BUT, we had a breeze! (albeit, artificial)….[Earline says the little Walmart battery-operated fan I got her is the BEST gift she ever received….how ’bout that?!!…..guys, take notes….]

I only had one bar or none of phone service, but I was able to get a text message out to Kevin in Helena thru a warmshowers.org connection. He said yes! Yea! [But it’ll be a long day tomorrow….about 65 miles….pray us thru!]

TGG,

jon

Day 70 [Memphis (Germantown), TN – Tom Sawyer Campground, West Memphis, AK]

MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 2010

We had to get up around 4:00am, because our warmshower.org hosts needed to leave around 7:30.

Kevin and Kathy were great hosts, and got a chance to try the LOADED trikes before we left.

[But why is Earline holding a dog??!!]

Kathy Kevin Earline Jon

Kathy tries trike

Kevin tries loaded trike

Went to the Fedex Office (Kinkos) and got 200 more copies made of the quarter-page handout. The guy suggested we do colored paper for a dollar more, so we picked flourescent yellow!

Quarter page handout

Then we headed to the bike story (remember, Kevin and Kathy’s place is about 15 miles from downtown, so we had a ways to go.) It was really a pretty ride, though, with some scenery like this:

Pretty scenery on way back to downtown

We also saw this…..well, what is it???!! [Free wifi pedalers t-shirt to the first person who gets it right!][Someday!]

Camouflaged cell tower

After some directions corrections, we found the “Peddlers” (hey, they spelled it wrong!) bike shop. We talked to probably a dozen people or more about our Mission Possible Tour while sitting outside the store.

I picked up a couple tubes (a very blessed decision), a couple CO2 cartridges (a way to fix a flat with no pumping), and a mirror to replace the one I busted in the ditch in Kentucky (my “fix-it” wasn’t staying fixed.)

I had called the Memphis newspaper earlier, and a news photographer called back to see where we were so he could get some pictures. We tried to connect our schedules, and he said he would be heading our way.

He caught up with us on Peobody Avenue, and took some notes and some photos. He said it would probably be a stand-alone photo in tomorrow’s paper. [It was…..here’s the link: Commercial Appeal newspaper]

Commercial Appeal photo

As we approached downtown, we found the funeral home that years ago had Dr. King’s body, and we stopped in to visit. Here is R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home chapel where he lay in state for 6 hours:

MLK bier

We met Christine Hill, who lived just down the street from the funeral home when Dr. King was killed. She is now 81 years old, working hard, and looking good!

Christine Hill

Christine Hill and Earline

We triked over to the RIGHT Patterson church…..

Earline explore Patterson church

…..and met the Media Director, Mr. Willie Douglas. He tried HIS hand at recumbent triking!

Media minister of Patterson church

We talked with him a while, and explored some further collaboration concerning ministry to the Deaf of western Tennessee.

Later on we saw this bumper sticker on the way to the bridge…..now THAT will preach [AGAINST that, I mean!]. (Only a fool says is in his heart that there is no God…..Psalms 14 and 53.]

Born ok 1st time

Now….Interstate 55….even though there IS a separated pedestrian path, well, I get the impression they don’t want us to use it! Look at the weeds! (Earline was NOT happy!)

Entering Interstate 55 walkway

North side Interstate 55

And the walkway was full of glass, metal of various shapes and sizes, and even a basketball goal. [Don’t ask me!] [Didn’t think to get a picture of that, with all the other drama!]

Such as it was……here is Bridge #39:

Bridge39

Semi entering 39 MOVE OVER

Crossing 2391

It was VERY noisy with all the truck traffic, and the clanging railing…I thought I’d try a video to give you the full effect:

Here’s the link to the video of our trek over this bridge, with the trucks zooming by just inches away!!

[Turn your speakers WAY UP to get the FULL effect!]

Welcome to state #8! [Earline! Don’t you want to get out and point at this sign? NO??!!….OK.]

Welcome to state 8

After we finished crossing over the bridge, and going thru more 4-foot weeds!!, we STILL had to ride beside all the interstate traffic for 3 MORE MILES….AND we had to pass a weigh station where ALL the trucks were existing, and then re-entering.

Yes, this was a tense part of the trip (which included convincing Earline that we could NOT take Exit 1, but had to wait to get off at Exit 3C)….convincing her was actually probably the HARDEST part of our trip so far. That, and getting past the truck traffic entering and exiting the weigh station, Exit 2…..after getting off at Exit 3C, the route wound us clockwise around UNDER the interstate highway, and there were TWO MRT signs, one taking us west to West Memphis, the other seemingly point east toward the bridge….on dirt!

I didn’t realize this until later, but I think they wanted us to take the SOUTHBOUND side of the bridge, because one of the MRT signs was actually seeming to point to some very hilly, dirt-bike hills under the bridge that I’m guessing tied into the southbound side of the bridge, something we NEVER could have traversed with our weighted down recumbants….we had taken the only option possible for us.

Wish I had gotten a picture of those signs, but I did not….but I DID get a video of Earline’s, ah, “composure” after getting off the interstate…..it is on the Mission Possible 2010 DVD. [You HAVE to check it out!]

Interesting.

[While updating this entry, I DID find a photo from 2013 on the saltedhash.brydon.net blog…this IS indeed the MRT sign that points to the SOUTH side of the bridge, which with our recumbents, would have unfortunately, been a worse experience than the NORTH side….so we did alright.]

MRT sign southwest side of bridge

Followed the road into West Memphis, and got a couple snacks at a convenience store. Took the left turn on 8th street, which at the time seemed odd, because there was a light at the next block at 9th street. However, the 8th Street turn is correct, because a mile down the road, only 8th street continues south over the railroad tracks.

We saw this signage on a church on 8th street:

NEW St Paul MBC in WM

THEN, just a few blocks down, on the same side of the street, we saw THIS church, and their signage:

OLD St Paul MBC in WM

OLD St Paul MBC sign close up

Now you KNOW that there has to be a story behind these two churches! (I’d like to have been a fly on the wall at THAT meeting!!)

Eighth street brings you right to the entrance off Tom Sawyer Campground. Now this was not the fanciest campground that we went to this summer, but it was one of our favorites.

Why?

It grounds were clean and they had pretty tight security. It was a pretty spot right on the banks of the Mississippi. The bathrooms and showers were easily accessible, clean, AND air conditioned. And the laundry was FREE (we definitely took advantage of that!)

Pam Clarke was helping out in the office. She was a hoot, and was fun to talk to. (So these critters were caught IN the campground??!!…..hmmmm)

Pam Clark and Earline BY CRITTERS

Her son Hezekiah (Shane) got to try out one of the trikes:

Hezekiah Shane tries trike

By now he is back in Afghanistan, with about 4 months of service left…..pray for him! (Psalm 91 would be a good place to start.)

Even got a nice photo of the both of us coming into camp:

TSC Earline and Jon

Here are some photos of our camp site, as well as some of the scenery as the sun went down (warning….the mosquitoes REALLY come out at sunset at this place – worst attack we had all summer. Just remember to be in your tent or RV BEFORE the sun goes down….HA!)

Camping spot in TomSawyer

Sunset at Tom Sawyer campground

Studying some Word.

Studying at sunset

After saying goodbye to new friends in Memphis, and surviving the harrowing bridge into Arkansas, we are ready to continue our journey south tomorrow morning.

Through God’s Grace,

jon

Day 64 [Cayce, KY – Samburg, TN]

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2010

Spent a VERY muggy night suffering in our tent. NO breeze, and I understand the low for the night only reached around 85 degrees.

We were grateful for the place under the tree in front of the Methodist Church here in Cayce, and got up with the sun around 5:30 saw that we wouldn’t startle anyone.

Tuesday morning at Methodist church

Earline mentioned how she was really CRAVING a cup of coffee.

I discovered what happens when you roll up your glasses in the tent!

Cant find glasses

We left a thank-you note in the church door, and headed west towards Hickman, Kentucky about 7:00am. We had gone 2 BLOCKS, when what did we find but a CAFE….open for breakfast…..with COFFEE!! (Earline says “Thank You, God!!!)

Cayce Cafe GREAT French toast

Inside there was a group of about 8 men sitting around a table. I introduced myself, and asked if any of them were members of the Methodist Church. 2 of them were. They hadn’t seen us camped out, but I told them we left a thank-you note!

I handed out quarter page flyers to them, and explained a little about our Mission Possible Tour.

It is HIGHLY recommended that if you are in the area that you stop for breakfast. Excellent food, great prices, and some of the BEST French Toast I have ever had. Truly GREAT!!

THEN, as we were eating, one of the men from the table came over and introduced himself…..his name was Darrell Powell, and he was part of a construction team that goes every year to do construction work for the Deaf in Puerto Rico!!

Darrell Powell Construction Ministry

Apparently the Deaf are very ostracized in Puerto Rico….they can’t get any government assistance, and are generally shunned and labeled as “undesirables” by the rest of their society. Kudos to Darrell and his wife for the wonderful work they are doing for the Deaf!

After we had gone a few miles, the road to Hickman widened……we LOVE roads like this!!!!

We LOVE roads like this

Once we arrived in Hickman, Charlotte Smith of the local paper, The Hickman Courier, stopped us to get a picture and our story. Here’s Charlotte:

Charlotte Smith of Hickman Courier

[Does anybody know if we made it in THIS paper? I wonder….]

While we sitting there talking to Charlotte, a gentleman from Coy’s Place across the street brought us some cold Gatorade…..THANK YOU!!

Guy at Hickman gave Earline Gatorade2

The bluff overlooking the river valley is pretty impressive, but the view wouldn’t have been possible without some aggressive bluff stabilization work. Great ingenuity!

Scenic overlook preserved

Bluff erosion prevention

As we traveled through Hickman, there is like a lower and an upper part of the town. The upper part seemed to have more modern, newer stores and businesses. Some of the lower parts of the town reminded me, though, of Cairo, IL, and they had one area down by the Post Office roped off for demolition.

Lower Hickman KY

You can see a flood gate in the back center part of this picture. In bad flood years the Mississippi has apparently been up near the top of this flood wall. Here you can see a barge just over the top of the flood wall.

Barge at Hickman, KY

MOST of these little towns have been hit hard by the economy these past years. I think the economic impact of the 9-11 hit us deeper than we realize. And the ever-growing lack of support, with increased taxes and regulations from the state and nation’s capitals has combined to drive a lot of businesses OUT of business.

We see it just about every day.

Here another part of the town in the lower section.

Lower Hickman demolition bldg

We finally found the Post Office, and stopped in to get a package of tire supplies that Mark Power from Power On Cycling in Riverview, Florida sent to us. Post Offices WILL hold mail for you that is sent General Delivery for up to 10 days.

That’s good news! Here is the Post Office where I picked up the package.

Marks package received

The BAD news is, it is hard to know what the topography of the Post Office might be. Here is a HUGE hill to the left of the Post Office that I now must go up. [By the way, Earline wisely decided to NOT come back down this hill, after just going up it a few blocks earlier….HA!]

Steep hill from PO

ACTUALLY, the 2-dimensional photo above of the hill doesn’t do the hill justice, because I am at a lower angle taking the picture looking up, and the hill appears kinda flat, which was NOT the case. Let me distort the photo a little to give you a more true idea of what the hill REALLY looked like:

Distorted picture from PO

Now THAT’s more like it REALLY was!

We stopped at a convenience store on the way out of town, and again talked with several locals about our Mission Possible Tour. This is a scene that has been repeated day in and day out throughout the trip:

Hickman southside convenience store

It is SO hot again today….we saw more dried-up cornfields:

DRY cornfield

More dry corn

What is so weird is to see this condition of the fields, and it is NOT THAT FAR SOUTH of where we saw FLOODED fields just north of St. Louis.

Amazing.

We were out in the middle of the fields, with no shade to speak of:

Long stretch of field

Ran across the state line sign out in the middle of one of those fields. State #7! (little different conditions than the LAST state boundary crossing, huh??!!) (Could someone please straighten out the sign?……thank you.)

Tennessee sign state 7

By 1:00pm, because of the heat, we decided to hunker down under some shade we found, and waited there for about 4 hours. So what did we do with our time in the shade out in the middle of nowhere?

Take a look:

Find shade and shave

Find shade and polish

We eventually headed back into the Tennessee heat….it felt like an oven! (We learned later that day that the actual temperature reached 105 that day!):

Back into Tennessee heat

A dad and a little girl named Leia with a cool camera stopped us on the road to take our picture:

Leia and dad and Eric

As you can see in the picture on the left in back, an officer also stopped us and asked if we needed any help. His name was Eric from the Obion County Police Dept., and he graciously offered to escort us almost TEN MILES into the town of Samburg, Tennessee…..wow! Thanks! Here’s Officer Eric behind us:

Erics Obion County police car

Finally got to Samburg, and Reelfoot Lake, and had a nice evening meal lakeside at the Pier Restaurant…..what a relief to be in some air conditioning! We talked with some parents in the restaurant who were teaching their young children sign language. We offered them some resources and encouragement. You can do it!

By now it was dark, and the man at the motel across the street offered us a room at a discount. We are MOST grateful! Thank you, Jesus!

TGG,

jon

Day 60 [Cape Girardeau, MO – Twente School Road/Hwy 3, IL]

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010

Wow…hard to believe it’s been 2 months already…only 1 month to go, and less than 990 miles to go.

We said a prayerful good-bye to “mom” today…she had made us eggs this morning (and she milked the cow….MILK) (ha), and I had a chance to get caught up-to-date on the blog this morning.

Squeeze Earline mom

(By the way, for those of you who are new to the blog here, unlike last night at “mom’s” house, many times we do not have WIFI to do the daily blog….but I was able to set it up so that I can e-mail text to the blog from my Blackberry, and I just add pictures later. What I HAVEN’T been able to figure out, though, is how to leave spaces between the paragraphs so that it does not look like one run-on sentence. I have tried space bar spaces, periods, alt-spaces…..nothing has worked. Tonight I am simply trying to put a (P) where a blank line should go. We’ll see if THAT works.)

(It didn’t.)

(By the way #2….tonight we don’t even have phone service, so this blog won’t go out until I have bars in the morning.)

(“Mom”….this is why we didn’t call you tonight…we have no phone service where we’re at.)

(Sure are a lot of parentheses here, huh?!!)

((((((((((yup!)))))))))))

After we left mom’s, we happened to be going right past the SE Missourian, so we stopped in to see if they wanted a story on us…not really, it seems. Like Earline said, you throw the seed on the ground, and some grows, some doesn’t.

We met a fellow cyclist at the library. (Earline had to pee-pee.) David gave us his “I’m big, I’m bad, and I ride a bike” pose:

David at library in CG

We saw this wonderful, elaborate painting on the side a building along Broadway [yes, this is ACTUALLY painted on the building….I did NOT add this in Photoshop]:

2 story Bible verse

We stopped by the floodwall to look at the mural we heard so much about…we really enjoyed the artists’ work….interesting!

Start of flood wall mural

We met Gary and Clodine Metje, who were also looking at the high water on the outside of the floodwall. They just celebrated their 55 wedding anniversary.

Gary Clodine and Earline

You can see how the water is lapping at the bottom of the outside of the flood wall. The river is HIGH!

Outside of floodwall

Stopped and had lunch at a shady shelter at the south end of the mural. Talked to Cyndi, and encouraged her “in the Word.” What we learned later, is that Cyndi had lost one of her patients earlier that day…..thank you God for allowing us to be an inspiration!

Headed across the Mississippi River, back one more time to Illinois, over the Bill Emerson bridge. (Pssst….see the Mormons on their bicycles just ahead of us?!) (We sometimes need to explain to folks that we are NOT Mormon!)

Bridge #37:

Mormons on bridge

Crossing BE bridge

Bridge37

Entering Illinois on Bridge 37

Saw this neat beam of sunlight streaming through the clouds.

Beam of light

The water is high, and running fast, and the swamps on either side of Highway 3 were looking full. Then it started to rain, as we came upon a flagman and single-laning for traffic. He let us go on ahead as the rain started to pour down. We went maybe a few hundred yards when….TA-DAH….we noticed a camping sign to the right…and a pavilion!

We raced for that, and waited out the rain. It poured for a good 30 – 40 minutes. Earline was singing some old hymns, and I got some neat photos (remember to thank God in ALL situations!) (see Hosea 6:6)

Singing in the little pavilion

Jon in the little pavilion

Silhouette Earline

I saw this tugboat pushing a barge downriver….and with the current so strong, boy, was he bookin’!!

Barge thru rain

(It is raining again right now as I write this at about 10:00pm….but we’re nice and dry. I’ll explain.)

When the rain stopped, as we left the little pavilion we discovered was that this was the town of Thebes, and we headed south. The little map at the shelter said we weren’t too far from the Horseshoe Campground, so that’s where we intended to spend the night.

As we continued on Hwy 3, the water on the hot asphalt was creating clouds of steam that created kind of an eerily pretty scene.

Steam on road

By now though, we could hear thunder behind us, and some tremendous lightning. ANOTHER storm!

The storm was coming closer and closer. It looked like we were not going to be able to outrun it. I could see a wall of rain maybe 200 yards behind us.

I stopped to tell Earline to put her rain gear back on, when we noticed a large pavilion to the left, next to a Baptist Church. We raced for that pavilion as it started to rain, and lightning, and more rain….(shelter in a storm).

By now it is only about an hour before dark, and as the rain continued for a bit, we decided to camp right there. There was a house right next to some playground equipment, next to the pavilion, but no one answered the door. (So who DO you ask?)

There were Christmas decorations by the front door, and lots of bird poop under a snowman wind chime….it looked like the house hadn’t been occupied for a while.

We set up the tent, and since we couldn’t stake the tent down, we tried putting each trike on either side, and attached the tent tarp to the stake behind the spokes….and it worked pretty well. It kept the side walls pulled out, creating more room in tent.

Tent set up by Baptist church

We had a little supper (Earline slaved over it all day – and we both agreed it was good!) (Ha!)

Supper is served

The rain has been off and on all evening, but we’re nice and dry….(now if we can just find this mosquito that’s been bothering us all night) (Earlline! Don’t spray that BUG BOMB while we’re IN here!….let me deal with this….good night!)

Through God’s Grace,

jon

Day 42 / July 12, 2010 [Winfield & Mt. Pleasant, IA]

MONDAY, JULY 12, 2010

Happy Monday! Slept great last night….listening all morning to my “owl.”

Even slept in a little – feeling ESPECIALLY guilty about THAT while staying on a farm!….growing up in NE Iowa, we had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go “FIND” the cows. You had to go get them – they wouldn’t just come if you called them. And especially in August, when it would be foggy in the morning sometimes, you really had to HUNT for them!

I had a chance to work on the blog some more, and Earline again had the opportunity to get some more “farming” education.

This morning she even got to FEED the cows.

 

Cows fight for grain

 

Earline say, “Look at me! I am RIGHT NEXT to the cows!”

Earline right next to the cows

One of the cows decided they didn’t like the flavor of the feed that Jeff was feeding!

 

Dont like this flavor feed

The article by the paper in the Burlington Hawk Eye came out today. We thought it was nicely done….and the photos by John on pages 1 and 3 were most excellent…..thank you! I even heard from yet ANOTHER cousin in the area (hey, Jens!) because he read about us in the paper! A link to the article can be found here: Hawk Eye Newspaper article

We swung by John and Vicki’s one more time to say good-bye.

 

Vicki and Jon and John

What was especially nice this weekend, was getting to know some cousins even better (and for them to meet Earline!). After all these years, each of us has lived life, has experienced the joys and struggles of failing and succeeding. I enjoyed “comparing notes” and sharing those lessons learned. Let’s do this more often!!

So…..getting ready to head out on more of the journey tomorrow.

TGG,

jon

Day 41 [Winfield, Mt. Pleasant, Swedesburg & Burlington, IA]

SUNDAY, JULY 11, 2010

The Word of God says….”Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” [Psalm 30:4-5]

Scene looking NE from Gayle and Jeffs house

Busy day today….first we went over to an 8am service that the Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church has in a local park during the month of July. This is where Esther (Engelhardt) Wonderlich goes to church. (Esther lived on the farm just to the south of my family’s as I was growing up in Iowa.) Pastor Herb gave a most EXCELLENT message on the Good Samaritan.

Esther Earline Pastor Herb Jon

Also met a couple who have done a lot of Mission work overseas through the Rotary Club, and he rides a Terratrike recumbent. We discussing a variety of recumbent-butt-and-toes issues.

Rotary club recumbent rider

Speaking of that, I discovered recently that reclining the seat back slightly, and taking OUT the cushion that slides into the webbing straps of the seat greatly increases the comfort level of the recumbent position. Adjust the straps so that the two straps most forward are tight, but the ones directly under you are more loose – JUST enough to keep you sitting ABOVE the cross beams of the steering rods or axle.

This creates a little “pocket,” if you will, to sit in, and is really quite comfortable. And getting the straps adjusted correctly is the important thing.

Then we went over to the 10:00am service at Swedesburg Lutheran, where Cousin Gayle and Jeff go to church. Well, it turns out that Pastor Steve Zittergruen is ALSO a COUSIN of mine, but on my mom’s side. His grandmother and my mother were first cousins! And he also remembered that as a child in church in Monona, he had my mother as a Sunday School teacher! Imagine that!

Earline and I shared our heart for the Deaf, and taught everyone a song I wrote called “Living in the Grace.” Everyone today was very warm and receptive, and we truly appreciated the opportunity to share message of Matthew 19:26. (Plus, Pastor Steve’s wife makes GREAT cupcakes!)

Pastor AND Cousin James Zittergruen

Said our goodbyes to Torey, Gayle and Jeff’s daughter, who was up for the weekend.

Cousin Torrie and Earline

Then Gayle and Jeff let us borrow a car, and we headed to Burlington for our interview with the young man who talked with us after the concert last night. Here’s Nick Bergin from the Burlington Hawk Eye:

Man behind the story

And his most excellent photographer, John Lovrett:

John Lovretta the photographer

I think the interview went well (Earline was her normal charming self!) and Nick did a nice job with the story. You can find it here: Hawk Eye story. [Ooops, note from Jon, 2014:  In the past couple years, the Burlington Paper has gone to a PAID subscription only online. SOOOOOO, you can see the start of the article, but need to pay $1.50 to read it in it’s entirety. Working on a work-a-round for that….stay tuned.]

Here is the front page of the paper, with our photo:

WiFi Pedalers newspaper Burlington

Then we headed over to Concordia Lutheran Church in Burlington where a Deaf Bible study is held there the 2nd Sunday of every month at 4pm.

Met Pastor Tim, a Lutheran Pastor who has GREAT Deaf services and Bible studies in Dubuque, Davenport, Muscatine, and Burlington. For more info on times and places, contact Pastor Tim Eckert:  deaflutheran@q.com / www.iowaeastdeaf.org

Deaf Bible study group in Burlington

Did some supply shopping at Walmart in burlington, and then headed home [to Jeff and Gayle’s place].

“HOME” has to be wherever someone in their kindness allows us to stay….and we APPRECIATE it!

Thanks to God for ALL of today’s ministry opportunities.

TGG,

jon

Day 40 [Winfield & Burlington, IA]

SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2010

Saturday was a day of rest and catch-up, along with planning for Sunday’s activities.

Jon and Gayle at Gayle and Jeffs house

I got in a quick picture with Gayle before trying to spend some time on the blog. Earline got a chance to see and learn some REAL farm concepts from cousin Jeff, like rolls of tile for the fields, corn tassels and corn silk, and big, rugged farm tractors.

Jeff and a roll of tile

Jeff explains tassels and corn silk

Big blue tractor

Jeff gives Earline to chance to take a look “under the hood.”

Big yellow tractor insides

We took the trikes and signage down to the Symphonic Blast in Burlington. Met the Southeast Iowa Symphony Manager – Kate Gerst, the “farmer-conductor” – Bob McConnell, and a spokesman from KBUR, Steve Hexom.

Manager Conductor Announcer

Here’s a look at the performing symphony, and the huge crowd that turned out on this gorgeous night!

SE Iowa Orchestra

Audience1

Audience3

The conductor was kind to mention our endeavor, our Mission POSSIBLE Tour, and because of that, a young man from the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper, came and made an appointment to interview us for tomorrow for a story in their paper. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the fireworks near the end of the concert (along with the 1812 Overture and some peppy patriotic music) were THE best fireworks that Earline and I had ever seen. Bravo!

Fireworks1 in Crapo Park

Fireworks2 in Crapo Park

Trikes and signage

Always TGG,

jon