Day 22 [Wabasso Beach – Melbourne, FL]


[Distance traveled: 30 miles]

Happy Friday! Yes, we are safely at my sister’s after a rough 30 miles into the wind all day.

Before I get started here, though, a did want to clarify something. I have been using the phrase, “Help make our Mission Possible POSSIBLE!”…..and many of you have contributed to this “Facing Your Fears” Tour in so many ways, through your prayers, through providing us with ice, through opening up your home to us for a place to stay, and MANY other ways.

And we are SO grateful.

But I did want to clarify, though, that when we talk about contributing to our cause, we are talking about funds that go directly to God’s Hands Agency, and we are NOT talking about funds that go toward these Mission POSSIBLE Tours. These trips are underwritten by Earline and myself, and our jab designs business, and are meant to be an ENCOURAGEMENT for those of you working with us in God’s Hands Agency, and the STRUGGLES that we ALL go through in our daily lives.

Any funds that we are asking you for are going towards the operating budget of God’s Hands Agency for the coming calendar year. We have set a goal of $5,000 for this entire next year, and hope to raise that by the end of December. And we are using our “Go Fund Me” website to collect those funds.

Earline has put together an excellent review of some things that God’s Hands Agency has accomplished in the past year, and when you go to the Go Fund Me site, you can read Earline’s thoughts right there, as well as the Scripture verses, the “lyrics” for all 6 of the Fearless songs! There is a link to Go Fund Me web site on the front page of our God’s Hands Agency web site.

Yesterday I mentioned that as the sun was going down, we were at Wabasso Beach, and were trying to find a place to lay down our head for the night.

Unbeknownst to us, there is hardly ANYTHING at Wabasso Beach [except a great little deli], but no place to stay, except at Sebastian Inlet State Park, which was still 7 miles away, or across the bridge over to Highway 1, ALSO about 7 miles away. What to do?

So at OUR speed, we’re still talking about an hour-and-a-half away.

There did seem to be SOMETHING big to our right….so I stopped at the guard gate to ask for advice, and it turned out to be a Disney Resort – what they call Disney Vero Beach Resort. Miss Diane told us about the lack of any facilities close by, but then she said to hold up, and she would check if they had anything available.

Any they did!

ONE room, a studio apartment for the handicapped, was available. It was not cheap, but our AAA membership provided a $40 discount! How about that! So we decided to take it.

Miss Brenda from the Front Desk met us outside, and you can see her picture in yesterday’s blog.

All we really did was sleep [HA!], but we appreciated the nice place to rest.

We took a quick walk in the morning, and this is indeed a beautiful location.

This was the little porch attached to our room.

Earline on DVB porch

The lodge was huge!

Disney Vero Beach resort

They had a beautiful boardwalk right on the Atlantic.

Me looking at ocean

But as we took these pictures we were freezing! It was colder this morning than yesterday!

[One quick boo-clap here…Disney! Shame on you. In the lobby, 20 feet from the entrance to the breakfast area, you have a hot coffee stand, all pretty and smelling good…..BUT!

There are no cups! Where are the cups?

It turns out that the CUPS cost money – 2 bucks or whatever it was – the CUPS cost money! What? You can’t provide free coffee to your guests? BAD public relations. Even Motel 6 provides free coffee…HEH!]

Okay……one interesting note….I use the term often [and too often FEEL it], that we are ALL going back to the dust. And we are….you KNOW we are.

Whether it is the simple 50-year-old motel, OR this big, fancy Disney resort, ALL show signs of going back to the dust. Even here, the knob on the closest door was loose and almost falling off. The shelf beside the bathroom sink had loose wall anchors on the left hand side, and was tipping dangerously, and the screw for the shower was loose, so that the shower head would not hold up at an angle, but flopped forward, pointing the shower spray at the handle [I fixed that…ha!].

EVERYTHING’s going back to the dust.

And didn’t God make that clear to Adam, that Adam would die, and that death, and disease, and deterioration would be brought into the world because of sin?

And that is EXACTLY what we honestly see all around us.

We had our trikes in the room with us – remember, this was a handicapped room, with wide spaces – and took them by elevator down to the basement. [Only way to ride them in and out!]

Yes do fit in elevator

Oh-oh! This guy doesn’t want Earline to leave!

Earline in fake topiary jaws

After a quick bite at the Wabasso deli, we then bundled up and headed north.

Cold morning Earline on A1A

It was COLD….and the wind was blowing pretty strong in our faces. Brrrrr!

Even EARLINE was wearing her jacket to stay warm!

We hadn’t actually gone too far, but who should we see, but Bob and Fifi from Waldo’s at Vero Beach! It was good to see them, and they had a chance to actually try out our trikes. What fun!

Fifi and Bob on trikes

Most of what we saw again today, though, was this…..straight, flat, and a little monotonous [but nicely manicured shoulders….heh!].

Lot of what we saw

There was a place up by the Sebastian Inlet that you could tell was VERY narrow….maybe only a hundred yards across, from Indian River to the Atlantic. Had some nice views of the river here.

Trikes on wide Indian River


Is the lollipop helping you stay warm?….Ha!

Love that lollipop

Then we saw the bridge over Sebastian Inlet…..hmmmm. Doesn’t look like there’s a bike path. Boo! I guess that is why the sign says to “SHARE THE ROAD.”

SI bridge

Here Earline starts her ascent:

Starting ascent

VERY glad we have these full-sized Slow Moving Vehicle signs….very visible, and familiar.

There was quite a bit of traffic, but during a lull, I was able to get this shot from the top of the bridge:

SI SP view from top

This is what the Inlet looks like over the edge of the railing:

View over edge of railing

You can see people enjoying the view on both sides of the Inlet.

Now for the FUN downhill!


On the way up to Melbourne Beach, we saw these fun signs:

Biggest turkey

Depressed fisherman

And even this “familiar” sign:

MP sign

YES! The mission IS possible!

And then we had the good fortune to meet Daniel at a local convenience store as we spent a few minutes warming up with coffee and hot chocolate.


As you can se, Daniel is a “colorful” fella, and I understand he also does photography. Best wishes on YOUR endeavors, Daniel!

By now, the sun is starting to go down, and it is getting even COLDER….we try to add to our clothes without digging too deep in our panniers.

This is what we came up with.

Sleves in my jacket style

Back side

Yes, that is my jacket, and we slid Earline’s legs into the sleeves…..ha! And it worked!

WHATEVER it takes!

My outfit wasn’t much better….had my rain pants available to cut the effects of the wind, and my hooded sweatshirt helped.

Jon at Sunoco station

I think the only problem, really, was just when Earline went into the convenience store to use the restroom, and she forgot that she had on her “outfit.”

Earline wonder pants

Many “looks” and frivolity….ha! [Someone actually called the cops about these two bikes at the Sunoco station and two strange looking folks hanging around them! Ha!]

Earline getting dark

By now we had been riding over an hour in the dark, and the traffic on A1A was horrible, VERY busy. We eventually went through some neighborhoods over to the Eau Gallie Causeway bridge, but by this time Jyl and Dennis thought it best if they come pick us up….we were still about 8 miles from their house, and almost none of the roads we had to travel had bike lanes or bike paths….not a good idea at night.

[Is this cheating?…no….it is just another example of other folks helping to make our Mission Possible POSSIBLE!] [And no, for you accountants, I did not include those 8 miles in the total….ha!]

Thankfully, Dennis has a big van that held both the trikes.

Thanks Dennis

Thanks, Lord, for helping us to survive this day….thank you for a place to stay to rest and recuperate.

ONLY through God’s grace,


Day 5 [Key West – Bahia Honda Key]

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Distance traveled: 28 miles]

[This is SO much easier, typing with all fingers instead of just my right thumb! LOL!]

As I mentioned in the update, after we went 5 miles, we had a flat on a bridge!

But I am getting ahead of myself….FIRST we said our good-byes at Keys Presbyterian. Pastor Bill Welzien and Elder Tim Warner were super, and it made for a great start to our mission tour. Be sure to check out KEM, Keys Evangelistic Ministries, and their work at Mallory Square every week.

All packed up in the morning, and Earline is yet on the phone [to many of YOU!].

Packed up at KEYS

I have heard some rumor about a discussion on Facebook about Earline’s Bling-Bling cap…where do YOU stand?

Earline cap

At least, I guess, we’ll be more visible on the road! Ha!

Leaving Keys….EARLINE! Remember to shift down so you can make it up the driveway!

Shift down

We stopped at a convenience store just down the road, and I had chance to share our mission with Manuel, who was a “conch”….that’s someone who is a native to the Keys.


And then I let this gentleman borrow my air pump to try and pump up his tire….unfortunately, the tire didn’t hold the patch, so it wouldn’t hold air. Pray for him and his tire!

Fix tire

Then 5 miles down the road, we had our OWN flat tire!

Jon fix flat

As I mentioned in the Day 5 UPDATE, Earline helped me carry the trike (it was the back tire) back off the bridge, where could disassemble the entire back end, panniers, tires, and all, and discover what was wrong.

It was a weird flat…the hole was a slice on the TOP of the tire, on the inner surface. It looked to be a defect in the tire, where wire became exposed and sliced the tire.

Here’s the cut in the tube [the Flat Attack goop in it TRIED to fill the hole, green goop all over, but it was just to big to seal]:

Slice in tube

And here’s the BRAND NEW tire right beside where the slice was in the tube:

Wire on tire


Finally got things switched out with one of the used tires I had brought along, and we got back on the road.

It was a beautiful day – sun was powerful, but there was a cool breeze that made for a pleasant ride.

Now this IS the Keys, so there are LOTS of bridges….in fact, we learned that there are 42 bridges, the exact SAME number that we rode over on our way down the Mississippi River back in 2010.

Sometimes we had to ride on the shoulder, even though there looks to be a separate bike path to the right:

Earline on shoulder on bridge

That’s because sometimes the way was BLOCKED!

Whoops, a fence

Apparently this is a work in progress. Many times there WERE separate bike lanes and paths, but other times….not so much. And I understand that the 7-miles bridge does NOT have a separate bike path, so we will be ON THE SHOULDER of that one.

Sometimes the path would even be separate from Hwy 1….but most often it would be right next to the highway.

Separated from Hwy 1

On this day, we happened to go thru Big Pine Key, which is actually a sanctuary for the Endangered Species of Key Deer….I understand the current population is only several hundred deer. Many are apparently killed by automobiles, and the speed limit thru here is only 35 mph at night.

Deer sign

The story of these deer is an interesting story. Read more here at NWF.

OOPS! Were we speeding through here? Nope, I guess it was the two motorcycles that just passed us.

Police stop motorcycles

Then Earline freaked out when she saw this….“Are we going over THAT??!!??”

Old bridge

No, but apparently in the past this WAS the bridge that people used to use. Here’s what we DID have to go over to reach our campsite:

Left, not right

[The one on the LEFT, NOT the one on the right….hmmm!]

Got settled in just before sunset, and grateful for a pleasant day’s ride. As I mentioned in the update, we are staying tonight at the Bahia Honda State Park, just on the west end of the 7-mile bridge. As we were setting up our tent we had the opportunity for many minutes to talk with the Redmonds and the Dunns who are also camping here tonight, and they asked many wonderful questions about our ministry, and our efforts with the Deaf community. It is the opportunity to share with nice folks like this that makes our mission that much more gratifying.

Through God’s grace,


Day 92 [St. Bernard State Park, LA – Venice, LA]


Okay… 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… 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!….


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!]


Only TGG,


Day 92 UPDATE 4 [Boothville, LA]


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!]



Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

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


Working again feverishly to get this blog caught up.

My desk at church

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

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

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

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

A spoon and a cup work nicely….yummm!

Crumbs into cup

Crumbs in cup close up

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

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

Nicholson Drive

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

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

Powerline sunset

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

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

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

Philip and Anas home

Philip and Ana

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

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



Day 82 [Port Gibson, MS – Natchez State Park, MS]


In the morning, we had some friends stop by:  4-legged and 2-legged!

4 legged friend

2 legged friends

Our “2-legged friends” had just finished the night shift, but Earline had met them during the night, and they wanted to find out more about learning signing language and the resources that GHA has.

Packed up, said our good-byes…..

Leaving sheriffs car

…..and headed first to a laundromat to do some desperately-needed clothes-washing.

Front of wash and dry

Our trikes drew a lot of attention in this small town, and met several people, including a young man with his family that has a Deaf sister. We tried to encourage him and point them in the direction of some more resources.

We even drew the attention of one of Alvin Taylor’s friends that we had met the other day, a Mr. LaNell Frazier.

LaNell Frazier

On the way out of town, we met Cathy at the Visitor Information Center who was very sweet and helpful.

Cathy at visitor infoc enter

As we headed back to the Trace, we noticed again this unusual foliage covering everything!

Foliage coverage

We got back on the Trace….ooooooo, it is HOT! Let’s sit in the shade for a while…..40 miles to Natchez!


My umbrella has gotten so messed up….the slightest wind throws it backwards. So I rigged up some tape, like the wiring I used for the pvc frame I attached earlier this year. Kinda funky looking, but it works!

Funky tape

We saw three more deer dance across the road….still too fast for my camera, but fun to watch.

For the most part, the road is pretty quiet, with only an occasional car.

Natchez trace 2

We did have a group of ladies from Taiwan, Singapore, and several other places who stopped and asked questions about our Mission Tour and took lots of pictures.

Ladies in white car

White car

We also stopped by what is the only remaining way station / boarding house for travelers along the Trace from the early 1800’s. When we got there, the sign said STOP, but I said uh-uh, (I’ve come too far, and I thought it might be a nice insight into the reasoning behind the inns and way stations, for people like ourselves who need places to stay) and walked in to see the cabin and take pictures.

Way station

Bed inside

Tables inside

Here’s the view from the porch of our trikes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the distance.

Trikes WAAAAY in bkgd

Earline took the opportunity to rest her legs.

They say stop

By now it was almost getting dark, and we didn’t know where we were going to stay, when we ran across a sign for Natchez State Park. Yea!! We’ll take it! [We were a LITTLE leery of going to another Mississippi State Park after our experience at the last one, but we figured it couldn’t possibly be that bad. It wasn’t.] [Although the hills going up to it were a little rough!…..ooofta!]

Oooo long dark hill

We found CLEAN bathrooms, GREAT showers, AND a nice campsite to set up our tent. (We’ll show that to you tomorrow.)

Grateful AGAIN for God’s provision and timing!



Day 73 [Lexa, AK – Lula, MS]


Special message for NEW readers of this blog:

[For those of you new to the blog, please pardon our dust!….er, ah, grammatical and technical imperfections!]

[Most nights, we do NOT have wifi – an internet connection – except thru my Blackberry – which I just got a replacement for [that story is coming up in a couple days] tell God thank-you – but still lost ALL my contacts – still CHOOSE to tell God thank-you – I read this morning in Psalm 50:23, that:

“giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me (God)”….

…actually, that would be a great thing to pray for….if you ALL could pray that I somehow get all my contacts back!] [Or even better, continue to THANK HIM in ALL situation!]

[So what I’m TRYING to say, is that I will upload text about the events of each day to the blog here, and when I do have access to the internet from our laptop, I will upload the photos that go WITH the text….whew!]

Now, to Day 73….we stayed overnight with Bill and Carrie north of Helena / West Helena (yes, that’s the official name now). Bill and Carrie were great hosts, and in the morning Bill even helped me do some repair work on my semi-truck-and-mini-cyclone-damaged umbrella (see yesterday’s blog). Ha! We actually taped wire hanger pieces to the damaged grooved arms of the umbrella (I think we’re on to something….this will work!) Carrie had a chance to try the I.C.E. trike….she’s a natural!

Carrie bookin

[Did we tell you that Bill and Carrie have a grandson name Eli?!]

Carrie and Earline

Miss Loretta came by, and we got her picture as well.

Carrie Earline Loretta

Hey, Miss Loretta in Orlando…Carrie and Bill’s Loretta reminded us so much of YOU!…she was great!

Said our goodbyes, as soon as Bill checked that we hadn’t forgotten anything!

Pretty entryway

Actually, we tried to get lost heading to Helena / West Helena, but Bill checked up on us, and pointed us in the right direction. We even on the way met Eli’s OTHER grandfather.

Proctor family

[Did we tell you that Eli has grandparents named Bill and Carrie?!]

In fact, Bill checked on us one more time (I think we are appearing a little scatterbrained these days).

[Oh, did I mention that Bill AND CARRIE have a grandson named Eli??!!!!!!!] [Ha!]

We finally got into town, and stopped at Walmart for some supplies (wow, is it hot today….over 100 degrees again. We have our umbrellas on again.)

Beatin the heat

We stopped at Wendy’s, explaining our Mission to them, and they were so nice. They gave us a whole bunch of ice (that is like gold to us these days!). Tried to get their picture, but some PEOPLE were NOT cooperating.

Easier to smile picture at Helena Wendys

While we were still at Wendy’s, Kevin Smith stopped by….he was our original point of contact from

Kevin Smith and Jon

It turns out that not only did he ALSO bike the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to New Orleans, but his wife works with the Deaf! (Definitely a couple that we need to come back and spend more time with!)

We headed for the bridge across the River into the state of Mississippi. On the way we saw some lush hills…the vines completely cover some of the trees and create odd shapes of foliage. (and there’s hills down HERE along the Mississippi….who knew??!!)

Hills and foliage

Lush banks of MR

We went thru some of old Helena, and saw a LOT of closed stores and shops.

Downtown Helena

Downtown Helena2

Downtown Helena3

Most of the town and cities along the Mississippi River are displaying similar financial hardship – it has been very disheartening to see the economic hardships that so many are experiencing. America…wake up! We are in a mess!

One other note (Florida take heed)….the hardest hit communities (Helena, AK, Dubuque, IA, East St. Louis, IL, etc.) coincidentally seem to have a gambling establishment close by….is it possible that good money that could have been spent on establishing and promoting local businesses has gone instead into the hands of those who establish and promote the game of gambling or lottery, the amusement of casinos?…..just asking.) (see Proverbs 28:19, and Proverbs 23:19-21).

We called ahead to the local police, and made a request for assistance across the bridge…and I’m glad we did. It is a L-L-L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-N-G-G bridge. Here’s Bridge #40 (wow, we are WAY past 36 bridges!):


Of course, one reason it was long, is because the Mississippi River is getting wider the further south we go. Compare this picture to ones of the river up in Minnesota [Days 1 through 25]:

Wide river at Helena AK

Here was our escort, and Earline appearing to be running away from him (oooo, it’s HOT, running from all these cops!!)

Escort from the Helena West Helena PD

STOP that lady Earline crossing 40

Thanks, Helena / West Helena…we appreciate it!

One thing that was interesting about this escort that had not happened before, is that everybody went AROUND the police car and us….cars, trucks, even semis, all the way across the bridge, even when the no passing line was on our side!! (This did NOT seem to be a safe situation to us.)

Passing semi

Passing dump truck

Passing cars

Were the police telling them to do this? Not sure…..hmmm.


I DID get a picture of him waving the vehicles around! Whoa!

Officer waving around

Even saw this semi barreling down on the police car as he turned around (this does NOT look good).

Semi vs cop

Our man DID get turned around safely, however…..whew! THANKS, AGAIN!

New state! [Signage tomorrow.]

Our guy turned to head home

By the time we got over the bridge, it was getting late, and Earline saw RVs across the way…there was a camping area next to the casino! We checked it out, and for $16 we were able to pitch our tent, and had full access to the amenities, including showers, indoor pool, and wifi! Sounds great! Whoa!

1st night in state9

Well…..REALITY is a little cruel sometimes.

Yes, there was a pool and showers…but the showers and pool area were NOT air-conditioned or dehumidified….apparently the unit had been busted for some time (but we STILL appreciated the pool), the wifi was VERY weak – the computer couldn’t see it, or if it did, there were ZERO bars, and it was unusable, AND the blacktop that we had to set our tent up on stayed HOT ALL night, and even our air mattress picked up the heat, creating a hot air sauna for us to sleep on (I worked on photos until about 5am, but even then, the air mattress was still miserably hot….rough night.)

VERY rough night.

We WERE grateful for the CASINO accommodations. (Proverbs 13:22 says that “….the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the godly.”)

And, we learned a few things – (do NOT set up on black asphalt that has been exposed to the summer sun) (let me repeat that… NOT, EVER, NO WAY, NOT EVER set up on sun-exposed black asphalt) (Ha, do you think we mean it??!!).

But like the wonderful Merlin Carothers always taught, we can truly thank Him in ALL situations, because HE is worthy of our praise and appreciation!



Day 61 [Twente School Road/Hwy 3, IL – Hwy 1203, KY]


The mosquitoes are dead and we aren’t, so we survived the night. (And we’ve agreed to use the bug bomb only when we AREN’T in the tent….ha!)

I got up around 5:15 as it was just getting light, and noticed what I had not seen last night….literally dozens of garden spiders above our heads, hanging from various support beams of the wooden poles holding up the pavilion roof. Some small, some pretty good sized.

Now spiders kind of freak me out, and I had been doing some pretty intense praying before I noticed them, dangling from their webs. My first thought was, “look at all the danger just over our heads, and how God protected us.” My next thought was, “Wait! Don’t spiders eat mosquitoes? Maybe this was a good thing!”

Alexander pavilion

What I have a question about, though, is something hopefully one of YOU will be able to answer:  after we packed up our things and started to leave, I rode around in the pavilion looking for the spiders to show Earline, and I could not find one!


When it gets light, or hot, do they hide? Where did they go? (Sounds like a special for “Wild Kingdom” or “Animal Planet.”)

We headed out from yet another hospitable (unbeknownest to them) church grounds.

Alexander church sign church pavilion

Alexander church sign

We appreciate it!

And we always leave a thank-you note and a WiFi Pedaler flyer to let them know we were there. We also always try to leave wherever we stay “a little better” than it was when we came.

Like bending back the tumbler plate on “mom’s” guest bedroom door so the door would close easily, fixing someone else’s toilet flapper so water didn’t waste, or here, picking up the pieces of a broken glass bottle that someone had dropped on the northwest corner of the pavilion.

WIFI TIP – Resolve to leave each place better than when you found it! Good habit.

We rode past the Horseshoe Lake camping area that Bob talking about in the Bicycling Guide. It really is a pretty area.

Horseshoe campground area

This also gave Earline a chance to act out Psalm 91:13 (look it up):

Psalm 91 try out

One thing we did notice, is that there didn’t seem to be as much standing water here. Along the Mississippi, yes, because the river is so high….but a couple miles away from the river, like this Horseshoe Lake area….dry.

BARN ART alert! (This certainly must be in memory of SOME barn’s passing.)

Barn art barn mailbox

We learned later in Cairo (pronounced like “Carol” without the “L”), that this area hasn’t had hardly any rain in nearly 2 months! We saw cornfields with browning roots and curled up leaves. What a difference a few miles makes!

We went past the National Cemetery in Mound City, and saw the gravestones of many unknown soldiers who lost their lives in defense of freedom.

Gate of Mound City Nat Cem

Graves at Mound City

They had some verses from a poem by Theodore O’Hara on plaques lining the sides of the driveway. Some of these same verses are on display at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C. Here’s one:

1 of 7 plaques of poem by Theodore O Hara

Also saw this interesting sign from The War Department, Adjutant General’s Office in Washington, dated September 1, 1875, that among other things stated:

“Information having been received of the desecration of soldier’s graves by picnic parties in a National Cemetery, and by vending refreshments therein, it is hereby ordered that hereafter no such practices shall be allowed….”

Vending refreshments??!

Refreshments rule sign

After we left the cemetery, we stopped to rest a minute….it is HOT!

Leaving Illinois cemetery

Later, we passed by this place that was……watering logs? Whatever for? Anybody have any ideas about this?

Watering logs

We finally made it into Cairo….(pause for photo-op)…southernmost town in Illinois….

Welcome to Cairo

….through a tunnel under an overhead road….[hmmm….looks a little unkept]

Under Cairo tunnel

….and headed for what we were TOLD were 2 great bar-b-que places. Stopped at Mac’s on the north side….and left. The “spirit’ of the place just did not seem right….and it was empty….not a good sign. They only had pork, so Earline begged hypertension and we left gracefully. (They did let us get some ice water, so thank you, Mack’s!)

Leaving Macs

Then we stopped by a sign that said Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, and met a member who recommended Schemmwell’s. Here’s 2 sistas in the Lord:

Mount Moriah

Cairo is a very depressing place. One of locals gave us some history….what had been a bustling town of 28,000 is now barely 2,000. We saw many boarded up homes, broken-windowed buildings.

Apparently racial tension was a large factor.

And then there was a mayor who put them millions of dollars in debt which they haven’t recovered from. We were told even the POLICE CARS were repossessed.

We saw one 2-story building burning, gutted out, with yellow police tape around it, and smoke STILL coming from rubble in the center of the ash pile. (I should have gotten some pictures of this, but I was so shocked at the…..the devastation, that I was kind of embarrassed to take a picture of this mess.

We did stop at Schemmwells, and got some sliced bar-b-qued beef….

Inside Schemwells

…Earline and I didn’t want to eat too heavy because of our triking, so we split an entree and each got two sides. It was….how shall I say it….very disappointing.

The place wasn’t much bigger than a Waffle House. There were only 4 customers in there when we got there, and 1 when we left (granted, it was 3 in the afternoon).

But the spirit of excellence was lost somewhere. Our server was pleasant enough, but we had to request her to come clear off the table. When the phone rang, she seemed upset that it was ringing, and that she had to answer it.

The portions were served on styrofoam, and were minuscule. Each of us got a half slice of bread with 2 little strips of beef on it. Together the sandwiches would have barely made a kid’s meal at Subway, and this meal cost us over 9 dollars. (and we drank only water.)

Say something nice!……..okay, well, the sweet sauce they gave me in a bottle was good.

I think the spirit of the town has put a damper on everything here, though.

Pray for them….Cairo, Illinois.

Since we had no T-Mobile phone service in town, we called the local police and asked for police escort across the bridge. (Apparently someone from FLORIDA donated them some cars.) They seemed reluctant, but agreed to help us.

We headed down to the very southern tip of Illinois. The bridge to the right went to Missouri, the bridge (our bridge) to the left went to Kentucky.

Bridges sign

Bridge #37.5 to the right:

Bridge we didnt take

Here we are, waiting for our police escort:

Waiting for the po po

Bridge #38 to Kentucky:


Making the climb on 38

Looking to the right from the bridge, just past the barge, you can the see the Ohio River we are going over, where it runs into the Mississippi River coming in from the right:

Barge under Cairo to KY bridge

How many more bridges over the MR? Three that I know of, but we’ll see. We had 1 or 2 more ferry rides planned, but those might not be in operation, as we found out up at St. Genevieve, Missouri.

As we were going across the bridge, it started to rain!


Can’t stop here to put on rain gear. We prayed it didn’t get too heavy….and by the time we got across (long bridge – like the Chain of Rocks bridge) the officer was gone….not sure where he turned around. HAD to have been the little side road of the northeast side of the bridge….we think. Anyway, no picture of him except this.

Cairo police escort

THANKS AGAIN Cairo police for help making this Mission Possible Tour POSSIBLE!

It was starting to rain hard now….Welcome to Kentucky! State number 6!

(Notice the narrow shoulder and rumble grooves? ACK!)

Welcome to Kentucky rain

…..ON with the rain gear….mile later, rain stopped….OOO, this is hot; off with the rain gear. Whoops! It’s starting to rain again. On with the rain gear….WAIT! It’s stopping! Off with the rain gear….(what kinda mess??!!…HA!)

On off again Earline rain gear

Mississippi river rain

Eventually it did stop….and we got to Wycliffle, Kentucky. We met the John Kinder family from Cape Girardeau. John said he used to play tennis with “mom’s” son, Matt. Small world! HA!

Thanks for your encouraging words that you sent through the web site, John! Yes, Psalms 121 and 91 are turning out to be big hits with us this summer.

Looked for a place to camp in town, but nothing looked acceptable or safe (guide us, Lord!). Here’s the bridge we just crossed from the Wycliffe river front.

Bridge we just crossed from Cairo to Wycliffe KY

We saw a big cross through the trees, and thought there might be a church just south of town.

We had 2 four-legged guides follow (guide?) us from down by the river front.

2 friends from riverfront

Earline thought they were going to get run over, and they almost did a couple times, once by a semi that burned MUCH rubber to avoid them.

Finally were able to find the cross, and realize it was just….a cross. On a scenic overlook.

Interesting story…..(Link to the cross at Wycliffe, Kentucky).

Famous Fort Jefferson cross

Cross trikes silouette

It was about an hour before sunset. There were some great views from up on this hill:

Barge from cross scenic view

Scenic sunset from cross

We decided to move on. We rode past this factory…..

Factory amongst woods

….continuing thru some dense woods….

Thick woods

….saw a sign for a Beech Grove Missionary Baptist Church, and……THERE IT WAS, between a cornfield and a soybean field. We decided to camp under a tree on the north side of the church.

(So, let’s see….is this a Black congregation or a White congregation?….we’ll see.) (Either way, we figure we’ve got it covered! Ha!)

We found a faucet on the side of the building, so we were able to take sponge baths. We figured that if someone stopped to ask us what we were doing……we would tell them we were just a little early for church!

Thank you, Lord, for a place to camp, for bringing us safely through the day.



Day 57 [Chester, IL – Perryville, MO]

TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

(Okay, this is NOT good…sitting here in the tent right next to a metal shed Pentacostal church outside Perryville, I just accidentally deleted 90 minutes of work on today’s blog…and there is not a thing I can do about it….wow…, let’s try it again.)

I didn’t finish getting caught up through yesterday’s blog until 11:30pm last night, and the “late to bed” and “early to rise” things do NOT go together. [“God desires for His loved ones to get their proper rest.” from Psalm 127]

So we decided to sleep in a little, and planned to leave AFTER the heat of the day. This also gave Earline a chance to get caught up on some of her e-mails, after I hogged her computer all day yesterday. [Sorry!]

I met Bob, the chaplain for the Chester FOE, and he said to stick around because there was “fresh fish coming.” And boy, was there ever!

Pan of fried STUFF

Fried FRESH fish, fried pickles, fried mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, some other stuff I didn’t know….we ate til we were FULL. Donna said that every once in a while on Tuesdays he brings in a bunch of stuff. Good day to be here! Here’s Donna and Earline:

Fried guy and Donna

Remember, Donna is one of the ones who promoted and helps maintain this cycling oasis.

I sent the President for this FOE chapter the contact information for Terry Eastin, the Executive Director for the Mississippi River Trail, Inc., and for Bob Robinson, whose “Bicycling Guide to the MRT” is the book and maps we’ve been using for this trip.

Bob! The book’s been working great! (Although I’ve been abusing the heck out of mine…had to tape it up a couple times already, and we’ve got a thousand miles to go!) Here’s Bob, and a friend of his in Minnesota:

Bob Robinson and friend

Suggestion for those of you doing future tours:  do yourself a favor, and photocopy and laminate the maps and directions pages…it’ll make following your route easier, and safer!

Called Mark Power of Power On Cycling, and ordered some more Flat Attack and a couple more tires. My front tires are starting to show some wear. Remember on Day ___ when I blew out my back tire?

Okay, okay….a FREE WiFi Pedaler T-shirt [if we ever get them made] goes to the first person who correctly identifies which day it was that the Flash Attack goop could not hold together my worn-down-to-the-wire back tire.

Actually, on these “tadpole” recumbents, with all the weight on the back, it seems that the back tire is taking most of the abuse. Even Earline’s back tire is going to have to be replaced pretty soon.

[Hey, Inspired Cycle Engineering! [where we got our trikes from] How about sending Mark some “tyres” to replace the ones he’s sending me?! Thank you!]

[Hey, everybody, would you do me a favor and click on this email link (and then click on the same e-mail at the web page this takes you to): Contact I.C.E. and simply say “Please send Mark some tyres for Jon.”] [We’ll see if it works!]

That’s all…..thanks!

Actually, the other day I was examining more closely one of the tubes that went flat on me a couple weeks ago…..[now you may ask, why in the world is he carrying around a flat tube from a couple weeks ago??!!……dah!… that I could one day examine it more closely, of course!)….and it had maybe a DOZEN little punctures that the Flat Attack goop was filling in.

Love that stuff.

I know 6 flats on the trip so far seems like a lot, but I’m convinced that I would’ve had over twice that number without the goop.

And really, the blow out was only flat that went beyond what the goop and the liner were able to stop. (Did ANYBODY figure out what day it was yet?) (Yes, it was in Illinois.)

I actually learned from Andy Cairns (last seen in Hannibal, Missouri) that I can General Delivery something to a Post Office and they’ll hold it for me. So I checked with a Postmaster General on our route in Kentucky, and he said he’ll hold it for me. Yea!

Saw a couple geared-out cyclists headed up the hill to the FOE, and thought “oh-oh”…somebody else wants to use the cabin tonight! [Hey, we’d already used it long enough….ha!]

Jake and Sophia were passing through on their way from Indianapolis, Indiana to California.

Jake and Sophia

We packed up quick so they could have the cabin, and it started to rain! Ack!

And then I noticed that one of my tires was FLAT! Ack, ACK!


But….I did the Flat-Attack-spin-the-tire-and-reinflate dance, and it worked again!


Said our sad goodbyes….

Trikes front of Eagles lodge

….and headed toward the Chester bridge.

Road down to Chester bridge

I called the Chester police department to ask if someone might escort us over the bridge, because I had learned that it didn’t have a separated bikeway/walkway, and guess who was the dispatch person who answered the phone?!!

Her name was Kim, and she was the daughter-in-law of the nice lady in Ellis Grove who had given us cold water on Sunday afternoon, the mother of Keirra and Jessica that Earline went trampolining with [see Day 55].

How about that!

We waited at the start of the bridge, and Officer Rinehart soon came by and escorted us over the Chester bridge. Here’s Bridge #36 (and Officer Rinehart!) (Whoops…..guess I missed a few bridges in Minnesota in my calculations….guess there’ll be a few more bridges than 36!) (Of course, Earline wants to know how many.) (I…ah….I’ll work on that.)

(BTW, across state lines again, but you’ve already seen a Missouri sign!)


Officer C Rinehart

Police escort across Chester bridge

Chester bridge, north side

Chester bridge inside

Headed over to the outskirts of Perryville, Missouri, and saw some gorgeous setting sun skies, and yes, a few more bluffs:

Truck down bluffy dusty road

Hwy going thru bluffs

Blue pretty clouds north of Perryville

Gorgeous sunset north of Perryville

Colorful sunset north of Perryville

As it was getting dark, after exploring a couple different places, and being turned down by another, as we were just entering the outskirts of Perryville, we found a flat area to camp in beside a storefront Pentecostal Church! (Here’s a picture from tomorrow before we tore down.)

Camped beside Pentecostal church

(As I mentioned at the very top, this is now the 2nd time I have blogged this day…..but I’m finished….finally…..zzzzzzz.)

Good night. God bless!

Only thru God’s grace,


Day 54 [Valmeyer, IL – cornfield by Modoc Ferry, IL]


My “owl” was singing away this morning, loud enough that I think I WAS able to get an audio recording of it. [It is soft, but you can listen to it here.]

While setting up last night, we had moved a bench over by the doorway….and apparently a spider saw that as an opportunity to build a web. Now, I do NOT like spiders, and I strongly dislike giving human intelligence to the “animal/insect/sponges” kingdom. These are all creatures of God’s designs and creation, and show HIS ingenuity and character.

But I still HAVE to appreciate the instinctive industrious-ness exhibited by something God designed…this bench was moved in this position about 9pm, and this web was finished before 6am:

Spider web

Officer Chandler stopped by to check on us, and I got his picture (thanks, Officer Mike!):

Officer Mike

It is hot out today, but these donkey’s didn’t seem to mind the heat!


Saw lots of grain bins….storage and drying facilities….and lots of Pioneer seedcorn fields (my dad used to sell Pioneer seedcorn):

Grain bins

Pioneer fields

Corn and bluff

We saw this little house SURROUNDED by flowers, and marveled at the work and care that went into maintaining all this beauty:

Pretty garden house

It was SO hot today. And it was in the middle of all this heat that we experienced one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip.

We were pedaling along, trying to make progress in the heat, when all of a sudden, between some trees on our left and corn on our right, we felt…..coolness!


Where is this coming from?

After some exploring, we found this cave behind and above the trees on our left. And there was some COOL AIR coming FROM the caves, spilling out on to the roadway! These caves (I understand many of them used to be salt mines) were very interesting:

Bluff cave

Cool cave

And then there was another one, and another one….and the temperature coming from the caves was wonderful….I’m guessing, maybe 65 degrees, on 100 degree day….the relief it provided was incredible! Earline had to get a closer look….AND FEEL!

Earline and THE cave

Earline and THE cave close1

Earline also at this same time, had her prayer answered about a butterfly alighting on her arm. It is like God was saying, “I’ve got this…I know it is hot out here….here’s a little coolness for your day, an oasis of cool in the middle of all the heat!”

Butterfly on Earline

We stopped in Prairie du Rocher, and got some supplies at a small grocery there. Met John, the tri-athlete, who was also biking in the heat…he shared his left-over ice with us. Thanks, John!

There was a disagreement among the locals as to whether the ferry was open….the general agreement was that IF it WAS closed, they put up a sign saying so at the turnoff to the ferry. So after going about 4 miles, we saw the turn-off to the ferry, and there was NO sign, so we headed down the 4 mile road to it.


Sometimes the street committee gets things right, and sometimes they don’t.

When we arrived at the area from which the ferry departs for St. Genevieve, Missouri, this is what we found (the road for the cars is to the LEFT of the two timbers):

Road to ferry

And another view of the road to the ferry (I know….because I was walking on it):

Road to ferry2

And one more view of the road, that takes you right up to the ferry…..that is, IF the ferry is docked on this side of the river….

Road to ferry3

….instead of on THE OTHER side of the river, safely in St. Genevieve, while the dock that these plants sit on, on THIS side of the river is, sadly, under water.

The Modoc ferry in St G

Okay….so now I’m walking back on the road to give Earline the news….

Walk back to Earline

And she takes a picture of me walking back to her….to give her the news….

Walking back to earline

Ack…..back the way we came, along the railroad track, beside the road that’s covered with water, back past the cornfields and….



Flat tire….Earline examines the scene of the crime….

Flat tire on ferry road

After we fixed the flat, it’s time to set up camp….and it looks like there’s a cloud bank coming up in the northwest…..

Torin, this is when you called, during the ALMOST full moon….setting up our tent next to a cornfield!

Cornfield camping with Jon

Thank God in ALL situations…right?….Right??!!