Day 10 [Key Largo – Homestead, FL]

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2014

[Distance traveled: 25 miles]

Had a really good night’s sleep at King’s Kamp, and the weather is almost perfect….light breeze, and maybe 75, 80 degrees.

As we were packing, a small C-Class RV pulled up beside us, and it was a young couple from Switzerland! They were in the U.S. for about 3 weeks, and are on their way to Key West.

Earline and Regula had a chance to talk for a while. Regula’s first language is German, so I sprechened a little Deutsch with her. We found out she is a Christian, and an Emergency Room nurse in Switzerland. When we left, we had a chance to have little prayer time with Regula, for their travels and ours.

Regula from Switzerland

After leaving the camp, we went next door to a little eating place called Evelyn’s of Key Largo. What a friendly little restaurant! For those of you familiar with Mr. Quick in Orlando, it was kind of like a fancy Mr. Quick, with a Spanish/Mexican/Keys flavor. [We love Mt. Quick!]

The food was scrumptious, and after we finished eating, one of the waitresses helped Earline fill our water bottles and small igloo with ice. How nice and thoughtful of them! For those of you who read my blog yesterday about customer service….THIS is what I was talking about. THIS is customer service, and we love it! Evelyn’s in Key Largo, about Mile Marker 104, on the north side of the road. Go there, and tell them the Wifi Pedalers sent you!

Headed out of town with bellys full, and fresh ice, and stopped to take a picture of the “You Are Leaving” sign.

Earline take picture of sign

So what exactly does the sign say? Check it out…

Key Largo sign

Oh, NOOOOOOOOOO! Back to reality!!!!!

Ha!

Here’s Earline officially leaving the Keys….you made it! [Only 375 miles to go….whoa!]

Officially leaving the Keys

But we hadn’t even gotten to the first big hill, when….thump, thump!

What?

Did I run over something?

There were some grates along the side of the road, next to the turquoise-painted walls [did you notice?….turquoise – I guess it is a Keys thing].

When I ran over one of those grates, apparently it knocked my tire pump loose, and that’s what I bumped against. Earline picked it up, and it looks like it survived any damage, and I had to reattach it.

Fixing loose pump

NOW we can go over the big hill.

Biggest bridge

When we got to the top, I stuck up my camera to the side and took this picture. [Earline, this is what you didn’t didn’t want to look at….see what you’re missing??!!??] [This is a higher-rez picture.]

Higher rez look over bridge

Then we had fun coming DOWN this hill…got up to 30 MPH going down. WHEEEE!

But that was it pretty much it….over 20 miles of a mostly straight, boring road, and….WAIT!

What does that sign say?

Crocodile crossing

Okay, so let me figure this out.

[Uncle Dan, maybe you can help me with this one.]

First of all, the Florida Department of Transportation wants us to know that there MAY be crocodiles trying to cross the road for the next 6 miles.

Okay, question 1….WHY in the world are they trying to cross the road?

Okay, question 2….if I DO see one trying to cross the road, is there something I am supposed to do?

[This seems especially significant for those of us ON A BICYCLE, OR TRICYCLE, don’t you think??!!?]

Okay, question 3….if I DO see one, and it starts to chase me, can I fight back? This seems to me to be an important fact that I should have figured out BEFORE I actually see one trying to cross the road!

Comments or suggestions are appreciated!

[Isn’t this Mission POSSIBLE Tour called FACING YOUR FEARS? I guess I did not understand that meant I would have to face…a CROCODILE!] [I think song #3 is probably the best song for this situation: “I (God) will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!”….especially if it is high above the jaws of some ornery crocodile!]

By the way, we did NOT see any crocodiles.

Whew!

So, OTHERWISE, it is basically just a straight shot north, and Earline got a nice picture of the skies.

Facinating clouds in hwy 1

By the way, we had to be careful NOT to drink too much water….there are NO services for this stretch through the swamp…no trees to hide behind, no cornfields….you just have got to hold it!

Whew!

There were some rumble grooves along the side, but for the most part they were within 3 feet of the outside white line of the right lane, and then there would be another 4 to 5 feet of blacktop surface OUTSIDE the rumble grooves for us to ride on. So mostly a smooth ride, and this was also very beneficial for Earline and her knee…it got sore again today, but it was almost 10 miles before it really started to bother her.

She does seem to be getting stronger each day. Thanks God!

FINALLY we arrived at the RaceTrak across from Card Sound Road. YES!

We did look for a church to go to a Sunday night service. Found one not too far away, the new Branches United Methodist Church.

But, alas, apparently they do not have a Sunday evening service.

We then stopped at a Bike Hostel we saw just off the bike trail coming from the Keys. They have got quite a set-up their courtyard…impressive! Even a flowing waterfall that you can drink and swim in! [I hear it IS a little chilly, however! Think warm thoughts.]

Hostel

Bike hostel in Homestead

Thanks, Bonnie, for taking the time to show us around! [I hope I remembered your name right!]

She and Earline, of course, HAD to take a selfie:

Bonnie at Bike Hostel

Alas, they didn’t have any private rooms available, so we found somewhere else close by to stay.

One final thought….and this is from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

He writes:

“It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life.”

….”even the most humbling tasks”….

Our routine these days means unpacking and packing the tent, or gathering up scraps of trash, or Earline helping hold the hand pump still while I pump up the air mattress, or rubbing down Earline’s knee, or putting Cortizone on that mosquito bite that the other person just cannot quite reach…

….ALL these tasks should be done to the glory of God. ALL.

What are some humbling tasks that YOU do? What are you doing where there is “no one paying even the remotest attention to”….THAT is “the true test of a saint’s life.”

May all YOUR tasks today be done in “faithfulness” with gratitude and thanks to God.

“God…working in us.”

Thanks again to ALL of you for your prayers and support.

TGG,

jon

Day 89 [Hwy. 70/3125, LA – New Orleans, LA]

SATURDAY, AUGUST 28, 2010

Hmmm!

Well…..it turns out that this Mission Possible Tour, Summer of 2010 is the adventure that just keeps on giving!

I get up around 5:45am, but before we can get out tent torn down we experience this:

WET

With all the rain that we’ve run into this summer, one thing we HAVEN’T had to do is tear down in the rain…..until now. The rain has run under the tent [not good], and both sleeping backs have gotten WET. We have to pack a WET top-tarp, and a WET tent, and we’ll just have to wait until tonight to see if we can get dried out at that point.

Earline does one final check to see if The Advocate picked up our story for today’s paper. Nope…..zip, zilch, nada….hmmmm.

(Hey, Honey, what’s the weather forecast??)

Check the Advocate

Apparently the forecast is for a 10 to 20% chance….

….of sunshine.

Oh, oh.

Hey, Earline….here’s one last look at that bridge we went UNDER last night [we can see it, now!]…..sure you don’t want to go over it….just for fun??!!

Highway 70 bridge

Headed east….played on-again-off-again with the rain coats and rain pants. Too hot to keep on, too wet to stay off.

Had a quick little meal of fried catfish (that Cajun coating is too hot for me) and chocolate milk (mixed in with little gasoline pump smell). Hmmm! Ha!

Quick lunch

We’re bucking a very strong east wind today, and it is slowing us down, even with the more streamlined, recumbent position. We are seeing rumble grooves again, but at least it is also with a wide shoulder so we don’t have to fight busy Highway 61 traffic. We’re following 61 instead of the River Road on the advice of several locals….shorter route, and River Road has no shoulder.

Earline has no more cornfields to visit, so she checks out the local sugar cane field:

Sugar cane fields

We can’t believe all the casinos we’re seeing….sad….

Casino 1

We run across a few more admirers who say we’re getting close to New Orleans!

A few more admirers

As we head over the spillway, we’re praying…..God, you MUST have something very special planned for tomorrow. There MUST be a reason for us having to go through this rain to get to the Deaf church in New Orleans. Use us, Lord, to work YOUR will in someone’s life.

Fighting the elements

God MUST have something special planned

The rain lets up finally, and we stop at Burger King for a quick snack.

Stop at Burger King

We FINALLY get to the start of the levee bike trail…..sweet!

Levee bike path start

We’re still getting rained on off-and-on, but it IS nice not having to fight the traffic.

Levee trail

We see huge grain elevators, with augers and pipelines criss-crossing the levee:

HUGE grain elevator

Augers and piplines

One thing that rainy days DO provide is beautiful clouds and rainbows. During our 20 mile run on the levee, the sun goes down, and forms a colorful backdrop for Earline and the trikes:

Levee sunset

We finally come to our exit, and Google Maps takes us on a suggested path that…..well, I might have not suggested it. Some very rough streets….and a couple road blocks that we had to go around.

But we also understand, that 5 years ago, this was ALL flooded after Hurricane Katrina, and under a LOT of water, 3 to 8 foot high. And much of it is still a mess.

We finally made it to the church about 9:15pm, and the Pastor and his wife Barbara greeted us. Sweet couple, and also a powerful testimony about how God brought THEM together. They’ve been married about 13 years.

We set out our wet and damp clothes on the tables, each of us grabbed a sofa, and after a tough 60-mile ride, we slept soundly….VERY soundly.

Table dryer

Separate beds

Thanks, Lord, for seeing that we arrive safely.

TGG,

jon

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

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

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

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

Goodbye to Big Al

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

Morning patrons

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

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

State 10 again

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

Our last state line cossing

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

Friend of GHA

FARM IMPLEMENT LAWN ORNAMENT alert!

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

Cultivator maybe

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

10 mile construction zone

Construction

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

Motorcycle guy 1

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

Sent owner in for coffee

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

Rumble grooves 1

Rumble grooves on single lane

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

Past the construction

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

Fresh coon

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

Exxon Mobile 1

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

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

Jack in the Box rainbow

Rainbow downtown

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

MRT sign in BR

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

BR bridge 1

BR bridge 2

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

Gavan Jackson

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

Famous LSU campus and cow

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

Reggies

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

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

1st Baptist Deaf church

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

Sleep on nursery floor

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

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

TGG,

jon

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

SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010

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!

Huh?!

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:

Bridge38

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!

Ack!

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.

TGG,

jon

Day 58 [Perryville, MO – Cape Girardeau, MO]

WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2010

A beautifully painted sanctuary, a mayor, BARN ART alerts, AND a warm shower….a full day today!

We were up shorty after dawn, and left our little campsite beside the storefront Pentecostal Church.

Camped beside Pentecostal church am

We headed down into Perryville, and decided to stop a the church Bob mentioned in his book, that had Biblical paintings on the wall.

We found the church, which had been an utilized as a place of worship from 1830 thru 1965. It is now more of a museum and a place for Roman Catholics to come and, well, worship Mary. Their own brochure says that it is a place of “Marian devotion,” so I don’t know how else to put it.

It is strikingly beautiful when you first enter, and my understanding is that this is a 1/3 size replica of a church in Rome, Italy (THAT must be pretty amazing.)

Inside of St Mary Church in Perryville

The painting at the front of the church, and focal point of people seated in the sanctuary, is of Mary ascending into heaven. The words that you see on a prominent arch are Latin:  “Assvmpta est Maria in Caelvm” which means “Mary has been taken up into heaven!”

Though all the various paintings were very impressive and interesting, there are sadly, only 2 Biblical depiction paintings that we could find….one of the crucifixion, and one of the ascension of Jesus.

All the rest were of various priests and women, some nuns, over the years and their efforts and devotion to….well, the brochure doesn’t really say. These priests helped the poor, cared for the needy, and were martyred because….again, it is not clear. One depiction says the Daughters of Charity were martyred because during the French Revolution they were asked to sign a Constitution that “would have been counter to their loyalty to the Church.”

Huh? I’m sorry, but that is just not very clear to me.

There were 4 chapels on either side of the sanctuary, eight total, and ONE was actually an altar to Jesus:

Little Jesus altar

I noticed a couple little things, like the 3 Greek letters on the altar that mean “Jesus, the Christ [Messiah], Savior” [kind of IMPORTANT, huh??!!] are, well, kinda covered up by a plant? And, ah, why the American flag? Some special meaning? I’m not sure.

But the BIG side altar was again, to Mary, and references “apparitions” (visions? ghosts? demons?…..I’m just asking) that a woman in Paris, France named Catherine had in the mid 1800s, concerning a medal that she was to design and give to people.

Chapel of Mary the Medal

So, seriously, compare the two side chapels….which seems to have greater significance? Doesn’t that matter?!?!

The arch above this side chapel said “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”

Sorry, but this goes against Scripture:  Psalm 53:3 – “there is NONE that doeth good, no not one.”….Romans 3:12 quotes this Psalm again, and Jesus Himself said in John 16:23 that we can pray “directly to the Father, and ask anything in Jesus’ name”….we don’t have to go THRU Mary, or even Jesus, but can make our requests directly to God the Father.

’Nuff said.

We spoke to Gwen, who is the Executive Coordinator of the gift shop. She was very kind and helpful, and explained some of the history of St. Mary’s Church of the Barrens.

Gwen and Earline

We also met a “more mature” [okay, Joanita, is that better?!] lady named Gerry Anderson who was very sweet and eager to tell us some things about the campus and the church.

The grounds were also very beautiful here, and they have a recently constructed facility that cares for elderly priests.

Grounds of St Marys

All very wonderful, and beautiful (kind of reminded me of the Mormons’ mindset), but sad at the same time. Very little emphasis on Jesus, the one who created and sustains all this beauty [Colossians 1:15-20], and who SHOULD be the object of our devotion, not Mary, or Joseph Smith, or anybody else.

Only Jesus has an empty tomb….not Mary, NOT Joseph Smith, not Confuscious, or even Mohammed [he is said to have gone to heaven, but OOOPS, he came back down, and died as well]. ONLY Jesus has an empty tomb. ONLY Jesus! It is a fact of history that is a rock that people stumble over…..you have to deal with Jesus – you either accept Him, or ignore Him….there’s no other choice.

Think about it.

We headed thru the town of Perryville, and ran across the local newspaper, and the mayor, who made us honorary citizens of Perryville…..thank you!

With mayor of Perryville

Also got a picture of the Mayor with Kate, the editor of the local paper:

Mayor and Kate

[Did we ever make the Perryville paper? Never did figure that out.]

Saw this interesting house south of Perryville:

Interesting buried house

I have seen houses like this before in Minnesota, where they are partially underground for the purpose of staying cool in the summer, and warmer in the winter. I snuck around to the front of the house to show it from another angle:

Interesting house front

BARN ART alert!

You may have heard of grundge fonts, or grundge art….where edges and photos are scraped and roughed up to look, well, grundgy. This is displayed very well, I think, in this barn on the east side of the road. Call it a “grundge barn”…..very artsy fartsy, don’t you think?

Grundge barn

We ran into some heavy showers again today which we were actually grateful for, because they cooled things down. We took put our rain gear off and on a couple different times:

Heavy showers clothing

The road was in good condition, a little hilly, but not too bad, moderate traffic…..there was a 3 foot shoulder, but the rumble grooves were very annoying….they made the shoulder to narrow to ride outside of them, they were too wide to straddle, and the traffic was just too heavy to ride inside of them. It made for a very frustrating 25 miles of road.

Whoa! Another BARN ART alert!

This barn, it appears, has actually been decorated up for the purpose of living in. Let’s call it a “Ranch Home barn”:

Barn ART alert ranch house

There were some nice homes amongst these rolling hills, and I was reminded that the Ozarks are not that far away from here.

Pretty home amongst rolling hills

Wait! Can you believe it?!! Yet ANOTHER BARN ART alert! Three in one day! I have never seen anything like this…..what would you call this? Matching decor? Barn and silo? Any artist can appreciate the symmetry in this:

Barn art silo

I was trying to make contacts thru WARM SHOWERS that James Johnson of the 6,100 miles had reminded us about, and I found 3 contacts in Cape Girardeau while in the tent by the Pentecostal church.

On the site, the one girl said she didn’t have a computer at home, one guy said that he was out of town right now in Peru, and the couple that said they were avid cyclists responded to my request, but they said that sorry, they would be out of town.

Ack!

I had e-mailed the girl, but she didn’t respond, so while riding through the rain, I noticed that the guy in Peru said to contact his MOM if we needed a place. So I called the listed phone number, and got an answering machine, so I left a message for “mom.”

[He didn’t give me her name, so….MOM!]

About the time we were just leaving the “rumble road” Highway 61, I got a call from “mom” and she said to come on down, that we could stay there…..GREAT!

She gave me her address, and using the Google Maps on my phone, we went straight to her house [it seemed like it was downhill for most of about 10 miles….whee!], getting there right around 8:30pm. “Mom” let us pull our trikes right into the garage, and we got “warm showers”….wonderful!….MOM even us fed us some warm soup and fresh cantaloupe….and we stayed up talking until almost midnight. (We still don’t know her name…we just call her “MOM!”)

Thank you, God, once again for your provision for the details of our lives.

TGG,

jon

Day 49 [Clarksville, MO – Foley, MO]

MONDAY, JULY 19, 2010

Got up around 8 (but it was tough, after being up so late, but I was SO grateful for the time and circumstance that allowed me to get caught up with the blog) (All that’s left is fixing the formatting of the text and uploading the already prepped photos.)

As we were packing, Kaley came over and showed us on the radar on her Blackberry a rapidly approaching thunderstorm that would be here (Clarksville) within 30 minutes. So….no need to rush packing…I figured we could wait out the storm, which looked to be an intense, but narrow line of showers. Some views of the rain:

Morning storm at Eagle Bluff

Morning storm at Eagle Bluff

I read Psalm 19 (one of today’s Psalms – you can read 5 Psalms every day – just add 30, 4 times – 19,49,79,109,139; this way you can read  ALL the Psalms every month).

I think it is interesting how the heavens silently “declare” God’s glory. Whether during the day, or at night (and we’ve ridden at both times), God’s creation is all around us, around every single person on earth, and available for us to observe, and watch, and study….to get a sense of WHO God is and what His character is like.

Sometimes in the city, we miss these clues that are staring us in the face if we only look.

Earline and I have felt the power of a beating, summer sun. We have enjoyed the relief of a cloud that provides shade, and coolness. We have seen the explosion of stars in a clear, rural sky (I showed Earline the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, the North Star, and even the Milky Way). We have longed for and enjoyed a cooling breeze that comes from the depths of the shaded forests that we venture through.

We have seen the various stages of crops like corn that grow and mature into abundant harvests.

An old hymn goes like this: “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land; but it is fed and watered by God’s Almighty hand.”

It’s all God…it really is. And how fortunate we are to be able to see glimpses of Him in our daily walk, if we only take time to stop, look, and contemplate.

The storm finally let up, we finished packing and said our good-byes….

Final goodbye to Eagle Bluff

Before we left I got a picture of Clarissa and her 6-week old German Shepherd pup. She breeds and sells pups like this (she also rescues “retiring” horses from race tracks….what a tender heart!):

Clarisssa and pup

We headed down the hill (this is what we had to come UP in the dark Saturday night!)

Road up down Eagle Bluff

And these are the lighted signs we saw Saturday night, wondering how could we ever possibly stay there?!!!

Signage for Eagle Bluff

Thank you, Clarissa, Diane, Kaley, and the whole crew of Eagle’s Bluff Golf Resort. May God bless you RICHLY for your warmth and hospitality!

We headed down to Elsberry (shared a meatball marinara at Subway…..yumm!). (Later, Earline had some….er, “problems” with her sub. Ooops!)

ALERT! ALERT!

PLEASE, MRT, encourage Missouri to put a paved shoulder south of Elsberry….there was only a gravel shoulder, AND there were rumble grooves carved into the outside white line that extended out on to the 1 foot shoulder that was there. We had to ride (and bicycles would, too) on the INSIDE of the white line on this 2-lane road. Most of the motorists were patient, but some weren’t.

The grooves would stop a little ways before each driveway or side road, but enduring the 15 or so miles of side grooves was tough.

We had a few rolling hills enroute…again some uphills and some downhills….here’s Earline getting ready to drive off a cliff…..(well, it LOOKS like it!):

Drive off cliff

Saw some beautiful clouds, and a pretty sunset along this Hwy 79 route.

Golden sunset

We were headed towards Winfield (another town named Winfield) (see Winfield, IA), but only made it as far as a little north of Foley (yes, another town named Foley, as in MN) where we camped for the night. Paul (and his partner Wayne) owns a little 6am to 10pm convenience store, called Evergreen Farms (they grow a lot of their own FRESH produce behind the store!), and graciously let us camp just to the side of his store. Here’s Paul hard at work:

Paul a tEvergreen Farms

About 12:30am we woke up to BLOWING winds and thunder (reminded me of Lake Pepin, and I thought, oh-no!) But I had secured all 8 positions around the tent, we have the tarp that Gayle gave us (THANK YOU, GAYLE) and secured that over the trikes, so we should be okay.

I have been monitoring the side and floor of the tent, and everything seems to be staying dry, but WOW….I have NEVER in all my tent camping life EVER experienced as much rain as we just had. It has just recently started letting up a little (it is 2:30am, and yes, since I’m awake anyway…..I’m blogging from my Blackberry) but I would not be surprised if we received 4 or more inches in the past 2 hours….talk about displaying the sheer power of God.

The electrical power to the convenience store went off about a half hour ago, so, sorry, Earline, there may not be coffee in the morning!

Everyone have a blessed day, and thank you all for your continued prayer and financial support.

TGG,

jon

Day 46 [Hannibal, MO – [somewhere along County Road B, MO]

FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2010

Day 46 started out with a pleasant surprise…Andy and Sue Cairns (you may remember them from Day 9 and 10) stopped by on their way to see his mom in St. Louis.

Andy and Sue

Had a wonderful morning sharing stories (they both ride recumbent bicycles) and encouraging each other’s walk with God. GOOD friends that have resulted from this Mission Possible Tour. Earline even tried out Sue’s bike (oh-oh…gotta remember how to balance!).

Earline on Sues trike

For a short time, the WiFi Pedalers were a 4-some! Bye, you guys….see you soon! God bless!

Andy and Sue wave bye

Tegan from KHQA had mentioned that Hwy 79 south of Hannibal was closed by a mud slide from all the rain recently. So we reluctantly headed out to Hwy 61 to detour around. Very busy road…lots of truck traffic…BUT it DID have a nice wide shoulder, and we were grateful for that.

Now after about 12 miles the MODOT tried to get funny and put in rumble grooves like Illinois (see Day 34)….but the shoulder was wide enough that we were able to go around the outside (THANK-YOU, JESUS!!)

Long tough hills going up, but long fun hills going down…..whee!

Hwy 61 south of Hannibal

Finally saw an exit for the detour to 79….stopped at a little town beside the exit, but the only convenience store in town was already closed. Hmm. We stopped to ask some directions from a family getting out of their car, and the family they were coming to visit gave us some much needed water from their kitchen sink. We appreciated it!

County Road B headed west was pretty hilly, and it was starting to get dark. We knew we’d never make it to the town of Louisiana, and I didn’t want to ride again at night, so after we saw this pretty yard (with yet more farm-implement-yard-art):

Old plough

……we stopped (actually turned around and went back to it) to ask if we could set up the tent in their yard. No one answered the door, so I started to head back to my trike. I noticed the lawn hose scattered across the yard, and it didn’t really match their tidy yard, so I decided to roll it into a nice circle by the faucet. As I was doing that, Earline all of a sudden heard “psssssssst.”

Oh no, flat tire #4 (and again the back tire….ugh).  But it WAS a pretty sunset! (sigh)

Flat tire 4

Flat tire with house and pretty sky

I didn’t have any CO2 cartridges left, and for some unexplained reason, I didn’t spin the tire and try to hand pump it up. I just took all the gear off and changed the tube. (This was the tire that I forgot to transfer the protector strip to.) (Hmmm.)

By now it’s getting REALLY dark, and we decide to camp beside their garden anyway. Earline wrote a note and left it on the door with our little 1/4 flyer.

THEN their dog started barking while we were setting up our tent. He came closer (Earline got out the pepper spray), but he just sniffed the trikes, wagged his tail and let me touch him, and then trotted away as if to say, “You’re okay….I’ll be YOUR guard dog tonight, too!” And we never saw him again.

Only thru God’s grace,

jon

Day 34 [Dubuque, IA – Galena, IL]

SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2010

Woke up with no dew on the ground, and a cold front seemingly headed our way from the Northwest. I checked the local radar, and it was saying 80% chance of rain starting at 10am.

We decided to pack up our tent while it was dry, before heading to church. Yesterday we had met a young lady named Chiquitta Carroll who had contacted her pastor, Bishop Shawn Baldwin, and invited us to come to their Sunday morning service. They were interested in using some of the services of God’s Hands Agency to start a ministry for the Deaf in the inner city of Dubuque.

As we were packing however, we discovered that a water bottle had leaked during the night inside the tent, and got much of our paperwork and promotional pieces wet. Here was the scene a few minutes later:

Drying out the wetness

Drying out the wetness2

ACK!!!!!

So we’re trying to coax as much DRYING sun as we can out the ever cloud-thickening sky ahead of the rain.

Not pretty.

AS we were packing the tent, I noticed that there were a couple burn holes on the side towards the noisy teenagers from the night before. Apparently from fireworks that the kids had been lighting up. Ask Earline to tell the story in more detail when you get a chance, but I’ll just tell you that Earline went over to talk to the two girls who were camping there, and though they wouldn’t look at her, she told them that she had heard all their cursing the night before, and was concerned about their lives. She gave them some tracts, and one of the girls apologized for burning holes in our tent.

Interesting.

God, continue to work in their hearts, and bring them closer to you.

The bad weather seemed to hold off a bit, and the papers got ALMOST dry, we finished packing, and headed to the church only about a mile or so away.

They were sharing a facility with the Immanuel Congregational Church, and this was their first Sunday in the new facility. We had a chance to share with many of the folks about our purpose and mission, we got to hear a hard-preachin’ preacher (maybe like Pastor Mills was in his younger days….this young Bishop will wear himself out if he isn’t careful, though!), a First Lady who had a beautiful voice, leading the worship, and I even got an opportunity to play a little piano to accompany the signing.

After church Earline and I headed down to the Arby’s by the bridge, had a little to eat, and changed clothes before heading south. And just before we got to the bridge we saw……a Dollar Tree store!!

[Amazing what weeks away from any urban areas will make you appreciate!]

Dollar Tree

We had a chance to restock some our toiletries and some food items…..thank you, God!!

Amazing how we get excited over something like Dollar Tree!

Now we headed over to the Julien Dubuque bridge, named after who is recognized as the first settler in Iowa back in the 1700s. As the river gets bigger the further south we go, then of course, the bridges also must get bigger. This then is Bridge #28:

Bridge28

Fortunately, there was a pedestrian pathway/bikeway on the south side of the bridge, which makes crossing A LOT more….let’s say, reassuring:

Pathway along south side of JD bridge

Yes, it was a LOOOOOOOOOOONG way across:

Bikeway crossing over 28

Earline crossing the JD bridge

After crossing the bridge, we were now in state #4, the state of ILLINOIS!

Welcome to Illinois

Okay……the first person who tells me what the capital of Illinois is gets a free WiFi Pedalers T-Shirt! (if we ever get them made!)

We headed across Illinois on Highway 20, headed for the Palace campgrounds in Galena. We road had some pretty heavy traffic on it, and we were getting drizzled on, on our heads every once in a while, but we were making pretty good progress until the road suddenly got VERY…..ah, interesting!

The narrowed the 4 lane road down to 2 lanes, with a cement divider in the middle of the road. So there was one lane of traffic going our direction, with about a 3 foot shoulder, with a foot of that being the rumble grooves in the middle of the shoulder.

Now with a regular bicycle, you could probably squeeze by on the 12 inches on either side of the grooves (preferably the outside, because the traffic was heavy, and there were many big trucks.) But with recumbent TRI-cycles…..bad news…..

Rumble grooves

I mean, where do you go??!!??!!

Earline on rumble grooves

Remember the old commercials for these machines that a housewife could wrap a belt around her middle and the belt would vibrate for the purpose of melting away those pounds?

THAT’S what it felt like…..for over 2 miles!

We tried to the side, we tried in the middle…..we just had to go slow and gut our way through it. I-I-I-I-I-I-I  t-t-t-h-h-h-hi-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-k-k-k-k  w-w-w-w-w-w-e-e-e-e-e  l-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-s-s-s-s-s-t-t-t-t-t  t-t-t-t-t-e-e-e-e-e-n-n-n-n-n  p-p-p-p-p-o-o-o-o-o-u-u-u-u-u-n-n-n-n-n-d-d-d-d-d-s-s-s-s-s  e-e-e-e-e-a-a-a-a-a-c-c-c-c-c-h-h-h-h-h!!!!!!!!!

THEN….Phyllis calls us and tells us about the steaks Carmen was grilling for us….ha, ha, ha……very funny…..yeah, right……we’ll take our crackers raw, and our spam medium well, thank you very much!!

THEN…..the rain clouds are fast upon us….I can see the rain coming, but we just don’t quite make it in time. About 500 yards from the campground, the skies open up, the front passes overhead, and…..blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub.

We make it to the Palace campground, but…..well, we look like this:

Earline after the Galena rain

Miles and Jon

Miles behind the desk was very patient and helpful with us as we tried to get oriented after the soaking. We had a chance to speak with some other campers about our Mission Possible tour as the storm was letting up, and by the time we had to set up our tent, the rain had lessened to a drizzle.

Set up in drizzle

Water really is an amazing “ingredient” that God has designed…..it can be so destructive, so damaging to machinery and metal and paper [so miserable to trike in!], but it is the very nature of liquid water that allows our blood to flow, and animals and plants to grow and thrive.

So, after setting up our tent…..we went and took a SHOWER!! [Oh, the irony of it all!]

Hmmmmm!

Our day started and ended our day with wetness…..and remember……God sends His rain on the just AND the unjust…..[Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5].

Have a great night!

TGG,

jon