Day 9 [Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe Key – Key Largo]

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2014

[Distance traveled: 23 miles]

Liquid nitrogen, killer lobsters, and sexy mannequins make up the news from today’s adventures in Facing Your Fears, the 2014 Mission POSSIBLE Tour!

We got kind of a late start today, because I was up until 4:30am working on the blog. [We slept in a little!]

What? A new element in the periodic table?

Cream in the periodic table

It is actually a new ice cream place called SubZero. I happened to stop by the place last night on the way to CVS to grab a Ginger Ale for Earline. Look at these tanks!

Liquid nitro tanks

Yes, folks, that IS liquid nitrogen. [Torin! Remember the freeze pops soaked in liquid nitrogen on the Tiger Cruise? That is some cold liquid!]

In this store it flows out of these faucets into bowls that the attendant shapes into a scoop or two of ice cream.

SUBZERO faucets

Interesting! [And yes, it also tasted quite good!]

Guess who we saw on the road today? James and Paula from the Campground at Long Key. Good to see you!

More bike trail construction detours today, including this one past the marine mammal theatre in Islamorada.

Marine mammal park

Not to be outdone by the mammals, this huge crustacean made its presence known!

Killer lobster

Hey, nephew Dexter! Of DEXAIR fame….we saw this sign on the side of the road….it looks like you have a long lost cousin!

REXAIR

Right on the bike path, we found this Tom Thumb and found chocolate milk, $2 subs, and Honey Buns. Okay, we are happy.

Tom Thumb

We also went across our first drawbridge of this trip. It brought back scary memories of the drawbridge in St. Augustine from our 2011 Mission POSSIBLE Tour.

First drawbridge

We saw this mannequin along the road next to a place that said “Antiques,” and Earline….well, I will let you write your OWN caption for this one!

[Send it to Earline on Facebook!]

Earline and

Finally arrived at the JP State Park about 30 minutes before they closed, but unlike the other parks, they refused to let us in.

JP Coral Reef SP

They said they were full, and that Boy Scouts were in their primitive area….so in 53,000 acres, you only have one primitive area? And you have no accommodations for bikers? [Or trikers?]

[As one State Park official earlier this week put it, they understand that bikers and kayakers may not know exactly when they will reach a certain destination, because of the slow speed that they travel.] [JP Coral Reef SP was the ONLY State Park that would not accept us.]

Here on the Keys you have what is supposedly the most bike-friendly area in Florida, that has a multi-million-dollar bike trail that we saw being worked on this past week, and it goes right past your front door, but you have no room for bikers in your facility?

Hmmmm.

I understand that this is the busiest park in Florida, but this sounds like another taxpayer-funded program that has let success go to their head. If you are not hungry enough, you won’t do whatever it takes to provide the best customer service possible.

Clark Howard on his radio show calls it “customer-no-service.”

See John 13:4-17. [I’ve included a link here in The Message version.] Jesus sets the PATTERN for us. It is servanthood, thinking of others as better than yourself, and being willing to help them, love them, to do what THEY need, over your own needs. Philippians 2 shows the depth of what Jesus did for us: “When the time came, He [Jesus] set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life…”

Okay, that’s enough rant….I am sure that the ranger we spoke to was following the rules, and doing her job, and that she will probably sleep okay tonight, but having owned a business myself, the MINUTE that you think you don’t need to be the best “servant” you can be for your customers, your business will deteriorate, and you have literally STOLEN from your clients the time and attention that they deserve.

NOW I am finished with my rant.

Sigh.

The ranger DID provide us with a list of other camping facilities in the area, though many on the list did NOT accept tents, or were ten or more miles away, and 30 minutes before sunset were laughably not viable alternatives for us.

Ride in the dark? Don’t want to do THAT!

But God….

We only had a few choices on the list, and only ONE that was close, that accepted tents, AND was in the direction we wanted to go [not backwards]. So that is where we headed, and after asking a few people for help finding it, we DID find it, AND they had 4 tent spaces available.

But God knew our needs, even BEFORE we asked Him. [See Matthew 6:8]

Kings Kamp. They were nice. They were helpful.

And they are privately owned. Hmmmm.

Thanks, God. We appreciate it….we truly do.

Settled in for the night, and had our tent set up, and showers taken, and IN the tent before 8pm.

[Now we DID have some interesting entertainment from some drunk, cussing young people playing “Sweet Home Alabama” at VERY high decibels at 10:30pm….but I’ll let Earline share those details with you.]

Ha!

Grateful, yes, grateful for another day’s journey.

TGG,

jon

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

SATURDAY, JULY 24, 2010

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!

Donkeys

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!

Huh??!!

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.

Well….

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….

PSSSSSSTF!

Yup….

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??!!

TGG,

jon

Day 19 [St. Paul, MN]

SATURDAY, JUNE 19, 2010

Okay, okay……yes, it was my birthday, and thanks to ALL of you who sent greetings….it helped make the day special!

How old am I? 67…..and as Earline says, “Don’t I look good??!!”

Okay, okay…..I learned that from a cosmetologist who said that whenever people asked her about her age, she always ADDED 10 years. She said that THEN people would tell her how WONDERFUL she looked, and she said she liked getting the compliments!! Ha!

We went to the Cancer Awareness seminar at the New Hope Baptist Church this morning, and had a very informative session on some of the details, characteristics, and contributing factors of this disease. Makeisha Nesbitt from the American Cancer Society was the MOST EXCELLENT facilitator:

ACS facilitator at conf

On our way to the cancer Awareness seminar, we went right past the Minnesota State Capitol Building (yes, the skies look threatening, but surprise…..we DID NOT get rained on today…..YEA!!):

Capitol building in St Paul

Uncle A had a chance to test drive the trike:

Uncle A test drive

And Earline met someone at the seminar who spelled her name EXACTLY the same way! Here’s Earline AND Earline:

Earline AND Earline

On the way back to the house, after making some printed copies of our new survey, we went a different way and what should we see but……a DAIRY QUEEN! (Number 5, for those of you who are keeping count!)

I had, yes, a Brownie Batter Blizzard (Torin, wish you could’ve been here! I had a spoonful in your remembrance….ha!). But you know, what is INTERESTING about that is…..earlier in the day, I had teasingly said that I was ‘praying’ for brownies…..and look what God made available!! Who says that He is not intimately involved with the details in our lives!

I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  I have found that when I stop praying, the coincidences stop happening!

Cousin Jhawn stopped by for a photo op:

Jhawn with J and E

We’ve decided to stay and go to church tomorrow with Uncle and Auntee, and then head south early on Monday.

Thru God’s Grace alone,

jon

Day -6 [Orlando, FL – Washington, D.C.]

MAY 25, 2010

Wow….say it backwards….WOW….say it upside down….MOM !!!

We were BOTH up all night. We are on the train right now (not too far from Torin…just stopped in Jesup, GA, headed on our up way thru coastal South Carolina.)

Don’t know exactly what I could have done differently….deleted doing some of the things that were on our “to-do” list? But most of the things on our list were really necessary TO DO!

As Earline says, it’s all about “time management.”

I hate rushing. I seriously do.

I would’ve LIKED to have had our trikes all geared up and packed 2 weeks ago. I would have LIKED a nice “spiritual experience,” easing into the train station a COUPLE HOURS ahead of time, prayerfully and smoothly submitting our trikes for transport, checking our baggage at the counter, and quietly (and tearfully) saying goodbye to friends and associates.

Didn’t happen. Not even close.

I was frantically trying to get our panniers and accessories mounted on the trikes Monday night so that we could pack them, so at least we could have a fairly good idea of what we wanted to take or not take with us on this 3-month excursion.

Kids, do NOT try this at home…..HA! (I AM SERIOUS!)

I finished prepping Earline’s trike at 5am. Mine at 6am.

Earline prepped trike in living room
Earline’s prepped trike.

Jons prepped trike
Jon’s prepped trike.

Then we had to figure out WHAT to pack, and WHERE to pack it. What will fit and what won’t.

Panniers are interesting creatures. Especially the good ones, like ours that we got from Jandd Mountaineering in San Diego. Lots of little compartments. Wonderful, sturdy construction. Obviously a LOT of thought and research went into designing and making these bags.

Trouble is, I don’t KNOW the history. I don’t KNOW the REASONS FOR those thoughtful designs. (Maybe some kind of user’s manual, or a guidelines sheet?) Ack!…I wouldn’t have had time to read it anyway!

Finally finished packing, and then had to UNPACK the trikes so that they could be boxed and shipped. (I did NOT know what I was doing…much praying and sweating.) (BLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBL.)

THANK-YOU, Phyllis for all your help in packing the trikes! (Phyllis throws a mean shipping tape roll!)

So Earline and I are frantically packing, grabbing and going (sorry, Miss Pat, that we left the house SUCH a mess!!)….and we arrived at the station about 35 minutes before we were scheduled to leave.

Not good.

Amtrak said “uh-uh”…..said the trike boxes were too big (not nice, and long and skinny like the Amtrak branded bike boxes. And they were a LITTLE heavy.) (Okay, so I threw a pannier or 2 in each box to “fill them out a little”…..final weight, 80 and 85 pounds…whoops…..the limit is 50 pounds.)

They made us ship them as freight the next day (for an additional $100). If we waited until tomorrow ourselves to travel with the trikes, it would have cost us an ADDITIONAL $200.

So we are traveling tonight, sans trikes, and they will HOPEFULLY arrive by the same train albeit a day LATER in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Friday evening.

Getting on Amtrak in Orlando
Some folks boarding our train.

One other note that folks might be interested in. The most they would insure the trikes for is $500. After much angst and cajoling on our part, they upped it to $1500 for the 2 of them.

The question I want to ask at our next layover station: “Is $500 your bicycle rate or your maximum freight rate? If freight rate, does that mean you never carry freight worth more than $500?”

Just wondering.

Or if it’s your bike rate, why was I charged freight rate, just because it’s shorter and fatter? The overall linear dimensions were less than Amtrak’s own available bike boxes (VERY long, close to 8 feet, but only 8″ wide.

(Aha! It’s discrimination against height-challenged tricycles!)

(Actually, Amtrak’s bike boxes are bulimic!…..Travel healthy. Go trikes.)

So we dragged ALL our luggage on the train (we were too late to check them…ALL of them.) (Well, except, of course, the bags I stuffed in the bike boxes!)

Thanks AGAIN, Phyllis, for helping us get everything thrown unto the train! (Hopefully we’ll be able to check our bags the next 2 legs.)

I sure hope we didn’t forget anything important! (Did I pack Bob Robinson’s guidebook of the Mississippi River Trail? Sure hope so! I guess we’ll find when we unpack!)

(I DID find out later when unpacking the boxes that I DID forget something CRUCIAL…..read about THAT challenge in Day -2.)

I faked this photo
I faked this photo…..I really did!

Oh-oh. Just had some AWFUL train food….YUCK! Earline had some vegetable pasta that wasn’t too bad, but our table-mate’s (Harold) medium-cooked steak bellered at him when he tried to take a bite.

I had some Mahi Mahi fish that was dry, and the cup of broth they supplied with it actually stunk! (Stank?) Phwew. (Earline had a great idea to put some RANCH dressing on the fish – that made it actually, ah, kinda good!)

But I am NOT complaining.

I am truly grateful for this opportunity. It’s exciting! And as Earline stresses, we’re pedaling with PURPOSE.

I have got to believe that God has some very specific reasons for this trip.

Alright….sleep time. Pray for our strength, okay?

THANKS!

jon

Day -16 [Chicago, IL – Orlando, FL]

MAY 15, 2010

Spent time with Torin in the morning, skipped rocks on Lake Michigan, and flew back to Orlando.

Earline and Torin at Lake Michigan
Torin tests his technique, while Earline plays with her phone. C’mon, Earline!

Torin shows Earline skipping stone tecnique
Torin shows Earline the proper way to throw. The water and the sky kind of blended together today!

Did some research on the BB, through the WiFi that AirTran offers on their flights; was able to connect, but the connection was a little slow. Exploring the capabilities of the iPad – seeing if it could be used to do presentations along the trip. Time’s running out, and don’t know if there’d be time get one shipped.

Discovered that some water cages and bottles I had ordered weren’t scheduled to arrive until sometime between June 2nd through June 6th.

Ack!!! That won’t do!

Was able to get them to up the time, so should have them in the next couple days.

Arrived safely back in Orlando (thank you, God).

jb

Day -17 [Chicago, IL]

MAY 14, 2010

[ACK!] The blog I just resent for Day -18 had some weird spelling suggestions just I just accidentally sent…oops…..(getting used to the new BB – the price for the new BB – the 9700 – was about the same as getting a battery for the old one!…it has some new features that I’m STILL learning to use. It should allow me to, and this is cool, to GPS the route as we accomplish it, and put it on Google Map! Stay tuned)

Experienced graduation at the Recruit Training Center in Chicago this morning. Saw 6 divisions, each with about 80 young men and women, perform and share some of the things they learned the past 8 weeks at the RTC.

I’ll post a video in a couple days of the most EXCELLENT drum corp that performed. [Here it is]

 

Grad line-ups in Chicago

As Earline and I entered the performance hall, who should hand us a program but our son Torin! That was his assigned responsibility today. He looked good!

We were very proud.

Torin handing out programs

 

He is now OFFICIALLY a US Navy sailor, and heads to school on Tuesday.

Pannier alert:  From our hotel room I had a great conversation with Terry at Jandd Mountaineering in San Diego. He was VERY HELPFUL in making some detailed suggestions about our trip. Here’s their web site: http://www.jandd.com/

Also had a wonderful lunch with Earline at the Waukegan Yacht Club on the shores of Lake Michigan (after a guy across the street told us he had heard “some stories, and that it was over-priced”)

Lesson for the day:  don’t believe everything people tell you. We decided to check it out ourselves. And even though the door (and several signs!) said “Members Only,” (Note to MGMT: you might want to take down those signs – we almost turned around and left a couple times!), but we persisted (another WiFi lesson), got to the dining area, and experienced excellent food, very reasonable prices, and outstanding service. Bravo!

Wonder what the other guy’s deal was….probably because he owned a deli, saw the Club as competition, and tried to sabotage their success. It didn’t work! (ANOTHER lesson in there….worry about YOUR OWN darn self. See Proverbs 21:6)

See U tomorrow!

jon

Day -18 [Chicago, IL]

MAY 13, 2010

[I just realized that the entries I sent this weekend from my Blackberry didn’t show up in the BLOG….whoops….user error. Here’s the first of 4 missed days]:

Arrived in Chicago late yesterday (Day -18) and are staying at a motel just a mile away from the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center. Got all the funeral programs designed, proofed, and reprinted before we left (yes, an all-nighter!). Some of the items for the trip arrived by UPS, including a portable first-aid kit, and a small electronics charging station.

Gradually getting everything together!

jon

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Martin Luther King parades

MARCH 10, 2010

Crazy busy – you may have noticed quite a few changes on this site as well as the God’s Hands Agency site.

But before I go forward, I have to go back and post some pictures from the Martin Luther King parades back in January. [Okay, I am a little slow…but to any of you planning a 1,000 mile-PLUS bike trip, be forewarned that there are MANY details and plans to be figured out in the months before the trip. Plan ahead to make sure you allow enough time to DO all the preparations necessary.]

Saturday there was a threat of rain for the Orlando parade (it DID drizzle a little during the middle of it). I had made a custom frame to hold a banner that fit the theme of the parade, that told about our coming trip. But because of the chance of rain, we had to improvise so that our paper signs on the trike wouldn’t dissolve. We used post office mailing tape to completely cover all the paper signage (The Next Step, Power On Cycling, The WiFi Pedalers). It worked great!

MLK 2010 Jon MP banner
Yes, with stay wires going front AND back, it made it a little tough to crawl into!

I thought the sign turned out pretty nice, though. (Yes, I designed it, but cudos to FastSigns on West Colonial for coming through.)

Earline also got into the act, with another trike donated for the day to us from Power On Cycling in Riverview. THANKS!

MLK Orlando 2009 - Jon & Earline
Smile, Earline! (doesn’t she look great?!!)

Had a nice turnout at the Orlando parade, even though the weather was a little funky. Here are some of our fellow Sinaites surprised to see us.

Earline and Sinaites
Hey, what are you guys doin’??!!

Here is photo of Keiron, who is hard-of-hearing. If you remember, he also helped us during the Horrible 100 back in November.

Keiron at 2009 MLK
Lookin’ pretty spiffy!

Our son, Torin decided he also wanted to get in the act.

MLK 2009 Torin on Jon trike
Hey, Torin, wouldn’t you REALLY like to ride 2,222 miles with us??!!

Then, there were those people who couldn’t quite figure out WHAT this was we were riding!

MLK 2009 boy trying to figure out trike
[This is one WEIRD looking contraption!]

The picture below was taken just before a gust of wind came roaring down Orange Avenue, and I got caught sideways, and over I went! Broke 3 pieces of the frame, but I was able to replace the broken pieces before the 2nd parade in Apopka on Monday.

MLK 2009 minute before wind gust bust

Torin and I had to take the trikes up to Apopka, and with the car needing to pick up some kids for the parade, we decided to just ride them up there. It meant starting before sunrise, though, because the parade started at 10, and we were supposed to be up there at 8, and it was 15 miles away.

Torin giving early eye
“Dad, why are you taking this picture?” [I don’t think Torin’s a morning person!]

It was so C-C-C-C-C-C-O-O-O-O-O-L-L-L-L-L-D-D-D-D-D-D that morning. Brrrrrrrrr!

MLK Apopka 2010 waiting
Hey, J! What’s happenin’?

MLK Apopka 2010 Torin said funny
Torin MUST’VE said SOMETHING funny….

Not only did we have some God’s Hands Agency folks join us in the parade, but also some youth from the CORE group at New Vision Community Church. We all got to participate in the VERY FIRST VERY Martin Luther King parade in Apopka.

MLK 2010 crazy folks
Okay…..these are some SERIOUSLY CRAZY folks!

MLK Apopka 2010 nice turnout
Had a GOOD turnout for the parade!

And, of course, what event would be complete without the singing of the National Anthem. We didn’t do it at the beginning, so we were honored to have it sung for us at the end:

MLK 2010 SSB, Whitney not worried
Some SERIOUS singing!

Anyway, a good time was indeed had by all. For more picture of the parades, and other photos concerning GHA, go to the GHA Photo page.

Earline rides a bicycle in a dress?

DECEMBER 27, 2008

BRIDGING THE GAPS…..The vision is conceived, Christmas of 2008, as a way of encouraging Families through God’s Hands Agency. But is it too much? Is such a task possible? The needs of the Deaf, and Families who have experienced loss are so great, but dare Earline and Jon possibly attempt such a challenge? 2,222 miles? 90 days? 36 bridges?

See for yourself as Earline tries riding a bicycle for the first time since Jr. High School! She’s willing to do whatever it takes to draw attention to the needs of the Deaf, and strategies to strengthen Families across America.