Day 5 [Lake Winni Resort, MN – Grand Rapids, MN]

JUNE 5, 2010

God’s Word.

One of the things I appreciate about having grown up on a farm, is that you are right out in the middle of God’s creation – it envelopes you – and there are lessons about God’s character, and about life principles, that you can see all around you.

Many of the illustrations used in Proverbs are agricultural concepts.

Proverbs 18:4 – “Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.”

Proverbs 24:30-34 – “I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

And as WE travel OUTDOORS, we are surrounded by God’s creation, and recipients (and victims) of its character….like:

“For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good; He sends rain on the just and the unjust, too.” Matthew 5:45

Earline and Jon in rain
Oh, well.

Ack!!! – yes, it was a wet ride today – we went about 50 miles, and put up in a motel in Grand Rapids, MN to rest Earline’s leg [AND to dry out!].

Yes, she was in quite a bit of pain AGAIN today – the latter part of the ride – but she was able to give it a good hot soak tonight, and we are right next to a Wal-Mart where we will be able to pick up some supplies for her leg that Mark Power of Power On Cycling (where we got our trikes) suggested. (Thanks, Mark!)

Below is our camp site last night at the Lake Winni Campground. We borrowed a long extension cord to be able to have power in our tent, and that worked out so well that I eventually invested in a 50′ cord of our own. Worth the extra weight, and with a 3-pronged outlet on the female end, it allowed us to make sure that our phones would be all charged up every day.

Lake Winni campground

As we got underway today, we stopped at the Winnie One Stop, with Stacie and Pam….

Winnie One Stop

….and ended it at the Country Inn in Grand Rapids, MN, with Lynn making us feel warm and welcomed:

Lynn at the Country Inn

A few days ago at Camp Itasca, we saw wild geese traveling in formation, the ones at the BACK honking and encouraging the ones in FRONT as they fly great distances:

Geese honking

In the book of Hebrews in the Bible it tells us in no uncertain terms that we have a responsibility to encourage and warn each other daily:

“Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” Hebrews 3:12-13

Today we saw a baby deer on the side of the road, with the mother deer nowhere in sight – NOT a safe situation for the baby deer. Here it is:

Baby deer side of road

More than likely that baby deer’s mother has the instinct to protect her offspring, and was probably trying to find it as we came toodling down the road (“his rebellious behind!” as Earline would say). That baby deer could easily be attacked by timber wolves or some other predator.

In the same way, God warns US metaphorically in Proverbs:  “The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother’s instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.” Proverbs 30:17

It was with great sadness that we learned this morning that one of the Deaf community in our home town was arrested for multiple sexual sins that he admitted to taking place over the past 20 years, even though he was very active in local church activities. ALL of us, hearing and deaf alike, must not diminish the importance of being obedient, for Jesus WARNED the disciples, and us, that:

“At judgment day, many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name, we cast out demons in your name, we performed many miracles in your name!’ But I will reply, ‘Go away, you who refused to obey God’s laws…I never knew you. The things you did were unauthorized.’ ” Matthew 7:22-23

We WILL have to stand before Jesus some day….each one of us, and account for the decisions we have made in our lives. I’ve learned some hard lessons myself about obedience.

And though it may seem like He isn’t around, or that He doesn’t care, or that He’s forgotten about us, Peter, who knew Jesus as well as anybody, reminds us, WARNS us in 2 Peter 3:9….

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to REPENT.”

And at the end of the day today, after all the rain we went through, as we arrived in Grand Rapids, we smiled as we were reminded of a promise, and that like ALL of God’s promises, His Word is true, and right, and worthy of our respect and trust.

Rainbow over Walmart
Only TGG,

jon

[P.S….yes, just to the right of this photo is the Judy Garland birthplace attraction, here in Grand Rapids, MN. What a wonderful place for this rainbow to appear!]

 

Day 1 [Camp Itasca, MN – Bemidji, MN]

JUNE 1, 2010

Oasis.

Like the Israelites journeying to the oasis at Elim where they found 12 springs and 70 palm trees (Exodus 15), we have had an oasis open to us, and it is right on the banks of the Mississippi River!

So how did we find this oasis?

The day started out getting packed up, ready to head out on the Mississippi River Trail, or the MRT, Day 1….YEA!

Jon pumping air mattress
Here I am sucking the last of the air OUT of the air mattress (to make it tighter for packing) (which didn’t take too long because most of it leaked out during the night….TWICE) (I pumped it up in the middle of the night).

Craig and I had found a leak in it the day before, and patched that, but obviously, I found another leak. Craig gave me the patch kit to take with, so that I could patch the second hole as well.

Here’s a photo of Craig and Rosann from Camp Itasca. They were super!

Craig and Rosann
Heard there wasn’t anything to eat between Lake Itasca and Bemidji, so we stocked up at the convenience store across the street. (Thanks, Don!)

The day was cool, but absolutely beautiful starting out.

Now remember, we are counting bridges, ‘bridging the gaps’ in communication among Deaf, Youth, and Families (there are some bridge pictures on yesterday’s blog).

Remember, on Saturday, May 29, Day -2, we crossed our FIRST bridge on Hwy. 200. You can see the picture of that bridge on that day. Yesterday, we crossed our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bridge….that is in the order that WE crossed them, not in order from the source.

We said our goodbyes to Craig and Rosann, and Camp Itasca…..

Jon and Earline front of Itasca sign
It was a pretty day starting out, cool, and there was not much traffic, so it was a pleasant ride.

Loaded down Day 1
And as they say, the “road stretched before us”….

Road stretched before us
Earline shows that she’s “boss,” she’s “groovin’.”

Shes boss shes groovin

Here is Bridge #5 from today’s ride:

Bridge05
And then……the sun went away, and it REALLY started to cool down….

We did go down one hill at speeds over 45 miles per hour, first time doing that together. It was kinda fun, but a little SCARY with all the gear we were carrying.

But the trikes proved again to be good and solid. NO problem controlling them at all.

And COLD, though, as we created a 55 degree, 45 mph wind in our faces! Here’s a picture looking back at the hill:

45mph hill1
Bridge #6 from today’s ride:

Bridge06
Yes, this IS indeed the Mississippi River. Wow.

Growing up in Iowa just 15 miles from the river, where it is 3 miles across, I just never imagined it to be this size!

At this point the Mississippi reminds me  little of the way the St. Johns River winds its way around the marshes east of Orlando.

Bridge #7?

Bridge07 nope
At first, I thought this was also the Mississippi River, or MR [as I will abbreviate it in the future], but there was no sign here indicating it as such, and upon further study of the map, I realized that this was just a slough leading into the MR.

It’s just that at this size, it is hard to tell!

Also notice that the skies are getting grayer now. We started getting drizzled on around 9 miles into the ride, with the wind blowing from the north, northeast, right into our faces. It seemed to get even colder……..I would guess around 55 degrees or so. We layered up some more, but this was NOT fun. (Why do you think I moved to Florida??!!…..HA!)

She’s wet, she’s tired, and she just wants to make it to Bemidji:
Shes wet shes tired

[Jon’s note: Earline might look a little unhappy above, but what you might not know is that she again is in some very miserable pain in her legs at this point, the reason which we won’t discover until tomorrow.]

By now we ran into some heavy drizzles, and I started to get concerned about hypothermia.

Finally, a few miles from Bemidji, the rain stopped, and we started to see a little sunshine again. Yea!

Here’s bridge #7: [for real]
Bridge07 for real

Bridge07 with Earline

A family with a NEAT playhouse in the back yard, offered to take our picture:

Jon and Earline by Bemidji playhouse

And I HAD to take a quick picture of this really cool playhouse! [I guess they need it that big – there are 10 children in the family!]

Play house for family of 10

Now here’s where the story REALLY gets interesting….we had NO place to stay. Earline was experiencing some pretty severe pain in her right leg. We stopped at the first gas station we ran into, on the outskirts of Bemidji.

While we’re discussing where to go to stay (it is past 7pm at this point), a man who was pumping gas into his pick-up comes over to us, and asking a little about what we were doing. As we were talking, we discovered that he was believer, AND that his daughter was an interpreter for the Deaf!

Wow!

We had prayer in the parking lot right there, and then a few minutes later, he asked if we would like to stay at his place for the night. He called his wife (and got the okay!), and he gave us directions to his home, only a couple miles away.

As we headed there on our trikes, however, Earline’s trike was giving her fits. She couldn’t move forward. It looked like the parking brake was too tight on the back wheel. I loosened it up some.

We continued on, but Earline’s right leg was REALLY bothering her. Then she said she smelled something burning! (answer in tomorrow’s blog)

We could not SEE anything wrong, but I came alongside her like I did on Saturday up some of the hills, and we finally limped into the yard of Miles and Brenda Rouland.

What a blessing there were to us! And right on the banks of the Mississippi River! [Our oasis!] Here’s a view of the river from their porch:

MR from our Day1 oasis
Miles helped me do some repair work on Earline’s trike (paralleled the parking brake pads, so that they were even top and bottom to the tire).

Meanwhile Brenda works in education, so she and Earline had MUCH to talk about. And they are also a blended family, so we were able to share notes on that endeavor as well.

THEN, they gave us our own room and bathroom to use down in their basement! (Earline didn’t know what a BASEMENT was!)

After the cold, wet day, it was truly a time of recovery and refreshing for us. Brenda even made a delicious hot dish for us between the time her husband called her about us staying there, and the time we got there. She actually had it in the freezer, ready to pull out whenever they had visitors. Amazing! [Editor’s note: Phyllis, we got the recipe for you!]

Thanks, Lord, AGAIN for your provision. Pray for Earline’s leg. (I am writing this on Day 2, and she is in a lot of pain below her right knee. It may be shin splints.)

ONLY thru God’s grace,

jon

[Please ignore the map below…it does correctly show the starting and ending points of this first day, but I have not yet figured out how to get it to comply with the ROUTE that we actually took [back roads, hugging the MR as much as possible, as opposed to the route that a car would take. Thanks.]

Day ZERO [Camp Itasca, MN – Lake Itasca State Park, MN]

MAY 31, 2010

B-R-R-R-R-R-R!

Heard it was 37 degrees last night! [A little COOL for these FLORIDA folks!]

But we were able to hook the sleeping bags together, and Earline’s power surges kept me warm. (HA!)

The day warmed up quickly, though, and we went to the Headwaters of the Mississippi and took pictures.

On the way into the park we actually crossed another bridge over the MR (more like a culvert)….courtesy of the detailed website of ALL the Mississippi River bridges by John Weeks, here is our Bridge #2:

Bridge02
We followed the paths down to the Headwaters, and dipped our rear wheels in the water…..It’s official!

Earline put in wheels at headwaters

Earline dipping trike2

Jon dipping his trike
I understand dragon flies eat mosquitoes, and on this particular day there were LOTS, I mean THOUSANDS of dragon flies, and I would think, some VERY skittish mosquitoes (see one dragon fly in motion right in front of my right arm).

Here is the two of us in front of the OFFICIAL SIGN [with the creepy guy who kept staring at us right behind it….ha].

Jon and Earline front of the MR headwaters sign
Earline decided she needed to play in the rocks a little bit more…..HA!

Earline on Headwaters rocks

Earline on Headwaters rocks2
There were lots of people at the park today. [Remember, it IS Memorial Day!]

The trikes drew a lot of curious questions (as we had hoped), and we used the opportunity to explain the Mission, to encourage others in THEIR dreams, and make dozens of new friends. We even handed out some I-Love-You sign language stickers.

Handing out ILY stickers at headwaters
There were SO MANY warm and friendly people we met today – it was heart-warming. Here’s Eli, with his parents, Mitch and Catie:

Young family at Itasca
As soon as I get a chance, I will put together a book of photos of many of the people that we had chance to meet and have conversation with. Stay tuned!

We even had a chance to walk (ride?….not really) on the VERY FIRST OFFICIAL “bridge” across the Mississippi River [our Bridge #3]:

Lake Itasca and 1st bridge 3 for us
Okay….so I TRIED to “ride” it…..ha!

1st bridge log over MR
Who says Earline is afraid of bridges??!!

Who says shes afraid of bridges
One final photo on the FIRST BRIDGE over the Mississippi River:

Bridge 3 final photo
After leaving the Headwaters area, we went across THIS wooden bridge, our Bridge #4:

Bridge04
Leaving the park we ALMOST got rained on coming up the hill.

Road coming out of Itasca State Park
The rain went around to the north, however…safe for NOW! [Little did we know!]

We had a chance to finally get this internet connection working, so we can send along a few photos here. The Map My Ride application should hopefully be working tomorrow also, as we test it for the first time.

We plan to be up early to head on up to Bemidji – Day 1 is TOMORROW!

Thanks God, for guiding and protecting us. WE APPRECIATE IT MUCH!

TGG,

jon

Day -2 [Detroit Lakes, MN – Camp Itasca, MN]

MAY 29, 2010

Dah, dah, DAH…..

[Whispered in a deep voice] “When we last left our fearless, God-blessed servants, they were on their way to Detroit Lakes, MN, trikes in hand, on the mighty Amtrak Empire line.

“Then, about 2:30 am, they were hurriedly deposited on the side of the road, about 50 yards from the lonely Detroit Lakes platform, along with their entire life’s possessions for the next three months. A cool breeze from the south greeted their faces in the darkness.

“They smiled, and took pictures, realizing they were just (according to Google) only about 55 miles from their destination, the headwaters of the Mississippi River.” (cue dramatic opening music)…..

Okay, enough with the third person dramatics! There’s enough here without it…HA!

Jon off train in DetroitLakes
We put the trike boxes outside the door of the station, and moved all our gear inside. There were about 7 people inside, waiting for another Amtrak train headed south.

One of them was a couple, a Mr. and Mrs. Ron Griffith. He was dropping her off at the station for a trip to visit family. His family was actually responsible years ago for introducing a type of bean into the area as a cash crop, and it is currently the area’s second most prolific crop, behind potatoes.

We brought my trike into the warm station for the purpose of putting it back together. (We’re talking a fairly small room here, maybe 20 x 20. After unfolding my trike, I couldn’t get the chain untwisted, and I couldn’t figure out how the chain routed through the tubes and back axle. Never thought to study that. I DID have the “T” owner’s manual with me, and that helped.

Jon assemble trikes
Of course, I am assembling this in front of everybody, and I’m EMBARRASSED that I don’t know how to quickly put it together. ACK!

But we are answering questions about our tour as I attempted to route the chain, and finally Ron and a young oriental gentleman (who never said a word, but helped me figure it out with hand gestures) helped me get the chain routed correctly.

THEN, when I tried to tighten the boom screws and attach the seat, I realized that in my little tools duffle, I had neglected to pack EITHER of the Allen wrench tools. Only the tool that I probably need THE MOST to tighten various screws on the trike.

DOUBLE ACK!!

I just continued to attach what I could.

By this time, most of the folks’ train had come in, so the only ones left were Mrs. Shogren, who was picking up her son, and Mr. Griffith. It was at this point, that Mrs. Shogren said she would go to the 24-hour Walmart and GET an Allen wrench tool for me. AND she wouldn’t take any money. What a blessing!

I truly would have been lost without her offer. Thank you, God!

We then continued to put Earline’s trike together (easier, because of the new way it folds), and added the bottle holders and panniers. We took the trikes outside, tested their maneuverability (to see if I had put them together CORRECTLY), and then added the rest of the gear.

And as you can see, even though it was only a little after 5am, it was already light outside! [Closer to the Arctic Circle.]

Earline outside Detroit Lakes Station
FINALLY got everything fully packed on both trikes (for the first time ever!) and Earline toodled around the station, testing her ability to drive it with all the gear on it. She also remarked (as I had done when testing it a couple weeks ago with a 40 lb. bag of bird seed) that it was VERY easy to pedal, and you hardly noticed the extra weight. (Kudos to I.C.E. for their well-made and designed trikes.)

Had some prayer time, and headed over to the Sinclair station just across the railroad tracks to fill up on water and goodies for the trip up to Camp Itasca. At the station they mentioned that they had just opened this gas station on Tuesday for the first time this year! (Thanks, Lord, for your provision.)

Little did we realize how significant that provision was!

Earline enjoy blue skies and lakes
We headed out on Hwy 34 for Lake Itasca State Park about 8am on an absolutely GORGEOUS blue-sky day.

Many giggles and frustration as we tried to get clipped in to our clipless pedals. I guess it takes a while to get the hang of it. Especially important for recumbents, though, because without the clips, you can accidently slip off the pedals (something Earline had happen to her later in the day) and experience “leg whip” as your foot and leg get slammed against the horizontal axle, resulting in bruised or even broken bones. (Earline is alright, thankfully.)

The road was 2 lanes, and very busy, but the road had a wide shoulder that we stayed on. We would stop occasionally to catch our breath and stretch our legs. Met Trudy at her mailbox, who until Earline mentioned thanking God for His blessings, was trying to figure out a way to witness to US! Alright!

Met Mr. Leonard Hammer, an elderly gentleman who waved us into into his yard, and talked about a variety of topics, including showing us the bundle of large Northern Pike fish that he had just caught.

We also discovered that he had just lost his wife of (probably) 50-plus years only 6 months earlier. Pray that God comfort Mr. Hammer in his grief at the loss of his wife.

Jon and Mr Hammer
Earline also found out that you CAN tip over on these trikes, trying to turn too fast on a side road with all the extra weight on board. No serious injuries, but she did get a boo-boo. (See the boo-boo?)

Earline tipped over
Okay….you have to look REAL close!

Boo boo close up
Headed up Highway 37, which had a lot less traffic. We had to visit mother nature….ahem, you know, relieve our bladders….on the side of road, behind a tree [lots of THOSE]. No convenience stores up here!

Earline on the road to Itasca
As we traveled through some farm country, and some more farm country…..and some more farm country…..well, we’re getting tired….

Earline in open MN fields
……(didn’t get much sleep last night….well, actually, I didn’t get ANY), I was getting REALLY sleepy, and found myself dozing off. (One of the hazards, I guess, of the recumbent trikes – they ARE comfortable.)…..and Earline had maybe an hour of sleep on the train.

Not long after the above photo, I suddenly woke up, and found myself headed for the ditch on the LEFT side of the road. Earline was FRANTICALLY blowing on the aluminum whistle I had gotten her for dogs. I averted the ditch, but we were very grateful that there had been no oncoming traffic at that time.

And just a minute or so later, a large semi truck went right past us on the other lane….thank you Lord for your protection!

This ended up seeming like a deserted highway….no stores, not much traffic….

Pretty day but EMPTY
By this time the power on my phone DIED, which had the GPS Google map that I had been using.

We made the turns that I remembered, but it seemed like it was taking us an AWFULLY long time to get to certain intersections. We tried to call Camp Itasca, but after a minute of conversation our signal DIED, and repeated attempts to connect resulted in a “no service available” error message.

We headed up 37 past 113, looking for Hwy. 200. By now our mileage had crept PAST 55 miles, and it looked like we were nowhere close to our destination. Earline didn’t feel she could go on.

Here knees were hurting pretty badly, and this is also when she experienced “leg whip” which didn’t help matters. I tried to help her up some of the hills by holding on to the side of her chair, and pedaling with her, and that seemed to help. (Of course, she didn’t WANT me to help, because then she felt guilty, cuz she knew I was tired, too.)

Mmm….do WE ever treat that God that way? Not asking for His help when we KNOW we need it. Either because we’re too proud, or don’t want to bother Him. (Trust me, He WANTS to be bothered!) If you are a parent, and your child has a need, don’t you as a parent WANT to know about their need? Of course, you do.

We FINALLY reached Hwy. 200, but after turning right we still experienced hill after hill. The sun was going down. HOW MUCH LONGER??!!

I had a little battery operated recharger, that powered up Earline’s phone enough to make a call, and FINALLY found a signal that let me reach Craig at Camp Itasca. Only a couple miles further, he informed us.

Then we went over a bridge over the Mississippi. OUR FIRST river crossing (Bridge #1) on our trikes! (River’s a little smaller here than at LaCrosse, huh??!!)

FIRST bridge over MR on Hwy 200
Here’s a view FROM our first bridge over the Mississippi:

View FROM 1st bridge
Finally rolled into Camp Itasca, after 78 miles total! We had long ago run out of food and water, so we were VERY grateful (and hungry, and thirsty)!

And Craig and Rosann were wonderful – they had a spot all picked out for us to set up our tent. Rosann actually drove Earline over to the convenience store across the street to get some food and drink.

We quickly got unpacked, set up our tent, enjoyed a quick (and NEEDED) shower, and headed to bed. Thank you, Lord, for safety AND provision. We could not have done it without the strength of Your promises, and the wonderful way that You worked through all the GOOD that people we ran into extended to us.

We are TRULY grateful.

jon

Day -3 [St. Paul, MN – Detroit Lakes, MN]

MAY 28, 2010

What an interesting day!

Highlights:  A wonderful night’s sleep in a real bed! Yea! Spent much of the day at “Uncle A” and “Auntie Liz’s” house….met all our “cousins”….tasted some of Auntie Liz’s FINE cooking.

Earline took a faith walk (WITHOUT telling Auntie Liz – ooooo, she’s in trouble!).

Earline met a painter with a passion for music and teaching, and 2 of his recent students are Deaf! Jesse Buckner is his name, and apparently his mother was also a famous motivational speaker – Mrs. Thelma Battle-Buckner. Plans are in the works to develop a collaboration – stay tuned!

However….

Our efforts to find a ride to Lake Itasca were coming up EMPTY….what does God want us to do?

NO ONE offered to drive us up there [except Uncle A, bless his heart, but we told him no, but thanks!]. We understand it IS a long way – almost 4 hours drive each way.

Among the many avenues we explored was getting a ride on Amtrak a little further down the road to Detroit Lakes. It just means we’d have to add about 50 miles to our route BEFORE the, ah….start of our route!

(In other words, this mileage won’t count!) (Shhhhh….don’t tell Earline!)

SO…..we went ahead and made reservations for 2 to Detroit Lakes (but we were told that we would NOT be able to take out trikes to Detroit Lakes with us, because it was not a MANNED station. In fact, they said there was no freight delivery anywhere between Minneapolis and Spokane, Washington!). Wow!

Well, this would not do!

One more interesting quirk:  I went to pay for our tickets to Detroit Lakes at the Mpls. station, and when the desk clerk asked for my photo I.D., it was not in my front pocket where I keep it.

What??!!?

We called Auntie, and she was looking all around the bed where we slept. I had NO clue where it might be. I couldn’t begin to remember when the last time was I used it.

Possibly in Orlando?

Earline was fussin’ about me not keeping up with my stuff, and I felt terrible. (I’m a perfectionist and I HATE to make mistakes.)

Then I noticed Earline’s license in her little pouch, and something told me to pick it up and look at it. When I did, something fell from behind her license…..MY license!

I don’t remember putting it there….Earline doesn’t remember putting it there. So how?????

One day ALL things will be revealed, and that’s gonna be one of the first things we check out!

HA!

So we asked God, why did this happen?

Two, maybe three things we can think of:  God wanted to deal with Earline being quick to get angry at me (no, not Earline!!…yes, Earline)….God not wanting her to get perturbed so quickly with me.

And for ME to learn to trust Him more completely!!….even when the unexpected happens!

Another reason is I have a birthday coming up pretty soon, and this was a way for God to REMIND ME to pay a license tag for our car that I forgot to pay before we left home. (Yes, God IS interested in the details of our lives….Matthew 10:30)

(By the way, YES, our trikes arrived safely in Mpls. Yea!……BUT.….)

I stood at the end of the line as passengers handed in their tickets to board the train. When I got up to the conductor, and before he could punch them, I said that I would like to use those tickets, but I couldn’t!

Well, the two gentlemen had puzzled looks, and I explained that our trikes had just arrived from Orlando, and we needed them to go with us to Detroit Lakes. He said that that was not possible. I then explained how there was a place at the front of each car for carry-on luggage, and that the two trike boxes that I had loaded myself in Orlando would both fit there nicely.

He looked flustered, but then he told me to go and see if the boxes would indeed fit.

(I had just explained that I KNEW they would!…..but, as instructed, I went to check anyway!)

I hollared at Earline to bring the bags, and I talked to the attendant for the Detroit Lakes car, and explained to her that these bags represented 3 months of our lives!

I then went BACK to the conductor, verifying that indeed the boxes WOULD fit…..and he said, “well, don’t make me late!”

NO PROBLEM !!!!!!

I quickly found Don the baggage guy, explained the situation, hustled to the warehouse to get our boxes OFF the palette they had just come in on, ripped off the plastic wrap that was binding them together, and stuffed them on the Detroit Lakes car. They fit!! [Of course!]

Within minutes, the train left the station with us, our bags, AND our trikes on it….YEA!! High fives all around (well, quietly, at least, because we didn’t want to get any Amtrak personnel in trouble!)

No, it didn’t look good, the situation looked dire, but God DOES know our needs, and the Mission IS POSSIBLE, and WE ARE ON OUR WAY to Detroit Lakes. YES!

Thank you, God!

Now to make sure we don’t miss our stop, which is only 3 stations away: St. Cloud, Staples, and Detroit Lakes.

It’s about midnight, and I am TOO excited to sleep.

TGG,

jon

 

Day -7 [Orlando, FL]

MAY 24, 2010

Trike in living room

Gradually packing our trikes (for the first time)….has anybody else ever been this delayed getting prepared for a trip?

Figuring out where to put the clothes, where to put the electronics….what do all these pockets mean? What is best?

Cartoon loaded down cyclist

 

I guess we’ll find out.

Once we get the panniers packed with everything we need, then we’ll quickly have to UNPACK (or at least unload), fold the trikes, and see if we can get them to fit into the boxes we got from United.

Pressure’s on! HA! (Looks like it’s gonna be a late night!)

Be strong and of good courage.

jon

Blog by E-Mail? Testing….

NOVEMBER 15, 2009 – 1:28 AM

Mmmm….my only question is, if it’s discouraged and some places even illegal to text while driving, is it bad for me to txt while “triking?”

Ha! (I guess we’ll find out…)(!)

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Pre-Horrible 100 [for REAL] Thoughts

NOVEMBER 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign Language ABCs sheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

HA!

jon

 

Sugarloaf and Trikes: More Horrible 100 Observations

SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

The question is, can a trike do the Horrible 100, specifically can it conquer the mighty Sugarloaf Mountain?

Yesterday I had a chance to answer that question.

Went to West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades Co., and rented a Sun tadpole trike. The people at West Orange were very helpful, even with some of my odd requests. (like stick-um….see below a little bit.)

Sun trike at West Orange
A tadpole trike by Sun (I’ll have a few comments about this trike at the end.)

Having done the entire Horrible 100 a couple weeks ago, I knew from the map where I wanted to go – today’s purpose is simply to see if this trike can handle the rigors of the hills north of Clermont, and especially Sugarloaf Mountain, and if I can do it in a timely manner.

After adjusting the length of the pedals bar, and the seat (this is as low as it would go), I headed west. Well, not exactly. I couldn’t shift!

I had put on some sunscreen on my face, arms and legs, and with my hands slippery, I couldn’t grip the handles! Had to come back to the store and look for something to give my hands some grip. (Note to self: bring your GLOVES next time!)

Finally found that washing all the sunscreen off my hands eventually allowed me to grip and twist the shifters (which did feel stiff and tight). Unfortunately, I can see where that could be a dangerous situation if you’re trying to tug and twist on the shifters and go straight ahead at the same time, especially in a high traffic areas.

Took old 50 over to Turkey Farm Road…. made it up that hill with really……not MUCH effort. Hmmmm. Turned up Fosgate Rd. (this is part of the Horrible 100). Then turned on Grassey Lake.

Saw a deer – a young buck! (Obviously lost.)

Deer in Clermont
This deer overslept!

Continued up Grassey Lake….what a gorgeous day today!! The sky was so blue!!

Bluest Blue Sky
Talk about blue!!

Turned on Citrus Grove Road, and before turning right on Scrub Jay Road, saw this in front of me – part of the Horrible 100….NO WONDER I was panting going up that hill last time! I didn’t remember it being that steep.

Citrus Graove Road
Citrus Grove Road hill – part of the Horrible 100.

After turning right on Scrub Jay Road (the Horrible 100 in reverse), I AGAIN went past this tall tower.

Scrub Jay tower from north
Same tower, different day, different bike…..er, ah, TRIKE!

One thing I’m realizing as I’m headed out of town, is that these hills seem to be a lot easier on the trike. Part of it, I guess, is the gearing. I can shift way down, and still proceed. I might be going slower up the hills, but the effort doesn’t seem near as hard. Plus, I’m not having to worry about BALANCE. I went up and down Grassey Lake and Scrub Jay, without even having to go in the lowest gear. I’m thinking that Sugarloaf WILL be conquered today.

Headed west on 561A after Scrub Jay, NICE long downhill – I’m in the top gear in the back (8), and top in the front (3), and just cruising along. Drinking a lot of water – almost out. Hope those thermoses are still at the top of Sugarloaf.

I forgot to mention this in the last blog. Right before the turn to Sugarloaf, there is a horse farm, and the fence is COVERED with…[wait for it]…. shovel heads. Yup!

Shovel heads
Shovel heads? What can it mean?

I think I figured it out – obviously, everyone who has died from fear or heart attacks going up this mountain, they’re actually buried right here on the spot, and each time they use a different shovel to dig the grave! And…..HERE THEY ARE!

And here it is, again – the dreaded Sugarloaf Mountain!!!!

Sugarloaf with clear skies
Sugarloaf Mountain – it LAUGHS at those who try to conquer it….we’ll see!

Take my last swig of water, rev up the ‘engines’…..and off we go.

I figure I need a record of this, so I put my camera IN HAND, and off I go. I put the front gear in the lowest setting, and figure I’ll leave it there for the whole ascent, so it’s my left hand that holds the camera. Just to show the superiority of the trikes, I’ll TAKE PICTURES WHILE CLIMBING the mountain. Try doing THAT on a bike!

The steepest pitch is right in here, beside the small yard lights on the right that have stonework pillars that they’re set in.

Assault on Sugarloaf, with shoe
Yes, that’s my foot….taking this picture WHILE climbing up the mountain.

Got it totally down in first gear at this point, but no sweat….okay, maybe a little sweat. Okay, maybe a lot of sweat, but I’m not gasping for air like I was on my bike. My legs DID start to get a little tired about 100 yards from the top, but I MUST do this. And just then…..

Dog on Sugarloaf
Bark, bark, growl! Will he attack?? The gate just to the left of this photo is WIDE OPEN!

Mind you, I’m taking this picture WHILE continuing to climb the hill.

But the dog doesn’t come any closer….heh, he’s probably trying to figure out what in the heck it is that I’m riding!

Finally, at the top! No stopping, some picture taking along the way, and the trike has conquered.

Conquering trike
We came, we saw, we conquered.

Now, to see if that water is still up around the corner. I’m thirsty!

Okay, here’s the house….what??!!?

No water top of Sugarloaf
No water??!! ACK!!!!

You can see a gray spot on the driveway WHERE the water stand was….but not today, I guess. Well, I was GRATEFUL when it was there for me last time.

NOW…..time to go down the south slope.

Kicked the trike into the highest gears, and off we go. Within 50 yards I’m going faster than what I can pedal, so I’m just hanging on. Picking up more speed…..I’m guessing 45 to 55 mph at my fastest. Especially with the direct steering of this trike, I need to concentrate on keeping it straight and true.

WHEW!!!!! That was fun! Here’s what I just came down.

SE hill of Sugarloaf
Coming south from Sugarloaf. I think I surprised the UPS guy!

Some MORE downhills now….this is fun!

Whoops!! Just ran across this sign….NOW they tell me!

40 MPH speed limit
Shhhhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!

Filled up with water in Montverde, and headed back in to Bikes and Blades.

Now remember, from Sugarloaf on down to the bike trail on old 50, this is all part of the Horrible 100, and near the end of it, actually, so these downhills should be much appreciated.

Saw this – whatever it is – headed south from Montverde. Is it a castle? A golf resort? Hmmmm.

Montverde castle maybe
Very gorgeous, but what is it?

When I got back in to Bikes and Blades, discussed some of my adventure with the store manager, Mr. Taylor Powell.

Taylor Powell

I had moved the steering handles back on the direct steering bars, to give me a little more control. I was glad I had, because coming down some of those hills, it was everything I could do to keep it going straight.

I hate the seat on these Sun trikes….not just dislike, but HATE…..NOT comfortable. I was experiencing what they call “recumbent butt.” Had to keep shifting from one cheek to the other!!!

And granted, this is a rental trike that has probably been through some abuse, but it felt kinda like dad’s old ’49 Chevy truck. A lot of shaking and bumping. Kinda of a rough ride, and a lot of veering from left to right to left, and that was when shifting (it was tough to shift, even with dry hands), AND when braking. A lot of brake steer…had a hard time continuing straight when braking hard.

Experiencing the grip shifting on this trike being so stiff, I am thinking now that thumb shifters are the way to go. That way if the shifting tightens up, or my hands are sweaty or greasy, I won’t have to worry that my steering will be affected.

(I have since been assured by a couple of sources, that the Sun trikes are notorious for swervey steering – and apparently the direct steering is partly to blame.)

Good things? Not too much, I’m afraid on this trike, except…..when I WAS able to shift, it would slide completely through all of the gears from top to bottom, smoothly, and on demand. The high end was not very high, though, and I often was going faster than what the gearing allowed me to pedal.

But the low end….the low end was a GOOD low – I could climb even Sugarloaf without much real difficulty, and I appreciated that!!

All in all a good test of a trike going up the hills north of Clermont. Time-wise, even stopping and starting, adjusting the water bottle, taking lots of pictures, it took about 3-1/2 hours.

So looking at the map – maybe 25, 30 miles. Which means I probably averaged close to 10-11mph. Almost enough to complete the Horrible 100 before they close the booths!

Gotta do some more training!

(P.S. By the way, Taylor gave me TWO tubes and a patch kit to take with me…..I was PREPARED this time!)

(P.P.S.S. Course, when I am prepared….NO FLATS! Ha!)

jon