Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 8 - Cities.

"Each time a driver makes a trip by cycle instead of by automobile, not only the cyclist but society as a whole reaps the benefits."
-Marcia D. Lowe, The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet

"To be a real city rider, you have to learn the streets and the neighborhoods. You have to know which streets are better to ride on, which ones are safer at night. This can't be taught."
-Keith Mills

"Cyclists have a right to the road too, you noisy, polluting inconsiderate maniacs! I hope gas goes up to eight bucks a gallon!"
-The dad of "Calvin & Hobbes," responding to Calvin's request for traffic safety poster ideas

Margaret and I went to Seattle today. It was fourteen miles of driving to the city, twenty-one miles of driving in the city to find a parking spot, and fourteen miles back to the motel because we never found that parking spot! Needless to say we got a total of four photographs of Seattle and about three hours of frustration. Forty-nine miles! Add that to our 2,835.3 mile total yesterday and we have traveled 2,884.2 miles. We did get a peek of the Pacific Ocean today but I want to put my feet in the water just to say I've done it!
We still enjoyed the day and Seattle is a very clean city with lots of stop lights, turn lanes, people, bikes, buildings, and one way streets. It has some of the steepest streets I have ever seen. When it snows the city may use them for ski jumps! Just a thought!
I am not a city person and today confirms that fact. I don't hate cities, I actually like them (a little) when I'm walking. I don't even like to ride my bike in cities. My favorite cities in the world may be Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania and Statham, Georgia. I've been to the biggest and best and I know a little bit about cities: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cleveland, Richmond, New York City, Salt Lake City, Denver, Tampa, Miami, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Milwaukee, Chicago, Baltimore, D.C., Indianapolis, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Buffalo, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Little Rock, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Green Bay, Oklahoma City, Moscow, Orlando, Lansing, and now Seattle. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and burned it! I would literally drive one hundred miles to bypass a three-mile wide city! Yep, Shrewsbury and Statham get my votes for the perfect size cities.
Tomorrow we will once again go to Seattle and we will love it! We'll find a parking place too. How do I know that? Because tomorrow we will go with some friends who know the city. Chris and Debby know where to go, where to park, where to eat, and when to leave. That will make all the difference in the world. This will be a fun trip.
I love taking friends to places I have been and they have not. Maybe it's my hometown (Shrewsbury) and chocolate peanut butter ice cream at Carman's in Loganville. Maybe it's meeting my cowboy friends in Utah or looking at the 72 oz. steak at The Big Texan in Amarillo. Perhaps it's stepping into Red Square or introducing a book I've read or a song I've heard but it's fun taking friends on my special trips.
The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:9, "Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you." 
We are all tour guides because we've all been places. We've all got stuff to teach. That's what life is all about. We've been places that we just love, want to go back again, and want to take a bunch of friends with us. We've also been places we wish we had never been, don't want to go back, and hope nobody else ever goes. I've been to Disaster City a number of times: a phone call when my brother was killed by a drunk driver, an emergency ambulance trip for one of my daughters, getting back from camp to learn that dad died, same thing with mom, on the stand for a jury trial, death of a friend, a church fire, in debt over my head . . . you know what I'm talking about because you've been to Disaster City yourself. Your cities are most likely different from mine but you've been there.
Now the question we should ask about Disaster City is not, "Why did this happen?" but "What did I learn?" It's what we learn going through the messes that we can pass on to others. It's what we learn that can keep others from going there. We are all tour guides. We are all teachers. We can keep others from taking the same routes and making the same mistakes. We can say, "Keep following me. We'll make it through this mess together."
We were lost today. Even our GPS gave up on us. I distinctly remember finally hearing our GPS say, "Okay, that's it! You got yourself into this mess, you get yourself out!" We did get out but it would have been much easier with some guidance from a friend who had been there before. There are people all around us who are lost in Disaster City just like we were. They don't have a clue where they are and they certainly don't have a clue about getting out. They're just plain lost. 
We are the tour guides. 
Will we show the the way or not?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 7 - Itinerary

"Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path."
-Psalm 119:105

Several people have asked about our plans for each pedaling day. We actually have some! "Where there is no organization the people perish" (3 Barry 4:18). The plans for the ride have been done by our official navigator, agent, and housing authority: that would be Margaret. Please understand that the itinerary is flexible and a lot of what actually happens will depend on the weather. Coming out here sure gave us a preview of things that could come: variety! This could be a snow, rain, sleet, and maybe even hail ride . . . and . . . there will be sunny days as well. We will probably even have some days when we will pray for the cool rain again. We'll do our best to keep the schedule but, on the other hand, we are expecting the unexpected! So here is the ride guide for pedaling across the United States of America.
Remember, this is our riding itinerary and your prayer reminder:

Sunday, May 3 - Anacortes to Marblemount, Washington - 70.1 miles.
Monday, May 4 - to Winthrop, Washington - 88.3 miles.
Tuesday, May 5 - to Tonasket - 68.6 miles.
Wednesday, May 6 - to Colville - 109.5 miles.
Thursday, May 7 - to Sandpoint, Idaho - 83.9 miles.
Friday, May 8 - to Libby, Montana - 115.2 miles.
Saturday, May 9 - REST DAY IN LIBBY.
Sunday, May 10 - to Eureka - 74.5 miles.
Monday, May 11 - to West Glacier - 89.1 miles.
Tuesday, May 12 - to East Glacier - 56 miles.
Wednesday, May 13 - to Chester - 118.5 miles.
Thursday, May 14 - to Harlem - 94.6 miles.
Friday, May 15 - to Glasgow - 116.4 miles.
Saturday - May 16 - REST DAY IN GLASGOW. 
Sunday, May 17 - to Culbertson - 104.2 miles.
Monday, May 18 - to New Town, North Dakota - 125.2 miles.
Tuesday, May 19 - to Rugby - 142.1 miles.
Wednesday, May 20 - to Tokio - 98.7 miles.
Thursday, May 21 - to Cooperstown - 66.8 miles.
Saturday, May 23 - to Fargo, 100.5 miles.
Sunday, May 24 - to Battle Lake, Minnesota - 100.9 miles.
Monday, May 25 - to Long Prairie - 85.3 miles.
Tuesday, May 26 - to Milaca - 87.0 miles.
Wednesday, May 27 - REST DAY IN DULUTH.
Thursday, May 28 - to Stillwater - 112 miles.
Friday, May 29 - to Wabasha - 94.1 miles.
Saturday, May 30 - to Lansing, Iowa - 122.8 miles.
Sunday, May 31 - to Dyersville - 100.1 miles.
Monday, June 1 - to Muscatine - 71.4 miles.
Tuesday, June 2 - to Henry, Illinois - 121.3 miles.
Wednesday, June 3 - REST DAY IN HENRY.
Thursday, June 4 - to Watseka - 108.7 miles.
Friday, June 5 - to Wabash, Indiana - 114.6 miles.
Saturday, June 6 - to Napolean, Ohio - 128.4 miles.
Sunday, June 7 - to Lorain - 118 miles.
Monday, June 8 - REST DAY IN LORAIN.
Tuesday, June 9 - to Erie, Pennsylvania - 86.5 miles.
Wednesday, June 10 - to Lockport, New York - 113.5 miles.
Thursday, June 11 - to Sodus Point - 115 miles.
Friday, June 12 - to Boonville - 104.2 miles.
Saturday, June 13 - to Long Lake - 73.8 miles.
Sunday, June 14 - REST DAY IN LONG LAKE.
Monday, June 15 - to Ticonderoga - 67.3 miles.
Tuesday, June 16 - to Sharon, Vermont - 76.0 miles.
Wednesday, June 17 - to North Woodstock, New Hampshire - 60.8 miles.
Thursday, June 18 - to Bridgton, Maine - 79 miles.
Friday, June 19 - to Bath - 84.1 miles.
Saturday, June 20 - to Searsport - 79.8 miles.
Sunday, June 21 - to Bar Harbor - 66 miles. 

Day 7 - Busy

"Even if you win the Rat Race, you're still a rat."

"No, but you'll look cool going slow."
-Jimmy Marbut, owner of Sunshine Cycles answering my question, "Will these new Shimano wheels make me go any faster?"

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

We only had about 105 miles to travel today so we kind of meandered and took our time. We arrived in the Seattle area way before we could check into our Hampton Inn so we went to the Alderwood Mall to hang out a while. I know, I know, I know . . . I was at a mall. There goes my reputation. Anyway, across the parking lot was Claim Jumpers, a local restaurant that we were told had great food. It did. I did not get a steak, even though I'm sure they are great, but I got a salad instead. For you detail lovers, it was a Glazed Walnut Asian Pear Salad and was way more than super good, probably good for me too. Delicious. Maybe I ought to forget about this ride and just eat my way across America. I could possibly do an HGTV kind of show: "Best Salads & Steaks in the States." 
We have seen things other than places to eat. So you'll know what we've been driving through today I've posted a few highway shots. I've noticed that life seems to be much slower out here. I'm not sure why but it's mighty refreshing to drive on the interstate with normal colored knuckles, no tightness in my neck, and a heart rate that's not elevated. I know that Driving Under the Influence is a big killer on our highways but I wonder how many people are killed or crippled because of impatience. Everybody is in a hurry. Do you suppose we are always in a hurry because we've got so much to do? People drive and read, drive and text, drive and eat, drive and watch DVD players, drive and sight-see, and drive and who knows what else  . . . probably because we've become too busy.
When God created the heavens and the earth he actually took a rest day! When was your last rest day? In the Old Testament, guys who failed to observe that holy Sabbath rest day were stoned to death. They sure did rest after that!
I wonder if God ever gets frustrated just trying to keep us with us. I wonder if we may even travel so fast through life that we miss the divine appointments he has on our calendars. The God who made time, has all time, and is always on time, misses his time with us. Years ago (and I mean years ago) Larnelle Harris sang a song about time with God:
There he was just waiting,
in our old familiar place
an empty spot beside him,
where once I used to wait
to be filled with strength and wisdom
for the battles of the day
I would have passed him by again
if I didn't hear him say

I miss my time with you
those moments together
I need to be with you each day
and it hurts me when you say
you're too busy
busy trying to serve me
but how can you serve me
when your spirit's empty
there's a longing in my heart
wanting more than just a part of you
it's true
I miss my time with you.

"Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).
"Don't be impatient for the Lord to act! Travel steadily along his path . . ." (Psalm 37:34a).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 6 - Technology

"Bicycles may change, but cycling is timeless."
-Zapata Espinoza

"I've always considered the bike wheel to be the most ingenious single mechanical contrivance of all human engineering."
-Eric Hjertberg

"A thin hoop if extruded aluminum is laced to a hub with a handful of steel spokes that exert a collective force of several tons. A pair of these structures can support up to 500 times their weight, sustain repeated pounding from the road or trail, endure substantial side loads during cornering, and transmit pedaling and braking torque. All this while remaining true to within a fraction of a millimeter."
-Doug Roosa

We are geeks! I told Margaret today that we are geeks and have a car full of gadgets to prove it. Let's do an inventory: two (2) digital cameras, one (1) digital video camera given to us by Scott Willis and his family, three (3) cell phones with all the accessories (Aaarrrgggh!), two (2) laptops, one (1) heart rate monitor for when I'm pedaling, one (1) satellite radio in the Explorer, the computer system that runs our car (We recently had to replace ours and they aren't cheap. Thanks warranty.), one (1) Kindle that holds fifteen hundred (1,500) books, one (1) Sony GPS that is constantly telling us where to go and how fast and when we'll get there, one (1) bike computer that gives speed and time and pedal revolutions, and one (1) iPod with over nine thousand (9,602) songs (Thanks Todd.). That's at least fifteen (15) computers! There were not that many computers in the early B-52's! We are geeks, especially Margaret and her Kindle!
Don't make fun of geeks, however, because sooner or later one of them will be your boss! They are the creators, inventors, designers, painters, doodlers, thinkers, readers, planners, engineers, dreamers, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and makers of the world. They are the Einsteins, Fords, Wrights, Michaelangelos, Schulzs, Disneys, Grahams, Spielburgs, Larsons, Wattersons, Mozarts, and a host of others who never lived in the boxes or colored inside the lines. They, like all of us, were created in the image of the Creator and because we were created in the image of the Creator, are CREATIVE!
It would do all of us good to take one whole day and focus on being geeky: try to figure out how things work, take something apart, color a few pages in your kid's coloring book and get outside the lines, study some flowers, try to figure out how a bumble bee can fly and why the doggone things can drill perfectly round one-half inch holes in our houses, build something, invent something and sketch it on paper, write with the hand you normally don't use, sleep with your head at the foot of your bed, ride your bike backwards, put chocolate milk in your cereal, laugh until the milk comes out your nose! You may even become famous but if you don't, better yet, you may just find out how creative you are!
Someone came up with all this geeky stuff and it wasn't the guys who sit around and say, "We've never done it this way before." It was the people who just did it, tried something new, and look what I've discovered!
I read somewhere that when Walt Disney World executives and imagineers got together to cut the ribbon to the new theme park in Orlando, Florida, a little lady was overheard saying, "Its a shame that Walt Disney couldn't live to see this." Upon hearing her, a Disney executive turned and said, "He did see it, that's why it's here."
God has incredible plans for each of us but we're going to have to get off the couch and out of the box. It's called faith. Faith is believing something is so even though it's not so in order for it to be so. The Bible defines it like this, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot see" (Hebrews 11:1). If we can see it, it's not faith!
We left Missoula, Montana this morning in the snow and fog. We took photos and even tried out the video camera. I did get some videos of me driving through the snow but nothing exciting . . . no NASCAR stuff, just routine driving in the snow. I also got a panoramic shot above the Columbia River in Washington but National Geographic already purchased it and because of copyright laws I cannot show it (not). But in our new found creative geekiness we will get some videos on here for your travel enjoyment.
We stopped in Spokane, Washington for a short time. We looked around at Riverfront Park and got out of town. Out of town? I think it was in Sprague (exit 245 on I-90) we stopped at The Viking for one of their famous Viking Burgers. Double burgers with all the trimmings and very, very good. I didn't get the fries but after eating the burger I didn't have any room left anyway. You need to stop there. 
When we arrived at the Comfort Inn in Ellensburg, Washington, we unloaded the luggage and went to Bar 14 Ranch House Restaurant for supper. I had the 6 oz. (watching my weight) top sirloin, baked potato, salad, and water. Very, very good. We talked with Jessica, our waitress, and told her what we were doing. I said, "If you're ever really bored one night, check out this blog and you can see what we're doing on the bike trip." Jessica is a five-star waitress with a sweet servant's spirit that made our meal enjoyable and Taylor did an excellent job taking our money as we checked out! I would go back to the Bar 14 just for the service! Taylor (left) and Jessica (right), we thank you for making our meal fun!
We only drove our Geek-mobile 377.9 miles today. Our total is now 2,710 miles! We are about 104 miles from the Pacific Ocean! Can you believe that!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 5 - Incredible.

"Be at one with the universe. If you can't do that, at least be at one with your bike."
-Lennard Zinn

"It's not easy being green."
-Kermit the Frog

"The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship."
-Psalm 19:1

Today was like driving through a stack of the world's best postcards. An additional geographic treat was driving over the Continental Divide in the snow at 6,393 feet above sea level. The scenery was absolutely beyond description. That's why I've posted some photographs, but even these photographs have limits. God's creation, especially out here, has no limits whatsoever. I've come to the conclusion that when God created the West he was simply showing off! Wow! Edwin Taylor, a cowboy friend of mine from Monticello, Utah told me that most cowboys he knows are believers. "You can't ride out here every day and deny the existence of a Creator" he said.
While we were traveling Margaret found some music on satellite radio that made me think I was watching a live broadcast from Montana Public Broadcasting. I mean the panorama was literally breathtaking and the music she found . . . you probably know the music I'm talking about . . . makes you think about hugging trees, weaving dream-catchers, feeding fluffy little squirrels, and laying down in front of bulldozers. For just a few seconds I could almost sense the presence of Al Gore in the back seat quietly humming Kum-Ba-Ya. It ain't easy being green but I was close. It really scared me.
When we got to Missoula, Montana (our home for the night) we went directly to Adventure Cycling headquarters. It helped me feel more environmentally sensitive, especially after my reaction to that near-green experience, and I needed some warm and dry gloves for the bike ride anyway. 
Supper was at the Montana Club, almost next door, where we ate all we could but couldn't eat it all. We even split a meal again! Two people could make a meal of just one of their appetizers!
We traveled 496.4 miles today. All of them were filled with the creativity of God. We are now at 2,332.1 miles which means we are far from home and will soon need an oil change and tire rotation. Does anyone know if Snow Tire Company does house calls?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 4 - Snow!

"I mean, you either love spinning the pedals and watching the scenery whiz by, or you don't. And if you love it, not much can sour you on the idea of riding your bike."
-Keith Mills

-Bumper Sticker

We just ate supper at Sanford's Grub, Pub & Brewery in downtown Sheridan, Wyoming. The food was super and the portions large so Margaret and I split a burger, spinach and artichoke dip, and their famous onion rings. If you ever get out here, we recommend Sanford's, especially so you can see why the onion rings are famous. 
When Margaret checked in at The Hampton Inn she was told at the desk that our room had been paid for. Margaret thought that maybe we had enough points for a free room but that wasn't the case: one of our friends from back home somehow found out where we would be and paid for the room. She is sneaky and we are grateful.
Our driving total mileage is now 1,835.7 miles and today's miles were mostly in the snow. That's what I said, snow. The Black Hills in South Dakota were white today and we could not even go to see Mt. Rushmore. Even though we were only eighteen miles from the four presidents the road to them was covered with over twelve inches of new snow from last night. I guess the closest we'll get to George, Thomas, Teddy, and Abe will be the post cards we bought. Oh well, it was a good idea!
However, we did get to stop at Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota. It was snowing there too but we had to go. After all Wall Drugs has been seen in TIME, People magazine, National Geographic, Good Morning America, cable TV, and whatever was on the thousand other billboards we missed. We looked around at the cowboy stuff, bought some post cards, got our free bumper sticker, and high-tailed it out of town in the white stuff.
Even in the snow today I was overwhelmed with the beauty of God's creation. We should never take for granted the beauty of America. It is absolutely amazing. How can supposedly educated people believe that somewhere back there two masses of nothing collided somehow in outer space and created everything amazing, incredible, and mysterious that we see? To me, that would be the equivalent of a tornado going through a junkyard and creating a firetruck! "Claiming to be wise, they became fools instead. . . . So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen" (Romans 1:22,25b). "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
Great day. Thank you Sneaky for the room this evening. We love you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 3 - Overpopulation

"Few businesses match the marvelous choreography of a smooth-running bicycle store -- the musty smell, the incessant phones, hissing compressors and clamorous, freewheeling bikes."
-Jim Langley

"I used to work in a bike shop a long time ago in Colorado. I didn't know anything about bikes. I thought that when you had a flat tire you had to replace the whole bike."
-Juli Furtado

Quote of the day (another sent by Ericka Warren)
"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."
-Abraham Lincoln

Traveling today took us through Mitchell, South Dakota. We kept seeing signs for the Corn Palace in Mitchell. I think Ray Finger may have been the designer for the signs because they were kind of (pardon the Ray-ism) corny: "See the Great Ear-chitecture at the Corn Palace", "The Corn Palace is a Bushel of Fun", and "Cornsider Visiting The Corn Palace in Mitchell." We have a good friend who told us about it so with time to spare we drove downtown to take a peek and some pictures for you. It is a neat place, different, and changes every year. It is a national and international tourist attraction, is used for many local activities, and Mitchell High School is having its prom there tonight. I wonder what would happen if it ever caught on fire! Just a thought. 
Margaret and I are now in Chamberlain, South Dakota. We just ate steaks at The Derby Cafe in downtown Chamberlain. We decided before we left home that we would eat in places that were what we would call hole-in-the-wall or off-the-beaten-path eating establishments. The Derby Cafe is downtown and there is only one of them. We had to wait thirty minutes for the place to begin serving supper at 5:30, but the wait was well worth it. First of all we noticed almost every chair was different. Then we saw the same pattern with the dishes, none matched. Our salads came on matching paper plates. Next, our steaks were cooked on a grill located on the sidewalk in front of the cafe. We watched through the front window as they were cooked to perfection. I noticed among the spices one labeled Back Woods Fire which immediately led me to deep prayer and God must have heard me because none of it was put on any of my food. I would have been out of commission for several days! 
Even though we were the only people in the cafe at the start, the place started filling up about 5:20 and everybody knew everybody. I think we were the only tourists but were made to feel right at home by the cook and waitresses. The Derby Cafe - Finest in South Dakota, according to one of the signs, was a great start for our first ever restaurant report.
We drove 509.3 miles today, bringing our total to 1,378.9 miles. The weather today was high 40's and low 50's. We even have a winter advisory for tomorrow evening and may see snow on Mt. Rushmore. Wouldn't that be cool?
Whoever says the world is overpopulated has never driven across Iowa or South Dakota. There's nothing out here! It is wonderful. These folks seem to have a handle on living life far more slowly than most of the world. I-90 doesn't even come close to I-285. In fact, today must be a day set aside on I-90 for out-of-state drivers. There was next to zero traffic. And the traffic that was out there, mostly pick-up trucks, went the speed limit! 
South Dakota has a beauty all its own, as do all of the states in the U.S.A., but I was reminded that all this will one day change. It's going to get much better! When Adam and Eve blew it in Eden they brought a curse not only on mankind but on the entire creation. That's why out there in those weeds and rocks are snakes that bite, briars that hurt, critters that scratch, plants that irritate, and bugs that sting. Romans 8:21 says, "All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay." I can't wait. Hey, you think the earth is beautiful now? Just wait, you ain't seen nothing yet!
Tomorrow night we are supposed to stay in Sheridan, Wyoming. A church in Sheridan called us to consider a youth pastor position in the summer of 1976. At that time, if I remember correctly, the population of the whole state of Wyoming was 300,000! That's probably right since in 2007 it was 522,830! That's the same number as the total cars on I-285 at 5 o'clock every workday! I think I'll like Wyoming.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 2 - Zoo!

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without a thought on anything but the ride you are taking."
-Authur Conan Doyle, in an 1896 article for Scientific American

"If the wind is not against you, it is not blowing."
-James E. Starrs, The Noisless Tenor

Kansas City, Missouri is windy! I asked the waitress if it was like this all the time and she said, "It is during the windy season."
"When is the windy season?" I asked.
"Begins in March and ends in May."
We are in Kansas City at the Hampton Inn (Margaret's campground). To get here we had to go through St. Louis, Missouri which accounts for the title of this blog, "Zoo."
Now St. Louis really isn't a zoo but today part of it was. I'll tell you about that part later. We came into the downtown part of the city to go to the City Museum, a museum of recycled items designed just for kids (and adults who are kids at heart). We came here for one reason only, to take photographs for our children's pastor, Ray Finger. He just happens to be one of those adults who is a kid at heart. There are not many people for which I would drive into the middle of a doggone city but Ray is one of those people.
The idea behind this mission into the very heart of this big city was to get ideas for the children's ministry of our church. After being there for about five seconds I realized this may be way too far out of the imagineering and engineering ideas and dreams of our thinking. It's hard to describe but the photos with this blog may get your visionary blood cells racing through your head. Everything in the City Museum is recycled. That's right, recycled! Someone once said, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." I don't for one minute believe that. I choose to believe my own quote, "One man's junk is another man's junk." You still have to find a place for it in your garage, attic, or basement. But if you're lucky, you'll find a place to store it in someone else's basement. It just so happened that this guy with the City Museum dream found a gigantic warehouse and some other dreamers and welded, glued, nailed, bolted together, and painted airplanes, steam engines, steel tables, reinforcing bars, cars, bottles, rollers, tiles, turtles, baking pans, conveyor belts, conveyor rollers, ropes, buses, signs, granite, glass, tubes, and whatever else he could find to make a hands-on, climb through, climb over, jump into, run around, yell and scream museum that kids love. 
My mission has been accomplished. I have the photographs and the church could even use some of these ideas. They won't fit into the box, the colors will go outside the lines, and some folks would stand and say, "What in the world?" But, kids would come from all over to just look through the windows! This is a fun place. If you ever get near St. Louis, the arch is super but there is a museum downtown that will knock your socks off. I highly recommend it.
As we drove away I was encouraged to know that dreamers are still dreaming and the world's a better (and more exciting place) because they are.
Next stop, the Zoo! We did not go to the zoo but headed out of town on I-64 headed for I-70 when we started seeing signs, "Expressway Ends." You don't see signs like that much but there it was, "Expressway Ends." And it did, boom, the end. We exited into an area we knew nothing about with no signs, directions, labels, or instructions. I thought maybe it was an extension of City Museum and that we were to find our way out of town. One out of two isn't bad, we did have to find our way out of town. I finally followed a policeman into a parking lot, got directions and headed out of St. Louis. At the entrance ramp to I-70 there was an eighteen-wheeler broken down blocking the ramp. After a right turn into the hood, a u-turn, a red light,a little prayer and complaining, and another u-turn, we were on I-70 headed for Kansas City. If you ever get to St. Louis, I don't recommend that!
All of this just to get some photographs for a pastor who happens to work with a bunch of kids. Yep, it was worth it and so are the kids. Kids are important. The Bible says, "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior's hands. How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-4). When the disciples of Jesus told the children not to bother him, Jesus told those disciples, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14). You better believe it, kids are important to God, important enough to do whatever it takes to get them and their families to church, even if it requires some recycled airplanes and conveyor belts!
We've come at total of 869.6 miles. 376.9 of those miles today. It's a good trip, just wish you could join us.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 1 - Send-off

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
-John F. Kennedy

"Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of the iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing."
-Helen Keller, The Story of My Life

Quote of the day (sent by Ericka Warren)
"The shortest distance between two points is how far they are apart."
-NYC graffiti

Margaret and I are now at the Holiday Inn Express in Marion, Illinois. We left home at 8:30 this morning and after 492.7 miles arrived here at 6:00 this evening. We stopped to eat lunch with Justin Nations at Newks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Except for a fuel stop we made no other stops, just enjoyed the drive.
The fun part of the day was our send-off. You know how Baptist churches are, they have to have a committee for anything they do. Well, the Send-off Committee showed up at our house beginning at 8:00 A.M. I'm not sure who the chairman is but the committee members are Donnie Brown, Rhee Brown, Carly Decker, Tricia Fowler, Reg Gattie, Jan Jernigan, Katie Milliner, Sarah Milliner, Janice Ray, Beryl Richards, Carey Stiles, Chris Stiles, Drew Stiles, Lilly Stiles, Maddie Stiles, Ryan Stiles, Trey Stiles, Tucker Stiles, Gary "Cokeman" Warren, Patti "Teatime" Warren, Rita Witcher, Cheryl Woodall, and "Scratch" Woodall. Committees can be very touchy so I have put the members in alphabetical order to preserve peace and keep the committee intact.
I really am very thankful for the committee. Some are family members and all are friends. In reality, all are family and all are friends. Proverbs has a lot to say about folks like this. Take a look at this:
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."
Proverbs 18:24, "There are 'friends' who destroy each other , but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 27:6, "Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy."
Proverbs 27:9, "The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."
Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend."
I am so grateful for the family of God. I have an fantasmagorical family of friends for which I thank God often. I am grateful for the committee that came to send us away on this incredible journey knowing we are loved, appreciated, and prayed for often. Other friends, including my family, have helped us pack, helped clean my messy garage, will feed our critters, have called and texted promising prayer and wishing us well, have given us support, and have just loved us. We are so blessed.

Friday, April 17, 2009


"Dad, if you get to the top of a hill and there are no numbers on your heart monitor, quit pedaling, you're dead!"
-Sarah Milliner, when she gave me a heart monitor for Christmas.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a right spirit within me."
-Psalm 51:10

Thursday at 9:45 am I had an appointment with Dr. Thomas J. Murphy at Athens Cardiology Group.  The appointment was routine and as we met I shared with Dr. Murphy the cross-country ride I will soon begin.  After the discussion he told me he was jealous, that it would be a great ride, and "Let's do a nuclear stress test before you go."
Nuclear stress test is not a good sounding thing.  The first time I ever had a regular stress test I ended up having a heart cath at Athens Regional Medical Center.  But that was just a regular stress test, no nuclear activity involved!  The word nuclear is kind of a scary word anyway, especially when used in sentences with words like Iran, North Korea, and my heart!
The appointment was made and lucky me, I was scheduled for 7:00 am today.  I was the first nuclear stress test of the day.  Of course I was anxious . . . the unknown has a way of doing that to a person.  What would my weekend be like, waiting for the results?  Did Dr. Murphy see something yesterday that tipped him off to a real problem?  What if I can't do the ride?  How would I tell everyone?
So I get this information sheet about my nuclear stress test and it begins with,  "Your test will last approximately 4 hours."  Oh great, there goes my Friday.  "You will undergo an exercise stress test which will give your physician important information about your heart, lungs, blood pressure, and state of physical fitness.  This will be followed by imaging of your heart by a nuclear medicine camera.
"On the morning prior to stress testing you may take your medication with a sip of water only, unless directed not to do so by the physician ordering the test.  Do not take any medications containing theophylline.  Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.  If you have any questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.
"If possible wear comfortable loose-fitting clothing.  Please wear athletic shoes and socks. Ladies wear socks or footies rather than pantyhose.  Any laced shoes (preferably soft-soled) will do fine.  No metal or heavy buttons on shirts.  A sweater is recommended.
"Please do not call the office for results of this exam prior to 48 hours after its completion. You will receive a call from your physician regarding your results.  If your exam is normal and your physician is unable to contact you, you may receive results from one of our nurses.
I arrive at Athens Cardiology Group at 6:30 am and check in at 7.  I was extremely blessed by Ron and Rhonda who encouraged and worked with me through the whole test.  Both made me feel extremely at ease, had great attitudes, and surely must love what they do.
To make a long story short I had an IV inserted where the nuclear tracer was injected, had a ten to twelve minute photo shoot with the heart camera, rested, had an exercise session with the treadmill, rested, had another photo shoot with the heart camera and electrodes, and was discharged to go about my Friday.  Not a bad morning thanks to Ron and Rhonda.
The rest of the day included blood work, a haircut, lunch with the crew, a refueling stop, cleaning the chicken house, moving rabbits, and a start at cleaning my garage.  Sometime in mid-afternoon I received a call from Dr. Murphy,  "Your tests turned out fine, couldn't be better."  Then he added, "I called because I didn't want you waiting around all weekend for the results."  Wow, there's no way I could tell you how I felt at that moment.  I thanked him and the last thing he said was, "Enjoy your ride."
I will enjoy my ride.  I'm okay, maybe not mentally but physically my heart couldn't be better. That's good to know since I will need to have a good heart to keep Sarah's heart monitor showing numbers. Ultimately I will trust the Great Physician with my heart and my ride, but I am well aware that he uses people like Dr. Murphy, Ron, and Rhonda in the lives of people like me.  I will pedal with more confidence and peace.  From deep in my heart I say thank you!

"I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your law is written on my heart."
-Psalm 40:8

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health."
-Proverbs 15:30

"As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person."
-Proverbs 27:19

Monday, April 13, 2009


"Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short, as you feel.  But ride."
-Eddy Merckx

"When you're turning the crankset, you're riding the bike.  When you're coasting, you're just along for the ride."
-Ned Overend, Mountain Bike Like a Champion

"There is something uncanny in the noiseless rush of the cyclist, as he comes into view, passes by, and disappears."
-Popular Science, 1891

This morning it rained!  I love rain.  It seems to have a cleansing effect on everything.  I guess the dangers of rain are that we get too little or too much.  This morning's rain seemed to be just right!  So . . . I went for a ride!  After all, I had a new rain jacket and a new portable fender for the rear wheel, why not give them a test?
The ride was good, only ten miles but good nonetheless!  I kind of thought I may already be out west when I saw two buffalo in the pasture beside Ruth Jackson Road.  I think Mike Power has them there to help me get used to the out west experience of America.  
Riding is really good for my brain.  It gives me lots of thinking time, something to think about, and sometimes even forces me to think.  This morning's thoughts, first of all, helped me evaluate some of my needs for the cross-country ride.  From the start I realized I need to wear full-finger gloves when it's raining and cool.  My fingers got cold, so did my knees.  The gloves won't help my knees but I do have knee warmers that I didn't think I'd need (no pun intended). Next time it's raining, I'll wear them.  I also had cold toes mainly because they were in water-filled shoes.  I did some thinking about that too but, at this point, there's no answer on the horizon.  On the good side, my portable fender was worth every penny of the $14.95 plus tax price tag.  Great buy.  My rain jacket worked equally as well keeping my windbreaker and cotton t-shirt warm and dry.
I suppose what really prompted me to ride this morning is the fact that riding cross-country will not be a series of rainless days.  We will have rain, that's a fact, maybe even some storms.  I want to be prepared for whatever drops from the skies and I want to know that what I take with me does the job to keep me protected and dry.  Whatever I've bought or whatever I buy really won't be of much value unless I use it as directed and it works. Reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27 when he was speaking to the crowds on a mountainside one day,
"Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash."
Did you see the key word in there?  It's probably not the one you would look for but it's the key word for me: when.  Yep, that's it.  The key word is when.  "When the rains and floods come . . ."  Rain will come.  Storms will develop.  Floods are possible.  Get ready!
There will be rain on this ride.  That's a given!  There will be problems.  Another given.  So what's a rider to do?  
1)  Begin with preparation.  You can't put on a rain jacket if you haven't got one!  Same thing with fenders.  You know the rain is coming so prepare for it.  Likewise, be prepared for the problems and storms you'll have in everyday living.  You know they're coming so batten down the hatch, pull on the slicker, and hang on.  Prepare!
2)  Read the instructions.  With anything you buy you usually find some kind of instructions. Whether you are putting a portable fender on a bike or dealing with a bad day in general, there are instructions to be found.  The Bible is a copy of "Life for Dummies" and it contains all the answers you need to know.  Read it!
3)  Do it!  Most Christians know far more of the Bible than they will ever use.  Jesus was telling the people, "Hey, I told you how to handle life here.  Now you can take it or leave it. You can take what I tell you and live with it or you can take what I tell you and live without it.  Do it or don't do it!  It's your choice, but when the rains and floods come . . ."  Well, you know how that story goes . . . big storm, foundation, strong and secure, big storm, no foundation, gone evermore!  Do the Bible!
4)  Expect it!  You just don't know when those rains are going to hit and when the winds are going to blow but they're headed your way.  
James 1:2-4 says, ". . . whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything."
When more rain comes . . . I'd like to pedal with joy, faith, endurance, strength, character, and a readiness for anything.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


"The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it."
-Michael Bradbury

"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.  Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only the high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle."
-Ernest Hemingway, By-Line

"The world lies right beyond the handlebars of any bicycle."
-Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles

When I got out of the United States Air Force in 19 January 1966 I took off my dog tags and said I would never wear a necklace again.  Nothing against the Air Force, I just don't like things around my neck!
Well, now I've got another dog tag for around my neck!  There is only one but it does hang around my neck.  I could have chosen a wrist ID, a shoe ID, an ankle ID, or the neck ID.  I went with the neck ID.  Maybe it was because it reminded me of the good years I invested in the Air Force. Most likely, it was because I think the first place an EMT or doctor would look for an identity would be on my neck.  The dog tags I will wear on the bike ride are called RoadID and are available from  The cost is twenty-five bucks.  For another ten dollars a year I chose to buy the interactive RoadID.  The first year is free so it was an offer I could not refuse.
Interactive RoadID, as you can see on the photo, includes my name, address, and Margaret's phone number.  It also includes an 800 number and, both of which will connect emergency medical personnel to all of my medical records.  If, for some reason I could not speak for myself, the 800 number activates an audible response with all the necessary emergency medical information needed.  The online connection even includes a photograph of me along with information on medications, doses, records, doctors, specialties, addresses, phone numbers, and personal information.  I have even included information about my route, who I'm riding with, and all information about our car that Margaret will be driving. All of this information is accessed by using the serial number and PIN (personal identification number) on the tag.
It's good to know I'm covered as far as medical information goes.  Should it be needed, I've got it!  Don't even have to tell anybody my name.
As far as eternity goes, I'm covered too.  He knows my name and it's written in the Book of Life mentioned in Revelation 3 where Jesus in a revelation to the apostle John says,  "All who are victorious will be clothed in white.  I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before the Father and his angels that they are mine" (v 5).  All of that brings into the equation the only name that makes eternal security possible . . . Jesus. 
Philippians 2:5-11,  "Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.  He made himself nothing;  he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.  And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.  Because of this, God raised him up and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
My name has been written down because his name has been lifted up!  I trust him.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nineteen Days To Go!

"Bicycles have no walls."
-Paul CornishAdd Image

"Chasing records doesn't keep me on my bike.  Happiness does."
-Lance Armstrong

We are in the countdown!  I've decided not to wait until the last minute to get everything together because, it seems, the closer you get to doing a planned activity the faster time goes! Someone once said, "The hurrier I go the behinder I get!"  I don't want to get behind and I certainly don't want to get behinder.
Yesterday I went to see Jimmy Marbut at Sunshine Cycles.  I took my bike for a tune-up and also took the list of items I need for the trip.  The items I purchased are one (1) Finish Line Dry Teflon Lube for my chain, one (1) SRAM powerlink (in case my chain breaks), three (3) Park Emergency Tire Boots (in case I cut a tire),  six (6) 700x18-23C Presta Standard tubes (in case I have a flat tire), one (1) 100 ounce CamelBak Lobo hydration pack,  one (1) Park CT-5 chain tool, one (1) pair of Giant riding gloves, one (1) Pearl Izumi extremely brilliant fluorescent green vest, one (1) Salsa Cycles rain jacket (could have used it this week), one (1) SKS Xtra-Dry 3 quick-on-quick-off fender for rainy day riding, and one (1) Cateye cycle computer so I know my speed and cadence.  I also ordered a Cannondale replacement derailleur hanger, chamois butter, and power gel.  I can tell you about that stuff later.
We are in pretty good shape as far as supplies go.  I want to buy a mirror so I can get a glimpse of what's coming from behind.  I still need pepper spray for any unfriendly dogs that are faster than I am.  I know I can buy pepper spray at bike shops but I want the kind you have to register with Homeland Security that will make a dog think, "Whoa! I'll never chase one of those again!"  I talked with Barry Milliner, my son-in-law who is in law (Gwinnett County Sheriff Department) and Billy Ricketts, who always carries some kind of weapon (I think it's because he works in the children's ministry at church with Ray Finger!).  Both Barry and Billy are checking on pepper spray for me.  Also a friend of mine, Josh Warren, who is in the Gwinnett County Police Academy, was recently tazed and pepper-sprayed as part of his training.  He told his mom, Patti, that he would rather be tazed fifty times than pepper-sprayed once.  That's the kind of pepper spray I'm looking for!  Lock and load!  Here comes Snoopy!Do they make that in fire extinguisher sizes?
Don't get me wrong now.  I'm not a dog-hater.  Take a look at the two dogs above!  The photo at the top is Tucker.  He belongs to my daughter's family and would never bite anyone. He couldn't, he always has a tennis ball in his mouth looking for some sucker who will take that slobber-soaked orb and hurl it as far as possible so he can run, pick it up, re-soak it, and bring it back for another throw.  When he's not re-soaking tennis balls he's doing what he's doing above!
The bottom picture is Zoe (pronounced Zoey).  Zoe belongs to Jimmy at Sunshine Cycles. She's kind of a watchdog and kind of a greeter at Sunshine.  I say kind of because most of the time she sleeps.  She does look up once in a while, especially if she can find someone to scratch her belly.  She's a watchdog alright; come watch me sleep!

I'm sure King David had a lot more things to watch and avoid than dogs.  He was a man of war and even as a teenage shepherd boy he put a real hurtin' on the big guy Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40-51).  At one point Goliath, sneering in contempt, said, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick?" Well it really wasn't the stick that Goliath Dog should have been concerned about.  He should have checked the kid's other hand, you know, the one with the sling.  Pepper spray would have been a party favor compared what came shooting out of that thing!  One shot and the big dog, Goliath, never chased another Israelite soldier (or biker) again!  
David relied on God for his protection. During the conflict David said, "You come to me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty--the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled.  Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head" (v. 45-46a),  And he did!  Sorry about your luck Dog!  
Later in his life, David wrote the often quoted Psalm of God's protection and presence, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows (hopefully Hampton Inn);
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk (or ride)
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff (and my pepper spray)
protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil (chain lube).
My cup (100 oz. CamelBak) overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing
love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord