Like a Mule to the Barn

The mules, on our farm, I’ve referred to before. We often rode them. My favorite was, Pet, because she was gentle and less apt to rub me off on a tree, than some of the others. The main issue with the mules was what happened to their psyches when they were turned toward the barn. They suddenly became maniacs, frantically galloping, at high speed toward barn and hay.  Such is the case with the Stache. 

He finished strong, completing 3,500 miles for Challenged Athletes.  Our celebration was all the sweeter because our friends Bill and Marilyn were there at the finish with hugs, cheers and a banner, signed by our Cablekrew buddies. Friend, Bill, thinks The Stache is crazy and told him so. Old news in the Geppert household.   We enjoyed a few days of lobster, hiking and savoring the stunning beauty of Maine’s coast. The Tin Can had to spend a couple of nights at the Mercedes Infirmary, but was released with a clean bill of health at 5pm on Wednesday.  We hit the road approximately 20 minutes later.  Mule to the barn. 

One thing we have learned is that this part of the country closes its shutters early after Columbus Day. Consequently, it was difficult to find a place to stay AND it was equally difficult to find something to eat.  Google and Tin Can to the rescue! We found a place to stay, online. It had a kitchenette.  The Tin Can generously supplied grill cheese sandwiches and a can of tomato soup. Kinda reminded me of our days as newly weds. The following morning the conversation turned to the trip home.  The Stache suggested we might be able to cover 400-500 miles per day.  He even lightly suggested that we could put the TC on cruise, and trade places so that driving might remain constant.  We both laughed over our coffee, but I knew he was continuing to think about the possibility.  Mule to the barn. How can one possibly express the gratitude of experiencing the things we’ve experienced through this great adventure? We are so thankful for the opportunity, the capacity, the people (especially the athletes and their families), the safety, the amazing weather and the beauty of this great country. We are humbled that you would follow us and again, we thank you for your thoughtful and generous contributions that will go far in changing many lives. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love and appreciate you. 

I close with an assortment of God’s confetti……you deserve an abundance of it!❤️

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Tin Can, Part 2

The photos I post don’t always pertain to the subject matter of the blog. There is a tendency to capture the beautiful places and forget to document the not so exciting stuff. So, enjoy the beauty while you read about the Tin Can!

Turns out the Tin Can has the 😷 flu! I had pulled off the road to wait for the Stache. He passed by in safety. But when I attempted to proceed, the TC coughed and sneezed and balked, refusing to go faster than 5mph! I turned on the flashers and made it to the parking lot of a preschool. The director was most kind and allowed the Tin Can to collapse in her parking lot. 

No! Not the preschool! Just liked the looks of this market.  After calling AAA, and making a number of calls, it was determined that only a Mercedes dealership can address the problem as it is a computer issue.  Sooooo, this morning the Stache took off, to FINISH his ride, and I set about getting the TC sorted. 

At breakfast I met a dear lady, Karen, who asked how she might help. Yes! I needed a ride back to the TC. Off we went! I checked twice to see if she had wings, because to me, she was an angel. 😊
Dennis, the tow truck driver, arrived in a timely fashion.  He and his dog drove me back to the B&B and off he went to tow the TC to Bangor! (The closest dealer…85 miles from here.) We will figure it out. 

Posting this a day after The Stache finished!!!!!!  Will post some pictures of that today. Thank you for your prayers! We are so thankful for great weather, safety and good health throughout! 

The Tin Can

The Tin Can has been a faithful companion on this journey. It’s provided a safe place to sleep, served as a perfect resource for snacks, rest and a local diner that’s available 24/7.  Today, however, it’s caused a bit of consternation.  Two warning lights came on! Oh no! The Tin Can isn’t feeling well! Serious business!

The Stache has to ride (home stretch!), so the Tin Can and I set off to find a ‘drive in’clinic. After several stops and numerous attempts to find resources on Google, I was finally directed to a marina, of all places, because, ‘they know diesel  engines’!TC and I drove down a long dirt road and were a bit alarmed to find all the boats looking like ghosts! Our fears were alleviated when we were greeted by the family who owns and runs the place. They are a fun loving  Italian family from Boston.  It was like a Boat version of The Cake Doctor! (If you haven’t seen the show, it’s way past time you did!) They treated me like I was their daughter…concerned about the situation; the well being of the Tin Can and interested in our CAF mission. In the end, the Tin Can was good to go and this family donated a significant portion of our bill to CAF! 😊  I went in search of the Stache. He was lost and I was lost. We agreed to meet in Wiscasset,  a little town on the water. When we found one another, we consoled ourselves with lobster rolls for lunch! Yum! (And yes, those are big chunks of lobster slipping between his fingers!)

Tonight we are in Booth Bay, Maine. Went into the village for dinner and sat next to Dan and Carol. They live south of Boston and are dedicated Christians.  Carol plays and teaches piano. Dan plays the organ. Sometimes they play together. Dan had a career designing kitchens. In his retirement, he decided to do something very unique….he bought an ice cream truck! He is in great demand for weddings, birthdays and picnics and having a great time. Delightful couple and a joy to spend the evening with. 

Two more days. The Tin Can is mended and the Stache will be ready in the morning. 

Confetti 

Ticker tape parades, New Years Eve, Final Four celebrations and birthday cards, from a mischievous friend, are typically what come to mind when I think of confetti, but New England, in the fall, has changed all that. I had pulled off the road to gawk at the trees when I noticed a fellow gawker a few feet away. Becky and her husband are hiking the Appalachian Trail. They began in Georgia in April.  They carry thirty pound packs. She needs new shoes every 200 miles. (Soloman’s) Their marriage is better for it, though it hasn’t been without its moments. As we were chatting, a sudden gust of wind hit. (We were at the top Kancamagus  mountain)The air was instantly filled with a glorious swirl of yellow, garnet and orange confetti. It was if God had cast an enormous handful of color  into the sky to celebrate His glorious creation. It took our breath away. The confetti settled in our hair and on our shoulders.  We laughed like old friends. 

Confetti is for celebrations. Tonight we met Keegan and her mom, Missy. Keegan is a winsome, articulate young woman who has lived her life without her right hand.  Keegan was very shy until she had the opportunity to attend ‘Camp No Limits’. The camp is for amputees, and provides support, on a number of levels, for them and for their families.  Keegan and her family have become involved as volunteers. Keegan now mentors campers and aspires to run a camp someday. She is no longer shy, but an outspoken advocate for others who have dealt with similar challenges.  She is involved in a number of sports, but her next goal is the Trek  Across Maine, with her Dad.  Her grant from CAF was to purchase a bike for that goal.  A freshman in community college, she aspires to become an occupational therapist.Confetti is in order here!New England is beautiful and hilly. If you’ve followed these blogs, you know how I feel about hills.  I’ve begun to focus my full attention on the Stache, his safety and successful completion of the ride. (How’s that for creative rationalization?) In any case, I’m extremely proud of him and given a God sized hand, I would toss hand fulls of New England confetti into the sky. The Stache has three more days of riding.  There probably won’t be a ticker tape parade with confetti, but in my heart and mind, he will deserve it. 

The Culture of Laundry Mats

We didn’t bring many clothes.  Not much room for trivial things like clothes. As a consequence, the laundry must be done with some frequency.  It takes me back, to be in a laundry mat. We didn’t have a washer/dryer until our second year of marriage….which meant about 10 years of laundry mats after leaving home. 

When it comes to people, I’ve concluded that  a laundry mat is similar to a bar, sans the alcohol.  Some people sit quietly, looking at the window of whirling clothes, their minds elsewhere. Others want to tell you their story. More infrequently they ask about yours. There are mothers washing multiple loads of family clothing. Older couples, like us 😊,  on a trip of some sort. The lady who runs a local B&B is washing linens in the commercial grade machines. The single guy, doing his weekend chore.   All are polite, with at least a nod of the head. This is an even playing field. We are all there, doing what’s necessary to present ourselves to the world, cleanly clothed and hopefully in our right minds. 

I listen quietly, half reading my book. John is recently widowed. Doing the laundry ‘gets him out’. Lois comes every Saturday. It’s her way of keeping track of the comings and goings in this tiny town. Spin cycle complete, I put the clothes in the dryer. The attendant, a heavy set woman with a severe look and limp, asks if I need help. No thank you…but then I do. Apparently you have to press the temperature button each time you deposit a quarter. She’s pleasant enough, but not someone you want to tamper with. 

At last, folding my clothes, I notice the attendant go into the bathroom. Along comes John to the bathroom. I lightly comment that someone is in there, but should be out soon.  John, foolishly decides to check the door. Out comes the attendant loaded for bear! And John and I are in her cross hairs! Was there a meter running on the time she spent in the bathroom???? It’s clearly none of our business! 

John makes a bee line for the safety of the bathroom and I proceed to fold my clothes in record time! This was an extraordinary experience with regard to laundry mats. Generally the culture is benign. Today the Stache and I celebrated 38 years of marital bliss. I am so thankful for the closeness, faith, love and yes, humor we share and enjoy. Wouldn’t trade this journey, with this man for anything!

Tonight we had dinner with Mac and Frank, two amazing men who cannot see with their eyes, but CAN see with so much more.  They are keenly intelligent and have accomplished a great deal. Both participate in sports…..cycling, paddle boarding, skiing…to name a few. Mac recently purchased a used tandem bicycle with a grant from CAF. He loves cycling and often does it to raise funds for various causes. Again, we see that ‘pay it forward’ spirit among these athletes. Might be the last sunny day for a while, but we have so enjoyed the beauty of the foliage in New England. 

Thank you again for your feedback and encouragement. We are a bit tired and missing home, but very thankful for the adventure and good health to enjoy it. We know we are extremely blessed and do not take it for granted. God is so faithful and good!

Erie Canal and the Finger Lakes

I believe it was Burl Ives who sang ‘The Erie Canal’ when I was a child. (Bruce Springsteen sings it for the present generation.) (No, really!) The composer, Thomas S Allen, could see that the days of mule drawn barges, along the canal, were coming to an end and being replaced by hydro and diesel power. He wrote the lyrics from the perspective of a man who relied on his mule, Sal, to pull the barges up the ‘tow path’(which is still there). 

“I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal, 15 years on the Erie Canal. She’s a good ole worker and a good ole pal, 15 years on the Erie Canal.”

I thought a lot about Sal, as I rode 130 miles along the canal, over three days.  (And yes, I’m totally bragging on myself!)  But today is where Sal and I part ways. She kept on towing and I fizzled out! It’s called ‘lots of determination  with limited capacity’. 

Just can’t seem to keep up w/the Stache! If he had even suggested harnessing me to a bike, I might have kicked like a mule! Long story short, I took the day off. 

The Stache took off and I headed for Hannibal, NY.  I stocked up on groceries and gas, then located a lake side park to wait for the true cycler.  I think Sal would have liked him……He just keeps going.BG rode 75 miles with a fair amount of climbing and was very happy to see a cold lake to soak his tired self in!We found a local diner for a bite to eat.  Food was fair, but the people and the place were interesting. Case in point. Our table was in the bar area. (Sports on!) If you’ll observe, there is a kiddy play area in the bar! Parents brought little ones in and directed them to the toy box while they had a drink w friends and family. They do things differently here. 

We are generally flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to finding places to stay.  Last night we were traveling dark country roads, until we found a spot. Can you spell Relief?!

Today is a day of rest for The Stache. We have spent the day in the Skaneateles Lake Village. It sits on one of the Finger Lakes. Check out the map! They really do look like fingers.  Now, how do you suppose they say Skaneateles? I’m smiling at some of your attempts. Others…crickets. It’s pronounced Scanny-atlas! Can you say it fast three times? 

The third verse of The Erie Canal says, “I eat my meals with Sal each day. I eat beef and she eats hay. And she ain’t so slow if you want to know. She put the ‘buff’ in buffalo.”

Revelation! I can’t keep up with the Stache because he’s eating meat and I’m eating hay (SALAD!)!

Afraid? Nah!

Elenor Roosevelt was quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you”.

This day was a day of rest in Niagra Falls.  It was chilly and rainy and we were grateful not to be riding. But in keeping with Elenor’s admonition, we wanted to continue fearless feats. I chose to hangout with a zombie 😳

The Stache is afraid of heights. He agreed to go on the giant Ferris wheel overlooking the falls. I was extremely proud of him, sweaty palms and all.

Though it may seem off point, I’d like to share some observations: 1) No one seems to find it unusual when a 64 year old woman is dancing by the roadside, trying to get a bee out of her jersey.  2) Cyclists spit and blow their noses while they ride! The nose blowing is au natural and is accomplished by pressing one finger on the non offending nostril and then blowing the offense out of the other nostril. 

Now that I’m feeling pretty much a biker chic, I decided to try both….with the same result. In both efforts, the ‘matter’ made its way slowly across the cheek, toward the ear, instantly drying in the wind. The result was a wry grin effect.  The Stache just glanced away as if he’d never known me. Can’t blame him really. 

I’ve also observed that most of the fears we have are unfounded. We need to start by making a keen assessment of their validity. For example, there is no such thing as a zombie. In a temperature controlled enclosure, there is no need to be afraid on a Ferris wheel. 

Then there are those things for which we truly should be concerned. At this point, we have a choice…..trust God or be consumed by fear. 

Trusting God would be my choice. 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

When one belongs to the Lord, his eternal future is secure.  Even when this physical life ends, we have assurance of eternal life in Heaven. 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind .” II Timothy 1:7

These are just two of many Bible verses on the issue of fear. Worth exploring in greater depth. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be confined by fear! Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Team USA

The Invictus games are taking place in Toronto.  We had the privilege of meeting about 20 members of TEAM USA at an event arranged by CAF.  These particular individuals are grant recipients. What a great privilege it was to meet the athletes and their families. 

I wish I could say I took the above picture, for obvious reasons, but Sharona (right) was kind enough to share it with me.  She and her friend, Amy, reported that Prince Harry was very kind, friendly and funny.  

Sharona was an active young mother, when she was diagnosed with MS three years ago.  She is a woman of quiet dignity and grounded by her faith.  In addition to competing in track, she homeschools her daughter and enjoys volunteer work in her community. Adam (right) was there w his family. A single leg amputee, Luke competes in triathlons.  He is studying to be a mental health counselor and plans to work with service men and women with injuries.Meet Martha.  At 54, she is still vibrant and competing! A paraplegic due to polio, as a child, she has single handedly reared two children and is fully independent. Cheerful and so appreciative that CAF is agnostic, when it comes to age, she has played wheel chair rugby and participates in shot put competition!Dillon, it seems, is involved in an endless stream of sports. Warm, kind and competitive, Dillon speaks with quiet intelligence. He used his grant to pay for specialized coaching.  His mom is a photographer whose goal is to set the disabled before the public until there is greater acceptance and caring. 

It isn’t possible to share each story here, but as you can see, each individual is so very special. They are not takers. They are givers. They are not crippled by their disabilities, they are enabled by them to ‘pay it forward’, and they do….consistently.

Today we are in Niagra Falls. This afternoon we met with CAF grant recipient, Margaret, and her boyfriend, Francois. Both are single leg amputees.  Margaret is a serious and successful competitor in swimming and has been so since childhood. She met Francois, scuba diving, when she noticed a prosthetic on the deck of the boat and began looking for its owner! Francois said Margaret gave him great hope because she had learned to live fully as an amputee.  

I have to confess….these two brought me to tears, as we parted with them.  True treasures, they too, give and give and give to others….including to us.  They, like all the athletes,  SO appreciate the work of CAF and it’s contribution to their lives. 

We ended the day in this incredibly beautiful place. The rainbow over the falls reminds us that God always keeps His promises.  He has proven Himself faithful to these dear people we’ve met and He will to you as well.  The only thing He asks is that we trust Him.  

Find My Friends

Do you have a Find My Friends App on your phone? I do. The only friend I have listed is Bill Geppert. And do you think I can find him when I need to find him?  A rhetorical question to be sure. We all know the answer. Unless one has the resources and capacity to carry a cell tower on the top of one’s Tin Can, it’s just out of the question. Turns out, Canada is just as vast as America and just as remote. And BG has knack for riding his bike in non cell areas. 

Yesterday, our friends Rick and Sarah were on board the Tin Can,with me, while The Stache road his bike.  We searched for the B&B Bill had reserved. When we arrived we were greeted by a very eccentric woman who informed us of the rules. We could only eat breakfast two at a time at her kitchen table. We could not carry a chair from one place to another because if we hurt ourselves she could be sued. You get the picture. 

Her home looked like a bomb had gone off at a Halloween carnival. In every room there were ghosts and skeletons and scary looking heads and masks. My throat closed. 

We went for lunch and all agreed we could not stay at the B&B. I was elected to inform our hostess. It didn’t go well. She teared up. Of course that finished me off.  We paid her for the night and left. I dropped our friends at the lake and went in search of BG.  Found him just a block from the B&B. Close call! We enjoyed some time at the lake and then headed for the Best Western.  

Rick and Sarah have been good natured, ‘go with the flow’ traveling buddies. We will part with them in Toronto tonight and will miss them. Glad we ‘Found these Friends’ 

Roots and Bridges

Harbor Springs, Michigan is quaint. Flowers adorn every porch and garden and there’s a killer pastry shop,  that once served as a gas station, in the middle of town.  Yes, I’m allowed the occasional pastry! Another point to add to my brief list on the pros  of cycling. 

Again, we were blessed with a beautiful trail that ran for 25 miles. We peddled along the lake taking in sights like the one above. One can breeze along for several miles, breathing deeply, taking in the sights, smiling at other cyclists and feeling quite content with the state of things, when suddenly the earth quakes, the bike lifts and you are jarred to the core. The bike handles are snatched from your hands and there is a momentary fight for control.  Roots! They muscle their way under the pavement and cause shocking jolts to the mind and to the body. It’s a metaphor of sorts. We  seek to create serene experiences for ourselves and the roots seem to say, ‘Ah, not so fast! We are here to see that you don’t become too comfortable and miss your life. AND WE WILL WIN!’

I can think of many roots that God has allowed to jolt me into remembering how blessed I am, especially when things don’t go well or as I had planned. Do you have roots to contend with? 

And then there are the bridges. Looks charming doesn’t it? This bridge will rattle your bones and loosen your teeth! But it’s purpose is to transport you safely over some pretty muddy, bug infested territory. 

The athletes we’ve met along the way have been jolted by roots most of us can’t imagine. But almost without exception, they’ve told us that they are THANKFUL for their challenges (roots) because of the opportunities they would never have had and the people whom they would never have met.

The people they refer to are the bridges. They are the people who’ve dealt with similar challenges and have come along side another to say ‘you can do this’. They call, visit, encourage and occasionally say the tough stuff when family can’t. Those people are also you! You contribute to CAF, enabling someone to have a productive, fulfilling life, they didn’t think possible. 

Bravo bridges! Bravo!