You can’t make this stuff up!

Today started reasonably well. After a good nights sleep and a day of rest, the Stache decided we could ride our bikes two miles downhill to the ferry.  Take note that we were each carrying a duffel bag. We were not out of the driveway when I heard a terrible skidding sound, a thud and then silence. In short, the Stache had bitten the dust. I graciously applied the golden zipper and checked to see if there were any significant injuries. He would live. We carried on, making the ferry in ample time. 

We crossed the amazing  suspension Macinac  Bridge (which is longer and higher than the Golden Gate Bridge) and I dropped BG to ride. 

Shortly thereafter there was a total loss of service…no wifi, no phone! Eventually, I came to Cross Village, coughing on fumes, desperately in need of diesel! As I was filling the tank, I spotted the Legs Inn across the street! Legs is a local Polish restaurant, that Bill’s sister, Susie and husband, Pat, had told us about!

Bingo! I knew the Stache would recall this and stop here for lunch! I parked the Tin Can IN FRONT of Legs. Legs opens at noon, so I fell into line with the Michiganders and proceeded to make new friends. We were largely in agreement about the current condition of things and particularly about the fact that America is a darn good place to live!

Eventually, the line dwindled to a Harley guy and myself. No sign of the Stache. So, Harley and I agreed to share a table in the garden, until he could join us. I left a note on the windshield of the Tin Can, directing the Stache to the garden tables. Some smoked white fish spread, bratwurst, sour kraut, and an hour of therapy later, still no sign of The Stache. Meanwhile I have learned all about the nuances of cycling on a Harley and ice fishing on Lake Michigan. Harley has been married three times and believes the real problem was his resistance to getting hearing aids. He now has them and marvels at the wonder of enhanced relationships. 

I ordered BG a polish sausage sandwich to go. Harley and I split the check and parted ways. 

Meanwhile, the Stache had ridden PAST LEGS and was so busy taking pictures, to show me, he failed to see the Tin Can in front of Legs. 

I caught up with him a few miles down the road, in a beautiful area called Tunnel of Trees, happily oblivious to the trauma of my having lost him!

After 60 miles of riding his bike, BG wanted to play golf! And did! 

Not makin this stuff up…..

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The Beauty & Benefits of Cycling

I’ve never fully understood the appeal of cycling but as I’ve considered it from the perspective of beauty enhancements, it makes sense.

Take facials for example. One can receive an effective exfoliation simply by being close to a highway when a logging truck passes. Deep hydration is quickly accomplished when a semi truck passes you in the rain. Deep pore cleansing happens spontaneously as one sweats profusely.  No problems with edema here as there is no fluid left in the body to collect in extremities!

On a high protein diet? No problem. If you smile constantly, while cycling, you will receive an ample supply of bugs in your teeth, meeting 15% of your daily requirement! It’s all pretty spectacular and free! 

Lastly, after riding 70 miles, getting a good nights sleep is a given. In fact one is quite lucky if he makes it to his bed before loosing consciousness!


And then there are the truly beautiful things about cycling…experiencing a sunset of pink and blue and gold hues, ample time to think and pray, meeting wonderful people and learning about their lives. Meeting athletes who have overcome so much and teach us lessons on gratitude is beauty in its own right. 

Yesterday, I hit a personal milestone, riding 50 miles. I was quite happy with myself and looking forward to our first day of rest on Macinac Island. The Stache (who finds rest a foreign concept) thought we should bring our bikes along. The next thing I knew I was riding my street bike UP the hill to the Stone CLIFFS hotel, in jeans, with my purse swinging from my neck! So here we have a picture of one of the beautiful aspects of marriage. Nuff said. 

Before I leave these notes on the different aspects of beauty and cycling, I have to introduce you to Camille….a beautiful little girl we met when we stayed in the Farm House B&B outside of Escanaba, MI. Camilles cat had just had four kittens. Now that’s beauty!

Skittering Ch-ch-chee

The sound of golden leaves as we ride through them along the bike paths of northern WI, is a happy, chatty sound, I am relishing. We know these beautiful days are a gift and are not taking them for granted! Today we enjoyed about 25 miles of trails through the colorful forests. After lunch, I doubled back to retrieve the Tin Can and do some laundry.  In the laundry mat, I met a delightful woman named Robin. After chatting for a bit, she commented that she felt she knew me. I noted her necklace which had a cross on it and asked if she was a Christian. She lit up and said, Yes! I suggested that this was why she felt she knew me. There is an unspoken bond between people who trust in Jesus.  I grin to think of meeting Robin again in Heaven someday. Hey! Remember me? The lady,  from the laundry mat, in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin! 😊 While I was relaxing in the laundry mat, The Stache was cranking it out on the road, riding 70 miles today! 


To backtrack briefly, I wanted to introduce Blake. (Bill wrote about Blake at more length!) Blake is a delightful 14 year old. Born with numerous,serious health issues. Blake transports himself in a wheelchair but is by no means confined to it. He whips himself in and out of the car; in and out of chairs in restaurants, you get the picture. His spleen and liver are reversed. His spine fragile. He is facing a major surgery which will fuse his spine, but will then limit the myriad of sports he’s presently involved in. This is a huge decision! I assured Blake we would pray for him. Will you join us?

Blake is an inspiration. His parents, Troy and Kim, are as well. They are parenting four active boys. The measure of their loving and excellent parenting drifted, in subtle ways, into the conversation.  First of all, as Blake related about all the things he’s involved in (handcycling track competition, ice sled hockey,  snow skiing on one blade and trying out scuba diving), I kept thinking, ‘There are two very dedicated parents behind all this!’ Both father and son told of family vacations, working together and playing together.  When I asked Blake if his brothers were as athletic as he is, he related that his older brother enjoys soccer and is coaching his younger brother.  Blake has raced his older brother down mountains and clearly looks up to him. The fourth brother likes to cook. Each son is loved and encouraged to pursue his interests while being mindful of family.  And then there are all of Blakes surgeries, navigating the insurance mine field and caring for him daily. I’d say Troy and Kim are pretty extraordinary parents!

As we left the city, Troy escorted us through downtown Duluth, which I appreciated because sightseeing with BG is like riding by on a fast horse! The famous Duluth bridge and a glimpse of Lake Superior! 

Kindness and Inspiration 

I’ll be honest. It was difficult leaving home for the second half of our journey. There were hurricanes in the south, threatening friends and family and fires in the north. I just felt unsettled over it all. (Friends and family had major inconveniences and loss of power, but otherwise faired pretty well. Thank you, Lord!)

But the Stache had been working on this trip for quite a while and I couldn’t let him down. Off we went to Minneapolis, where we retrieved the bikes and the Tin Can. I think the Tin Can was glad to see us. We were happy to see it as well. A sweet reunion, so to speak. 

We returned to the Lake Como B&B where we had stayed at the end of the first half. We were greeted by Carla and her dog, Lenny. Carla is one of the kindest people I know and makes you feel like you’ve come home. She greeted us with a hug and all my trepidation subsided. Amazing the magic a bit of kindness can work!  We had shipped things ahead to Carla (including another bike for Bill!) and she kindly received them. It seemed to me that we were asking a lot. I told her she should just refer to us as The Need-Mores, instead of the Geppert’s! She graciously assured me we were not a problem. 

Our second night in Minnesota, we met up with Mark and Rachael for dinner. This is the dear couple you read about in a previous blog (What? You haven’t read about Mark and Rachael? Then stop right now and go back a few! You don’t want to miss their story!). Mark was to ride w Bill in the St Paul Classic , but had just recently been released from the hospital, following a life threatening blood clot in his leg. This has put a serious cramp in his training for the Paralympics, but he has pressed on with faith, strength and grace. He and Rachael are soul mates, devoted to one another in ways the average couple can’t imagine. They have been through tremendous hardship, but it doesn’t define them. Their faith defines them. Very humbling to be with this exceptional couple. Inspiring and a blessing. 

Before leaving Minneapolis, we met again with some of the athletes and their families.MORE Inspiration! So dear! Each one. 

Ok, time to suit up and get on with this ride! Our tanks are filled with kindness and Inspiration! We are very excited about the prospect of contributing to the wellbeing of these athletes! What a privilege!Thanks again for your encouragement and prayers!

Odds and Ends

A picture sent to us by our friend Toni Gautereaux before we started. 😊


Send off in Boise with Barb and Larry Harpe. 

Our friends Lewis and Clark, whose presence we felt as we followed their trail. 

Anybody remember these?

Surfing the river in Missoula 

The real Trixi


The feathers of a turkey artfully displayed in a general store.

Sporting our UBS jerseys given by Courtney Liddy and her team. 

The last of the Laura Scudders. A sad day for me! 

A tourist posing at Old Faithful. You give it a title! 

Bill’s wheels stolen our last night. Perfect timing. 


There’s ALWAYS something to laugh about. All you have to do is look for it! 

Community

One of the consistent themes in meeting the Challenged Athletes is the importance of community. As we’ve moved eastward and the population has increased, we’ve seen more effort given to organizing these athletes for competition. In the process, athletes and their families have found in one another a great sense of community and support.  

Today, we had the opportunity to meet with some of these families, in St Paul, MN.   They were effusive in their praise of CAF and largely because ‘there’s someone out there who cares’.   They know staff members by name and told us how helpful they had been and how seamless the grant process was. They are not accustomed to ‘seamless’, with all the challenges they face on a daily basis. They were so appreciative. 

We met Shane, who plays sled hockey. His parents had a mobile home outfitted to accommodate his needs and they camp regularly. Shane recently shot a huge turkey on a hunting trip! There is nothing he and his parents won’t try. There were three girls who are ‘friends and competitors’ in swimming.  They and their families invited us to attend family camp in the fall. What an honor!Mark and his wife, Rachel, were there as well.  They were married one year when both of Marks feet were severed in a boating accident. In a remote area, it took some time to get Mark life flighted to a hospital. In the meantime he lost 3/4 of his blood.  Mark is a miracle. He related that he had grown up in a Christian home and attended Christian school, but was a nominal believer at best.  His first thoughts at the time of the accident were about eternal life.  At one point in the ambulance, he related that he found himself on a grassy hill looking up at the cross of Christ.  He ‘locked eyes with Jesus’ and he knew that no matter what happened, Jesus would always be with him.  

Mark spends a good deal of time these days speaking to groups about adversity and faith.  He challenges with, “If you’re asking yourself, ‘why me?’, ask yourself, ‘why not me?’  None of us are exempt from troubles, but there is a God who stands ready to walk with you whatever the trial may be. Rachel and Mark are two very inspiring people.  

Tomorrow we fly home. The tin can is cleaned and ready to be stored. It’s been a great trip with endless opportunities to learn about our country, it’s people and one another. We are tired, but our hearts are quite full. We feel blessed beyond measure. 

Thank you to each one who have followed us, cheered us on, prayed for us and supported the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  You are simply the best. 

Lake We-be-gone

On the Wobegon trail

I have to be honest. I’m homesick. When I saw this sign today all I could think was, ‘We be gone’ day after tomorrow! Still, it’s been pretty wonderful to see the beauty of Minnesota…..green green hills and rich black soil in fields ready for planting.  In the fall, there will be wheat, corn and soy beans.   After harvest, these crops are put in silos and sold at different times of the year so that there will be income throughout the year.  There is virtually no irrigation and the farmers are at the mercy of nature. There are beautiful lakes everywhere. Water does not appear to be a problem. So interesting to see how people live around our country!

Yesterday was my 64th birthday. I know, I know, you thought I was much younger. But, no. It’s true. One year away from Medicare. How did this happen? 

BG took the pain out of the day in several creative ways. First, he brought me breakfast in bed, on a paper plate.  Eggs from NASA,  two strips of bacon and half an English muffin with peanut butter on it. And the all important cup of coffee! Ahhhhh!

After breakfast, he suited up to ride. We were at the start of the Minnesota Rails to trails path which is almost 200 miles long.  I was to drive to an agreed upon location and ride back to meet him, on my bike. Little did I know he was making friends and chatting along the way, which delayed our meeting time and forced me to ride 30 miles on my birthday. That is just wrong on so many levels! 

Afterward, he surprised me with securing a night at a neat B&B on one of the little lakes.  We went into town for dinner.  He gave me four cards (as you can guess, I’m a ‘words’ girl) and a DVD of LaLa Land so that we will have entertainment in the tin can. 

All in all it was a great day! I think I will keep him. 

To quote Garrison Keillor, “Thank you God for this good life and forgive us for not loving it enough.”

Exuberant 

Kolton was born with CP.  The greatest impact of the condition doesn’t seem to be the weakened and tight leg muscles.  The greatest impact seems to be strengthened mental and heart muscles.  Kolton and his parents have determined that Koltons opportunity for a full and meaningful life will not be governed by CP.   

Kolton is well loved, and it shows in all he says and does. He is simply a sports fanatic, reeling off stats and players in a number of sports with ease.  But he is no passive observer. He is engaged….in golf, baseball, relays, and most importantly, hockey, through an organization called HOPE, which organizes sports for local disabled kids. Kolton plays hockey on a specialized sled. His hockey sticks serve to propel  him as well as strike the puck.  

With the discovery that this was possible and that he could be truly good at it, Kolton’s parents applied for a grant from CAF.  Kolton was awarded a grant to purchase a custom sled. And the good news is that it can expand a bit as he grows. Kolton is over the moon. He is the very definition of exuberant!

Of course he is also a normal eight year old.  When the adults turned to conversation of work, juggling schedules and getting Kolton to all of his activities, he went in search of some games to play. He was wrestless to go home. But when his parents agreed that was a good idea, due to homework, Kolton was more interested in the issues at hand. 😊

What a pleasure to meet this energetic young man and his loving and dedicated parents. 

A living invitation

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and he with me.” Rev 3:20

Jesus is a gentleman. He never forces His way into a life. And yet, man’s tendency is to force religion, ignoring the invitation of relationship. 

Such was the case in Norway, at the end of the nineteenth century. As a result, the grandparents of our host, JoAnne, happened to settle in this remote part of North Dakota, seeking freedom to worship. They are Lutheran Brethren.  They believe in living lives of invitation. 

And JoAnne practices her faith in her lifestyle.  At 82, she lives alone in a sprawling old farm house. Her husbands gravestone is on the edge of the field.  It is a tribute to a life well lived. 

The inscription reads, “My times are in His hands” Ps 31. His family offered their descriptions of him….fighter pilot, lawyer, doer, visionary, writer, friend, neighbor, leader, advisor, student, tree planter.  JoAnne clearly longs for his companionship, and looks forward to being reunited with him in Heaven. 

He was career Airforce and a pilot. They lived in Moscow during the Brezhnev era.  She told of attending church under the watchful eye of the KGB. They were consistently seated by a group of older ladies who left their little book bags under JoAnne’s chair.  JoAnne realized the silent plea. She and her husband started putting Bibles in the bags and leaving them under their chairs, to be taken and distributed by these brave little ladies. 

JoAnne speaks fluent Russian and has a Russian room in her home. 

She also has a beach bathroom. And a ‘pit’ for family and friends to gather in, in front of the fire. No television, thank you. 

The house is filled with endless memorabilia of a life filled with love and happy memories. 

We slept on the sleeping porch (my grandmother had one for nights when it was too hot to sleep inside in the summer).  Bill at one end, I at the other…waving at one another. 

JoAnne gave us a tour of the barn she has refurbished.  It has housed visiting hunters and hosted family weddings. 

She made a lovely meal for us and we talked until late in the evening. We washed the dishes together while she shared her life and listened to ours. 

She was up early preparing breakfast which included eggs from her chickens. Delicious!

It was hard to part with this vibrant, interesting and loving woman.  We truly felt like family. 

JoAnne is a living invitation….

Thoughts on the Tin Can

When The Stache and I were first married we camped. We hiked, with backpacks, into the mountains of Tennessee.  We progressed to tents. Then to a customized van. We made some pretty hilarious memories. After the kids came along we became occupied with other things. Still, I continued to romanticize about the day when the kids were grown and we could purchase a motor home, and head out… going wherever the road took us.

Lewis, Clark and the Corps of Discovery were enamored with the grizzly bear. They had romantic fantasies about conquering this mighty beast.  After several encounters where they shot the bears three and four times through the heart and lungs, only to be pursued by the them for up to half a mile, their attitudes began to change. 

Lewis wrote, “I find that the curiosity of our party is pretty well satisfied with respect to this animal”. 

I think Lewis was on to something there. Don’t get me wrong….the tin can is great. I’m thankful for it. It has provided comfortable shelter when we were in the middle of nowhere.  But sharing it with BG, who fills our house with his exuberant self, makes it a tad on the small side.  

I have managed to drive it with style, with the exception of one little incident when I took a corner a little too sharply and dropped into a hole, dislodging the left rear fender. BG was very calm and quite gracious about it. ‘What’s done is done.’ Whew! 

Cooking is a little reminiscent of the cooks who accompanied wagon trains in the old west. Case made in pictures below. 

Old West

New West

Making the bed is a bit tricky as one needs to be comfortable with standing on ones head as she wrestles with fitted sheets in a bread box sized space. But once done, Voila! 
Easy street until one has to stand on ones head in the morning. 

I must say, cleaning is a breeze. A wisk broom and some Clorox wipes and you’re good to go. 

In the end, I’d have to say it’s not as challenging as a grizzly bear, but I’m close to being satisfied with this animal. 


Bill in his ‘easy chair’. 

Today the Stache looked at me and calmly said, “This is an Amy Geppert road.”  I started to plead Mothers Day, as an out, but there was no denying the facts. This road was mostly flat, had good shoulder, and very little traffic. AND there was a good south east wind blowing.  How could I refuse?  After 25 miles my cheerleader flagged me in like I was an Indie 500 winner!

The Stache and that tin can were  a welcome sight!

He rode 77 miles today!  That’s why they call him The Stache Rider! 😊