Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Thoughts on Being Alone

I'm learning how to be alone, and to be okay with it. I'm now learning that being alone doesn't equate with being lonely, especially if you believe in a loving Creator, a God who wants to relate and commune with your life, one who wants to be near all the time. That's something that I have always had trouble, and still do. How do live in such a way as to be near to God? How to I talk to Him? How am I to understand Him? To relate to Him? God often seems to be a great concept in my mind, rather than a tangible relationship. But, maybe, just maybe, with this intentional time of separation from relationships, I'll how to put my relationship with God first. Make that what I live for, rather than trying to please people, to live up to expectations. Maybe I can really face myself with only God to turn to for approval. Poco a poco.

Falling Into Stride

I've made it to Kinsley, KS, well on my way to Colorado, and I'm really loving this trip. Before the trip began, I was pretty freaked out, nervous about how it was going to happen, details and all, and scared about being by myself, more or less alone for several months. And for the first week, it was a tough adjustment, getting my legs in shape, getting used to not knowing where I was going to stay that night, hoping to not get robbed, all of it. But now, the freedom of this whole trip is quite amazing. I've never been at a place in life where it didn't matter where I went or what I did to this extent. I'm not bound by deadlines, by an itinerary, by expectations that I have to meet. I am certainly bound by a budget, but that in some ways adds to the excitement, in that it forces me to be dependent. Dependent on God for everything, for food, lodging, company, protection, energy, health, but also dependent on others from time to time, for necessities.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Errands and Encounters

After Buhler, I went into Hutchinson, KS, to do some errands. I got some warmer clothes, since winter and the Rockies are coming, after all, among other things. It's amazing how long it takes to do the simplest things, like run to the grocery store and post office, when you're on a bike. But, it's a good patience builder, I suppose.
The managers of the Kansas State Fairgrounds were kind enough to let me camp on the grounds there, with running water and everything, for free! Another blessing, for sure. Sleep under a beautiful starry sky that night.
The next day, after spending some time in the library of Hutch, I biked on to the small town of Stafford, KS, all of 1,500 people, where I met a man named Jerry Hogg. Man, we talked faith for the longest time. He is an ardent member of the Church of God, and so we talked A LOT about our beliefs. Great chance to discuss our difference in belief, and why we believe what we do. I camped in his yard that night, and after breakfast, pedaled on to Kinsley, KS.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow and Steady, Pressing on

After El Dorado, I rode to Buhler, KS, going through a number of small towns in Kansas. I had to make a slow, steady pace, due to an annoying wind coming across the croplands, and my knees feeling pretty precarious. Just to clue you in, since going through the hills in Arkansas my knees had been giving me some weird pains. The front of my left knee and one of the rear tendons in my right knee just slowly started to hurt, and came and went in terms of pain. The frustrating thing was, that if I adjusted my pedal-stroke to help one knee, it would make the other knee worse. So, going to Buhler, I just tried to not push my knees too hard, taking a slow pace to get there, rather than shorter, faster spurts.  It kinda worked. Kinda.
I had a chance in the afternoon to do some reading, Is That Really You God? by Loren Cunningham. It was kind of frustrating reading about this man of God who has such an incredible gifting of hearing God and being led by the Spirit. I guess I'm just at a point where I wish so desperately to be able to hear God's voice, and feel His presence, in my life. I mean, I guess it's a learned discipline, but sometimes I so strongly desire clarity in my spirit, and it doesn't come. Keep pressing in, I suppose.
I was able to spend the night with Mike and Beth Prieb, and their three sons that night, and actually helped them with their math homework. Awesome! Big thanks to them and their hospitality! Great family!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Learning to trust

On the night of the 25th, I rode into El Dorado, KS, after a long day of riding. One of the most stunning experiences: riding through the countryside, coming to the top of a crest, the setting sun ahead of you, and you are riding along a front of thunderclouds. A light breeze, a little rain, and the earth just open around you. All the while battling to make headway. That moment is implanted in my brain.

So, I pulled into town, after dark, again, feeling very cold, and in a lot of ways alone, really hoping to find some kind of companionship. I asked around for places to camp, prayed to run into someone who might let me camp in their yard, but I was just directed to a local park. Kinda depressing, especially on a cold, windy night. But, at the same time, looking back, I think it was  test of dependency. Do I really trust that the Lord will provide? Do I really trust that He'll give me what I need, He'll protect me, He'll provide? To I let His love, His grace, His approval be enough for me? Or do I still yearn to find fulfillment in other things, such as the acceptance of others?

The next day, I attended First Presbyterian of El Dorado, and God took care of me, in extravagent ways, even though I still struggle to trust Him. I met Mal and Janice Shaffer, and they were the biggest blessing to me. They took me to lunch with their friends, let me stay in their house, and bought groceries for me. It was amazing to be so warmly welcomed by people who I have never met before, and me, one who doesn't deserve that kind of grace. Again, God provides, even when I have so little faith.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Help in odd places

I crossed into Kansas on the 23rd of September, fighting a ridiculous cross wind. Warm welcome, Kansas. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't expect any less. I made it to Pittsburg, and took a break at the local bike shop. I pressed on to Parsons that night, pulling in way after dark, maybe like 9:30. It was a long day. But, mid-afternoon, I had found out that a line of thunderstorms were rolling my way, to hit around midnight. No big deal for riding, except that I don't want to be caught camping in a tornado. Minor detail. So, after night fell, and I was riding on the shoulder of this highway, with trucking flying by at 70 mph, I decided to try and find some sort of shelter. So, I start knocking on doors. Genious idea. Rural Kansas, after dark, time when farmers are going to bed, and I come beating on their door asking to camp out in their garage. The looks they had on their faces just screamed, "Get the heck off of my property!" And understandably so. So I gave that up real quick. 
I kept on to Parsons, and found the police station. When I told them that I just didn't want to get caught in the storms, I got another suspicious look. He told me about a campground with uncovered sites that cost money (aka over my budget). But, a man sitting in the station, a local, took me aside and told me about the park downtown with covered pavilions. Smiling, he told me that I could make myself pretty well hidden in there, and that I wouldn't get any trouble from the police. And I could always say I got lost if they found me in the middle of the night. Anyway, I thought it interesting the different responses you get from people: some don't want much to do with you, some will walk another mile with you. And you can't tell by first impressions, either.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crossing paths

So, I left Springfield, and it took me the first half of the day to get out of the city, after running over a nail somewhere and having to change the flat. But, after I got out of the city, I made pretty good time, and made it to my destination just after sundown. Missouri has some lovely hills, that's for sure, and some pretty farm land. And I am liking hills, because they're not too windy, and you get the best views from them. Anyway, I made it to Golden City, MO, and camped out with another traveling cyclist named Mark Rowdon. This guy was ridiculously cool. He had been traveling from Lake Tahoe, going through the desert, the mountains, the plains, heading to Virginia. What was cooler, he was interested in becoming an evangelist when he finished the trek. Freaking sweet! Really cool guy, sold out devoted to Christ, and a lot faster of a biker than me. And he had a sweet beard. Facial hair always increases cool points. Ride on, Mark! You've definately motivated me to keep on trucking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jes Chillin....

So, I've been in Springfield since Saturday night. I had a great Sabbath on Sunday, hanging out with friend Xuan Huynh. I've been fixing my bike, again - that chain had to be replaced, and now the gears won't shift right. Bother...... But, it'll work out. I'm hoping my knee is at least a little better, because I'm heading west tomorrow, towards the Wichita area. We'll see where I end up!
Tulsa to Springfield

Saturday, September 18, 2010


After camping in Vinita, I went on toward Springfield. I headed toward Neosho, MO, and stayed with Kendall Daniel's family. His mom said she'd kill me if I were near their home and didn't stay there. So, naturally, how can a bum hobo refuse? It was a short day on the road, but I met some cool people. At Twin Rivers Park in OK, I ended up trading some of my fishing line for some fishing hooks, and talking for a while about what I was doing, where we were from. He told me a lot about fishing that I never knew, like you can catch catfish with a piece of a bar of soap. That's right in my budget range! (I'm hoping to, one of these days, catch my dinner and cook on my little stove...... hehehe)
It was such a blessing staying with the Daniels! It was great to chat with them and have a roof over my head. I then headed on to Springfield on Saturday. I had a long ride, but I got started late, and I really didn't ride very fast, which ended up making a very tricky ride through bustling Springfield at 9 PM. But I survived, and the bike did too. I had another great chat with a guy that day as well. I went to a produce stand off of Highway 60, because tomatoes sounded amazing, especially ripe ones. Anyway, I started chatting with the guy running the stand, and we ended up talking about everything from smoking deer jerkey to trying to figure what God wanted to do with our lives. It was completely random, but so refreshing and real. I was hoping to keep chatting, but other customers came in. Even so, I hope he was encouraged, because I will definately remember that. If you ever read this man, I'm praying for you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back East??????

So, I spent a couple days in Tulsa, recharging, fixing my bike, and letting my knee heal. My bike started going funky on me, the derailleur starting eating my chain apart. So I spent a good day trying to figure out how to properly adjust my derailleur. I'm new to the whole bike mechanic thing, BUT, I think I get it now. So, I got it working nice and smooth. The only problem was that one of the links in my chain started coming apart.... frustration. I bent it back into place, and crammed it together, but I'm afraid that it's going to blow on me out in the middle of nowhere. We'll see.
Broke down, on the side of the road in Tulsa
So, I set out on Thursday toward Springfield, MO, to see more friends. Getting out of Tulsa took like half of the day, but I made it out, and meandered my way up to Vinita, OK. This was my first night not having arrangements planned for where I was to stay. So, at the end of a long day of riding, I pulled into Vinita around sundown, and started praying. Real hard. And God directed me to a nearby residential district. The first house I came to, and I mean the first house, the one on the corner of the neighborhood, I found a couple setting up for a garage sale. I asked them if I could camp out in the empty lot across the street, and they invited me to camp in their yard, which was sooo cool. I was so relieved. I mean, the FIRST HOUSE that I came to. Crazy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Night Riding in NWA

After the ride to Fayetteville, I wandered around Northwest Arkansas for the weekend, staying with friends Chris and Amber Latimer on Saturday in Rogers, and Kendall Daniel in Siloam Springs on Sunday. I do want to say a big thanks to all of my great friends who have supported me these past several days, letting me stay in their houses, use their showers, eat their food, etc. You guys are great!
On Saturday evening, when I was riding to the Latimers', I ended up riding around on small neighborhood roads under the stars. I could hardly see the road in front of me, only a small, faint circle created by my headlight. It was so serene, so peaceful and beautiful, looking up to the night sky, dotted with stars, and the cool breeze flowing by as I rode. It was a spirit-thing, you know? Just overwhelmed by peace, a tranquility that I rarely feel. I'm still trying to figure out how and why the Spirit moves when He does. I don't know.
I made it to Tulsa on Monday, and I have been here for several days, taking a Sabbath, fixing my bike, and taking care of details. Thanks to Jon Erickson and Mark Delavan for letting me use their couch! I'm not sure where I'm going from here, but I think I'm leaving tomorrow. Maybe north, maybe east. We'll see!

Through to Tulsa

Friday, September 10, 2010

Searching for Strength

On the 10th, I woke up, said goodbye to JT, and headed toward Fayetteville. It still took me forever to get on the road in the morning. I didn't get out of Harrison until 10. One of these days I won't be friggin slow, one of these days...
That day I had another long ride through hills, although they weren't at steep as the days before. But, I had to make it over 75 miles in one day. And I had a headwind from time to time, something that I try not to despise whenever it appears. It's so easy to get frustrated and irritated at the wind, and even channel it at God, when there's a headwind impeding your progress making every stroke you take that much harder. It was definitely a challenge to keep a positive attitude, and I'm not going to say that I didn't swear at the wind from time to time. But the sun was out, which always energizes me.

Third Day
But, it was slow going all day, and I was tired from the days before. And the mile markers didn't seem to pass near as quickly as the days before. But, I was determined to be in Fayetteville by nightfall to meet my friends Ian and Steph Fraiser, and I really didn't want to call him and have him bail me out. (I'm stubborn, what can I say?) But, even though it was hard, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, God still sustained me to get there, in ways that I don't understand. Towards the end of the day, with about 20 miles left to ride and legs wanting to give up, my spirits mysteriously lifted and my body got a little boost, and I had strength to finish to Fayetteville before sundown. I'm not sure, but maybe God was subtly giving me strength to finish.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Into the Mountains

Well, the first two days were kinda rough, I suppose. I started on Wednesday, the 8th, at around 2 in the afternoon. My goal was to at least get into the Ozark Mountains, and camp wherever I could for the night. Well, it was raining when I set out, all dreary and overcast, which typically puts a damper on my energy levels. But, I was energized by a few people on the road, having a good chat with a woman who ran a gas station. I made it to a place called Moccasin Gap, a rural campground up in the hills which seemed rarely used.  I went to bed in my tent (underneath a large pavilion :D ), and prayed that the rain would stop by morning
I woke up at sunrise, and the rain was coming down in full strength, which never makes things easy when you're trying to keep your sleeping bag, your clothes, and your computer dry in your little yellow trailer-bag. But, what can you do? And, even though trying my hardest to get on the road quickly, it still took my two and a half hours from waking up till I was on the road. I guess I just have to accept that I'm slow in the morning. Oh well.

First 2 Days
So, I set out, toughest leg of the day, by far. Steep hills all morning long, constant rain, and no shoulder on the road. There were so many times when, if I could hear an 18-wheeler coming behind me, I would completely pull off of the road into the ditch so I wouldn't get hit. Good old country roads. Oh, and the rain pants that I had bought from Wal-Mart a few weeks before, well, I had already torn a gaping hole in the crotch area. Nice!
But, after about 4 hours on the bike, watching the miles get smaller on the signs, I made it to Jasper! I found a local fruit stand selling apples, and after buying 2, sat down and talked to the lady operating it. She was so cool. She was 76 years old and going strong, just retired from 16 years of being a nurse. I talked with her about what I was doing, that I had just graduated and everything. She was very encouraging, told me to keep on searching, especially since I can right now in my life. After a long morning of riding, just talking with her gave a huge lift in my spirits. Not only that, but the rain cleared and the sun came out. I was so pumped.
So, I got back on my bike, determined to make it to Harrison, AR, to meet my friend Justin Thompson. I made it about 2 miles out of town, just enough for there to be nothing around, and my rear tube blew out. All of sudden. Frustrating. But the sun was still shining, so it was all good. I replaced the tube, and while I was inflating it, the new tube pushed a hole through the side wall of my tire, which was supposedly a pretty strong tire. Frustration went through the roof, as I was losing time to get to Harrison. I finally fixed that, wasted more time wrestling my trailer onto my bike, swore some more, and finally got back on the road an hour and a half later.
But, somehow I made it into town just after 5:30, and met up with JT. It was a frustrating day, for sure, but even so I made it to Harrison, a total of 93 miles through the mountains. God made it possible, despite everything. And I had a roof over my head to sleep under that night, and a good friend to hang out with. God provides, huh?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pre-Game Jitters

Well not really jitters. Maybe that will come tomorrow. Right now, I'm just trying to not stay up too late, so that I can actually get started tomorrow. Tomorrow I start the trip, and I'm hoping I have everything together. If not, oh well. Life goes on. I'm pretty sure I won't die. Anyway, I'm planning on leaving mid-day tomorrow and making my way toward Harrison, AR. I'll probably stop somewhere halfway between here and there, camp for the night, and finish the ride to Harrison on Thursday. I'm just trying to make sure everything is sorted out. There's a lot more things that you have to make sure of before you leave for a couple months than you might think. Little things, like spokes for your wheel, and soap for your dishes, and stuff. And I'm a procrastinator. But, anyway, tomorrow, game on.