Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things do work out. Really.

Next day, I got to hang out with Soraya for a little while. She was such a big help, taking me to the bike shop to get my spokes fixed and get the tools I need to fix it on the road. It was good to get it taken care of, but it definitely would have made it hard to get to Santa Fe that late in the day. But, Soraya was so gracious, and offered to give me a lift to Santa Fe.
She also let me borrow her jeep that afternoon to check out Taos. Crazy, right? Letting a scruffy-looking guy borrow your car, just to see the area? I mean, sounds crazy to me, but I was/am so thankful. You're awesome Soraya!
So, I went for a drive through the mountains to Taos Ski Valley. Man, it was so beautiful. I took this little road that wound through the desert for a few miles until it hit the foot of the mountains. As you approach, you see this wall of peaks, like a line of soldiers standing in a tight row; just desert for miles, and then mountain after mountain marking the end of the flats, a line in the sand. Then, the road finds a gap in the line, and start making its way between mountain after mountain, alongside a small creek.
I stopped at a little pull-off and had lunch – my exquisite diet of tuna and cucumber sandwiches :). The creek was running by, rushing over some stones in the stream-bed, and massive evergreen trees towering overhead. The setting sun was casting its rays here and there throughout the valley. I was just overwhelmed by God's peace. (It's ridiculous how the emotions of one day can completely contrast the emotions of the next). I was so blessed to have made it here, have my bike taken care of, and have a way to Santa Fe arranged. And what more could I ask for, sitting alongside that mountain stream with nothing but the sound of flowing water, and food to eat. It was so refreshing after the previous day. Before I left, I sang “Come Thou Fount” at the top of my lungs, standing there in the little valley.
Soraya gave me lift to Santa Fe, and I stayed that night with a guy named Alan Sharpio. I stayed another day in Santa Fe, taking a Sabbath day to rest and catch up. Thanks so much Soraya for the lift and everything, and thanks so much to Alan for letting me stay a couple days.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Broken, on the side of the road

Next day, I left Alamosa, and I felt like I could conquer the world. Right? I mean, I just beat the Rockies, so the flats of the San Luis Valley, down to Taos? Ain't no thing! Shoot! ….. Right.
I headed south, trying to hold a steady pace. I got to Antonito by around lunch time, and stopped at a church there to eat. I was feeling restless in my spirit though. Again, I was coming back to trying to hear God's voice, and develop my ability to do so. And it was still very much frustrating, mainly because I'm not good at it. I had been told that it would be downhill to Taos from Antonito, but outside of town, I definitely started climbing. And climbed, and climbed. My frustration was mounting, up to the New Mexico border. And I broke a spoke on my wheel – a wheel on which I had two spokes replaced in Denver. And I starting losing it. You'd think I'd have some confidence after the day before, but I was very comforted in that moment. I was in the middle of nowhere, no bike shops till maybe Taos, which was 60 miles away. Just a sign a hundred yards ahead that said “Welcome to New Mexico” on it. I was irritated, and I started questioning God if He was opposing me on this trip. I was wondering if I was Jonah, if maybe I was supposed to end the trip in Denver, if I wasn't supposed to make it back to Russellville. I tried listening, to hear what God was trying to tell me, but again, I couldn't discern God's voice out of the turbulence in my mind. And so I got even more frustrated, audibly shouting, “Just let me hear you! Make it clear!” Did God want me to go back to Denver? I didn't know. I knew I wanted to keep on going, and make it home.
I kept going, slowly, trudging uphill, but slowly breaking down. When I got to the foot of San Antonio Peak, amidst the chaos in my mind of my objections and emotions, I heard, “Get on your knees.” What? Here? In the middle of nowhere, kind of the desert, on the shoulder of the highway? “Couldn't hurt, I guess, at this point.” So I stopped, and knelt, still very frustrated and fed up. And God exposed my heart, my pride, my lack of submission to Him. I still held onto the trip as my own. I wanted to finish it, no matter what, to make it home, and I really wasn't willing to change my plans for Him. Even after all that had happened, I still held onto it, and wouldn't let Him take it. It was proud and selfish, and He broke me down, on the side of the road. Painfully, I gave it up, and let it go. If He wanted me to turn around, I would, and I meant it. And I felt Him say, “That's all I wanted.” Now, I maintained the option of Him turning me around, but I just needed very clear instruction. Very clear. But it never came.
I limped my bike along to Taos, breaking another spoke before the day was done. And it was downhill to Taos, but just the last 20 miles. Anyway, Soraya Perez was awesome enough to pick me up in her Jeep outside of town, and we got to hang out that night. Such a refreshing ending to a draining day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Mountain

So this was it, the big day that I had been anticipating and amping up for – my ride over the Rockies. Well, part of them at least. I want to go through the San Luis valley (Blanca Peak, Alamosa, Taos, Santa Fe, etc) because I knew that area was beautiful, and I wanted to do some mountain climbing on this trip. I mean, I'm a guy. I need a mountain to climb. Or in the cycling world, a mountain pass to summit. So this was it – La Veta Pass. 9200+ feet, with over a mile of net elevation change, and 75 mile ride from start to finish (Walsenburg to Alamosa).
So, Mark drops me off in Walsenburg (thanks again!), and I head toward the Rockies. I made a steady pace for the first 5 miles, and then it hit. Worst headwind ever. Or at least for me, on this trip. 50 mph, I'm guessing, straight from the west. I usually don't look at my speedometer much, because it usually depresses me, but I looked that day. It was depressing – 6 mph. I mean, you can run that fast, easy. But, it quickly became a mental battle – could I hang in there, no matter how long it took, no matter if the wind relented or not? Sure, I could gear down, and go slow. But could I hang in there, and see the day through? I thank God that He gave me the sanity to trust in Him, and I knew He would carry me through. Again, the physical journey became a spiritual battle – me and JC vs. the other guy and his stupid wind. And we made it to the top (where I was singing “Undefeated” by Audio Adrenaline at the top of my spent lungs), and down the other side.
On the other side of the mountains, the wind died. Just the majestic view of Blanca Peak, right over my shoulder. It was dangerous at times, because I didn't want to watch the road – just stare to my right at an impressive image of serenity, a towering watchmen over the valley. I made it, that day, by 7:30 PM, and was greeted in Alamosa by the hospitality of Don Thompson and Jan Oen. Thanks so much for a bed to sleep in after a long day! We had done it - we had bested the wind and the mountains.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You just don't go fast on a bike!

After Pueblo, I headed south to Walsenburg, CO. Like always on my trip, I got a late start in the morning. For some reason, I move incredibly slow in the mornings. It's a fact of life that I have just come to accept. Seriously, from the time I wake up to the time I'm on the road, typically two hours have passed. Some days three. It's deeply frustrating, and usually ends up ruining my mornings. I get on the road late, and then I'm stressed out trying to make up time, and when the afternoon comes and I'm still behind schedule, I end up just trying to talk myself out of stress. It's a vicious cycle of being slow, and stressing out because I'm behind schedule.
Anyway, after finally getting out of Pueblo, I hope on I-25, only to find a lovely headwind coming out of the mountains. It might have taken me 3 hours to go a litte over 20 miles, as well as draining all my energy. And I though I was in shape..... The entire way to Colorado City (first leg of the day) I was so stressed and frustrated, because I had told Mark Schneider, the guy who I was staying with, I was going to meet him in Walsenburg. All morning, I just kept fighting the headwind trying to make up time to meet him, and just got angrier and angrier (it's surprising how much a little wind can alter your demeanor). But, after lunch, and accepting the fact that I may be late, and I might be the slowest person in the world, the second half of the day was fun, and cruised into Walsenburg before Mark did. It's funny how a change in perspective makes all the difference.
I stayed with Mark and Val Schneider, who live in an adobe house that they made themselves. They grow a lot of their own food, have their own well, the works. They have a super cool set-up, and were really hospitable to this hobo on a bike. And they had great apple pie. Thanks Mark and Val!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Along the mountains, into the desert

I set out from Denver, going back the way I had gone several days before, which I just want to describe for you. I took a small country road which paralleled the interstate, more or less, running along the front range. The route was definitely tough, climbing from 5200 ft to 7200 feet over the course of 60 miles, but it was so beautiful. Coming out of Denver, it runs through some ranch land, rolling hills covered in dry grass, about 10 miles east of the mountains. It slows snakes its way closer to the mountains until, by the time you hit Palmer Lake at 7200 ft, just north of Colorado Springs, you are riding your way on a road that curves its way around the base of the mountains. By that point, you're gasping for air, trying to figure out how people actually live up that high. But the beauty of the desert landscape leading up to the wall of the Rockies it phenomenal. I stayed that night with Randy and Amy Newton again, who came and picked me up when, apparently, snow clouds where coming in. Thanks a bunch, you guys!

The next day, I headed toward Pueblo, and actually ended up getting snowed on. It was the weirdest thing, I suppose because it never happens in Arkansas. It was partly cloudy, but overall very sunny, when all of a sudden I see little white dots start coming down from the sky. And the sun was shining. What??? Apparently, it's not that uncommon to get flurries on sunny days, but it was pretty novel for a guy like me. So, I'll claim it – I've biked through snow on this trip.

The rest of the day was an easy ride down to Pueblo, where I stayed with Tom and Sharla Hochstetler, and their rambunctious dogs. Cool people! I had a chance to chat with Sharla about her job as a middle school teacher in Pueblo county. I was so surprised to hear about the tough community that she works in, deal with a bunch of kids from broken families. I was completely blown away by the rough crowd of kids that she works with in an area that is very rural. Previously, when I thought drugs, broken homes, and tough communities, I used to think urban areas. You know, inner-city LA. But apparently, you can find problems all over, even in the desert of Colorado. Even in Puelbo, there are so many kids needing love and guidance, and parents who care, especially in these days where rough times, especially financially, have hit everywhere, which can totally pull families apart. I have so much respect for people like Sharla who seek out the need, and have such a passion to work at a job where you might not see the payoff. Rock on, Sharla!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A small breakthrough?

On Saturday, after being back in Denver for a couple days, my frustration was mounting, as I wasn't feeling like I was making any progress in the area of “hearing” God's voice, nor was I any closer to knowing the point in my being back in Denver. I felt like I was meeting my “quota” of quiet time, praying, and reading, but that even so, God was coming through, like I sometimes feel that He should. But no, and I was confused. So, I went out for a ride, to clear my mind, and to stay in shape. But, about a half mile down the road, I noticed my wheel was out of alignment. And apparently, I had broken two spokes at some point. Sweet! So, I tried to replace the spokes, but quickly realized that I didn't know what I was doing. I carried my bike back to the house, and, after some research, I realized that I didn't have the tools to fix it. I tried to anyway, only to end up irritated at my bike, as well as God.

So, out of options with the bike shops closed, I went for a walk to clear my head. I found a bench on the side of a street several blocks away, and I started to read and pray. And apparently, I was sittingout right outside of a church. Cool, whatever, didn't really mean much at the time. But then this guy comes out and starts talking to me. We talk for a while, and I go in to meet his dad, John Gallegos, the pastor of the church, who proceeds to tell me all about Globe ville and how God is using their ministry there. And all the while, I'm thinking, “What the heck? Is this you, God?” I start to get excited about the inner-city work the church is doing there. They are awesome people, by the way, wholly devoted to serving God, with great passion and vision. They even gave me some food out of their food panty! It was weird, and I'm still not sure about what God was doing, but it seemed too weird to be a coincidence. Very much a God thing, with how everything panned out that night.

Over the course of the next day, while I made preparations to head south on Monday, and being around some solid, encouraging communities of believers, I felt a freedom, a peace take over me. I started actually believing that it was okay to make the wrong choice. God has my back, and if I screw up, it's all right, as long as I keep my sights on him. It was a small breakthrough, a feeling that I hadn't had for a while. So, I made my bike ready to leave, looking to what the next weeks would bring.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back in Denver

So, I rode back to Denver, more than slightly confused and unsure whether I was even doing the right thing. Leaving the Springs, the first thirty miles proved brutal, for whatever reason. They were definitely uphill, and hilly, but it shouldn't have been as difficult. Maybe it was the air, or lack thereof. Maybe it was something else.... But at any rate, it was a fight to get up to 7300 ft, and I mean it was a tooth-and-nail kinda thing, and honestly, there was at least a little frustration aimed at God. I mean, if I was trying to be obedient, shouldn't He be giving me a massive tailwind or something? Right?
It was downhill and easy the rest of the way, thankfully, and I arrived at my friend Ryan Likes's house around sundown.  I stayed the next several days in Denver more or less trying to figure what the heck I was there for. I felt mostly confident that I was doing the right thing in going back to Denver, but didn't have much idea as to why I was supposed to be there. Was there someone I was supposed to meet? Was there an opportunity that I was to find, an open door to, say, a job? Was there something I was to hear, to do, to learn while there? Or was it just a test in obedience? I didn't know, and even now am not sure.

I spent much of the time doing a lot of reading of the book Is That Really You, God? by Loren Cunningham, which deals a lot with discerning the will of God, and learning how to hear. It was really encouraging to read, and hear a Godly man's real testimony about being led by the Spirit, but at the same time it was deeply frustrating, because I felt like I was nowhere near that point and I ached to be there.

But, I had a great conversation with Ryan Likes as we threw a frisbee around, and we came to the conclusion that the point of this whole spiritual journey thing isn't to have it all together. The point isn't to have THE answer to life. The point is Christ. The point is to know Him, and struggling is a part of that. God isn't near as concerned or worried about what I'm going to be doing in three months as I am. He's just wants me, as He wants all of us. In other words, I need to stop worrying about whether I make the right decision or the wrong one, because that's not the point. The point is Him. At least that's where I stand at this given point in time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Confusion, voices, riding around in circles

At this point, in order to try and explain the next few days, I need to go back to the beginning. If you remember, the point of this whole ordeal, the trip as a whole, was to seek guidance and clarity. And I have been looking for guidance on two levels: the immediate level of occupational/geographical plans for the near future (this coming January), and also, on a deeper level, to draw closer to the heart of God. Both of these, in my mind, go hand in hand, and both really pertain to the discipline and skill of listening to God. A relationship requires communication, speaking and listening. And to be honest, in my relationship with my Creator, I have never been good at hearing/listening. Thus, in my whole quest to not only gain understanding of God's immediate plans for my life but also an understanding of who He is, my ability to listen to Him has been focal. And has been found to be wanting. Very wanting. A.k.a. - I feel like I have very little idea what God is doing in my life, most of the time.
So, back to the present. I was riding away from Denver, going to Monument on Sunday, October 17. And, leaving the city, I asked God, "What was the significance of my stay in Denver? In the connections made and the various interactions? Why did you orchestrate all this?" And I felt the Lord say, "Turn around."
Now, I want to pause here, and not that I am, even now, not certain that it was the Lord speaking, and that I "correctly" received some direction. So, I battled for a while. "Wait, is that you God? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why should I go back? I have arrangements made in Monument, and Peyton, and Colorado Springs, and farther. I mean, it would throw things off, like crazy, God." So, I battled, and didn't feel any concrete insight.
So I went on to Monument, and stayed at the house of guy named Rowland, who welcomed me in on short notice. (Thanks a bunch, man!) And I battled on Monday, sitting in the Monument library, frustrated and confused. I asked my father for advice, and I asked my friend Ryan Likes to pray about it. I went to Peyton, CO, to see another old friend - Daniel Bava, and his wife Jess and son Adrian. (Thanks, guys!) Still battling, I went to the Springs, and after talking to my dad, Likes, and reading/praying/trying to listen to God for a while, I was impressed with a simple question: "Do you trust me?" Was God testing my obedience? Unsure, I decided that God wanted me to go back. (Again, kind of a shot in the dark). So, after staying the night with Randy and Amy Newton (Again, big thanks!), I headed back. And for what reason, I had little idea.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Riding away....

Friday and Saturday were great days to reengage with old friends. I stayed with Ryan Likes, friend from JBU, and we had dinner with the Starr family - Desi and Rose and kids. What struck me about them and their home was the presence of life and vivacity among them. It was so overwhelming (in a great way) and full of love. So great to see the dynamic of their family!
I later had some great chats with Ryan, his housemates, and other friends, talking a lot about life experiences, deep conversations full of the richness and gravity of life, and all that is encompassed by real living. A very refreshing several days in Denver, and I biked away on Sunday, after biking for a ways with Chris (compadre at the Cheesecake factory), and I wondered what I was supposed to take away from that. "God, what was that, the whole experience in Denver, all about?" I don't think it was an accident, but I don't have an answer, either. Vamos a ver.....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hobo in the City

So, I have spent some great time in Denver, meeting new people and renewing old friendships. Such a great time, without a doubt. I rolled in from Fort Collins (after a long day of wicked hills! I wish I'd taken some pictures of them. And I'm still not used to the lack of oxygen here either) and met a guy named Chris at a house party/ music gig for a band called Churchill. Great guy, and great group of people! They're all connected with Providence Church in Denver, and it was great to get connected with this group of people. At first, I felt really out of place, being a sweaty, smelly, unshaven guy who looked strikingly like I had been living out of a cardboard box for the past couple months, in the midst of a really classy group of people in this uptown area, but they welcomed me in without a thought. I ended up chatting with a couple, Jerome and Martha, for a couple hours about our life stories (needless to say mine was shorter). Later, I ended up staying with another couple - Joel and Lauren - who generously opened their home up to this cycling hobo. I'm sooooooo grateful to have met all these people who opened up their homes and their hearts to me without reservation. It's been the biggest blessing, and definitely a recurring blessing throughout this trip - God connecting me with open-hearted, generous people who have given of themselves in so many ways. So cool!
Just wanted to include this image - on Thursday night, Chris and I went to the Cheesecake Factory downtown as they were closing, and gorged ourselves on the leftover delectables from other tables in the restaurant while we talked about things - life and love and why. I must add that the whole act of scavenging at a restaurant is only a social crime if you aren't a hobo on a bike. Or extremely hungry. Or both. Hmm.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I'm in Fort Collins today, staying with Drew Thomason, another friend from JBU. having my bike worked on today. Fortunately, it's just routine stuff. All of the funny noises that I have heard from my bike,such as random squeaks, pops, and creaks, apparently are not serious. My bike is kind of like an old man with all of the random noises it has, creaky joints and all. But, he'll be alright. We'll get back home okay. Which, by the way, today is right about halfway. 1500 miles done, 1500 more to go, and exactly halfway in my 10 week schedule. We'll see what comes in the second half. I'm headed back to Denver tomorrow, and then heading south from there on Sunday. Again, it's nice to have a few days to sit around on seats that are more than three inches wide. Yeah for couches!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A lil' R&R

Right now I'm just chilling in Denver, CO, staying with Christi Newton, a friend from JBU. I got here on Friday, and I'm so glad to have a little rest for a few days, after riding hard to get here. Drew Thomason came down from Fort Collins, and we hung downtown yesterday. And today I'm just chilling, planning out where I'm going from here. I'm thinking about heading towards Albuquerque, and then heading across Texas from there, but we'll see, like always. Tomorrow, I'm going to Fort Collins for a couple days, and then head back south.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Rockies, at last

After the previous night, I slept in, and carefully some pancake mash for breakfast. I still don't know what was up with my stomach, but it never resurfaced in full force. Just kinda reminded me every now and then that it was there. I headed towards the Rockies, hoping I would see them, but to no avail. The desert started to get more hilly, and I started to see some pine trees on the way. So, I can't complain, by any means. There's something in the remoteness that is serenely breathtaking. I couldn't see the Rockies, that day, but I could FEEL them getting closer.
After stopping numerous times that day to catch my breath and wonder where all the oxygen went, I rolled in Elizabeth, and the guys at the local fire station directed me to a really nice parked where I hid out for the night. It was a great, quiet place to camp, secluded from the highway, with a well-maintained soccer field to sleep on. Until the sprinklers went off in the middle of the night. I woke up when I heard a loud crashing come down on the top of my tent. Oh, man, you'd think I'd learn. Oh well.
I left Elizabeth in the morning, and after about 8 miles of climbing hills, I finally caught my first full view of the Rockies. Incredibly captivating. I came to the top of a hill, and through a break in the pine trees, I could see row after row of mountains, and spots of clouds hanging out above them. Mmmmmmm. Nothing like it. I went on into Parker, CO for errands, and headed into Denver for the weekend. I'm so glad to have a chance to relax, and hopefully get used to breathing without any air.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where did the oxygen go?

Greg and I parted ways in the morning, and I had a long day ahead of me, since I spent the night in Eads. I was dead set to get to Limon, which I realized later was over 1000 ft higher than Eads. And 80+ miles away. Yeah, that was interesting.
At Kit Carson, CO, I ran into a guy named David who was biking across the US, and this guy was intense! He was from Malaysia, 59 years old with a wife and 8 children (all grown) back in Asia! Crazy! He had retired from his job several years ago, and has taken something like 4 bike tours since then, all over Asia and Europe, and now the USA. Super cool guy. Check out his website:
I pedaled on through Hugo, some crazy road construction, miles without anything, and finally made it to Limon. I got there after sundown, and I couldn't find a place to stay. No one in town suggested staying at the park, as the police would certainly accost me. I went to several stores and gas stations, and no one had any suggestions, except the KOA in town. I called them, and they charged 30 bucks for a tent camper. I mean, c'mon. Thirty bucks? And all I use is the bathroom. So I sat outside the gas station for several hours, trying to figure something out. 9 PM rolled around, and I had nothing, and I was starting to get really worried, not really sure where the heck I was going to stay. Too late to go knocking on peoples doors, to see if they would let me stay there, and the police and fire stations where shut down for the night, and I was running out of options pretty quick. Thankfully, though, a police officer pulled up after a while, and he was totally sympathetic to a travelling cyclist. He calls up a coworker, and finds out that there's a fishing pond a couple blocks away to stay at where I wouldn't be bothered. Huge relief! And only a few blocks away, as opposed to biking for another 5 miles! Thanks God!
After I set up camp, and right as I finished eating dinner, right when I though things were going pretty well, something attacked my stomach. Horrible feeling! I'm thinking that it was altitude sickness, or maybe that I didn't cook my corned beef hash well enough, or something. But until I passed out in my tent at around midnight that night, I was rolling around on the ground, half-conscious, wondering what was going on. Thankfully, I slept it off, but I still don't know what it was. Worst night of the trip, hands down.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Like minds

I left in the morning from Lamar. It was a frustrating morning, as nothing was going as smoothly as I wanted. It's kinda funny, I'm finding myself fighting frustration a lot. Probably something I should work on, being okay with life not working out seamlessly. Chill out a litte more. Yeah....
I started going through the desert of Colorado. So, for the record, many people say that western Kansas is rather desolate. Okay, it doesn't hold a candle to eastern Colorado. There's acutally crops, grain elevators, town, cows, something on the road in Kansas. At least I was never worried about water in Kansas. In Colorado, there might be nothing for 50 miles. And by nothing, I mean no towns, no gas stations, no crops, no cows, just 18-wheelers flying by at 70 mph. And you can't even see the Rockies!
Anyway, I made it to Eads in the afternoon (slower than hoped), but I met a guy named Greg who had been cycling around the country, coming from North Carolina. Real cool guy, and we just started chatting at the gas station in Eads, and decided to hang out in town for the night. It was cool that we were both at a similar place in life, looking for purpose and direction for the next phase in life. We definitely had different spiritual foundations for taking our respective trips, but I think it was great that he was looking for spiritual meaning in life, and we both acknowledged the existence of greater purpose than just the material. Blessings on your trip, Greg, and I hope you find that Bible valuable!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Something to live for

Rode a good long way today, from Lakin, KS to Lamar, CO, a solid 80 miles. I was really blessed to stay at the Methodist church in Lakin. I want to say a big thanks to Michelle at the church for her generosity , who allowed me to do that.
I stopped in Syracuse at around 11 to grab something to eat, and I ran in to a couple from the area who chatted for a while. Great people! I talked with them about some of the thing they were going through, trying to make ends meet. He had his foot injured in accident some years ago, which disables him from engaging in almost any job available to him, and yet he cannot get any assistance from the government due to some legal loophole. And she tries to bring in enough money to pay the bills. And they live day to day, month to month, check to check. And yet they have hope. They have joy. Frustrations, sure. But that doesn't seem to penetrate any deeper than the surface, and that blows me away. Even just their attitudes in how they talked was a testimony to me.
Later that night, I talked with a man who was middle aged, and had a chronic medical problem with blood clots. And that day, a young girl he knew had just died from the same condition. Scared him to the core, and he apparently had narrowly dodged death several times already. Talking with him, he seemed very unsure and scared of the future, of his job, his family, death. And he didn't seem to have a lot of hope, something to live for. I can't even imagine that. It was saddening, to say the least. I pray that he finds The Truth, and that The Truth gets a hold of him.
And that's what makes this difference, in any and every circumstance. Hope in something more, something more real and true than this broken world. That's something to live for. That's the only thing to live for.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Last Stretch of Kansas

After Dodge, I headed west, going through Garden City to Lakin. Definitely a more uplifting day, with a slight tailwind in the afternoon, letting me cruise into Lakin. In Garden, I went to a tortilleria, and got some amazing, fresh, corn tortillas. Ah! Nothing like it. I went back later because I accidentally ate my first pound of tortillas in one sitting.
But, even cooler than that, I met a Honduran woman at the tortilleria who works at one of the meat packing plants in  Garden City. I had read some about the horrendous conditions and strenuous demands on the laborers in those plants, actually right before I left for this trip. But, talking with her, I got to hear her perspective, optimistic and encouraging about working at a meat packing plant. She was happy to have the opportunity and felt great about how she was treated, as opposed to the horrible news that you hear on muck-racking exposes. It was refreshing to talk to her, that certain sides of our society are functioning well, and she was so encouraging to me going on this trek.
After Garden, I made it to Lakin, and camped in the park for the night. The next day, I went fishing south of town, trying to catch my dinner, with a ghetto fishing pole, made out of a wooden stick I found on the side of the road. No dice this time. But, it was  good day to rest and pray. Getting ready for a long week, uphill, to get to Denver. Woo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Get the heck into Dodge....

The next day, I made it to Dodge. Man, that sounds awesome just saying that. I'll say it again.  I made it into Dodge the next day, which was a very frustrating day, until the end. I woke up that morning with high expectations of making at least 70 miles, hoping to get to Colorado before the snow came in. But, I woke up that morning in Kinsley and wasted half an hour looking for my spices (which are super important when you're living off bread and canned goods). Then, I realized that my bread and tortillas, which I had been saving for breakfast, were gone. And seeing how I didn't see any torn up bags or messy signs of an animal, I decided that someone had taken them. Aka, someone had robbed me, while I was sleeping. Creepy, frustrating, demoralizing, yes. My valuables hadn't been taken, but even so, it was kinda disconcerting that someone had been walking around my campground, and frustrating at the same time. I suppose that I hope whoever took them really was hungry, and needed them. Who knows?
After that, I fought a headwind and some light drizzles to get to Dodge way behind schedule. Then, getting groceries took forever (so, Dodge has some tough hills. Go figure). So, by the time 6 PM rolled around, I was still in Dodge, trying find internet access.
But, thanks to God, I met a man name Ken Campbell at the library who let me spend the night at his house, which was a great encouragement to end the day on. I had dinner with him, his wife Elsie, and their renter, John. We had a great, relaxing evening, chatting with some quality people, and I got to sleep under a roof! Sweet end to a frustrating day. Thanks a bunch to the Campbells!