Thunderstorms and “Hitting a Wall”

We encountered several thunderstorms in the past week. But each time we were able to find cover and protection. It’s all part of our adventure and the way God is orchestrating our protection, His provision and answers to all of your and our prayers. 

 To escape a storm, we took cover in this drainage tunnel, which runs under the road.

To escape a storm, we took cover in this drainage tunnel, which runs under the road.

 And this was our view of our bikes (which were under the tarp) from the drainage tunnel we were hunkering down in. 

And this was our view of our bikes (which were under the tarp) from the drainage tunnel we were hunkering down in. 

 Whew! We made it to this cattle barn when a second storm system blew in. 

Whew! We made it to this cattle barn when a second storm system blew in. 

 At a little restaurant in Sebree, KY, we struck up a conversation with a sweet couple, and the woman treated the boys to ice cream! More kindness! 

At a little restaurant in Sebree, KY, we struck up a conversation with a sweet couple, and the woman treated the boys to ice cream! More kindness! 

We made it to Clay, KY, Sunday (the 10th), unsure of where we would be spending the night. We arrived at a ballpark, thinking we could find someone to ask about pitching our tent. And what do you know... Jerry saw a woman cutting the grass and she happened to be the commissioner of parks. She not only said that we were welcome to camp anywhere there, but she offered us the use of the concessions grill, plus as many hamburgers, hot dogs, and such as we would like for dinner. Wow! Later, her aunt and uncle showed up and offered their church (just a block around the corner) as an alternative place for us to stay. Yes, please! That meant air conditioning, showers, no bugs to swat, and freedom from having to pitch our tents and re-pack them in the morning. What a series of blessings!!

 Here is Clay City Park. As a minimal way to show our appreciation, we helped pick up litter all around the park to help them get ready for the baseball and softball games happening the next day.  

Here is Clay City Park. As a minimal way to show our appreciation, we helped pick up litter all around the park to help them get ready for the baseball and softball games happening the next day.  

 This is Jamie (commissioner of the park) and her husband, Corey. They were such a blessing to us! We thank God for putting them in our path!

This is Jamie (commissioner of the park) and her husband, Corey. They were such a blessing to us! We thank God for putting them in our path!

 And here is the church fellowship hall (at Webb Memorial United Methodist Church) in Clay, KY, where we stayed. 

And here is the church fellowship hall (at Webb Memorial United Methodist Church) in Clay, KY, where we stayed. 

The next day we made it to the Ohio River, which is the line dividing Kentucky from Illinois. So, we boarded the small ferry that took us across the Ohio River, saying goodbye to Kentucky and hello to Illinois, landing us in the town of Cave-in-Rock, IL.

 Here we are waiting for the ferry that would take us across the Ohio River.  

Here we are waiting for the ferry that would take us across the Ohio River.  

We stayed in the campground at Cave-in-Rock. Although the campground was beautiful, we had a rough night. We had trouble finding flat spots for our tents where the camp host asked us to stay; the heat and humidity in our tents were unbearable-very difficult to fall asleep; and there was a storm that night (very thankful that our new tents remained water tight!). So, we did not get a good night’s sleep, but nevertheless, we packed up the next day and started biking to our next destination. And that is when we all seemed to “hit a wall” in our energy level, motivation, and enjoyment of our biking that day. Our morale was down. Then came another storm. And this one was fierce and lasted about 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully, before it began to pour down and the lightning and thunder were upon us, we spotted a farm with a huge shed. We knocked on the owners’ front door to ask for permission to weather the storm in their shed. They gave us their blessing. So there we were- waiting with our bikes and gear. We snacked a little, then boredom set in. I like when the boys get bored because on the other side of boredom is creativity. They began playing in the dirt- literally. A couple of hours into waiting for the storm to dissipate, the woman (whose property we were on) came out and brought us a bag of snacks: cheese doodles, crackers, cheese, candy...) More kindness!! She expected nothing in return. She had also been praying for our safety as we were out weathering the storm. 

 Here are the boys making forts in the dirt. They came up with their own game, which involved destroying each other’s forts in a systematic way, and then we had to vote on whose fort was most destroyed based on its original condition. The things that amuse boys!!

Here are the boys making forts in the dirt. They came up with their own game, which involved destroying each other’s forts in a systematic way, and then we had to vote on whose fort was most destroyed based on its original condition. The things that amuse boys!!

 Wow! Look at all the snacks our host brought us during the storm! 

Wow! Look at all the snacks our host brought us during the storm! 

The long wait during the storm allowed us to figure out an alternative plan for the rest of the day- in light of the “wall” we had hit. Jerry found a cottage only 3 miles away that had the perfect accommodations for us- including AC, beds, full kitchen, and laundry! After the storm had finally passed, and we were full of junk food 😉, we were ready to head there. The mood was positive and energetic. The cottage was the perfect respite. The following day (yesterday) we got onto our bikes and had a difficult, but successful, day of biking some pretty tough hills in the heat and humidity. We were so glad to reach Goreville United Methodist Church, where we stayed last night (again, AC and comfort!). Dawn and Jeannie have been so accommodating to us, as they have gone out of their way to make our stay here comfortable. 

 This is Jeannie and Dawn, who are instrumental in the church’s ministry to the through-cyclists. We’ve been so blessed by them in many ways!

This is Jeannie and Dawn, who are instrumental in the church’s ministry to the through-cyclists. We’ve been so blessed by them in many ways!

One change that we made this week was to switch around the bikes that we are pedaling. Originally, Jerry, Douglas, and Avery had been on the triple, and LisaPage and Russell were on the double. However, we’ve been searching for ways to make our efforts and pedaling most efficient. So, with much reluctance, I (LisaPage) agreed to try captaining the triple. I had been a bit fearful of doing so because the last time I tried it, the bike was difficult to control (that was before we had gotten new, wider handlebars). But it was actually fine. After getting used to the slight difference in gearing, I’ve become accustomed to it. And it seems to be working out well- our current set up: LisaPage, Russell, Douglas on the triple, and Jerry, Avery, and the trailer on the double.

Tomorrow is the day that we head to St. Louis to spend multiple days enjoying the sights and activities there and to meet up with my (LisaPage’s) mother. We plan to rent a truck for this excursion. We had planned to bike to Carbondale, IL, today, but we won’t be doing that because we have come to realize that Avery is showing symptoms of a minor concussion that he likely got almost a week ago from slipping up and hitting his head on a hard floor. (We’ve spoken with several medical folks and are allowing Avery to rest and recover.) please pray for his full recovery and that this will not hinder us from enjoying the activities we have planned for our time in St. Louis. 

 This cat was there to greet us at the front of the host church in Goreville. Lots of smiles it generated!

This cat was there to greet us at the front of the host church in Goreville. Lots of smiles it generated!

Another noteworthy item is that Bill Lohmann wrote a follow-up article about us in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this past Monday- highlighting our first month-and-a-half of our bike adventure. If you missed it, here’s the link to the article: http://www.richmond.com/life/bill-lohmann/lohmann-first-month-of-cross-country-bicycle-trip-tests-mettle/article_c1817ad2-87b3-5a94-a3e0-29bb56688f82.html

 

Caves and Kindness

We apologize for taking this long to update our blog! It seems difficult to carve out the time some evenings to do so. We spend so much time and energy simply with the business of living: settling into camp, getting groceries, making dinner, cleaning up, getting to bed after an exhausting day of riding, waking up, having breakfast, cleaning up, packing up the camping and other things onto our bikes, then getting on the road to ride to our next destination, etc.

But not all days have included riding lately. In fact, we took a few rest days at the beginning of the week to allow a muscle in Jerry’s leg to heal. We were afraid it was on its way to an overuse injury. During that time we stayed in a campground in Danville, KY, for 2 nights (Pioneer Playhouse and campground).  This particular venue is about to begin its summer season of plays that they perform in the on-site amphitheater. The actors stay in housing at the campground. Unfortunately, our timing was off, as we were not going to be there anymore once they begin the shows this coming weekend.

 More TransAmerica cycling buddies in Danville, KY (Eileeny, Scott, Becky, and Kyle), all of whom are on their venture separately. These 4 coincided for several days and nights so were able to pal around, get to know each other, and ride together for a little while. 

More TransAmerica cycling buddies in Danville, KY (Eileeny, Scott, Becky, and Kyle), all of whom are on their venture separately. These 4 coincided for several days and nights so were able to pal around, get to know each other, and ride together for a little while. 

In order to be sensitive to Jerry’s leg muscle and in order to stay on target with some of our trip goals, we then decided to rent a pick-up truck from Danville, KY, and drive to Mammoth Cave (with all of our things). This was a great decision. Although we missed a few miles in there, we were able to meet up with a Tennessee friend at Mammoth Cave, experience 2 very interesting, fun, and different tours of the Cave, and then drive up to Sonora, KY, where the bike route would resume.

 One of our milestones and anticipatory places: Mammoth Cave!

One of our milestones and anticipatory places: Mammoth Cave!

 Here we are entering the cave. We were amazed at how cold it was down there (between 53 and 55 degrees). On one of our tours we went 300 feet underground and shimmied through “fat man’s misery,” as well as some very massive open spaces, all surrounded by colossal pieces of limestone. 

Here we are entering the cave. We were amazed at how cold it was down there (between 53 and 55 degrees). On one of our tours we went 300 feet underground and shimmied through “fat man’s misery,” as well as some very massive open spaces, all surrounded by colossal pieces of limestone. 

 Here is one of the many “rooms” that we passed through during our first tour in Mammoth Cave. This one was a historic tour where we learned about the saltpeter mining that helped provide raw materials for gun powder during the War of 1812, as well as the discovery of miles and miles of this massive cave system (over 390 miles!). 

Here is one of the many “rooms” that we passed through during our first tour in Mammoth Cave. This one was a historic tour where we learned about the saltpeter mining that helped provide raw materials for gun powder during the War of 1812, as well as the discovery of miles and miles of this massive cave system (over 390 miles!). 

 Our sweet friend Mona made the 1 1/2 to 2-hour drive from Tennessee to experience Mammoth Cave with us and she brought an amazing dinner to share with us at the campsite that evening. What a blessing! We missed that her husband John was unable to join us!

Our sweet friend Mona made the 1 1/2 to 2-hour drive from Tennessee to experience Mammoth Cave with us and she brought an amazing dinner to share with us at the campsite that evening. What a blessing! We missed that her husband John was unable to join us!

 Here is a view of the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that we saw at the end of our Domes and Dripstones tour at Mammoth Cave. The only lights in the cave were the occasional orange low lights that lit our way. No flash photography. So amazing the long process that it has taken for these rock formations to “grow.” It was also very cool when our tour guide turned off all the lights in the cave. We could see absolutely nothing! How often do we experience zero light like that?

Here is a view of the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that we saw at the end of our Domes and Dripstones tour at Mammoth Cave. The only lights in the cave were the occasional orange low lights that lit our way. No flash photography. So amazing the long process that it has taken for these rock formations to “grow.” It was also very cool when our tour guide turned off all the lights in the cave. We could see absolutely nothing! How often do we experience zero light like that?

We stayed at a guest house (which sort of had a bed & breakfast feel with a more personal touch) in Sonora and enjoyed getting to know the owners a bit while we sipped on wine and while the boys played in their lake: kayaking, paddle boating, and swimming. (I know! Rough life!). 

 Our sweet and gracious hosts (Rose and Charlie) at the guest house in Sonora. They specifically open their home to the cross-country cyclists, in addition to hosting weddings and other events on their beautiful property. 

Our sweet and gracious hosts (Rose and Charlie) at the guest house in Sonora. They specifically open their home to the cross-country cyclists, in addition to hosting weddings and other events on their beautiful property. 

 Our view (from the back porch) of the boys playing in the lake at Thurman Landing.  

Our view (from the back porch) of the boys playing in the lake at Thurman Landing.  

 Thurman Landing, Charlie and Rose’s guest house in Sonora, KY

Thurman Landing, Charlie and Rose’s guest house in Sonora, KY

We resumed our biking the following day, and have now had 2 very hot, hilly, and challenging days (48 miles Thursday, and 43 Friday). Thankfully, Jerry’s leg now seems fine and injury free. We have also switched the boys around a bit on the bikes in an attempt to even out the work load among all of us. Because of Avery’s size, he isn’t able to contribute as much power to the pedaling as the rest of us. And we think that has contributed to the stress on Jerry’s body. So now, we are trying Russell and Douglas on the triple together with Jerry, and Avery and I together on the double. So far, it has worked out better, although the rolling hills of Kentucky are about to do us in!! We were happy to leave the Appalachian Mountains behind us, but what we have biked through recently has been very difficult, too. After our 48-mile day to the Rough River State Park, we were so thrilled that we could camp near a building that had showers and beautiful, soft grass for pitching our tent!

 Mmm! We were so excited about the all-you-can-eat catfish special at the Rough River State Park lodge, where we ate dinner with our cycling buddy, Robbie. We are so glad that our paths have crossed with him so many times! 

Mmm! We were so excited about the all-you-can-eat catfish special at the Rough River State Park lodge, where we ate dinner with our cycling buddy, Robbie. We are so glad that our paths have crossed with him so many times! 

As we have pedaled through the countryside in Kentucky, we have gone through enormous amounts of water and Gatorade. To fill up on these necessities, we typically stop into convenience stores and small groceries. Friday we stopped into a small country store and after selecting our goodies (including ice cream for the boys), the store owner filled up our water bottles with ICE water and gave us the remaining 3 pizza slices from lunch. But he didn’t stop there! As we were sitting enjoying the pizza and drinks, he came over with a big plate of cold cut meats, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, bread and let us make some sandwiches. We finished everything on that plate!! What kindness! That large snack fueled the final push of our journey to Utica, KY, where we stayed inside of a firehouse: air conditioning, shower, laundry, use of the kitchen- and all with 2 of our new cycling buddies (Robbie, with whom we have spent several days/evenings, and Becky, whom we first met in Danville) who both happened to be staying there, as well. 

We have decided to stay put today at the Utica Firehouse because Avery is feeling a little under the weather. Again, a great place to be forced to pause- since we are in air conditioning and have access to so many facilities. Our next goal is to make it to Missouri in about a week. At that point, we plan to drive up to St. Louis and spend time with my (LisaPage’s) mother who plans to meet us there. 

Contrasts of Land and Life

 This is Kerry, whom we met in Hindman at the cyclist hostel (a local church). She is cycling as part of Warrior Expeditions, which is for veterans re-entering society after being deployed in war. She had heard about us (“the family cycling across the country”) and was determined to catch up and finally meet us. From now on, she’ll be way ahead of us!

This is Kerry, whom we met in Hindman at the cyclist hostel (a local church). She is cycling as part of Warrior Expeditions, which is for veterans re-entering society after being deployed in war. She had heard about us (“the family cycling across the country”) and was determined to catch up and finally meet us. From now on, she’ll be way ahead of us!

 This ballpark in Combs/Hazzard, KY,  not only had a great playground, but free miniature golf the boys played while we cooked our dinner under a nearby pavilion and contemplated where we would stay that night (no official places around). Jerry and I prayed we would find someone to ask. And while Jerry walked to the bathroom, he came across the patrolling sheriff and asked if we could camp there that night. Affirmative! The sheriff was very helpful, welcoming, and supportive of our family having what we needed that night. So thankful!

This ballpark in Combs/Hazzard, KY,  not only had a great playground, but free miniature golf the boys played while we cooked our dinner under a nearby pavilion and contemplated where we would stay that night (no official places around). Jerry and I prayed we would find someone to ask. And while Jerry walked to the bathroom, he came across the patrolling sheriff and asked if we could camp there that night. Affirmative! The sheriff was very helpful, welcoming, and supportive of our family having what we needed that night. So thankful!

 Here is the free mini-golf next to the playground. 

Here is the free mini-golf next to the playground. 

 Here we are under our tarp (Jerry’s make-shift shelter) when a sudden storm blew in while we were on our way from Combs to Buckhorn. What better a time to have our lunch- during a forced stop. 

Here we are under our tarp (Jerry’s make-shift shelter) when a sudden storm blew in while we were on our way from Combs to Buckhorn. What better a time to have our lunch- during a forced stop. 

 Here are two recent college grads (Kyle and Mark) who are biking cross-country while raising money for Compassion International. We met them in Buckhorn. They were so excited to meet us because according to them, we are of legend status. They had heard and read about “the family going cross country.” It was refreshing to experience their enthusiasm and go-with-the-flow personalities. While talking with them, the pastor at the church across the street asked if they needed a place to stay (which they did- we already had plans of staying at the nearby campground). So great seeing another example of kind hospitality!

Here are two recent college grads (Kyle and Mark) who are biking cross-country while raising money for Compassion International. We met them in Buckhorn. They were so excited to meet us because according to them, we are of legend status. They had heard and read about “the family going cross country.” It was refreshing to experience their enthusiasm and go-with-the-flow personalities. While talking with them, the pastor at the church across the street asked if they needed a place to stay (which they did- we already had plans of staying at the nearby campground). So great seeing another example of kind hospitality!

 Here is another mid-day forced stop on account of thunderstorms (on our way to Booneville). So we took shelter under a stairwell at an apartment complex. Another great opportunity to have our lunch: tuna wraps and peanut butter. Bunny ears on Mom. 

Here is another mid-day forced stop on account of thunderstorms (on our way to Booneville). So we took shelter under a stairwell at an apartment complex. Another great opportunity to have our lunch: tuna wraps and peanut butter. Bunny ears on Mom. 

 So what do boys do on a rainy day when we’ve arrived at our host shelter (pavilion behind Booneville Presbyterian Church) waiting for dinner time? Well, Avery and Douglas decided to make a restaurant that serves grass, clover, and wood shavings from the sticks that Douglas spent about 2 hours whittling. The currency at this restaurant was wheat stalks and leaves they had collected from the area. The decorations were whittled sticks. 😊

So what do boys do on a rainy day when we’ve arrived at our host shelter (pavilion behind Booneville Presbyterian Church) waiting for dinner time? Well, Avery and Douglas decided to make a restaurant that serves grass, clover, and wood shavings from the sticks that Douglas spent about 2 hours whittling. The currency at this restaurant was wheat stalks and leaves they had collected from the area. The decorations were whittled sticks. 😊

As we reflect on our many experiences thus far, it is clear that it has been a mixture of so many contrasts.  Here are some examples...

  • Patient drivers who wait to pass us until a safe opportunity comes vs. beefed up pick-up trucks (with loud, ground-shaking mufflers) that wait to pass, but do so in a way that shows frustration and power
  • smells of sweet honeysuckle vs. roadkill (lots of dead black snakes, box turtles, snapping turtles, and various small mammals)
  • incredibly difficult hills to climb (many requiring us to walk the bikes up) vs. some nice, welcome, flat terrain after the Appalachians
  • the sweet dogs that let the boys pet them at the ice cream place yesterday vs. the countless dogs that run out to the street barking at us (this is a phenomenon apparently unique to Kentucky and well-known to the TransAmerica cyclists- some even carry mace for this very reason)
  • the varied reasons people choose to cycle across America: Warrior Expeditions (one of the ways our veterans choose to re-enter society after being away at war- we’ve met two women doing this), personal goal, a way to see and experience America and its culture, to raise money for a charity (we’ve met two guys cycling for Compassion International, others I don’t recall now, ECHO- the charity we’re riding for, etc.), quality time, adventure, and challenge as a family...
  • beautiful farmland- horses grazing, roosters cockadoodling, healthy, lush gardens growing vs. neglected homes- in what used to be coal mining towns of Kentucky, rural areas with only convenience stores for food choices and seemingly quite homogeneous populations vs. suburbs with parks, full-service restaurants and hotels
 This is Jay from New Zealand (and recently London), whom we met at the cyclist camping spot (pavilion behind a local church). We enjoyed hearing about his stint playing bass guitar in a rock band in London, the challenges of finding food- as a vegan- on his cross country bike tour, and his engagement to his fiancé. 

This is Jay from New Zealand (and recently London), whom we met at the cyclist camping spot (pavilion behind a local church). We enjoyed hearing about his stint playing bass guitar in a rock band in London, the challenges of finding food- as a vegan- on his cross country bike tour, and his engagement to his fiancé. 

 A friendly dog at an ice cream shop (quite a contrast to the barking dogs who rush at us in the streets of Kentucky). 

A friendly dog at an ice cream shop (quite a contrast to the barking dogs who rush at us in the streets of Kentucky). 

 Pushing our heavy bikes up a steep hill. Not sure which is harder: trying to pedal up the steep climbs, or pushing our bikes up them??

Pushing our heavy bikes up a steep hill. Not sure which is harder: trying to pedal up the steep climbs, or pushing our bikes up them??

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Saying bye-bye to the Appalachian Mountains with this 6% grade, 2-mile downhill. These downhills have been roller-coaster-fun, but we’ve certainly had to work up some steep climbs for the thrill of the downhill.  

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On our rest day in Berea, KY, we visited this fun pool- open to the public.  

Realizations and Mileage Record!

If you were able to read our last blog post, you saw that we were faced with a tough decision about whether or not to cut off a significant number of miles in the western section of Virginia. Well, despite our struggle with wanting to complete all parts of the set route, we went ahead and decided to eliminate a rigorously hilly 235 miles (approximately) from Botetourt County to Breaks Interstate Park. Jerry’s parents picked us up with our bikes and all our gear to give us a 3-day rest in the comfort of their home. During that time, we were lavished with loving care by them, delicious food, soft beds and showers, and a time to again reevaluate our things. We’re happy to report that we were able to leave behind 25 pounds of things!! That may be hard to believe, but when you add together some books, a bag of salt (which Jerry refers to as a bag of rocks), and lots of other miscellaneous items, they add up. In addition, we ordered new tents to replace the leaky one we were using. Also, it was nice to be able to celebrate my (LisaPage’s) birthday together with them- we had a nice dinner at the nearby Chateau Morrisett.

 Jerry’s wonderful, loving parents- just before we said goodbye at Breaks Interstate Park, where they dropped us off after our 3-day rest/re-evaluation period with them. 

Jerry’s wonderful, loving parents- just before we said goodbye at Breaks Interstate Park, where they dropped us off after our 3-day rest/re-evaluation period with them. 

 This is what it looks like to be “picked up” somewhere. These are our bikes in the back of Jerry’s Dad’s pick-up truck.  

This is what it looks like to be “picked up” somewhere. These are our bikes in the back of Jerry’s Dad’s pick-up truck.  

 And these are our things in the back of Jerry’s parents’ minivan.  

And these are our things in the back of Jerry’s parents’ minivan.  

We are so thankful for Jerry’s parents’ sacrificial love for us. They drove us over 3 1/2 hours to Breaks Interstate Park, where we stayed Saturday night. On Sunday morning we resumed our riding. And here is another example of a way God provided for a need. Just after leaving Breaks Interstate Park, we were “limping” in a low gear because there was a problem with Jerry’s gear cable having been pinched by his kick stand. We didn’t anticipate the need for a heavy wrench that would only be needed for the kickstand bolt. So, we thought we might find one at the hardware store in the next town. (Later, we discovered that the hardware store was closed because it was Sunday.) Enter: Brandon, who Jerry spotted working on his vehicle in his shop, only a mile after we discovered our problem. He had the wrench we needed!! Yay! No more “limping” to the next town. Problem solved!

 Here is Brandon, who had the wrench we needed at just the right time. We couldn’t have planned this any better! 

Here is Brandon, who had the wrench we needed at just the right time. We couldn’t have planned this any better! 

We got back on our bikes and rode about 20 miles to Lookout, KY, landing at a “bike hostel” run by a local church. There were showers, beds, food, and a kitchen to use. Plus, we reconnected with our new TransAmerica cycling friend, Robbie, whom we’ve really enjoyed getting to know. In fact, he was our partial inspiration for what we biked the next day- Monday. We were able to set our family mileage record: 50 miles yesterday!! And it was one of our longest and toughest days- several very steep climbs that required us to push our heavy bikes up the steep hills. It was a huge sense of accomplishment to make it to Hindman, KY. We didn’t know if we would be able to do it, and we had tentative, alternate plans if we didn’t end up making it there (asking to camp in someone’s yard). 

 One of the amazing views at Breaks Interstate Park, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”  because of the huge canyon and river that runs through it. Of course, this picture does not do justice to the actual view and experience of being there!

One of the amazing views at Breaks Interstate Park, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”  because of the huge canyon and river that runs through it. Of course, this picture does not do justice to the actual view and experience of being there!

 This is our newest TransAmerica cycling friend, Robbie, who is completing a section of the route from western Virginia to the Mississippi River (which he wasn’t able to complete a different year). We have encountered him several times and have enjoyed getting to know him. We will not likely see him too many more times, as his pace is greater than ours. 

This is our newest TransAmerica cycling friend, Robbie, who is completing a section of the route from western Virginia to the Mississippi River (which he wasn’t able to complete a different year). We have encountered him several times and have enjoyed getting to know him. We will not likely see him too many more times, as his pace is greater than ours. 

 Here we are at the Kentucky line! Yippee! 

Here we are at the Kentucky line! Yippee! 

 The “bike hostel” where we stayed Sunday evening in Lookout, KY, hosted by a gracious group of volunteers of a local church. 

The “bike hostel” where we stayed Sunday evening in Lookout, KY, hosted by a gracious group of volunteers of a local church. 

So now, for the unpleasant realization that we made a couple of days ago... it is not likely that we will make it to Oregon! With the time frame that we have given ourselves, we don’t see it as a realistic goal anymore that we would be able to get all the way to Astoria, Oregon, by the end of August. We were a bit naive in our expectations of the number of miles we could accomplish with kids in tow while pedaling a tandem and a triple bike. We’ve learned and have heard from others that Virginia is one of the toughest parts of the whole TransAmerica route. So, only time will tell if we would actually be able to ramp up our mileage enough to make up for the lower mileage we have had to bike in this first month. Nevertheless, we are continuing to enjoy our adventure and will keep in mind our purpose and renewed goals. There’s nothing like accomplishing big challenges together as a family! The boys manage to make lots of fun wherever we are and whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. They really rise to a challenge and have exceeded our expectations in many ways. 

 Can you spot it? It’s a diamond-back rattlesnake that Douglas caught a glimpse of as we were pushing bikes up a very steep climb. We kept our respectful distance. But it was cool to see one of these in the wild. It also served as a warning about venturing into the brush near the road.  

Can you spot it? It’s a diamond-back rattlesnake that Douglas caught a glimpse of as we were pushing bikes up a very steep climb. We kept our respectful distance. But it was cool to see one of these in the wild. It also served as a warning about venturing into the brush near the road.  

 Jerry caught a picture of Russell and me (LisaPage) trudging up one of the steep climbs (picture does not do justice to the severity of the slope!)

Jerry caught a picture of Russell and me (LisaPage) trudging up one of the steep climbs (picture does not do justice to the severity of the slope!)

 Well-deserved Dairy Queen “blizzards” as our reward for getting over that final steep mountain and making it 50 miles yesterday! 

Well-deserved Dairy Queen “blizzards” as our reward for getting over that final steep mountain and making it 50 miles yesterday! 

Resting and Re-evaluating

 Look at the flowers that Avery picked at a campground. We enjoyed them at our dinner table that evening. 

Look at the flowers that Avery picked at a campground. We enjoyed them at our dinner table that evening. 

Over the last two days or so of riding, we parents have both felt like the hills are more difficult than they should be. We realize that we never signed up for easy, but it has felt harder than it should be. So that has led us to the conclusions that: 1- we need to rest our legs and let our muscles build (I think we’ve been breaking down our muscles without letting them build.  For those biology people out there: too much catabolism, not enough analobism!); and 2- yet again, we need to re-evaluate our belongings and try to whittle down the weight even more. We are thankful that we had already planned to meet up with Jerry’s parents at about this time. So instead of just meeting them in a through town, they came and picked us up (with all our gear and bikes, too), and have brought us back to their “part-time home” in Meadows of Dan, VA, for a couple of days. What great timing! We do believe that God orchestrates our lives, whether big or small, and even those things we do not yet understand completely. It’s not only a comfort, but also we are sometimes able to see God’s hand (in hindsight if we notice).

While re-evaluating and reflecting, we have realized how much we both are not only competitive, but also like to “play by the rules,” if you will. These two qualities have come up in our decisions about doing various things that seem to us like “cheating,” such as allowing people to take our gear over a mountain so that we can concentrate on the hard-enough task of pedaling. And now we are faced with the decision of potentially cutting off some miles- for many reasons. We are considering such factors as the time lost from illness and rain, the lower physical endurance of children, and the time and miles we have before us. Then, we have reminded ourselves of our overall goal for our biking adventure. We are not doing this to earn any medal or prove anything to anyone. But rather, we have embarked on this endeavor to share an adventure together as a family, make memories, set and achieve challenging goals, enjoy nature that we often take for granted, meet and interact with interesting people, help raise awareness and funds for ECHO in their fight against worldwide hunger, build life skills together, trust God to protect and guide us, and much more. So, when we remind ourselves of this perspective, it becomes less important that we cover every single mile of the official route. We say this as a half apology to those of you who- like us- find fulfillment in “playing by the rules.” So, FYI, we are heavily leaning toward cutting off some miles this week. And the desire to be complete and cover every single mile is something that we may just need to let go of, in light of our overall purpose and “for the good of the team.”

 The boys having a blast playing in the river near our campsite. 

The boys having a blast playing in the river near our campsite. 

 While passing through Lexington, we got our ice cream fix with 50-cent Frosty’s at Wendy’s. Yum!

While passing through Lexington, we got our ice cream fix with 50-cent Frosty’s at Wendy’s. Yum!

 This is the pavilion in Buchanan (part of a fairground-type of park) where we weathered a storm while we cooked our dinner, then ended up camping, too. So thankful for the firemen who gave us their blessing to use it!

This is the pavilion in Buchanan (part of a fairground-type of park) where we weathered a storm while we cooked our dinner, then ended up camping, too. So thankful for the firemen who gave us their blessing to use it!

 We couldn’t believe this kind man, Chad, and his two sons. He noticed us weathering a storm in our tent (while he was working at the Botetourt County sports complex where we were camping). He left, and the storm passed, but he returned with Bojangles chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and sweet tea. We hadn’t even had a conversation with him at that point! He just thought we might not have a way to get dinner. Amazing!! Is it too cheesy to call him our “Boj-angel”? 

We couldn’t believe this kind man, Chad, and his two sons. He noticed us weathering a storm in our tent (while he was working at the Botetourt County sports complex where we were camping). He left, and the storm passed, but he returned with Bojangles chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and sweet tea. We hadn’t even had a conversation with him at that point! He just thought we might not have a way to get dinner. Amazing!! Is it too cheesy to call him our “Boj-angel”? 

 After weathering the crazy storm from our tent in the field of the sports complex, we saw another storm system coming our way, so we moved all of our things to this maintenance shed we found on the property. We felt much more secure here, and we enjoyed the Bojangles chicken under this shelter, too!

After weathering the crazy storm from our tent in the field of the sports complex, we saw another storm system coming our way, so we moved all of our things to this maintenance shed we found on the property. We felt much more secure here, and we enjoyed the Bojangles chicken under this shelter, too!

We aren’t exactly sure where we will re-start our journey after our two-day rest, but we hope we will resume with gear that is several pounds lighter after re-evaluating. Until then...

Green Monster Conquered!

After our rain-forced 3-day stop-over in a very nice campground: Misty Mountain Camp Resort (where we stayed in a primitive cabin- see previous post), we were finally able to bike again. Despite being waylaid, we enjoyed our time there: shelter from the heavy rain, being able to play pool and ping-pong, and jumping on the gigantic blow-up bounce pad. 

 The boys playing on the giant blob mat in between bouts of rain. It was like a big trampoline. The boys made all sorts of games on it, and we playfully joined them, too. 

The boys playing on the giant blob mat in between bouts of rain. It was like a big trampoline. The boys made all sorts of games on it, and we playfully joined them, too. 

 Douglas on dish duty while staying at the Misty Mountain Campground

Douglas on dish duty while staying at the Misty Mountain Campground

Another highlight of our “rain-out days” was meeting a lively couple who are cyclists local to the area (Crozet). They came across us while we were sitting out front of Wyant’s Store in White Hall, as they were going by on a training ride the day before all of the heavy rain began. We exchanged numbers and reconnected a day or so later and we all went out to dinner together. They had some great wisdom and insight not only about biking up Afton and the Blue Ridge Parkway, but also about going across the country. What a blessing to make their acquaintance and become friends! Marit and Mark, thank you!!

 Our new friends, Marit and Mark, whom we met in White Hall while they were out for a training ride. Later, they took us out to a local restaurant/brewery where we enjoyed some yummy pizza (and good beer, too). 

Our new friends, Marit and Mark, whom we met in White Hall while they were out for a training ride. Later, they took us out to a local restaurant/brewery where we enjoyed some yummy pizza (and good beer, too). 

But what lay ahead was a beast! We were dreading having to go over Afton Mountain, but the rest of the stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway was also a lofty challenge. Thankfully, my aunt Page and uncle Bill, who live only about a 20-30 minutes car ride from there, were ready and eager to be our trail angels. They took all of our gear (6 out of 8 of our panniers and our one trailer) in their car and took it over the mountain for us. That way, we could conquer “The Green Monster” (as Jerry likes to refer to that stretch) without our heavy gear. We were so thankful not to have our things, and I don’t know if we would have been able to accomplish it with such success if we had had to haul our things up, up, and up some more. If you look at the elevation map below, and you go from the far right (Yorktown- where we began May 1) and go to the left, you should have no problem figuring out what we are referring to as The Green Monster.

 Yes, The Green Monster is very obvious on this elevation map, hugh! 

Yes, The Green Monster is very obvious on this elevation map, hugh! 

 Here we are at the top of Afton Mountain in the mist: happy about our accomplishment and about the gourmet popcorn that we rewarded ourselves with! 

Here we are at the top of Afton Mountain in the mist: happy about our accomplishment and about the gourmet popcorn that we rewarded ourselves with! 

 LisaPage’s aunt Page and uncle Bill, who took our things over “The Green Monster” for us and met us at the campground to return our gear to us.  

LisaPage’s aunt Page and uncle Bill, who took our things over “The Green Monster” for us and met us at the campground to return our gear to us.  

You may be thinking that the steep trip down might be rather fun and exhilarating. Well, we were actually dreading the steep downhill, which we’ll just refer to as the Vesuvius hill. You cannot tell from the elevation map, but it’s not only a steep grade, but also very windy (that’s windy with a “long-I” sound) with short switchbacks and we were warned of occasional gravel on the turns. So we heeded all cautions, took it slowly, pumped our front and back disk brakes, and made it down- safe and sound. Whew! We were glad to have that behind us!

The next two days took us through Lexington and onward through the “valley”. But on a bike, that’s a relative term. Our legs were still not recovered from fighting the Green Monster, and the consistent rolling of the valley sapped their energy.  As we rolled toward Buchanan we were both plotting how we can lighten our gear yet again. 

Hitting the Hay... Literally!

 Where we slept last night (may be difficult to  see, but we set up a spot to sleep on the hay just beyond the white bike).

Where we slept last night (may be difficult to  see, but we set up a spot to sleep on the hay just beyond the white bike).

On account of the looming foecast for this week, we have had to alter some of our plans. Last night the owners of Wyant’s Store in White Hall (across the street from the community center behind which we were going to camp) offered their barn as an alternative to camping in a potential storm. So we took them up on that offer, and we literally “hit the hay.” Yes, we slept inside of the barn on a soft bed of hay. A highlight of this time was that the boys became quite acquainted and taken with the 3 goats and 3 donkeys (one of which was an adorable baby donkey who stayed close to mama) that we shared the farm yard with.

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The biggest challenge was that the animals were a little too interested in the space outside of the barn where we were trying to cook our dinner (which was right in the middle of the farm yard). So first, we had to do a little problem-solving and build a baracade out of some of the scrap materials around. Russell jumped right up to that challenge! Then, we were able to successfully cook our dinner (pasta with broccoli, cheddar and Parmesan). 

 Russell’s baracade to keep the goats and donkeys away from our cooking area. 

Russell’s baracade to keep the goats and donkeys away from our cooking area. 

 Douglas helping to cook dinner. 

Douglas helping to cook dinner. 

This morning we had to decide on our next game plan, in light of the predicted storms for the next few days. While we could have biked this morning on our way up Afton Mountain, the fog was concerning us, as well as where we would end up landing for the next few days. There was really no perfect place along the route that would allow us to both progress a bit and also weather the storms safely for 3 days. So we decided to bike 8 miles to a campground that is about 2 miles off route and stay in a primitive cabin for the 3 days. It has turned out to be a very good option with lots of things to do and a different experience for us all.

 Our “primitive” cabin for the next 3 days- just 2 rooms, no running water or bathroom (water spigot around the corner from the steps). Bathroom/showers are a 3-minute walk UP a steep hill. 

Our “primitive” cabin for the next 3 days- just 2 rooms, no running water or bathroom (water spigot around the corner from the steps). Bathroom/showers are a 3-minute walk UP a steep hill. 

 Protecting our bikes from the pouring rain. 

Protecting our bikes from the pouring rain. 

Real Answer to Prayer!

Not all prayers that we fling up to a God are immediate. But, boy did we see a specific and immediate answer today!  Let’s back up to yesterday- when a couple from the bike-specific host church in Palmyra where we were staying- came and generously lavished us with a yummy dinner upon our arrival. We had absolutely no expectation of this warm welcome!  Not only that, but they also allowed us to stay inside the church in the wonderful air conditioning and they let us use the kitchen. The pastor of the church even drove us to his house to let us all take showers. We really enjoyed meeting and talking with Cindy and Gerry who provided us with the dinner, and we had a great conversation with the pastor and his wife and daughter: George, Rita, and Jessica- not just about our bike adventure, but also about their family, their adored pets, and about homeschooling. Note: This was after our longer-than-expected biking day, on account of the flat tire that Jerry and the boys had to fix.

 Jerry’s opportunity to show the boys and me how to change a flat tire.  

Jerry’s opportunity to show the boys and me how to change a flat tire.  

 Before leaving Mineral, we attended a church service at Mineral Baptist Church. They had children present flowers to their mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. I was so touched by this gesture and put my 3 carnations in my handlebar bag for our day’s journey.  

Before leaving Mineral, we attended a church service at Mineral Baptist Church. They had children present flowers to their mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. I was so touched by this gesture and put my 3 carnations in my handlebar bag for our day’s journey.  

 Gerry and Cindy and the yummy meal they provided for us at Palmyra United Methodist Church.  

Gerry and Cindy and the yummy meal they provided for us at Palmyra United Methodist Church.  

 Rita, daughter Jessica, and George (pastor of Palmyra United Methodist Church) who graciously allowed us to take showers at their home. We must have looked really dirty!! What a sweet and welcoming family! 

Rita, daughter Jessica, and George (pastor of Palmyra United Methodist Church) who graciously allowed us to take showers at their home. We must have looked really dirty!! What a sweet and welcoming family! 

We had a great night’s sleep inside the air conditioning of the church, and when we awoke and had our breakfast, we were on our way. However, our ride to Charlottesville did not turn out as we had imagined. Only a quarter of a mile into our ride my front derailleur (the contraption that helps to switch one set of my bike gears) broke. After Jerry determined that he could not repair it with what we had, we simply decided that we would take off the derailleur and keep the bike chain on the smallest front gear and continue to ride to Charlottesville. The drawback to this plan was that although we would be able to progress up hills just fine, traveling on level road and down hills would be very limiting to our potential speed because we would not be able to go to a high gear. But, alas, we hopped back on the bikes... Well, now my chain was slipping in a very predictable, rhythmic pattern (i.e., every 4 pedal revolutions). When we inspected it, we found that there was actually a break in one of the chain links. (We’re not sure if a broken chain caused the derailleur to break, or vice versa. Nevertheless, this was a game changer!) We knew we had to fix this problem or have a bike shop fix it before going any further. So, Jerry rode a short distance to a nearby store thinking there might be a way to fix the problem short-term. Not finding a quick fix, he prayed that God would provide a way to meet our needs. Literally 20-30 seconds later, his phone rang. Remember Cindy and Gerry (the ones who provided dinner for us the night before)? Gerry was calling Jerry, having seen whom he thought must be us- hanging out in the grass with our bikes and gear. (His wife, Cindy, happened to have Jerry’s phone number from our initial contact.) He sensed that he should check on us. And when he did, he found out what had happened, and asked how he could help. People, we can’t make this stuff up!! Fast forward... he ended up picking up our bikes, plus Jerry and Russell, and taking them to the nearest bike shop (in Charlottesville). His wife came and picked up Douglas, Avery, and me, plus all of our gear, and delivered us to the place where we are staying tonight in Charlottesville. The bike shop proceeded to fix my bike in no time- literally stopped what they were doing and got to work on our need! We were reunited with Jerry, Russell, and the bikes only after being at our hostel/bed-and-breakfast for only about 20 minutes. What a day!  And what a cool way for God to work- answering Jerry’s prayer specifically and immediately! It was certainly a faith building memory for us all!

 What do you do when your dad is inspecting a broken chain derailleur? Go play in the nearby Rivanna River, of course!

What do you do when your dad is inspecting a broken chain derailleur? Go play in the nearby Rivanna River, of course!

Currently, I am sitting in a laundromat about 1/2 mile walk from where we’re staying, waiting for our laundry to dry- while listening to the sounds of both Spanish and English speaking folks doing the same. It’s storming outside, and I’m thankful for the shelter we have from the rain, wind, and lightning. I’m thankful for the cans of Brunswick Stew we so conveniently opened and heated up for our dinner tonight. As I reflect on these comforts, conveniences, and provisions, I can’t help but think about those who do not have such things. We are trying to keep this in mind as we go about our bike adventure- not only to remember to be thankful, but also to remember those whom we are indirectly supporting by raising awareness and funds for ECHO along the way. If you are not yet aware of what ECHO does, please take a minute to check out their website further (they are generously hosting this blog for us). And if you are able to donate at all (whether it’s a big or small amount), it would greatly encourage us on our journey!

Back on Track, Take Two

We’re very thankful that the boys are well again. And we are doubly thankful that we parents have been able to dodge the icky germs. So, alas, we were able to get back on track yesterday (Friday, May 12) from where we left off at the Patrick Henry YMCA in Ashland. From there we rode a brutally hilly and hot 38 miles to Mineral.  There was one hill, in particular, that snuck up on us. It was so steep that even in the lowest gear, we were going slow enough that I couldn’t keep our balance, and we succumbed to having to stop and push our bike up the rest of the hill. At some point,  I was literally praying for a place to get a Gatorade because I was so tired of drinking water. And about 5 miles later we came across a convenience store that was not even on our map. Whew! That was the best tasting and refreshing bottle of Gatorade I ever remember consuming. 

 Does this look like I’m advertising for Gatorade? Well, I could certainly be their spokesperson because that beverage did everything their ads claim! 

Does this look like I’m advertising for Gatorade? Well, I could certainly be their spokesperson because that beverage did everything their ads claim! 

We had the most delightful welcome when we reached our destination: the sweet Edwards family cheering us on, having written multiple messages on the road and driveway at the home of their dear friends where we were staying. I was so physically, mentally, and emotionally drained and glad to see them that I got a bit choked up on our approach. 

 We felt so loved, and this was only part of it. The Edwards kids even had a finish line and drew some really great biking art work!

We felt so loved, and this was only part of it. The Edwards kids even had a finish line and drew some really great biking art work!

The Edwards’ provided a scrumptious meal for us that evening: pot roast, mashed potatoes, veggies, biscuits, salad, and fried apples. And our sweet hosts, the Read’s, made an ice cream cake that was so delicious! Speaking of the Read’s... wow! What incredible hospitality! They had very comfortable accommodations and showers and air conditioning!! But best of all, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Read’s and getting to know them a bit. In addition to using their many gifts and life experiences, they truly love as Jesus and are eager to share their resources, time, energy, and lives with others. They are in the midst of fundraising to begin building a large house that will serve folks who are homeless in Mineral and need a transitional place to live while building life skills. (www.journeyhomemineral.org). It is so inspiring to see (just in the short time of becoming acquainted with them) how committed this couple is to loving and serving people in whatever circumstance God has placed them. (They have also served on the Christian Medical and Dental Association and have mentored doctors in their marriages and family life in the highly demanding realm of practicing medicine.)

 Our wonderful hosts (Ed and Debby Read) and our Edwards welcoming crew at the Read’s House on Lake Anna in Mineral. 

Our wonderful hosts (Ed and Debby Read) and our Edwards welcoming crew at the Read’s House on Lake Anna in Mineral. 

Because of our physically demanding day yesterday, the 90 degree heat today, and out of respect to our poor legs, we decided to ride only 10 miles today to the actual town of Mineral. We’re staying at one of the “biker-only” campsites on the route, which happens to be behind the firehouse in Mineral. The firemen here have been so welcoming! As if biking wasn’t enough, we played frisbee, football, and then soccer on the big field with our new friends (Lauren and Walker), who we just met today at the firehouse. They, too, are biking the TransAmerica Trail, and what a blessing to have made their acquaintance! They have freely played with us, listened intently to whatever the boys have talked to them about, and shared ideas with us. 

 Playing frisbee and throwing a mini-football with our new friends behind the firehouse where we are staying.

Playing frisbee and throwing a mini-football with our new friends behind the firehouse where we are staying.

Tomorrow our plan is to ride 30 miles to Palmyra. Thanks for reading our blog. 

Hitting the "Pause" Button for the Second Time...

Well, this is certainly not how we envisioned the beginning of our adventure, but we can be flexible, and that's what we have to be when the other two boys come down with the stomach bug a couple of days after the first one has recovered.  But there are so many blessings in this, too! Although illness is not what we would desire, the boys' illnesses have given us the chance to slow down, spend more time with people that we had not planned to spend time with, and reevaluate our bike gear. Spending time with our gracious hosts at Westover (the Erda's and Fisher's) was such fun and a great chance to reconnect with a dear high school friend and her family. Having the chance to walk around Westover and explore was also great fun- it was like staying at a beautiful history and nature museum, complete with gorgeous gardens, a cool bamboo forest, homemade tree forts, and the opportunity to take in some farming skills. (The boys were able to collect eggs, feed the horses, and eat fresh kale and spinach from their lush garden. Andrea- our host- noted how appropriate all of that was, considering the focus that ECHO has on teaching folks to farm- as a method for helping to reduce world hunger.) So, that was during Avery's illness.

 Dinner with the Erda's at Westover outside on a beautiful evening. 

Dinner with the Erda's at Westover outside on a beautiful evening. 

 Russell and Douglas up in the cool tree fort at the Erda’s. 

Russell and Douglas up in the cool tree fort at the Erda’s. 

 Having a lovely dinner at the Fisher’s house (also on the Westover property)- a truly delightful time with Andrea’s parents!

Having a lovely dinner at the Fisher’s house (also on the Westover property)- a truly delightful time with Andrea’s parents!

Fast forward- but not much- to a few days later in Ashland. We were able to camp out at the Patrick Henry YMCA (not a common practice for the Y, but they were happy to accommodate us). The next morning the other two boys woke up feeling ill. Thankfully, Jerry's parents were able to come and pick us up (along with all of our gear) and bring us home for the boys to recoup.  It has felt a little bit strange being in our house, as if we just don't belong here- like we're cheating or something- since, alas, we are supposed to be gone on our bike adventure right now. However, we have had some sweet time with Jerry's parents, and the boys have been able to rest in the comfort of our home while healing.  We have also done some serious analysis of our gear that we have to haul on our bikes. The hills have been particularly challenging to Jerry because he has control of the triple- the heavier bike (not only because the bike itself is heavy, but also because half of our gear is on it, plus 3 bodies with varying levels of pedal power, shall we say...). Controlling the double is a challenge, too, but I (LisaPage) am carrying the other half of the gear, plus our 2 bodies, both of which can contribute significantly to the pedaling, so the hills are less of an issue, although still difficult. Nevertheless, we have felt the need to reevaluate our gear and eliminate anything that is unnecessary. Being the practical pack-rat, "what-if-er" that I am, I was quite resistant to trying to cull our things.  But, Jerry, being more level-headed and perhaps having a better idea of what is realistic, systematically went through our things together with me, and we were able to eliminate several items here and there, not the least of which is one of our tents (!). The result is that we may only have to use one trailer, instead of two!! This may be the difference that we need. So, stay tuned, as we hope to be back on the road again in the next couple of days to try out our new and improved (and lighter) set-up.

 Here is our revamped gear. Look at that EMPTY (yellow/black) dry bag that WOULD go in our 2nd trailer!! Can anyone guess what the flat, black contraption is on the left (sitting on top of the plastic food container)? Feel free to guess and/or make comments in the comments section.

Here is our revamped gear. Look at that EMPTY (yellow/black) dry bag that WOULD go in our 2nd trailer!! Can anyone guess what the flat, black contraption is on the left (sitting on top of the plastic food container)? Feel free to guess and/or make comments in the comments section.

KD, Y camping, dinner

What a wonderful couple of days! Avery has recovered, we spent a terrific day at Kings Dominion with great friends yesterday, and we arrived at our destination (Ashland) around lunchtime, which is early because we only rode 16 miles. And we are actually camping in the back of the Patrick Henry YMCA. My (LisaPage’s) mother (a.k.a., “grandmommy”) brought us a wonderful dinner tonight. She thought of everything! We enjoyed veggies and hummus, her homemade beef stew, salad, berries, and yummy cookies! And we enjoyed visiting with her sweet dog, Yuki. 

 Spending the yesterday with sweet friends at Kings Dominion. 

Spending the yesterday with sweet friends at Kings Dominion. 

  “Grandmommy” prepping our yummy dinner that she brought us. 

 “Grandmommy” prepping our yummy dinner that she brought us. 

On the Road Again!

After a 2-day rest because our youngest was sick, we were able to get on the road again. We even made it further than we thought: Mechanicsville, so we did 30 miles today.!! Everyone worked hard. We have had many people along the way recognize us from the newspaper article, and we’ve enjoyed talking with these interested folks! Unfortunately, our little guy was not over his stomach bug as we had thought, and he got sick tonight after we had checked into a hotel. (We ARE thankful this happened in a hotel, though, and not the primitive campsite we had thought of camping at.) So we will be waiting and letting his body get well before going further. We are hoping and praying that the rest of us don’t get this stomach bug. It is no joke- very unpleasant!

That’s it for now. A short post, but something, nonetheless.  

Day 3: Flexibility and Plan B

We are learning quite early in this adventure that flexibility is the name of the game! Our youngest boy woke up feeling bad this morning and is running a fever. So, we are staying put today. He is resting well, and the day has turned into a rest day for all 5 of us. Our legs were begging for a rest anyway. If you have to be “stuck” somewhere, Westover on a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day with incredibly accommodating friends is the way to go!

I (LisaPage) managed to hand wash our laundry last night from the past 2 days. This is all part of getting our system down. We will not always hand wash the clothes. Of course, we will frequent laundromats when we come across them, and we will accept offers of people’s facilities whenever that happens. But, boy, we pick up a lot of dirt when we’re riding!! Check it out...

 Here is the water after washing out a few pairs of shorts. You should have seen it after washing all of our shirts and socks!

Here is the water after washing out a few pairs of shorts. You should have seen it after washing all of our shirts and socks!

Another issue today was that we found that the front tire on the triple was flat. But Jerry came to the rescue and was able to patch it, so it’s ready whenever we are able to hop back on the bikes. Thankful for Jerry’s repair knowledge and skills!!

First Two Days Down!

We had a wonderful first 2 days! Many friends and family came out to Yorktown with gusto to wish us well and give us an incredibly supportive send off! We’re so humbled by all the love and enthusiasm of everyone! 

 Friends showing us some love as we pulled into the parking lot with truck loaded down with the bicycles and gear. 

Friends showing us some love as we pulled into the parking lot with truck loaded down with the bicycles and gear. 

 Friends and family gathered for our send-off at the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

Friends and family gathered for our send-off at the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

 Here we are dipping our tires into the Atlantic (actually, the York River, more accurately- but close enough, right?). Our official (while symbolic) start to our journey across the country.

Here we are dipping our tires into the Atlantic (actually, the York River, more accurately- but close enough, right?). Our official (while symbolic) start to our journey across the country.

 And off we go!

And off we go!

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The first section of our ride- on Colonial Parkway- proved to be deceivingly difficult, as the surface is exposed aggregate, thus putting much more resistance on our already heavy bikes. In addition, the road has some challenging hills that snuck up on us! But we’re glad to have had the rough terrain on the front end of our first day. It made the next stretch- the Virginia Capital Trail- seem like the easiest thing ever!

 Our ice cream stop at Kilwin’s in Williamsburg

Our ice cream stop at Kilwin’s in Williamsburg

We arrived our first night- after completing 33 miles. We were so proud of the boys (and ourselves)! We weren’t sure we would be able to do that much on Day 1, but we plugged on after an ice cream stop in Williamsburg and to gather some food at a grocery store. The beautiful campsite at Chickahominy Riverfront was so worth it! And the spaghetti we made that night was probably the best spaghetti any of us had ever tasted!

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Here is one of our views from our campsite at the Chickahominy River. 

Next stop: Westover Plantation in Charles City (a pre-Revolutionary War, Colonial-era Plantation). This is right off of the Virginia Capital Trail and home to the family of a dear high school friend who now runs the tourist and special events side of the place, as well as maintaining the beautiful gardens and a few farm animals. The 2-mile ride up their gravel drive was, by far, the most grueling part of our journey thus far!

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Our gracious hosts, The Erda’s

 Our view of the main house from where we camped

Our view of the main house from where we camped

 This is our beautiful campsite at Westover overlooking the James River. If you look to the far right in this photo, you will see a yew tree that was apparently planted by George Washington. 

This is our beautiful campsite at Westover overlooking the James River. If you look to the far right in this photo, you will see a yew tree that was apparently planted by George Washington. 

T minus 12 hours!


We’re all getting so excited for our departure tomorrow morning! We have been reflecting a bit on a few of the comforts and conveniences that we will miss, such as a consistent soft bed, availability of running water (whenever we want to wash our hands, fill up a glass or cooking pot, etc.)., feeling clean most of the time, refrigeration, an oven,  shelter... just to name a few. Perhaps one unintended benefit of doing life without these conveniences for most of our trip will not only be a paradigm shift and opportunities for problem solving and growth, but also an occasion to have a minute sense of empathy for those many people around the world whose daily existence is a struggle for enough food, water, and shelter.

 On another note, we have felt an overwhelming sense of love and support from so many friends and family as we embark on this adventure. We have a whole army praying for us, and there are multitudes of people who have shown genuine interest in what our family is about to do! 

 A few friends gathered for a last-minute send-off.

A few friends gathered for a last-minute send-off.

 Family gathered for a send-off on departure-eve.

Family gathered for a send-off on departure-eve.

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We were both surprised and honored that the newspaper article about us in the Richmond Times-Dispatch today was on the front page (!!). Here’s the link to the article if you’re interested: http://www.richmond.com/life/bill-lohmann/lohmann-two-parents-three-kids-and-two-very-long-bicycles/article_d75030a0-92d6-5b48-b729-d22534292ca7.html?utm_source=RTD%20Email

Introducing... Our Adventure

    If you are not yet aware, you should know that our family of 5 is planning to bike across the country from May through August.  We plan to start in Yorktown, VA, and end in Astoria, OR- the idea being that we dip our tire in the Atlantic Ocean (to begin) and then dip our tire in the Pacific Ocean (upon completion). We are immensely excited to begin our endeavor, knowing full well that our excursion promises to bring much joy, great challenges, the building of character in us all, new experiences, interactions with people whom we might not ordinarily come in contact with, educational opportunities along the way, and many occasions to rely on God for strength, safety, and endurance. We invite you to follow us on our journey.  Thank you for your interest! Our hope, too, is that people like you- who are excited for us and our adventure- would encourage us on our journey by considering a donation to ECHO, an organization that we wholeheartedly support.  We really like their "teach a man to fish" model of helping those around the world who struggle with hunger.

 These are our bikes loaded down on a "practice trip" last fall.  The bikes for our cross-country trip will look similar, but will have a trailer off the back of each.  Will post an updated photo of this in the next month or so...

These are our bikes loaded down on a "practice trip" last fall.  The bikes for our cross-country trip will look similar, but will have a trailer off the back of each.  Will post an updated photo of this in the next month or so...

We are busy tying up loose ends and getting various logistics nailed down, while we both push hard to finish some projects at work and meet some lofty goals in homeschooling the boys.