Day 22 – Heading Home

American-Niagara-Maid of the Mist

Niagara Falls with the Hornblower Cruise boat at the base of the Horseshoe Falls

Hey all, I have made a decision to end my journey here in Niagara Falls.  It is a very high point in this journey and a great place to finish.  From the start I had set three goals to shoot for:  First was to reach my Mom’s house because I have always wanted to ride my bicycle from my home to hers. That completed, the second goal was to ride out of our country into Canada and see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side and then ride back into the United States.  I will actually finish that goal tomorrow when I return over the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, New York. The third goal was to reach the Atlantic coast in Maine.  I discovered after seeing Niagara Falls by myself, I want to share the Atlantic Coast experience with someone I love.  While I have spoken with my wife each day, some things are better shared with one’s best friend and the love of one’s life!

While I have treasured the solitude on the long rides through the countryside, after spending time with Niagara Falla 1the Lord this morning, I am convinced that this is the time to draw it to a close.  I can think of no better way to close out my adventure than to see the beauty of God’s handiwork in this area right here.   With the exception of the day-long slog through the rain, I have enjoyed every mile I have ridden.  After all it was never totally about the destination, but the ride to get there.

Each day’s ride was filled with moments of discovery, sharing, surprise, difficulty, perseverance and victory.  It reminds me of life itself.  I have learned much about myself and how I relate to the world around me and God has given me a fresh compassion for the people in this world.  That is a pretty good result for a sabbatical from my perspective.  See you soon!

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Day 21- Goal #2 Accomplished. Welcome to Canada and Niagara Falls!

While the start of the day was not so good, the end has been wonderful.  The day started with drizzle and potential thunderstorms.  Honestly, I was NOT excited about hitting the road under those conditions, but the cost of sitting still is rather high not only in terms of housing costs but also in terms of time.  Each day sitting still makes it less likely to make it to the East coast in time.  So, off we went!

The Peace Bridge into Canada

The nice thing about the maps I am using is that they really help you to stay off of the busy roads so you have much less traffic to deal with.  The downside of that is that I went 50 miles today without seeing a convenience store, gas station or fast food establishment.  By the time I took a break, my legs were screaming for mercy. . . or maybe that was my bottom.  At any rate, my stop was well-timed because I was refreshed in time for the urban section through Buffalo, New York and onto the Peace Bridge over the Niagara river into Canada.

I guess I never Niagara Falls 2realized until today that Lake Erie narrows down into the Niagara River, goes over the Falls and flows into Lake Ontario.  It truly is an awesome sight to see that much water moving downriver seeking a lower place.  It is so awesome that it seemed like every nationality in the world was present jostling for position to take the best picture.  It was nice, but it made me miss my wife tremendously.  Something that Falls 1amazing is better if it is shared with someone you love.  I have decided to stay an extra day in at this location.  First, so I can spend a little more than the 30 minutes I gave it and second to contemplate whether I will continue on or make plans to return home.  The weather forecast up here calls for a day or so of sun and then . . . you guessed it . . .more rain.  Of all the things I have experienced on this ride, rain makes it the most difficult.  The next big section of the journey follows the Erie Canal Trail.  Rain would make its passage much more challenging.  I am trusting the Lord with all of my heart and trying to NOT lean on my own understanding.  Pray that I will make the best choice. To date I have logged 1423 miles in 21 days with 4 of those being rest days and have enjoyed almost every day.  Thank you again for the privilege of doing this.

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Day 20 – 2 New States and 1 New Friend!

20150629_103811831_iOSAfter a wonderful Sabbath rest, I woke invigorated to continue the journey.  I started the day in Ohio where I have been for a little more than three days.  As I left Conneaut, I soon entered the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has 51 miles of coastline along Lake Erie all of which I would get to see today. Why is it that I get to ride through 51 miles of Pennsylvania?  It seems that here was a four-way dispute over the land and the Federal Government convinced the four states to relinquish their claims and then sold the land to Pennsylvania in20150629_162527413_iOS 1792 so that Pennsylvania would have access to fresh-water ports on Lake Erie.  As a result, I rode in three different states today soon reaching New York.

Along the way, I met a new friend who was cycling in the other direction.  Duane McCollum was pedaling in the other direction, but we stopped in a safe place to talk riding, perseverance, bikes and faith.  Duane is a believer who has been on the road since 2012.  He is younger than me by six months, but has vastly more road experience.  He is 20150629_131537661_iOScurrently riding the 48 states.  Additionally he has also walked across the United States. One interesting thing is that we have the same model bicycle, and we are approaching our journey in similar ways.  After a good 30 minutes of fellowship, we went our opposite ways mutually encouraged in our journey by our bond of faith. I have found that of the cyclists I have met on this expedition, all of them have been people of faith who are out experiencing God in fresh new ways through their journey.

Tomorrow, should the Lord tarry and by His grace, I will reach the second goal of my journey, Niagara Falls.  To get there, I will get to have another urban cycling experience as well as passing through Canadian customs!  It’s a good thing I remembered my passport!

Until tomorrow, let me leave you with a blessing from the Book of Jude Chapter 1 verses 24-25 KJV that I find appropriate for cyclists since it has to do with “falling”: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,  To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

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Day 19 – The Sabbath

20150628_195149839_iOSAh the Sabbath: A day of rest, a day of worship, and in my case, another day of rain.  I intentionally slept in today.  The first time I stirred, it was 6:30 am.  That is sleeping late for me.  I finally got up at 7:00, fixed my coffee and looked at the rain coming down outside, realizing that unless it let up, I was going to miss church.  The closest church was 6 blocks away and walking there would leave me drenched.  As a result, I had my quiet time, cleaned and lubed my bike, and it was STILL raining.  Finally about 11:15 it let up enough for me to get a picture in front of the motel sign and then walk the 2 blocks to the local café for some pretty awesome pancakes!  By the time I finished, it was starting to rain again.  I hurried back and rested and read for the remainder of the day.  Not much else to say except that it will be sunny tomorrow . . . Hopefully!

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Day 18 – The Weather Forecasters got it Right!

First Energy Stadium Home of the Cleveland Browns

First Energy Stadium
Home of the Cleveland Browns

As I said in yesterday’s blog entry, the weather forecasters predicted that I would have rain as my close and constant companion today.  They were spot on!!  When I pulled out at 6:05, it was coming down hard and was a chilly 61 degrees.  After stopping to don some arm warmers under my jacket, I continued on my traverse of downtown Cleveland.20150627_112926475_iOS  Cleveland is home to the Browns of the NFL, the Cavaliers of the NBA and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  While I was doing the selfie thing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the rain mercifully slowed to a light drizzle enabling me to actually get a picture without many water droplets. Cleveland Beach Cruise

The bikeway route through Cleveland took in several bike paths.  I think my favorite was the one pictured down the shore of Lake Erie  On any other day, I would have had to stop to get some additional pictures.  By the time I reached here, it was raining rather hard again. The newscasters said that the type of low pressure system they are experiencing is a once every 10 year thing.  All I know is that later today, I heard Cleveland received three inches of rain and I got to share in it!

I could regale you with tales of how I would almost get dry in the 20 mile per hour headwinds but then the rain would soak me down again, but I’d rather share with you how I don’t believe God does anything by accident.  About mile 70, I was running low on energy, so I stopped in the parking lot of this closed restaurant.  After downing some energy bars, I remounted to take off. As I reached the entrance to the parking lot, I realized my clear riding glasses weren’t on my face.  Just then a car drove into the parking lot and right on top of my riding glasses.  My glasses were totaled, but my mirror was not.  Instead of being angry . . . well, maybe I was for a moment, I did thank God that He probably kept me off of the road for a very specific reason and time.  As I drew near the next town, I actually prayed for an Ace Hardware so that I could secure another set of clear safety glasses like I bought from the Sayre store.  As I reached town, what to my wondering eyes should appear, Conneautbut an Ace Hardware sign with a store attached to it.  This store had only been open for 2 weeks and the “helpful hardware man” pointed me to the aisle with a set just like I wanted!  As I left I thanked God for broken glasses, an UNBROKEN mirror, and for providing a store just when I needed it.  It cost me about 15 minutes.  Only God knows what I was protected from in that time!

Finally, 89 miles and 9 hours later I arrived in the town of Conneaut and the Lakefront Motel (as if I wanted to view more water today)  Just kidding.  I’m sure it will all be better after a Sabbath rest tomorrow.  Until next time, may the Lord rain more blessings on you than He did water droplets on me!

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Day 17 – The Great Lakes at Last!

Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Today was a monumental day in my journey.  I have ridden 1176 miles and I finally reached the one of the Great Lakes.  As I entered the town of Huron, Ohio and turned onto US Highway 6, Lake Erie appeared on the horizon.  After pedaling a mile or two farther down the road, I found an access point to the shoreline. Notice the grin of intense satisfaction!  I guess there was one additional milestone before I reached the lake and that was crossing or in this

I-80 underpass

I-80 underpass

case, passing beneath I-80.  The last time I rode my bicycle north of Interstate 80 was 2002 on a prayer ride from the southern tip of Illinois.  Our trip ended there that day because of thunderstorms.  I am hoping that that will not be the case tomorrow!!

Today also marked the first day that I have met any other long distance cyclist on my route.  I had the privilege of sharing the road for a few miles with a sister from Wisconsin named Mariah.  She pedaled to this point by herself using

Mariah

Mariah

the same set of maps I am following.  While she is 25 years old and a trained nurse, her parents had some of the same concerns that I have had people share with me about my solo trip.  She shared with me that her mother said that a carpenter that she had met at her church should go with her. Subsequent to that, I had to ask if she had a faith relationship with Jesus and if that was the “carpenter” to whom her mother was referring.   She shared with me that indeed she had placed her faith in Him, but the carpenter was a real person her mother had met at church!  Mariah is a strong person of character and I was encouraged to encounter another cyclist like her.

Tomorrow I make the Cleveland traverse.  Lakewood, Ohio, where I am staying tonight is a close suburb.  I wanted fresh legs to cross the city.  By doing it tomorrow, I have both fresh legs and weekend traffic downtown instead of the evening rush hour.  Unfortunately, the weather forecaster also says I’ll have rain as my close and constant companion for the 86 miles I am on the road tomorrow.  Coming from formerly rain-deprived western Oklahoma, I am always hesitant to ask God to shut the heavens up.  However, would one day hurt next to a great body of water like Lake Erie?  At the end of tomorrow, should the Lord will it,  I should be in Conneaut, (pronounced [kon-ee-ot]) Ohio.  There I will stay until Monday.  Keep on praying and while your at it, pray for my new friend Mariah as well.

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Day 16 – This isn’t Sunny Florida!

The Maumee River

The Maumee River

This day started like yesterday finished — Riding down the river road.  Only this time it was the Maumee River I was paralleling.  You couldn’t have asked for a prettier morning.  It was about 63 degrees and minimal winds.  Perfect for a day cruising eastward.

It’s funny how our emotions betray us.  When I have faced difficulties, I have given thought to packing it in and heading home.  But on a beautiful morning like this morning, I think that Bar Harbor may come too soon. Thus far on this trip I have racked up 1102 miles ridden, 1 train trip and 1 Floridavan ride.  When I look on the map I feel very far away, but it feels like I left yesterday . . .OK maybe a week ago.  It is hard to believe that I have been gone 16 days!! I thought I must have made a wrong turn somewhere though when I saw the Florida border approaching!  Florida, Ohio is located about 8 miles before you reach Napoleon, Ohio, the manufacturing headquarters for Campbell Soups.  I happened to be passing Campbells Soupby right at shift change so traffic suddenly got very dense!  As soon as I cleared the factory entrance, I was able to activate the camera and get this screen grab.  The facility itself went on for about a quarter of a mile and at one point I would have sworn that I could smell tomato soup — Mmm Mmm Good!

I had about 2 more good hours of riding at which point I reached Bowling Green, Ohio.  Then the bottom dropped out of the sky and was looking for the entrance to the Ark.  A convenience store would have to do in a pinch.  1 cup of coffee, 2 pop tarts and 1 set of rain gear later, I settled in for a long 45 miles to my destination in Clyde, Ohio.  One thing I discovered while riding in the rain.  You need very Traillittle water and a lot more food.  With the temperature hovering at 63 degrees still, your body uses the same fuel that you are using to power your legs to keep you warm.  Fortunately, about 7 miles from Clyde, Ohio in the town of Fremont, the rain NorthCoast Inland Trailstopped and I jumped on the NorthCoast Inland Trail.  A wonderful, paved bike/hike path that would take me straight to my motel in Clyde. With a private passage across the Sandusky River, I pedaled another 6 miles and dried off a little before I arrived.

Today I tried something different in dealing with the folks I encountered.  I let each one know that I would pray for the people I encountered and I asked each one how I could pray for them.  Most were appreciative of it and when circumstances allowed, I prayed for them right then.  Most of the time, I was in commercial situations that precluded them stopping right then.  Keep praying for opportunities and boldness!

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Day 15 – Goodbye Indiana and Welcome to Ohio

The day dawned cool and crisp with a 59 degree starting temp.  It promised to be a great ride! I find it amazing that day after day my legs feel good.  It must be all those people praying!  At any rate, soon we

found ourselves 30 miles up the road entering Monroeville, Indiana.  I have finally arrived on the Northern Tier Route across the United States.  For me, this marks the time when I get to stop planning my route each day and start trusting the maps I purchased two years ago.  By days end, I will know if I got my money’s worth!!  Adventure

Downtown Monroeville

Downtown Monroeville

Bicycling produces the maps based upon their years of experience leading tour groups on cross country rides.

Sure enough, the roads they chose were nicely paved, little traveled roads where traffic was quite moderate.  As I finally turned North on a road called State Line road, I realized that I might not get to see a Welcome to Ohio sign.  As I crossed US Route 30, I attempted to get a picture of both the welcome to Ohio and the Welcome to Indiana signs, but they wereOhio Welcome too far away.  Before this ride, I had already logged miles in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, but NEVER in Ohio! Disappointed, I rode northward only to find that my next turn had a nice subtle green & white sign that made me grin from ear to ear.  I grabbed my phone and did the “selfie” thing only to discover that without my bifocals on I clicked cancel instead of save.  Oh well, the screen grab from the GoPro will have to suffice.  Thanks Robbie Robison.  You saved the day AGAIN!

Lunch time was closing in and I checked my handy dandy map for eating places.  Who wouldn’t want to stop at a place named “Puckerbrush Pizza?” It was in a town called Payne about 7 miles up the road. I

Puckerbrush Pizza

Puckerbrush Pizza

asked the owner about the name and he told me that it was the actual town name in its infancy.  The town was originally a logging camp named Puckerbrush.  My fertile imagination could only wonder why? 🙂 At any rate, the food was excellent and the price was great!  Thirty more miles to reach Defiance, Ohio.

The funny thing about riding the back roads to a town or city is that you don’t realize how close you are or that you have arrived until you spring forth from a brush-lined county road into one of the local neighborhoods.  In the case of Defiance, Ohio, I did have to get on a larger state highway to actually enter the town.  However, I got to enjoy riding about 7 miles

The Auglaize River on the right.

The Auglaize River on the right.

of the long and winding road alongside the Auglaize River. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but needless to say, the view dulled the pain of the 80 miles in my legs.  That was a good thing because once I reached town, I had an uphill run through the city streets and over a major controlled access highway to reach my abode for the evening.

Based on my calculations, I should cross Ohio, Pennsylvania and reach New York State on Monday , June 29th.  This includes traversing Cleveland, Ohio!!  A prospect that I am looking forward to eagerly.

On a final note, I have found that people in the north are not nearly as quick to engage a stranger in conversation.  Pray for opportunities and boldness when the opportunities present themselves.

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Day 14 – Does anyone evangelize anymore?

20150623_103032896_iOSAfter a great ride to Kokomo yesterday, I was looking forward to another great day.  It started out rather well, I left Kokomo about 6:00 and followed a network of bike paths through town starting with the Industrial Heritage Trail and culminating with the Nickel Nickel PlatePlate Trail.  It was an interesting look into the life and history of the town. The Nickel Plate trail is a rails to trails conversion that is over 37 miles in length.  The beauty of it is that it is paved from end to end!  A great place to ride.  I jumped off the trail in Peru, Indiana and headed East along Indiana 124.  This proved to be a very nice passage Eastward.  While in Peru, I stopped at a convenience store and looked for another opportunity to share my faith.  Most of the folks who came in and out were pleasant, but didn’t seem to want to engage in conversation.  As I geared up to leave, a gentleman in a shirt and tie approached me with his copy of The Watchtower in hand.  I politely refused his literature and shared with him that I had a relationship with Jesus Christ, the one true God.  As I was considering a means to continue the discussion, he politely excused himself  It was then that it hit me.  Outside of one person in Enid, Oklahoma, there has not been a single other Christian approach me about my spiritual condition in all of the towns I have visited.  This could be the reason that churches are not growing like they once did.  Needless to say, it troubled me as I continued to think about it on the rest of today’s journey.  I reached my stopping town of Markle, IN at 2:00 P.M. after logging 72 more miles toward my goal.  It will take at least another week to traverse Ohio & Pennsylvania.

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Day 13 – Heading out Again!

There’s nothing like a little home cookin’ and a familiar bed to refresh and rejuvenate the body! Mom’s Bed and Breakfast was just the thing after several rainy days.  I woke at 4:30 this morning just before my alarm went off eager to load up and hit the road again.  The day dawned clear and warm with a south wind.  It was the perfect recipe for a fast day.  It didn’t hurt that Indiana roads are fast, flat and fun!

Lebanon INI headed out shortly after 6:00 am and I reached Lebanon, Indiana (about 43 miles North) by 9:00 am and made my only pit stop.  I thought the stop was going to be a bust until a man named Dave approached me as I was gearing up to get back on the road.  He was interested in where I was going and had some suggestions about places to go near Bar Harbor, Maine.  After he asked my how I managed to get the time to do it, I had a opening to share the “why” of my sabbatical journey and was able to ask him if he had a personal relationship with Christ.  I could tell he was reluctant to proceed in the conversation, so I asked his permission to share what the Bible had to say about it.  At that point, I could tell I touched a tender spot when he stated that he would rather not right then.  I let him know that there was no pressure and that’s why I had asked his permission. I believe it is important to engage people in spiritual conversations, but it the Holy Spirit’s work to change the heart of a man or woman.  I believe that my work there was to plant a seed that would begin a work.  Therefore, I will pray to our Lord Jesus that someone whom he could trust would step up and share with him the tremendous love that our Lord Jesus has for us!

With half of the day’s ride already passed, I fell back into an easy rhythm that had me heading into Kokomo3 Kokomo near 1 PM.  Just a side note, Kokomo, Indiana is the birthplace of Norman Bridwell, author of the well-known series of children’s books, Clifford the Big Red Dog. Hence the picture right next to the City of Kokomo sign.

This day went so smooth and fast.  Now I have time for some reading, mapping, and quiet.  Tomorrow will be my last day in Indiana and from there I will finally be following the maps I purchased a year ago for this trip.  Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York are all on the horizon should our Lord tarry.

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