Tweets by @morningblend56 According to Mary: August 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Linda's Little Bit of Heaven

Dear Everyone,

Let me catch you up. We are back in Iowa! We spent our first night in Iowa in a fair campground in Grundy Center. Their county fair is this weekend and everyone was setting up for the big week. It was a nice experience. I can't believe I can now drive into a town and not know where I will setting up camp and not feel anxious. The hobo persona is truly taking hold. It was a long hard day for Cal, but we wanted to be close to Des Moines for a short ride the next day where we knew Linda's little bit of heaven was waiting for us.

We spent two nights at Linda and Larry's gracious house. Talk about deep relaxation! I spent time following Linda's cocker, Gracie, around trying get her to smile for the camera, but Gracie has her own doggy life and doggy things to do. Cal did not bike to Pella as planned this morning, but when we complete Part lV, he will bike from Pella to Des Moines for the victory lap and celebrate with a pasta dinner at Linda's Little Bit of Heaven.

Now I am home in Pella (everything looks great at the house! the cats are ho-hum about our return) and I am a familiar state of confusion about why I am here and what I need to do next to get ready for the Wedding and plan for Part lll of the Renewing Spirits Bicycle Tour - from Muskegon, Michigan to Salem, Massachusetts. The fog will clear soon and I will start my listmaking, but I do need to switch from Hobo Mode to Wedding Mode!
Michigan to Massachusetts will once again be new territory to explore even though I was raised in Michigan, I will be seeing it with new eyes and in a new way just like I did Iowa.
Hope you are all well!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's beginning to look like Iowa

Well, Fellow Adventurers,

We are on the downward slope of our Western adventure. Iowa is just across the border. We are in Blair, Nebraska camped in a city park. Once again, we have trains to keep us company all night, but the shower at the park was one of the best I've had, and the car got a bath too.

It's beginning to look a lot like Iowa....

I am feeling much better today. Yesterday I fought the noon day demon. The unending road.

Monday night we plan to be in Des Moines, visiting with Linda and Larry S and then a victory lap into Pella, and I will start getting ready for a trip to my sister's wedding in Kalamazoo and to see my daughter and son-in-law, and all my family. A more civilized way of life is on the agenda for a bit until we hit the road again after the wedding.

However- for tomorrow morning, I did see an espresso shop downtown. That's always a good sign.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Humphrey, Nebraska - August 22

Today we are in Humphey, Nebraska, a little somewhere off Highway 91. It's a lovely little town. I went past a Catholic School were all the children were in blue and white school uniforms playing outside at recess. Hearing children play is such a comforting sound when you are feeling rootless. The days all begin to look alike out here in Nebraska and I am getting a bit numb. Today I crashed. I put up the camper and fell into a deep sleep for a couple of hours. Cal rode in but I was beyond caring and slept some more. The world could have ended and I would happily have gone on sleeping. I was that tired. So this is my day off. Tomorrow will be a shorter day, mile wise, and I can catch up on the laundry and other camp duties. The car is covered with dust and dirt. Everything is. We all need a good soak.

We have stayed at so many different churches and they all have a different character. You can't tell from the outside of the church, but go inside and there are clues all over the place. What's important to them, creativity, population...and then you meet the pastor and sense where he or she fits into the mix. I love the variety of expression of faith...all trying to do "church" in the way they understand best.
Cal took the some photos that capture the sandhills the best... the end of the Sandhills and Iowa is not far away!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Interesting fact about Nebraska- About 100 years ago, Dr Bessey decided that trees once grew on the sandhills and should again. Today Nebraska sports a 20,000 acre man made forest at Halsey, Nebraska. The Nebraska National Forest. What is it good for? Habitat and Recreation. I thought it might be good for showers too, but no such luck.

The sandhills of Nebraska are fascinating. Huge waves of light fine sands anchored by a thin layer of growth, someone called it switch grass, and prairie flowers and sandburs. With a heavy rain, a gully washer, the sand is exposed, thus, the story of the wise and foolish man is played out in Nebraska. Without that layer of grass, I picture a sea of sand somewhat like the Sahara Desert. And with a wind like today, I imagine terrible sandstorms. I have tried to take pictures of them, but the camera doesn't quite capture it. I'll keep trying.

Did you know that train engineers switch shifts right in the middle of the prairie? They pick up their lunch pails and thermos and walk away from the train to a waiting pickup. One of them, I saw, had on bib overalls but he didn't have a matching hat or red bandanna. One more fantasy bites the dust, in this case, the sand.

We took a 150 mile side trip to Grand Island, Nebraska to get Cal's bike wheel fixed. They have a beautiful downtown with great possibilities but it was rather quiet due to commercial sprawl. While we waited, we had coffee at the Blue Moon Coffee Shop. Cal checked his work e-mail while I read a children's book of jokes and riddles -(like "what musical instrument does a skeleton play?" "A tromBONE".) much to his annoyance. I think children need to learn more jokes and riddles.

When this you see-
remember me.


Bernie's Supply

We’ve chosen a solitary way to bike across the country, thus, the good folks we meet along the way are really appreciated. Unfortunately, we often make their acquaintance in time of need. Cal needed a repair on his bike yesterday morning which led us to Bernie’s Supply in Alliance. (Their sign says if we don’t have it, you don’t need it.) I met Cal in Alliance and while Cal talked with Dennis, I visited with his sister-in-law. She has recently visited Clinton, Iowa, and flew to Ohio-Big trips for someone who hasn’t done much traveling (first time in a plane) but she has relatives in every place I mentioned to her! Great people.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Three Angels In One Day

Dear Armchair Adventurerers,

A day of high adventure here on the plains.

First of all, Lusk, Wyoming is now on my list of civilized places. They have a drive-through espresso stand- first one I've seen in all of Wyoming. Secondly, we crossed the Nebraska state line and immediately the shoulders of the road grew broad and the road had stones in it that shimmered like diamonds in the sun. I thought Cal was going to kiss the road.

We stopped at Ft Robinson State Park for lunch. I need to read more about it -Crazy Horse was killed there - but the old buildings are gracious with grand old trees. You can stay at the lodge or in the officers quarters. There are museums to visit, camping, activities and it's only 50 miles from the Black Hills. And can handle large groups. Sounds like a great place for a family reunion if you can get people to drive to Nebraska without complaining. Sorry Norma.

Then I passed an old cemetery that I wanted to check out and did a u-ie and got stuck in the mud of a soft shoulder. Immediately an officer was there and told me that he had a tow rope but he couldn't use it-Wink Wink. I said I understood and waited as he quickly looped a rope around my hitch and pulled me out. Have a good day. Ma'am. Yes Sir!

Earlier a woman caught up with me in traffic and told me that I had left a stabilizer on the camper down. Two angels in one day!

Now we are camped by a beautiful big pumpkin patch in back of a United Methodist Church in Hemingford, Nebraska. They had an empty lot facing the main street that was full of weeds so they planted Indian corn, pumkins and squash and plan to have a celebration with the children. Children come to visit the pumpkins patch just to watch them grow. How wonderful is that! The pastor is a very nice lady who is also a ventriloquist. She had a children's minstry and the powers-that-be asked her to fill a pulpit here in Hemingford. That was 6 years ago. We are so grateful for her kindness to us.

That makes three angels!

I think school started here today. I see children with backpacks and the school crossing lights are flashing.

Today was the kind of day that makes up for missing the Olympics.


Sunday, August 17, 2008


Casper - What can I say. Too big to have a sense of humor about itself. Too small to be Really Something. They have a mall where I waited for an hour and 1/2 to get a haircut and had pleasant conversations with the locals. I am amazed what you hear in a wait-your-turn hair salon! People were nice but in a hurry. Even the traffic seemed frantic. We camped in a downtown United Methodist church parking lot. I expected it to be noisy, but I began to wonder if ANYONE in Casper had mufflers on their pickups. It was Saturday night and the local cowboys were out cruising. Impressive.

Today the weather was beautiful and the sky as blue as I remembered it from before- with puffy little clouds that look like smoke signals. Cal put in 111 miles and is fine. I keep a close eye on him while he is getting back into shape and I have been doing more waiting at meeting spots to check on his progress. But I always find something fun to do. I am reading "Undaunted Courage." A biography about Merriweather Lewis.

The new theme for this trip is Trains. They are everywhere here! I had no idea trains were used anymore! Since the tracks in Pella were taken out, I'd forgotten forgot all about them. I thinkI might like to take a train trip sometime. I can hear the whistles in the background even as I write this.

Tonight we are camping in a campground in Lusk, Wyoming - 22 miles from the border of Nebraska.

Oh, and a little note to Me...Just thought you should know that Cal has been offered senior citizens discounts twice since we start the bike tour.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

1st Day

Friday, August 16

It rained in the early morning hours and the cottonwoods smell heavenly. Like someone baking with cinnamon. Spicy and Sweet. I didn't know cottonwood could smell like that.

Both Cal and I were a little nervous as we drove back to Smokey the Bear (by the way - the fire danger is VERY HIGH today) to begin the ride.

Today's drama was the weather. The Wyoming sky is so big you can see all kinds of weather going on. It was cold and we could see that it had snowed up on the mountains. We had showers on and off all day. This is the first time Cal has had to bike in rain this whole trip. Now the sun is shining on our camper which is set up in the parking lot of a little Baptist Church and about 65 degrees. I can see a storm and hear thunder somewhere off in the distance - but like I said, it's a really big sky and it's hard to tell if it's coming this way.

Cal has lots of thoughts about this first day back on the road so read his blog!

The only new thing I am dealing with is mud.

So good to have all of you along again for company.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Innocence Lost

Thursday, August 14

I am sitting in a lovely cottonwood grove in a campground near Cal's Ground Zero (Dubois, Wyoming). The air is bright, light and cool. The only sound is the wind through the trees and birds. I confess it was not easy getting to this point again. I was crabby for the two days before we left and yet, I am uneasy. Maybe "burned" would be a better word. I scan highways for broad shoulders and rumble strips instead of carefreely soaking in the sights. Today we spent time rehashing the accident and retracing the trail. And now we are here. I am surprised how conflicted I still feel and pray I will be able to let go and enter into the adventure again soon.

The temperature tonight will be 41 degrees!

Yesterday we traveled through the sandhills of central Nebraska instead of taking the mighty 80 across and I took solace in taking pictures of coal trains stretched across the sand hills of
Nebraska with an ominous thunderstorm lurking in the background. We were checking out the roads Cal will be biking on in Nebraska and I like this part of Nebraska very much. The sand hills are peaceful and soothing.

We drove through rain and lighting and hail and reached our destination for the night- Crawford, Nebraska, a broken down little town on the edge of uniqueness - but we didn't know that until morning. It was dark and wet when we set up the camper in the city park, unaware the campgrounds were right next to the tracks. The trains whistled -loudly- all night long. Cal wore ear plugs. I would rather listen to the trains.

We have some long days ahead of us. Tomorrow we stay at a little Baptist Church in Shoshoni. I am not sure where we will stay yet in the dreaded Casper. I don't like Casper and I hope something happens to change my opinion. I will be updating this post with more pictures soon but right now my internet connect is being subborn and I am not staying online.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Something Told the Wild Geese

Meanwhile back at the Bookstore...

I have been working with Lana at the Bookstore since I've gotten back. It's nice to have another English major around. But there is much to learn in a Bookstore that has nothing to do with books. Ask Lana.

I wonder... when Rosa has all her employees back and when she is fully staffed again, I wonder what she will do for fun? I would like to promise that I will never do this to her again. I would LIKE to....

My walk today told me that Summer has turned the corner. Despite the hot, hot, humid day yesterday and the thunderstorm last night...Summer is going down. The sun is hot, the water feels great, but don't get too comfortable because something new is right around the corner! What is that poem I learned as a child? Ah, yes...Something told the wild geese. It's last lines go

...Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly -
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

I was ready for some summer snow in the mountains, but the shorter days of September seem like a strange time to be on a bike ride. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Our bike ride has another bizarre twist in it in order to save money and time and attend my sister's wedding and yet bike every mile we had planned... We will bike as far into Iowa as we can and then drive to Michigan for my sister's wedding. We will take off from Muskegon and ride to the Salem, Massachusetts, drive back to Milwaukee, and bike from Milwaukee back to where we left off in Iowa. We miss the ferry ride across Lake Michigan but Cal wasn't going to bike that anyway. Got that???? Don't worry, I'll lead you through it as we go.

I watched Lars and the Real Girl last night. It was the second time I've seen it. Anybody else a fan? It's a real therapy movie.

Ciao, Dear Ones