Tweets by @morningblend56 According to Mary: September 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sentimental Journey

Hi Everyone!

This past week has been a such sentimental journey for me...I wasn't sure what to say in a blog.

Wisconsin feels like home. We moved to Wisconsin after living in Rock Valley, Iowa for the first two years of our marriage and I was so happy to be back in wooded terrain, I wrapped Wisconsin around me like a comfortor. I am happy and comforted to be back once again. Cal says simply, "I love Wisconsin."

My heart was in my throat I drove through the mist toward Mineral Point and Darlington, Wisconsin. The 18 months we lived there were highly formative. This was Cal's first job out of grad school and our first time alone in the big world that wasn't Dutch. We were both charmed and frightened. Very lonely at times and very happy at others. I remember a very harsh Wisconsin winter in a drafty old house upstairs apartment carrying my electric blanket from outlet to outlet, listening to the wind roar outside. (Yesterday, I was able to take pictures of the old place which has fallen into such disrepair that it is almost beyond rescue.) We had little money, but we had fun - iceskating on Yellowstone Lake, listening to deep sounds of clear ice cracking beneath our skates, the black trees silhouetted against the red winter sunsets. Everything was fun. Everything was new. The details I remember about that time and place are sharp and fine.

Finding a small church family in Gratiot, Wisconsin gave us roots while we lived in that area and beyond, and was an important lesson in how to find community away from home. Cal and I were growing up. It was to Darlington that Cal and I brought Rachel from the Madison Hospital - a new family. She was only 4 months old when we moved away - she doesn't remember, but Darlington is her town. All the waiting and worrying and longing was done there. The intense joy of adoption and the great loneliness of not being able to have children - both are Darlington.

I am glad to see that Darlington is prospering about as much as a small town in Southwest Wisconsin can.

Be sure to look for this courthouse in Johnny Depp's new movie Public Enemies. They filmed scenes at the Lafayette County Courthouse in Darlington less than a block from our apartment. The clock rang the hour.

We are now traveling roads in Illinois and Iowa that I have traveled a funeral, on a retreat, to a family reunion, to visit friends, on bike rides... Ron is biking with Cal and that seems to make reentry into the familiar a little less of a shock.

We stayed in Palisades State Park near Savanna, Il last night...A wonderful camping and hiking park on the bluffs of the Mississippi. Tonight I am tromping in crunchy, colorful oak leaves on the Wapsipinacon River. The trees are tossing down leaves with every stir of breeze. Oh, acorns too. It smells like fall.

Thank God for memories.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Thank you for your prayers. The route we took to Salem was residential the whole way and except losing Cal now and then, all went well. We celebrated our arrival in Salem with a nice motel and dinner and a down day absorbing the sights and sounds of Salem. Pulling and parking a camper through the streets of Salem was quite an experience. (And of course, now I am reading a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne.) We had one last celebratory meal of fresh fish at The Captain's Waterfront Grill and Pub with a beautiful view of the harbor. And then goodbye to the east.

We are back in the Midwest after an allnighter across the eastern United States which took the stuffing right out of me. I am sitting on a couch at my brother-in-law, Philip's house in Dyer, Indiana barely able to move. Time to regroup for Part IV of the bike tour. Milwaukee to Pella.

Tonight we will be meeting our friend, Ron, who will be joining us for this last jog.
We will be traveling familiar terrain as Cal and I lived in Madison and Darlington, Wisconsin early in our marriage. It will be fun to see!

See you - SOON!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


KOA Campground...$30.00

McDonalds extra value meal #2....$4.63

3 bicyles inner tubes...$19.13

Total Satisfaction...


Mad Dash for the Sea

We are sitting in a Super 8 Motel waiting for the rain to abate as we make our last mad dash for the sea. We have had trouble with the trailer lights...Cal has them working but they are very dim and that is frightening for me as we meet east coast traffic. This is the first time I have felt nervous about about driving with the camper. We carefully went over maps last night and picked out our roads to Salem. There are no direct routes- so we had to cut and paste our way to Salem. I am praying for guidance as I face this last challenge.

See you there!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Don't Want To Talk About It

First, let me remind you of the elvin woods where we stayed last night, the quiet deep dripping forest. Surely there were elves in that woods! We were serenaded by a breathy flute playing elvish music before we went to sleep at 10:00. It floated through the forest for about 5 minutes. Leaving the campground, I inspected each campsite trying to guess which one had gifted us with the flawless haunting melody. I didn't dream it. Cal heard it too!

The rest of the day I want to forget.


Friday, September 12, 2008


Do any of you get tired of computer passwords?!

One night, I am sleeping under a floodlight in a United Methodist Church Parking lot in the city and the next night, I am camping deep in a Berkshire Mountains forest with rain tapping on the camper. Never a dull moment... (Thank you Mckownville United Methodist Church for your interest in us and giving us such a prime location to stay. Remember - location is everything!)

I think Albany, New York is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever gotten lost in. Of course I got behind a bus and couldn't see the signs and got to see more of Albany than I really had planned to do. I told my sister, Marcia, that I am like a gerbil in a maze. Put me in one side of the city and I am bound to come out the other side if you wait long enough. (We won't talk about the intelligence quotient- only the satisfaction quotient.) Someday, I am going to come back to New York State and really visit - without the camper - and with a map. Anyway...

Now we are Massachusetts. If you are following on a map we are heading north on highway 112 to highway 2 and taking highway 2 tomorrow to Fitchburg or thereabouts - some heavy duty mountain biking for Cal and lots of pretty sites for me. I am pleased to see the mountains one last time on our trip. I asked Cal what he thought about being in the mountains again and he's happy about it too. Lovely and less traffic.

We have Salem in our sites. Now - if it will just stop raining....


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Golden September

It was a golden fall day and one of the most pleasant driving days that I've had. There was a little more space to breathe between charming towns and traffic lights. I would highly recommend New York for you biking enthusiasts. Good biking lanes, great stopping stops, and fairly easy terrain. There were pretty demanding drivers in the western part of the state, but they seemed to be a lot more relaxed in central New York, even kind. People here are almost stunned that anyone would attempt to bike across the United States. Out west, it was more accepted as a normal thing to do.

I also want to record that last night's shower in a campground in Montezma stunk. It was so full of sulfur- it smelled like rotten eggs. I am sure it had healing properties of some sort, but I had to hold my nose to wash my face. It's not an easy thing to do.

I was able to relax a little and take a few pictures this evening. Our campground is a Herkimer diamond mine and tomorrow I hope to take some time and look at their rock store. I love rocks...not to wear, but because they are so old and it's like holding history in the palm of your hand. Each one is work of art by nature. I like to pick up rocks along the way on our trips and just put them in the garden. I know some people take the time to label where they got them. I really don't care. I like the fact they just jumble together with my everyday stones and I can't always tell which is which. I still know they're there.

A perfect September day. Hope yours was as well.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Erie Canal Lock



Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come...

I find myself singing these words of Amazing Grace.

The morning starts with rain. Cal is struggling. I am struggling because he is struggling. We try not to lean on each other, but sometimes it takes two to make it fun. I bring Cal back to where he called it a day yesterday with a flat tire, then pack the camper and head for Rochester. Immediately I get a call from Cal to tell me that the trail is not well marked and to get through Rochester anyway I can. Ok. I did it in Buffalo, I can do it in Rochester.

I try to follow the highway route as long as I can but am lost in the first 5 minutes and end up going through the middle of the city. It looks like a great place, but I am the only person in downtown Rochester with a travel trailer and am feeling a bit out of place. I wander up and down streets, checking my directions, and finally just decide to head south and occasionally east just to see what happens. In the meantime, Cal calls and tells me he has another flat and he is lost and trying to figure out a way though the city. I don't know where he is and I don't know where I am. So I finally reach a south suburb of the city where I can pull off and ask. Miracle of miracles, I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Now I know where I am...if we can just figure out where Cal is...!

To make my story short and sweet, let me tell you that we finally met at some locks on the Erie Canal where I was able to watch the locks work! I had seen locks on the Mississippi before, but never on this small scale, a very nice addition to my day...and my husband was taking this troubled day in stride with his warrior angels at his side. Go Cal!

For those of you who are following us on a map we are still on Highway 31 near Port Byron, New York.

I will work on some pictures and get them posted unless Cal comes riding in.

Fall is here! Leaves are falling from the early trees - enough to speckle the road with yellow. New York State is indeed beautiful.

...Grace has brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Reporting from the Road

Reporting from the road...Highway 31 to be exact, following bike route 5, along the old Erie Canal. City- Medina.

Who made it through Buffalo this morning with a map with no street names, only landmarks, and is very proud of herself? Who loves Upper New York State?

It is a beautiful morning after the rain yesterday. Downtown Buffalo has great architecture and I really enjoyed the adventure of winding my way north through the city with no idea of where I was, and only a vague idea of where I needed to be. Cal was taking a bike trail through the city so I was on my own. It was great fun.

The little towns along Highway 31 are all picturesque and the road, (I watch roads for Cal's sake. - he has his own lane here and it is clearly marked) is great. I would highly recommend New York State routes for biking. I think I could live here.

Laundry and groceries are next on my to do this. Finding places to stay out east has not as easy as it was in the west. No camping on route. I'll be working on this today, too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Canada ll

That, I, who handled Italy with such aplomb, should feel shy in Canada is too funny. We are too alike to be so different. I keep nervously checking my p’s and kilometers. For those of you certain I’d be into Tim Horton’s before we crossed the border into Canada, I must disappoint you. I was always in the wrong lane or Cal was waiting for me or something. But just as we were about to cross over the Peace Bridge, I made my mad dash for a Tim Horton mocha. Whew! Made it by the skin of my teeth.

Canada is pretty like Michigan is pretty -borders of trees surrounding the edges of crop fields like watchful sentinels waiting to take back the land when the farmer's head is turned- but there have been challenges here. Winds of Gustav blew over us and beat on Lake Erie. I have seen Lake Michigan blue, green, and gray, but never brown and whipped into froth like Lake Erie. It was a strange feeling day… And then came the night and the rain. I was very thankful for our off-the-ground camper unlike the college boys in the next campsite who were celebrating their last free weekend in tents. And wet.

The Christian Reformed Church of Wallaceburg rescued us the first night in Canada. We were misinformed about where there was camping, and had no place to rest our weary wheels. We finally cashed in Cal’s years as a CRC pastor’s kid and the church took pity on us and let us park in her parking lot for the night. (Churches are girls.) We are grateful.

I am quite upset about the infestation of Gypsy Moths on all kinds of trees in Canada. I inspected one of the webby things that Gustav had blown out of a tree. It was crawling with tiny hungry caterpillars. No wonder they destroy trees. It was a wide spread infestation – everywhere I looked. I hope they can get it under control. And before it is too late.

Last night was our last night in Canada. I can’t help but remember our dear Canadian friend, Ron, who has lived in Iowa and put up with us in the States since college. O Canada…

Cal biked across the Peace Bridge into the States today. As we crossed the bridge, it started pouring again and so we are turning the rest of this day in Buffalo into a rest day.
Much love,

O Canada

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blankie Lady and Canada

There must be a competition between the United Methodist Churches in Michigan about who can be the friendliest. Pastor Michael explained to me that the United Methodist pastors were circuit preachers in the distant past and depended on the hospitality of others and so their roots are deep in hospitality. We met the Blankie Lady who makes little lap quilts for Alzheimer patients - full of color and texture and comfort. Country Woman magazine did an article on her and I will post her contact information later. I see a future in ministry with bicyclists as their little town, North Branch, is on the Adventure Cycling maps. They are already great at it!

Neighbors of the church came to offer us protection and help.

Today we are scheduled to take a ferry at Marine City into Canada. We will have limited contact while we are there because of roaming charges so if you don't hear from us for a couple of days, panic not. I compare it to the astronauts in their spaceship on the far side of the moon when they would lose contact with earth for a bit.

My heart is leaning toward home at last. I will enjoy these last states but as Mary Poppins said to Uncle Albert and Bert and Michael and Jane having tea while floating in the air near the ceiling. "It's time to go home."

I am writing this on the road so I will post pictures and other tidbits later.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Spoiled Rotten

Up to this point, I would say we would have lived a - well, limited life on the road, but the last couple of days in Michigan I would say that we have been spoiled rotten. After a luxurious night in a Holiday Day Express in Grand Rapids, (the soap smelled like cloves...that will wake you up!) and a breakfast reception at Pine Rest that was full of kindness and support. (We were even assured that this foolish bike ride might smack of God who uses such for his glory. That was a great relief for me.) Many thanks, Pine Rest, for the great reception and all your words of encouragement. Cal really does love you guys!

I need to put a plug in for Carson City United Methodist Church. What hospitality! Never has a cold cup of water been given with so much laughter and insight! We pray a blessing on that church and her new pastor, Andy. And a big thank you to Amy who understands what camping is all about and is not afraid to offer everything to the stranger in need.

And now I am parked downtown in a sweet little town called North Branch where we will be spending the night at a United Methodist church parking lot here. For those of you who like maps, we took highway 57 across the central part of Michigan. From North Branch, we once again will be using Adventure Cycling bike maps which will take away some of the stress of traveling unknown roads. We will keep you informed.

Our new friend today was Gus, the Sara Lee Delivery Man, who we met during Cal's break in a Dollar General parking lot. I wish we had taken his picture. He was full of curiosity about what we were up to and offered us some hot dog buns. One more example of Michigan hospitality.

Michigan is a great place to watch fall approach. I see the occasional sumac turning red and the maples are beginning to think about it. The sides of the road are rich with golden rod and blue chicory and the brown of dried Queen Ann's Lace. I think that it will only be getting better as we continue east.

The children in Michigan had their first day of school and as one Kindergarten teacher told me, the heat was "yucky."

Joy to all of you and thank you for keeping us in your prayers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Celebrations in Michigan

How much can happen in just a few days! We drove to Kalamazoo, Michigan on Friday for my sister's wedding on Saturday. We popped up the camper in my other sister's driveway. (Yes, I now have 3 sisters living in Kalamazoo. ) It was a lovely wedding - held as the sun was dropping in the west, in a garden setting, complete with little girls in flowered sundresses and ladies in vintage lace. I have so many wonderful pictures of family and friends and wish I could post them all but I will have to settle for these few. The wedding was an odd but nice bookend to Part ll of the Bike Ride. And on Sunday we rested and dined with my Father and sister, Joy, at their house.

Up early on Labor Day, I drove Cal and my brother-in-law, Don, to Muskegon to start Part lll of the Renewing Spirits Bicycle Tour. I think Cal enjoyed biking with company for a change and while Don and Cal biked, I checked into a motel in Grand Rapids and and promptly climbed into bed for a quick nap. (Weddings are pretty tiring.) Rachel, my daughter, and I were together in the afternoon and we were joined by her husband, Justin, and Cal for dinner - a nice break from my typical days on the road. Tomorrow morning there will be a reception at Pine Rest before Cal and Don start their ride to Carson City. Another Celebration. And tomorrow, my sister, Marcia, will help me discover some more of Michigan along the way. I traveled very little in Michigan - especially in central Michigan - while I was growing up, so many of the things I will be seeing will be new to me.
So we start the third section of the bike ride. - No more 50 miles between towns. Lots of trees, lots of traffic, and lots of people will give a whole different feel to Part lll. I am interested to see how Cal and my system will work in this new venue.
Congratulations to Gayle and John E!