Saturday, July 24, 2010

Days 32-34 Geneva, IL and Cedar Lake, IN

Hello, again, everyone! Please note that we will be entering Michigan tomorrow. Yes, that's Michigan. I checked my bicycle mileage log and we passed the 2,500 mile mark yesterday. Pete marveled with me just how fast we've seemed to traverse the "skinnier" states like Illinois and Indiana--unlike Iowa, South Dakota and Montana which seemed to be states that required days to pass through west to east (and north to south). It is true but it is also likely that we have become aware that this journey is rapidly winding down to the finish line in Grand Rapids on Tuesday 7/27 and that just seems like it's been too fast in some sense, and then again....

The day before yesterday we rode about 105 miles from Prophetstown, IL to Geneva, IL. It was quite a journey in the heat and humidity and replenishing fluids, taking shade breaks and ice cream breaks were high on the agenda. Not long before arriving I got stung by a bee on my inner left arm (this is bee sting #2-- am I a magnet for these guys?!) which actually just set my adrenalin rush (anger) into overdrive for a strong finish. Our more-than-generous, patient and warm hosts, Jim and Andrea Jerozal had kept pasta and a fantastic salad on the ready for us, not to mention a hot shower and some good fellowship over shared interests in global ministry and sustainable business and living practices. Andrea and the kids posed for some parting photos with us the next morning but our visit was just way too short. We want you all to come back and visit with us in Seattle at your earliest convenience. Please?!!!!

Yesterday, we enjoyed miles of great bicycle trails in the far western and southern suburbs of Chicago as they provided a good break from both the sun and winds while temperatures soared to 96 F along with the humidity (Heat index 105). And, both Pollie and Pete humored me and my cries for pancakes for the past week by stopping at a great little restaurant in Oswego, IL (the Oswego Family Restaurant) where I gorged myself on pancakes and eggs for lunch. We even were given our own can of whipped cream to decorate with smiles and Pollie's hand-crafted "bicycle." I think the staff felt sorry for us and knew that we were a bit delirious from the heat.

With the heat and humidity being as bad as it has been, yesterday we rode from Geneva to Cedar Lake, Indiana far slower than we would have liked and our arrival into Cedar Lake was complicated by a few wrong turns and headwinds late in the day. We also arrived at the outskirts of town literally minutes before a tremendous thunderstorm hit. So, we took shelter beneath the roof of a gas station and waited out the worst of it before our host Harley Verbeek and AJS staff arrival, Jill Van Beek, surprised us by stopping to guide us on the road home.

Harley and his wife Arlene are AJS co-founder Kurt Verbeek's parents and the Verbeeks graciously agreed to host us and Pollie's parents for not just one but two nights which was a late change in our plans largely due to the need for an earlier rest day and, the fact that Pollie's parents' truck which has been hauling our food, water and gear across the U.S., has broken down once again-- this time in Geneva, IL.

It is very clear where Kurt got his sense of community, faith and love of God. Harley and Arlene are very proud of Kurt and all of their children and grandchildren and most certainly cherish the family that God has given them. We have most certainly been "adopted" by the VerBeeks. And, I can also see a bit of Kurt's sense of humor in both of his folks, who are as quick with a gift of laughter as they are with their offers of hospitality.

Today, we had laundry to do, errands to run and Harley took the time to give us a tour around the lake as well as the thrift store ("Second Life") where he volunteers. Second Life is taking in donations of all kinds and turning them into funds to support local Christian schools by offering tuition assistance to students, among other things. It is a great model for sustainability since relatively nothing gets wasted and it is also an example of what can be done when a community examines its consumption/waste patterns and turns them into something beneficial with a lasting impact (helping education grow). Go Harley and Second Life, go!

Arlene has also helped fill us not only with extremely delicious food (apricot chicken last night and homemade oatmeal this morning) but she has lifted our spirits with laughter and good cheer... especially, sharing her light with us when we've needed it most-- when we have all been weary as this journey draws to a close.
Thanks, Verbeeks... thanks for everything. We truly hope that you visit us soon in Seattle too! Our door and our hearts are always open.

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