Monday, July 26, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Here is our new home. The address is 109 N. Mill Street in Decorah, IA. We bought it over the internet so it was unseen until June 30th. It needs some TLC but will work for us. I mean, it has running water, a shower, refrigerator, stove and washer/dryer. What more can we ask for, especially since we have mainly been living in a tent for 3 years?

We didn't keep much in storage but our friends came through and our house is almost fully furnished. We're still lacking a bed and dressers so we are still sleeping on the floor and living out of bins but it will come around.

What are we doing now? We certainly haven't been bored. After going to see our families we have been very busy working on a forclosure house in Cedar Rapids (for pay). I have also been working on my resume and continuing education credits so I can re-instate my Iowa license and work again as a dietitian in Iowa. This week (7/25 - 7/31) is Ragbrai and Ward is providing sag service for a group. I will be joining them on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike again.

The end of the trip was a bitter sweet. We are both ready to get back to a more routine life and to know what is around the corner. However, it has been a dream for so long that it is sad to see it come to an end. Are there plans in the works? Of course. We will be writing a book after we review our 18,000 photos and numerous tablets of journals. We will also be traveling to India and Thailand in 2012.

We'll keep you informed of any new happenings. Until then, thanks to everyone that has been following us and supporting us through the trip. We couldn't have done it without you.

The 1106th day of our trip, the final day!

June 30th was the final day of our 1106 day bike trip. We did it in style. Fifteen friends from Decorah came to bike the last day with us. It started out with a complimentary breakfast at the Lady Luck Casino for all of us (thank you Lady Luck). It was then followed by many organized stops and a lot of fun! We certainly didn't want to hurry our last day. Ward tried to get rid of his burly. Russ volunteered to drag it but found out he needed a little extra help.

One of our final stops was at Shanna (Putnam) Dibble's house where she had beverages and snacks for us. She also provided us with a package that was mailed to her house. It was intended to be a house warming present for us from an unknown person (I'm sure it was one of my sister's). So meet Lucy Goosey. Ward tied her on the bike and she rode in with us. She now sits on our new porch and people watches.

Once we hit Decorah we were tracked down by the poporatsi (Eric Clement). He took many photos of us as we biked our last miles, including a photo in front of the Decorah sign (photos to be coming). Our first stop, once in town, was at TBocks where many other friends joined us. It was the best homecoming that we could have had. Now its time to see our new house. The gang came to our house with us to see it for the first time. We enjoyed beer and wine and broke it in the right way.


Welcome Back Party in Madison, WI

The party continues...the last day of the ride (June 26th), Kay and Harry Lum threw us a welcome back party at their home in Madison, WI. It was really fun to see some of our other friends that weren't on the ride.

Then the next day they organized a bike ride around Madison with re-hydration stops every 5-10 miles. Great strategy. We had a beautiful day and I thank everyone that came out to join us for the ride. A special treat for me was when my sister, brother-in-law, and niece showed up to ride with us. My niece Emily is only 7 and loves to ride. She came decked out in her bike gear.

Monday we rode 60 miles to our friend's (Den and Maggie) cabin. It happened to be on the route and a was a great welcoming as we needed to relax after a full week of fun. Tuesday we rode to Prairie du Chein where we would then meet up with our local friends and bike the final day into Decorah.

Grabaawr, a week of celebration with friends (6/20 - 6/26)

The second part of the week offered more fun and craziness. They decided to have a canoe race across the WI river with a lemond start (running) and ending with a run to the finish line. My team, named Team Bone Dry, consisted of Ward, Dale Putnam and myself. We were surprised that the press showed up for the event. We actually got 4th out of about 15 teams. We could have done better if Dale wouldn't have tipped us over at the end.

Ward and I continued to carry our own gear which made us a lot slower than everyone else. Its quite humbling to be at the back of the pack. We rode hard but allowed time and energy for line dancing and relaxing.

We had to say goodbye to our great friends...until next year.

Grabaawr, the first part of the week (6/19 - 6/22)

We made it to Eagle River with a day to spare. We needed that extra day of rest to get ready for what lay ahead...a week of celebration! It just happened that Dennis, whom we had met in Florida, was going to be up in our area. So, he drove to Eagle River to meet us and took us out to lunch. What a nice beginning to the ride.

We had many friends do the ride with us. What a great way to reconnect after 3 years of being away. If you recall, we started our trip in June of 2007 by riding the Grabaawr. It was a week of toasting, telling lies and stories that only had to be 50% true, hanging out with our friends, dancing and singing at the bars, and wearing the blue jersey that was made in memory of our friend, Mark, who had been killed last fall riding his bike in Iowa. He was definitely with us in spirit.

We had a couple of guest appearances from Kelsey and Paul Scanlon, and my mom and my sister, Lorna and Donna. What a fun first part of the trip!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Heading West Through MI to Bike the Grabaawr! Bike Ride Across Wisconsin.

We left Dave and Annette's place in the Sault Saint Marie area to head to the Grabaawr (Great Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River). Our goal was to be in Eagle River by June 18th so that we could have a rest day prior to the ride starting. We will be doing the ride fully loaded while most of the other riders will be riding very light road bikes.

As we started heading west we found ourselves traveling through bear country. In fact, Strong Corners is the bear capitol of the WORLD! The roads were outlined by heavily wooded areas and we had to keep a close eye on the ditches and woods. We actually saw a a bear on the side of the road. We weren't really paying attention as we were talking at the time and by the time Jacky saw it and slammed on her brakes, Ward didn't expect this and ran into her. Luckily no one fell and the bear, after taking a second look, walked back into the woods. Its quite ironic because we just got rid of our bear spray a few days prior after carrying it all the way from Alaska. Yes, we are in the northern woods of Wisconsin.

We are mainly camping now but occasionally stay in a cheap hotel if weather warrants it. We have had a lot of fun sitting outside talking to the construction workers that stay at these hotels while they are completing jobs. We not only tell lies and stories but we learn a lot from them about the area.

As we bike we notice most everything. As you can see we passed a unique billboard. One that seemed to be talking to us. We also passed the Rosebud Cafe. Ward's mother's name is Rose and she would sign her name "Rosebud".

Our last night in Michigan we spent free camping in a little park just outside of the town of Norway. They had a natural springs there. As we cooked our supper we observed tons and tons of people coming from all around to fill their water jugs, water bottles, anything they had with them. They said it was the purist and best water you could ever get. We tried some ourselves and confirmed this to be true.

Now onto Wisconsin! Jacky's old stomping grounds! She felt very welcomed by all of the Green Bay packer signs.

Visiting Friends in Sault Saint Marie

Our goal was to arrive in the Sault Saint Marie area on June 12th. We actually arrived a day early. Why did we want to go so far north? Ward's friends have a summer home up here, Dave and Annette Swick. Ward and Dave's friendship and debauchery started back in college. They haven't seen each other in many years so spending a few days here was going to be a real treat.

They built this beautiful summer home with their own sweat. It took them 7 years to finish but it will be a nice retirement home once they quit teaching in Waterloo, IA. While we were there we had to arm wrestle to be able to do some work. They were insisting that we just rest but that is not in our vocabulary. We had great fun helping them put in the dock, plant flowers and start a perennial flower garden. But, you know Ward, he can't leave without tuning up all the bikes.

We had such a fun time and we're looking forward too hooking up with them in Iowa.

Heading up to Sault Saint Marie, MI

We had a great ride up through MI. We pushed it hard on the nice days so that we could have the flexibility to take off a day that was stormy. We also made sure we allowed a little time to do some re-hydrating. You just have to stop at "Jack's R Wild". Jacky has a bad reputation she has to uphold!

Along the way we passed by many signs and billboards that seemed to tell the story. Yes, this was Jacky's dream. But, sometimes for Ward it was a nightmare! (just kidding).

As we approached Mackinac Bridge, we were informed that they did not allow bicycles to cross it. The prior night we stayed with a Rotarian, Walter, who provided a nice camper for us to stay in. He volunteered to drive us across the bridge. Boy was this appreciated. It made it so much easier for us. As we were crossing the bridge we soon realized why they don't let bicycles cross it. There wasn't any shoulder at all and a lot of construction going on so it was down to 2 lanes. It would have been very dangerous. The bridge is 5 miles long. One time it was so windy that a small car was blown over the side. So, now they have an escort system where someone will drive your car across the bridge for you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada

We crossed the border into Canada and visited Niagara Falls. What a beautiful sight. There was so much spray from the falls that we ended up soaked.

From there we booked across Canada staying with Dave Mitchell (warm showers organization) along the way. We passed by a curling stone manufacturer. This was Jacky's sport through High School and very popular back in the Midwest so we stopped to check it out. It turns out that there are only 2 curling stone manufacturers in the whole world. This one and one in Scotland. Pretty cool.

We entered back into the US (through MI)on June 5th. We were questioned at the U.S. border for 45 minutes. I guess we need to clean ourselves up. We must look dangerous.

Now we are heading up to Sault Saint Marie and from there we will head to Eagle River, WI where we will start the Grabaawr (week long ride from north WI to the south) on June 20th. We will be biking into Decorah, IA on June 30th!