Posts tagged Bike Ride

God’s Canvas

CoalMy riding group is a bit confused when Bart pulls into the Quality Inn Hotel parking lot.  Carol looks at Mac who only shrugs his shoulders.  Faith is asking Pete if we are staying at the hotel.  Martha finally clears up our confusion and says, “Guys, there wasn’t much to pick from here with regards to RV parks.  There’s one behind this hotel.”

And, indeed, there is.  It doesn’t have any WiFi or TV reception, but we are finding that we look at TV less and less.  And as far as internet service, we all know we can do with a little less on-line socializing and web surfing.

Of course, my thought is, “What is my French friend, Lucas, going to think if I don’t get in touch with him on our social media site?”  Well, Lucas is going to have to wait a day.  I know he will understand.

We help Bart get the trailer setup then we head to the grocery store to pick up tonight’s supper ingredients.  We decided to keep it simple with hot dogs, hamburgers, and chips.  Faith throws in a can of baked beans.  I think that isn’t her wisest move, but I say nothing.

Once shopping is done, we head to the Navajo Interactive Museum.  I am in awe of the history of the Navajo nation.  This is a place I want to come back to when I’m done with this trip of mine.

Next, we drive out to Coal Mine Canyon where I meet a nice photographer named Matt.  He’s already taken some wonderful shots of this breathtaking canyon, so I wonder why he’s hanging around.  Of course, my suspicious side kicks in, and I think he’s really not a photographer but someone who is up to no good.  I go so far as to assume he stole the camera and never took any of those pictures.  Faith is as guarded as I am, but, once again, Bart starts talking to Matt as if they were old friends.

Turns out, Matt is waiting for sunset to get his final shots.  And within fifteen minutes, we begin to see what he’s waiting for.  Matt smiles and says, “Now that’s the ‘God’s Canvas’ I’ve been waiting for.”  We all start snapping pictures of this majestic place.  Words cannot describe the feeling you get while standing on this ridge looking out over the rugged canyon.

And Matt describing it as God’s Canvas is spot-on.  There are pinks, oranges, purples, along with some light yellows and dark blues.  And all of my suspicions about Matt wash away when he helps me understand how to get the most out of the camera I’ve owned for years.  He shows me just exactly how to get that professional look.  How can I ever pay Matt back for his kindness?

I decide to invite him to dinner, something I shouldn’t have done since I have not been allowed to buy any food on this trip since meeting up with my friends.  But they all agree that’s the least we could do for Matt’s professional help and knowledge.

That night, as we sit around a campfire talking about today’s events, I wonder where Matt’s travels will take him next?  It’s not long before I find out.  Matt will be headed to the Grand Canyon, our next stop.  We ask if he would like to tag along.

Matt eyes our bikes and says, “I’d love to, but is there any way I could use one of those bikes?”

Pete is quick to say, “Use mine.  I’ll drive your car.”

We settle in for the night, happy that we’ve added one more person to this growing party of mine.  I can hardly wait to see what Matt will be seeing along the road.  I bet he takes a bunch of pictures before we even get to the Grand Canyon.

My final thoughts before falling asleep are, “Thank you, God, for showing me Your canvas of life.  You’ve painted in another person I’ll never forget.  Matt, thanks for showing me God’s Canvas.”

And in my real world, there have been many times I’ve gotten a glimpse of God’s Canvas.  Sometimes it’s a brilliant sunrise on Pikes Peak, or a crystal clear stream.  But often times, God’s canvas shows the harshness of life, like a homeless man in a tattered coat waiting in a soup kitchen line, a child longingly looking in a bakery window only to find out those delicacies aren’t in their parent’s budget.  But if one truly looks at this canvas even when the bleakness is showing, they’ll see God’s love.  God is everywhere we look, in everything we do, and in every person we see.  We just need to be aware of the beauty that surrounds us daily.

Much like Martha and Jake are finding out on their own state-by-state bike trip in my first novel, Going the Distance.  You can read more about this book by clicking on this link – www.amazon.com/dp/1500552607 And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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No Whining Allowed

ImageAs I continue my trek to the west coast I find myself thinking that ending this trip in Dundee Oregon might just be the right thing to do as it’s taken me 3 times as long to get to this point, but then I tell myself to stop whining.  I know that road fatigue is my reason for even having such a thought and then I notice that there is a designated protected bike lane on this highway I’m on and I figure “Hey, this area deserves a good look see.”

As I ride down this highway I see vineyard after vineyard and wished that I was more of a wine drinker.  Then I think “why not at least take some wine tours and sample a little.”  My caution light goes off in my head knowing that I am a recovering alcoholic so I opt to avoid the wine tours.  In my head I chastise myself for not having more control over alcohol as now I’m going to be missing out on what could have been a fun tour.  Again I tell myself to stop whining.  If I really wanted to see how wine was made then I could take a tour and just not sample any if I thought it would send me on a binge.

As I ride farther into Dundee I see tons of restaurants and decide that maybe my safest bet is to sample the foods of this area as opposed to the wine.  I check in at the Dundee Manor Bed and Breakfast, a fabulous bed and breakfast indeed.  I am immediately told about several wine tours that I can take and I wonder “Is God testing me?”  As I get myself cleaned up after my ride that day, I keep thinking about those tours and if I would be able to actually take a sip of wine without the alcoholic repercussions.  I decide to do some praying on the issue and am pleased to feel a stronger urge to simply snoop around town and take in some of the local food fare.

I decide to eat lunch at the La Sierra Mexican Grill where I was able to dine for less than $10.00.  I was asked if I’d like to try any of their wine and chose to simply get a glass of lemonade, but again found myself having a pity party that I was unable to go on a wine tour.  Why did I have to have inherited that addiction gene from my parents?  Once again, my whining about my addiction was more than I could handle.

I inquired about what other sites I might want to partake in that would not cost me a great deal of money.  My waitress told me about the beautiful parks this town has and all were free as long as I enjoyed a good walk.  That was exactly what my whining mind needed so I tipped my waitress, paid my bill and headed towards Crabtree Park which I was told was quite picturesque.

As I neared the park I started seeing signs for Erath Vineyards and how they had daily wine tours.  My mind was ready to explode.  How could one town have so many wineries?  Well, my whining head just couldn’t take it anymore and I decided to tempt fate and take one of those tours.  I walked through Crabtree Park which truly was spectacular and on to Erath Vineyards where I was greeted by a delightful person who took me on a guided tour.  As we headed towards their tasting room I explained that I’d be unable to taste any wine, but was thrilled to see exactly how this one winery created their award winning flavors.

I went back to the bed and breakfast, had a wonderful meal that night at another local favorite then knew it was time to get some rest as that Pacific Ocean was calling to me.  I went to sleep that night knowing that I had conquered my whining, had faced my addiction and won, and was now graced with this lovely room that would provide my mind with the rest it needed to avoid any future whining spells.

And in my real world I think about the number of times I find myself whining about various things.  Sometimes I have reason to whine, but so often I must tell myself to stop and get on with life as there are people out there with a lot worse problems then I face on any given day.

Catholic Charities’ staff sees many of these people each day who have issues so much greater than the ones I face.  We get e-mails from loved ones hoping we’ve seen a family member who maybe went off their meds and has gone missing.  We have families who find their lives turned upside down and inside out when a layoff or medical crisis stretches their livelihood to the breaking point.  Some are familiar with this lifestyle, but others are new to it and are somewhat embarrassed to even be here asking for help.  It is these people who I say have every right to whine yet many of them don’t, they sit back patiently waiting for Catholic Charities to point them in the right direction and give them that hand up.

We all need a hand up every now and then so when you hear someone whining a little don’t think to yourself “Oh stop your whining!”  Instead tell yourself to listen to their whining and see if maybe you could possibly give them a hand up which simply could be suggesting where they could go to get some financial help.

And as I head home tonight whining that I still have 25 miles to ride before I’m actually at the Pacific Ocean, I’ll think about those people who maybe no longer have the ability to ride a bike and will thank God that He’s given me the drive to continue on this virtual trip I’m on.  And even though it’s taken me over 3 years to get to the west coast, I’m ecstatic that I’ve actually kept at this trip of mine.  It’s through you faithful readers that spurs me on and keeps me going the distance.  God bless you all and know that it is okay to whine every once in a while as long as you can get over it and move on in life.

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All Good Things Must Come to an End

As with all good things, an end comes at some point.  No, my trip has not ended, but my money came to an end.  I found myself in Drummond Montana with depleted funds and in desperate need of a job.  I knew that I had enough money left to buy food and lodging at an RV park for a month, but I didn’t want to continue on the road knowing that my money was dwindling. 

So my first task when I arrived in Drummond was to find an RV park and then a job.   I was a bit concerned knowing that Drummond is a small town of 400 citizens, but I stood in faith that God would direct me as He had done up to this point.  What happened to me could be considered extraordinaire, but is pretty typical of what I found in small towns and by having faith in God.  I stopped by a gas station to inquire about any RV parks and was a bit taken aback when I discovered they only had a city park.  When asked why I was looking for a park I explained my predicament.  To my surprise this town had been waiting for the crazy lady riding across the United States to come through their town.  I was told to go to the Wagon Wheel Café and Motel where I’d be able to get my free lunch.  

I headed over to the Wagon Wheel thinking “a free meal is nice, but what I really need is a job.”  As I approached the Wagon Wheel my eyes immediately gravitated to a sign in the window saying “Help Wanted”.  Could God be this good to me by providing me a free meal and possibly a job?  I would soon find out.  

I entered the restaurant and was immediately greeted by the hostess.  She asked me where I was from and when I explained, her grin seemed as wide as the state of Montana.  “Great, we were hoping that you would stop in our town.  Your meal is on us.”  I thanked her and proceeded to tell her that I was also in need of a temporary job so that I could save some money and continue on my trip.  She seated me at a booth then went to tell the manager of my predicament.  The manager was soon seated across from me asking me what my talents were.  I explained that I had mostly done administrative work, but that I was also experienced with cleaning as I had my own cleaning business for a few years and also cleaned condo units while living in Aspen.  He asked if I had any experience cooking.  I told him I was a good cook, but that I hadn’t worked in a restaurant kitchen since my high school days.  He grinned and said I was exactly what he was looking for and that I had a job for as long as I needed to stay.  He also said that housing would not be an issue because he had a small cottage behind his home that he’d let me stay in.  

I got myself settled in and the next day I began working at my newest job.  My time at the Wagon Wheel allowed me to meet some great people who know the meaning of treating people right.  The staff was always happy and it showed with the work they did.  Rooms were always immaculate and the clientele would always comment on how surprised they were and how they’d make this their stop each and every time they’d come through this way.  Despite the lousy economy across this country, this small Montana town still knew how to keep business going. 

I have been so blessed on this trip of mine and I know that God is truly a great God.  I believe that my faith in God has led me on this trip and continues to lead me through life.  I spent 2 months there before I felt I had enough funds built back up to make it to the west coast.  I know that I’ll need to find jobs along the way, but I also realize that faith in God and the goodness you receive back from God is the one good thing that does not come to an end.  It grows as we grow.  And it’s through this faith in God that I’m able to continue my trek across this great country of ours.

 And in my real world, faith in God gives me the strength to deal with the sorrow of having to put my dog down, deal with the issues of caring for my elderly mother, dealing with my own health issues, and working for a non-profit that struggles with these economic times just as our clients struggle to make ends meet.  It is this faith that has kept me going forward on this virtual bike ride of mine.  I have never stuck with any exercise program as long as I have this one.  It is true that it’s taken me several months to get across one state and I did take a lot of time off during these past several months to regroup and deal with the issues of life.  But it is through my faith in God that has kept me focused on my goal and has given me the drive to continue.  I don’t beat myself up for taking so many days off or for taking so long to make it through Montana on this virtual ride.  I see this as a huge accomplishment. 

As I say my daily prayers I always include those whose faith may not be so strong.  I ask that God inspire them, motivate them, and help them through all their needs.  We all cannot be famous heroes that will be written about and remembered for years to come, but we all have a place here on this fine earth.  God finds us to all be heroes and He is there for us each and every day, giving us the direction we need.  All we have to do is ask for His help.  And that’s what I’ve done these past several months as I struggled to maintain this bike ride experience.  

Now that I’m in Idaho I find new motivation to keep going the distance.  Let us all find the faith we need to keep going the distance in our daily lives.  May God bless you all.

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