Posts tagged virtual biking

Family Ties

family tiesMy adrenaline heightened as I approached Novato, California. It had been years since I had been here, but I have such fond memories from that last visit.

It was twelve years ago when my sister and her husband and I drove here from Colorado Springs. Both my parents were still alive along with my uncle who lived in San Rafael, California. My heart grows heavy as I miss both my dad and my uncle. Dad passed away in 2004, but the pain of losing my uncle is still fresh. He moved on to be with God in March of this year, but both left their mark on this earth.

My father was a story-teller and family man. His love of people was his strongest attribute. And he was loved by all, in return. Dad instilled in each of his kids to be leaders, to reach for the sky, and to take those chances. Mom softened us, keeping us centered, but there have been times where I felt held back by my mom’s inhibitions. She’s often told me how stupid she thinks this ride, that I’m on, is. Luckily, I’ve chosen to focus more on my dad’s teachings, choosing to ignore Mom’s the-glass-is-half-empty outlook on life.

If Dad were alive today, he’d be cheering me on. In fact, he would have figured out a way to tag along. He so loved traveling, something Mom hates. It’s amazing they got along like they did. Those two had a love that was never-ending. Their marriage wasn’t without disagreements, but their love carried them through. It provided my siblings and me the best foundation in life.

And then there was my uncle. He was a world traveler, seeing almost every country that was safe to travel to. As a child, I found it difficult to connect with him. I found him to be a wee bit too persnickety, but as I matured, I grew to appreciate him. He taught me, indirectly, how to buy quality and take care of it so it would last a lifetime. He also showed me how to entertain. This man could cook, and he knew how to make food look good.

That year my sister, brother-in-law, and I came out here, my uncle showed us what northern California has to offer. We went to Muir Woods, took a trip up towards Bodega Bay and saw a cool lighthouse. There was wine country, Monterey Bay, and Carmel. We took the ferry across the bay and toured San Francisco, taking a cable car ride and eating lunch on Fisherman’s Warf. So many memories my uncle gave us that year.
And now both my dad and my uncle have left us to be with our Maker. They are missed by many, but we all know they are happy to be with our Lord. They will continue to influence me on my trip across the country.

As I pull into the RV park we stayed at twelve years ago, I say a quick prayer of thanks for having such a great dad and uncle. They taught me the importance of family ties. I would not be who I am today, had it not been for both of them.

My stay here will be short, though. When I started this journey, my uncle was still alive, and I had hoped to spend some quality time with him. Now I’ll simply rest up so I can start heading east into Nevada. Next big stop, Sacramento, California.

And in my real world, my father and uncle were important entities in my life. I would not be here blogging had they not inspired me to be the very best I can be. The things I wrote above are all true, although some of the timing is altered.

And although I’m only on this ride in the virtual sense, my mother still finds it silly along with me being a blogger and author of a series of books about this virtual ride I’m on. I don’t think ill of her, though, she was raised to always take the sure thing and not think you could be something more than a simple person. Like I said above, I think her attitude and my father’s shoot-for-the-stars attitude complimented each other. It’s what rounded out each of their four kids.

None of my siblings is exactly like the other. We all have different dreams and aspirations, but we are all passionate about life. Family is most important to all four of us. We have rallied around our aging mother; ensuring she has the best of care to extend her life, hopefully well into her 90s. We have helped each other out in hard times. We defend and protect as needed.

Our family ties have created a bond that is unbreakable. And we, in turn, are passing on these great qualities to our children who are passing them along to their children. It truly is the circle of life. I’m forever blessed to be a part of this great family. It’s what keeps me moving forward not only on my virtual trip, but with my pursuit of getting my books published.

It’s also what keeps me focused on the works Catholic Charities of Central Colorado does. Our goal is to help each family keep their family ties together. I know Catholic Charities isn’t able to help each and every client build a life like I have, but we do as much for each family as our funding allows. And as long as we continue to have great donors and a faith that’s unwavering, we’ll all be able to continue to go the distance. God bless.

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Night and Day

Day-And-Night-I woke up to the sounds of the tent being zipped or unzipped. As it turned out, it was being unzipped. Sarah and Alan had big news and wanted to get back to Garberville as soon as they could. Alan had proposed to Sarah some time yesterday, and Sarah had accepted. They wanted to get a rental car, so they could get back to Eureka and catch a flight back to Colorado.

The transformation in Sarah was like night and day. She had her bags packed, the campsite was spotless, and even my stuff was ready for the road. I congratulated both of them, wished them well, and explained I just couldn’t stop this ride to head backwards. Even though Sarah was being called home, the open road continued to call to me.

Good-byes were said, and we parted ways. It was nice having the company for a while, but I found the freedom of riding alone invigorating. I no longer needed to think about where I was going to stay or eat based off of what I thought my niece and her fiancé would like. And God, in His infamous ways, blessed us with perfect riding weather to both of our destinations.

My trip to Laytonville, California, was a short 26 miles, although my legs were killing me. But once I found out that Laytonville is considered the highest town on Highway 101, I knew why my legs where barking at me. Those deceptive inclines in the roads can be muscle bashers.

After picking up some fresh produce at a local farmer’s market, I found a nice RV park where I set-up camp. It felt good fixing my fresh veggies for just me, and reading a good book on my Kindle without feeling the need to visit with anyone. I am truly a loner-type of person, who finds happiness in my alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I do love being around family and friends, but I also enjoy the peace and tranquility that God is giving me on this trip.

The next day, I rode on to Willits, California, opting to stay at the Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa. It has a lovely swimming pool, which was tempting, but since I don’t own a swimsuit, I decided to check out the Mendocino County Museum. This place was just what I needed. I got to look at pieces and artifacts from several different centuries. It really made me ponder how different things were way back when; yet, some things haven’t changed at all.

I ate dinner at Busters Burgers and Brew. It was here that I eavesdropped on a conversation about the lawsuits the Whitman Corporation encountered with the pollution they allegedly inflicted on the locals here. I wondered if this company had really been at fault, giving some of these locals’ health issues as a result of the pollution, or if these people got those health issues for other reasons. Not knowing the details of the case, I wasn’t about to get involved in the conversation, but it did bring back memories of some of the other towns I’ve been through where big corporations acted irresponsibly.

After a good night’s sleep, I pushed on to Ukiah, California, childhood home of Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packer’s quarterback. Of course, the real celebrity of Ukiah is the town itself. It was voted the best California small town to live in back in 1996. I could instantly see why.

There were these rolling fields of grapes just waiting to be harvested into succulent bottles of wine. And the older homes with their classy front porches, architectural design elements, and welcoming yards brought me back to my childhood days living in the older sections of Omaha, Nebraska. I just love the charm and individuality of older homes. I just don’t like the maintenance that goes along with them, like old wiring, leaking pipes, and deteriorating wood frames.

But if you are lucky enough to find one of those gems, whose faithful owners took care of everything, updating those hidden hazards, then consider it a gift from God. And Ukiah had several of those gems from the way they looked from the outside. Seeing these homes is the difference between night and day with the homes in Colorado Springs; so many of the homes there are cookie-cutter homes. But despite the fact that your home looks exactly like your neighbor’s on the outside, know that the insides are different to reflect our individual personalities. That’s what makes each and every one of us different; like night and day.

That night, as I lay in my hotel bed thinking about what a great week I was having, I thanked God for all the different things He’s allowed me to encounter. Life was good.

And in my real world, I’m coming off a busy time coping with my aging mother’s health. But all is not bad. Mom is doing much better, especially with the help of my brother, who tends to her needs during the day while I’m at work. He’s between jobs right now, so he has the time to help my mother with her exercises, housework, and every day activities.

Taking on this care giving role is night and day from my brother’s accounting world, yet he filled those shoes without even one hiccup. And the change in my mother is dramatic. I’ve talked before, about the needs our seniors require, and how it is our responsibility to ensure their health and safety. And as much as I know my brother would like to be working in his field again, this sister is grateful for the loving and gentle way he’s caring for our mother. He has added years to her life, and God will be gracing him for his kind and caring ways. Kudos to you, Dan, for stepping up to that plate.

All of what I’ve been going through the past couple of months has made me think about just how different we are. Just in my family alone, each sibling reacted to Mom’s health issues differently. Even though the four of us have the same parents, we are different in so many ways, just as every human being is different. I think that’s why God asked us not to judge people. Our elected officials could learn a thing or two about not judging, and not demanding their way as being the only right way.

So as I continue my virtual trip across the United States, as I continue to write my fictional novels and care for my mother, my family, and my pets, I’ll be praying that each of us appreciates both the night and the day in each of us. God bless, and let’s keep going the distance.

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The Cutting Edge

missionAlan and I were up early and were ready to go before Sarah even started moving. Oh, the challenges this aunt is having dealing with her niece’s living habits. “Give me patience, Lord.” But we were all on the road in plenty of time to get to Garberville, California, for a nice lunch.

Garberville is known as the marijuana heartland of the United States. They even have a Cannabis College there. I’ll assume this college is on the up and up side of medical marijuana crops, but since I’ve never smoked a regular cigarette much less a “joint”, I had no interest in a crop that seems to have kept this small community alive.

Let’s just say, this town seemed to be living on the cutting edge for most of its existence. I say that because for a town that looks like it hasn’t progressed much since its inception, the people are well versed with current events and hold a much looser view of how to live your life. I think I could learn a thing or two from these people. Not like I’m going to light up a joint and chill for a while, but I did see where a bit more tolerance, on my part, could help my ride across the country be more enjoyable.

My irritation with my niece this morning is proof that I’m pretty tightly wound at times. Now I never said anything to Sarah about sleeping in an extra thirty minutes, but she could tell I was not pleased. And now that we are here in this lovely town of Garberville, eating a great lunch at a local restaurant, I think, “Why, Betsy, why were you so crabby this morning? Did that thirty minutes matter in the whole scheme of things?” It did not, and I will make a better effort to try to understand the actions of my niece. She’s a wonderful woman, and I’ve never given her a chance to grow in my life. Shame on me.

Alan and Sarah continue to connect. It’s cute watching Alan work his ways with Sarah. Of course, he doesn’t have to work too hard most of the time, but Sarah’s staunch aunt will still not allow her to spend her nights in Alan’s tent. I draw the line there, not wanting any repercussions from her parents. I mean, she is an adult and can do as she pleases, but not on my watch. And it’s not as if Sarah has mentioned this topic, but the handwriting is on the wall. I figure my two riding partners will only make it as far as San Francisco before they take off on their own. Until then, I’ll enjoy their company, and will work at getting to know both of them better.

Alan was kind enough to pay for our lunches, and we were on our way again, but not before we checked out the local farmers market. Lo and behold, Garberville grows much more than marijuana. Next stop, Smithe Redwoods State Reserve, a mere nineteen miles from Garberville. The scenery was often times mind blowing. This is a lush, treed stretch of Highway 101, with spectacular views of the valleys below. So much of this was reminiscent of my journey through the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The three of us get to the campground with plenty of daylight to allow Sarah and Allan to hike around. I should have gone, but this old lady didn’t care to get any closer to the edge of total body shut-down, so I chose to read and figure out what I was going to make for our supper that night. I opted to try my hand at dutch oven lasagna and garlic bread. Sarah and Alan worked on a nice fresh salad from the produce we purchased in Garberville, and the meal was a big hit with everyone.

That night, Alan made a nice campfire, and we sat around telling stories. I learned a few more things about both Sarah and Alan. The one thing they weren’t admitting to was how much in love they were becoming, but it was a plain as the moon in the sky that night. I dropped my over-protective attitude, and allowed the two of them to wander off into the moonlit night. It was quite romantic watching them walk away arm in arm.

As I waited for the two of them to return, I thought about Sarah’s mission work. Was she really doing what was asked of her, or was she simply taking a paid vacation? It wasn’t long before I got my answer. I heard both Sarah and Alan chatting with another young couple camped not too far from us. Sarah and Alan were sharing tales of their life and this ride we are all on. Sarah explained how she was able to be here as a representative for the organization she worked for. The woman was enthralled with the mission Sarah was on, but was more enraptured with why I chose to attempt such a feat.

Sarah says, “Well, Aunt Betsy doesn’t know it, but that’s exactly why my boss sent me here. He wants to see how a ride like this can change a person, how it can bring you closer to God living this simple life. I can tell you this; my aunt is a totally different person than she was when she first started out. She’s living God’s word, and she’s touched on so many people’s lives; lives she doesn’t even realize she’s touched upon. It’s quite remarkable.”

My eyes welled up with tears as I heard her words. I’d never thought of myself as a steward of God’s word. I was simply living my life, but I guess I was living more on that cutting edge than I had ever imagined. It made me realize that this wasn’t just a trip to lose weight, a trip to escape the pressures of life, or even a trip to say, “Hey! I rode through all 48 states.” This was God driven, and I knew I needed to be letting go more and letting God. He had me on a mission, just as Sarah’s boss had her on a one.

I knew, from what Sarah had just said that neither she nor Alan would be ditching me in San Francisco. I also knew I needed to be less critical of how people lived their lives, like those pot farmers in Garberville. I began to wonder what other things I would see along my way that would alter my way of thinking. I never thought of God’s way as being on the cutting edge of life, but now, I think it is. Jesus and his disciples were always stirring up the crowds, making them think, and showing them that ALL people are God’s children.

I fell asleep that night, knowing that Sarah, Alan, and I were truly on a mission from God. I had the best night sleep of my life.

And in my real world, letting go and letting God is a constant struggle, but one I continue to work at each day. I’ve had many “come to Jesus” meetings with myself. The small world I lived in years ago, where everything was definitely black and white, no longer exists. I’ve had to change my ways and my opinions over the years to stay in line with what Jesus teaches us, love your neighbor as yourself. None of us are the same, but we are all God’s children. Some manage to wander off God’s path, but God didn’t put us here to place judgment on anyone. He is the judge that matters. As long as we are living a Godly life, even if that life is on the cutting edge, we should have nothing to fear when we meet our Maker.

Recently, I’ve struggled with the issues of my aging mother and her desire to not spend money on things that could give her a better quality of life, like getting dentures that fit. I’d find myself wanting to scream at her because she wouldn’t wear her upper plate, and the rotting teeth on the bottom made my stomach turn. I got to the point where I almost couldn’t talk to her. I judged her on how I thought she should be living her life, that is until a couple of weeks ago when we almost lost her. What an eye opener that was. Who cares if she doesn’t wear her teeth? If she can eat, isn’t that all that matters? Yes, I realize those rotting teeth should come out for health reasons, but when she is so afraid of dentists that it affects her health because of the stress, isn’t it better to just let her live out her final years the way that makes her happiest? That’s what I’ve decided to do, and if you don’t agree, well, I just don’t care. I know in my heart that God has inspired me to let go of this issue and hand it over to Him. If He wants those teeth to come out, He’ll do something about it.

So for those of you who are a little stuffy like I was, let go for just a day, try out that cutting edge stuff, and see how much closer to God you become. And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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Priorities

PrioritiesI can’t be sure why I’m poking along, taking my time getting to McKinleyville, California. It was only 22 miles from Trinidad, but I just couldn’t seem to ride very far each day. I found my mind wandering a lot, and about nothing special.

The views of the ocean were spectacular. I could hear the ebb and flow of the waves as they rhythmically move, almost like some sort of dance. At one point, there was a parking area off the side of the road with access to the beach.

I decided to take time out from this ride and do some reflecting. Water always helped me feel close to God, and God was who I was missing right then.

As I sat on the beach, allowing the ocean to tickle my toes, I thought back as to why I seemed to feel depressed. The weather had been picture perfect, so I knew that wasn’t it. My money was holding out, and I wasn’t yearning for any nourishment.

I decided to think back as to when this depressed feeling started. I had been unsuccessful finding any type of volunteer work in Trinidad, but that hadn’t bothered me. I took advantage of my time there and did a lot of sightseeing.

Then it hit me, while I was out snooping around, I came across an old man who was kneeling before some sort of memorial that had been erected in his backyard. I quietly watched this man as he prayed; at least I think he was praying. When he finished, I saw him touch a photo that had been imbedded into the stone memorial. I could make out that the photo was of a woman.
I allowed myself to assume this woman was the man’s wife. I figured he recently lost his wife, and was still mourning the loss. Judging by his frailty and white hair, I figured the man to be in his late 80’s or maybe early 90’s. Assuming he and his wife married young, I figured they had been married over 60 years. How hard that would be to love someone that long and be the one left behind.

Later that day, as I sat at the diner counter eating my lunch, I inquired about the old man. My waitress, a middle-aged woman, knew exactly who I was talking about, but some of my assumptions were wrong. The man was 92, but the photo was a picture of his daughter who had passed away over 60 years ago.

The man had been a salesman which took him away much of the week. His daughter would often beg him to come to one of her baseball games, but Jim, the old man, always explained that work came first. His daughter grew to accept the fact that her father’s job took him away, and unlike her friends’ parents, was unable to be a bigger part in her life. Her mom would show up occasionally, but most game days, the mother needed to be home with their other children.

On one sunny day, the girl headed off to practice and was struck by a speeding car. She was killed instantly. Her father was away and couldn’t be reached by phone since there weren’t any cell phones back then. His wife had to wait until he phoned her to give him the tragic news.

My heart grew heavy thinking about how this father must have felt hearing that horrible news long distance. I began to realize just how good things like cell phones, internet, and other modern devices are to communicating with others. I had often condemned the popularity of texting stating that it takes away the closeness between people, but this story made me rethink my position on this.

As I continued to listen, my waitress grew solemn while she swallowed hard before finishing her story. She said, “That man was my father. He was never the same after my sister was killed.”
I made my condolences, quietly finished my lunch, and got on my way. I had been thinking how tragic it had been that the man had never seen his daughter play baseball, probably missed birthdays, first attempts at anything, and wasn’t there the day the accident happened.

I soon realized that my depression was based off of the number of times I had ignored a loved one, claiming to be too busy for them. Subconsciously, I had been thinking how selfish my ride seemed to be, but then I realized that I was still doing God’s work. I thought back to all the wonderful people I had met and who had helped me along my way.

As I sat watching the waves dance, I decided that the best thing I could do to remedy my situation was to call family and friends more often. I even thought that some of my nieces and nephews may like to join me on some of this ride. How great would that be to have that kind of quality time with a loved one.

I got up, brushed the sand off of me, and headed back to my bike. I grabbed my phone, called each of my siblings, and told them how much I love them and miss them. Then I called a few friends and my nieces and nephews. Surprisingly, my middle niece said she’d love to ride with me. Her job is with a local ministry, and they decided she could do some ministering along the way.
I’ll be meeting up with Sarah in Eureka, California. I have new found energy since Eureka is only about 25 miles from where I stood. I felt like I had my priorities straight again. Never would I ever take any loved one for granted for we just don’t know when God calls them home.

And in my real world, I just experienced losing my uncle. He lived in California for years. I remember when I was growing up, looking forward to seeing Uncle Hal because he had traveled the world, seen so much, and had such delightful stories to share.

My sister, brother-in-law, and I took a trip out to see him about ten years ago. We had a blast and Hal had shown us so many wonderful sights around the San Francisco area. Then we helped him cull through some personal items that he was thinking about parting with. Most of the items were household items. He gave me this fabulous set of Royal Dalton china that I display proudly in my hutch.

About five years ago, my uncle’s health started going downhill. My sister and I must have said at least a dozen times in the past two years that we needed to get back out to see Hal since he was not able to come see us anymore.

We kept saying, “Maybe next year we can plan a trip out there.” Now it’s too late. Hal has been called home to be with God, and we are left to mourn like the fictitious man at the beginning of my blog.

As my sister and I drove back to Nebraska, where Hal was laid to rest, we spoke about how we had not been good about prioritizing our lives to accommodate the aging relatives we still have. We were grateful that we were able to see some of those relatives at Hal’s funeral, and we are now busy trying to make plans for some sort of family reunion somewhere halfway between the places we live.

Life is too short to spend most of your time working. As important as our jobs are to our livelihood and the people we touch on with any jobs we have, we have to know when to say, “I’m going home to be with my family. That piece of work can wait until tomorrow.”

You see, the work will always be there, and if you aren’t there to do it, someone else will get it done. But you may not have another opportunity to see that school play, a first date, or a special birthday. And for those of you who still have parents who are living, take the time to do things with them even if it’s a little inconvenient for you.

Also, recognize when others, who value family time a little more than you might, need more personal time than maybe you do. Just because you are focused on work projects, doesn’t mean they need to be just like you. God made us alike in a lot of ways, but He also made each of us individually.

I’m going to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to my boss and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado for giving me the personal time off to attend my uncle’s funeral. As my family and I mourn our loss, I can be thankful that I work for a great bunch of people who do recognize that we all need to prioritize the work we do into our personal lives.

So before you race off to another meeting, or head to the gym before going home, take some time to at least call someone and say, “Hey, have I told you lately just how much I love you?” And as always, let’s keep going the distance. God bless you all, and I love you.

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A Time to Rest and Regroup

ImageI decided to stay in Trinidad for a while longer.  It’s not that I was enthralled with what Trinidad has to offer, although it’s a very nice town, but I just felt the need to rest and regroup.  I’ve been on the road for such a long time, and my body needed a little rejuvenating along with my heart, my soul, and my mind.

I’ve taken great pride in what I’ve accomplished, but the fatigue from riding the road seems to have gotten the better of me.  I was no longer seeing the beauty around me.  Instead, I found myself cussing each driver that drove a bit too close to me, or counties that do very little on road improvements.

I knew that it was time for an extended rest so that I could get back to seeing all that God has placed around me.  My hotel was already providing me with a spectacular view of the ocean.  I spent several mornings sitting out on my deck watching the waves crash in.

I took joy in the seal families located on a rocky point just down from my hotel deck.  It amazed me how attentive the cows were with their young, and when I say “cows” I’m not referring to moo cows but to the female seals.  The male seals, called bulls, were quite aggressive at times.  I had to laugh at how similar humans are when courting the opposite sex.  The males strut their stuff while the females act somewhat unimpressed by their antics.

Now don’t start writing to me telling me how offensive my words are when I compare human behavior to animal behavior.  I only meant that as superior as we are to any other living group, we still show signs of similarities, even though those similarities are stretched some.  And it was still fun watching those bulls try to be the king of the colony.  It got my mind off of the hectic pace I had laid out for me, and got me back to a good spot in life.

I don’t know how long I’ll be staying here.  I’ve actually thought about looking for some sort of temp job just to add a little to my wallet, but for right now my finances are holding steady so I may just continue to rest and regroup.

And in my real world, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado big fundraiser event is over.  There’s still some work that needs to be done to finalize our numbers, but the stress of preparing for this huge event is now behind us.

We are all striving to regroup and get our lives back to normal.  Some will have more of an opportunity to rest, while others simply have to adjust their lives back to the normal range.  I am one of those adjusting my life back to a point where I can sit and visit with my elderly mother, do some cleaning, and I can get back to writing since writing is such a passion of mine.

And don’t go thinking that every hurdle in life is some sort of punishment from God.  Sure, He may be testing you, trying to teach you some sort of lesson, but sometimes stuff happens and it’s nothing more than that.

So as we go about our daily grind, take some time to rest, to regroup, so you can continue to enjoy all that God has placed before us.  And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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A Little Fish in the Big Sea

My mind and body are in overdrive since dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon.  I found myself riding harder, yet I was still taking in the beauty of this fine state.  My route, for this leg of the trip, takes me right down the Pacific coastline.  I find myself stopping frequently just to watch those waves crash against the rocks.  It’s an awesome sight, but it makes me realize just how powerful these waters are and how small I am compared to those mighty waves.  At one stop I can hardly believe my eyes; right off the shoreline I see several whales, and my heart does a flip flop as I take in the beauty and almost ballerina-like movements these giant mammals display.  I felt like I had died and gone to Heaven for seeing these creatures of God was awe inspiring.

I finally make it to Newport, Oregon, and get checked into the Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn.  It’s a nice hotel, not far from the shoreline.  I was told about the whale watching that I could participate in, and I was excited to tell them that God had already given me that opportunity.  The staff was pleased then told me about several other things I might opt to partake in such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Newport’s Yaquina Lighthouse.  I was told their goal, at this hotel, was to make my stay there as memorable as possible.  I had to ask “Is this because I’m the crazy lady riding across this country?”  The clerk smiled and said “Well, sort of, but truly, we try to make each guest feel special.”  I assured them that they had succeeded, and that I’d be telling all my friends about this place.

I took my bags to my room, knowing that my biking gear had been safely stored away in the hotel’s storage area.  I found myself tired and needing a nap.  I opened my window, and was immediately graced with a cool ocean breeze that lulled my tired body to sleep.  I dreamed that I was out on the ocean, and a whale had come up to my boat and allowed me to touch it.  I felt one with the ocean, one with the whale, and one with the world.  Then a wave crashed in over the side of my boat almost pushing me over the side.  Fear struck me, and I jolted awake.  I lay there for a moment thinking about that dream and wondering if there was any meaning to it.  I decided that maybe God was telling me that all things on earth are good, but that one needs to stay in the protection of His hands; after all, we are all just a little fish in the big sea.  And being a little fish in that big sea isn’t a bad thing, it just means you can’t throw caution to the wind and think that you are shielded from all evil.

I shook off the dream, although it continued to haunt me some, and took those recommended tours of the aquarium and lighthouse.  Both were spectacular and delivered everything that one finds in their advertisements.  I saw incredible fish and sea creatures, and the lighthouse was amazing.  It brought back fond memories of a trip my sister, brother-in-law, and I took to California several years ago where we saw a lighthouse just north of San Francisco with our uncle who lives in San Rafael.  It was such a fun trip, being able to see something you never see when you’ve lived inland all your life.  And to have had that time with our uncle, well, it was priceless.  My uncle is unable to take such trips now, so having those memories of that trip is something I hold near and dear to my heart.

That evening I ate at the Chowder Bowl, a fabulous restaurant with a superb seafood menu.  And upon my return to the hotel, I decided that this town was just too nice to leave after not even a full day.  I paid for another night at the hotel and was able to scope out the town the next day.  I had another fabulous meal at the Saffron Salmon, and knew when I went to bed that night that God had graced me with this wonderful experience. 

And in my real world I am sad to say that my boss, my mentor, is leaving Catholic Charities and moving on to other things in life.  He has made a profound difference in my life, and I’m happy that he became a part of my little sea.  I think our lives are like little pools of water, and when we combine them throughout the day it creates a larger body of water.  And when you think about all the people you come in contact with just in one day, imagine all those bodies of water banning together and creating that mighty ocean.  We are all a part of that great body of water, and we all have the ability to make a statement, an impact in that body of water.  Just because we are small in comparison doesn’t mean we aren’t needed to complete God’s work.  So remember that each of us has a place in this ocean of God and it is okay being a little fish in a big sea.  We can’t all be those mighty whales, but we can still be a vital part of this great world we live in.  God bless and may you be mighty no matter what size of fish you are.  And God bless my boss.  I pray that God continues to direct you through the waters of life so that our seas combined become an ocean.   And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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An Historic Journey

My journey has almost taken me to one of this fine country’s Pacific coastal states.  I’m 18 miles from Spokane, Washington, but I must say that Idaho has certainly delivered with scenery, hospitality, and comfort.

My first stop in Idaho was the city of Mullan, a town rich in mining although I was soon to discover that many towns I’d pass through were also mining towns. 

Wallace, Idaho was my next stop.  As I rode into Wallace I felt déjà vu like I’ve seen this place before.  I soon discovered why I felt this way.  I made my way to the Wallace RV Park and found a brochure proclaiming Wallace as the #1 Hollywood movie site in Idaho not only for Lana Turner being born there, but also by having had films like “Tornado”, “Heaven’s Gate”, and “Dante’s Peak” filmed there.  Having seen “Dante’s Peak” many times I realized that’s why the town looked so familiar.  It’s funny how our minds can file such an image away for years and retrieve it so quickly.  I did some shopping at the Silver Pine Mercantile, a delightful shop that had a vast array of unique items for sale.  I found myself tempted, but managed to only window shop during my stay in Wallace. 

Kellogg, Idaho was my next stop.  As you enter this town you see a sign that reads “This is the town founded by a jackass and inhabited by his descendants.”  I, of course, needed to find out why such a sign would be posted.  I found a local diner and soon found myself in an energetic conversation with the locals about Noah Kellogg, a prospector who founded this fine city.  Legend has it that his donkey wandered off in 1885.  When Kellogg found the donkey he was grazing in an outcropping of galena, a natural mineral form of lead sulfide.  This outcropping became the site for the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mines.  There were many colorful tales to be heard from some of this town’s elders.  It never ceases to amaze me how friendly people can be if we just stop and allow them to be them.  

A tour of Old Mission State Park capped off my trip through this region before arriving in the last town of Idaho on this route.  The Sacred Heart Mission is the oldest building in Idaho and was built without using a single nail.  This mission was started by Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, Fr. Nicholas Point, and Br. Charles Duet at the request of the Coeur D’Alene Indians.  My visit here was well worth the time. 

As I peddled on towards Coeur d’Alene I enjoyed the feel of spring, the quiet of the forest, and the closeness I felt to God.  The surrounding forest is rugged and dense.  My mind thought about how settlers came through this area in covered wagons hoping to find a new life and the riches of finding gold.  Riding along the edge of I-90 suited me fine because I can only imagine how many people lost their lives striving for a new life while trying to make it through this forest range. 

Having been through many small towns while making my way through Idaho, it was nice to know that Coeur d’Alene would have the much needed bike specialists to do some maintenance work on my bike and for me to spend some days snooping around and learning more about the history of this town, the Native Americans it was named after, and to see what a little publicity by Barbara Walters calling it “a little slice of Heaven” could do to help bolster the economy here.  At least now the state of Idaho will mean more to me than just a potato state. 

And on the real side of this trip it has once again taken me longer to go through the state of Idaho than I had hoped as I continue to deal with health issues.  Not serious ones, but ones that require doctor appointments that seem to drain me of my energy.  I have been told that I have the beginnings of one of the health issues that eventually took my father’s life.  It was a true eye-opener making me realize that one shouldn’t wait to lose weight after the body has been stressed by the excess weight it has carried for so many years.  This health news took me on a historical journey back in time to the days when my father was alive, healthy, and vibrant.  I thought about things we did together as a family, vacations we went on, Sunday excursions, and sitting around the kitchen table on a blustery winter Saturday playing cards.  This journey made me realize just how important and precious life is.  It has impressed upon me the importance of making my virtual bike trip a priority in my life and that healthy eating is that much more important now. 

Like those settlers who trekked through the Coeur d’Alene forest searching for a new life, I find myself realizing that for the past 2 years I have been creating the basis for a new and healthier life by continuing on this biking journey, virtual though it is.  I hope, with this new information on my health, that I stay motivated to ride my bike every day even if it’s only a mile or two.  Like a former co-worker told me when I complained about only having 15-20 minutes to work on a quilt, her comment to me was “You add up all those 15-20 minutes and pretty soon your quilt will be done.”  If I add up each of those miles I do each day, I will eventually reach my goal and hopefully will find myself a whole lot thinner and healthier. 

So take an historical journey in your own life and think about what it was like growing up, what things you enjoyed, what things you’d like to change, and where you see yourself in the future.  You may find yourself saying “I don’t want to end up like Dad did” and then doing something to prevent the same mistakes he made.  Eating healthier has become my new P L A N along with going the distance on this virtual trip of mine.  May God bless you all.

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