On Sunday morning my family & I headed to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We spent more time there then I anticipated. Our family vacation mottoâ€”See it now because weâ€™re not coming back tomorrowâ€”so we made it worth our efforts. But, I started to crashâ€¦I couldnâ€™t stay awake.
Cynthia was right when she predicted a driving dilemma, actually a riding in the vehicle dilemmaâ€”one they experienced when they picked their son up after the 2005 ride. Brian was driving & I could hardly stand to keep my eyes open. I wanted to call out, â€œCar on the rightâ€ or â€œYellow lightâ€”gonna go!â€ But, my biggest problem riding in the vehicle was that everything was zooming past me so fast I couldnâ€™t focusâ€”I was used to processing at a slower pace. Brian wasnâ€™t slowing down soon enough for me…I kept wanting to pinch my brakes to slow down. Heâ€™s a very good driver and was doing everything rightâ€¦it was all just coming too quickly for my reflexes. Reaction time for a bike to stop is slow & gradual and in the vehicle the stops came smoothly but with more force. He was only keeping up with trafficâ€”but we were in New Jersey!
We left the city mid-afternoon & drove to Danville, PA and stopped to see our nephew & his family, Jeff & Gina Smit and little Sam. She graciously served us dinner and then he gave us a tour of the townâ€”oh yeahâ€¦heâ€™s a Dordt alum too!
So we drove/road all nightâ€¦we had five to driveâ€¦I wasnâ€™t one of themâ€¦so they took turns and I slept. I did wake up in Ohio so I can add another state to the list I visited on the tripâ€”but it was at a rest stop in the darkâ€”donâ€™t know how much I really remember either.
Itâ€™s interesting finding your place back in the familyâ€¦they (Brian, Maggie, Jesse, Lee & Keith De Jong) had been vacationing to get me and were doing well without my inputâ€¦I knew I had to make my way back into the family slowly & just listen for a while to their storiesâ€¦they had been gracious and listened to mine for weeks.
We didnâ€™t stop, other than for gas (in more ways than one) until we arrived in Iowa Cityâ€¦ Here we celebrated Maggie & Jesseâ€™s 1st year wedding anniversaryâ€”at Olive Garden but I ate lightly. Itâ€™s a 22 hour drive from the Statue of Liberty to Sioux Center without stopping time figured in. We arrived home at 7:30 pm after a stop to the grocery store for a few staplesâ€”back to the real world! But, I was still in bed by 9:00â€”my body was trying to recoup.
This morning I awoke to the sound of rainâ€”first thought in my head was that we were going to get wet while riding. When I rolled over I was so stiffâ€”my bed was so comfortable that I slept like a log & didnâ€™t move all nightâ€”my muscles were tight.
Going to the closet to decide what to wear to work was a jokeâ€¦I had too many choices. Iâ€™ve been living with so littleâ€”60 lbs. in 2 wash baskets and 1 canvas bagâ€”for so long that it took me a bit of time. Also, Iâ€™ve lost a bit of weightâ€”16 lbs.â€”so I had to see what fitâ€¦it was a nice problem.
But what shoes to wear? Iâ€™ve been in my Keen sandals and cleats for 9 weeksâ€”I wasnâ€™t going to try heels yet. I stuck with the Keens for another day. And then thereâ€™s hair & make-upâ€¦I havenâ€™t had goop in my hair for 9 wks eitherâ€”it makes your head itch under your helmet. Letâ€™s just say it took me longer to get ready for work then I remember.
I enjoy my job, the people and atmosphere so work was a good place to beâ€”theyâ€™ve been some of my biggest supporters through the trip in so many waysâ€”but I did want to crash mid afternoon.
Then I had to cookâ€”Iâ€™ve not had to decide what to make for so long I first needed to take inventory of what we had in the freezerâ€”Brian didnâ€™t care what I made as long as he didnâ€™t have to do it.
People have asked me to name the prettiest state, the best camp ground, or my best memoryâ€¦itâ€™s so hard to do. Each state had its beautyâ€¦it also would depend on the weather or difficulty of the day that might influence my opinion of the day.
Â· I remember people in situationsâ€¦Like the soup kitchens I worked in, or like those sleeping on park benches as we entered St Charles, or the homeless in Denver on the stretch of bike trail as we left that morning.
Â· I remember the celebration services and the goose bumps and tears that came unexpectedlyâ€¦
Â· I remember churches opening their hearts to host us and offering all the goodies we could imagineâ€”like mail drop points, food stuffs, massages and internet.
Â· I remember learning new songs and the words of those songs that later popped into my head as I was climbing mountain passes.
Â· I remember the ridersâ€”all of us with different styles, tastes, giftsâ€¦but all for a common goal.
Â· I remember all the support staff taking pride in a job well done in their important part of the tour
Â· I remember all the support from so many sources, churches, families, friends and strangers.
Â· I remember coffee breaksâ€”and the important role they played.
Â· I remember some of the bad stuff tooâ€”being away from Brian, not being able to stay hydrated, bladder infection, grasshoppers, road kill, and skunk.
But most of allâ€¦I remember how faithful God was to all of us on the rideâ€”how we were given what we needed for that day. I still can not believe that we only had 6 hours of rain to ride in for 9 weeksâ€¦and when we did get it, it was welcomed. We didnâ€™t have any gale force winds to deal with like some stories from the 2005 ride. Or, when Cynthia went downâ€¦how everything came togetherâ€¦the driver that stopped to help being an EMT on vacationâ€¦a visible road sign for us to give directions of our locationâ€¦her being able to fly home the next day with Erin to help herâ€¦and her return! All giftsâ€¦I know Iâ€™d rather her not go down at all and suffer, but when he closes a door he opens a window.
My computer says I went 3986.7 miles plus the95.5 miles on the tandem with Joel Schreurs from Denver to Fort Morgan. Stats for me..
Â· A total of 4082.2 milesâ€”thatâ€™s not even the 1,500 training miles prior to the ride.
Â· I had 3 flats on the road & 2 in camp.
Â· I ate like a horse but wouldnâ€™t eat one.
Â· And made friends with some of the nicest Canadians you can imagineâ€”and some Americans.
Â· I only lost one thing while I was on the rideâ€”my yellow Sea to Sea T-shirtâ€”that I left at Rob & Carol Dekkerâ€™s homeâ€”then he sent me a photo of him wearing itâ€¦
The riding is overâ€”but if Ed & Jen would have had maps for the coast I would have been temptedâ€”but the fight for poverty alleviation is not over. I have a heightened sense of my blessings, my responsibilities with my blessings, and intrigue to where I go from here with my blessings.
Itâ€™s good to see the CRC and RCA working together for this cause. Thank you to the following Churches and your support:
Â· Central Reformed in Sioux Center, IA
Â· Calvin CRC in Le Mars, IA
Â· Pease CRC in Pease, MN
Â· New Life Reformed, in Sioux Center, IA
Â· Immanuel CRC in Orange City, IA
Â· Covenant CRC, in Sioux Center, IA
Â· First CRC, in Sioux Center, IA
Itâ€™s good to see the young people on this ride take such an active part in this important issue.
Itâ€™s hard to know where and when to stop with the words. Thanks to all the â€œCyber-Cyclistsâ€ who came along for the rideâ€¦ Youâ€™ve prayed for me, laughed with me, cried with me and lifted me with your finances, cards, comments, e-mails, introductions, hugs, smiles, prayersâ€¦support of every kind.
You know where I workâ€¦if youâ€™re on Dordtâ€™s campus, please look me up. Iâ€™d love to relive some memories. Until we meet again, thanks with love, Barb Mellema