Whenever someone asks us what the best part of the trip has been, without a moment’s hesitation, we respond, “the people!” The people we’ve met have been so incredibly kind and we are so very thankful to so many people! At the risk of missing someone, we’d like to take the time to thank some of them because we couldn’t have done this without them!
1. Thank you to our Warmshowers hosts! Wow! How wonderful to have these kind souls along the way to provide a place to sleep and clean up! More than that, somehow it gave a certain level of security as we traveled thru a new area of the country to know that we had a friend nearby and someone was expecting us and if we ran into any trouble, we could call them. The conversations we enjoyed with our WS hosts distracted us from our fatigue or worry about the challenges ahead. And we enjoyed getting to know our hosts – what interesting people – each & every one! Plus, their advice on the local roads was incredibly helpful. We can’t express how helpful these WS hosts have been in so many ways! One of our own past WS guests, when we told them we were doing this trip responded with advice to do as many WS stays as possible and now we see why!
If you’ve been reading this blog and are not a WS host, give it some consideration! We’ve been a host for many years and have found our guests have enriched our lives in a way that surprised us. One of our WS hosts said they like being WS hosts because their jobs keep them at home all summer and WS brings the world to them. If you’re interested, check it out at Warmshowers.org
2. Thank you to our family & friends!
We quit our jobs and sold our house to do this trip! It was hard to sell the home they grew up in but our kids have encouraged us every step of the way! Aimee flew to Michigan from Alaska to surprise us at our send-off party! Matt & Luke drove over from Detroit to come to our send-off party! Then Walt & Leanne drove down to Anacortes from Vancouver to help us celebrate the end of this trip – with champagne!
Shawn’s brother, Boyce and brother-in-law, Brad drove us to Bar Harbor, Maine to start this journey – that was a long drive out there from Michigan and an even longer drive back! (Wow! It seems like ages ago!)
Shawn’s sister, Sheila has provided logistical support by getting our rear wheel to us not just once but twice, as well as other important things such as new credit cards and our favorite powdered sports drinks. She is also collecting stuff that we mail back to Michigan! Thanks Deeda!
Our brothers, sisters and friends sent us frequent encouraging messages and prayed for our strength and safety! We couldn’t respond to each one but so often, these messages came right when we needed them the most! Thank you!
Mom! My mom has been my inspiration all my life! When I was a kid, reading the Romeo Observer articles about the adventures of a couple guys from my hometown, my mom & I marveled at their adventure. She taught me persistence, perseverance, and true strength comes from within. I felt like she was with me with every pedal stroke and every time I spoke with her on the phone, she was so excited to get an update.
Cousins! I really leaned on my cousins for accommodations! Kim, Adam, Ann, Bella, Ronnie, Thank you so much for putting us up in your beautiful homes! And thank you to Ronnie & Bella for mailing our new tires to us after they arrived after we left your house! And what fun to have cousin Carol stop in to say hi at our hotel in Bemidji!
Scott – we really are family thru our sons! You are absolutely one of the best cooks we stayed with! And thank you for such a beautiful bedroom to stay in!
Judy – I’m so glad we met on that Wisconsin bike ride 2 years ago and have kept in touch! What a great evening we had together!
Garth & Karen – thanks for an evening at your beautiful cottage.
Nancy & Duane – thanks for a wonderful dinner at your place!
Thank you Dave and Lin! We were so very grateful when Lin picked us up on Sherman Pass after we blew out our rear hub! In addition, you both taught us to let others help us. We always want to think we can do this on our own but in reality, we do need the help of others and in accepting help, we bless our helpers. This bike breakdown also caused us to stop for a few days, attend services at your church and thank The Lord for our blessings. We are abundantly blessed!
Chris & Leslie in Ontario! We met you two as you were riding by on your tandem and we were fixing a flat. You invited us to your house for a drink and a snack and the use of your tire pump. We felt an instant kinship with you, as fellow adventurers and we wanted to spend more time getting to know you but the road was beckoning!
Leah, the ferry boat captain in Vermont who we met while relaxing in a park and you offered us a place to stay for the evening. We wish we could’ve taken you up on your offer but we had already made Warmshowers arrangements for the night.
Kind shopkeepers and locals, such as Debra from Ganonoque who offered us a comfortable chair and refreshing beverage and friendly conversation! Simple things mean so much to the weary traveler!
Oh my gosh and we have so many helpful bike mechanics to thank! These mechanics dropped everything to help out a couple of cross-continent bike tourers! Some of the repairs were quick & simple, sometimes just checking our chains but more often there were time-consuming repairs. You guys ROCK!
3. Thank you to our fellow cyclists! With a few exceptions, we only met for a few brief moments by the side of some road, often miles from nowhere but we always had great conversations, trading tips on the road ahead. More than that, it was great to meet someone who “gets us” – someone who understands the lure of bicycle travel and revels in it!
Tim, you came along right when our spirits were low and how crazy that we turned out to be such compatible travel companions for 10 days! I love how you kept things light and teased me about hooligans. 🙂 We always smile when we think of you and look forward to showing you the beauty of the Great Lakes on your next trip to the states!
Bala, you’re an amazing young man and what you accomplished this summer was incredible! You are going places in this world! We can’t wait to hear what comes next – after you finish your last 2 years of high school!
Andrew – we really had a glorious day riding together for 90 miles of tailwinds! But we loved hearing of your past adventures and sure do enjoy getting your email notes!
Ginna – we enjoyed lunch together in Shelby before you hopped on the train. We were so worried about the upcoming mountains and you encouraged us and gave us the confidence we needed to ride the mountains! You were right! We COULD do it. (We still can’t imagine riding the Cascade Mtns just for fun tho!)
Vincent & Victor – we shared Warmshowers accommodations with each of you on separate occasions but we felt like we knew you even better, as we ended up staying in the same places down the road several days after you!
Dakota & Chelsea – what a fun evening we had together! And thank you for your many encouraging messages! You guys have a great attitude & you’ll have a great trip!
Many eastbound cyclists! Wow! We met so many of you in North Dakota! Congrats to Pete & Deb and to Wendy & Casey for completing your adventures! Josh & Jess, Durrell and others are still traveling and we wish you well! We enjoyed reading your blogs to see what to expect ahead of us and also how you experienced the road now behind us.
We leapfrogged with fellow west bounder, George and were saddened to learn that the fires and extreme heat in Washington threw a wrench into his plans and he had to reroute and stop riding before he reached the coast. I think our hub problems were a blessing in disguise because it delayed us just enough so that we were able to go thru the fire-ravaged areas after the road reopened.
We were also saddened to learn that health problems caused fellow Michigan tandem riders, Loren & Dave, to abandon their west to east cross-country tour. We can only imagine the depth of their disappointment and we thought of them often as we struggled with the various challenges of weather, fires, heat, & mountains – things that we don’t typically experience in Michigan and couldn’t have trained for after a long, cold, snow Michigan winter.
4. Thank you to all readers of this blog. Sometimes we (OK – Shawn) ramble on with silly details but you’ve read these posts and encouraged us, either thru actual notes and messages or thru positive thoughts and prayers.
We’ll make one last request of you all. If you have enjoyed reading this blog, we would be thrilled if you would visit the website of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and consider joining us as donors to this organization that does so much good in our community. The Foundation’s website is: http://www.grfoundation.org