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TRIP 2014

Update #15 - June 14th
Grand Island, Nebraska
5,324.17 miles (8,518.61 KM)





When I started this current leg from Decorah, Iowa, my intention was to ride to Upland, Nebraska (South of Kearny, Nebraska and between Minden, Nebraska and the Kansas state line). A tornado was supposed to have hit Upland area near the end of April. I didn't have all of the information about the intensity of the storm and whether it had done any damage. While doing some research today, I learned that the tornado was just a minor one (EF0) and it had briefly touched down Northwest of Upland and had caused no damage. Because of this new information, I've decided to cut this leg short and after a day off of rest (June 15th - my 58th birthday) move on to my next leg of the tour that will take me to the Baxter Springs, Kansas/ Hammond, Kansas/ Quapaw, Oklahoma area.

On April 27th at about 5:30 PM (CST), an EF2 tornado hit Quapaw doing damage to 50 structures (homes and stores) and injuring 12 people. The same tornado hit Baxter Springs and caused damage to 100 structures (mostly homes) and injuring 34 people and killing one person. The tornado remained on the ground for 13 minutes along a 11.25 miles (18.11 km) path. In Quapaw, there was no warning by the National Weather Service because they saw no tornado signature until it was directly over the town. The people in Baxter Springs were given just a warning a few minutes before it had hit so they had to scramble for shelter.

After checking out the recovery effort in Baxter Springs and possibly in Quapaw, Oklahoma, I'll be making a return visit to Joplin, Missouri to see how the recovery effort is progressing. A good portion of Joplin was destroyed after a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado struck late in the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011.

From Joplin, I'll be going to Vilonia, Arkansas. On April 28th, an EF4 tornado caused major damage to Vilonia. Most of the damage was in the Parkwood Meadows subdivision at the Northeast side of town. Entire rows of homes were reduced to bare slabs at this location. With winds estimated as high as 190 mph (310 km/h) and the circulation spanning 0.75 miles (1.21 km), the tornado moved through the town center. Numerous homes and businesses were destroyed with only piles of debris or bare slabs left behind. Businesses in town that were destroyed included a Dollar General, a strip mall, and an auto shop. Nine people were killed in the town. Another structure that was destroyed was the Vilonia Middle School, which was in the process of being re-dedicated and re-opened. The school had been destroyed during a tornado that hit the town on April 25, 2011. This tornado had been an EF2 and had killed 4 people. Overall, the April 28, 2014 tornado the tornado remained on the ground for an hour, from 7:06 p.m. to 8:06 p.m. (0006 0106 UTC), and traveled along a 41.3 miles (66.5 km) path. Sixteen people lost their lives due to the tornado, making it the deadliest in Arkansas since an F4 killed 35 on May 15, 1968.

My plan after Vilonia, Arkansas is to possibly visit the El Paso and Mayflower, Arkansas areas. They were also hit by tornadoes on April 28th. After these stops, I plan to head East across Arkansas to the Mississippi River; ride Northwards along the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri; cross the Mississippi River near Granite City, Illinois and then head Eastwards across Southern Illinois and Indiana to the Cincinnati, Ohio area. From Cincinnati, I'll be riding to Lexington, Kentucky where I hope to hook up with the
Christian Appalachian Project (C.A.P.) and maybe volunteer the rest of the year and possibly over the Winter. If C.A.P. doesn't work out, there is another ministry in Georgia that I might want to check out and maybe volunteer with. From Sabula, Iowa to Lexington, Kentucky (where C.A.P. is headquartered), my tentative route is about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) long.

June 06 : Clarion, IA to Fort Dodge, IA : 43.19 miles (69.10 km)

I had an okay night. Before it got late, I went to the store next door to get a few things. I left the motel around 7:20 AM. It was sunny and the wind had really died down overnight. The temperature was in the low 70s but it was going to get into the eighties in the afternoon. Last night, there had been thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch in the counties to the West and South of me.

The ride West along IA 3 was a little slow because the roadway was really rough. The roadway became concrete when I got into another county. About 2 miles East of Dakota City, I hit a two mile long stretch of road construction. They were removing some of the pavement so that it could be reconcreted. I had to make my way through the construction zone carefully. The traffic was down to one lane and they had a follow-me truck as a guide.

I got to the Eastern edge of Humboldt a little before noon. I stopped at a gas station for a chicken dinner. Even though the temperature was in the low 80s, I decided to not stop for the day and headed South on US 169 to Fort Dodge. The ride along US 169 was a lot better because the roadway was concrete and there was a paved shoulder. There were a few rolling hills along the way.

I got into downtown Fort Dodge around 3:15 PM. There wasn't anybody around the First Baptist or the First United Methodist Church. I found the secretary in the office at the downtown Lutheran church. The pastor was out for the day. A guy who was also in the office suggested I try and connect with the local men's shelter. The secretary told me that there was a Presbyterian church a couple of blocks away.

I got a pretty good reception at the Presbyterian Church even with the pastor out for the week. I got invited to use a hallway of the Christian Education Building that had a good comfortable sofa in it. There were showers in the gymnasium's men's bathroom and there was even a washer and dryer to use because there was a day care at the church. I was also treated to a hot supper and some homemade strawberry ice cream. There was a meeting of people who wanted to become lay ministers. The Christian Education Director, Laura, found me a pillow and a blanket to use so I don't have to use my sleeping bag. Laura even gave me a loaf of bread. Another plus is wifi.

June 07 : Fort Dodge, IA to Sac City : 49.48 miles (79.17 km)

I had an okay night. It was really neat having access to a kitchen, washer and dryer, shower, and wifi. Having a hot meal for lunch was great. I fell asleep around 10 PM and I slept till 4:30 AM. I got myself a good breakfast and packed up some of the food that I had permission to take.

Because they were having lay ministry training starting around 8:30 AM, I decided to head out really early. I left the church around 6:00 AM. I was able to find my way on to BUS 20. There was a climb to get out of the river valley. The ride to US 20 went okay. I got on US 20 about 8 miles out of Fort Dodge. The temperature was in the low 70s and the sky was overcast. The highway was a divided 4 lane concrete road with a paved shoulder. There was a slight tailwind coming from the Northeast. By noon, I got 38 miles (61 km) in.

I stopped on a side road for a brief lunch break. I got into Sac City around 1:40 PM. There was camping in the town park but it looked like it might rain. After a short break, I rode around to check out the churches. There was a sign on a door at the Presbyterian Church saying that the minister was on vacation and there was going to be a joint service with another church tomorrow morning. The parsonage for the Methodist church was next door to the church. I caught the lady minister heading out. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, she authorized me to get a room at the local motel East of town through the ministerial association. I had to go to the police station to get a voucher for the room. I was also given a voucher for a hot meal at a nearby restaurant.

I'm going to head out early tomorrow and head South to Carroll.

June 08 : Sac City, IA to Carroll, IA : 31.79 miles (50.86 km)

I had an okay night. I decided to head out really early again. I left the motel around 6:20 AM. I had to backtrack a mile before I was able to turn South. The ride went okay. I stopped for a short break in Auburn. I got into Carroll around 10:10 AM. It took a while finding a church because there were no signs.

I stopped at the Presbyterian church. The service had started at 10:00 AM. I got there about halfway through the sermon. There was a potluck after the service. I got permission to spend the night in the church. I am staying in the nursery downstairs.

June 09 : Carroll, IA to Denison, IA : 31.23 miles (50.86 km)

I had an okay night. Instead of staying upstairs in the narthax of the church, I decided to stay downstairs in the basement. I found a covered mat that a kid would use for a nap and a small pillow and I used them to sleep in the nursery next to the fellowship hall. It was good to have a hot dinner from the leftover hamburgers. I watched some videos before going to sleep.

I woke up around 5:30 AM. I left the church around 6:40 AM. It was a couple block ride back to US 30. The sky was overcast and the temperature was in the sixties. There was a chance for rain in the afternoon so I decided to just ride to Denison. The ride West went okay. There were a few rolling hills and traffic was mostly light along the way. There was a narrow shoulder two thirds of the way. Between Arcadia and Westside, I hit the Midwest Divide where waters slit between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. For about ten miles (16 km), I rode along a busy railroad line.

I got into Denison a little after 11 am. I stopped for a short break at a gas station. Just as I leaving the gas station parking lot, I witnessed an accident at the nearby intersection. A lady in a car was turning West on to the street and a guy in a truck slammed into her on the right passenger side. The lady had the right of way. The traffic light for the guy was in process of turning from yellow to red. I quickly got out my cellphone and called 911. I stayed around to give a report to the police officer.

In the downtown area, I stopped at the Methodist church. The pastor was at conference to see if they were going to stay or leave and the most of the windows of the church were being replaced. The church secretary gave me the phone numbers of several of the local churches. I was able to connect with the pastor at the Our Savior Lutheran church. The pastor told me to come to the church and he would help me find some place to stay. The pastor took me to a local motel and got me a room for the night. Before he left, the pastor slipped me $8 in a GH.

I decided to stay on US 30 and ride to Nebraska. Last week, there was a bad storm (hail storm or small tornado) that hit Blair, Nebraska. Since I'm two days away from Blair, I'm going there to check out the situation.

June 10 : Denison, IA to Blair, NB : 60.16 miles (96.26 km)

I had an okay night. I was able to get to sleep even though there was a horizontal blind in the window and the room was less than 100 feet away from a busy railroad line. I woke up around 5:30 AM.

I got on the road around 6:50 AM. I backtracked through town. The ride Went okay. Most of the way there was some shoulder to ride along and the terraign was flat. I was going to stop in the Woodbine area but I decided to keep on going to Nebraska. There were some hills through the Logan area. I got 38 miles (61 km) in by noon.

Right after Missouri Valley, the terraign really got flat because I was in the Missouri River Valley. Just before the bridge over the Missouri River, there was a bit of a traffic jam heading West because a combine was going down the highway. Behind the combine there were at least two dozen cars and trucks. I was going to walk across the bridge but there was a wide shoulder and traffic was light. I had ridden 57 miles in Iowa today.

From the state line, it was a three mile ride into Blair. I was curious about what I was going to find in Blair. Last Tuesday, the town got hit by a terrible hail storm with straight line winds. There was a lot of wood panels covering up windows that were blasted out. Several buildings in the downtown area had huge trucks with large hoses going into their second floors to dry up all of the moisture. There were blue tarps on top of the library. A lot of houses had their windows blown out. From what I learned, most of the hail stones were golf ball sized or bigger. Some of the hail stones were as big as basketballs. There were a lot of torn up trees. According to what I heard, at least a dozen people got injured during the storm.

I checked out the churches. Most of them had window damage. I didn't find anybody around the churches so I stopped at the police station to see if anybody knew a local minister. I talked with a friendly officer. A room was arranged at the Super 8 through the ministerial association. The Super 8 had a lot of damage. Most of the siding on the west side was damaged. A lot of the windows on the west side was blown out so my room was on the east side.

On the way out of town, I am going to take a lot of photos. I might just be riding to Fremont tomorrow because there is the chance for afternoon storms.

June 11 : Blair, NB to Fremont, NB : 28.46 miles (45.54 km)

I had an okay night. There was a decent free breakfast. I headed out around 7:20 AM. I rode around town a little bit to check out the hail damage and take some pictures. There was a long climb up out of the Missouri River Valley. Halfway through the climb, I rode through a very large auto dealership that had a lot of hail damage. There were hundreds of cars and trucks that had broken out windshields and windows. From what I was told there were at least a thousand vehicles damaged. Estimated damage was supposed to be around $160 million.

Once on top of the plateau, I got hit by some strong winds coming from the South. The winds must have been 15 and 25 mph (24 to 40 kmph). There were some sections of rough shoulder. The ride was slow to Fremont.

I got into Fremont around 11:20 AM. I stopped at a BK for some lunch. I was having some problem with my cyclometer so I decided to try and replace it. I stopped at a Walmart because that is where I got it. Instead of getting a wired cyclometer, I opted to get a wireless one. There was one and it was a little over $5 more than a wired one. I tried over an hour getting it to work. The sensor in the transmitter was really weak. There was no way that I could fasten the sensor as close that it needed to sense the magnet. The sensor was supposed to be fastened on the front fork but that gap was too far away. I went back into the store and I got a credit and I went back to the bike department and bought a wired cyclometer. It took me less than ten minutes to get it installed on the bike and get it working.

I rode into the downtown area. I stopped at Salem Lutheran. This was the first church that I came across. Rev Thomas was pretty friendly. Since there was a year long pre-school at the church, Rev Thomas offered to get me a room at one of the motels that I had passed on US 30.

June 12 : Fremont, NB to Schuyler, NB : 35.49 miles (56.78 km)

I had an okay night. There was a decent free breakfast. I headed out around 7:20 AM. The temperature was cool in the 60s. Once out in the country, I got slammed by the wind. The wind was coming from the Northwest. It had to have been over 20 mph (32 kmph). At least, there was a paved shoulder that was pretty decent most of the way. Whenever there was a change in the direction of the highway, I nearly got blown into the traffic lane. There were a couple of times where I nearly got clipped by a semi truck. Even with the winds, I was able to get in about 28 miles by noon.

I got into Schuyler around 12:40 PM. I stopped at a Subways for lunch. My plan for the day was to ride to Columbus but it was another 18 miles. I decided to try and stop for the day. Near the Subway, there was the Trinity Lutheran church. The pastor was teaching a Bible study to a group of elderly ladies. The pastor told me that if I go to the police station I could get a room at the local motel through the ministerial association.

June 13 : Schuyler to Central City : 61.34 miles (98.14 km)

I had an okay night. There was a decent free breakfast. I headed out around 7:20 AM. The temperature was cool in the 60s. Once out in the country, I got slammed by the wind. The wind was coming from the Northwest. It had to have been over 15 mph (24 kmph).

I got into Columbus around 10 AM. The roadway was really bad. It was a really rough ride through the town and there was a lot of traffic lights. I was really happy when I finally got out of the city and headed West again. The ride West to Central City was slow. I stopped in every small town for a break. Halfway to Central City, I met up with another cycle-tourist. He was from Great Britain and he had started from San Francisco near the end of April and was riding to Boston. He expects to be in Boston near the end of July. I gave him some suggestions for his route.

I got into Central City around 6 PM. The police station was closed so I went to the sheriff's department. There was another guy who was there at the station who was either walking or hitch-hiking. He needed some assitance. I tried to strike up a conversation but the guy was kind of rude. I offered to get some food for him off of Alice but he turned it down. He told me that he expected something better. The lady at the desk contacted the pastor at the Baptist Church. He would meet us at the church. The guy didn't like the fact that he had to walk a couple of blocks to the church. He expected the pastor to drop what he was doing and come to the station to meet him.

I got to the church first. The pastor's truck was parked in front of the church but he wasn't in sight. It turns out that he was inside the house next door. The house was being used to house missionaries who were coming through the area. The roof was being replaced. There was an older guy who had come from Colorado to help out. During his retirement, he was going around the Country helping out at churches along the way.

When the other guy from the station showed up he was really impatient. Before he went into the church, he made a very obscene comment about the lady at the sheriff station. A few minutes after the comment, the pastor and the other guy came to the church. I introduced myself. When the other guy from the station introduced, I was shocked when he introduced himself as being a missionary as well. There was nothing christian about him. The guy told the pastor his needs and it was agreed upon that the pastor would take him down the road to this other highway. The pastor and the guy from Colorado had to go to Grand Island to a store and they would be back in 90 minutes. I was asked to wait because the pastor offered to let me stay the night the mission house that had three bedrooms.

I was given the usage of the front bedroom off of the living room. Alice was brought into the living room. I was also given access to the washer and dryer.

I'm just going to ride to Grand Island tomorrow.

June 14 : Central City to Grand Island : 24.91 miles (39.86 km)

I had an okay night. I stayed up a little late to get my clothes into the dryer. I slept maybe 5.5 hours. I got up around 5:30 AM. It didn't take long to get cleaned up and get Alice repacked. The other guy wasn't up when I left around 6:30 AM. I stopped at a gas station on the West side of town for some breakfast. After eating, I went across the street to take some pictures of some special rail cars. This was a special group of cars that carried long sections of rail and before the rails were dropped down to the railbed they passed through a special car that welded the ends of two rails together. The rail cars were empty except for one rail.

The ride West was a little slow because of the winds. The winds were coming from the Southwest between 15 and 22 mph (24 to 34 kmph). I stopped at a gas station in Chapman for a break. Before I left, I struCk up a conversation with a lady. Before she left, she slipped me a GH of $30.

The ride to Grand Island went okay. The sky was getting dark so I decided to try and stop for the day instead of trying to go on to Kearney. After taking a break at a gas station, I went to the police station. I talked with a friendly officer. He contacted another police officer who had done some missionary work in South America. The other officer was out on medical leave because he had broken a bone in one of his wrists. He offered to host me for the night. I got taken out to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between June 21st and June 28th.




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