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My Journey - June 2010

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My Journey - June 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:22 am

Friday, June 4th, 2010
So many things have happened in the past few weeks. My story but the story is happening faster than my telling. I will provide a briefer synopsis.

I found my way out of St. Joseph. Many of the people I talked with when I am asking directions in Nebraska are not from there and do not know their way around. So, even with a map, I got lucky finding my way out of St. Joseph without wandering around.

I rode on 59 to Mound City. Mound City looked like a good place to get off the busy highway that intertwined with the Interstate. I asked for directions and water at about 6PM at night from a retired farming couple. They told me I was 16 miles from the place I thought I could camp. I asked for a ride on top of the directions and water. I got nerve and I got ride. Smile The husband took me to Squaw Creek Eagle Nest Plaza in Forest City. I asked there if I could free-camp, could I work for a meal, could I get a shower and did they have free WIFI? They said yes to 3 out of 4; no WIFI. I plugged into the wall power outlet and put my blog on a document to save.

I unloaded my bike, got to talking on three occasions before I got back in the door. One family I was talking with, Jan Skola, his wife Cindy and son Gage have been on several epic bike tours, yes – Several epic bike tours. They traveled 50,000 miles. I am doing a slack-jawed mantra over that. They have a 3 person tandem bike. Their puppy, Dewey is too young to have been involved in much of those adventures, poor little doggy. Jan bought me dinner. I asked Squaw Creek Eagle Nest Plaza Truck stop if I could get a free shower, they said if I put down a deposit for the towels. Very Happy

Another guy, I think his name is Conrad Gebhart of Plasmodium.blogspot.com, at the Squaw Creek Eagle Nest Plaza is working on or has developed a cure for Malaria. He offered to house me at his farm house with broadband internet but that was several miles out of my way and I was tired of fighting hills. I really don't know why I said no.

In Fall City, I met Donald Wilhide and Karen of Southeast Nebraska Communications. I tried to get Ubuntu Linux burned onto his DVD at their office. I settled for another version of Linux. Linux is like Microsoft Windows, the program that makes your computer work Linux is a lot more reliable and a lot more secure, and has more possibilities than Microsoft operations systems IF you know what you are doing. I don't know what I am doing but I am ready to learn.

Fall City to highway 75 was an adventure; highway 73 was not available so you take a detour at the greenhouse onto a gravel road, follow that down until you get to the turn-off, “You can't miss it.” I sure could have! But I didn't. Smile

I got to 75, camped for the night within sight of 75 and inadvertently collected three ticks. Brrr! Just thinking about them and looking on the internet for prevention methods and seeing their picture makes me shiver with disgust. I started hitchhiking again at highway 75.

I got a ride that gained me no miles but I met 3 interesting people in Humboldt, NE. Tim, was his name Tim? He is the avid bicyclist that weatherizes homes and businesses. Kevin Burnison who works for SENDD, SouthEast Nebraska Development District and his friend, Lonni. There are good people across the land.

I met this guy that told me about how the Reptilians, shape shifting humanoids are running the world's business and politics. He gave me a pack of 3 DVD's to watch and bought me lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I am going to send them to Carole because he mentions astrology in them and have her send them to Brian, a friend in Las Vegas because he enjoys conspiracy theories. I wish I could remember his name, I think I left my fancy, new $40 bicycle pump in his car, sigh. He dropped me off in Plattmouth.

I continued hitchhiking and got a ride with Angelo who let me stay at his house for a couple days while I worked on contacting people I hoped to stay with in Omaha for longer than one or two nights. I got to do laundry while with Angelo - clean clothes again. Very Happy I also met his neighbors, Kerin and her husband... Dieter, his name is Dieter! Smile Angelo tells me Dieter was German military for 30 years. This is after World War II, so you guys just settle back down, sheesh! Besides, Dieter has to drink American light beer, he suffers enough.

I became Baha'i a couple weeks ago in Kansas City. Not sure I wanted to mention that because there are enough targets on my back already. Anyways, I got to talk with the Baha'i here in Omaha, they said I could stay as a guest at the Center. It is a double wide house/office converted into a place of worship. I have a place to sleep inside with air conditioning, a shower, kitchen and even free WIFI (from one of the neighbors), but no laundry.

I stayed with Angelo for 2 days, been here at the Baha'i Center since Tuesday, the 26th of May and now it is Friday, June 4th. I left my bike with Angelo, only taking the rear wheel. On the way into Omaha, Angelo showed me around town a bit and we combined going to the California Taco Shop (famous) on 33rd and California with getting the hours of operation for the Gifford Park Community Bike Shop (next door). Angelo dropped me off at the Center at about noon on Tuesday. I waited at the Center for someone to come open the door for me. I worked on my blog while I waited, until my laptop ran out of battery power.

I noticed Omaha has terrible reception for my T-mobile cell phone. T-mobile said the nearest dealer is in Montana?! A little bit of research reveals there are two types of cell phone coverage. My phone uses one kind, much of Omaha uses the other kind. Anyways, two hours after arriving at the Center, Terry shows up and let me in. Terry is a gardener. He is a font of info about plants. I asked why he has aluminum sulfate in the back of his car – what does it do? It turns some plants blue. Smile He was a lot more technical than that, used bigger words too.

Wednesday, I got a ride from Terry to the bike shop at 6PM and a ride back too. I took my rear bike wheel and told them what I was about. I was riding my bike on a self-sustaining tour. The bike and me together weigh 350 pounds and spokes started breaking every few days. It took me a few visits to get what I wanted – stainless steel spokes. I noticed a bolt going through most of the gears on the rear wheel (the gear set is called a cassette, each individual gear is called a cog and the thing they go onto is called the hub). I asked about the bolt – do I need this, do you have others what are they for, just to hold the cassette together when it is not on the hub? They called Olympia Cycles, the tier two experts. Smile A guy at Olympia said I did indeed need it, it was a safety/liability issue, don't let me get out of there with that wheel, without all the bolts. :'( OK, I won't violate rules set up for my protection but someone is will come up with a solution.

I needed to buy a spoke wrench so I walked over to Olympia Cycles one mile away. Angelo called me while I was still on the way to Olympia Cycles, he was going to drop off the rest of my bike. I said drop it off at the bike shop.

Andrew, the senior mechanic, was talking with a customer, he looked a question at me. I told him what I was about. He asked me to wait. I bought my spoke wrench and looked through their clearance bin while I waited. When my turn came, he said NO, you don't need those bolts. I could sense his eyeballs rolling back in his head and the labored breathing at what kind of customers he had to deal with. He told me to bring in the bike or the wheel and he would take a look at it. I was appreciative – I could tell he knew what he was doing. A look and a few words could accomplish a great deal. I told him I had a limited amount of money and no income; I could not pay him but I could work in exchange.

Went back to the Community Bike Shop, put my wheel together, informed the crew there that the bolts were optional. I threw my bike over my shoulder. OUCH! I borrowed one of those bags made for carrying your bike over your shoulder. Then, I portaged my bike back to the shop. Andrew worked on my wheel from 3:30PM until 8:30PM! He removed and replaced half the spokes. They were too short. Ken Molten, the Baha'i others use as a communication hub, picked me up and drove me to the Center. Ken got to meet Andrew, all good, my bringing them together.

I was so tired from all this running around and emotional ups and downs. Every day the community bike shop was open, Wed and Thur 6 – 8 pm and Sat. 12 – 4, I was there doing something. If I had been working on other people's bikes during that time, I would have earned a bike for myself. Smile

I also went through the thrift shops I could find looking for sunglasses that work with my prescription glasses, a travel mug upgrade, clothing upgrades, another laptop to replace one of my saddlebags. I walked into a used bookstore (Backshelf Books at 61st and Maple) to get the exact name of a book (The Art of War by Sun Tzu) for a friend having difficulties understanding and communicating with dogs and children. Smile I think dogs and children understand all that already, it is society and civilization that teach us a different reality. Anyways, I met John D'arcy, 'master storyteller' who wrote a clever children's book. My father was a professional storyteller, what are the odds? Wink

On Sunday, I met several Baha'i. Cara is an all wheel drive mom (she is doing several something all the time, master of time management). “Ken has the phone numbers for eeeeverybody.” Linda, the lady that works at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo has a 'can do' attitude and 'I made one' experience. I briefly met Mike.

Linda enabled several things for me. I got to go to the zoo for free with her membership. I bought a pair f shorts made of “Coolmax”, a moisture wicking material. I wanted them cut in half with each leg becoming a tube-cap that would keep sweat out of my eyes and cool off my head. She sewed that for me. Linda had a bicycle pump she wasn't using and gave it to me to replace the brand new one I lost. I never needed a towel before – showers always came with towels until the Baha'i Center. There is a towel in the bathroom but it is about as big as 4 of my hands, definitely a hand towel, not a shower towel. Wink Linda gave me a travel towel she had but did not like or need. I forgot to bring my helmet when we rode to the zoo, her to work, me to play tourist. I got the one her son left one behind. She took me to a Baha'i gathering at a Border's book store, will take me tomorrow to _____ in Lincoln, NE and reminded me about something going on Sunday, here at the Baha'i Center. Linda is also printing out more of my calling cards.

Monday I went to the Zoo. I got 4 hours of sleep then woke up, took a shower, rode to Linda's house then we rode together to the Zoo. She went to work, I went looking around the neighborhood until the Zoo opened for the rest of us. I walked through and looked at every part of the zoo. Most of the animals seemed to be hiding from the spectators. I bet it is stressful and exhausting being an unwilling spectacle.

Tuesday, I added to my blog, went to all the thrift stores I could get to. Wednesday and Thursday, more blogging and went to the community bike shop. Wednesday, I was coming back from the community bike shop with an incoming threatening to rain. It started sprinkling, I rode between shelters. It started raining harder, I saw two Creighton University employees standing under an overhang, watching the storm. I went over to keep them company out of the rain. Smile They (Armand and Danny)asked me where I was going to or coming from or something, you know where that leads. Wink In a few minutes, they invited me inside the Student Center because the rain was getting to us under the tiny overhang. They invited me inside the Student Center, out of the rain. I heard on the TV news in a nearby room, there was a tornado a few miles south. That changed my plans for the night. I asked them if they had a place I could stay, or talk with the police or get a ride back to the Baha'i Center 10 miles north. It was 6PM, they could let me stay until 8PM when the building closed. Nobody was going that way. They called campus police (Oscar and Randy) to see if they had any resources or ideas. I called the city police, who were not very helpful - they had bigger issues. There was a homeless shelter nearby but I learned they are a last resort; I am neither helpless nor homeless. (My home is on my bike - tent, hammock and tarp, sleeping bag - they are my home.) Well, Oscar and Randy, the campus police, are bicycle police. Smile we had a fine time talking bike shop... until, at 7PM, Armand, the building manager, noticed the rain had stopped. Thanks for the conversation, food and drink - they have excellent dark coffee, I raced for the Baha'i Center.

Thursday, my certified copy of my birth certificate arrived in the mail and I raced over to the post office to apply for my passport. I used the envelop from that to prove Nebraska residency and applied for food stamps. Friday I stayed inside and updated my blog until Linda came over with food and then we drove to Border's and met other Baha'i. When I got back to the Center, I worked on my bike putting strips of inner tube on the handlebars acting as handlebar tape to work with the new handlebar setup I made without the 'aerobars' I was using. Now the brakes are on the handlebars, almost like any other bike, almost. I also tightened my front rack, added more support to it with coat hangers and used other coat hangers to shield my front brakes from getting pressed into the wheel by my front saddlebags. Then I finished off this blog.

Yeah! I am caught up. It is Saturday, June 5th, 2010 at 2:22 in the morning. Time to celebrate by going to sleep. Wink

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Friday, there was a Cluster Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska and I was invited to attend. Cluster meetings are when Baha'i from around the area get together and share news. Saturday, there was a Feast at the Baha'i Center. Feasts are periodic, when the locals get together and share food, fun, prayers and the company of one another. Sunday was Devotionals, just like most churches on Sunday. Sunday night there was a locals meeting for getting business done, not my business, so I took a tour of the neighborhood and went to a couple local stores to window shop. Monday night, 2 of the other Baha'i came to talk and they brought oriental food. Jeff wanted to meet me and I already knew David. They gently and politely gave me a time limit; Friday. That sounded like so much time.

Tuesday, Carole left a message that the food stamp people called, they left a name and number for me to call them for a phone interview. I tried calling them and tried again today, Wednesday, several times. Then I figured out by the time I get the food stamp card I will be in Canada, not able to use USA food stamps AND, even if I am still in the USA there won't be much credit to buy food with because they prorate the card for what part of the month is left when they send it.

I am grateful for getting the boot from the Baha'i here in Omaha; I need to get on with it. I am packed, said my good byes and waiting for enough light to see and be seen.

Added more to my journey after friends comments.


Last edited by ChasingSanity on Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:52 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: My Journey - June 2010

Post  dnamark@msn.com on Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:14 pm

Let us know if your stainless steel spokes continue to hold the upwards 350 # of gear. Your narrative is becoming more personable, your references to yourself, without being or seeming self-serving, has become at least to me a "pilgrimage" synonymous with John Bunyan's literary American allegory. li cheers

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Re: My Journey - June 2010

Post  DonW on Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:11 pm

Ari,
It was my pleasure to meet you while in Falls City. I wish I was able to see you before you left. Take Care of yourself my Friend and stay safe!

DonW

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Re: My Journey - June 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:04 am

Saturday, June 12th, 2010
Wow, my forum is becoming a forum instead of a diary. cheers
Aye, aye Dnamark :salutes: I want to know about those spokes too. By the way, Andrew at Olympia Cycles replaced about 1/2 the spokes on the rear wheel because they were too short.

On with the diary. Wink Thursday, the 10th, at about 9AM, I rode to Blair, Nebraska. I was passing through town when a light rain started. I knew there were supposed to be some rain that day. I thought about people asking me what I do when it rains; "I get wet" and I keep riding or seek shelter. The rain gradually increased until it hurt. I thought differently; no more riding, seek shelter. There were good shelters back a ways on the road, but I wanted to go forward. There was a fire department building, surely they had something. I packed myself and my gear into a four foot wide doorway. It was almost enough. Then, the storm got serious. It went from buckshot coming down to billowing sheets of rain spaced a few feet apart. I love being just out of reach of a powerful storm.

I'd stayed up late the night before, I was too excited about getting back on the road and taking the next step in my journey to get much sleep. I drifted off about midnight and woke up at 4AM. I expected to be on the road by 5AM but it was 6 before I was actually moving. I don't know where the time went, but it was fun.

So, while I was waiting out the rain I kept falling asleep and almost falling over. I laid out my tarp and sat down so I would not fall so far. Wink I woke up when city workers came by to clean the storm drain. I asked them how long the storm was supposed to last. "Three hours." When the rain let up some I rode on, but only for a few miles. I pulled in following a sign 'church 1/2 mile away'. It was a Christian pre-school, no place for a strange male bicyclist. Sad But, they had a gazebo way far away. Smile I waited for the rain to get it out of it's system - venting. Carole called. I thanked her for saving me from dying of boredom. At noon, I rode on. Near Tekamah, NE I saw a sign for Scented candles, chocolate factory and floral arrangements. Did that say FREE samples in tiny print? It did, it did! I can afford free! I got some samples, talked with the owner, a wonderful, sunny woman and her son and staff. No coffee though. Life is not perfect. :hangdog:

My prayers were finally answered; I was riding on a level road with a strong wind at my back. I was probably going 20 miles an hour most of the time. Smile Then, the hills crashed my party. The wind got huffy and left the party. It was no longer a party. Sad My left knee started hurting. I got to Macy, 70 miles north of Omaha in 7 hours of riding (3 hours of waiting out the rain), it was 4PM I wanted to be in Sioux City, 30 miles away before dark. I had a newspaper interview to do and my couchsurfing house to find. I was done riding for the day. I hitchhiked, the busy crossroads seemed perfect but it wasn't happening. I rode a little further down the road, maybe they were shy about the neighbors seeing them giving that strange biker a ride.

So, I called TD and Barbera, the Sioux City Journal City Editor, coordinating schedules and cooking up a story. TD, this couchsurfing firefighter/National Guard combat firefighter. I think you women reading this are right - you need to take a look at this guy. Wink TD is all that - firefighter and National Guard. I was a volunteer firefighter 15 years ago and Army National Guard, Infantry 30 years ago. Now, I am riding my bicycle across the world and we are the yin and yang of Couchsurfing.org; TD is the couch and I am the surfer. There just has to be a good stories in there somewhere!

Time to go help them with major house cleaning.

7PM
Posted and got caught up but moved away from this window and got logged out without noticing. I posted and found my post was lost and gone forever. I helped TD and Jenni, his roommate remove water and doggie damaged carpetting from the basement and take it to the garbage dump.

We upgraded this... should have taken pictures... two inflatable pontoons, an aluminum frame supporting a chair and footstool platform, it has two oars on pivots. It is something TD will probably buy. Anyways, ate lunch - brats and hotdogs then loaded all my stuff and the water vessel in the back of his half-bed pickup truck, his kids in the back seat and we drove to my next couchsurf hosts, Kevin and Mary.

I got dropped off, met Kevin and Mary, took a shower, got invited to listen to someone's band someplace, updated my blog (twice now), dinner is ready - thick porkchops, time to schmooze with my hosts. Then we go socialize with the natives, sleep, I ride out in the morning. There, caught up - again! Razz


I got dropped off, met Kevin and Mary, took a shower, got invited to listen to someone's band someplace, updated my blog (twice now), dinner is ready - thick pork chops, time to schmooze with my hosts. Then we go socialize with the natives, sleep, I ride out in the morning. There, caught up - again!

Kevin could not find his wallet. No wallet = no getting into the bar to hear the band. We went to their friend's house where he last remembered having it, no wallet. He checked a plastic grocery bag hanging off the arm of the car seat – YES! OK but too late to listen to the band. Sad Got to play cribbage with all their friends. We had a great time. They all know the best old jokes and mine were all new.

They had good coffee and good carrot cake, they were all great people and I got to learn cribbage again. We stayed up late, Kevin offered to drop me off at highway 12 going north – much more scenic. “How early do you want to go?” I convinced Kevin I like best to be on the road as early as possible. I packed almost everything into his Honda Element that night. At 4AM in the morning, I woke up, 4 hours of sleep, took a shower, met up with Kevin making coffee, collected the last little bit of my stuff and did a few searches of the house. I was on the road before 7AM.

It started raining lightly about 9AM. I found shelter and got permission to use it then the rain stopped. That pattern repeated itself a few times. I asked a guy crossing the road on an ATV where the next town north was – it seemed like I traveled a long ways without seeing a town. “Three miles more to Westfield.” I was looking for a restaurant to work at for breakfast, the guy at the gas station told me there was no restaurant. “How about a church?” It was Sunday - “down that way three blocks. I asked three women getting into a car in front of the church if they knew where I could find food. They said Jo's restaurant was in the next town up, Akron, about 6 miles up the road. We talked about where I was going and what I was doing.

I rode on. Naturally, the rain got more serious – I had an incentive and there was no shelter in sight. When I got to Akron I was soaked, tired an hungry. My knee was also bothering me. I got to figure something to do about that knee. I tried to sell my old Leatherman for a meal and some money to the owner at Akron Jo's Cafe. Jose Arreola, the owner did not want to take time out from making food for paying customers to deal with me. I asked “What about the meal?” He gave me a free breakfast. I felt bad about the hard sell tactics but I still ordered and ate steak and eggs with a pancake and coffee. Ahh! I talked with a few of the paying customers too, gave them an interesting story to chew on. Wink

In Chatsworth, (How much is a chat worth? I am sure they heard it already.) I found a place out of the rain, in a park, and had another meal. Then I slept for a few hours. The bike shorts TD Grover gave me were a good thing; I was not as sore. I rode on to Hawarden and turned toward Alcester. I stopped at a telephone pole to stretch and got into a conversation with a couple pulling out of a farm driveway. The husband's brother owned the land and they all pitched in to work it. He asked me what I do about flat tires and broken spokes. I fix it or I hitchhike.

One hundred feet down the road I notice my rear wheel is wobbly. I have a broken spoke. It is on the sprocket side, no repairs for me. I tried to get the spoke loosened from the nipple (it is the nut that screws onto the spoke/bolt. I create a big hole in the inner tube. Getting worse, eh? I was almost done replacing the inner tube when the brother shows up. I told him I met his brother and we discussed whether it would be better for me to sleep overnight in the shed or go to Sioux Falls or a town on the way that night. I slept in the shed after getting fed a hot meal. I rigged up my hammock in the shed and slept well. Smile

I walked partway to Alcester and got a ride the rest of the way with Brenda Lee Watkins who works at Central Catering. I walked over the the Sinclair gas station on the north end of town and asked if I could use their bathroom. I got to talking with three guys older than either me or dirt. During our conversation, Maggie, the cashier took a picture of me and the boys. I asked her why she was not in the picture so her daughter took another picture with Maggie in it. Maggies daughter runs the gas station and convenience store but she is the one that says Maggie is mean, not the other way around. Smile The guy that eventually gave me a ride into Sioux Falls is the one in the picture with the blue shirt and the brown hair. The guy in the picture with the baseball cap visited for a short time, he has three bikes he used to ride a year or two ago but he has gotten too old for that. He told me to go to Two Wheeler Dealer in Sioux Falls.

The one on the left of me (furthest from the camera) was very experienced with RV camping all over the North American continent. Across from us in the 4 person booth was the quiet one to my left and the empathic one facing me. The empathic one was also an RV camper. He often showed he was listening or understood, he knew about 'active listening'.

The experienced one had been to St. John, Newfoundland! But he did not remember how much the ferry ride fares cost. Th conversation wound down into local news and after a bit I said my goodbyes and made sure Maggie and daughter emailed me the picture. Then I went outside to the curb and started hitchhiking.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Lots of people waved at me as they drove by. I got to wear my camouflage cargo pants more often, people don't wave at me nearly as often. Maybe they think I am a veteran on a long distance bike tour. They are right, but I am 25 years out of the military. Smile I am proud to be on this adventure 25 years after most young men assume 'the good life' is over.

The empathic man drove up with his wife and offered me a ride into Sioux Falls. I got to meet his wife and got to know him better. Sigh, I forgot their names. I called Two Wheeler Dealer and told them my situation. Dana, the owner, made no commitments to solving my rear wheel problem but were willing to take a look. They dropped me off at Two Wheeler Dealer bike shop on the south side of town. I had a good time talking with them. I asked for them to gift me some item I could use that had their name on it. Two Wheeler Dealer gave me a sticker and a bottle cage. I hope to use the bottle cage as a coffee cup holder. I will experiment with putting it on the handlebar neck coming out of my bike frame, a more convenient but unconventional place. Dana said I should talk to Center for Hope about getting free bike parts then he had to go run errands.

I went over to McDonald's across the street for free WIFI. I called the two couchsurfing hosts, Matt and Rick, that responded with phone numbers and responded to the ones that emailed me. Rick said he could house me for the two days I requested and show me around town. I'd get back to him. Matt said he was free and could pick me up if I needed a ride to his house. Smile Perfect. I gave Matt the wrong directions for where I was. Sad I am not perfect.

When Matt arrived and I told him about Center for Hope, he drove us there and came inside with me. The guy there (forgot his name too) was running the place by himself. He was not able to step away from the phone to show me around downstairs, I had to wait for someone else to show up. He also mentioned Spokes-N-Sports who want to set up a community bike shop. Donated bikes and parts are usually not that good, the choices here were no different but I was happy to get anything. I took the best one I could get.

Matt then took us to Spoke-N-Sport. The were amazingly hospitable; I traded my fancy 32 spoke, double walled wheel with a name on it and shiny orange hub with matching, sleek looking quick release for one of the manager's personal, no-name 36 spoke wheel with a plain quick release. I don't know if his wheel has a double-walled rim or not but he told me it has been a true and faithful friend. They also adjusted the locknut on my bottom bracket (the thing that keeps the pedals neither so tight they don't spin freely nor too loose so they rattle around). I am delighted. I am also going to keep them in mind for any assistance I can offer regarding Sioux Falls getting a Community Bike Shop.

On the way to Matt's house, I told him I could make a good salad fast, easy and inexpensive – I already have the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dried minced garlic, just need the salad greens. He needed to get milk too.

When we got home I opened the plastic salad box, poured on my olive oil, sprinkled on lots of my dried, minced garlic, added some of his 'Italian seasonings' and my balsamic vinegar and covered it with it's own lid then shook it to mix everything. He handed me the tuna fish – forgot that. Smile Added the tuna fish and ate. He only had one helping, maybe I added too much garlic? Oh well, to taste, whose taste? Smile

I went to the VA hospital today, Pam drove me. I jumped through all the right hoops and the doctor told me I am hoarding my epilepsy meds. Yes, and? I am going places where meds are a luxury, epilepsy is not a luxury, therefore... He told me there's nothing to make my knee pain go away, I am getting older and I am riding a whole lot each day. Enjoy walking more – no pain walking. I pray for a recumbent trike (in my size, of course); Cattrike Expedition or Greenspeed GTE to float down out of the sky next to me. Falling out of the sky into my waiting arms would really hurt, cramp my style and leave a mark the cleaners could not get out.

These two, Matt and Pam, are very organized slanted towards couchsurfers. They told me what I needed to know about each part of the house and most things are intuitive. The spices in the kitchen are to the left of the stove, up high, the towels are under the sink in the bathroom – it is the only place in the bathroom big enough for bath towels. Their secured WIFI connection is named “Couchsurfing”.

I talked with Rick, another couchsurfing host and made a tentative appointment for tomorrow to see the Sioux Falls and do the sculpture walk.

OOP, waiting on KMEG to approve my version of their text interview - I took out all the "he says", corrected any typos I saw and even took poetic license, something about me grinning. I need to find the Sioux City Journal story on me.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Last night, this guy knocks on the front door while I am "Home Alone". He is Corie, I am Ari. He sounded like a friend of Matt and asked to come inside. I wrestled with that. I said sure, come inside, call Matt so he knows you are here. He turns out to be another couchsurfer. We drank beer, he did all the clumsy things I do that embarrass me except it was him, not me. I laughed and told him I was glad it was not me doing it.

In the morning, he drove me to meet Rick. Neither Corie nor I knew where we were going - my bad - should have mapped Falls Park. But we asked for directions and got there two hours before I was supposed to meet with Rick. I went everywhere in the Falls Park, headed in the direction I guessed was downtown to do the Sculpture Walk. The Sculpture Walk involves people from around the world making something, putting it on display, everybody (yes, everybody, them too) voting on the sculptures and the most popular ones getting bought and a permanent spot someplace in town.

On the way to the Sculpture Walk in an assumed downtown direction, Rick called me. I described my estimated location and asked "Where is the Sculpture Walk relative to the Falls Park?" South, on Phillips between 8th and 13th." "Good, I am going in the right direction, I saw everything at the Falls Park." "Then let's meet at noon at the Washington Pavilion, one block away from the Sculpture Walk." I raced through all that, talked too much/long with people along the way and raced faster. Smile

Rick and I met, we went to Matt and Pam's house, Rick and Pam met (both couchsurfing hosts), I grabbed my bike wheel, Rick and I went to Spoke-n-Sport to get the wheel Pelham gave me trued. It all happened about that fast.

I said Can you true the wheel you gave me - it is too badly out of true for me to try and you guys are so fast (implying he gave me a wheel that was badly warped) ? Pelham said it was perfect when I gave it to you. I made a faux pas. Pelham put the wheel on a truing stand and said it was too badly warped to repair - trash. Here's the wheel you left from Center of Hope.

Rick and I went to Panera Bread but when we got to the parking lot,he mentioned this is where one of his favorite places is - an all you can eat pizza place with a salad bar. Sounds like my kind of place. Not often I get to eat as much as I want - that is enough for a family of four. Very Happy

We got drinks and a full plate of salad each, got a full plate of pizza each then I went for seconds then got a plate of desserts and coffee. "One for me and one for you, two for me and one for you, three for me and one for you; kinda like that. Smile Then we went to the Butterfly House. Rick knows almost every kind of butterfly in there, 30 - 40 species,, depending, what plants they need to reproduce; each butterfly needs a specific plant for the caterpillar to eat for reproduction to occur down the line. He also has educated opinions on every activity and event he volunteers for and many he does not participate in - there's only so many hours in the day and so many Ricks to go around. He wanted to talk with the director of the Butterfly House and suggested I go to the Outdoor School across the way while he wait for the director to be free.

I woke up with him asking me if I was ready to go back to Pam and Matt's house. Yep. I worked on sending off emails and getting info on Fargo and truing my wheel and mowing the grass at Matt and Pam's house. Tomorrow, when I know how to wash their front deck I'll do that - power washer? Then I updated my blog.

Baby! I am tired, it is time to sleep!

Saturday June 19th, 2010
In the morning, Pam and I used a pressure washer to blast the algae off her front deck, then we went to Harlan's Bike and Tour shop with the cheap bike wheel I got from Center of Hope. I told Kevin and Phil what I am about and asked if the would give me the nuts and washers needed to secure the wheel to the frame. Kevin looked through their stash of wheels and gave me a double walled, 36 spoke, four cross wheel with sealed bearings! It was made for a tandem touring bike. I was so excited; the perfect wheel for my needs. Kevin said I really needed to bring the bike in to see about my other complaints. I forget what they were. Pam drove me back to the house to get the bike and then back to the shop. Kevin used washers to center the wheel in the bike frame.

Pam was running late. We drove back. Her mom was there with two kids, Pam's nieces. Mom made lunch, we all ate. The older of the two girls asked me if I was anything like the guy in the book she was reading. Yep, except he had $40, me nothing and he had a penknife while mine is much better. I envisioned her running off into the woods like the boy in her book and told her this life is not as easy as you might think. I am lonely, cold, hungry, dirty and tired all the time, but mostly lonely.

I packed up then remembered; I needed to send out couchsurfing requests to Fargo hosts. I borrowed Matt's already booted up laptop to do this.The second to last one, Elizabeth, responded immediately with an accept. Smile Then, at 4:30PM I left Matt and Pam's house. I got to Baltic and asked directions at a roadside bar for a campsite nearby. My goal was just a mile away, on the other side of town. What a relief, so easy.

I strung my hammock up under a shelter that was protecting a metal drum used a garbage can. I guess th locals wanted to keep the garbage dry. It was windy enough that I had a hard time keeping the hammock in place while I got the cords in place.

I keep wondering what happened to the power supply for my camera. I feel bad that I can't take pictures anymore. Anyways, I rode on, through Brookings, SD.

I stopped three places in or near Brookings; Jerry's Electric in Colman. I asked Judy the receptionist if I could use their bathroom. She pointed the way. I swear there was a lecherous look at my bike shorts! Not that I am complaining you understand, it's just a look is Only a look. We had a fine time talking, I asked for and received a baseball cap with the company logo on it.

On the south side of Brookings, I stopped in Preferred Woodwork, Inc and asked the one guy I found,Levi Klinkhammer, if he would do me a favor and make a simple platform for my coffee cup. He did, and gave me directions to the hardware store where I could get the stuff to mount the bottle holder Two Wheeler Dealer gave me onto the wooden platform.

As I came in the hardware store, Do It Best, the cashier up front, Anna, asked me if she could help me. I went back and got the wooden platform, forgot to bring that in. Smile I showed her the platform and the bottle holder and told her what I had in mind. She showed me my choices for stuff to secure the bottle holder to the platform, I bought four copper strips at 7 cents each and 8 ¾ inch wood screws. Then she introduced me to Pat who was going back to the shop to drill the holes. Pat told me “not me, it's down there and around the corner. There were two guys working at a table saw, David and Mitch, they were the guys for the job. I told them what I wanted and did half the work myself so I would get what I wanted. It works, I am stylin'! Someday soon I will get pictures, My coffee cup is now easy to reach.

I stopped in Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness and talked with Robb Rasmussen, the general manager. He is not that impressed with my journey; every few days some long distance bike tourist stops in his shop. His wife creates and manages events to raise money for worthy causes; I am impressed with her. Wink Across the street was the newspaper, I stopped in, the editor was chasing a deadline – too busy to talk so I gave the receptionist my info and away I went... to the library. I had barely enough time to check my couchsurfing requests and email before the library closed.

I rode on. It was getting time to look for a campsite – an hour or two before dusk. I got near Estelline and found the perfect spot; lots of trees, a cleared path going in, secluded, vacant. The undergrowth was waist high, not so perfect; don't think about the ticks. The mosquitoes were bad enough; getting stuck by one felt like a hypodermic. I was about to dose off when a man and woman in a pickup truck drove in. They were about 50 feet away from me and did not see me. I waved, I said “Hello”, still don't see me. I flashed back to the guy in Texas that wanted to shoot me for trespassing. I waved more and got louder. They saw me, were not concerned, I asked if I could camp there, “sure”. I got to talking with the guy, a volunteer firefighter in Estelline, he gave me directions to the next town north with a grocery store, Watertown and he probably even told me his name... not a clue.

I slept, woke up and rode on. The winds yesterday, Friday, were 10 miles an hour WSW, at least they were not slowing me down. Today they are 5 – 10 miles an hour from the north. It was cloudy, damp, cold and I was going uphill on top of going against the wind. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be 10 – 20 miles an hour from the south. I will pray for me. Wink Time to ride on.

6PM Saturday, June 19th, 2010
I am in the Watertown, SD IHOP. I asked and they gave me my fantasy - an omelet, ham steak, a stack of pancakes, bottomless cup of coffee and free WIFI!!! If I get a shower before I meet anybody in Fargo I will be forever fulfilled. Well, not quite but close. Wink I got all the workers at IHOP (every one of them is a gorgeous woman!) to sign something with the company name on it. They gave me a cup that they all signed with a magic marker... It is ceramic; heavy and fragile. I asked them to email me pictures of it, they signed everywhere on the outside of the cup - even the bottom. Sarah was here before the cup signing and came back - she missed the cup signing so here she is on the 'blog signing'. Smile

Saturday June 19th, 2010
In the morning, Pam and I used a pressure washer to blast the algae off her front deck, then we went to Harlan's Bike and Tour shop with the cheap bike wheel I got from Center of Hope. I told Kevin and Phil what I am about and asked if the would give me the nuts and washers needed to secure the wheel to the frame. Kevin looked through their stash of wheels and gave me a double walled, 36 spoke, four cross wheel with sealed bearings! It was made for a tandem touring bike. I was so excited; the perfect wheel for my needs. Kevin said I really needed to bring the bike in to see about my other complaints. I forget what they were. Pam drove me back to the house to get the bike and then back to the shop. Kevin used washers to center the wheel in the bike frame.

Pam was running late. We drove back. Her mom was there with two kids, Pam's nieces. Mom made lunch, we all ate. The older of the two girls asked me if I was anything like the guy in the book she was reading. Yep, except he had $40, me nothing and he had a penknife while mine is much better. I envisioned her running off into the woods like the boy in her book and told her this life is not as easy as you might think. I am lonely, cold, hungry, dirty and tired all the time, but mostly lonely.

I packed up then remembered; I needed to send out couchsurfing requests to Fargo hosts. I borrowed Matt's already booted up laptop to do this.The second to last one, Elizabeth, responded immediately with an accept. Smile Then, at 4:30PM I left Matt and Pam's house. I got to Baltic and asked directions at a roadside bar for a campsite nearby. My goal was just a mile away, on the other side of town. What a relief, so easy.

I strung my hammock up under a shelter that was protecting a metal drum used a garbage can. I guess th locals wanted to keep the garbage dry. It was windy enough that I had a hard time keeping the hammock in place while I got the cords in place.

I keep wondering what happened to the power supply for my camera. I feel bad that I can't take pictures anymore. Anyways, I rode on, through Brookings, SD.

I stopped three places in or near Brookings; Jerry's Electric in Colman. I asked Judy the receptionist if I could use their bathroom. She pointed the way. I swear there was a lecherous look at my bike shorts! Not that I am complaining you understand, it's just a look is Only a look. We had a fine time talking, I asked for and received a baseball cap with the company logo on it.

On the south side of Brookings, I stopped in Preferred Woodwork, Inc and asked the one guy I found,Levi Klinkhammer, if he would do me a favor and make a simple platform for my coffee cup. He did, and gave me directions to the hardware store where I could get the stuff to mount the bottle holder Two Wheeler Dealer gave me onto the wooden platform.

As I came in the hardware store, Do It Best, the cashier up front, Anna, asked me if she could help me. I went back and got the wooden platform, forgot to bring that in. Smile I showed her the platform and the bottle holder and told her what I had in mind. She showed me my choices for stuff to secure the bottle holder to the platform, I bought four copper strips at 7 cents each and 8 ¾ inch wood screws. Then she introduced me to Pat who was going back to the shop to drill the holes. Pat told me “not me, it's down there and around the corner. There were two guys working at a table saw, David and Mitch, they were the guys for the job. I told them what I wanted and did half the work myself so I would get what I wanted. It works, I am stylin'! Someday soon I will get pictures, My coffee cup is now easy to reach.

I stopped in Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness and talked with Robb Rasmussen, the general manager. He is not that impressed with my journey; every few days some long distance bike tourist stops in his shop. His wife creates and manages events to raise money for worthy causes; I am impressed with her. Wink Across the street was the newspaper, I stopped in, the editor was chasing a deadline – too busy to talk so I gave the receptionist my info and away I went... to the library. I had barely enough time to check my couchsurfing requests and email before the library closed.

I rode on. It was getting time to look for a campsite – an hour or two before dusk. I got near Estelline and found the perfect spot; lots of trees, a cleared path going in, secluded, vacant. The undergrowth was waist high, not so perfect; don't think about the ticks. The mosquitoes were bad enough; getting stuck by one felt like a hypodermic. I was about to dose off when a man and woman in a pickup truck drove in. They were about 50 feet away from me and did not see me. I waved, I said “Hello”, still don't see me. I flashed back to the guy in Texas that wanted to shoot me for trespassing. I waved more and got louder. They saw me, were not concerned, I asked if I could camp there, “sure”. I got to talking with the guy, a volunteer firefighter in Estelline, he gave me directions to the next town north with a grocery store, Watertown and he probably even told me his name... not a clue.

I slept, woke up and rode on. The winds yesterday, Friday, were 10 miles an hour WSW, at least they were not slowing me down. Today they are 5 – 10 miles an hour from the north. It was cloudy, damp, cold and I was going uphill on top of going against the wind. I stopped at the rest stop on the south side of Watertown, plugged in my laptop and created a document to update my blog this much – no internet access at the road side rest stop. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be 10 – 20 miles an hour from the south. I will pray for me. Wink Time to ride on.

Monday, June 21, 2010
I got into Watertown, went to the Grainery Restaurant, told them “I rode my bicycle from Las Vegas, going around the world and could I get a free meal?” “The boss is not here but we can give you a bowl of vegetable beef soup.” Not exactly what I had in mind, “Thank you but no, can I get a pitcher of water, make that two.” “Sure.” Ahh, cold water. I was swimming in my own sweat.

I rode to the other side of Interstate 29, where the town started. I went to IHOP; I asked them if they had free WIFI and told them I am riding cross-country, for the past two days I have been fantasizing about an omelet, ham steak, a stack of pancakes and bottomless cup of coffee but I have no money. Would you fulfill my fantasies? “I suppose we can do that.” Yes!

As I was walking into IHOP I noticed two young boys trying to push their noses through the window to get a better view of my spectacle so I sat at the table next to them and their father. Ben, the father, was grinning ear to ear behind his hand so the kids, Braden and Zach could not see his entertainment. I said “Las Vegas, what else do you want to know?” We talked for a long time. I touched on lonely, cold, hungry, dirty and tired are always with me. I also said I avoid places where people shoot at each other, I am not getting between them; Latin America, the Middle East, the border between India and Pakistan and Cambodia are all on my list of places to avoid.

I talked with the ladies (they are all gorgeous) employed at IHOP, telling them all about my journey. A few groups of customers asked me what I was about. I was happy to satisfy their curiosity. I ate my fantasy meal while I talked with all these people. I asked the IHOP ladies to all sign something with the IHOP logo on it and let me take a picture of it. They proudly signed a ceramic coffee cup. They wanted me to take it with, I could not – it was heavy, would break and would be very sharp when it broke.

When I stepped out I saw a man that I think was there when I walked in. I traded a few words with him which grew into a never-ending story on both our parts. He invited me to the American Indian Christian Church Convocation near Peever. SD. I accepted and said I had to go before sundown so I could see to set up a campsite while I still had daylight. He said it was at 10AM and Peever was 30 miles north of Watertown. I was excited about meeting Indians. Sunlight was fading fast. I knocked on the doors of a two houses in one driveway but got no answer. Next door to the house, I found a big church on old Highway 81, the Foursquare Church. There were cars still in the parking lot at 9PM and the doors were open. I walked in saying Hello loudly. I followed the music to a man, two women and a couple kids singing. I asked if I could string up my hammock in the trees out back. They fed me and gave me chocolate goodies to sustain me on my travels. :drooling:

As I was setting up camp, two men came by with flashlights. They were from the house next door, their sister had been home alone and scared by my intrusion. I apologized, gave them my calling card. They felt better. I hope their sister does too.

While we were talking, the mosquitoes came out in force. There were squadrons of the hypodermic toting bloodsuckers. Their eating habits really felt like getting stuck with a needle! I imagined telling a local about them and being told I had to run faster than the mosquito. I imagined a flock of mosquitoes chasing me, some of them getting tired and jumping on the back of the ones hanging in the back of the group getting ucked along in the wind vortex. That would be like the Pony Express traveling with several horses in tow. When one gets tired you jump on the next one and cut the tired one loose to fend for itself.

The mosquitoes kept me awake most of the night. I was also excitedly going over all that had happened that day. I finally drifted off around midnight. Someone called at 2AM, excited about finding themselves mentioned in my blog. We talked for a while then I went back to sleep. I woke up with two crows perched on the telephone lines above my head. They were making rude comments about my presence invading their sensibilities.

I packed up and was on the road by 6:30. Peevers is 50 miles north of Watertown and I was still swimming in my own sweat. I hoped I could somehow get a shower before I went to church. No such luck. The Coffee Cup truck stop was my only real chance and they said “Everybody else pays, you are no exception”. I don't feel comfortable paying for something I can live without. I needed a shower before I got to Fargo, that's it.

I had a fine time meeting everybody at the Convocation. I did not see the guy I met at IHOP. What was his name? Did he tell me his name? I would think so. I need a personal secretary to keep track of all these people. Come to think, a massage therapist/chiropractor/accupressurist/physical therapist, gourmet cook and girlfriend are on that same wish list, all bicyclists riding with me, of course.

A few hundred feet from the Convocation, I was daydreaming and rode over a broken part of the road's edge. I broke two spokes. Sad A few hundred feet ago, I was proudly thinking it was the first time I was riding into a town NOT looking to fix something on my bike. I started walking to Interstate 29 and hitchhiked.

Tim Jeffries of JAG Inc. out of Beresford, SD finally came by and picked me up. What took him so long? Wink He was only going to Sisseton, a few miles away. Civilization is civilization and the pizza Hut in Sisseton has free WIFI, one of the teenagers at the Convocation told me; they know where all the WIFI spots are. But the Super 8 in Sisseton was much closer to the interstate. I asked him to drop me off there instead.

I asked at the Super 8 where the police station was and the fire department. The fire department in other places have let me take a shower and the police in a town often have a one night in your life free motel room for poor travelers. Actually, it is the local Christian church that pays for the motel room. NO such luck, the fire department was closed; volunteer firemen and the police had no room for me.

As I was walking back to the Super 8 where I left my bike (small towns are safer and I asked the manager at them Super 8 if it was safe. He said lock it up, no problem.) I noticed people mowing the lawn in front of the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall; Christians! I might yet get a shower. Sure enough, Jason and his wife offered to let me stay at their house in Brown's Valley overnight, shower and laundry included. Ach! Unimaginable luxury! Clean body, clean clothes, home cooked food, no hypodermic toting mosquito squadrons. Lo, and my cell phone does not get service there. Oh, the wrist biting agony of going without cell phone service for a single night! Muhaha!

Jason dropped me off back in Sisseton, I have been at the Super 8 on my laptop with free WIFI, stuffing myself with coffee and those chocolate goodies from the Foursquare Church for the last four hours. Time to hitchhike into Fargo and meet Elizabeth my couchsurfing host.

I asked at the Super 8 where the police station was and the fire department. The fire department in other places have let me take a shower and the police in a town often have a one night in your life free motel room for poor travelers. Actually, it is the local Christian church that pays for the motel room. NO such luck, the fire department was closed; volunteer firemen and the police had no room for me.

As I was walking back to the Super 8 where I left my bike (small towns are safer and I asked the manager at them Super 8 if it was safe. He said lock it up, no problem.) I noticed people mowing the lawn in front of the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall; Christians! I might yet get a shower. Sure enough, Jason and his wife offered to let me stay at their house in Brown's Valley overnight, shower and laundry included. Ach! Unimaginable luxury! Clean body, clean clothes, home cooked food, no hypodermic toting mosquito squadrons. Lo, and my cell phone does not get service there. Oh, the wrist-biting agony of going without cell phone service for a single night! Muhaha!

Jason dropped me off back in Sisseton, I have been at the Super 8 on my laptop with free WIFI, stuffing myself with coffee and those chocolate goodies from the Foursquare Church for the last four hours. Time to hitchhike into Fargo and meet Elizabeth my couchsurfing host.


A full size, extended white mini-van pulls up after a few hours of hitchhiking. The guy driving uses one of his crutches to open the door. He is only going to . But that further along than I am and has better chances of getting a ride into Fargo. I was half unpacked before he could say “You can put the bike straight in, no need to unpack, don't scratch or dent; the van is still new.” There were a couple basses on the floor, I was careful of them too. He is Marty of SpruceHillGuitars.com, a master luthier. I asked “What is a luthier?” Just like most of you did. A luthier makes stringed instruments. You guessed it, he's met lots of the people we only know the names of or music of. He says they are all just folk, just like us and most of what we hear about them are all lies the news media make up to sell their news.

He drops me off on the side of the highway just before the turnoff into town. I was taking my bike out of his van, on the downsloping embankment when I fell over backwards. I rolled a bit and came up unscathed but surprised. We said our goodbyes. I pushed my bike over to a sign nearby that stood on two posts, perfect for my heavy, two wheel bike. I went back for the rest of my stuff, a guy in a small pick-up truck, packed to the rim, pulls up and asks “Are you OK, looked like you had a crash?” I said fine, told him I was hitchhiking into Fargo with my crippled bike, “You going to Fargo?” Yes he was and let me ride with him. I said “That's the fastest pick-up while hitchhiking I ever had.

I forgot his name, but he is a retired cabinet maker who is going back to his cabin near where the tornado destroyed a town nearby a few days ago. He is going to volunteer his help rebuilding. The world id full of good people.

He dropped me off in the driveway of the address Elizabeth gave me. I rang the doorbell. I figured - if it was the wrong house they would not shoot me, if it was the right house they would know I was here. Almost getting shot to death for trespassing in Texas is still very fresh in my mind. I got all my stufff out of the guy's pickup truck and we said our goodbyes. Another guy (David Blackcloud) came out of the house and said she lived downstairs and rang the bell (again).

I called her, they were on their way back, she said “we” before but I had no clue who “we” were. David worked on stuff in his garage. I followed him and got to know him. He has a hobby of making a suit of chainmail armor for Society of Creative Anachronism events. After a while, David says there they are. A skinny man with long, red hair gets out of the white car with a long haired woman.

We meet, “we” is Rob Pauch and Elizabeth becomes “Liz”. Rob is full of energy, enthusiasm and creative capabilities. Liz seems like the mother of a teenager but they both, often, act like teenagers with a crush on each other. Smile Anyways, they asked if I needed help. I smiled a mischievous grin and asked if they would take my saddle bags in. Liz grabs the heavy ones without a comment or even a look, how disappointing.

We bring all my stuff inside, a cat greet us at the door, I get the grand tour. I get my own room, they have an air mattress and blankets. I say a bunch of the blankets and the carpeting will be just fine. Another cat comes out. A third cat is draped on a windowsill and a fourth cat runs for it's life into the not-so-far reaches of their apartment. Their apartment is small and crowded but organized. They strung a clothes line in the living room, very clever. They are vegans, I knew that from their “vegan” login name on CouchSurfing. No worries, I eat everything. Rob shows me the contents in the refrigerator, “We got this and this...” I said I can eat everything but the containers. But they do not have WIFI without a phone dongle and I can't get the software without the CD and they don't know where that is.

Whew, OK, got internet, better post this, eh?

Rob and I worked on building a framework to keep my saddle bags out of the way of my heels when pedaling. It was his idea to use bicycle wheel rims. We worked together to cut the rims and he welded them together, collectively brainstorming every step of the way.
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