Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let my eyes see the grace...

The ride in to St Augustine on Sunday May 25th was perfect! It was sunny and warm -- it felt welcoming--and I could smell the sea. I was so happy -so sad -- I was thinking how proud I felt --and I was thinking I never thought this would be a gift I would ever have to give to one of my children. In the end I believe that it was all as it was supposed to be....every part...I was surrounded by loving friends, and they helped me with Ty's ashes--and helped me celebrate later. We had a wonderful dinner that night -and drinks -and so much laughter. All the gang was at the table in our best baggy mis-matched wrinkled clothing that somehow made it across the country! There were awards, poems, toasts, a great meal-- and everyone was in high spirits!

The goodbyes the next day were tough --though some of us will ride again together. My sister Joan drove up from Port St Lucie to pick me up ,and when she got out of the car she had a Curves t-shirt on that said "Dee Across America" -- I was so happy to see her, and she was able to meet Shirl, Nick, and Mattie. Thanks for waiting with me there guys --

I had a great time with Joan the next day --she took me to get an outfit (that fit) to wear home and we dropped off my bike to be shipped from a bike shop in Florida to a Pgh shop. Mostly we laid in the sun-- and floated in the water and talked and talked. At one point I fell asleep --which seemed crazy because at moments I felt restless --like I should be riding....or something.

Rob, Kali and Jamie came to pick me up at the airport and it was wonderful...I saw them first... so I had that split second to watch them --and let my eyes see the Grace.

For all of your love and support and prayers ...and your believing that I could do it...I thank you. And to my fellow riders --you are the best! Much love, Dee

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Different Ending Than We'd Planned

Hi folks,
As most of you know, Kali, Jamie and I had planned to leave today to meet up with Dee in St. Augustine as she dipped her front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean and concluded her ocean to ocean bike journey on May 25th.

Sadly, my sister Jane-Ellen has been in UPMC Presby the past 2 weeks. She initially had a brain seizure and abdominal pains. Her diagnosis was systemic vasculitis which is an auto-immune disease that affects blood vessels throughout the body. The seizures were controlled quickly but on Thursday she needed to have half her small intestine removed. She is recovering in the ICU unit and doing ok.. I believe she will get better but it may take a while. As a result, I have needed to stay in Pittsburgh and we will not be able to be there at the end of Dee's ride. Clearly, at times, life can frustrate the best laid plans.

For the folks who have been willing to make heroic efforts to be there in our place and offered to help Dee find her way home to Pittsburgh (Laura, Donna Lee, and others) our heartfelt thanks for your generosity and kindness.

I spoke with Dee this morning and she understands that we will be with her at the end in spirit if not in person. I'm sure the end of her journey will be bittersweet with difficult goodbyes to dear friends who were unknown to her a little more than two months ago...such is life on the road.

Dee will be flying home on Wednesday. It will be good to have her with us again. I'm hoping she will be able to make the final post on the blog in the next few days. For those of you who have been readers and commenters on the Blog, thank you.

Best Regards,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recent Photos

Here are some pics taken by Herb Lee during the past 2weeks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Learn to be Still

Hi All-- this morning -the morning after my birthday I was listening to an old Eagles song "Learn to be Still" and I thought about how that is still something I am learning to do.....I love the motion -the rhythm- the heartbeating- the anticipation- ....I suppose that is just part of how I am ...
Yesterday was an amazing day -- it was a 75 mile day, which included a 10 mile bridge over the gulf in Alabama (actually we had only crossed in to Alabama earlier that day). On the highest part of the bridge we were riding as high as the Pelicans were flying ---boats beneath us --sun shining -it was glorious. We also had a ferry ride and then the last 21 miles brought us along a stip of land with water on both sides of me. I am a distracted rider when I am near water....and my riding partners think my day dreaming gets out of hand at moments....but I made it to our motel and we went out for a great seafood meal where the whole gang made me feel so great to turn 53! Today is our rest day and I am on my way to the beach when I leave this off I go...thinking of you all...thanks for all the birthday well wishes!! love, Dee

Monday, May 12, 2008

Louisiana to Mississippi...

Hi All, I am so excited to be writing you. I am at a library in Vancleave, Mississippi and Sheryl, Doug ,Nick and I rode steady to get here in time to hopefully make it to the library! We have only about 20 more miles today to go. Today is hot and sunny and so beautiful --I love being outside so much (that would be almost every minute of every day). I can not believe how far we have come -- and I am so proud of each of us! I continue to struggle somewhat with the trip actually ending. It wasn't an aspect of this whole adventure that I ever prepared for..... of course I can't wait to see everyone, but where do I go from here. There is a part of the ever "restless" me that is well suited to "being on the road" -- I left that life style to go to school and have a family -- and here I am again feeling so comfortable with it all I could just ride on. One friend told me to remember to stop at the end of the trip. I thought this was the oddest of comments at the time (was that you Linda Oldani!!)and now I think it was just someone who knows me well ... and knows that I could easily "ride to the beat of a different drummer".

I spoke to Rob, Kali, and Jamie last night---and yes I was teary --- the day had been one of those incredible days -the ride was through forests ,with thousands of wildflowers beside the road and some tiny towns with only a gas station or small store. At the end of the day I was riding with Doug and Andy and I made them listen to stories about Ty and Jamie and kali and half pipes being built and some of Ty's friends and Alicia and my sisters...they were the most patient of friends...and 2 of the sweetest guys you could meet. I talked till I couldn't -- and then we just rode. I am so proud of Kali and Jamie and the people they are and the person that Ty was. Mothers Day will forever be bittersweet for me I think -- but I get so much love and support from them -- i guess I Love that they sometime's parent me. When I talked to Kali about riding on a trip 2 weeks or so after this one (to Alaska) she simply said "Come home Mom --we need you at home." That's all I really needed to hear I guess.....and thankyou Rob for putting in to words what I tried to convey over the phone -- as always,I love you with my whole heart!

Tomorrow we head south to the Gulf, and I am really excited. I will be 53 tomorrow and riding toward the water seems like a great way to celebrate! Tomorrow is a 78 mile day and I guess we will cross at some point into Alabama. Sounds like a long hot day --but I am excited --and the next day is a "rest day". Some folks will be heading to New Orleans (renting a car), but I will be really resting --on the beach and in the water I hope! After my birthday, there are 2 weeks left of this adventure. Herb has been busy snapping pictures of all of us -- he has an uncanny ability to really see the picture. Frank and Eileen also have a blog of this journey and it is great fun to follow the trip through their eyes. I have missed being able to write in the last couple weeks, but know that I am well and in high spirits, and anxious to see everyone soon! No one need spend money, time or energy to see me at the end of the trip --I promise I will catch up with all of you --and share stories of life on the road on a bike until you are weary of them! I put some of Ty's ashes in the Pacific the day this journey began and I have carried some across the US for the Atlantic. It will be an emotional time for me. I am already thinking of where I can ride this summer --maybe I can start up in the Ottowa Valley when we take Jamie up for kayaking school at Wilderness Tours! That reminds me one of the riders (Aeda, from the Hague) will be riding on from St Augustine up to the Ottowa to visit with his son who lives there! See what I mean.....these bikers are crazy!! Anyway, love to all --be well and I will see you soon! Dee

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mississippi Mother's Day

Hi folks:
Dee has continued to be without internet access across Louisiana and into Missippi. Even Herb Lee, the trip photographer whose pictures I have shamelessly stolen and posted, has not been able to get up any fresh all I have are words.

We spoke with Dee tonight, Mother's Day, and she is doing fine. Kali and Jamie got to share their Mother's Day greetings with her. Needless to say, Dee got a bit teary but it was a great conversation.

I think it will be difficult for Dee to say good-bye to this group of people whom she has been riding and living with for the past 2 months. I said to her a while back, it's like being on a climbing expedition (or in a more major way, in the military/ combat) with folks you did not previously know. At the end of a relatively brief period of time, you will know these people better than folks you have known most of your life. I think this tends to be so because each of us, in varying degrees, crafts a desired persona which we work to maintain & project. In normal, day-to-day routines, this is a reasonably manageable task but in situations where we frequently find ourselves physically & emotionally exhausted, the task becomes harder and at times impossible. Our idealized personas start to wobble and, at times, dissolve completely. The people we are with are then able to see us at our most heroic and our weakest and most vulnerable. With most people, the unintenionally revealed reality is far more beautiful and interesting than the persona they have crafted and worked hard to maintain.

The group is now in Mississippi and the weather has been hot verging on sweltering. They have been trying to be on the road riding by 6 a.m. to avoid some of the midday heat. Temps have been in the high 90's with comparable humidity. Dee said at times it's hard to hold onto your handlebars because of the sweat running down your arms. Yesterday, a guy named Doug, was thrown over his handlebars when a large dog charged his bike and collided with his front wheel. Dee said there have been numerous times when dogs have chased them but normally that's all they do is chase and give up. This dog apparently hit Doug's bike the way a deer hits a car.... He was pretty scraped up and bruised but had the good fortune to tuck and roll rather than land flat and stop all at once. Dee rode with him most of today and said he kept up a brave and humorous facade but was clearly a hurtin'biker. Andy, the trip leader, managed to repair and true the badly damaged front rim on Doug's bike which allowed him to keep riding today.

Dee's 53rd birthday happens on Tuesday, May 13th which is also the 54th day of the ride and by then they should be in Alabama. Tuesday is a 75 mile day but they will be camped at Gulf Shores Alabama and have ocean access. Dee has been coaxing fellow riders into ponds, lakes and rivers since the trip began. She hopes she will be joined for an ocean birthday swim Tueday night by the entire entourage. I'd love to be there.

Again, deepest thanks for the many kind comments and heart-felt well wishes. It's the best part of the blog for Dee and me. Thanks folks, I hope Dee will be able to post soon. Robbie

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pics from Edge of Texas into Lousiana

Hi Folks: It's been a while since Dee has been able to go on line. We talked with her on Sunday night. She's doing well. The group heads east and is a few days into Lousiana. Below are pictures from Herb Lee's site to give an idea of the scenery along the way. Take care, Robbie.