Sunday, January 6, 2013

Better Late Than Never!

I’m sorry that it took me so long to post my adventures from last summer – what with me being almost completely ignorant about blogging and having to learn how to do it, and also trying to get up to speed for my new job – well this year has brought many new challenges and many new delights along with it.

So without further delay here is what transpired on my two and a half days with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure – and just in time too, because I’m currently registered for the week long spring ride with the Fuller Center this March!

June 11, 2012

Two days of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure Alexandria to Williamsburg 2012.

Thursday morning felt like Christmas I rose from my bed happy, excited and ready for an adventure. I left Williamsburg around 6a.m. I think I only stopped twice for coffee and for a bathroom. When I called Dad on my out I found out that Blake was at the Doctors office which was fine with me. I knew I wanted to re-pack my stuff into a hiking backpack, and take a shower, and pack some things in my truck to go back to Williamsburg with me anyway. It wasn’t too long before Blake was back and we were on the road to Alexandria, we did make some stops, I needed to pick up a flash light at Alison’s Ace Hardware, and I wanted to get some mints, and we had to pick up Martha along the way because she wanted to see our friends from the Fuller Center too.

Arrival at the Church at Alexandria
When we found the church at Alexandria there was a sign by a small parking area where the Fuller Center van was parked that read:

Church Parking only violators will be “baptized”

The Fuller Center Bike Adventurers were supposed to be having a build day that day in Alexandria, but unfortunately it was cancelled.

We called Allen and it took him forever to get to the door to open the church (because it was locked). For a while there we thought we might have had the wrong church. Allen greeted us with a hearty handshake and Alyssa tackled us with her hugs. Tom Webber came into the church later with a big smile and hugged each of us.
Blake also made the observation that day that when Alyssa sat in the pew of the church her feet did not touch the ground.

Blake naturally started telling some of his stories: and he had a good crazy story from last week about how he accidently drained the entire pool at the Northumberland YMCA where he has been working as a lifeguard for a few weeks.

We met another rider there from this year named Bryan Roy who Blake bonded with really quickly over the fact that they both keep getting lost on these Fuller Center Bike Adventure rides. Bryan is a fun guy, he is an older rider from further North, and he has a northern accent. Bryan works as a life coach and he has two kids. He took off two weeks to be part of Segments 1 and 2 of the Fuller Center Bicycle adventure this summer. Also Blake met up with Alex (the 17 year old rider) who lives in Lynchburg, but is from Amherst Va. He is one of Laura Phelps’ friends. He has a full ride scholarship to Liberty University, he’s looking at either an engineering degree or going into physical therapy. Smart kid.

Alyssa also told me that it was weird staying in the same church in Leesburg again, it was as if she expected to see the riders from last summer pop out again. She also said that a lot of folks from last year remember some of my interests and they would bring it up in conversation when everyone got together. She also said that they had passed a lot of cemeteries this year and every time they passed one she thought of me and she almost wanted to go check them out since I was so interested in them it made her interested in them. And she said no one ever forgot the night at Leesburg when I howled at the moon. Tom Webber also mentioned the fact that they had passed through a lot of cemeteries.

Later that night we all went out to Bertuccis Italian Restaurant. Martha, Blake, Alyssa, Tom Webber and myself split two large pizzas one covered in pepperoni and the other mushrooms. The restaurant was pretty fancy and pricy too, but the food was amazing. The original plan was to split the bill, but generous Tom Webber went ahead and paid for both large pizzas. Tom is an awesome guy.

While at the Restaurant I chatted with a girl I was sitting next to named Carmon. Carmon is 19, she’s from Tennessee and she just finished her volunteer year with Americorps NCCC. She is riding this summer because one of her good friends who is a cyclist died this past year. She felt like she had to do something to honor his memory so she started looking up bike rides, typing in long bike trips into Google and the Fuller Center caught her attention.

After dinner we all headed out for ice cream – or at least many of the riders headed out for ice cream. I’m on a budget so I walked along for the ride.

Here are some pictures of the church in Alexandria as we are all waking up and preparing for the day's ride:

In the second photo we are all gathered around listening to an excerpt of one of Millard Fuller's sermons from Allen Slabaugh's laptop.

Alexandria is an expensive place to live, owning an apartment costs half a million dollars, but then again it is NOVA, so it’s pricey.

Also as I was getting ready for bed Nadine (the media person this year for the trip) was talking to Tom about his experience in the air force and a war – I’m pretty sure Vietnam. Then Tom talked about volunteering at animal reserve and working with raptors (birds of prey), he talked about the different personalities between the Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Red-tailed Hawk etc. Just as he was finishing his conversation with Nadine he added the comment “but this guy here,” pointing at me “This is the guy you need to watch out for.” I don’t know what Tom’s talking about, there is no point in watching out for me. After all it’s not like you’re ever going to see me coming.

I think I answered with some along the lines “Oh yeah I’m nothing but trouble,” or “thanks Tom.”

The next morning we were off to Tappahannock and I must admit I was worried, because Alyssa warned me that all the girls on this trip (except for her) and it was mostly girls this time were morning people. But it turns out that they are not the hyper, perky kind of morning people. They simply rose early and did what they needed to do and they were respectfully quiet for all those of us who were dragging in the morning. I was surprised at just how quickly I got up and started the day. I was excited to get out there on the Bike again.

Here are some photos of our journey: 

                                          This last photo is a picture of Miranda! She has a personality all her own!

So we were off to Tappahannock
Early on maybe before the first rest stop there was a point where me and Alyssa were cycling alone.
(Remember Alyssa was with us the previous year riding the whole way. How to describe Alyssa, hmmm, lets see – an abundant source of optimism, she has a lot of moxie in her, a playful personality and huge servant’s heart. In short, no pun intended, Alyssa is awesome

Here is a picture - Alyssa is the girl in the center if that helps jog your memory:

Alyssa asked me if I still biked a lot and then she asked me about my job and how I was enjoying it and I did tell her it was a good job, hopefully a step in the right direction as we all wait for the economy to get better. I asked her about her job and she told me that it’s a good experience and although it can be crazy now and again she is still getting a lot out of it.

It was really nice to be able to catch up with Alyssa and find out how she’s been doing this past year.
Later we landed at our first rest stop. This year the Fuller Center riders had a lot of food donated to them courtesy of generous host churches along the way. Also the gas station where most of us went to the bathroom had a light out in the woman’s room – so one of the managers or higher ups at the gas station gave the women a flashlight.

Later that day I was riding with Alyssa and Kelsey (Kiwi) (the gluten intolerant rider). She goes by Kiwi which is her middle name because there are two girls named Kelsey on the ride this year. Kiwi kind of reminds me of Jessica Thompson, she spent many summers as a camp counselor and she just finished her degree in teaching this past year. She has a shirt that reads alternative spring break so you know she’s really involved in humanitarian efforts. She has a very warm and open personality, she really wants to get to know everyone around her and she’s happy all the time as well as very smart. Her brother actually got a degree in communication studies, but he’s not using it, he has a job at ski resort in the winter and does seasonal work in the summer. Kiwi also has a job offer for this school year – teaching students in Rwanda. She definitely wants to do it, but she’s waiting for her parents to get used to the idea, she doesn’t want to do it without their blessing.

Just to let you know Kiwi is living in Rwanda right now and teaching science at a school for the children of missionaries. She is enjoying it very much and I pray God will continue to do wonderful things through her!

 Also on the way there I feel like I was really getting the genuine Fuller Center experience. My back tire blew out twice – so two flat tires in one day). The first time I think I ran over something and the second time it was a pinched flat according to Alex. (Alex and Miranda were sweeping that day).

At one point Me, Carmon, Alyssa, Kiwi, Alex and Miranda got turned around on our way from Fredericksburg to Tappahannock and had to take a minor detour through Culpepper or a road that would lead to Culpepper.

Finally after all the detours and what not we arrived at St. Margaret’s School around 3:30 or 4:00. We were staying at a house St. Margaret’s girls use for their after prom parties. It is a really nice house complete with two bathrooms with showers and beds, the only bad thing about it that I discovered later that night was that the upstairs air conditioning could use some work. When we arrived Ben Ward was there – he had already brought over the sandwiches (it was a nice spread of sandwiches too all of them made hoggie style: ham, turkey, and chicken salad) and materials to make a salad for the vegetarian rider and I think he had prepared something gluten free for Kiwi as well.

Blake and Dad came up later with Lasagna for Emmalily (the vegetarian) and chicken and vegetables that had been cooked in the slow cooker. The food was definitely awesome. A lot of the riders were surprised as impressed by the fact that Ben Ward would drive 45 minutes to bring them food. 

Here are some pictures:

                                          Mmmmm, Mmmmm Good!
 Blake of course shared in more detail the story of how he swam the Rappahannock River and since Dad was there Dad gave his side of the story too. Blake even brought the article that was written about it. Martha also came by briefly, she had to take care of Stephen for the night and then her plan was to join the riders the next day.

After lunch many of us enjoyed some well deserved cool down time. It was after all a long day:
                                          Emmolily on the right, and Bryan on the left
                                                   Alyssa, the life of the party as usual!
                                           Allen Slabaugh on the right and Alex on the left

Later that evening Alyssa, the other Kelsey, Carmon and myself decided we wanted to go out to watch the sunset, but when we got out there we quickly realized that the sunset would be in the opposite direction so we just went to go hang out on the beach. Allen Slabaugh came out to join us after a while and laughed when he came to the same conclusion about the sun. Also we found out that Allen actually has a notebook of poems somewhere. That kid is full of surprises, who on Earth would have thought that Allen was a closet poet. Still when you think about it makes sense. Also that night I found out that Allen and Alyssa had just finished watching the Firefly series and movie last year and their huge fans! Too cool!

If you aren’t familiar with Firefly it’s a wonderful television series that combines elements of a spaghetti western and space ships all with an underlying theme of freedom, identity, free will, love and loss. It follows the lives of nine people who have all come from different backgrounds all clumped together by fate or by necessity on board Serenity, a firefly class space ship. It is a very unique and compelling series for more information I suggest you take a look at the official fan page here:

Later that night (since they were in such a big hurry that they forgot the first time) dad and Blake came back with a replacement tire for me. I swapped my old front tire with my back and put the new tire on my front wheel. Tom Webber said it’s always better to put the better tire on your front wheel and not your back wheel so we took his advice.

Also earlier that day when everyone went out to ice cream I got a chance to get to know Nadine a bit better. I knew she earned a degree in cinematography from New York which is really cool. I asked her how she got into photography and she told me that her hold family was into photography and filming, but for them it was more of a hobby, but for her it was her life. I asked her if she like doing documentaries and working on projects like the Fuller Center Bike Adventure, she said not really, it’s cool and all, but she really likes nature photography – what she really wants to aspire to do is work for National Geographic someday. She also made mention at one point of wanting a family someday.

Allen asked me if I would give the devotion the next morning before we rode out to Williamsburg. I gave a halfway decent devotion on the value of love and the importance of global community under Christ, but with everything going on I was too tired and distracted so it didn’t come out all that great. Still I got compliments on it from Alyssa, Kiwi and Bryan. Alyssa actually had a friend who passed away who was a cyclist who believed very strongly in global community.

After devotions it was time to hit the road and Martha was with us wearing her green Mohawk on her helmet. We rode out of Tappahannock into Glenns and Saluda into West Point – a route I’ve taken many times by car, but never by bike. It turns out there are some back roads you can take through West Point into Williamsburg. Who knew right?

And yes we did ride all the way through West Point over both bridges and experienced the smell of the paper factory although Alyssa said she really couldn’t smell it. I was sweeping with Alyssa that day and spent most of the day with Carmon, but even so we arrived at the Wesley house at about noon. It’s a really nice facility owned by the Wesleyan United Methodist Church who uses it to put up interns and put on events for college students, the church itself is right next door to the house.

Here are some pictures of our journey:

                                                     I believe this is Kiwi, it's been awhile
                                                     though and you know everyone looks
                                                     different in bike gear, but that smile
                                                     and enthusiasm definitely match
                                                     those of the girl I met that summer!

Also that day I got to know a few more riders even better. Although I had already met Miranda briefly and I knew that she was a school teacher and that she was working on her Master’s degree I didn’t know what Master’s program. She’s definitely a country girl and she loves teaching, she’s getting her masters in some kind of teaching technology program, because her undergraduate degree was not in teaching so she’s getting a master’s degree kind of as insurance so if she ever wants to teach somewhere else or they let her she’ll still be able teach elsewhere.

I also found out that Emmalilly Hoxlie (the vegetarian on the trip) is actually Kiwi’s best friend and they signed up to do the ride together. Emmalilly earned an interdisciplinary degree in health sciences, she was going to go into a nursing program, but unfortunately the nursing programs don’t really count her degree as being a Bachelor of Science even though her University does – most unfortunate, but I’m sure she’ll be fine Emmalilly has a wonderful personality and an optimistic way about her. I know doors will open up for her soon if they haven’t already.

Antics in Williamsburg
It was a mail day and Hailey Daddy sent a heart filled encouraging note with a package full of baked chocolate and M&M filled muffins for all the riders.
Allen Slabaugh also got a package with fruit snacks and gummy bears that specifically said ‘you don’t have to share this with Alyssa if you don’t want too.

Kiwi got a lot of letters and a package full of Kazoos – she shared the kazoos with everyone and then (much to Allen’s chagrin) we all burst into Taps and then a chorus of Ode Joyful, and then My Country Tis of Thee and finally Amazing Grace. After which we went around the room playing guess that tune and everyone played a song and we were all had fun guessing each other’s songs. Kiwi played Baby, Baby, Baby by Justin Beiber, Alyssa played Old McDonald, I had some trouble with my kazoo, but I played wonder wall. There were a few other tunes shared, but I can’t remember them.

                                                    Alyssa after tackling Cameron plays
                                                    a tune of victory on her Kazoo!

                                          Now this is Kiwi for sure!
                                                   As you can see we all take ourselves so
                                                             very seriously around here!

                                                                 This is Emmalilly
                                                   And there is Tom Webber again
                                                    Don't let that fake serious look
                                                    fool you folks, Tom's more of
                                                  jokester than all of us put together
                                                   and if you know me or Blake at
                                                    all, then you know that's saying
                                                                     Kiwi again!
                                                         Kelsey playing her Kazoo.
                                          And hmmm I wonder who this could be with her
                                          Kazoo about ready to fall out of her mouth....
                                              Miranda and Bryon joining in the Kazoo fun

Also we all went out lunch where I got a chance to catch up with Allen Slabaugh a little bit. It turns out he’s kind of feeling stuck, he doesn’t know if he wants to lead the bike adventure next year. He knows he doesn’t want to keep doing this forever, but he does know what else he would do if he didn’t do this. He would like to be back closer to his family in Ohio, but then again he doesn’t know what else he would be doing in Ohio. He asked about me and my new job and the new place I’ve been staying at. It was a good conversation, but feel bad for Allen and I also recognize the frustration after all I don’t think I’m going to want to be working at Bose forever either, but I don’t know what else I’d do right off the top of my head.

Allen has since left the Fuller Center and has begun to search other employment options within his home state of Ohio. I haven’t heard from him in a while, I really need to shoot him a message on Facebook and find out how that kid is doing these days. After lunch some folks headed to the gift shops others to ice cream and still others back to the house – I would have liked to have stayed outside, but I had to take a serious dump so I headed back to the house.

Alex got back in later and his parents were there. He quickly realized that most folks were sleeping so he told me, Bryan and Allen to tell everyone that he said goodbye and then just grabbed his stuff and breezed on out.

Later that afternoon the pastors of the Wesleyan United Methodist Church put on a cook out for us. There were hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, lemonade and watermelon.

At the Cookout the Pastors told us about the William and Mary triathlon that all William and Mary Students supposedly try to complete before they graduate. It involves streaking in the sunken gardens, swimming across the Crim Dell (a small pond), and jumping a wall and completing the maze in the Governor’s Palace in nearby Colonial Williamsburg.
They said it’s an ultra-triathlon if you do the whole thing naked

After the cookout we all headed out for ice cream/getting groceries since it was Alyssa’s groups turn to get groceries. Alyssa dropped the rest of us off for ice cream. We ended up going by a custard place. It turned out custard was cheaper anyway. We sat out and talked a while.

A woman noticed our orange Fuller Center T-Shirts and asked us where we were from to which we answered ‘all over.’ I gave her a Fuller Center Brochure and told her about our ride she read it for a few minutes and then gave us a ten dollar donation to our cause. The Custard place actually asked if they could put up the brochure in their shop for people to see – which is exactly what we want and part of why we are riding – to get the news out about the Fuller Center!

On the way back we went through the William and Mary Campus. Allen commented on what a pretty campus it was and we admired the sunken gardens for a while. Miranda also noticed the Magnolia flowers on the trees and even picked one of a tree for us all to smell. They do smell really, really good.

When we got back to the Wesley House Dad arrived and he brought Mom – there was some emergency plumbing situation that brought Dad to Richmond that day and since Mom was up there already he brought her down with them so she could see me and also see Tom Webber. It was a great reunion. I re-introduced my Mom to Allen since Allen was kind enough to introduce me to his mom and his grandfather earlier that day. We all stayed outside of the house and talked and laughed and joked and reminisced for a long time and introduced people to our new found friends on this ride. It was a lot of fun.

Then sadly the time came for my folks to leave and for me to leave as well. I said my goodbyes to everyone and promised to keep in touch. I even waited for Alyssa to get back with the van so I could say goodbye to her and the members of her group. Alyssa and Allen both re-assured me that we will see each other again.. And there it was just like last year it seemed like the adventure ended just as quickly as it had begun. I’ve added most of the friends from this trip on Facebook already and I do hope that I have the opportunity to keep up with all of them.

And that was my Fuller Center Bike Adventure for 2012. Two and a half days of sheer awesomeness. It felt more like two weeks than two days. What an adventure, I sure do hope I get to participate again next year maybe even for longer like a whole week. That would be awesome!