Saturday, August 15, 2009

Days 10-17

Hey Everybody! I'm updating the blog from Bardstown, Kentucky (Bourbon Capital of the World!) on Saturday the 15th. The library is about to close, so I only had time to type this much of the journal...but there is more to come as soon as I get a chance.

Dad went home on Day 18 (the next blog entry), and is sorely missed. I'm doing really well, riding with a girl from Germany. I expect to be home before Labor Day weekend.

Stay tuned for more updates!


Days 10-14
August 4-8, 2009
Granite City and Arthur, IL
Family Visiting Time!!!
Where We Stayed: Aunt Shelley’s and Grandma’s

All summer, I’ve been looking forward to opportunities to visit with family. Before, when we were thinking about a deadline, I wasn’t sure how much time I would get to spend with family. But since things have changed so much, I decided to spend some real quality time with my Illinois family.

There wasn’t much time to sit and journal during those five days. I was far too busy telling and hearing stories late into the evening. I’m not sure how interesting it would be to sit and read about every little thing I did with my family anyways, so here are the highlights:

On the 4th I slept in until almost noon—a true luxury and rarity out on the trail. I cleaned out the van, organized my gear, and then took Dad, Ryan and Shay to the MUNY to see HAIRSPRAY. We had a blast, and I got to catch up with even more old friends that I hadn’t seen in ages.

After the show, I said goodbye to Ryan, who would be on his way the next day. Then, I went out to a local bar for a drink, and got a ride home from Tim, one of my buddies from the MUNY several seasons ago.

On the 5th, I sat at the computer all day and sorted through hundreds of emails, not even attempting to answer them all, but just try to figure out if there was anything terribly important I was forgetting. Afterwards, we dropped my bike off at the local bike shop for a tune up, and then cooked a huge meal at the house. We had BBQ pork steaks and chicken and corn and green beans and asparagus and garlic bread and baked potatoes and salad and brownie sundaes. What a treat!

Mary (my cousin) invited over her girlfriends (Stacey, Katy, and Michelle, who I know from my time in St. Louis), and Uncle Bro’s mom, Nadine came over, too. We ate and laughed and played Cranium until after midnight. (Michelle and I won! Good game, everybody!)

On the 6th, we did our best to get out the door and on the road to Grandma’s before noon, but didn’t really get started until 3. It’s a quick 2.5 drive from Granite to Arthur, and we made it in plenty of time for supper.

On our way, we stopped in at Burger King (NOT the franchise…the ORIGINAL burger and shake joint in Mattoon, Illinois) to grab a LEMON ice cream cone—one of my dad’s favorite childhood treats. He grew up just down the street from Burger King, and saved up his paper route money to get lemon cones every now and then.

We got to Grandma’s at 5:30, and helped her clean off the deck for an outside dinner. My Uncle Brad showed up with a power washer, and we had a real good time scrubbing that thing clean!

We grilled burgers and had dinner with Uncle Brad, Aunt Lori, and Aunt Viola (my grandma’s sister, who is still Amish), and finished the night off right with Grandma’s peach-custard pies (my favorite!).

In an amazing coincidence, it just so happened that Dad was featured in his hometown newspaper that day—the Mattoon Journal-Gazette—in their “Glancing Back” section. Every day, the publish a column that says, “100 years ago today…50 years ago…etc.” Today’s column read, “25 years ago today, 29-year-old Mattoon native Richmond Sparks leads the 1984 Olympic Marching Band in Los Angeles.” Totally random, and totally cool.

Grandma and I stayed up late that night, talking about what it was like leaving the Amish church when she was 21, and what that meant for her siblings, parents, and friends. It was a wonderful conversation: I asked questions I should have asked years ago about her life and history. I guess those things become more important to you as you get older. I also insisted that she help me learn more Pennsylvania Dutch words. It isn’t the most useful language, but it somehow feels right to learn about your roots that way.

On the 7th, we drove back to Mattoon to visit Aunt Lori at work in Dr. Tomlin’s dentist office, and then headed back to Burger King again for more Lemon Cones and lunch with Dad’s two sisters (Susan and Shelley) and a few cousins. After lunch, we went down to Peterson Park for a while, visited the farmer’s market, and then had to say goodbye in order to make it home in time for dinner.

On our way, we stopped in to visit Ruth Isenogle—the wife of Dad’s middle school band director—who has been a big part of our lives over the years. She’s just the most glowing soul you’ve ever met, as quick-witted as they come, and just pleased as punch about every gosh darn thing.

She made us a pot of tea and told us about her family, and then demonstrated “When the Saints Go Marching In” on her Mountain Dulcimer that she’s been learning to play. I helped her figure out a program on her computer (a job I’ve had since I was 10), and then had to run.

Another one of Dad’s childhood friends, Chris Debow, just happened to be in town for his 40th high school reunion, and swung by Ruth’s house in his dad’s ’55 Buick Specialized, which has been all fixed up to sell. He let us take it around town for a bit (no power steering or power brakes! Not even seatbelts!) and I fell in love. I’m not so much of a car guy, but I loved the history of it…wondering who had driven it and when and what they were up to.

We made it back to Arthur in time for dinner at Yoder’s Country Kitchen, where we sat for a good long while filling ourselves with good country food and good country company with all of Grandma’s friends stopping to visit with us at the table.

After dinner, we stayed up late once again, talking about Jay’s death and memorial, and even watching some highlights from the memorial service on the DVD that was made. As we went to bed, we made plans to visit a senior center the next day before leaving town.

On the 8th, we spent the whole morning sitting on the porch sipping coffee and chatting with Lori, Brad, and Grandma. I had planned to start riding again from St. Louis that day, but it was clearly NOT going to happen.

Lori is one of the primary caregivers of a little old lady named Esther, who has Alzheimer’s and lives alone, but has a steady stream of caregivers dropping in on her all day long. I threw Grandma’s electric keyboard into Lori’s car, and the two of us went over there around noon to hang out with Esther.

It was such a lovely visit. Esther is still able to have a totally normal conversation with you, but just can’t remember what you talked about 30 seconds later. She loves to sing “A Bushel and a Peck” from GUYS & DOLLS, and often recites “All the world’s a stage…”

I sang and played old standard show tunes and hymns for over an hour, and Esther sang along to nearly every song, amazing even herself that she knew all of the words. Without fail, at the end of each song, she asked, “Now, where did YOU grow up?”

After our visit, I asked Lori if Esther would have any recollection of my visit tomorrow. She wouldn’t. Alzheimer’s robs you of your past in a way that forces you to live in the present. As my Aunt Ellen reminded me, it doesn’t matter if they remember that you visited ten seconds after you leave, the point is that you make their lives happier for those moments that you are with them, and that’s worth something.

I came back to Grandma’s to find Dad and Brad sitting in the recliners watching NASCAR (a first for my dad, I’m pretty sure), and waited for Grandma to get home from driving Amish folks around before saying goodbye and heading back to Shelley’s.

I knew I couldn’t make it back to Granite in time to pick up my bike before the shop closed, so I called over there to see if my cousin Tommy could pick it up for me. The owner wasn’t there: His wife had just had a baby, and his dad was running the shop in his absence, and was happy to hand the bike over to Tommy.

We made it back to Granite in time for dinner, after which I went to the garage to see what kind of work the shop had done. I was shocked to find that the pedals on the bike had been replaced (they were only supposed to switch out the pedal arms), and my fancy clip-in pedals were now plain old non-clip-in pedals.

The shop had closed by then and wasn’t scheduled to re-open until Tuesday morning—two and a half days away!

We all sat around for a while trying to figure out what to do. We called the bike shop, (no answer of course), and then remembered that the owner’s wife had just had a baby. I felt horrible about it, but Shelley suggested that I call maternity wards at the local hospitals to see if I could track down the owner. It seemed like the only option available, so I spent the next hour calling every hospital in a 50-mile radius, with absolutely no luck whatsoever.

I went to bed thinking that I might just have to stay two more days in Granite waiting on the bike shop to re-open. I certainly wouldn’t mind the extra time with family…but that much time off the bike was making me a little bit nervous.

Day 15 of Phase 2
August 9, 2009
St. Louis Arch to Chester, IL
60 Miles
Weather: Schpek Brodie Hess! (Fat Fryin’ Hot! in Pennsylvania Dutch)
Where we stayed: Chester City Park, sleeping on Picnic tables

The day got off to a pretty anxious start, as I hadn’t a clue how I was going to get my pedals back for my bike. After taking a whole week off, the idea of spending two more days off the bike made me a little bit crazy, so after breakfast, Shelley and I put our brains together and got the bright idea of looking the owner up in the phone book. Wish I had thought of that BEFORE I called 10 maternity wards last night.

Our first call ended up being the owner’s dad, who helped out around the shop, and fifteen minutes later he met me at the shop to swap out the pedals. I’ve been told that the dad is an interesting guy—a Vietnam vet who talks about war with all his customers—and I wasn’t disappointed.

The dad was trying to keep things running smoothly while his son dealt with a sick newborn and his recovering wife, which put his dad at a serious disadvantage in the shop. The guy didn’t have a clue what I was talking about when I said I needed my clip-in pedals back, and suggested I just lean my bike against the counter and come into the back to help him look.

He held up about 10 different pedals (all non-clip-in types) before he found my old pedals in the bottom of a bucket in the corner. Breathing a sigh of relief, I helped him put them on, listened to a story or two about ‘Nam, and got the bike into the car.

It took a while to get everything into the car and say our goodbyes to Shelley’s family, but I was determined to find my way back to the TransAm before nightfall.

We drove back to the St. Louis Arch, right where we had left off, and hit the trail at around 3pm. It was hotter than all get out, but I was motivated to keep moving by the sketchiness of East St. Louis. I’ve seen a lot of things on this trip—a lot of poverty, a lot of wealth—but East St. Louis took it to a whole new level. It was like a ghost town. Not a soul walked the streets, and buildings were rotting and falling down all around me. Windows were boarded up, and hardly a car passed. I was really glad to get out of there.

The plan was to pick up the TransAm again in Chester (Home of Popeye the Sailor Man!), and we took back country roads the whole way. I felt like I had lead in my shorts all day, which is to be expected after taking that much time off the bike.

I did my very best to make it to the town park in Chester before the swimming pool closed at 8 (showers!), but missed it by 15 minutes. Dad had called the sheriff’s office, and was told that we could camp in the park under one of the gazebos. It was getting pretty dark by that time, and so with a flashlight in hand, I went looking around the park and quickly saw the reflectors on a loaded bike light up.

I walked down to the gazebo, not wanting to startle whoever was there, and found a young woman laying on top of a picnic table, already tucked into her sleeping bag. I apologetically called out to her, saying I was also a cyclist, and quickly struck up a conversation:

Julia is a German girl around my age, traveling for the first time in the US alone on her bike. She was as friendly as the day is long, and we asked her if she felt like going to get something to eat with us. She hopped off her picnic table and jumped in the van, in search of ice cream.

We got in our pizza order at the local Radio Shack/Video Rental/Pizza/Ice Cream shop (all one building!) right as they were closing, and so we got to sit and chat for a few minutes and read all about Popeye. The artist lived in Chester, and the town is more than proud of their most famous cartoon son. Statues and murals and signs line every street, and loads of tourists seemed to be stopping for pictures. Wild.

Before too long, we went back to the park and followed Julia’s lead, rolling out or sleeping pads on the tops of picnic tables. Dad tried to plug in his CPAP anti-snoring machine, but the outlets weren’t working. It was quite a sight. Julia was so shocked that Dad would consider sleeping on a picnic table in the park, and wondered if her dad would do the same with her. I guess it is pretty remarkable.

As I fell asleep, I dreamt about how happy I was to be back on the TransAm with other cyclists, wondering if I just might be able to buddy-up with someone after all…

Day 16 of Phase 2
August 10, 2009
Chester to Goreville, IL
84 Miles
Weather: Drippingly Humid with heat index around 102
Where we stayed: Goreville United Methodist Church

It turns out that sleeping on picnic tables is not very restful. The mosquitoes visited us in shifts all night, and a raccoon tried to climb all the way over Dad’s body, before realizing his mistake and darting away. I kept waking up, about to fall off the edge of the too-narrow tabletop. And did I mention the humidity?

Despite such challenges, we still managed to wake up at 6am, have some coffee and snacks (Thanks Dad!), and get on the bikes before 7. Greg would have been so proud to see the day I got on the road before 7!

I was a little worried that I would have a hard time keeping up with Julia: She told me that she likes to leave by 7 in the morning and ride between 80 and 100 miles every day. (I’ve already nicknamed her Fraulein Blitz—Lady Lightening—because she’s that hardcore.)

Turns out, we kept pace with each other pretty darn well, though she kept her gear on her bike, and I was riding unloaded.

Instead of taking the main TransAm route out of Chester, we followed the Mississippi Levee Alternative, which took us on a flatter road alongside the river. As a tradeoff, we had to battle a steady stream of coal trucks on a narrow road without shoulders, so I was pretty glad when we left Route 3 and hopped on the teensy little one-lane back-country roads.

Julia and I had a lovely time chatting, teaching each other words in each other’s languages, laughing about cultural differences, and hearing about each other’s trips so far.

She’s a brave soul: This is her first visit to North America, and she flew to Vancouver with a friend from home. The two of them did some looping around in British Columbia before crossing into Montana near Eureka. He stayed with her until Missoula, MT, at which point he was summoned home by some drama with an ex-girlfriend.

Not to be discouraged, Julia stayed the course without him. Before, she had been keen to let the other fellow do all the talking in English. But now, as she travels alone, her confidence has skyrocketed and she’s getting so much more comfortable speaking and meeting new folks.

She gets so excited about just about everything, smiling and saying. “Something like this is so nice!” She was thrilled to take a stack of the business cards for our website that I hand out, and even more excited when I gave her a patch to put on her shirt. It wasn’t long before we decided that traveling together is so much better than traveling alone, and so we’ll stick together for most of the rest of the trip. (Her final destination is New York City, and mine Yorktown, VA.)

It has been a while since I’ve had steep hills to climb. Western Colorado and all of Kansas was like being on a treadmill, and the Katy Trail in Missouri was super flat, too. So when the ups and downs of southern Illinois greeted me today, I struggled a little bit. My bike is super-light compared to Julia’s, so I was pretty fast climbing the hills. But when I got to the top of several, the heat and humidity got to me enough that I felt a little dizzy and had to stop and rest. Hopefully, we’ll have some cooler weather in the next few days.

Julia and I arrived in Carbondale around noon. We hadn’t seen my Dad for a while, as he was busy scouting out places for us to eat dinner with one of my good friends, Nancy Moreton. To complicate things a bit, Dad had my cell phone in the van, as I had been worried that we would get rained on all morning.

We stopped at Epiphany Lutheran Church on the south side of town, and knocked on about 5 of their doors before finding the one that was open. The chilly AC was a huge respite from the stickiness outside, and the church secretary looked at me like I was nuts as I stood dripping sweat in her foyer.

I explained to her that I had lost Dad and had no way of reconnecting with him, and asked if I could borrow her phone for a second, even though it was long distance. She seemed to be on the shier side, (or maybe I just made her nervous), and said barely a word until I explained to her that our trip was for the Alzheimer’s Association. She had lost both of her parents to Alzheimer’s, and opened up to me a lot more after she heard why we were riding.

I got a hold of Dad and he told me an intersection where we could meet up with Nancy at Panera Bread Co., and then the secretary and I spent the next 10 minutes trying to find said intersection on the map. We could only find one of the streets, so Julia and I headed north to find that road, and then stopped at a firehouse to figure the rest of it out.

By 12:30 or so we rolled into the parking lot, where Nancy and Dad were getting to know one another at a break-neck pace. Nancy’s daughter Catherine worked with me at the MUNY several summers ago, and the three of us became close as Nancy and Catherine tried to navigate the college admissions process at Michigan where I went to school.

Nancy is one of the most joyful people I know: Her fire-red hair is the first clue to just how high-energy she is. One of the biggest supporters of our trip from the get-go, I’ve been really excited to meet up with her and thank her in person for all the love she’s sent our way. I gave her a big, stinky, sweaty squeeze in the parking lot, donned my safety shorts, and we went inside to eat.

I’m a big fan of Panera, and tried not to wolf down my panini and salad too quickly. We spent a good 2.5 hours yakking away about the trip, what Catherine was up to, etc. Nancy insisted on treating us to lunch, as she had really hoped to host us at their house. We couldn’t make it quite that far off route on the bikes, so she was kind enough to meet us out on the road.

Julia took advantage of the internet at the café to email her family and tell them she was okay and had met some crazy American guy that she’d be riding with for a while.

We left Panera around 3, taking lots of pictures and waving goodbye to Nancy and Dad as we returned to the TransAm route.

Dad took my phone into the Verizon store to see why my battery wouldn’t charge, and ended up buying me a new charger. I can’t understand how they justify charging a customer over $30 for a new charger, when their own equipment fails. Fascists.

The next 20 miles or so were pretty difficult. I ran out of water, and my blood sugar dipped way too low as we climbed all of those steep hills. When we finally regrouped with Dad, I gulped down 3 bottles of ice-cold Gatorade, 2 Snickers bars, and some fruit. Feeling much better, we listened to Dad talk about how much the Verizon guys had hassled him, how he had to call Dale (Rachel and Amelia’s Dad) to find out where we were on the SPOT tracker page, and how he had very nearly run out of gas completely.

A storm was gathering on the horizon, threatening us with distant rumbling thunder, so we high-tailed it into Goreville to find something to eat before the sky opened up on us.

We stopped at a little restaurant called Delaney’s, right on Broadway through the heart of town. Immediately, I knew why I had been missing the TransAm so much for the past 4 weeks: Every table had Polaroid pictures of cyclists underneath the glass tabletops. The waitress brought over the cyclist guest book for us to sign, and told us that dessert for cyclists was always on the house.

As we sat there pondering the menu, the sky started dumping rain in buckets, and we smiled to know how close a call it had been. Next to us, a table of 8 older ladies were having dinner together, just having volunteered all day at the Red Cross Blood Drive at the United Methodist Church down the street.

Two ladies in particular, June and Cora, were just pleased as punch to chat with us. They were members of Goreville UMC, and said that the church was happy to host cyclists when the opportunity arose. They debated a minute or two about what the phone number for the church was, and then I made the call.

Bob the youth minister answered the phone, and chuckled when I told him I had met June and Cora. The board was meeting at the church tonight, and they would be more than happy to host us in the fellowship hall downstairs.

We enjoyed the rest of our delicious meal even more, knowing that we had a dry, raccoon-and-skeeter-free place to sleep. We also had a heck of a conversation with Chastidy, our server, a northern gal who had found herself in a small town because of her husband’s job, and was hoping to establish Goreville’s first public library. She told us all kinds of stories about the towns in which she has lived in Missouri and Illinois, and then brought us fresh green apples to take with us on the road.

We took our picture in front of the restaurant so we could take our own place under the tabletop, and I stuck business cards under all the tabletops in the whole place!

The church was only a half a block away, just past the gas station that had been set on fire 3 days ago in an act of theft and arson.

When we arrived at the church, the whole board was laughing in the meeting room, and we were welcomed with gusto by Bob and Scott, the two youth leaders. The church seemed so pleased to have us, and gave us a little tour of the fellowship hall downstairs, which had more than enough sofas for us each to have two. (I think the Barney-colored sofa was the most comfortable.)

The best news of the evening was that there’s a state park just a mile down the road, where we could take free, HOT showers (it had been a few days for all of us), before coming back to the church to sleep.

We felt like new human beings again, post-showers. Ever an optimist, Julia had said earlier in the day, “It’s okay if we don’t have showers tonight, because we will appreciate them so much more when we finally do have them!” That may be true, Fraulein, but after 3 solid days of grime and sweat build-up, I appreciated that shower PLENTY.

When we got back to the church, someone had lined up three Capri Sun pouches on the counter, with a bag of microwave popcorn and three peppermint candies, all in a row. It was so gosh-darn cute! The church is working on building a cyclist hostel like the one we visited in Hutchinson, and hopes to have it up by next year.

We said goodnight to the leaders of the church as they went home, and did some blogging before drifting off into dreamland.

Day 17 of Phase 2
August 11, 2009
Goreville, IL to Sebree, KY
121 Miles!!!!! We gained 5501 Feet of Elevation!!!! Go Team!!!
Weather: Schwül (Humid) as all get out.
Where we stayed: Sebree First Baptist Church Cyclist Hostel

What an epic day! After cutting our day a little short yesterday due to the rain, we had a few miles to make up if we had any hope of getting to Sebree before dark. Sebree is one of those famous stops along the TransAmerica route: Cyclists as far back as Colorado told us about the Cyclist Hostel in the First Baptist Church. When the pastor’s wife is around, she cooks huge meals for all the folks who come through, and they offer showers, laundry, and even BEDS to anyone who comes by.

We had our sights set on Sebree two days ago, and the Fraulein was sure we could make it in two days. It was about 200 miles all together—far more than I would ever hope to do in two days—but I’ve thrown my lot in with this lady so I was going to do the best I could to stick with her.

I was the last to wake up, as per usual, but Julia seems to be a good influence on me: We were out the door by 7:45am. It’s a good thing, too, because we beat a few rainstorms by starting that early.

The early morning miles were calm and peaceful. Julia rescued a few turtles that were beginning to wander out onto the highway, each time squealing with glee and talking about how cute they were.

We put in about 50 miles before noon, stopping in Elizabethtown for lunch on the Ohio River. We watched the barges go by, snacking on homemade peach jam, while Dad took a look around inside the oldest hotel in the whole state of Illinois.

The Fraulein was particularly enthusiastic about crossing the Ohio River on the ferry boat, taking loads and loads of pictures as we looked out over the water to Cave in Rock, IL. A lady on the ferry told us that pirates used to rob people and throw them into the cave—a story that remains to be confirmed.

The first thing we saw on the Kentucky side of the river was fields and fields of blue-green soy plants. I know that Kentucky Bluegrass refers to something else, but those foggy blue-green hills sure took my breath away.

The Fraulein and I spent the afternoon teaching each other grammar. She really enjoys learning whatever help I give her, and I’m doing my best to pick up some simple conversational phrases. One of Julia’s most charming language quirks is that she adds the word “or” to the end of sentences, in much the same way a Canadian might use “eh.” I think she means, “You know?” or “Right?” But I haven’t corrected her yet because it’s just so darn cute, and always makes me smile!

She’s also a big fan of, “On zie one hand…and on zie oder hand…” and “Oh, zis is so fine!”

When dogs chase us, I always whip out my water bottle, ready to squirt them (and sometimes even my pepper spray for the really scary dogs), but Julia always says, “Oh zis is fine, Kendal. He is a NICE dog.” However, one dog this afternoon meant serious business, and got a little too close for comfort. Out of NOWHERE, little miss German Sunshine stood up on her bike and shouted some crazy mix of German/English in the dog’s face, with such ferocity and gusto that the poor little guy went scrambling back to the porch, whimpering, tail between his legs.

After I recovered from the shock of it, I laughed myself silly for the next five minutes.

The terrain was pretty rough, with super-steep rolling hills all day long. We were so grateful for the cooler temperatures that the thunderstorm brought in last night, because we were climbing hills all day. Over the course of the whole day, we ended up climbing a grand total of 5,501 feet—more than we ever climbed in one day back in the Rockies.

When we got into Kentucky, we realized pretty quickly that we were in Amish country. I stopped for a bathroom break in Yoder’s Country Store a few miles in, and found the owner completely unimpressed by my attempts to speak Pennsylvania Dutch with him. I guess I need a little more practice.

As we approached the 100 mile mark on the day, a little old lady found Dad in the parking lot of the only café in Clay, KY, and talked his poor ear off for at least an hour. By the end of the conversation, Dad had been asked out on a square-dancing date, which he gracefully declined.

The Fraulein and I basked in the glory of the last 20 miles of the trip, knowing that with every hill we were going just a little further than we had ever gone before. We stopped at the crest of a particularly steep hill to appreciate the sunset, smoky hills, and taxidermy shop.

When we finally reached Sebree, Bob the Preacher was waiting to greet us in the parking lot. He was picking fresh tomatoes from his garden to give to the seven people staying in the church that night; Dad, Kendal, Julia, Clay, Gabe, Allison, and Frank. Bob showed us around the hostel, inviting to place a push pin on the map for our hometowns, giving us a little Kentucky-shaped button and a copy of the Gospel of John, and inviting us to dessert up at the house.

We took quick showers and headed over to the parsonage for angel food cake, ice cream, and strawberries. Pastor Bob was called out on a pastoral care mission of sorts, so we just helped ourselves, and shared story after story from the road. All 7 of us are headed east on the TransAm, so we had a lot of notes to compare.

When Pastor Bob got back, he told us all about the crazy cyclists that have come through over the years; story after story about people doing crazy mileage in a single day and traveling the whole world by bike. There was something so soothing about his voice (he was channeling Barney from the Andy Griffith Show) and the 15 gallons of pickles waiting to be canned on the counter.

As the clock struck 10, we headed back to the church basement to get ready for bed. Team TUJ still hadn’t eaten a real meal yet, so Dad went out to get gas station pizza while the rest of us did laundry and continued chatting well into the early morning hours.

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