Miss You

I know it’s been a while. Hold on to your eyeballs! I am now in California.

I have tons of recapping to do which I plan on doing in the next several weeks. So, please come back to my blog for updated stories from the road. However, the journey doesn’t end here. I don’t know as of yet, but I have some big news to announce…or not. It really depends.

So for now, a tale from the farm will have to suffice.

In Grand Junction, CO, we stayed with veteran cyclist, Marie N. She had several animals on her small farm, including goats, cows, ferral cats and baby cows. Fiji was unruly. She chased after the cats, and barked and growled at the cows. She also tried to jump into the goat pin!

Fiji stares at the goats moments before trying to jump over the fence.

Fiji stares at the goats moments before trying to jump over the fence.

Fiji barks at and runs after cowns through fencing.  Cows leap off.

Fiji barks at and runs after cows through fencing. Cows leap off.

 

I decided it needed to stop. I took chase after Fiji, screaming, “How do you like it?” I looked like a crazy woman. Fiji could tell I was mad, and came up to me with her tail between her legs. I began to train her in proper farm etiquette.

 

I teach Fiji to sit whenever she sees a cow or other animal. Cats are a no-go. She will also take chase.

I teach Fiji to sit whenever she sees a cow or other animal. Cats are a no-go. She will also take chase.

Baby cow and Fiji.

Baby cow and Fiji.

Progress...

Progress…

 

Success!

Success!

 

I hope to upload my news in a few days. Be on alert!

Also, please send any donations to Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. Be sure to put “FiJaBAM: Jasmine Reese” in the donation comments box, so they know the donation came through my referral.

 

 

 

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Fears, Injury, Violin, Self-Esteem

First, let me apologize for not keeping up with my blog. I post daily or more frequently on my facebook page for those interested in the daily happenings of my journey. http://Facebook.com/FiJaBAM Fiji and I have made friends all across the country for the past three months. Sept. 8 will be four months on the road, and our trip has come to a standstill in Coolidge, KS. I’ve been working at the Trail City Bed & Breakfast for two weeks, cleaning rooms, serving food, meeting horses and doing dishes. What a great place to get stranded!

Fiji hides in shower after being scolded for chasing after a skunk. I do not abuse her! She just hates it when her mommy is disappointed. She now goes in the shower to sleep!

Fiji hides in shower after being scolded for chasing after a skunk. I do not abuse her! She just hates it when her mommy is disappointed. She now goes in the shower to sleep!

Where we sleep, eat and work!

Where we sleep, eat and work!

Lori, the B&B owner, and I go to meet B.J., the horse. The first day, we rode our bikes out with Fiji, but Fiji didn't quite like the horses.

Lori, the B&B owner, and I go to meet B.J., the horse. The first day, we rode our bikes out with Fiji, but Fiji didn’t quite like the horses.

 

Although I am super fortunate to be at the B&B with amazing Lori and her mom, Larue, it’s a bit aggravating to be two miles outside of Colorado.  Our town of Coolidge contains a ton of cowboy history, with an old jail, city hall, opera house and saloon. Fiji has made friends with most of the neighborhood dogs and experienced her first encounters with skunks, fire ants and feral cats.

So, here’s the simple story.

I would love to tell you the action packed story about how my bike, after four months of no flats or serious problems, was nearly destroyed. I’d like to tell you that an outlaw group of historic cowboys arose from the Coolidge cemetery and proceeded to trash my bike.  But, alas, my story really begins with a stomach ache.

I stayed at the Syracuse Inn the night before, the only lodging in Syracuse, courtesy of the ministerial alliance. Of course, I appreciate the free stay! However, I stayed up part of the night swatting flies that covered the walls and ceiling and would swoop down to attack Fiji and me. It wasn’t all bad. I had a wonderful dinner with Lions Club members, Fred, Jean, Gerald and Rosemary. We told stories and laughed. The following morning, Fred and Jean planned to take me out to breakfast.

I woke up in the A.M. with pain in my gut. No appetite, I called to cancel breakfast. I decided I could not do the 50 miles I planned for the day, but could not stay in the Syracuse Inn another day. I looked up the nearest lodging on my route, and found the Trail City B&B. I thought I could ride at least 15 miles. I called Lori, booked my room and told her my situation.

“Oh no, you can’t ride over! Let me pick you up,” Lori said.

“Well, that sounds awesome, but I have a trailer, bike and my bags. I don’t think it’ll fit in your car.”

“You’re right. Hmmm…let me call around.” I disconnected with Lori, excited about not having to ride my bike with a cramping stomach.  But I still packed and got ready just in case she didn’t get back to me.

20 minutes later, an officer of the law showed up with a pickup truck. I was surprised and thankful, but I also thought, Oh, I didn’t need an officer to come out.

We loaded my bike and trailer into the pickup. “I’m going to go turn in my room key,” I told him and left him at the back of the pickup. When I got back, he and Fiji were already in their seats, ready to go, so I got in on the passenger side.

We talked about my trip, and he received quite a bit correspondence on his walkietalkie which made me feel worse about taking him away from his duties.

About two minutes down the road, the officer decided to tell a ridiculous joke. “Your bike fell out.”

“That’s not funny!” I said with a smile on my face. That disappeared when I saw he was dead serious. In slow motion, I looked back and there lied my precious Kona Sutra 2013 on the U.S. 50, vultures or buzzards circling overhead. Black clouds gathered in the clear blue sky and my bike’s life flashed before my eyes. I remembered the days on the C&O trail and Great Allegany Passage, how my trusty steed raced me out of the onslaught of mosquitoes. I thought about lugging her in and out of garages, riding her up and down hills, walking her in areas a bike had no business being in. How she resiliently rode through flood waters and mudslides, how she kept my doggy and me safe through her sturdy reliability. At that moment, when I saw her lying on the highway, I felt like a friend had just been seriously injured and I was devastated.

We rushed back to my girl. I ran out of the pickup, trying to maintain a positive attitude. I lifted her off the ground, and tried to ignore the significant damage to her brake levers, tires and saddle. “Oops, it looks like we forgot to close the door.” No, you forgot to close the trunk. I left him back there when I went to turn in my key. Naturally, when I came back from the office and saw him sitting in the truck, I would assume he closed the door.  But I didn’t say that out loud because the officer had come out and helped me when he didn’t have to. Inside, I silently seethed and wept tears. Despite the officer’s words of reassurance “Oh, the bike doesn’t look so bad” “I’m sure you can still ride it” I knew, as a cyclist and a girl who formed a close relationship with her bike over the last few months, that my bike was not rideable and in great need of repairs.

Long story short, Lori allowed me to stay at the B&B with no money, bless her heart. Fred and Jean heard about the incident and made my case for me. I felt too bad about the whole situation to do it myself. Hopefully, the sheriff’s office insurance will cover bike damages which total $556.50. My girl has a current hospital stay at the Bike Rack bicycle shop in Garden City, KS. She’s been there a week, and I miss her.

I’ve seen other cyclists, flying past on the U.S. 50, and I envy them. Are they headed towards the Rockies? Will they see the famed mountains I feared so much? Yes, I’ve been nervous about tackling the Rockies and desert.  However, I was excited to cross the state line into Colorado and head toward them.

Shortly after my bike, my violin suffered broken string. Two days before Syracuse, I had fallen off my bike and bruised up my leg. Yes, we’re just an injured bunch. Don’t laugh!

Right now, I am lying in bed with a cold, Fiji hogging the covers, while I write this to you. In this small town, I’ve met the sweetest people, the coolest people, and I have a 90 year old male stalker (Long story, go to my Facebook page to get details).

I hear back today whether or not the Sheriff’s office will cover the cost of my bike. If they don’t, I’m up a creek! I’ll have to get on my Kona, injuries and all, and slowly make my way to San Diego. I refuse to let my journey end here.

As a side note, Coolidge is a nice little place to stop in. Next year, Lori will have revived the historic Opera House, and I will be giving a recital in it on opening day. The B&B is beautiful and clean. As a temporary housekeeper, I can swear to that! She double washes everything, even the dishes! For cyclists, you’ve got to ride the 6-mile loop through the Sand Hills. What amazingly gorgeous country. Pics coming soon!

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to play violin. The following video is at the Emporia, KS farmer’s market with Ben Stallings!

More posts coming soon! Please share, like and subscribe! It helps me to raise money for MissourI Lions Eye Research Foundation.

New Series — Random Acts of Violince!

I finally found a way to bring my violin along for the ride, so here’s a new series. I will play my violin in random places across America, especially since I don’t have a practice studio at my disposal.

I enter Illinois tomorrow! Follow me on my YouTube channel. I will upload videos on a regular basis!

 

 

Injuries and Recoveries

Moving along!

Moving along!

I’m glad I took my time on the East Coast. I started this epic challenge with very little training. If I had just jumped into it doing 50 and 60 mile days, my knee injury could have been ten times worse–irreparable. But, I started off slow, and I took time off when I recognized the pain. I didn’t judge or criticize myself for not going as fast as others who cycle across the country, and I’m better for it. I adjusted my saddle, took supplements, stretched, got a complimentary massage and acupuncture treatment.

The result…  An abundance of energy and renewed spirit. Over the past few days, Fiji and I put in 50 mile days, three days in a row with little discomfort. Fiji started to get a little sick from the constant pedaling. When one’s down, the other one’s just fine. I stopped and gave Fiji the TLC she deserves, including making some adjustments to her trailer.

We’ve had a blast. We met awesome cyclists such as John Correlje. He’s been cycling around the world for four years. I picked up some interesting tips from him. He keeps a notebook with all the email addresses of people he’s met. He’s complied a long list. I better get started on mine.

Ohio has given us an abundance of rain which I prefer to humid, hot days. There have been a couple of nights where I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or eat. Thank you to our rescuers. You know who you are.

In other news, Pet Project Magazine and UsaToday interviewed me. Robert McAdams, a talented photographer who I met through a wonderful friend and fellow musician–Dave Miller–came out and took our pictures. He sent them off to the reporters before deadline, so look for us in those publications some time soon.

In addition, thanks to a wonderful donor, I will finally be able to fulfill the other part of my cycling across America dream–violin street performance. A woman I worked with at the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation helped to fund a cheap, student violin for my travels. I hope to upload a ton of violin cycling videos for you all in the near future. Check out mY YouTube channel http://m.youtube.com/user/Violinfanatic?feature=guide

We’ll be in Indianapolis in three days. My legs are finally starting to crave the road. No more sitting in one place for too long. Let’s Ride.

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Traveling with Fiji

Fiji relaxes after a long day.

Fiji relaxes after a long day.

Everyday, I grow closer to Fiji. She’s such a sweet and loyal companion for the road. Needless to say, I take her safety and comfort seriously. She needs constant checking in. I don’t just throw her in the trailer and ride for hours without looking back. We stop constantly. On hot days, she uses water up faster than me. I also can’t go into stores and I have to get past the “pitbull stigma” with almost everyone I meet. Although, I will say, we’ve been very fortunate to people gladly welcome her into their homes.

Fiji obeys. She’s eager to please. When we first started, Fiji barked and growled in every new territory: host families homes, campgrounds, motels and so on. Her behaviors made me nervous because I knew people would not put up with it. But after a while, Fiji adapted. I think she’s more used to our lifestyle than I am at this point. When I say, “NO,” this girl listens. She comes to me with her tail between the legs and buries her head between my knees, asking for forgiveness. If I ever get it on tape, I’ll post it.

I didn’t think I could love my dog any more than I did before.  So, all that to say, that it saddens me when people show a fear of dogs. When Fiji’s in the trailer or running alongside the bike, she gets a lot of positive attention! But when I’m walking her or resting, people show unsure expressions.

Dogs are so beautiful, and Fiji has shown me that. I respect her and she respects me. For example, she doesn’t like her back paw to be touched. So, unless necessary, I don’t disrespect that. She also doesn’t like raspberries. Yes, I used to kiss on and play with her belly all the time! Dogs have different personalities and they have likes and dislikes. If you don’t get that, then you will get growled at, or sometimes bit. That’s the reality. Fiji has never growled at or bit me because I try to read her likes and dislikes, and I respect her as a living thing.

I am sorry for all the people who’ve had bad experiences with animals, but they are animals. They will bite, scratch, growl, vocalize and so on. That’s what they do. We don’t force them to meet our expectations as humans, but we work within their limitations and instincts as animals.

I hope the people who’ve met Fiji now have a different view of pit bulls, and will rescue a dog someday.

The C & O Trail — Be Warned!

There are three types of people who set out on a cross country trip by cycle.

1. The sane, sensible person who works hard for a number of years, saves up and embarks on either a supported or self-supported trip with relative comfort provided. They have the money to stay in hotels when the going gets tough and never have to worry about food. They can choose to be frugal as opposed to being forced to save and collect pennies.

2. The moderately insane person who takes a credit card and runs up the charges while touring the states. Like person number one, they set off on their journey in relative comfort, never having to worry about the financial logistics. However, they are a little bit crazy because they will have to deal with the debt when they go back home — to reality.

3. Then there’s the super crazy person. This person needs to be chained up. Why? Because this is the person who decides to take off with less than $100.00 in her pockets and rely on the mercy and generosity of people. She lives like a vagabond, letting the road decide her fate. Sometimes she might even throw a dog in the mix. You know who I’m speaking of, and boy did the C&O trail remind me just how crazy I am.

DEPARTURE

Nervously posing next to my kayak.

Nervously posing next to my kayak.

My host family unloading kayaks off truck.

My host family unloading kayaks off truck.

We departed on the C & O trail on Tuesday.  Monday, I kayaked for the first time with my host family on Devil’s Backbone. It proved its name when I crashed into a tree and up set into the river. It was the best!

After the fabulous weekend, goodbye was the last thing I wanted to say to Pattie, her daughter, Liz, and her three dogs. But we set off in the rain (my enemy) towards the Dam and trail.

Beauty describes the first day. The sights, history and other touring cyclists kept my mind off the pedaling and cracking sounds the trailer tires made on the gravel. (It’s a miracle I didn’t get a flat.)

When I’m on my bike, my imagination runs rampant. From vagabond romances to zombie apocalypses, I’m usually in another world while pedaling. However, the first day did not require such distractions. I made it to my first campground, and Fiji and I spent the night in a comfortable tent and sleeping bag.

The next day was more challenging. In one night, the sweat from the day before had dried and crusted on my body. Our water was down to the liter, and Fiji refused to drink the Iodine treated pump water–spoiled dog. The sights still intrigued me, and Fiji bursting  and jumping into the river water kept my spirits high, and my mind intrigued.

Midday, while on potty break, Fiji spotted a deer before I did and took off into the woods.

In that span of time, my brain provided me with all kinds of horrible images. Fiji had fallen into a crevice in the Earth. Fiji’s collar got stuck on a tree branch, and she was strangled to death. Fiji found the deer, and it beat her with its legs. Fiji jumped into the river, and it took her to the point of no return–the Dam waterfall.

Fiji cools off in river water after a long run alongside the bike.

Fiji cools off in river water after a long run alongside the bike.

I screamed and raged at Fiji when she limped back 15 minutes later with a “I know I did wrong” look on her face. I checked her back legs — no breaks. She was in no condition to run, though. I put her in the doggy trailer, still steaming, and pushed down hard on the bike pedals. The trailer rocked and bumped. Yeah, take that, you bad dog, I thought. Remembering her limp, I felt guilty and quickly found a small town to stop in. With the help of two wonderful people, Ray and Jackie, we stayed in a Super 8 in Hancock, MD, and Fiji was able to rest before we hit the road again. (Thank you to Jenny Arata for finding and replenishing Fiji’s dog food. She had run out the night before.)

ROMANCE, REVELATIONS AND ZOMBIE MOSQUITOS

Packing up and setting off day in and out starts to take a toll. It’s the hardest part of the journey, leaving the comfortable to go onto the uncertain. When I start my day, I do not know what I’m going to eat or where I’m going to sleep that night. With only $6.00 left to my name, I biked out of the Super 8, received a free tune up at the C & O bike shop and began on the paved portion of the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Yes! Paved is the way to go. Smooth riding feels so awesome.  This portion of the trail revealed two things; my legs had gotten stronger and faster.

It’s amazing the types of people I saw: chubby, skinny, tall, short, old, young. Biking is truly an activity that anyone can do, and they can do it well. I found myself racing all the older people that passed me. They beat me.

I didn’t see his face, but a man came speeding down the trail. Fiji perked up in her trailer. “Shall we?” I asked her. Fiji stood even taller. I began to move my legs with vigor in an effort to catch up with the old man that dared to pass up these young, albeit chubby, legs.

“Sit down, Fiji. We’re going to catch this guy.”

We continued like that for 5 or 6 miles. Although the man became a vanishing, living dot in the distance, my thighs impressed me. With a 125 pounds in tow, we sped with no let up. I felt like Iron Woman!  I didn’t want to stop the groove, so I missed picture moments. One such photo that rests in memory was a barred up cave. A hole as big as day in the rock caught my attention, and I considered getting off my bike to explore. The image of it collapsing and Fiji and I sitting in the dark for hours and hours helped my legs to race right by that cave.

30 minutes later, we came up on the man. I felt triumphant, but that changed when I noticed his bike propped up against a fence and both tires blown. We had only caught up because he busted his tires. Oh well.

“You need help?” I asked. The old man turned around. He was no old man at all. He was young, hot, vibrant and had a nice smile. Kind of caught me off guard. Clearing my throat, I parked my bike up against the fence and offered my support.

“I can’t believe I blew both tires. Do you have a patch kit?”

“I sure do.” My voice croaked, and I couldn’t make eye contact. Normal reaction when in the presence of a biking speed demon who is too handsome for words. I smirked at my thoughts.

I eventually got over my shyness while he repaired his tubes. We had a lot in common. He was a triathlete with hopes of going cross country. He loved Rottweilers, and his brother lived in my old hometown in California.

Unlike the last time I ran into a hottie, I offered my number (in case he ran into more trouble, of course), and we parted ways after I was sure his patch job would hold up.

He probably wouldn’t contact me, but that’s the first time in my life I offered my number to a guy. New experiences are always good.

After that small bout of romance novel-ish sorta meeting, we pushed onto the unpaved, gravel portion of the trail again.

The encounter provided me with a lot of material. 1) He was a cowboy. She was a vagabond, running from her dark past. Could their love survive? Could Jasmine handle farm life? Could Fiji handle farm life?  2) He was a troubled athlete. She was a carefree spirit traveling the world with her dog. Could he get past his problems and find new love with the woman of his dreams?

Excerpt from the novel: Brad turned his head to see the woman who just asked if he needed help. He dropped the tire he held. She was gorgeous and curvaceous. Double whammy! Jasmine lost her words when she caught sight of the man. He had eyes that held a world of experience. Even in her travels, she could not reflect what she saw in his steamy, dark eyes. They were silent for some time….

Blah, Blah, Blah.

During my reminiscing, we somehow ended up at another checkpoint. Fiji was tired and so was I. Cmberland, MD was still far off. We needed to camp again. My last $6.00 was spent on a can of pineapples, juice and a bag of chips, so the reality of cycling across America with no money became very real on the trail. Other than my meal replacement protein shakes, I had no other nutrition and no way of getting it. It’s not like I could ask the bears for a donation. I set up camp, stomach growling and a little worried about what tomorrow would bring. I just knew we needed to get to civilization–Cumberland–fast.

It rained through the night. Fiji and I woke up soaked. In addition, Aunt Flow was in town, and my stomach/uterus area cramped like crazy. Not to mention, I had forgotten that particular feminine product. Miserable, I took two tylenols, called my mom and told her to please find a situation for me. “We’ll be in Cumberland, tonight.” I overestimated myself.

It was hot. I was sticky in more ways than one. My stomach hurt, and my Body wanted to give up. The Mosquitos had set in, and bug repellent was also something this city girl had failed to put on her list.

Weak, dehydrated and disheartened (the difference a day can make), I got off my bike to Walk. I fell, scratching up my already bruised and beaten legs. We saw a sign for the Paw Paw Tunnel and took that road.

It’s quite disconcerting. That huge tunnel is dark. There was a woman sitting at the entrance of the tunnel. She said we were too wide. “Your bike, you, and the dog walking on the side takes up the whole walkway. Hopefully, you don’t run into anyone else.” She stood up and looked down into the trench and said a water moccasin had just eaten a fish and was now headed back into the tunnel. Way to go, lady! Why don’t you just add “people who go in that tunnel never come out” to the creepy stuff you’re telling me right now?

We went ahead. I took out my flashlight. It became pitch black, and Fiji and I followed the light I shined on the ground in front of us. I didn’t dare shine my light on the walls or in the trench. It was sure to reveal snakes, spiders and Descent-like man-eating creatures. At one point, I put the flashlight on Fiji. Her tail was between her legs and she trembled. “We’re almost there, honey.” I kept talking to her. All-in-all, the Paw Paw Tunnel was a lot of fun. On a different day, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the horrific images my mind conjured up.

On our way to tunnel.

On our way to tunnel.

Entrance of tunnel. Lady talking about poisonous snake.

Entrance of tunnel. Lady talking about poisonous snake.

Going in.

Going in.

In the tunnel.

In the tunnel.

Light at the end of tunnel.

Light at the end of tunnel.

When the cramps and mosquitos became unbearable, I decided to stop again. Covered in fresh bites, I set up my tent with tears streaming down my eyes, begging the little devils to please stop sucking my blood. Fiji was hot, and also caught in the attack of the Mosquitos.

I saw river access. Dropping Fiji’s leash, zipping up the tent, I ran full speed toward the river, Fiji hot on my heels; we both jumped in. For a moment, we were frozen in the air, like Thelma and Louise, trying to get away from the mosquitos, not caring about the consequences that waited for us below. Stinky, but mosquito-free river water hit my skin. I was fully clothed, shoes and all. We both slept in the tent, wet and river-nasty, all night.

I woke up at 4am with determination. No matter the distance, we would make it to Cumberland today!

Like a scene out of a Jet Li movie, or even better, when the girl in The Descent decides not to take the monsters’ bullcrap anymore, I ripped open the tent, and came out kicking and punching. Any bug was a goner. I packed up, put Fiji on the Springer America, and we rode off. No bug was safe! I ran over caterpillars, butterflies, bees, horseflies, rolliepollies. They were all objects of my wrath. It’s sad they had to suffer because of the Mosquitos, but seriously, every bug was annoying to me at that point.

We had no service since I talked to my mom the previous morning. When I reached an area with phone connectivity, I found out my mom had called state authorities, trail authorities, and federal and international authorities, reporting I was missing. I had several voicemails from said authorities. I called my mom, and laughed deliriously, explaining my trials for the last two days.

In an angel’s voice, my mom told me she had gotten me a free night at the Super 8 in La Vale, MD. I just had to make it there. On the verge of tears, I told my mom I loved her and got back on my Kona. There were no breaks, just constant pedaling to stop the onslaught of bug bites.

For 4 hours, I pedaled like a maniac, set on my end destination–Super 8.

The trail started to even out and became easier to maneuver when we got closer to city limits. More people were on it, and despite the condition I was in, I talked to them. I didn’t say I needed help. I didn’t say I was bloody, in pain and dehydrated. I said,”I’m great. How are you?” With a big smile on my fictional face. I don’t know why. I guess I just had to prove to the Mosquitos, my mom, you and myself that this wasn’t the end for me. I could handle it.

We had started at mile marker 126. Cumberland was at 184.5. Every time we reached a little pole that said what mile we were at my muscles worked a little harder. At mile marker 179 or so we came up on the following scenery.

My reinvigoration.

My reinvigoration.

We stopped. Nothing buzzed in my ear. There was a farm house on my left and a breeze on my right. It’s so freakin’ beautiful, I whispered to myself. At that point, the Mosquitos, the challenges, the worries melted away. There stood only me, Fiji, a picture and endless possibilities. I was restored, and all it took was looking at the same forest I had been miserable in for the past day and a half.

7 miles, a fallen tree we had to climb over, one more fall and several baby turtles later, we made it to Cumberland. And I had a clear mind. Forward thinking only, not dwelling on the past.

Bridge leading to Canal Place and downtown in Cumberland, MD.

Bridge leading to Canal Place and downtown in Cumberland, MD.

Although, I did a get a text message from a certain guy I mentioned earlier. The past looks so rich all of the sudden.

Angelic Pennsylvanians, Demonic Hills

I always had a place to sleep in Pennsylvania.  That says so much about the people. Perfect strangers willing to house a crazy girl who set off across the country with her dog–now, that’s what I’m talking about.

At the end of the day, when the hills felt like they tore my legs to shreds, wonderful people invited me into their beautiful, spacious homes without a second-thought. They fed me and even treated me to outings such as a young adult retreat, ice cream and kayaking (first stop in MD, actually). I don’t know what I would have done without these angelic-like persons. Without them, those demonic hills would’ve sent me home to my mom.

Pictures from Pennsylvania:

Hope Broecker, a fellow cross country cyclist who set me up with a place to stay in Harrisburg, PA. We had to part ways, but hopefully, we'll meet up in Missouri.

Hope, a fellow cross country cyclist who set me up with a place to stay in Harrisburg, PA. We had to part ways, but hopefully, we’ll meet up in Missouri.

Last rest stop in Pennsylvania.

Last rest stop in Pennsylvania.

Young Adult Retreat volley ball game. It's kind of a long story how I got here. It was a freezing, windy day. Fiji and I were on dangerous roads. A man named Dan Stuber rescued us from the cold. His wife, Deb, and her friend, Barbra, connected us with a wonderful family, the Shannons, in a neighboring town, who hosted us for two nights. It was through the Shannons that I received an invite. They also babysat Fiji for the whole day.

Young Adult Retreat volley ball game. It’s kind of a long story how I got here. It was a freezing, windy day. Fiji and I were on dangerous roads. A man named Dan Stuber rescued us from the cold. His wife, Deb, and her friend, Barbra, connected us with a wonderful family, the Shannons, in a neighboring town, who hosted us for two nights. It was through the Shannons that I received an invite. They also babysat Fiji for the whole day.

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New friends made at the retreat.

JW Music in Lemoyne, PA let me practice a violin in their studio. I was so happy to touch a violin!

JW Music in Lemoyne, PA let me practice a violin in their studio. I was so happy to touch a violin!

Friendly cows.

Friendly cows.

The Chimneys Violin Shop in Boiling Springs, PA let me stop by and choose from all their violins to practice on.

The Chimneys Violin Shop in Boiling Springs, PA let me stop by and choose from all their violins to practice on.

Violin, student maker practicing his carving skills in the shop.

Violin, student maker practicing his carving skills in the shop.

Master maker, Nelson P. Steffy, designing another violin. Love his spectacles!

Master maker, Nelson P. Steffy, designing another violin. Love his spectacles!

I’d like to especially thank Barb Connor and Pattie Hutchinson for their continued support, calling me and offering to bring me supplies! Also, Ray Garza and Jenny Arata, thank you for your continued support! What would I do without you guys? In addition, Miss Jackie, you’re a sweet heart. I truly appreciate your support and concern!