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Archive for November, 2008

Tues Nov 18, 8pm @ St. Johns; OR Weds Nov 19, 8pm @ Holy Name Church: Bike Tour presentation

Friday, November 14th, 2008

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It was SO GREAT to see so many of you at our arrival Chili Feed.  Thanks so much for coming out!  An Amazing turn out.  If you’re interested in hearing more about our trip…

Our main Fueled By Rice journey presentation will be:

TUESDAY Nov 18, 2008

St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN 56321

Quad building, (The biggest and main brick building housing the “Great Hall” and the Refrectory - main dining hall - to the right of the new Abbey Chruch with Bell Tower)

Quad 264 (two floors above the main dining hall: The Refrectory),

8:00-8:15pm start time


If you’re interested in attending our Holy Name Church presentation instead of going up to St. Johns, the 

WEDS Nov 19, 2008 Holy Name presenation also starts around 8:00pm, and you are welcome to attend.  It is in connection to the youth group and is following a praise and worship gathering.  

Holy Name of Jesus (Medina, MN)
155 County Rd. 24

Wayzata, MN 55391

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

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I once again find myself this night, like so many nights over the past year, not far away from a dying fire.  But this night is different.  We’re not out in the woods somewhere; we won’t be sleeping in a tent tonight; we won’t be biking long distances tomorrow morning; the fire is burning in a wood stove fireplace.  We find ourselves this night in the warmth and comfort of a place I call home–Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

The past few days have seemed like a blur to me.  In fact, ever since we arrived in the US things have started to blur.  We have been blessed to see so many friends and share in so much generous hospitality as we moved closer and closer to arriving in Minneapolis Sunday afternoon that my memories are getting fuzzy edges, bleeding like watercolors into the promises and possibilities of the future.  (”Did I see them or did I make plans to see them?”).  And all of this kindness and attention culminated at an Edina church yesterday where parents, family, and friends gathered and spilled into the road with their encouraging applause, happiness, and relief as we rolled to what would be our official stop after 10,500 miles.  It seemed everyone was talking at once, and there was chili, and lots of sweet crumbly and chewey baked items, and we talked to as many people as we could and felt a little dazed and played some songs, talked…

It’s quiet here now in Fergus Falls.  I can hear the embers expanding their last heat with small cracking noises, and Nakia breathes easily in warm sleep on the couch.  Did we really…?  Did we really bike into the cold wind that turned to night and insistently pushed against us as we struggled up what we desperately hoped was the last hill on Saturday two hours after dark?  Did we really bike into the streets of Paris, past the Notre Dame cathedral, under the Eiffel Tower less than a month ago?  The same bike that now leans against the garage wall at 1010 Meadow Hill Lane, did it really climb mountains in Serbia?  Of course yes, but the answer is not as simple as “yes we did.”  The questions are a search for meaning in the jumble of hopes and realizations that make up the past year and a half, mixed with what came before– a tentative effort at coming to terms with time, and foreign experiences meeting familiar places — will they get along?

I’ve expected to have some culture shock; how will it come?  We shall see.  For now we shall push on with our plans to record music and prepare for some presentations.  We have stopped our biking, but things have continued to pick up speed.  Let the days come.  It is necessary to be here, now.

Welcome Home

Friday, November 7th, 2008

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It’s funny how quickly you become disconnected from an experience that has the ability to shape your life. It seems like a long time ago I was part of this crew, and in some respects it was. These 4 individuals have bicycled much further than I, and experienced much more. I want to thank them for taking the time to keep us updated through blogs, photos, and personal stories that so many people were unable to experience themselves. It may be difficult for them to realize since these four are so humble in their endeavors, but a trip of this length is truly unique.

To stick it out for this long, in such close contact to one other, missing friends and family, along with the disconnectedness that goes with living on the road, this journey was I’m sure at times testing. This is what will ultimately bring the greatest reward of all though, the realization that they stuck it out to the end and finished the goal they set out to do. Beyond that I know it was of priority for them to keep us (the ones living vicariously through them) up-to date and informed of their experiences, feelings, and observations.

I know when I was part of the trip if someone said they were going to the net bar to write a blog, or upload photos that often meant three or four hours of sifting through slow internet connections, 15 people looking over your shoulder, and sometimes police officers trying to take you back to your hotel. The blood-shot eyes from both sleep deprivation and second hand smoke the morning after a blogging session reminded all of us of the sacrifice that was made the night before by that individual.

I think the realization of the accomplishment will come in time, but not perhaps right away. I imagine they feel overwhelmed with their homecoming and perhaps not quite sure how to react to the many inquiries and congratulations that await them on Sunday. I look forward to sharing stories, learning more details about their travel, and seeing where they go from here.

If anyone else would like to show their support of their efforts of keeping us up-to-date please do so in the comments of this entry.


Our Stomachs Overfloweth

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

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The gourmandizing began almost as soon as we landed in Chicago.  Andrew’s family met us at the airport.  We avoided the irksome task of putting our bikes together at the airport and the ride to our host-place in the dark streets.  Instead we loaded them into the back of the Spidahl’s truck and went straight to a Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurant.  I ate and ate until I was stuffed.  Yet, it was only by summoning a great amount of self control that I avoided snatching bits of uneaten crust off Dr. Spidahl’s otherwise polished plate.

 At the pizza place.

spidahl's and kate and fbr

                The pulchritudinous trio behind the couch: Kate and Drew’s sister and mom.

Kate Ritger, our host for the next couple of days, brought us back to our roots by preparing broccoli in a peanut sauce with rice.  We gobbled that down, only to be taken out to dinner a few hours later by my Uncle John and Aunt Jodi.  We tried to demonstrate our enjoyment of the food by consuming it all, but our efforts collided with our full stomachs, and a side of fries went almost untouched.  Later at the prayer dinner at De Paul University at which we fielded questions about the trip, we couldn’t even think about eating.  Later, at a presentation on the election, we managed to find room for complimentary brownies and chips.

Jim with Uncle and Aunt, post hamburger.

On our third day back in the U.S., Pete’s high school friend Molly and her husband Matt prepared a mountain of pasta for us.  The next day Nakia’s birthday feast, prepared by our second Chicago hosts Amanda and Woody, graced our stomachs.

molly and matt and fbr

FBR with Matt and Molly and Amanda

Before we knew it, we had left Chicago for Wisconsin.  We landed in Beloit, or almost in Beloit.  I was off on the distance estimate, and it seemed we wouldn’t be able to meet up with our friends the Klocke’s who reside in that prestigious town.  Luckily, however, Dan Klocke saw fit to drive out at dusk and rescue us, or at least some of us.  The rest of us, having passed on the burden of luggage to Dan’s car made it to the Klocke residence in no time, where Catie treated us to two pans of stuffed pasta.  She harbored no illusions about FBR’s capacity for caloric consumption.

Dan manhandles a grapefruit.

The next day found us in Madison, at Jen and Xavier’s, where we received more pasta and homemade cheese (for this we thank the Kutters).  The prestigious gardiners, Ryan and Jenny, also saw fit to buy everyone a Mediteranean lunch the following day.

In Madison, Pete’s cousin Todd biked with us on our first day out of town.  He helped us find a campsite in a dense line of trees and summoned his girlfriend, Erika.  She drove out to collect him, but brought with her a huge pot of beef stew and a salad.  We partook of this pabulum with our guests, sitting around our campfire and listening to fascinating tales of scientific outposts in Greenland .  It was the first time we’ve ever hosted anyone at our campsite-at least since Cambodia.

Now we’re in Western Wisconsin.  Andy and Karolanne hosted us at the former’s countryside home two nights ago.  Last night Karol Anne cooked for us again even though she had night class.

Drew diving into stew courtesy Karol Anne.

 Tonight we had the incredible fortune to be hosted by Jane Steingraeber at a potluck of veritable who’s who of the La Crosse CSBSJU community.  There was so much food I forgot to take a picture. 

We certainly don’t deserve any of this special treatment, but so long as people see fit to provide it, I’ll sure waste no time gulping it down.  Thanks everyone!

International Reaction to the Election Results

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

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I was scanning some Chinese news sources after the election.  I began reading one and decided to translate it.   I offer it here without comment, though I will note that reading the Chinese perspective on American politics is interesting and perhaps a bit entertaining.  However, we would do well to keep in mind the extent to which this election has been followed around the world and the fact that often people in other countries are affected more strongly by our elections than we the electorate.

Original link (from the Xinhua news agency):

What is the meaning of Obama’s Victory?

Liu Huidang

1st: This year the American economy has begun to decline, which was not beneficial for the republican candidate McCain.  In September of this month, the American financial crisis became an economic depression, consumerism shrunk and unemployment expanded.  Therefore the American government adopted measures to prevent the crisis.  However, the effects of these measures have yet to be felt.  The trust of the American people is difficult to obtain.  The financial crisis may continue for two or three years.

2nd: Since 9-11, the war against terror has emerged.  The Bush administration used an antagonistic strategy as their starting point.  The serious mistake of invading Iraq made the administration lose much of the confidence of the people.

History has shown that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and consequently that the Bush administration’s excuse for the invasion was preposterous.  Furthermore, after the invasion, American forces found themselves in a serious quagmire.  The invasion has cost billions of tax dollars and the lives of more than three thousand American soldiers.  The American anti-terror policies have not only not been realized, but to the contrary have led to increased terror, and have failed to obtain peace for the whole world.
3rd: American voters are fickle; eight years of Republican rule seems too long.  They wish to change the flavor, they want the democratic party to take over and turn over a new leaf.  They want America to be able to extricate itself from its financial and diplomatic difficulties.

4th: Another reason for the Democratic victory is opposition to the Bush administration by the American public.  Bush has ruled for eight years, and whether in domestic or international affairs, has demonstrated sub-par performance.  The American people had their patience tested too far and thus used their ballots to pass judgment on the last eight years.

5th: This election demonstrates that American voters were not discriminatory. At one time, racial discrimination was a serious problem in the U.S., especially for African Americans.  The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 is just one example of this.  Recently, the U.S. has made considerable progress with regard to racial discrimination. Both Powell and Rice, ethnically black Americans of diverse backgrounds, have assumed positions of international importance.  American voters, by choosing an man of African heritage to run the country, have made a miracle of historical nature.

6th: Obama’s youth is of consequence.  He appears handsome, which helped him obtain the support of women and youth.  He was born in August of 1961 and at 47 is full of vigorous energy.  McCain is 72, and seems a bit old.

Obama will begin governance on January 1st.  He will face no few problems.  He must adopt measures to moderate the financial crisis and stop the degrading economic situation.  He must resolve the military situation in Iraq.  In the election, Obama’s attitude regarding Iraq was perfectly clear: he means to withdraw American forces as quickly as possible.

Obama’s policy regarding China will almost certainly follow Bush’s lead of encouraging friendship between the two countries.

Minneapolis arrival this Sunday, Nov 9th: Chili Feed Location

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

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We plan to arrive in Minneapolis on bicycle from Chicago this Sunday, Nov 9th, marking the end of our 2 week American Leg, and the final finish of our 13.5 month world tour (we will arrive in LaCrosse, WI tomorrow).  As posted previously, we are having an indoors arrival Chili Feed party upon arrival this Sunday evening, and you are welcome to attend:


Edina Morning Side Community Church

4201 Morningside Rd

Edina, MN

We will be biking in from Rochester Saturday and Sunday with nearly 20 friends.  We will do our best to be there by 5pm, but maybe we’ll be there closer to 4pm, maybe a little after 5pm, but we should be there pretty close to 5pm and look forward to hanging out until 8pm or so.  We look forward to seeing you! 

Thanks again for all of your support and interest in our bicycle adventure.  But don’t take our word for it: we hope that YOU seriously consider your own bicycle tour, be that 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or longer!

I still have plenty of photos that haven’t made it up, and we’ll continue blogging, including old stories and our reflections as we transition back home and to a more normalized life.  We will also be professionally recording our music this month, and hope to offer some of those recordings on the “music” section of our website after Thanksgiving.  So please, continue to check this website every so often!  =)