Sunday, July 31, 2005

Keep Smiling Missouri

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

I read this morning that Central Missouri has been affected the most by this summer's drought. Farmers are expected to only harvest about 50% of their expected soy and hay crops, and a mere 25% of their corn crop. A lot of the corn fields here are as brown as the grass. Lord have mercy.
The other day when I was pulled over taking a break, a farmer stopped his tractor to shoot the breeze for awhile. I told him I was sorry about the crops this summer. He said it's been rough, but he smiled and said, "I'll tell you what, it still beats sitting in an office". God bless him. Pray for rain (especially now that I'm out of central Missouri.
Another quick story is that I was biking today down a 4-lane highway and I one of my bags fell off my trailer without me knowing it. A guy who was on the opposite side of the highway saw it, turned around and brought it too me. Unfortunately I had some fair trade Ghanian chocolate from my housemate Farah that had melted through the bottom of the bag onto his mother's lap. I felt bad...for his mother and me.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Catholic Hospitality in Martinsburg

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Yesterday I made it 82 to miles to St. Joseph's Parish in Martinsburg, MO. It was there that I met Fr. Jong. This is a picture of him looking though my photo book of Camden. He is a young priest originally from the Phillipines. I also found out that he's an avid runner.
I had a peaceful night in my tent on the parish lawn, listening to the trains cruise through town. In the morning Fr. Jong cooked me up a hearty biker's breakfast consisting of Ramen noodles, hotdogs, hard boiled eggs and coffee. He also packed me some Ramen and Gatorade for the road. He's a good, humble man.
Today I head for the Katy trail along the Missouri River. I've heard it's the longest bike trail in the country. My destination for today is Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. Then Sunday I'll head for Lake of the Ozarks.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Offically a Transient

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

You'll have to click on this picture to completely appreciate it. In case you can't tell, it's a mug shot that was taken yesterday by the Quincy police department. I wasn't even trying to look shady, it must be the angle of the camera or something.
Yesterday I biked 96 miles from Havana to Quincy, IL. Being that Quincy is an actual "city", unlike most of the towns I've gone through, I was hoping for some hospitality from local churches. But the Catholic rectory was all but abandoned, and there was no one to be found at the other 4 churches. Then someone said to try the Salvation Army down the street. I introduced myself to the staff person, Brian, making it clear that I didn't want to take the spot of someone who needed it more than I. He welcomed me, saying he had plenty of open beds. But I had to get a background check, a transient card and a mug shot...hence the photo.
I met many new characters at the Salvation Army. My roommate was an 18 year-old kid named Charles. He was living with his 16 year-old girlfriend's family until her jealous sister accused him of sleeping with her cousin's friend. Charles warned me that he didn't sleep much because his mind went a mile a minute...and so did his mouth. He read me poems he had written about his lost love and showed me love letters he had received and showed. He also went through his whole sketch book with me. He says drawing hearts is his Ligers though. Needless to say I didn't sleep much, especially with breakfast at 5:45am. As I was falling asleep I prayed part of the prayer of Camden for Charles, "Heal all that is broken in our lives".
Every guy I talked to was staying at the Salvation Army because they were drawn to Quincy by a woman and then something went wrong...divorce, she went to jail, she beat him up. So I decided I would stay clear of the women in Quincy.
Last night I also spent some time digging the Mississippi. I meditated on a bench as the sun set and took in the fact that the river is a physical connecter and divider of this country. It feels good to be on the west side of it now.
This morning I made my way through Hannibal, MO the hometown of Mark Twain. I was a bit dissappointed by it, as it's a major tourist trap.
I going to keep heading south on Rt. 19 and then head west along the Missouri River tommorrow. Keep the prayers coming...I can feel them.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Faithful IL River and Its People

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

The IL River has been my guide as I've made my way southwest through the state. The river valley has treated me kindly. Yesterday I followed it 105 miles to the town of Havanna, one of the only sizable towns I had seen all day.
When I got there I sat outside the local general store digging the local scene (I must admit I stole the verb "to dig" from Jack Kerowac in the book On the's an expression I'd like to bring back). While I was sitting there I met Rodney, a friendly guy in his 30's wearing a Cubs hat. After everything I said, he would reply, "Get the F#@!$ out of here." Then he said "I really respect what you'r doing." In fact he said I could camp out in his backyard. When I got there he said, "If you hurry up you can take a shower before 'she' gets home, I don't want to have to explain everything to her." So I moved quick.
Rodney told me all about his job at the pig slaughter house. They kill 20 pigs per minute he told me. His job is to cut out their tongues. "Their heads alone have $30 worth of parts", he said. The funny thing was that I was eating a ham sandwich that he had made me during this whole conversation.
I camped out on the edge of his yard next to a cornfield. I had a front row seat watching the corn grow as the night set in. I even had the chance to talk to a few people on my cellular phone. As for Rodney's wife Jan, she wasn't that scary after all. She came by in the morning while I was packing up my tent and donated $5 towards Camden.
So today I plan to split from the IL River and cross the mighty Mississippi in Quincy, IL. I've been proud of my home state, they've been quite friendly. When I was stopped one day a local cyclist came by and went over my maps with me and gave me some good tips on which roads to follow. One farmer selling peaches on the road gave me a free one. When I told him I was going to California, he gave me another, saying "You'll need it." More people than ever have asked me where I'm going and coming from. I think folks can appreciate the distance because from small town middle America New Jersey and California seem like worlds away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Visit to Plough Creek

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Yesterday was another short ride to Tiskilwa, IL where I visited the good folks at Plough Creek Community. It was great timing because it started to rain when I was about 2 miles away. It then continued to rain for a steady 3 hours. I've never seen so many people smiling at the mention of rain. They have their own farm where they grow an assortment of berries, tomatoes, and corn.
I stayed with a nice couple named Rick and Lynn. Rick showed me around the land and then we made dinner together. We then had a nice dinner with a young family named the Clarkes. They are just staying at Plough Creek for the summer. They live in Evanston the rest of the year. Greg Clarke is a professor at North Park College. Later on some other folks from the community came over and I was able to show my pictures and share the story of Camden. Many of them had lived in inner city settings before and could relate to the realities that the people of Camden are facing. We also had a very interesting conversation about the future of their community. Many of them are getting older and there aren't younger people interested in sticking around for very long anymore. They were interested to hear the story of how us young people came together to form the Camden House.
This morning I had a great waffle breakfast with Rick and Lynn and then hit the open road. The air was cool and crisp after the rain and the wind has been at my back. I expect to make some good milage today. I am writing from East Peoria, IL and hoping to cross the Mississippi tommorrow.
I felt kind of famous today when I checked my e-mail. Fr. Wilde, the president of Marquette, wrote me an e-mail. He had somehow come across my blog. I'll try not to let it go to my head. Keep the prayers coming.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Three Polanders

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

I met these guys this morning when I needed directions. When I asked if I could take their picture, one of them said, "You sure can but make sure you put "the three Polanders' next to it. He then went on to tell me all of their last names, which ended in "-ski". The one in the in the striped shirt told me a long story about the time he went to Camden. He was stationed in New York after WWII and he and a buddy hitch hiked down to the Garden State Parkway. He still regrets not betting on a horse that someone gave him a tip on...that eventually went on to win. He still remembers the name of the horse. I didn't have the heart to tell the man that Garden State Parkway is currently being turned into town homes and it's actually in Cherry Hill, NJ.
I had a good ride yesterday, about 70 miles. I ended up camping along a bike path I was following called the Illinois and Michigan Canal trail. It was a good spot. I was able to bathe in the river and make a camp fire. Today I'm heading for Tiskilwa, IL where I'll be staying with a community called Plough Creek. They're a sister community of Reba Place, where I visited in Evanston a few weeks ago.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Me and Granny Sullivan

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

My first stop was in Lisle, IL to see my grandma. She made sure I was carbo-loaded with "Italian Spaghetti" as she calls it. I was stuffed by the end of the night, which is par for the course with grandma. We have a special relationship. I had the chance to see her a few times since I was home. We can sit and talk for 5 hours straight about everything under the sun. No matter what I'm doing, she's always very supportive. She's praying for this trip
The midwest has been in a severe drought all summer. In fact I think there has been less than 2 inches of rain since June. Ironically I was hit by 2 storms already in my first 40 miles today. You could almost hear the brown grass and fields sigh in relief as they soaked up the heavy showers. I'd like to think that the prayers of everyone behind me are healing the Illinois farmers land as I bike through. In fact, it feels appropriate to be soaking wet again at the start of this leg of the journey, it reminds me of the first week of my journey in Pennsylvania. At least now it's a warm rain, rather than a cold rain. Keep me in your prayers. I'm heading for Ottawa, IL today.

Me and my Papa

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

My dad braved the heat to join me for the first 20 miles of the next leg of my journey. I plan to see him and my mom in Montana in mid-September.

Saying Goodbye Again

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

After spending six weeks in IL with a lot of my favorite people, I'm hitting the road again. When my mom came home and saw all my bags by the door, she said "Oh no!" I said "What?" She said, "I hate to see you leave." It was as if it was a surprise that I would finish the got to love moms. I've been anxious to continue my journey but it doesn't get any easier leaving people behind. I'm not sure how many more teary eyed goodbyes I can take.

I chose to leave on the hottest day of the summer here in IL...recorded at 102 degrees. I didn't leave until 3pm for the 50 mile trip to Grandma Sullivans, hoping that it would be cooling down by then.

The Newly Weds

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Dan and Nicky were married on the beach on Grand Bahama Island. The wedding was beautiful...almost surreal. I had the honor as standing as the best man. After the wedding we had Bahama Mamas, did a congo line around a fire on the beach and learned some Bahamian dances. About 35 family and friends were there, most of whom stayed for the whole week, relaxing on the beach, enjoying the ocean and exploring the island.

Exactly a week after the wedding, Nicky's mom threw a big reception in their back yard, which included a Jimmy Buffet tribute band. It was a great gathering of extended family, friends, and neighbors. It was a great way to spend the last night before hitting the road again.

Everybody Together

Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

It was great to have our whole family together in the Bahamas. This picture shows my little sister Colleen, brother Dan and my big sis Kate (we're all wearing name tags to help you out). The whole family except for Dan and his new bride Nicky stayed together in a one-room condo. And we all still liked eachother by the end of the week. I made my bed out of cushions from the couch and I still managed to fall out of it (many of you know that I'm a bit of an "active sleeper"

On the way home we had a lay-over in Philly and I was able to see three good friends Andrea, Farah, and Kaitlyn for a short visit. It was too short but great to see their faces. I was almost bumped off my flight so that I could stay longer.

Once I got back to IL I had the chance to see my housemate Elissa who was visiting her parents in Downers Grove. We went to see an Irish rock band and a pub in her neck of the woods and she came out to the newly weds reception in Crystal Lake on Saturday night. Elissa and I grew up not too far from one another, but ironically met in Camden. I'm glad we got to hang out.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rendevous with amigos in Chi-town

Over the 4th of July weekend I had the chance to see an ecletic group of friends from all over the country who happened to be in the area for the weekend. We all met up in Evanston at a community called Reba Place Fellowship, which has existed since 1957. My fellow Camden Housers Chris and Cassie were in town for Chris' sister's wedding. Brian Lewis from Shrevesport, LA was in town visiting famly in Barrington, IL and was nice enough to give me a ride. Tatiana, Chico, and Tim; who have all spent time with us in Camden over the last year are doing internships at Reba. I also got to see my buddy Eric from Reba who I've seen at different gatherings over years (see Recyclery below). I also met some new friends, including Katie and Jesse who are in this picture. I took the picture while we were all hanging out at Montrose Beach in Chicago one night. Hanging out with this crew brought on some nostalgia for Camden....vegetarian meals, toilets that follow the "if it's yellow let it mellow rule", not to mention the familiar faces and conversations about radical discipleship and changing the world.
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

The Recyclery

This is a picture of my friend Eric from Reba Place Fellowhship in Evanston. He is starting a program he is calling The Recyclery. Right now he has about 100 bikes, which have been donated by community churches or saved from the scrap yard. He and others will fix them and sell them cheaply or give them away to people who need a form of cheap transportation. He would also like to teach local kids how to fix bikes and educate them on the benefits of bikes. The philosophy of the Recyclery sees bicycles as a social and theological statement. Riding a bike for transportation makes a statement against the reliance on our earth's non-renewable resources, it doesn't pollute the air, it strenghtens the body, it develops patience and simplicty into one's lifestyle, it conserves green space, it doesn't cost as much money as cars and public transit. Bike riding also builds forces us to interact with one another flesh to flesh rather than behind steel walls and glass windows. It also makes us more aware of who are neighbors are and our local economy. When you ride a bike you're more likely to shop down the street at the local hardware store rather than driving 15 minutes through town to get a paint brush at Home Depot (I know from experience). There are programs like this all over the country (Neighborhood Bike Works in Philly and Recycle a Bike in NYC). I would love to our Waterfront South Camden Bike Club evolve into something similar.
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Celebrity for a day

Last week when I was in the city, I stopped by to see my cousin Mike, his wife Ivana and their kids Joe, Nick and Grace. This picture is of Nick and Joe. Everyone says Joe looks like I did when I was his age. Nick is showing off his blue tongue from eating blueberries. I only see them once or twice a year, but they're not shy at all around me. They refer to me as their "big cousin" because technically we're second cousins. They make me feel like a celebrity. As soon as I walked in the door they fought over who could sit next to me. I had the honor or reading them their bedtime stories, each one taking turns sitting on my lap. Nick wanted to read a fun book about the human body and Joe had me read about fossils. They are so smart, I couldn't believe the questions they were asking. Their sister Grace can't talk yet but she'd just look at me with her bright eyes and smile---also not shy. All three came in my room in the morning to jump on me and wake me up. I had a great time with Mike and Ivana, telling them about my trip and gaining their perspective on life as a couple with 3 little ones cruising around.
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Reunion with PT classmates

This picture shows me with my study buddies/friends from physical therapy school at Marquette. We sat next to one another in class, spent many a night quizzing eachother and practicing our skills, and often celebrated together after a round of tests. We referred to ourselves as Tetra-Power: Me, Charlene, Stephanie, and Steve. We make it a point to have a reunion at least yearly when I'm back in town. It was fun fielding all of thier questions about my journey. They've all been very successful in their PT practice---representing Tetra-Power well.
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.

Adventure Race

A couple of weeks ago my old PT classmate Charlene (the one in the green shirt) asked me to fill in on her adventure race team. I had never done one before. It's an endurance race in which you have to work together with your teammates the whole way. Charlene said she recruited me more for my laid back nature rather than my fitness (I guess it's not uncommon for teams to get frustrated with one another along the way). The race started at 2 pm with a 2 mile hike into a very dense forest in Devils Lake, WI. We were given a map of the forest with 10 markers hidden all over. We had to use a compass to find them. This is known as orienteering. So we bushwacked (which is a technical term that I learned) through the forest for 3 hours and then had to find our way out to the road again. Then we got on our bikes and rode for 4 hours through the hilly country roads looking for more markers using a map. The team trusted me to lead the way on the bike. We then ended up at the Wisonsin River where we got into canoes (it was pitch black at this point). We were told to look for a "sign", which would mark the finish somewhere down river. Luckily we saw the flashing light 4 miles down coming from a sand bar. Post-race brats and Old Milwaukee were served at 11 pm on the sand bar---got to love Wisconsin. The picture above shows our team "Strong to the Finish": Me, Kirk, Charlene and her boyfriend Jesse. It was taken the morning you can see we're all still standing.
Originally uploaded by jeremysullivan.