Day 57

Hello everyone,

Frank gave me a ride to the airport in Bangor today.  I appreciated him going out of the way to do that.  While waiting in the airport, I spent time returningemails of gratitude to people who donated.  Hope to be caught up with that soon and some time reflecting on the ride.

I'm still in Detroit as of this writing.  Delta had some computer problems today so my flight to Denver was cancelled.  Not a big deal at all compared to what the Christians in the Middle East have gone through. 

I would like to leave you with a prayer that I copied from Father Samuel's fridge. He is the Priest from Pakistan and has seen much persecution.  It addresses mostly the Christians in the Middle East, but let us remember all Christians, faiths and religious minority's that are being persecuted across the world.

Thanks for reading and possibly talk to you tomorrow. 

Thanks be to God,

Skip

Father Samuel's prayer:

I pray that the Christians of the Middle East will know the close presence of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father...

That those who remain in Iraq or Syria will not be subjected to violent or unjust treatment...

That those in settlement camps will not lose hope...

That humanitarian assistance will reach all who are in need, and...

That Christians throughout Iraq, Syria, Middle East, and all countries where there is persecution, know the peace and presence of Jesus each day, and will remain faithful to Him and clear in their testimony.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Day 56

Hello everyone,

Greetings from the backwoods of Bucksport Maine.  I'm staying with Frank who is from Florida.  Frank is a retired geologist and geographer who is building a summer home in Maine.  Frank has many talents and skills.  He is a self learner.  He is also building a a 42 foot cutter back in Florida.  A cutter is a sailboat which has the mast toward the center of the boat.  It is "farther aft".  He has worked on and restored cars.  He makes his own wine.  He's the real deal.  His wife Sandy is visiting her son in North Dokota at this time.  I was able to help Frank with some minor projects today.  We are staying in the RV.  This is good for the soul.  Later today we are going to visit two Franciscian brothers who make beer and run a bakery shop in Bangor Maine.  Can't wait!

Will be home late Monday night.  I will blog for several more days so stay tuned, especially if you're having a hard time sleeping.  I would like to take the his time to thank the behind the scenes folks who served as my team.  In a way, all of you are part of the team, and I am grateful for you all.

I want to thank the Big 3 and Mary, and all the Saints in Heaven, for a safe journey and for bringing greater awareness to the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the middle east.

My family: Thank you Lee Ann for the prayers, blogging, coordinating, and calling, making sure I was taken care of along the way.  Thank you Lucy for the social media posts and your love and support.  Thank you Carly for helping mom hold down the fort, and your love and support.

The Lugo family:  Thanks to Ed for your excellent help with creating this website, your patience in teaching Lee Ann how to do it, and to Sara for her generosity in sharing precious family time with us when we needed his help.  The website is beautiful thanks to you.

Gillies family:  Thanks for the initial calls to churches to see if I could stay with them. You got things going. Thanks Duncan for recommending bag-balm. Life saver.

Witzel family:  Thanks Trish for sending out the group e-mails to people at work. No one at work knew I was doing the trip until the day I started.  Only a few knew I guess. Thanks for the gift box before the trip.

Staib family:  Thanks for sending out letters to my aeration customers and checking on Lee Ann.  And thanks to the Staib brothers for mowing my lawn.

Mendel family:  Mike, my stair climbing buddy.  Thanks for pushing me.  Looking forward to your Journey the next couple of years.

Craig family:  Thanks for the business cards, checking in on Lee Ann, GPS system, and passing the word onto others. Keep training Chris.

Million family:  Thanks for the REI card, meeting me in NY, the ride (Clark), the guest blogging (Debra), spreading the word in Ft. Worth, and your monetary contribution to help with expenses.  

Seth and Steve:  One Billion Stories is the best!  Thanks for a great video and seeing the importance of the story.

Tynan family:  Thanks for your monetary contribution in the very beginning. Thanks Matt for touching base with me daily, emotional support to Lee Ann, and for spreading the word to newspapers, radio shows, organizations, and people everywhere. You are quite the spokesman.

Hope and Mercy,

Skip

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house.  Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."  ~  Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

 

Day 55

Good morning friends,
Thanks be to God!  I made it to Bar Harbor, my final destination around 1:00.  And like I did on the first day of my travel I made a wrong turn.  But this time it was only a couple of miles.  I left the Sisters house with a full stomach and a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the road.  I appreciated their kindness. And after a prayer with them, I rode the 48 miles to Bar Harbor where I dipped my front tire into the Atlantic Ocean.  Wow!  Journey over just like that!  Several other people have told me that this is just the beginning.  I will have several days to reflect on this ride, so stay tuned.  But for now please know that I appreciate everyone who has helped me on my this ride. Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, well wishes, and emails.  A big thank you to my team.  More on that tomorrow. 

I am staying with a man name Frank in an RV outside of Bucksport.  He is Nancy Schaffer's brother-in-law.  Nancy and Greg live in Denver and we've known them for years from our parish and school at St. Vincent's.    He is from Florida and up here working on a summer home.  There were no rooms or camping spots available in Bar Harbor for the last several weeks, so I'm fortunate that this worked out.  We are miles away from the next house.  (Lee Ann here - God worked in a miraculous way in finding accommodations for Skip in Bar Harbor!  I had no place for him to stay as he approached his destination.  I ran into Nancy and Greg at a party this past Tuesday.  When they asked how Skip was doing, I said he was doing great, but I was freaking out because he had no place to stay in Bar Harbor.  Then Nancy says, "my sister and brother-in-law have moved to Bar Harbor!"  She called them right then and arranged for Skip to stay with them.  Talk about a providential meeting!  God has taken care of us every step of the way.  God has taught me to pray and NOT worry!)

Please continue to look for Updates from the Road for the coming days.  I plan to keep posting for a while after I get back.

I will be home on Monday night with no "list".  Ha!

Thank you everyone, talk to you tomorrow.

Skip

“The person with fortitude is the one who perseveres in doing what his conscience tells him he ought to do. He does not measure the value of a task exclusively by the benefit he derives from it, but rather by the service he renders to others.” -- St. Josemaría Escrivá

Day 54

Dear friends,

Hard to believe that I only have one more day left, God willing.  I'm excited that I will soon be home to see my family and all of you.  Thank you for being on this journey with me.  I am sincere in saying it is because of your prayers, thoughts and well wishes that I am only a few pedal strokes away from the finish.

Tonight I am staying with Sister Kathleen and Anna in Stockton Springs.  They are in the order of Sisters of the Cure' of Ars, named after St. John Vianney.  Their main mission is to pray for priests, deacons, and seminarians, as well as praying for an increase in priestly and religious vocations.  They also work with elderly and young people.

Both sisters are from NY.  Sister Kathleen has been an educator and principle for 46 years.  Sister Anna was an RN for 28 years. These ladies are very down to earth and personable.  They cooked up a delicious meal and we talked for hours.  I told them that with all the silence and reflection that I had while on the bike that felt I needed to make a final list of things I needed to work on as a father and husband.  They said something that was so freeing to me -  to simply forget about the list.  Just let God be God in you.  Maybe work on one thing for the next year.  Sounds good to me.  I'm going with that advice.

As this Journey comes to an end, in a way the Journey is beginning. I have several interviews to do when I get back home.  I'm excited for the message to continue on.

Thanks for reading and talk to you tomorrow.

Hope and Mercy,
Skip

Day 53

Greetings from the road.  Only two days left on my Journey.  What an incredible blessing it has been.  Rode 55 miles through beautiful seaport towns today on the way to Rockland where I am staying.

Today is the feast day of St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney.  He is the patron saint of priests.  So today I thank all priests for the gift of their priesthood and saying yes to God.  Now that's a cool name for a priest.  So cool that we gave our daughter, Carly, the name Vianney for her middle name.  Her birthday, August 7, is near his feast day.  Actually, I appreciated his counseling and listening skills. 

Tonight I had the privilege and blessing to stay with Father Bob Vaillencourt from St. Bernard's in Rockland.  Father Bob had mass and adoration this evening.  He spoke about St. John Vianney, his favorite priest.  It's interesting that St. John Vianney lived during the French Revolution when both nuns and priests were persecuted and killed for there faith.  Some takeaways from his message were that St. John Vianney loved the sacraments and wanted people to fully experience them.  Especially the sacrament of confession where people would line up for hours to see him.  He taught people to appreciate and love the Eucharist.  He wanted all to realize Gods love for their lives.  He is quoted as saying, "our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God."

Father Bob I believe is truly a gift.  We spent several hours talking and sharing.  He is a man of joy and humor and has a sincere love for people.  He has six churches and a prison ministry that he serves.  He is very busy.  He has lead many pilgrimages to Israel and Ars. He is a big fan of Archbishop Chaput, FOCUS, and Steubenville.  I am so thankful that I was able to meet him and spend time with him.

At the end of mass, he took the time to talk about my bike ride.  People came up to me afterward and gave me money for the mission.  After mass, he took me and two religious Sisters out for dinner.  I will have more to say about them tomorrow as I will be staying with them on Friday night also. He insisted that I get the lobster dinner.  I told him it was too expensive.  He insisted so I did.  It was delicious.  And to top it all off, a man sitting at the bar paid for the meal.  We didn't know who he was because he left before the waitress told us.  Father Bob told me of an actor from NCIS LA with five kids who attends mass when they are not filming and one Supreme Court Justice who attends his mass every Sunday during the summer.  He told me not to say his name. 

I only have about 85 miles to go.  Thank you so much for your emails and prayers.  I want to thank my sister Carly (Bobbie) for her encouragement and overall positive thoughts concerning my trip.

Talk to you tomorrow,
Skip

Today's Route: Brunswick, ME to Rockport, ME

Day 52

Left Bridgton, ME, this morning.  It's a nice little town.  Had a nice chat with Kyle who has lived in the area for 36 years.   Made my way to Brunswick.  Rode for 51 miles.  Google maps put me on the backroad switch with all kinds of rolling hills.  I think I might be done with most of the hills.  Beautiful countryside with families on the lakes and a few farms.  Minimal traffic which made it very pleasant.  

Rode into town and ended up at Bowdoin College.  Gorgeous school.   A few facts that I learned about the school besides it's 60,000 a year price tag is it was established in 1802.  The college honors James Bowdoin III.  President Joshua L. Chamberlain (class of 1852) of Bowdoin was a respected man.  He was a theologian, scholar, soldier, and spoke 8 different languages.  He was at the battle of Gettysburg.  He also became Governor of Maine.

Now here's some impressive stats for you.  From 1820-1829, the 260 graduates may have been the most illustrious of any American college in any ten year period.  Among them were to become 49 clergyman, 22 teachers, 106 lawyers, 35 physicians, 6 US senators, a secretary of the Treasury and Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. 

Talk to you tomorrow. Getting so close,
Skip

Today's Route: Bridgton, ME to Brunswick, ME

Day 51

I trust everyone is doing well.  I left with Marcus today after a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon.  It hit the spot. Rode to the top of Kancamagus pass.  Had a great time talking to Marcus about a lot of subjects. I appreciated that he took the time to ride with me.  He loves the outdoors and is a Mountain Chaplain and Local Pastor.  What strikes me about Marcus is his joy.  I am interested in joyful people and how they find that attitude or how joy is a part of their lives.  He said from an early age his parents conveyed that to him by how they lived their lives.  They were a good example to him.  He is full of life and passion. 

In closing, one of his mottos is to make Jesus as famous as he can by expressing and living out love, faith, kindness, generosity, and joy of course.  Never quite thought of it that way.

About 170 miles to go. Thanks be to God.
Skip

Today's Route: Lincoln, NH to Bridgeton, ME