12mph America At The Speed Of Sanity

22Aug/100

Mathematics: A Story in Downsizing a Household

I've been thinking a good deal about Mathematics the last few days while Steve and I are opening boxes, unwrapping objects, and deciding where these items will go for two years. Math terms such as adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, sorting, simplifying, reducing, and infinity all keep rolling around in my brain. It hit me that we have a story involving these terms.

Our story began five years ago as Steve and I pulled back into our driveway in Batavia, Illinois following his summer 2005 trans-U.S. bicycle ride and my driving/flying trip across the country. After nearly 3 months away from home that summer, we walked into our suburban house, which featured 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2 stories, a full basement, and a 2 car garage with an attic above. We were profoundly struck by how much "stuff" occupied it.

We began asking ourselves: "How did we get to this point?" Following the deaths of my parents, my sibs and I spent time dividing Mom and Dad's household belongings among us. Some antiques, many sentimental items, and the family archives came to our household. Our own family of four already had a knack for keeping and collecting things, so we quickly filled the crooks and crannies of our home. Adding to our own growing household with my parents' treasures was a significant part of our story.

As Steve and I returned to our routine during the fall of 2005, it became all too obvious to us that all of the belongings in our house represented time away from what really mattered to us. Our preferences instead would be spending time in relationships with other people, doing for others, or enjoying interests and hobbies. Our Solution: "Let's begin a 5-year plan to simplify and downsize to a smaller home!" From this point on, subtracting from our household became a significant part of our journey. Sorting took place first and then many loads were donated to Salvation Army and Goodwill. We had two garage sales: 2008 and 2010. Craigslist, free-for-the-taking, e-Bay, and a call to Wayside Cross were also beneficial approaches. Last December, reaching desperate proportions, we even gave white elephant gifts to friends (will they forgive us yet?).

While we played the math game well we thought by reducing our household belongings, a reality check came in September 2009 after we sold our house. We moved from our 2,200 square foot home, with a basement and 2 car garage, into a duplex that we rented for 9 months. The duplex had 1,500 square feet with a basement and 1.5 car garage. Yikes, we still had so much stuff! More subtracting and simplifying measures were taken as we sold, gave away, or donated more things over the next 9 months.

On May 28, 2010, we were ready to move to Denver, Colorado! We hired a crew to load our household into a 26 foot truck. Upon their initial walk-through of our household, their advice was: "Obtain at least another 17 foot truck!" They were wise. We filled the additional 17 foot truck plus our mini-van, which rode on the trailer behind the larger truck. Now we were faced with multiplying the cost of our move due to the cost of a 2nd truck and fuel.

It is August 2010 and now we are settling into our home in Denver. We have been at this endeavor for 15 days. We have a smaller home with 1,400 square feet, which INCLUDES a basement. We have a 2 car garage without a driveway (it's on an alley). Our van must go into the garage and gladly shares it with bikes, camping gear, a lawn mower, and a variety of things. The inventory notebook, which we have kept updated over the last 18 months, notes that we have 206 boxes or Rubbermaid tubs. Along with the furniture that we brought with us, those boxes and tubs represent a downsized household! Yikes! At least 150 boxes need to be opened and unpacked so that we have room for an office, a guest room, and bookcases in our basement.

As each box is opened, we have one of two different reactions. "Yes, how good it is to see this again!" And, "Hmmm...why do we still have this?" We begin to feel there is no end in sight! For at our Denver address, our first donation box is filled and we sense there will be more. Was there something about infinity in math?

Love,

Diane

1Jun/060

A Year Later!

Hi everyone!

I'm not sure if anyone still visits our blog. Obviously, it's been ages since we've posted anything. Steve and I cannot believe that a year has passed since he dipped his tire in the Pacific in Bandon, Oregon. My grandmother frequently used to allude to time passing so quickly and as a youngster I couldn't quite understand. Now that we're at this point in our lives, I know what she was talking about.

It's a year later and we've barely been on bikes compared to last year. Steve quickly returned to work and his routine including seasonal biking. I got back into teaching preschool. We have been out at least once a month on our bikes even during the winter. BUT, we definitely aren't in the bike craze that we were a year ago. He's biked a few times to work and we've been out several times on rides with our daughter or on our tandem. Hopefully with June here we can actually devote more time to biking.

Our summer plans this year are quite different from last year. Steve and I will be going on a mission trip to Toronto, Canada with 23 of our high school kids. We'll head to Nebraska for time with his parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. over the 4th of July weekend. Along with our two grown children, we'll embark on a family trip to Alaska for ten days in July as a 30th anniversary celebration for us. In August we'll have family visit us for several days and then off to Colorado we'll go to enjoy a 30th reunion with college friends. A week later we'll be in Tucson, AZ to spend some time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins there. So, we'll still be seeing some spectacular parts of the country and reconnecting with family and friends, only it won't be as part of biking or driving cross-country.

What about our record keeping from last summer? Well, believe it or not it's on our minds. I've finished my handwritten journal and now I'm transcribing it into a Word document. We hope to put something concrete together. Perhaps it'll just be printing off our web-blog and Word document and stapling it together. Also we're taking time to really put together some nice photo albums. We are not of the elaborate scrapbooking variety, so we'll keep this basic in order to accomplish it! We may even try to add some additional photos from last summer to our web-blog.

Again, thanks for your wonderful support last summer. We'll be checking into this site throughout this summer for memory sake and to follow last year's trip along with this year's calendar as we re-read the adventure.

Feel free to continue making posts. We'd love to hear about your summer, your travels, your projects, or time with your families.

God bless,
Diane

3Dec/051

Christmas is coming!

Hi everyone!

We're not sure if anyone is checking out our web-blog anymore. We know that we said that we'd be updating as time permitted. Well, time has not permitted. However, we still are sorting through and editing the nearly 1,000 photos that we took. And, we continue to update our hand-written journals in an effort to get our experiences from the summer recorded. That being said, please patiently visit this web-blog occasionally just in case we have made progress. If we haven't, please feel free to give us a gentle prodding by posting a message!! Once you post this message, it actually comes through to us at our email address too so we know you've posted something!

Once we have the photos edited, our plans are to write more in our web-blog postings as journals, include more photos, and tidy up the web-blog. Then we are hoping to actually print and bind our experiences so that we have a scrapbook through which to browse when we're old and sedentary!!

Given all that, please have a very joyous Christmas and Happy New Year in 2006!
Love,
Steve and Diane

20Sep/051

For the Record

Well, I'm not sure how many people are actually checking out our weblog anymore since we're back at home, but I'm still going to write anyway. I've actually spent several hours each week since our return writing in my "handwritten" journal. With school starting, I doubt that I'll get it completed for a couple more months. There were so many experiences that I don't want to forget and I don't mind going back in time and writing my thoughts. I kept some little notes to refer to when writing in my journal. Recently I spent an afternoon at my dining room table sorting through postcards, literature, and memorabilia from my trip. I've whittled it down to a very large shopping bag with handles and have it in chronological order. I want to put it in some type of scrapbook form, but like the journal it will take time. I've been editing photos, ordering them on-line from Kodak EasyShare, and writing dates and information on the back of them. Now...how to organize them? At the very least in chronological order and have a separate box for memorabilia? If you have suggestions, please pass them along to me.

What I did one day was sit down with a map of the U.S. and a highlighter to mark where I've driven this summer. This is where "for the record" comes. Ready for stats from my flying/driving summer?

1. I flew 8,552 miles.
2. I logged 11,083 miles by vehicle.
3. I visited 24 states.
4. I visited 10 national parks or national monuments.
5. I visited 142 people, staying with 54 of them.
6. I took 1,068 digital photos.
7. I was gone from home 66 days. (Don't know if I could do this again!)

Highlights for me were many, but here are a few.

1. Connecting/reconnecting with many family members and friends.
2. Meeting a very cool Christian woman at The Cross in Groom, TX, named Mary Martinez. (We shared our faith journey as virtual strangers...very cool experience.)
3. Spending several days with Steve's Mom & Dad. (They are wonderful parents-in-law to me.)
4. Seeing Barb Robinson in Norfolk, NE who was instrumental in recharging my Christian faith walk.
5. Driving through an incredible rain/lightning/slushing (not quite hail) storm near Great Sand Dunes National Park.
6. Stepping out of my lodge room and seeing the stars in the night sky at Mesa Verde National Park.
7. Seeing awesome flora and fauna in so many beautiful areas.
8. The Rand Store's outhouse, which was built of cedar, had a wood seat, decorated walls, and lighting. (Hey, when most stops out in the country are either one of those green port-a-potties or needing to resort to a cornfield for lack of places to stop, then a nicely appointed outhouse is very welcomed!)
9. Santa Fe, NM sunsets are hard to beat, but then so was the one at Torrey Pines State Park near LaJolla, CA.
10. Making a perfect roasted marshmallow while camping with Steve and Steph near Grand Lake, CO.
11. Seeing Steve bike up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
12. Meeting up with Steve in Yellowstone for the first time since I left him on May 30.
13. Driving along the road in Colorado and coming across Steve, who I hadn't seen in a week.
14. Seeing Steve ride with John and Doug into Norfolk after being apart for over 2 weeks.
15. Coming across Steve as he was riding from Ashland, VA to Williamsburg, VA after being apart for 2 1/2 weeks.
16. Great food wherever we visited...our family and friends were very generous providing homemade meals or taking us out.
17. Meeting the teenage group from BikingX near Williamsburg, VA. These are the kids along with two 20-something leaders, who road TransAm to raise funds for Camp Quality.
18. Seeing Steve dip his rear tire into the Pacific Ocean near Bandon, Oregon on Sunday, May 29.
19. Seeing Steve dip his front tire into Chesapeake Bay in Yorktown, Virginia on Monday, August 15.
20. Pulling into our driveway on Thursday, August 18. Trip well done!
21. Seeing Stephanie, Jeremy, and Zaney again.
22. Sleeping in our own bed, in our own house, in our great neighborhood, and in a wonderful community.

Toughest parts of the summer:
1. Being apart from my hubby of 29 years for longer periods than his typical business trips.
2. Seeing him ride out of sight and knowing that it would be a week or two or more until I'd see him again.
3. My anxiety over safety issues for him and me and trying to let go. (My therapy was to keep busy and on the go!)
4. Being away from the kids, the cat, our home, our neighborhood, and our church community.
5. Visiting family or friends who are struggling with health, marital, or business challenges. (I continue keeping you in my prayers.)
6. Not being as physically active as I typically am. (I may have logged 240 miles on my bike and hiked or walked 60 miles, and kayaked 4 miles. I'm used to biking a lot more than that.)
7. Experiencing three scary moments: clipped a deer while driving one night, stalked by a strange man in Groom, TX, and had a very close call while driving in a downpour in Tennessee.
8. I gained weight, whereas Steve lost around 22 pounds! But, I tell you, the Gatlingburg, TN fudge may have been worth it as was the Burkink's homemade ice cream as was the Kaliner's steaks as was....yes, the list goes on and would include all of you.
9. Having 1,068 digital photos uploaded, I need to edit them and decide which ones to keep for a scrapbook.

Enjoy the rest of your September!
Love,
Diane

20Aug/051

Settling In

Well, I feel that we're just beginning to be "settling in" again. Yesterday we pried ourselves from our house after arriving home the night before and nearly kissing the ground of "home". We walked to town and back to Panera Bread for an easy breakfast, cup of coffee, and read the Chicago Tribune. Ah...this feels more like our routine! (Batavia is experiencing bridge closings due to road construction and we're finding that sometimes it is much easier and obviously better for us to just walk the mile and a half each way.)

I wanted to say that after leaving Jean and Mike's in Bethesda, we enjoyed lunch with our friends Don and Vanice. Don and Steve are friends from high school days and then they both went to Iowa State and lived on the same dorm floor. We were discussing with them and two other friends, who we saw over the summer from the Last Man's Club, that we need to get together next summer for our 30th reunion.

From Bethesda we drove onto Paoli, Pennsylvania to enjoy an overnight stay with Rob, Holly, Tim, and Brent. We've known them for 25 years after meeting in a babysitting co-op when our Jeremy and their Matt were almost one. Despite their moving from the Chicago area to Pennsylvania 17 years ago, we still remain in close contact and it's always good to spend even a little time together. It's hard to believe that the 25 years have flown by so quickly.

From Paoli, Steve and I drove along Route 30 through the Amish countryside in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania thinking we'd experience pristine farms dotting the very green and beautiful farmlands throughout the countryside with an occasional buggy. Well....Lancaster County tourism has certainly capitalized on the Amish way of life, only except for the occasional Amish shop, shopping areas now remind one of strip malls or "one stop shopping" areas complete with buggy rides. After we suffered a flat tire in York and replaced two tires at Sears, we decided it was time to get on the Turnpike to head westward to Ligonier and avoid the traffic and congestion of Amish territory.

In Ligonier we stayed with my cousin Linda and her husband John. They invited my cousin David and his wife Peggy and their daughter's boyfriend for dinner. We enjoyed dining on their deck and watching the nearly full moon make its appearance. This was our last stop to visit family and friends across the country, and we enjoyed a wonderful sleep in John and Linda's luxury R.V. What a contrast it was to our little tent and sleeping bags that we own for our recreational gear!

So, it is Saturday and time to continue unpacking and putting things back where they belong. The travel information that I've collected sits in bags on the dining room floor beckoning for some organization. The dozens of photos are either uploaded in the computer or awaiting to be done in our digital cameras. Thoughts keep racing through our minds on what to write and share with others. And, the clock keeps ticking as we get closer to our return to work. Promise that more will come as I know that Steve especially has much to revisit. -- Love, Diane

18Aug/050

We ARE Home!!!

Hi everyone! Steve and I arrived home fifteen minutes ago. Steph was in the process of putting up the Welcome Home Steve banner when we pulled up. Several neighbors were out in their yards and came over to welcome us home too. Bob and Lois put together a bicycle display and signs, plus Lois made a peanut butter and chocolate cookie the size of a pizza pan for us. Yum!!

We left Ligonier, Pennsylvania this morning and drove 11 hours to Batavia. We are relieved to be back at home. We are very, very grateful that God watched over us and provided a safe trip. We are starved as we skipped dinner to make it home before dark. We are sleepy and will not set an alarm tomorrow, but catch up on some extra winks. Stay tuned for a wind up or two...or three from us. So much needs to be processed, yet we'd love to share some thoughts with you too. Just wanted to let you know that we were home safely.

Love & Hugs,
Diane & Steve

16Aug/051

Time to Reflect

The last few days have been a whirlwind of relief, sadness, joy, excitement, anticipation, and satisfaction. The physical part of the adventure is over, but gaining clarity on all my thoughts and emotions will take some time.

My life has been very simple this summer; wake up, eat, ride my bike, (eat a lot), set up camp or find a motel - or, best, ride up to a friend's home, or a family's home - shower, eat, go to sleep. The real world awaits around the corner but before stepping back into that world, I will spend the next couple weeks reflecting and recording some of my thoughts.

It has been a wonderful summer. The trip was better than my expectations, and easier. I appreciate, more than most of you will ever know, the well-wishes, prayers, and love that went with me during the summer. That was a tremendous part of the summer, and a tremendous part of why the trip was "easy." Thank you all.

Steve

16Aug/050

Bethesda, Maryland

Greetings from Bethesda! We're enjoying a great visit with Steve's cousin Jean, her husband Mike, their son Aaron, and daughter-in-law Michaela. It has been almost too many years to count since the last time we saw Jean and Mike. In fact we're thinking it could be at least 23 years or so. In any case, it's been lovely catching up with them. We all agree that it is definitely time for a family reunion on Steve's Dad's side of the family as well.

This afternoon we make our way to enjoy lunch with Steve's high school/college friend Don and his wife Vanice. Then we're onto Paoli, PA.

For Steve it's kind of a relief to not be on a bike right now. He's enjoying some extra sleep and R&R time. I had a break in driving yesterday as he took over at the wheel for awhile.

Love to all...Diane

15Aug/051

Wow…wow…wow!

Okay, I'm a little lost for words right now, so please accept "Wow" as my word for the day. Yes, at 7:50 A.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Steve dipped his front tire in the Chesapeake Bay at Yorktown, Virginia. Was it salt water so he could say that it "counted" as the coast you ask? You bet. I stuck my finger in the water and did a taste test.

Right now we're in the Williamsburg, Virginia Public Library each at a computer checking out the website. We thank Jeremy and Stephanie for keeping the postings going the last few days and for Jeremy's time in updating the map. In a few minutes we are driving to Bethesda, Maryland to spend the night with Steve's cousin, Jean, and her husband, Mike. Tomorrow we'll lunch with friends, Don and Vanice, before driving onto Paoli, PA. In Paoli we'll overnight with Holly, Rob, Tim, and Brent. Then...on Wednesday morning we'll head to Ligonier, PA to visit my cousins, Linda and John, and hopefully others in that area. We hope to return home on either 8/18 or 8/19.

Since I wrote last time, I saw Drew and Blake off at the Knoxville airport. We had to get up at 3:30 a.m., so it was a long day!! After they were in flight, I made my way to Blackburg, VA where I had a lovely lunch and visit with cousin Irene and her daughter Lisa, son-in-law Paul, their kids Ellen, Greg, and Jeff, and Paul's mother, Nancy. It had been many years since I saw Lisa and her family, so I soaked in this brief visit.

From Blacksburg, Va, I drove onto Charlottesville, where Steve had been the prior two nights. I stayed with his sister, Polly, and brother-in-law, Glen. It was great to catch up with them and chat away! The visit was just too brief this time, so it'll be nice to see them next spring for J.R.'s graduation from UVA. Last night Polly & Glen drove me past the dorm where J.R. will live this year and the house that Mary will share with friends. I left yesterday morning after Polly and Glen took me to breakfast at Panera's and for a drive out to sister Meri's project, where she's the architect. Leaving Charlottesville, I headed onto scenic by-ways going eastward and finally came across a handsome bicyclist wearing his Ride the Rockies jersey. Alas, after nearly 3 weeks we meet again!

Steve looks great. This ride must have been the ingredient to the Fountain of Youth, for I believe he has stripped years from his appearance. Now we both are taking a very deep breath of relief for having the bike ride over. We also say, "Thank you Lord!" for a safe journey for him and me. And, we also say "Thank you" to all of you for your love, prayers, hugs, phone calls, emails, and all around encouragement. We could not have undertaken this adventurous summer without all of you.

We have a lot to process now and have every intention of sharing more thoughts on this website. So, please stay tuned for more updates. -- Much love, Diane

PS Goodness, I do not want to forget to mention to you folks to check out www.bikingx.com. This is a group of 7 inspirational riders who Steve came across yesterday doing a cross country trek also. The two leaders are in their mid-20s and the other five are high school boys...2 sophomores, 1 junior, and 2 seniors. They are raising money for battle childhood cancer, so if you'd like to donate, please check out their website: www.bikingx.com.

15Aug/051

Celebration!!

Steve rode 13.5 miles today from Williamsburg to Yorktown, VA! He dipped his front tire in and he's done!

His quote is "It's done and it's over". He promised more stuff to come shortly. His bike computer clocked him at 4,536 miles. Can you imagine that? On a bike? That mileage is the equivalent of driving TO and FROM Chicago from our house 55 times. Or if I drove to and from Lone Tree from my house 11 times. OR if I drove from Bandon, OR to Yorktown, VA.

Anyway, there's much relief that he's done and he's looking forward to coming home. Not before stopping in DC and Pennsylvania first of course!