Again on the twelfth day, God saw to it to place a long downhill slope to the west of Sisseton, SD, and the bikers rejoiced much at the ability to top speeds of 30 mph without even pedaling. Their progress had been slow in the two days since the eldest member of their tribe fell down the stairs, but this speedy, effortless movement bolstered their spirits.
On the thirteenth day, they awoke to light rain, and a few mild leaks in the camper again. They prepared for the day slowly, in the hope that the rain would pass over before they began pedaling. Yet they kept in mind a little chant that the eldest member of the tribe came up with a few days earlier: “OSB! Openness, stamina, bravery!” [For those of you unfamiliar with those initials, they also stand for the Order of St. Benedict, and will be the initials after Stephanie’s name once she is a full member of St. Benedict’s Monastery.]
We are encountering more and more local folks as we progress on this journey. One man stands out in particular. Back in Selby, at the half-way point (literally mile 325), Cindy had a flat tire. It wasn’t just a punctured inner tube, but the tire itself was split and would have continued puncturing the tube. I went in search of something to act as a buffer between the tube and tire (an improvised “boot,” for anyone else who’s experienced this with their bike or car tire). As it was Sunday, Selby Auto was closed, but I tried knocking on the door anyway. A man rolled up on his motorcycle and said I likely wouldn’t find anybody home there, but did I need anything. I explained what I was looking for, and he took me down to the John Deere station, where he works, and found a few old car tire patches that they don’t use any more. Voila! That was exactly the sort of thing we needed to make Cindy’s tire drivable for the day.
A dairy farmer who was curious about the camper with Montana license plates stopped at an approach near his farm stopped to chat while us three girls took a little break. He also gave us a lead on where to park the camper in Bristol—full hook-ups, which is more than we expected that evening. Dad found it and got supper ready for us, and after we pedaled in, the neighbors came over. Deb had passed us on her way home from work, and Dary had already heard some of the scoop from Dad (whose role has expanded from housekeeper to press secretary to shortcut scouter). They stayed and chatted for quite a while, and we shared lots of laughs. The next morning, they also sent a retired Lutheran minister and oblate of Blue Cloud Abbey our way. He works with an online news source for Bristol, SD, and stopped us a few miles out of town to take our picture.
Cindy and Ellen even used the wireless internet connection from Deb and Dary's house to check the weather report for the day!
These sorts of connections are an important part of this journey, and I’m deeply grateful for all of the people who have opened themselves to us. May we continue to be open to them.
For now, we must cover ourselves with our rain gear and pedal the 10 or so miles to the Minnesota border, give thanks, take a picture in the rain, and keep pedaling toward Chokio. The camper has sprung a fourth leak as I typed this, and Dad wants to hitch up and get out of here in the hope that it will leak less when in motion.