Monthly Archives: June 2016

Day 13 – June 30: To Lake Milokokia

as journaled by Brittany

36 miles




Finished eating lunch in this amazing rest area just off the road we’re biking on. There are restrooms, water, and shady picnic areas. Paradise, really.  Already only 11 miles left for today’s trip, so we’re pumped and ready to get going.

Hopefully, our campsite’s as nice as this rest stop.




Settled into our campsite just in time as it begins to rain.  Dinner is almost ready, and the group of swimmers and intrepid minnow catchers that went out after the tent was set up – our camp borders the lake – have returned due to leeches.

Yes, leeches.  Cora was the first person we saw one on, and Mommy subsequently called everyone in with panic only slightly audible in her voice. Cora was also the only one with a bigger leech on her – everyone else had smaller ones.

Leeches aside, this camp isn’t nearly as nice as the previous ones we’ve stayed at.  There are no showers, the bathroom appears to just be an outhouse, and there’s only one pump, out by the registration area.

I’m impressed by how fast we got here. Sure, it’s not as early as we could have gotten here, but it’s far earlier than we’ve ever managed.

I really want to thank my grandparents for coming down to our campsite yesterday.  They brought enough food to feed an army, and, wonder of wonders, some of it was even leftover. It was amazing to see you guys, and also to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins three days ago. Thanks for coming, we loved seeing you!


Day 11 – June 28: To Indian Lake State Park

as journaled by Brittany

42 miles




Today ought to be better than yesterday, even if I mostly say that hoping rather than knowing it to be true.  As amazing as it was to be bailed out last night – the trip before that was a nightmare. There’s still a headwind today, but I’ve been reassured that soon it’ll hit us from the side as we go East rather than North.

Lydia is once again reading over my shoulder as we wait for Mommy to finish grocery shopping. This time with Elise.  Daddy and the others are still at the McDonald’s where we grabbed breakfast about an hour ago.

Our meal schedule is so out of whack by this point that it’s comical.  We eat breakfast when we get up – around 8 or 9 – then lunch sometime in the afternoon.  (2pm to 6pm) Dinner? We’re lucky to get it before dark.

Ah, well.  We actually have a real live rest day tomorrow, for once in our lives, that’ll be a relief. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been biking nonstop.



The real hero of the day is Joshua.  Earlier he felt sick and has continued to do so after not eating or drinking anything! Yet he’s managed to pull through and make the day’s trip – including a fall just before we stopped for lunch.

He gets to lay in the hammock while we set up camp.

We’re all glad to have a rest day tomorrow.



Day 10 – June 27: To Escanaba, MI

as journaled by Brittany

44 miles 34 miles


*We don’t end up crossing over into Eastern time until later that day, but in the interests of convenience used Michigan time for the whole of the day.

The campground where we stayed the night (JW Wells) is absolutely gorgeous. Like, 10 out of 10, would come back. We’re right by the lake – like, right by it, even though there’s no beach on the shore that borders our sight so we can’t swim – and the showers are amazing. What more could you ask for, am I right?

In all seriousness, though, this place is amazing. I really hope we come back here sometime.

It helps that we got here so early last night. Sure, seven at night is still pretty late for most of you guys, but for us? Unprecedented in how early it was. We actually managed to have dinner while it was still light out, for once!

When it did get dark, though, that’s when all the fireflies came out, and when you could see all the lighthouses across the lake (including a few green lights, which I find hilarious). And the stars – holy smokes the stars are amazing out here. I even saw a meteor!

Oh and before I forget – are crows bigger than ravens? Or is it the other way around? There’s a debate in the Koch tenthold about this, and I really want to know the correct answer.

UPDATE: Ravens are bigger than crows! Curt (he and my aunt and cousins stopped by later today) confirmed it. I was right, Daddy and Joshua were wrong. Whooop!






So – today sucked,  but it’s getting better. We already had a fifty-mile trip ahead of us, but there was a bad headwind the whole time. We had to struggle pretty much the whole way, and it was really chilly as well.

In fact, we still have about 14 miles to go to the campsite we were supposed to get to tonight We ended up setting up in a different campground instead.  My aunt, uncle and cousins really bailed us out today.  The brought us food, drinks and dessert.  They are amazing!

It’s always nice to see them, and especially when they bring food and take David, Lydia, Lydia’s trailer bike, and Mommy’s Burley for the last five miles!  Thanks again guys! Can’t wait to see you at Barothy.  (or in two days, Anna, if you can make it)

Day 9 – June 26: To JW Wells State Park, MI

as journaled by Brittany 

40 miles


So… Myself and the other residents of Tentville, currently located in Bay Shore, had an interesting night to say the very least. It rained. A lot. (Let it be known I am the master of sarcastic understatement)

Thing is, we knew it was going to rain last night. Prepared for it too, in a way I thought rather excessive at the tie. But last night was the kind of storm that, if I were home, I would have loved to listen to from the cozy warmth of my covers. (Both these adjectives, by the way, are banned from being said around our campsite at the moment.) I usually love It when it rains at night, because it’s outside while I’m in, and there’s really nothing better to help you appreciate the comforts of your own bed. But all that becomes rather pointless when you have a leaky tent and the rain can get inside: which is just what it did last night.

At lease it’s sunny now, I guess.




Welcome to Michigan!


We’ve found the perfect place to eat- even if we have to do it barefoot. There’s a small, mostly shady (meaning we have a spot to try and dry things out in the sun) picnic area halfway down a hill that separates the Michigan Welcome Center (holy smokes we’re in Michigan already!), complete with bathroom and water fountain, from the parking lot of a supermarket, where Mommy can go pick up some more food while we get set up.

Only problem is, the area separating the parking lot from the stairs leading up to the picnic area is flooded, thanks to the rain-we-do-not-speak-of. So we’re eating barefoot.

I don’t mind.



Day 8: Flood

as written by Jeff

From Green Bay to Peshtigo, WI (44 miles)

We all woke up refreshed at the home of our friends Jim & Donna Kelly… We all slept in their basement on air mattresses and couches, so it was a little like camping, except more comfortable and no bugs (yay!) After a full breakfast of cereal, oatmeal, and eggs, we hit the road – 44 miles to go today.

Green Bay is a beautiful city, and it turns out, very bike-friendly. It has lots of bike routes, wide shoulders—and a beautiful bike path. As usual, we had to stop at a bike shop on our way out town, as the day before Cora & Elise had to stop every 10 minutes to fix the chain on the derailleur—it kept coming off of one of the pulleys. Ugh. The gear “teeth” on the pulley were almost completely worn away, so it couldn’t hold the chain where it needed to be. The solution: a new derailleur. The mechanic, John, at J B Cycle and Sports, was really kind. In spite of the fact that he had a backlog of repairs, he took care of us right away and even gave us a bunch of information about the route we are taking through the Upper Peninsula. He’s done the trip twice, going halfway around to Ludington & taking the ferry back across the Lake.

The delay was significant: we hit the road at 3pm with 37 miles more to go. However, I’m amazed at how the family is doing. We wake up pretty sore every day, but that fades within a few minutes on the bikes. Our stamina and speed has increased significantly too—our first 40-miler just about killed us (still want to write about that), but now it’s not a huge deal. And, believe it or not, we’re still all enjoying each other! The ride took us through the small towns of Suamico, Pensaukee, and Oconto—all lovely communities. We saw tons of cows, fields, farms, and wildlife: turkeys and deer are the really special ones.  Roadkill is also a common sight, but Elise turns away every time she happens to see that.

We arrived at our campsite at North Bay Shore Recreation Area in Peshtigo before 8:00, and immediately our crew got into action setting up the tent and preparing dinner. We were settled and eating within 90 minutes—a record for us. Dinner for us was Dr. J’s Chicken & Dumplings, as prepared in our dutch oven. Wow, delicious! The campground is on a harbor; people usually use this as a place to fish or boat on Lake Michigan. So, lots of kids were fishing the harbor too; Caleb was so bummed that we did not bring our fishing poles.

Getting dinner ready

Getting dinner ready

Our campsite: right next to the harbor

Our campsite: right next to the harbor

As we began to settle in for the night, we learned that a storm was coming, so we were extra careful to put things away and move things away from the tent walls. We should sleep in relative peace… right?

The rain started about 11:30. It came in gently, like a lamb, but soon began to roar like a lion, with lightning everywhere and torrential rain. I stayed up to make sure that everything would be okay, and soon I found myself dancing between sleeping children, moving from place to place in the tent to mop up puddles that were forming. The back of our tent was getting a full onslaught, and water was almost pouring in through the zipper, right by the heads of Joshua, Caleb, and David. I dragged them further in the tent and began to bail out the water using a Norwex Towel. I gotta say, that towel absorbed about 100x it’s weight in water, I’ve never seen anything like it. But the rain was relentless! Water gushed down. I couldn’t help but think this may have been what Noah experienced on Day 1! Eventually, the rain died down a bit, and I made a levee to keep the growing pools of water away from sleeping kids. And I went to sleep around 1:30, exhausted.

2:30. “Jeff – there’s water in the tent!!!!” Huh? I was so out of it. Joshua woke up to a sleeping bag soaked with water. The growing river was threatening the other boys too. After moving the boys further in, Angela and Joshua began bailing out the tent with the Norwex towel. They did this until 4:30, when they gave up due to a combination of lighter rain and hopelessness.

A picture of Lake Wenger, named after our tent that let the water in. Yes, that's David, sleeping in a wet sweatshirt, who never woke up during the night.

A picture of Lake Wenger, named after our tent that let the water in. Joshua’s blue sleeping bag was used as a levee to keep the water at bay. Yes, that’s David, sleeping in a wet sweatshirt, who never woke up during the night.

C'mon Elise, start a fire for breakfast!

That’s our fire pit. C’mon Elise, start a fire for breakfast!

Look ma! Raisin hands! 15 minutes after getting up!

Look ma! Raisin hands! 15 minutes after getting up!

We all woke up around 6:30am and witnessed the final result. The boys were sleeping with Angela and me, and almost everything in the tent was wet. Miraculously, David slept through it all. Almost 4 inches of rain fell, and there was water everywhere–ponds and lakes popped up all over the campground where there were none the day before.  We stung up a clothesline in a vain attempt to dry some things out, but it had little affect. We just wanted to get out of there and get to our next site so we could dry everything out, so we packed up and left for our next destination: JW Wells State Park, in the wonderful state of Michigan!

Day 8 – June 25: To North Bay Shore Recreation Area, Peshtigo, WI

 as journaled by Brittany

42 miles




 Another day, another bike shop. Ha! Actually, I’m at a grocery store with Lydia, Joshua, David and Mommy at the moment. It’s the others who are at the bike shop, trying to fix the girl’s bike again. As you can see, that’s become an annoyingly persistent issue. I’m sure Daddy will explain it more in is his own posts – the art of bike engineering techno-babble isn’t really something I understand beyond the simple stuff.

Hang on – Lydia’s been reading over my shoulder and wants to say hi. There, Lydia, I wrote it down. Happy now? Good. (Now she says I’m mean. Deal with it, Lyds.)

She, Joshua and I are waiting outside the store, relaxing with the bikes, while mommy and David shop for lunch and dinner for today and tomorrow’s breakfast. And, hopefully, pick up more snacks. Someone (cough Joshua cough) fed David most of the snack bars we had left, and we have barely any left.

Actually, besides the whole eating four bars in two hours thing, David’s been pretty good this trip. His main complaint is that he wants to get out of his chair more often in order to run around: which, bizarre as it seems to the rest of us (our main complaint of him is that he doesn’t seem to appreciate how easy he has it) actually makes sense.

To be honest, he’s probably doing the best out of all of us. The hard works and long hours are weighing on us, affecting everyone in different ways. I shut up, keep my head down, try to focus on getting one mile at a time over with. Caleb overreacts to the smallest things. Tempers are growing short, and little arguments are blowing up into huge conflicts.

Hopefully we can make camp early today, get a chance to relax and unwind. That’s really all we need, I think.




Today has to be the earliest we’ve ever made a place we were staying tonight (besides the practice trip, which was a measly 27 miles – yes, I did just say that, yes, this bike trip is driving me [pun intended] insane), and it was 42 miles, and we ended up taking forever at the grocery store/bike shop/hardware store.

Speaking of I was mistaken earlier when I said Daddy and the others were going to the bike shop. Turns out they were just massively delayed. We ended up all going to the bike shop, staying there and eating lunch for a while, and then going to the hardware store to repair a few things.

Around 22:30-23:00

The rain begins (DUN DUN DUN!!!!!)

Day 7 – June 24: To Green Bay, WI

as journaled by Brittany

44 miles


We’ve just had (or are in the process of having, in some cases) an amazing breakfast after a restfulish night’s sleep. (I’m still mad at Daddy for waking me up.)

We have a long day ahead of us, so we’re trying to get going as early as possible. We might have bad luck there, though–everyone is exhausted still. We’re staying at a friends house again tonight, so we don’t have to get there before it gets dark.

My knee is incredibly stiff today. Eve before I fell on day three I was having problems with how stiff my knees would be after a break, but now that I’ve scraped them up it’s a thousand times worse. Plus, yesterday I fell sideways–when getting on my bike, why can’t I every get a break?–and ended up removing part of the scab. It needs to heal all over again. Sigh.




David and Caleb locked themselves in the bathroom, so now we’re waiting for Joshua and Mommy to get them out. Lunch has been eaten and packed up, and we’re about to get going on this last 20 mile section.

I like the simplicity of the way we do things now. We carry our essentials on us–clothes, the snacks for the day, kitchen supplies, the tent–and whatever we need for lunch or dinner or to refill on snacks we buy on our way. No room for extra weight.




We’re staying the night in the basement of another friend’s house, whom, like yesterday, didn’t hesitate to make us dinner and house us for the night.

More and ore as we continue on this trip I learn just how generous people can be. I fell yesterday because we’d stopped to chat with an older man who’d pulled over to check and see whether we needed anything–before he left he gave us two gift cards to a restaurant. This morning we pulled into a bike shop (yet again – soon enough we’re going to be experts in all the bike shops around the lake) to try and fix a problem with the girls’ bike. We found out later that his solution didn’t solve the problem completely, but in the meantime he did it for free. Instances like these? I’m so glad to have the opportunity to experience them.

Well, I’m beat. We have a 42 mile trip tomorrow as well, but we’re going to try to leave earlier so we can arrive at the campground before dusk. Daddy actually told us we had a 42 mile trip today, but it was really 48 miles… the liar.

Day 6: Curbs and Waiting

as written by Jeff

From Kohler-Andrae State Park to Manitowoc, Wisconsin

It started as a beautiful day… waking up near the beach in Kohler-Andrae State Park. The kids enjoyed the woods, the playground, our hammock… it was all wonderful.  It had rained that morning for a little bit, but the beach was still gorgeous, and we had a filling breakfast of pancakes. Mmmm.  Hey, we only had 33 miles to go today, so we could afford to luxuriate a little. Right?

Well, it became challenging rather quickly.  The call to break camp was not a welcome one. The rain made things a little dirty and wet, and the arguments started, … in general everyone became a little testy. And the delays grew longer and longer.  Rather than leave at 12 noon, we weren’t ready by 1:00.  Or 2:00.  I started to begin to panic a little…

We missed our 3:00pm checkout by 8 minutes, so we ended up paying for 2 days. That was a bummer.  But then, real disaster struck.  After just 9 miles of riding through Sheboygan, along some marvelous views of the lake, Jeff mis-judged a curb at the bottom of a hill and cut it too close.  The right trailer wheel hit the curb, upturning the trailer, spinning it 360 degrees in the air, and landing on the opposite wheel. Miraculously, no one was hurt. We didn’t even crash! The result: our gear was all over the street and one of the trailer wheels was seriously bent. Wow.

This is what the wheel looked like after the trailer flipped over.

This is what the wheel looked like after the trailer flipped over.

I was incredibly discouraged. Now what? Find a bike shop. Fortunately there was one just 4 blocks away: Wolf Cycling and Fitness ( When I walked in with the bent tire, my heart sank when the first response was, “We can probably order you something.”  Uh-oh. That’s bad. The owner tried a new wheel from a similar trailer he had in stock: almost fit, but not quite.  I explained about our trip, so he began to try to repair the wheel,  bending the rim back into shape using some pretty significant force. Some luck, but that was a BIG S-curve to get out. Then he had an idea: he should check in the back to see if he anything there.

Two minutes went by, then he came back holding a rim that had been hanging in his office for at least 10 years. It was an old BMX racing bike tire (an Araya 7x). He doesn’t really sell or carry them anymore. But it was exactly the right size, with exactly the right number of spokes. Incredible!

The job was time-intensive, taking each spoke off the old rim, installing it on the new one , then making sure that the wheel spin perfectly. In the end, though, we had a new wheel.  I can not praise Harley or Wolf Cycle enough for their kindness toward us.


Harley, owner of Wolf Cycle in Sheboygan, working on replacing our bent rim with new & stronger one

Matthew 6:31-32 says “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” – I’d like to add “…or where will we get another wheel?”  The lord is showing us during this trip that He is clearly in control, and this adventure is opening our eyes to the reality of His presence and provision.


Sunset in the Wisconsin country.

Unfortunately, this was another 2 hour delay for us.  It was now 6:00pm and we still had 25 miles to go to our destination in Manitowoc. So we pedaled, and we pedaled. We watered a lot of fields along the way since we didn’t have much time to stop at a bathroom (and there weren’t many anyway). The views were gorgeous along County Road LS (Lakeshore Drive); I never get tired of seeing the lake. And, the Lord provided a rich sunset for us that we all marveled at.

It grew dark, and we still plodded along.  At one potty stop a car turned around to make sure we were okay.  The driver, Al, was very encouraging and wanted to make sure that we had a place to stay. He then blessed us by opening up a wallet of gift cards, took out two Perkin’s gift cards, and said “have breakfast on me!” Wow, really? The kindness shown to us… just blows us away.


Al, who stopped by to check on us. Could he have been an angel?

We could not wait to see our hosts for the night: Kyle and Char Schleuncher. Char was a member of our staff team years ago, and she and Kyle are wonderful people.  We finally arrive around 10:00pm, exhausted, tired, and hungry.  The Schleunchers had chicken, hot dogs, cheesy potatoes, and refreshments for us, and immediately our spirits SOARED… it was an oasis after a hard day. Baths and showers for everyone, some visiting with Kyle and Char, and bed… for 8 hours. Beautiful.

Day 6 – June 23: To Manitowoc, WI

as journaled by Brittany

33 miles


It did end up raining early this morning. Fortunately, most of our stuff was protected, but a few things got wet that were near the edges of the screen tent or that we forgot to bring inside.

Daddy rode Joshua’s bike to a store three miles away to pick up our breakfast, so we’re all eating in a picnic pavilion nearby our campsite. It’s in this large field bordering the beach, so we were all granted the hilarious sight of David running to the bathroom on the opposite side of the field from our campsite.




Stopped for lunch in General King Park in Sheboygan, WI. The rain this morning messed up our departure time, but we were making good time since then. We were more than a quarter of the way to the house we’re staying at tonight before Daddy hit a curb and his trailer wheel bent. We’re trying to get it fixed, but…



Day 5 – June 22: To Oostburg, WI (Kohler-Andrae State Park)

as journaled by Brittany

32 miles


Still in our hotel room (oh, yeah, stayed the night in a hotel for once–amazing chance to relax and get some valuable sleep), but preparations to leave are proceeding apace. We’re planning to stop at Costco, as there’s one nearby, and stocking up on snacks, but after that we’re just going to try to make camp before nightfall for once.

I’m actually learning to enjoy riding at night (except for when I couldn’t see a patch of gravel and fell, of course) because it’s so peaceful, but having the opportunity to actually enjoy our campsite for once would be amazing.




We’re about to leave Costco now. We’re all stocked up on snacks and we’ve eaten lunch, so we shouldn’t need to stop for a while and when we do stop it shouldn’t take long.

Here’s to a good day and to the rain (there’s a high[ish] chance of it, from what I’ve heard) holding off when we need it to.  I’m hoping we can make camp early in the evening and/or only late in the afternoon for once.




Dusk, and I’m watching the boys at a playground near(ish) our campsite. It hasn’t begun to rain yet, though it’s been threatening all day. It is pretty chilly out, however.


I’ve been thinking, and this trip to far? It’s going fantastically. Sure, it’s been hard on us physically, and I’m well aware of the enormity of the understatement there. But we could be tearing into each other because of it, turned vicious by the strain, and that’s not happening.


In case anyone is wondering why in the world I’m still writing, dinner is taking forever and I need to occupy myself or I’m going to fall asleep!

As beautiful as this campsite is–we’re in this clearing sorta removed from the road and right near the lake, so if you listen you can hear it–it’s missing an outlet and isn’t close to water (though not far from it) or anywhere near the showers, so it’s pretty inconvenient.

Mommy’s difficulties with dinner start with how far we are from the water, are made worse by the fact that she’s working in a screen tent to avoid the possible rain (that still hasn’t started even though it’s come pretty close), and end with her accidentally knocking over the pot of finished rice. Really, it’s no surprise it’s taking forever.

Alright, I’m bailing on dinner. I’m exhausted. Good night, ya’ll!