The Chicago sidewalk event

July 24 – Steve, where have you been?  Why aren’t you posting?

It’s been over a month since I posted to the blog.  A lot has happened, so I wanted to give you a quick update.  Later, I’ll post a more detailed recap with photos of the trip.

I’ve made it as far as Washington, DC as of July 24.  This is almost, but not quite, the end of the trip.  I have to get from here to Virginia Beach, Virginia to complete my Pacific-to-Atlantic adventure.  I’m about a week ahead of my original schedule, so I plan to take a few extra rest days in Richmond, Virginia before the final rides to the seashore.  I’ve biked over 4,000 miles, ascending over 125,000 feet, in 12 weeks.  It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, though it’s had its share of pain as well as joy.

An accident happened in Chicago on July 6 that changed the experience significantly.  Having arrived in this wonderful city, Stephanie and I were headed to a nice dinner out when she tripped over a displaced piece of sidewalk and fell, breaking her wrist.  The orthopedist in the Northwestern University Hospital emergency room treated her and advised surgery as soon as possible.  We considered how and where we would do this since we were just passing through Chicago with no place for Stephanie to recuperate.  Long story short, we enlisted my brother Bob’s help to line up treatment at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, allowing Stephanie to recuperate at his house.  So Stephanie would fly to Richmond from Chicago.  Bob and his wife, Carol, flew to Chicago, with Carol volunteering to accompany Stephanie back to Richmond, and Bob volunteering to provide support for me in the RV for the rest of the ride.  There was no talk at all of me stopping the cross-country ride, though the thought crossed my mind.  It’s an example of how great my family has been in supporting this effort.  It’s humbling to me, though, to recognize the sacrifices they have all made to help me realize my dream.

Stephanie has now had her surgery and is healing.  Bob drove the RV as far as Pittsburgh, where our father was born almost 100 years ago.  We explored the old streets and towns we visited as boys.  Daughter Annie and her husband, Jeff, joined us in Pittsburgh with our adorable grandson Jules.  Jeff would join me for the ride along the Great Allegheny Passage to Cumberland, Maryland.  Bob, meanwhile, headed back to Richmond in the RV, accompanied by our dog, Rosie (who was ecstatic to see Stephanie again!).  After Cumberland, I had two self-supported nights on my own before arriving at Annie and Jeff’s house in Silver Spring (where I am now), and I’ll have one night on my own as I make my way to Richmond through Fredericksburg, VA.

Obviously, the character of the adventure changed a lot when Stephanie’s accident occurred. It was no longer Steve and Stephanie’s Excellent Adventure; rather, it became an adventure for the entire family.  Without Stephanie, the days have been lonelier for me, so I’m looking forward to seeing her again in Richmond in a few days.  In the early parts of my trip, I was awe-inspired by the physical beauty of our country.  Now I’m awed by the love and support of my family for each other.


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