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Saturday, July 7, 2012

One Month After Finishing

It has been over a month since our amazing bike trip ended, but when I think back on the trip it seems like something really far in the past. Matt and I were saying how it's a good thing we took pictures and kept this blog, or we probably wouldn't believe we had actually biked all the way across America.

Thank you so much for those who have donated since we last posted!

The Baird Family, David and Kristen DeTienne, Teppo Felin, Trevor Evans, the Haynes Family, Justin and Katie King, Tammy Meldrum (in memory of her brother Brad Welch, who lived with juvenile diabetes), Vicki Anderson, Sarah Sheranian Monson, Chris and Shea St. Jeor, Scott Christensen, Michael Cummings, and Anonymous

If you haven't already, check out these news stories about us:

Home Town Journal:
Deseret News:
BYU TV (start watching at 15:30):

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 35: Lake City, FL to Jacksonville Beach, FL (the Atlantic Ocean!)

We made it!!! Wow. What a hard, painful, humbling, fulfilling, and amazing experience this bike trip has been!

On Saturday night we found out that a tropical storm (1 mph away from being classified as a hurricane) was scheduled to hit Jacksonville Sunday afternoon and continue through sometime on Tuesday. Needing to finish this trip so that Matt and I can make it to our internships, we decided to bike today through the storm.

Last night I read over and over again the scripture in Mark 4:

36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea,aPeace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.
 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so afearful? how is it that ye have no bfaith?
 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

I knew that if Jesus could calm the wind and still the sea for his disciples, Heavenly Father could do the same for us. I prayed with earnest last night and all this morning while we were riding that our "great storm of wind" would be calmed. We got some occasional rain and wind today, but it was nothing compared to what we could have experienced. I testify that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I had an amazing spiritual experience as I was biking today; I felt so strongly Heavenly Father's love for me and got a beautiful, peaceful feeling. It was like He had calmed the winds and me. It is so humbling to see that again and again we have been blessed on this bike trip.

Reaching the Atlantic Ocean came with a basket of emotions; we laughed, gave victory shouts, gave sighs of relief, I cried... What a wonderful moment! To celebrate we all went to Joe's Crab Shack.

We thought that today it would be fun to put a review of our bike trip:

Our Bike Trip Across America
Total miles biked: 2,519
Total days biked (not including rest days): 29
Average miles per day: 87
Maximum miles per day: 124
Minimum miles per day: 30 (the day Amber got her concussion)
States crossed: 8
Flat tires: 7 (that includes the truck's flat tire)

Emergency Room Visits

Best part of the trip

Worst part of the trip

News stories
Possibly more to come!

Person with the most facial hair grown during trip
Matt (yes, he shaved as soon as we finished)

Person with the most sunburns
Amber (even though she put on sunscreen every time we stopped)

Number of bugs swallowed
We didn't count, but it was a lot

Number of dead armadillos in the road
We didn't count that either, but Matt thinks it was over 100

Donations to JDRF
Total amount donated (as of 5/28/12 at 3pm MST): $3,229

A special thanks to all those who donated so far! We couldn't be more grateful!
The Hull Family, Doug and Sharon Martin and family, Century 21 Bushnell, Mason Chenn, Kris Bloomfield, Laura (Grandma) LeBaron (twice!), Alicia Schick, Nicole Nowak-Ahmad, Haylie Lund, Ruth Ann Ferreira, Kathy Ward, Brian Henderson, Georgia Ogles, Jonathan Fischer, Paul and Marilyn Robinson, Curt and Jan LeBaron (our parents), Trevor Evans (twice!), Jared Colton, Riley Cooney, Brittany Miyahara, Val Gene Ogles, Andersen Studios, Alishia Sullivan, Curt and Angi Cummings, Katie Liljenquist, Rhett Weller, Margita Clark, Dominic Anderson, The Sheranian Family, Mette Petersen, Kimball Hansen, Marcus Shaw, Ron Purvis, Todd Castagna, Spencer Ray, Shawna Hamblin, the Haynes Family, Anonymous, Anonymous, Anonymous, and Anonymous

And thank you everyone for following our journey and our blog! We have loved all of the support! We'll do a couple more posts on our recovery process, more donations we get, more news coverage, etc.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 34: Lake City, FL (Rest Day)

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) since last Sunday! We really appreciate your thoughtful donations!

Century 21 Bushnell, Mason Chenn, Kris Bloomfield, Laura (Grandma) LeBaron, Alicia Schick, Nicole Nowak-Ahmad, Haylie Lund, and Anonymous

If you would like to make a donation, click here or on the button that says "MAKE A DONATION!" on the right of our blog under the thermometer. All donations go straight to JDRF; Matt and I don't see any of it. (All of our expenses like lodging, food, biking gear, etc. come from our own savings.) Every donation makes a difference!

We got in another newspaper, the Destin Log. Here's a link if you want to check it out:

Last night I slept for ten hours and it felt marvelous! Sundays truly are the best. Today we went to a church near by. (We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For more information click here.) The ward that we went to for church was so friendly! We had a ton of people come up to us and ask if we're visiting, where we're from, and about our bike trip. Florida has had some of the friendliest people we've met on this trip.

We are starting to get pretty nervous about the tropical storm that has hit Jacksonville (it's almost at a hurricane status). The weather report says that winds have gotten up to 70 mph! Yikes. The worst of the storm is happening tonight, but the storm is supposed to last through Tuesday night. There is also talk of potential flooding, and we've already had a lot of rain in Lake City. Cross your fingers that we'll be able to finish this trip tomorrow by riding between the bands of the storm!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 33: Tallahassee, FL to Lake City, FL

We shattered our old record of 106 miles with 124 miles for today! We decided to go so far because (1) we know that tomorrow is Sunday which means we get a rest day and (2) we heard that there is going to be a mini hurricane coming to Jacksonville Sunday afternoon and is sticking around through Monday! We figured that the more we rode today, the less we will have to ride on Monday which will probably be against really strong headwinds. The winds are supposed to be 45 mph! We are praying that this isn't going to be the case because we are so close (69 miles away from the Atlantic!) and would love to finish this trip on Monday.

Matt and I really enjoyed our lunch today. Pops bought a 37-pound watermelon for $5, cut it open with his pocketknife, and cut big pieces off for us. We ate it at this park pavilion that was in one of the towns we were passing through. In the park there was a Baptist preacher who was giving a sermon. He was really loud (I'm surprised he could keep up the volume for so long) and used big gestures, but there was only one person in the audience--she must have been his wife. I think she was video recording his sermon so perhaps they just did it in the park for a nice background.

Just outside of Tallahassee we passed the Letchworth-Love Mounds, and Matt went to go check them out while I rode ahead. Matt said he was really "digging" all of the archaeological discoveries and that he had "mounds of fun." For those who aren't familiar with mounds, they look like really big, oddly-shaped hills. Archaeologists can discover what the mound used to look like, how old it is, etc. This mound that we went by today was built about 1500 years ago by some Native Americans. Researchers believe it was used as some kind of temple or burial place.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 32: Panama City Beach, FL to Tallahassee, FL

103 miles for the day. It’s exciting how close we are getting to the Atlantic!

Matt's and my best for the day was when we were biking along and glanced across the street, and there was Pops holding up a cantaloupe for us! He cut it into slices with his pocket knife, and Matt and I downed the whole thing in no time.

My worst for the day is that my feet were really hurting. Since my clip in pedal broke, I’ve had to use the normal pedals and wear my “for walking around after we’re done riding” shoes. I didn’t anticipate needing to bike in normal shoes so I brought really old, thin sneakers. They are so thin that my feet took a hit today. I don't want to buy new shoes/clip-in pedals when we are so close to finishing, so Matt is going to let me have the clip-in pedals tomorrow.

 Matt’s worst for the day was that he didn’t see an alligator. Haha he really wants to see one out in the wild. He saw something moving in the water when we passed by a lake, but he wasn't sure if it was an alligator or not. We did, however, see lots of cool Spanish moss on the trees.

Matt’s second worst for the day is all of the bugs. There are little gnat guys that come and buzz right by our eyes. I have no idea what they are trying to accomplish by attacking our eyes, but I don’t wait long enough to find out. And Matt’s bug bites continue but in a different form… he has a big mosquito bite on his eyebrow.

Today was hot! It got up to 98 degrees for a few hours (which means over 100 on the asphalt) and it's humid. We had to take breaks more frequently to keep hydrated.

Why did the chicken cross the road? We couldn't tell why.

Granola bars for breakfast. And lunch. And an afternoon snack.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 31: Pensacola, FL to Panama City Beach, FL

106 miles today! When we got done for the day, Grandma Gina thought it would be fun to total up how many miles we have ridden so far. Believe it or not, we have gone 2,222 miles so far! How perfect!

Today was great! Yesterday my knees were really hurting me and I felt like I had pulled a muscle in my calf, so I prayed that I would have the strength and the health to meet our goal for today (we always try to ride 100 miles). Of course I was really tired by the end of the ride, but other than that I felt great all day! It is humbling and I am so grateful for the many answers to prayers that I have received on this trip.

About half way through the day, we started riding along the coastline again. It is so beautiful! The beaches looked like they were straight from a movie with their turquoise water, white sand, and palm trees. Florida is amazing. We also biked along a bike path for a ways and it was really fun going over little wooden bridges, ducking under low branches, and dodging fellow bikers. After a while, however, we had to resort back to the road because it's a lot faster/smoother ride.

It's great to have Pops (our grandpa) with us! He drove out from Utah in Matt's car so that Matt can take it straight up to Virginia for his internship that starts in a week and a half. Pops caught up to us in the early evening and is going to be coming along with us the rest of the trip.

As we were riding our last few miles into Panama City Beach, a car pulled over next to us and kept honking for us to stop. The lady inside had her window rolled down and shouted, "Do you accept donations?" At first we were confused by what she meant (Matt thought she said "Do you want donuts?"), but after talking with her we learned that she knew who we were! She was staying in Louisiana when NBC33 showed our story on their news, so when she saw us in real life she got really excited! Her cousin has type 1 diabetes and she thinks our trip is a great way to raise awareness. We gave her the blog address and told her to just click on the thermometer to donate. It was great to meet you Marlene! You are a sweetheart; thank you for saying hi and talking with us!

And as promised, here is a link to a newspaper that we're in from Livingston, LA:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 30: Gautier, MS to Pensacola, FL

We biked in three different states today! Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida—we covered Alabama in one day. That means we only have one more state left!!

Looks like Alabama tricked us… We had hills all the way across the state. It sure is a pretty state though. It’s amazing how green everything is, there were beautiful bridges and rivers, and the big, red, setting sun still blows me away.

My body hurts really badly. Some of my body aches, some of it has sharp pains, and the rest of it is somewhere in between. I couldn’t help but cry the last ten miles today because my body wanted so badly for me to stop.

We had another news channel come out and interview us! Christian and the camera man were really nice to us. Christian interviewed Matt and me, and then the camera guy recorded us biking down the street a few times. When Christian sends us the link to the story we’ll post it.

Matt was singing "Sweet Home Alabama" to himself today. We are both big country fans, so we have passed some of our time singing to ourselves. John Denver songs are some of my favorites to sing out here.

Pumped out 100 miles for the day. We’re projecting to finish this trip on Tuesday of next week! Can’t wait!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 29: Slidell, LA to Gautier, MS

We made it to Mississippi! Apparently Mississippi is the birthplace of American music (according to the sign). If it was up to me, I would change their slogan to "the state with the best roads." On this bike trip, Matt and I have added to the definition of beautiful:


  1. Pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.
  2. Of a very high standard; excellent.
  3. A stretch of smooth pavement.

Thank you Mississippi for not having bumpy roads and litter/rock covered roads and shoulders!

We got a late start to the day (we didn't start biking until 10am--4 hours after we usually start) because Matt didn't get back from the hospital until 1:00 last night and we had to go and fill a prescription for him this morning. He has some cream stuff that he's putting on his ankle and some medication that he's taking. His ankle didn't get worse today, so hopefully it starts getting better soon!

The ride today was absolutely beautiful! For a lot of the way, we were biking by the Mississippi coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The sand is so white and fine... I just wanted to go lie down in the middle of it! Alas, we only stopped long enough to touch the sand and snap a few pictures.

We rode 80 miles today. I am surprised we got so far considering our late start.

So we thought it was hilarious that the only quote NBC 33 news took from us was when Matt was talking about weird bugs and dead armadillos. We think it's so neat that they did a news story about us on TV! Here's the link to the story about us:

Happy Birthday Grandma LeBaron! Hope you had a great day today. Thanks for frequently calling us and checking in on how we're doing. We love you!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 28: Baton Rouge, LA to Slidell, LA

Matt went to the Ochsner hospital today--our third time at a hospital this month! He had to wait for hours before someone could check out his leg. While he was biking today his left ankle started turning red and swelling up and the bed bug bites on his left leg started turning purple! The doctor said the bites had become infected and had caused Cellulitis; he prescribed some antibacterial medication which we will go pick up from a pharmacy in the morning. The good news is that Matt told the doctor and nurses all about the bike trip and they were all very intrigued; they said they wanted to check out the blog and possibly donate!

It was really hot today! Mixing the humidity and the 90 degree weather makes for a very sticky, sweaty ride. I think I drank over two gallons of water today.

We have some exciting news... we got interviewed by the FOX44 news station for Baton Rouge this morning! He interviewed each of us and videotaped us biking. We'll be sure to post a link when it comes out. In addition to that, a newspaper had us take a picture in front of the Livingston Library and send them the picture to put in their paper. Below is one of the pictures we sent them.

We went 94 miles today! Tomorrow we should be out of Louisiana and into Mississippi!

Every night Matt and I wash our clothes that we wore during the day in the bathroom sink. We brought some Tide with us, and we sprinkle some on our clothes and scrub them, rinse them, and wring them until they're clean. (It's gross how dirty the water can be at first.) We hang them up to dry overnight and have to hang them up during the next day to let them fully dry. We only brought two sets of biking clothes with us, so wear one set while the other is drying and then switch. Every weekend Grandma Gina is a sweetheart and goes and washes our clothes at a laundry mat for us. This means we love Friday and Saturday nights because we don't have to wash our clothes in the sink at night!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 27: Baton Rouge, LA (Rest Day)

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) since last Sunday! You are all so wonderful!

Ruth Ann Ferreira, Kathy Ward, Brian Henderson, Georgia Ogles, Jonathan Fischer, Paul and Marilyn Robinson, Curt and Jan LeBaron (our parents), Trevor Evans, Jared Colton, and Brittany Miyahara

Ruth Ann Ferreira wrote to us and said, "I've been diabetic for 35 years. By my best estimate, I've poked myself around 64,000 times for injections, insulin pump insertions and blood tests. It's paid off because I've escaped the tragic complications of diabetes so far, but I'm ready for a cure!!!" 

If you would like to make a donation, click here or on the button that says "MAKE A DONATION!" on the right of our blog under the thermometer. All donations go straight to JDRF; Matt and I don't see any of it. (All of our expenses like lodging, food, biking gear, etc. come from our own savings.) Every donation makes a difference!

Today we went to church (we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). And what do you know, the Baton Rouge temple was right next to the church! Although it looks really small compared to the Utah temples, it is such a beautiful temple, and we had to take some pictures with it. 

I feel so bad for Matt whom is still recovering from his bad case of bed bug bites. He has a big one on his left eyelid that makes it hard for him to open his eye, and a lot of his bites have swollen with pussy stuff and started leaking (gross!). He had a hard time sleeping last night because they itch so badly, but it helped that the lady at the front desk in our motel was really nice and gave Matt her anti-itching spray. Hopefully he has a better night tonight to gear up (no pun intended) for another week of biking.

Matt taking a nap before church starts
(don't worry, the chair did not have any bed bugs)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 26: Lafayette, LA to Baton Rouge, LA

Matt's whole body is basically one big bed bug bite! Poor little Matt! Because this is not Matt's first experience with bed bugs, he was able to declare them as bed bug bites right away. (Matt's first experience with bed bugs was on his mission in British Columbia--to learn about LDS missions, click here.) As usual, we had slept at a cheap motel... I guess from staying in cheap places, it was bound to happen sometime. He said they itch like crazy, and, even though he hasn't scratched them at all, they're really puffy and red now.

Here are the stats for Matt's bed bug bites:
Left hand: 11
Right hand: 10
Left arm: 27
Right arm: 18
Left leg: 17
Right leg: 4
Left foot: 3
Right foot: 1
Face: 4
Total: 93

Haha and before Matt went to bed tonight he said, "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite." It has a whole new meaning now.

Today was a hard day. We got pulled over by another policeman who told us that we couldn't ride on the I-10 to cross the bridge, so we had to find an alternate route. It added another 40 miles onto our trip, and most of them were on a levee road. On a bike without shocks, that road was miserable, and it took us hours to ride because the gravel really slowed us down. My clip-in pedal broke somewhere on the levy road, so for the rest of the day I alternated between using the Cannondale and the Bianci.

Matt's best for the day was crossing over the Mississippi River bridge. It was really neat riding over the bridge--which looks like a mini version of the Golden Gate Bridge. The red sun was setting, and it was magical looking out over the water and the city.

We rode 90 miles today, and I am completely exhausted. So grateful that it's Sunday tomorrow!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 25: Vinton, LA to Lafayette, LA

104 miles today!

Matt's best of the day was watching the sunrise and singing "America the Beautiful" to himself as we biked along I-10. It was an amazing sunrise! The sun was a big red ball, and there was a reddish morning mist everywhere. Amazing.

Matt's worst for the day was that we couldn't bike over the Lake Charles Bridge. My worst is that I felt sick to my stomach all day--women, you know what I mean--and I was really moody and took it out on Matt when we came to the Lake Charles Bridge...

We were biking on I-10, and just before the bridge a policeman stopped us and told us that we weren't allowed to cross it on bikes. Grandma Gina had already gone over the bridge, so Matt and I took the first exit we could, called grandma with my phone that I hook onto my bike for times like these, and waited for her to come to where we were so we could regroup. Matt checked his phone for alternate routes and found one that went about 10 miles out of our original route. I guess I was frustrated that we had to bike so far in the wrong direction, so I got mad and wouldn't talk to him for a while. Sorry, Matt! Moral of the story: feeling lousy and biking all day long is not a good combo.

When I say we were biking all day I'm being serious. We were on our bikes when the sun was rising and ended when the sun was setting. (Of course with breaks here and there.)

Matt got flat tire #5 today, but, being the handyman that he is, just fixed it so he's good to go tomorrow morning.

Best company's slogan of the day: When we were taking a break at a gas station, we saw a garbage dump truck that had words printed on the side that said...

Accurate Waste Systems
"At your disposal."

Loved it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 24: Dayton, TX to Vinton, LA

Hooray! We're out of Texas! Hello Louisiana :)

My best for the day was really cute! Matt and I stopped at a red light right next to a school bus full of children that were on their way to school. They were all staring out of the window at us so I smiled and waved and the whole line of them smiled and waved energetically back. It was so cute! I wish Amy J. (my little sister) was on that bus. I miss and love you Amy J.!

Matt's best for the day was this ginormous fire hydrant! It was like 20 feet tall and painted like a dalmatian! We just had to stop and take pictures with it. (We're trying--unsuccessfully--to be fire hydrants in the picture.) We talked with some locals who were geo-cashing, and they said that the fire hydrant is a monument recognizing the local fire department.

Matt's worst for the day was when we had to cross this one bridge on the I-10 just after crossing into Louisiana. The bridge didn't have any room for us to ride on, so Matt and I had to step up on a foot-and-a-half wide nook on the side of the bridge railing while we pushed our bikes on the shoulder.

When we started this trip we thought we were just going to be biking across America; today we found out that we got to bike across China too! The only difference between this China and the real one is about a billion people, but it was still fun to get a picture :)

My sprained ankle held up great today! Thanks to my ace bandage and some KT tape, it only bothered me a few times all day. And we went 89 miles!

The Fort Stockton Pioneer wrote an article about us (we passed through there last week). You can see the article by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 23: Sealy, TX to Dayton, TX

Matt, Grandma Gina, and I got on the prayer roll at the Saint John Missionary Baptist Church! We had stopped to figure out the route, and Matt and I really had to use the restroom. We had stopped in the parking lot of a church, so Matt went to see if the church was open. It was locked but a few seconds later a guy came and opened the door and said we could use the restrooms. The man was pastor S. C. Augustus and was getting ready for a meeting tonight. When he was letting us back out of the church, we chatted for a bit and he gave us advice on good roads to take. When we were about to take off, he came walking over to the car and asked for our names so that he could put them on the prayer roll for their meeting tonight. What a thoughtful gesture!

More dogs today (which scare me now after my dog/bike accident)... we were going into Houston on some country roads (even a dirt road at one point) and had several dogs chase Matt. Two of them wouldn't stop following him, so we decided to get the pepper spray out but luckily didn't have to use it. One of the houses we went by had seven dogs sitting at the edge of the driveway, but, thankfully, they didn't chase Matt--I doubt even he could handle seven dogs at once!

Matt's best for the day was that he could ride his new bike again after getting the flat tire fixed today. His worst for the day was a buffet he and Grandma Gina went to. Haha! He tried to get me to eat there too, but, thankfully, I stuck to some fruit, chips, and crackers from the car. The food looked good, but the quality was lacking. My favorite quote from that experience is when Matt said, "I thought it was impossible to wreck spaghetti."

The swelling in my ankle has gone down a lot, and I was able to walk on it pretty well today. We went past a Sports Authority (thanks to a suggestion from Spencer Quinn) and grabbed some Pro KT tape to wrap my ankle with tomorrow when I try biking again. Hopefully it helps keep my sprained ankle from bothering me too much.

Great job, Matt, for 90 miles today (most of it in the city)!