Oak Harbor families push pedals across America
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 17, 2012 · Updated 12:41 PM
Two families are spending the summer growing closer together, learning about their faith and discovering the continental United States.
The Schroeder and Halverson families have spent their summer bicycling across the country, which is a journey they’ve titled “Christ Across America.”
Sixteen people hopped onto eight tandem bicycles in Yorktown, Va., in May and they have been pedaling their way across the country ever since.
“We wanted to do something challenging and fun to strengthen our relationship,” Clark Schroeder said in a telephone interview while the two families were traveling through western Montana.
The Schroeders, who live in Oak Harbor, include Clark and his wife Annemarie along with children Hannah, 16, Emily, 15, Ella, 13, and Noah, 11.
The Halversons, who recently lived in Oak Harbor but currently live in Texas, include husband and wife Dan and Lesli along with their children Jon Michael, 14, Sarah, 13, Lydia, 10, and Abraham, 8.
Clark said the families have been saving money and preparing for the journey for six years. He added that the idea blossomed when Dan had completed a similar journey about 10 years ago.
The route the two families used was based on the TransAmerica Trail, which the Adventure Cycling Association developed in 1976 in honor of the U.S. bicentennial. The route starts in Virginia and goes west until Colorado when it veers north through Wyoming and Montana, before turning west again to Astoria, Ore. The families tweaked the route a bit so they could take Highway 20 and end up on Whidbey Island.
Clark said the trip has taken them through small-town America and they have enjoyed the hospitality along the way. The families try to bike about 50 to 60 miles a day. He said the group has been fortunate not to have experienced any serious accidents.
Even with the constant bicycling, the Schroeders and the Halversons take Sundays off spending time at churches they encounter along the way. The two families originally met each other while worshiping at Family Bible Church on Heller Road in Oak Harbor.
Clark said the family had four goals they wanted to accomplish on their trip.
First, they want to strengthen their relationship with each other through teamwork, which was one of the reasons they chose tandem bikes.
Second, they want to develop characteristics through discipleship. Clark mentioned that they teach others about a wide variety of topics that include evangelism, purity and leadership.
Third, they want to plan and accomplish their dreams and, fourth, they want to share Christ across America. That is accomplished primarily by delivering gospel tracts to passersby they encounter.
As of Monday, the group was winding its way through the Rocky Mountains in Montana and they hoped to cross over into Idaho the following day.
Clark mentioned the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, but noted the group had a more difficult time riding through the Appalachians. The roads there have a steeper grade.
The families hope to return to Whidbey Island in late August. A welcome home event has been scheduled Saturday, Aug. 25 at Joseph Whidbey State Park currently scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Jenny Johnson at 675-3845 or Trinette Ward at 301-876-4096.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.