A message from the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation

Ryan and Dwight hope to raise $10,000 to support the burn camp, which will host 70 children between the ages of 8 and 18. They are determined to reach the West Coast as a personal challenge as well as helping young burn survivors.

Started in 1991, the Arthur C. Luf Children's Burn Camp is located in northern Connecticut on 176 acres. Every summer, burn survivors come to the burn camp, which is a safe and fun environment that helps kids heal emotionally and physically. The Burn Camp is free to the children, who come primarily from the Northeast and some foreign counteries, but any burn survivor child anywhere is welcome. More than 70 adult counselors, primarily active and retired firefighters and burn unit nurses, occupational and physical therapists, child psychologists and even a doctor will serve as mentors for the week.

It's also our goal to promote burn awareness and fire prevention and education, which we do year around. We sponsor a burn survivor, burned in a car accident that involved speeding and drinking alcohol, who speaks to high school students throughout Connecticut. We also support the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital, helping to purchase equipment.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dwight meets Dwight

We left Valparaiso with our panniers swollen with victuals, as Willis wouldn't let us go without all the contents of his pantry. We thank Willis and Ginger for sending us off as they received us, with overwhelming generosity.

I've fallen in love with another small, boy-named midwestern town, and this time I'm proud to say I share its name. Our 90 mile ride out of Valpo (a new record, by the way) left us in Dwight, Illinois. By then it was close to dark, and a bit of a ride to the next town, so when we heard that there would be a fireworks display worth writing home about, we decided to stick around. Everyone we met in Dwight was super-nice, took interest in our journey and was eager to help us out in any way possible. At the field where the evening's festivities were taking place, the representative from The Chamber of Commerce offered us free snacks, the fire chief gave us a spot to camp behind the fire house, and the police department agreed to let us shower in the station (the firehouse didn't have the facilities). We had more offers for places to stay than we could accept. The police station's shower wasn't working properly, and Ryan and I both independently reached the conclusion that it was like showering with a squirt gun ("super-soaker" was Ryan's terminology). The police were very apologetic about it, but it was all that we needed.

The fireworks did not disappoint. In a lot of ways I thought they were cooler than Chicago's. They were so much closer to us, and the explosions seemed to reverberate forever in the open space behind us. There was still a bit of lingering twilight that complicated the canvas on which the fireworks bloomed in an interesting and beautiful way. There was also a great variety of different fireworks, some of which I hadn't seen before, like these noisy white tadpoles that snaked hurriedly up the sky, or what I'm calling "the sleeper," which left a bright trail coiling up the lower part of the sky before suprising you with a big, colorful blossom way up above. The best part of the Dwight fireworks was the tempo. They took their time, delivering every blast with intention, savoring each one, combining them in deliberate, beatiful ways. They didn't succumb to the pressure to constantly crowd the sky with lights, which I respect. The orchestrators played with pauses, with darkness and stillness, clearing the pallette of the sky from time to time and holding the spectator in a moment of suspense before proceding with the next sequence. There were even a couple of tease-finales before the actual end, which I thought was really cool. Artfully done, Dwight, Illinois. Very impressive.

Dwight's historic windmill

This old lady smelled something interesting in Ryan's bag, and wasn't shy about investigating

Yesterday's roadside casualties included one big, beautiful snake, one red squirrel, one grey cat, and several raccoons, their upturned, ruptured faces frozen in an expression of mortal outrage.

All along our trail these constellations of white, feathery seeds have floated across our path. I used to attribute them to the Catalpa trees that abounded back in southern Pennsylvania, but their numbers have diminished and we still encounter these phantom germ clouds like apparitions with no discernible source. It almost feels like some benevolent spirit is sending them down to us on the wind, a little blessing, a little reminder of the infinity of possibilities that face us, like the forest of possible trees that drifts before our eyes.

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