Archive for June, 2009

Only Trained Stunt Experts Should Attempt This Feat

June 30, 2009

Allan and I are thrilled with our new bikes. From a practical side, we’ll be able to make quick trips to the store without using the RV. From a fun side, it’s just plain enjoyable to ride a bike. We’ve led a month long bike tour through Europe and pedaled the hills in Tuscany. We’ve even ridden our bikes through Harlem. Right now I’m trying to justify a trip to Holland, my all-time place for biking. In the meantime, today

Allan preparing our new bikes for the initial ride.

Allan preparing our new bikes for the initial ride.

Guess what happened next!

Guess what happened next!

Allan and I took a ten mile ride on rural roads outside of Madison Wisconsin. I’ve always prided myself on being able to ride short stretches without holding on to the handle bars. (Some people have goals to find a cure for cancer. I just want to pedal with my hands in the air.) Well, let’s just say that a new bike, a bumpy road and my old age didn’t create the perfect combination for hands-free bike riding. If you look at the picture, you’ll see the wheel just beginning to wobble. I’ll spare you the details of what happened next. I’m just glad Allan got the picture with my hands in the air.

One Man Show at Mequon Foot Solutions

June 29, 2009
Vern taking a much needed break to look at the RV

Vern taking a much needed break to look at the RV

Vern Walther, owner of  Foot Solutions in Mequon Wisconsin, runs a one-man show. We watched him serve customers, handle marketing details and straighten up the stockroom…all by himself. Even though he was busy, each customer got a smile and personalized attention. Several people brought in bags overflowing with shoes to donate to Soles4Souls. It also resulted in more customers, so Vern was busier than usual, which is a good thing!

evidently Allan was going for the "Secret Agent" look while at the Foot Solutions store.

evidently Allan was going for the "Secret Agent" look while at the Foot Solutions store.Vern taking a much needed break to check out the RV

We Love Racine Assembly of God Church!

June 29, 2009

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but today was anything but restful. It was fun, productive and exciting. We met Pastor Scott and his wife Jacquelin when they invited us to their church, Racine Assembly of God. Little did we know what an eventful day would evolve. We immediately felt comfortable as we walked into their church. Within five minutes, Pastor Scott introduced us to the entire church and invited us back to speak at the evening service. It was especially touching when two members thanked Soles4Souls for donating shoes to Royal Family Kids camp. The service touched Allan and I in a way that hasn’t happened in over 20 years. The choir, videos, sermon and recognition of our veterans was heartfelt and had me so proud to be an American. (Even though I was naturalized as a citizen when I was 11.) We announced a “spontaneous shoe drive” where we asked people to go home, clean their closets and bring shoes to the evening service. After church we enjoyed lunch with the pastor and his three delightful and musically talented children. They gave us a tour along Lake Michigan and Racine. The evening brought a big surprise as the church members brought over 300 pairs of shoes! If that wasn’t enough, the church took a love offering to donate to Soles4Souls. We offered our thanks by giving tours of the RV. Thank you Racine Assembly of God for your hospitality and generosity!

Pastor Scott wants to drive the RV!

Pastor Scott wants to drive the RV!

Church members line up to visit inside of RV.

Church members line up to visit inside of RV.

Generous church members donate over 300 pairs of shoes.

Generous church members donate over 300 pairs of shoes.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts Are Awesome!

June 29, 2009
Yogi and Allan greet each other.

Yogi and Allan greet each other.

It started out like any stop at a campground with the Soles4Souls RV. We registered with Bridgett at the Caladonia Jellystone RV Park and drove to site #23. By the time we got out of the car, a small crowd had gathered and began asking questions about Soles4Souls. Suddenly kids were running back to their RV’s and bringing back shoes. One kind man offered to go to each RV site and ask people to donate shoes. A few other adults also gave us shoes. Jellystone Park campers are amazing! If you’ve never been to a Yogi Bear Campground, give them a try. Here are just a few of the activities available this weekend: swimming, mini-golf, crafts, pancake breakfast, “hey” rides, games, snack served on a Frisbee, movies, candy bar BINGO and a special hunt to find the picnic basket Yogi stole. There are over 70 Jellystone Campgrounds across the US and Canada, so check them out. www.campjellystone.com  Have to stop writing this blog. It’s time to join campers reading a story to Yogi and then tucking him in goodnight in his cave!

Young Jellystone campers donating their shoes.

Young Jellystone campers donating their shoes.

Puma Partners With Soles4Souls

June 29, 2009

puma chicago silvanapuma chicagoLast year there were a few days where I complained about my boring life. That’s changed! In the last month, I’ve been to Zurich, Florence, Rome, Venice, Seattle, Nashville, Chicago and Racine Wisconsin. This is the life I love! Yesterday was spent in downtown Chicago, working with Puma on a joint venture with Soles4Souls. Allan and I spread the word (in our new Puma T-shirts and shoes!) that Puma was giving 30% off any new shoes if customers donated a pair of gently used shoes. It was surprising how many people actually took off their shoes on the spot and donated them in order to get the 30% discount. The Puma staff were wonderful at keeping up the steady flow of customers streaming into the store. We ended up with several boxes of gently used shoes that will soon be on the feet of people who need them. If you are in the Chicago area, bring by a pair of shoes by July 12 and get your 30% discount. Then you too can have cute Puma shoes like mine!

Police Arrive At Orland Park Foot Solutions!

June 27, 2009

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Orland Park customers donate shoes

Orland Park customers donate shoes

Upon arriving at the Orland Park Foot Solutions store, we were greeted by a police office. Don’t worry, John and Melissa Cain, owners of the store, weren’t being arrested for selling white shoes after Labor Day. The police officer was actually donating shoes to Soles4Souls. His department had confiscated 200 pairs of “knock-off” Nike shoes. Rather than destroying the shoes, they contacted Foot Solutions, looking for a shoe charity that would put the new shoes to good use. We were more than happy to collect those shoes (complete with the Nike swoosh) to send to people in need.

By the end of our time at Orland Park, we were exhausted. Not that we had done that much, but because we watched the Foot Solutions staff work at a frantic pace all day. The store was busy! People kept coming by to donate shoes, enjoy refreshments and then discuss their personal foot care needs with the staff. It was 4:00pm when I caught Melissa grabbing her first bite of a sandwich for lunch. Foot Solutions’ loyal customers donated over 350 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls.

Clark’s Take Advantage of Zurich Card

June 25, 2009

Baby Boomers will remember going on vacation, taking pictures using FILM, and waiting a week to have the film turned into slides. Then families entertained each other by asking guests “Want to see our vacation slides?”. At that point you’d suffer an evening of boredom as they displayed hundreds of photos on their wall of Aunt Edna crocheting or canning zucchini. I won’t bore you with a carousel

Allan and Sondra enjoying the view over Zurich

Allan and Sondra enjoying the view over Zurich

I love those geraniums in window boxes!

I love those geraniums in window boxes!

of slides, but due to popular demand, will share two of our favorite places we visited in Switzerland.

I’m a sucker for quaint chalets, gingham tablecloths and geraniums in window boxes. That’s why Zurich, Switzerland was a treat. We got the Zurich Card which gave us lots of free activities. We took the train to a mountain plateau called Uetliberg and enjoyed an early morning hike. Later the card let us enjoy a boat ride on Lake Zurich as well as another boat ride on the river. We visited the largest museum in Switzerland, the Landesmuseum and marveled at the architecture. Just how did people build such massive buildings without our modern tools? In the 2 ½  days in Zurich, we also walked the Old Town, strolled the lakeside promenade and sampled plenty of gelato. That’s it. Instead of hundreds of slides, I give you a few vacation pictures, and encourage you to check out www.zuerich.com

Sondra is obviously happy about her gelato.

Sondra is obviously happy about her gelato.

High Fun in Interlaken

June 25, 2009
Sondra and her new friend on the cog train

Sondra and her new friend on the cog train

Living in the Seattle area (when we actually have a house that doesn’t move each day) we take frequent trips to snow covered mountains. However, visiting the highest point in Europe, the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, was a unique experience. We began our excursion in Interlaken, one of my all time favorite Swiss cities. We hadn’t been in Interlaken more than ten minutes when Sondra was on her way to go para-gliding over this charming village. It’s quite a feeling to see your daughter floating in the air, hundreds of feet from the safety of land. The next day we departed for the several hour trip by cog wheel railroad to reach the Jungfraujoch. Yet the trip is worth it. Again, I got to see my delightful chalets and cafes with gingham tablecloths. Arriving at the top of the mountain, you have views to Germany and France. The atmosphere at the top of the mountain is one of awe and also fun. There’s a chance to do a little sledding, hike to a restaurant , view an ice palace or take a quick ride on dog sleds. Coming down the mountain, we got off before the end and took a three hour downhill hike to a village called Lauterbrunnen. Don’t let anyone tell you hiking downhill is easier than uphill! Interlaken has a variety of charming hotels. Our family, (even though Allan and I are not “youth”) enjoy staying in youth hostels. We felt so comfortable at the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof.  This is not the hostel you experinced in the 70’s.  Oh no! They offer free internet, all you can eat breakfast, tours, family rooms and imaculate showers. A friend just e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to go hiking in Switzerland with her. I’m ready and going to Interlaken will be part of the itinerary! www.interlakentourism.ch

That's my daughter, way, way up in the air!

That's my daughter, way, way up in the air!

KOA Campgrounds Join the S4S RV Tour

June 25, 2009

koa truck hitch hikerAs Allan and I travel the US in the Soles4Souls RV, we stay at many campgrounds. Some campgrounds offer a delightful overnight stay while others…well others have has us turning the RV around and finding another spot. One place we can be sure to have friendly staff, a safe environment and level sites are KOA Campgrounds. Even if you don’t camp, you’ve probably seen their logo along freeway signs with the gold background and red tent. Our RV shower is usually filled with shoes that people donate to us. That’s why I love the restrooms at KOA campgrounds. They are CLEAN!!!! Which makes me very happy when I leave my shoe-filled shower and use a KOA shower. Don’t have an RV or tent? No problem. KOA has many campgrounds where you can rent a cabin or cottage. Some campgrounds even offer silver Airstream trailers for rent. Check out their website for all sorts of great family vacation ideas.  www.koa.com  KOA Campgrounds are helping the Soles4Souls RV Tour by donating free camping nights to us. Thanks KOA!

Softball Fans Donate Shoes

June 24, 2009

celebrity softball girl donationceleberty softball shadow s4s displaySaturday evening we had the pleasure of taking part in the “Jeff Fisher and Friends Charity Softball Tournament.” Well, we didn’t actually play in the game or get asked to be a cheerleader or even a mascot, but we did get to collect hundreds of gently-used shoes from  fans attending the game. In the photograph, you can see Allan’s shadow as he takes a picture of the Soles4Souls team collecting shoes before the game. He’s keeping his distance, because with a temperature of 96 degrees and the humidity over 200% (yes, it was that humid) the staff were a bit on the smelly side. After the game, Bridgestone and Best One sponsored a sparkling fireworks show. A special thanks to Addy, who collected 117 pairs of new and used shoes for Soles4Souls. This is the second year she has participated in the Charity Softball Tournament by collecting shoes. We need more teenagers like Addy in this world!