Hello Fellow Travelers:
Just wanted to reach out in regard to an amazing host family from Bismarck, ND, Ron and Joyce Gerhardt. They are long time hosts and have hosted many, many travelers over the years. If you have been one of their guests, I wanted to let you know about Ron and ask you to keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.
Ron recently had a severe heart attack and is still in the hospital working on recovering. They have him in a coma to help his body recover and each day is a challenge.
We had the pleasure of staying with Ron and Joyce in 2014 and continue to stay in touch. What follows is a section from our recently released book - Coast to Coast on a Tandem which features our Warmshowers stay with Ron and Joyce. http://www.webike.org Enjoy and please reach out to them if you are able. I am sure they would love to hear from you.
Thanks and happy travels. Tracy
We get into Bismarck (pop. 61,272) and our first stop is the Laughing Sun Brewing Company. We are really looking forward to a good beer. It has been awhile since we have been able to hit a microbrewery. They have good beer and we meet three young men from Rice Lake, Minnesota, who are biking from Rice Lake to Spokane, Washington. They are fun to talk with (kindred spirits) and are having a great trip so far, as only three young men can.
This evening we will have our first Warm Showers stay in Bismarck. Our hosts are Joyce and Ron Gerhardt. I am a bit nervous about our stay. Before we left on our trip, I completed the necessary paperwork and got us registered on the site. I told Peter I was not so sure I wanted to stay at some stranger’s house, but it was probably good to have as a backup.
I checked the Warm Showers website three days ago, reviewed the hosts’ personal page and reviews, and then sent messages to a couple of different hosts in the Bismarck area. The prospective host then checks our personal page and sends us a message letting us know if they are able to host. Both of the hosts responded that they could put us up for the night. We decided to stay with Ron and Joyce.
They are especially gracious hosts and provided us with a bed, shower, laundry, dinner, breakfast, and anything else we need. Kyle, the young man we have been biking with, is also here tonight. It is fun to hang with him again. We have been having a great visit and will miss Kyle when he takes off south tomorrow to meet up with his friends.
Ron and Joyce have been Warm Showers hosts for many years. They really know what a cyclist needs, being cross-country cyclists themselves. They take a picture when we arrive and ask that we write in their guestbook before we leave. Dinner is amazing and definitely fills us up. After dinner, Ron and Joyce have to leave to watch their daughter play softball, but before they go, they show us how to use the washer and dryer and tell us to make ourselves at home. When they get back, it is banana splits for everyone – yummy.
June 28 – Bismarck, North Dakota 0 miles (total miles – 1,604)
It is raining like hell outside when I wake up. This worries me, because we have only arranged to stay with Ron and Joyce for one night and I really don’t have a plan B. Maybe the rain will clear out later. I dress quietly in my street clothes and head to the kitchen. Joyce told us last night that she would put the coffee pot on a timer. I can smell coffee as I enter the mostly dark kitchen. I find the coffee pot and pour myself a cup. Looking out the window I discover it is raining so hard that the visibility is almost zero. It is not safe to ride in this, even with our florescent jackets and lights.
As I stand there looking out the window, I hear Ron somewhere behind me say, “I bet you would like to stay another day.” I turn to face him. After letting me stew for just the right amount of time, Ron smiles, laughs quietly, and tells me we are welcome to stay as long as we need to. He reassures me this is not a problem at all. He says they have had Warm Showers guests stay as long as five extra days due to weather or mechanical problems. I tell him we will stay for a while and then make a break for it when the rain lets up. It never does. I assure him we will leave promptly tomorrow morning. He couldn’t care less.
Kyle decided to take off in the rain, and after hugs and good wishes, we bid him farewell. We watch him leave and he is totally soaked by the end of the driveway. We head back inside to spend the day catching up and getting to know our hosts better. About three hours later, Ron’s phone rings. It is Kyle. He is soaked and has a mechanical problem. Ron and Peter jump in Ron’s truck and head the thirty miles down the road to rescue him. They fix Kyle’s tire and he decides to continue.
Ron and Joyce continue to be extremely gracious hosts. They have plans with family this afternoon, but leave us with the run of the house. After they leave, we discover a note on the kitchen island and a set of keys. They have left us the keys to their second car. We are welcome to use it to run errands. Really? Who does this? What amazing people.
Later in the day we have a chance to meet their son, Tom, daughter-in-law, Brenna, and their grandson, when they come over for dinner. We enjoy meeting them, and the conversation about North Dakota and the oil fracking was interesting. Dinner is delicious and definitely fills us up for our anticipated long ride tomorrow. Special thanks to our first Warm Showers hosts, Ron and Joyce. What a great experience for our first Warm Showers stay. Now I cannot wait for the next one.
Ron and Joyce serve us banana splits for dessert, again! We are now officially Warm Showers fans for life. Ron is a huge Green Bay Packers football fan, so we are hoping to someday host them in Green Bay and return at least some of their kindness. What a world!
(We finally did it. We invited Ron and Joyce to come to Green Bay and stay with us in the fall of 2015 and go to a Green Bay Packers game. Unfortunately, their schedule wouldn’t allow them to make the trip. Everything finally worked out, though, in 2016. They made the two-day drive to Green Bay in early November and stayed with us. We took them on a tour of Green Bay and even got them a double-top-secret tour of a neighbor’s “basement,” which is really a Packers museum featuring original lockers, signed footballs, helmets, you name it. Our neighbor is one of the official scorekeepers for the Packers and helps run the scoreboard for home games – a job he inherited through marriage. I see Randy leave his house three hours before every home game to get set up. His knowledge of the Packers is amazing. Ron and Randy hit it off immediately. Ron and Joyce saw the Packers play the Baltimore Colts that Sunday. It would have been a perfect weekend if the Packers could have managed a win. After the game, I received a text message from Ron’s son, Tom, thanking us for helping Ron check an item off his bucket list. It was truly our pleasure.)