We awoke at 6 to a dreary rainy morning. Well, actually, many of us resting our heads in Manasquan awoke at 330 AM when a tumultuous down pour of rain hit. I believe most of us ended up lying there listening to the downpour and praying for clear skies for our morning ceremony and launch! But despite our prayers, as members of the team trickled out to the tractor, and guests and supporters began to gather, the rain continued as a drizzle.
Not the least bit deterred, we banned together to get things ready and position the tractor and trailer on the beach. The trickle of people became a large swell of giddy supporters! We had so many friends and family drive from our home area of PA this morning- simply to support Ivan and wish him well! We had folks from as far North Carolina and Connecticut come to watch the launch and be part of this monumental event. And of course we had our old and new friends of Manasquan who planned a huge celebration, perfectly planned to the last detail!
After many pictures, hugs, and greetings with the supporters, it was 830 AM and time to begin!
The Johnabilt edged out onto the sand and down the beach towards the waves! It stopped just short of the water, and Granddaughters Ellie and Emily ceremoniously scooped up a jar of ocean water and a jar of sand. This was a significant act as Ivan had planned to take a jar of Atlantic Ocean water and sand on his travels to the Pacific Ocean, at which time he will collect a jar of Pacific Ocean water and sand. His hope is to then pour these jars together- signifying the coming together of America - from sea to sea- for our Wounded American Heroes!
Then the Johnabilt putt-putted and slowly backed into the cool shimmery ocean water. The black wheels of the Johnabilt, prior accustomed only to sod and fields, trudged through the deep gritty sand and frothy salt water, and pulled back up from those waters …. the sun broke through the clouds and hit the waves and water in a beautiful shimmer! It was as if the Johnabilt and Ivan were receiving a Heavenly blessing as they officially pulled up out of the Atlantic Ocean waters and began their journey!
The Manasquan High School Band performed, the mayor of Manasquan spoke, a bagpiper played, Ivan gave a few words, and Pastor Jim said a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and blessing. And quite suddenly, it was time for C. Ivan, Johnabilt, Rooster, the camper, and Smiley to finally truly begin their journey across America!!