Monthly Archives: October 2012

time in NorCal

Our visits here are going well. Last Sunday we spent good time with friends at Highlands Christian Fellowship in Calistoga. We shared in a small group setting, during the service and while enjoying lunch. It was a great morning reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. These guys have faithfully been in our corner all the years we’ve been in ministry. It goes without saying we love them and deeply appreciate all they’ve done.

This week we’re meeting with friends and spending a bit of time goofing off (see preceding posts). This sunday we’ll visit Christian Family Fellowship in Santa Rosa, a church we have a long, though somewhat disconnected, history with. After that we’ll drive to Lake County to spend the night before driving north up the Sacramento Valley toward Oregon.


“The Birds”

As any fan of old Hitchcock movies will know, the Northern California town of Bodega was the location for the 60’s movie, The Birds.

We drove through there a couple of days ago, stopped for a coffee, then went on. About a mile down the road we met a dozen vultures sunning themselves. It was pretty weird after driving through Bodega and thinking of Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette and Rod Taylor trying to keep their eyes from getting pecked out, then we meet this…


The Sonoma Coast beaches are even better than I remembered, especially after battling traffic for 500 miles or more.


and uncrowded…


That little spec in the center is Kim sitting with her feet in the sand…


and the birds behaved themselves better than back in the 60’s.

So long So Cal

We left the massive sprawl of the LA-San Diego area and drove north to Sonoma County, arriving Saturday the 27th. Driving in California may be summed up in two ways; you are either jockeying for position or you are waiting. On the freeways, city streets or in parking lots, it is always the same; maneuver for position…or wait, wait, wait.

While driving north through San Francisco on the 101, we found ourselves in the middle of a parade. A “float” bearing a statue (of Christ?) followed by what appeared to be a troop of Aztec dancers, followed by monks/priests(?) bearing crosses, followed by a few thousand people and a handful of SFPD, several on bikes.

Only in San Francisco. Crazy.

Arriving in Arizona

A fairly long day driving I-10. In the morning going west out of El Paso I was looking left at Juarez. It’s amazing to think of the difference that arbitrary line called “The Border” makes. I was born on the north side and grew into a certain set of opportunities as an American; others are born on the south side and face a very different reality. And God determines which.

What is simple here is impossible there. What I take for granted, others can only dream of. I am welcomed as an honored guest on their side (if I’m not kidnapped and murdered), they are treated as inferiors, even despised and abused, on this side. The whole border thing is weird when you think of it.

Stopped for coffee in Las Cruces, NM, where we crossed the so-called Rio Grande; translated it means “big river.” Seriously? It was a sand filled ditch. No water. None! Totally dry! Some “big river.” The derogatory term for the illegals who cross should be changed to “Sandy shoes” or “Dirty feet” because their backs can’t get wet swimming in dry sand.

Hwy 10 is a killing field for truck tires. The shoulder is strewn with rubber remnants from tires that have met their end. Must be the 110 degree days when the asphalt reaches scalding temps, causing the tread to separate. There are thousands of trucks rolling this stretch of road and it takes a toll.

At one point my windshield began accumulating droplets. I checked the sky which I already knew to be cloudless, then noticed a truck ahead of me in the next lane. I started smelling diesel and saw fuel spraying from under the engine. The driver slowed and moved off the road as I passed and switched on my wipers. He apparently blew a fuel line. Another casualty on I-10.

Tucson was hot but lunch at the Mexican buffet was tasty. The chile rellenos were worth the price by themselves.

Now we’re here in Phoenix for a couple of days. Tomorrow we’ll fellowship at a Hispanic church. Gloria a Dios!

“We’re west of the Pecos”

We really are! We drove over it today on I-10 between San Antonio and El Paso, so that puts us…”west of the Pecos.” Makes me feel kinda like a gunfighter or a cowboy on a cattle drive. “Yee Haw. Giddy-up little doggies.”

The El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area is a big city separated by a river (the Rio Grande) and the U.S. / Mexico border. Here is a local fun fact; Juarez was the “murder capital” of the world for the past three years. It apparently just got bumped down to second by a city in Honduras, but people just across the river from my hotel room are still being killed at an incredible rate, and Mexico is deemed the world’s most dangerous country. (Bummer, I’m going there next week; maybe I should go to a safer place like Yemen or Afghanistan). Juarez is a city were the good guys look like this…

The drive through west Texas was nice. A really great road with an 80mph speed limit and truckers stay in the right lane when not passing, just like the good old days. The hill country is scenic, to me at least; Kim finds it a bit ugly. We had lunch at a local hot spot (pre-internet definition) in a dinky crossroads town. Can’t remember the name, but I remember the steak; a Texas sized rib eye with expensive steakhouse quality but a backwater price. The left-overs are in the cooler, scheduled for breakfast.

Tomorrow we’ll drive through New Mexico and southern Arizona to our destination in Phoenix, were we’ll visit friends and supporters for a couple of days. Then on to SoCal and family. Grand-kiddies here we come.


Say What?

Etouffée is a saucy Cajun/Creole creation, usually cooked up with crawfish or shrimp, served over rice. It is standard Loooo-seee-anna fare. And it’s very tasty.

Other southern goodies eaten in the past few days include crab, hush puppies, gumbo, lots of shrimp and today I ate one of the freshest, tastiest rolls I ever had (for a bread-junkie like me, that is saying something).

Today we drove from Mandeville, LA to San Antonio, TX. Tomorrow we cross the furnace of west Texas to spend the night in El Paso. Thank the the Lord for air conditioning ’cause it’s hot out here. Muggy too. Locals just laugh at our comments about the heat, and they all say the same thing, whether we are near the Great Lakes, in Pennsyl-tucky, the Delmarva Penninsula, the”Tar-heel” state or down in the deep south.

“This ain’t hot. You shoulda been here this summa. That was hot.”

(thankfully, I missed the summer of scorch/swelter/sweat/suffer/anything else that starts with an “s” and ends in misery)

So, on to El Paso tomorrow. That should be fun. I wonder what the hotel desk clerk will say when I mention the heat?

Fall in Appalachia

Somewhere out in the fog a sun struggles to bring a new day to these mountains in southern Appalachia. Crows caw and a cock crows in avian ambiguity, but the songbirds know their business. These hardwood forests produce a symphony every morning. Among the various tweets and twitters is a very distinct  call I’ve heard since arriving in Ohio, clear, loud and very pretty. I’ve yet to figure out what bird it is, but I’m glad it’s here. It’s kind of a rapid “Doo-wee, doo-wee, doo-wee, doo-wee” sound, but far more charming.

This morning’s symphony is polluted with the cattle across the valley complaining about…something. They are are a motley mix of black and white, each individually and together as a herd. No brown among these bovine. They appear out of the mist with what looks to be a weary old horse, white and tired.

The Lord is ALWAYS good, but on mornings like this one I thank Him even more. Life, with its ups and downs, is a gift to be savored and appreciated.

My coffee, previously purchased at “Jungle Jim’s” near Cincinnati, is draining away with yesterday’s left-over pastries from the legendary “Dillard House,” a bastion of southern cooking known throughout the region and beyond. I’ll close with a photo of the remnants of yesterday’s breakfast feast, the pork tenderloin.