A Guy Named Chris

A GUY NAMED CHRIS walked by as I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe in downtown Memphis tonight. He nodded and said “hello” as he passed by. I nodded and said “How’s it going?” It was an offhand comment, more out of habit. I really wasn’t asking. He stopped and said”Truthfully, not too good.” And before I knew it, we were having a conversation. Chris hadn’t eaten since yesterday and had no place to go for the night.  Or so he told me. Now, it’s not like I haven’t heard these stories before. I have. Many times. And I’ll admit that I was a little annoyed at the prospect of having my quiet meal interrupted by a panhandler. But I also knew tonight that I couldn’t ignore Chris. It wasn’t like God was telling me “Chris is telling you the truth” even though I believe he was. God seemed to be telling me “It doesn’t matter.” So I called a friend who works at the Memphis Rescue Mission and arranged for a bed for Chris. And since he had missed dinner at the mission, I bought him a meal. Chris had never had Cuban food before. “This food is unbelievable. It’s like something you see on TV” he said. I know he was hungry by the way he ate. And I asked Chris if he knew God. He said he did. We had a nice conversation about that but I didn’t hit him over the head with the Jesus stick. We talked about hopes and ambitions. The restaurant manager came out to make sure this street person wasn’t bothering a customer but I told him everything was fine. And before Chris went off to a clean, $6 bed for the night (yeah, I gave it to him because all this time God seems to be telling me “It doesn’t matter, just do it”) I asked if I could pray with him. And I did, right there, and asked Jesus to watch over him tonight and the next day and the next.
So God, please take good care of Chris tonight. He’s the guy I was telling you about an hour ago. He’s one of your kids and he sure could use a blessing or two in his life. I hope I was able to bring a little of Your light to him tonight. Amen.


I’ve been tossing this around all day. I hadn’t realized it but someone had been watching me talk with Chris. A woman sitting at a nearby table stopped me as I was leaving to tell me she had never seen someone treat a street person the way I just did. “Most people,” she said, “would just ignore him or maybe give him a dollar or something and leave it at that. But to invite him to sit down and actually spend some time talking to him, treating him like a human being with respect, that encouraged me, too. I thought that was a really kind thing to do. I just wanted you to know.” After thinking about what she said, it occurred to me that maybe it was God’s intent all along for her to witness that. Maybe it wasn’t just about Chris. I’m not trying to read too much into this, but we may never know who is watching our actions. Do we always allow God to shine His light through us – even when we may not feel particularly disposed to?


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Back So Soon?

“Back to California so soon?”, some people are asking. “Especially when you have so much to see and do here in North Carolina.”

Well, no doubt about it, Western NC is beautiful – especially this time of year. And we DID move here just 6 months ago. But sometimes you just need a change of location. After all – we live in NC (and most likely will be 10, 15, even 20 years from now). I guess we’ll get around to seeing more of it sooner or later. Truth is, we’re just Cali folks who love to see our family (what’s left) and closest friends in California. And the idea of spending our 30th wedding anniversary – you hear right, 30th – visiting places we love just seemed….right! This trip, however, we’re flying – not driving.

But I still have my camera and will be looking for some interesting images to bring to the blogoshere. So look out Visalia, Bakersfield, and Central Coast. We are on VACATION!






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To Be Continued…

I had so much fun posting along the way from CA to NC that I thought I’d continue posting as time and travel permit. I’ve just returned from Iraq and will be returning there in about a month. In between, I’ll be in SoCal and immediately following, I’ll be in Bosnia. Should be plenty to blog about. So I’ll see you “On The Road”.

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Day 7- Fort Smith, AR to Boone, NC. Made It!

Finally – made it to Boone around 2am this morning. Driving time – 16.5 hours and around 900 miles total. I was so still and sore from driving that I had to take a number of breaks. Almost ran off the mountain to avoid hitting a deer. That was exciting.

I’ll be posting a recap of the final day and the entire week within the next day or so, plus more select photos – so stay tuned.


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Road Trip Day 6 – Adrian, TX – Ft. Smith, AR

Historic Tucumcari Train Station

What a long day! Ridiculous rains through the Texas panhandle, into Oklahoma, and on. Road construction didn’t help, either (Whoever got the contract for those orange highway barrels must have made million$).

Highlights of the day? A breakfast of Ugly Crust Lemon Meringue pie at the Midway Café (the official AAA mid-point of Historic Route 66), and talking with owner Fran.

Fran - Owner of the Midway Cafe

Apparently, this place has become a “must” for travelers foreign and domestic who are making the Route 66 pilgrimage. In fact, Fran and Tia, one of the waitresses, were inspirations for two of the characters in the movie “Cars”.

Gas Prices Frozen in Another Era

While the rest of this tiny town is showing the signs of neglect after I-40 came through, this little restaurant is a bright spot. More about this place in a later blog. After Adrian, it was a quick stop at the, uhh, unique barbed wire museum, “Devil Rope Barbed Wire Museum” in  McClean, Texas.

Devil's Wire Museum

The only other bright spot in the day was having dinner with a couple longtime friends from Oklahoma City. I worked with David and Mark years ago at Feed The children and we’ve managed to stay in touch all these years. Both are extremely talented videographers and more. David has become a successful artist – with shows in Santa Fe  art galleries. (You can check out his work here – http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Canavesio-Fine-Art/119476064729727, and here – http://www.paintingsofwine.com/) Wow!

I’ve pretty much put up the camera now. While I’m sure I could find some interesting places to visit this side of OKC, I’d much rather be cruising around Route 66 or the Southwest. Tonight, I’m staying in a dumpy motel that rivals many I’ve stayed in overseas. It’s a little gross but I just couldn’t drive anymore and choices were slim.The GPS tells me I have about 14 hours of driving left to go and I’m going to try to make it in one swoop tomorrow. If I’m not too tired after passing through Knoxville, it’s just 3 more hours from there to Boone – through the mountains of TN and NC. I’m hoping traffic isn’t ridiculous going past Pigeon Forge – home of Dollywood – on a Fourth of July weekend. Ouch!

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Day 5 – Santa Fe to…Santa Fe…and Finally Onward!

The "Un-named" Brake Repair Shop

Another delay today. The brake problem had worsened so I used up my valuable morning getting front brakes and rotors. I also woke up with a nice little shiner. Too much to drink last night?? Just kidding. Last night a bungee cord snapped and hit me on my right eyelid. Didn’t seem hard but sure hurts today. Talk about a fun morning.

4 ½ hours later – finally – I was able to get on the road north towards Taos. The plan had been to take the scenic route past pueblos and missions enroute to Taos but, as it turned out, I only had  time to visit two locations – Chimayo and Nambe’ Pueblo. (San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe was undergoing renovation and covered in scaffolding – rats!)

I was a little disappointed that the Chimayo Mission, otherwise known as Santuario de Chimayo, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe – and famous for the many healings that have taken place after visiting there. It  had Christmas lights hanging from the crosses and twin bell towers and the outer walls had been “renovated”. A little too much and,  IMHO, it should have been restored to it’s original state.

But it was still picturesque and certainly venerated by many of the 300,000 people who visit each year – to pray, to ask for healing (dozens of crutches hang on a wall, testifying to a healing miracle), or simply to take in it’s history and beauty.

Santuaria de Chimayo

Santuaria de Chimayo

Statue of Benito Ortiz

Santuario de Chimayo

Built by Fransiscans in 1814, the interior of the chapel was beautiful in it’s rustic simplicity and felt very sacred. To sit in a pew where, for generations, people of faith had worshipped was inspiring. (Note: a sign posted at the entrance to the sanctuary prohibits photography – so be cautioned).

The Nambe’ Pueblo was a little off the beaten path – and on tribal property, so no photos allowed. Didn’t spend a lot of time there but it was worth the visit to see the old kiva.

But I did get to see one of the many ancient Indian casinos that proliferate in this part of the country 🙂

"Ancient Indian Casino"

Unfortunately, time was up and I had to get on the road to reach Tucumcari tonight – not too long a drive, but amazing vistas. I know New Mexico isn’t known as “big Sky” country, but it definitely has it.

New Mexico's "Big Sky"

I was looking forward to spending the night on Historic Route 66 at the Motel Safari, one of several motels that have been renovated and re-opened in recent years. (I had hoped to book a room at the Blue Swallow, originally built in 1939 – but it’s 16 rooms are booked months in advance). It’s really unique, with a one-car garage built next to each room.

The Blue Swallow Motel

The Blue Swallow Motel

Now, when you read a real estate ad that says, “quaint and charming”, usually, that’s realestate-speak for “dump”. But when the website describes Motel Safari as quaint and charming, it’s right on the $$. the new owners of Motel Safari have put a lot of love into renovating this classic motor inn originally built in 1960. They advertise “the nicest beds in town” and I believe it. At $49 a night, this is really a gem. No, really. It’s clean, very nicely restored rooms are comfortable and nostalgic – with a few upgrades like flat panel TVs. This one of those times when you get way more than what you pay for. (I wish I could have taken a photo, but the new sign won’t be delivered until next week – rats). Call ahead and ask for Gail.

After some photos of the Blue Swallow, courtesy of owner (Happy Birthday, Bill, and stay tuned – I plan to do an HDR of this image I’ll send to you), and it was time for an ice-cold draught Shiner Bock and a bowl of spicy-hot home-made pozole at the Lizard Lounge. Definitely recommend it. I’ll never pass through Tucumcari again and stay at one of the chain hotels again.

Tomorrow? Continuing on to Adrian on Route 66 (is it possible to stay on the original road? I guess I’ll find out), then I’ll try to make it to Arkansas for the night – but not before stopping in OKC to visit some friends from my Feed The Children days.

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Day 5 – Still in Santa Fe

An Unamed Brake Repair Company

Well – apparently the brake mechanic at (company name withheld to avoid embarrassing them) in Kingman, AZ wasn’t as attentive as he should have been. Having the front brakes worked on – which is delaying me further. I’m 4 miles from downtown but my car is in the shop!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up Chimayo Mission this afternoon and then on to Tucumcari for the night. It’s going to make for some long days if I want to get to Boone by the 4th. Geni, Josh, and Evie will be up to the house and I don’t want to miss them.

Filling in for yesterday (since I was too tired to write much) – rainstorms all along the way from the Grand Canyon to Albuquerque. I stopped at a few Indian handicrafts shops in the hopes of replacing a concho bracelet that I had bought years ago at Red Earth Festival in OKC. (apparently some needy person decided they needed it more than me a few years back). What is it with Southwest gifts shops and dinosaurs, anyway??


Dinosaurus Rex

Dinosaurus Rex


Mostly, though, I just kept driving – past gorgeous buttes, mesas, and desert vistas bathed in late afternoon light. I wanted to get to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks late day and still had to get up to Santa Fe.

Light was off and on at the park but I’m happy with some of the shots. I posted a few yesterday but in case you missed, here they are again.


Petrified Forest



Painted Desert - The Teepees



Petrified Forest


I hope to post some great shots of Chimayo Mission tonight. Then it’s going to be a speed-run through Adrian and then onward – maybe OKC? We’ll see.

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