Thursday, December 02, 2010

Life is Precious

My 84-year-old dad took a fall last week, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Broke his left arm just below the shoulder socket, took eight stitches over his right eye, might have a cracked or bruised rib, and has some pretty good strawberries on his right knee.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. He's had a hip replacement already, and he could have done some serious damage to that or the other hip. Funny thing is, his replaced hip feels better after the fall than it did before. He says it was kinda sore for some weeks before hand, and now it feels great.

Go figure.

I went to visit him today before work. I took some fresh coffee, which he seemed to enjoy. Mainly though, he just needed to visit and talk.

He told me again about the fall, how it happened so quickly and how helpless and confused he felt. His left arm is immobilized in a sling, and his vision has gotten even worse since the fall. What vision he did have around the periphery is disappearing quickly into an even fuzzier haze than before.

It's got to hell getting old, ya know?

He recounted how he used to be able to take a fall at a full run and tumble out of it and keep going. He's been on scaffolding that collapsed and sort of surfed it to the ground safely.

That was about 45 or 50 years ago, but the memories of the ability are still there, obviously.

As we talked I was reminded just how fragile we are, as human beings, and just how quickly what we have can be taken away from us.

Life. Health. Eyesight. Movement. All of it can be stripped away in a moment.

I know this holiday season there are others who have experienced even more shattering accidents.

A young man died on Highway 99 in Elk Grove this morning in a vehicle accident.

An entire family I know at work was in a wreck last week in Modesto, putting the dad in critical condition and scattering the rest of the family to three different hospitals.

A good friend at work lost his brother just last week to a brain tumor that came without warning to steal away the life of a healthy and hale man in just a few short months.

Life is fragile. Enjoy it and live it as much as you can while you're here. 

I'm realizing, at 46 years old, that I've probably got fewer days ahead than I do behind.  I want to live them well, and spend them loving on my girls (all of them, old and new), my grandchildren (on the way, after all), my parents and family (while I've got them), and my new bride-to-be who looks to me with such love in her eyes.  

When life gives me the chance, I want to dance, ya know?

How can I do less?

Tim McGraw sang it well when he said, 

I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What if They Gave a (Christmas) War, and Nobody Came?

I began writing this post with a desire to make a statement about the Christmas Wars.

Each year about this time the Christmas Wars ramp up to a fevered pitch. Each year, for the past several years, American news media has had a field day playing up all the faked controversy over Christmas in the public square.

Should it be called Christmas vacation or winter break?

Are Christmas trees offensive in public offices?

Can people say "Merry Christmas" to each other, or is that a remark of such offense that it's nearly equal with the "N" word in some circles?

Oh, I was getting myself all worked up to write a scathing, visceral treatise on the nincompoops* who want to take Christ out of Christmas when........

I just lost the desire. My arms got kinda tired, my eyes began to glaze over, and I began staring unfocused at a fascinating little shiny silver stripe on the side of my boot.

Took me a moment to realize it was a zipper, and that I'd lost all motivation to write about the Christmas Wars.

Or at least I'd lost the motivation to participate in the Christmas Wars.

I got to thinking, do I really care at all?

The conclusion I came to was.... no, not really.

I don't care about competing atheist and Christian billboards, or Oklahoma Senators who won't ride in a parade because the name of the parade has been changed, or Christmas villages in Philadelphia that have come under attack.

I don't care. I really don't. The stuff sucks the life outta me.

I think a great number of people feel the same way, too. Just sucks the life outta ya.

You know who else I don't think cares about these Christmas Wars?


Seriously. I don't think God is getting all worked up over the Christmas Wars.

I mean, God knows who He is, and He's certainly not threatened by whatever we believe or don't believe. God is God, and I think He's pretty confident in His position.

I think all of our righteous indignation and resolute posturing on His behalf is pretty pointless. In fact, I think if God is upset at anyone in the Christmas Wars, He's probably the most upset at His people who try to defend Him - as if He needs defending.

I certainly don't think He's upset with non-believers acting like non-believers.  That's normal.  What's not normal is believers acting like non-believers, and you know what? The world takes note.

Look at what Salon magazine - an on-line magazine admittedly unfriendly to religion - says about the Christmas Billboard Wars going on in New York this year:

"Proving yet again that one arrogant, jerky and desperately attention-getting action begets another, those yahoos at the Catholic League have glommed on to the American Atheists' War on Christmas." 

See, when people of faith attempt to defend that which needs no defense, especially in the public square, the defense will most always backfire. God will never be proven right using the world's methods.


The world will see the efforts as foolish and arrogant, almost every time.

The Apostle Paul, perhaps the best "defender of the faith" there ever was, made the point this way in 1st Corinthians 1:18a -

"I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction..."

Paul understood that most people see faith as sort of silly. Defending something which seems silly appears to be.... well..... dumb.

What Paul goes on to say, though, is what Christians get all riled up and angry over

 "...but we who are being saved recognize this message (of the cross) as the very power of God."

Christians say to themselves, how dare the world trample on God's wonderful message! Don't they understand, Jesus is the power of salvation in the world! How dare you disrespect our God!

Paul understood - the world won't get the message of the joy and hope that Jesus offers until God reveals it to them, and plants it in their hearts. That's what God did for me, and wants to do for everyone.  But, we can't force people to have faith, and let's face it - even with the best evidence and arguments in the world, God's existence can't be proven.

Proving and revealing God to the world is God's job.

I don't think He cares about the Christmas Wars one way or another.

What I think God does care about is His people living our lives, at Christmas and throughout the year, in way that shows God's love to the world.  He cares because this is the kind argument, if you will, that get's the world's attention.

Jesus said, in Matthew 22:37-40

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is equally important.: love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

Love your neighbor as yourself.  Those are simple, yet deceivingly difficult words to live by.

How do we respond to those who wrong us, or injure us, or just plain make us angry?

How do we respond to the fast food worker who gets our order wrong, and doesn't seem to care?

How do we show love to the person who slips their car into that parking space we've been patiently waiting for, then trots into the store without a single look in our direction?

How do we show, every day, in every action we take, God's love?

My answer is in letting the Holy Spirit cultivate in us the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:

"but when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

That's the kind of Christmas spirit I think God enjoys.  This is the kind of evidence for God that people take notice of, and hold in respect.  Goodness, although sometimes mocked, is never truly frowned upon, and everyone wishes for it in their lives, to one degree or another.

When we love one another, and show kindness to one another, especially to those outside the "Christian family", God uses that kind of love as His billboards to the world. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tears of Black Friday

Today is Black Friday.

I'm sleepy.  Yawn. 

Alene and Liz have a holiday tradition, along with about 35 million of their closest friends, of going out in the early morning cold each Friday after Thanksgiving and committing economic stimulus.

That's shopping, to the rest of us. 

They tend to find some super deals on Christmas gifts, so I really can't fault them.  They seem to have a really good time, too.  I just can't get up that early to do something that doesn't involve nylon line and hooks, or shotgun shells and blinds.  

Since I don't hunt, that just leaves the line and hooks.

And I haven't actually fished in a few years, so I guess that means I don't want to get up that early for pretty much anything

Except this morning.  

Alene has been having a wonderful/exciting/terrifying time with this whole wedding thing.  What began as a simple little ceremony on the lawn behind the church or in a park has morphed into a somewhat larger event.  

Which I'm perfectly fine with, don't misunderstand.  I'm excited and joyous and honored to marry Alene in any venue, anywhere, whenever she wants to do it. 

I will do it in the rain, I will do it on a train.  I will say "I do" to you, even if I'm turning blue.  

You get the idea.  

I am ecstatic at the idea of sharing our day with many, many friends.   We're just making adjustments on the fly as we go, which is driving Alene crazy.  

So, last week Alene found a wedding dress in which she looks, in the words of her daughter, "smokin'", and she bought it, after which she got the first full night of sleep she'd had since she told me "yes" on the bench at the lake.

One thing off our list. 

Oh, who am I kidding, off her list. 

She won't even let me look at pictures of her in the dress, or a picture of the dress alone, but whatever.  I know she'll be beautiful because she is beautiful, in a way that makes the sun and the moon and the stars stand still and take notice, that makes the oceans ..... oh... uhm... 

Whooo.... breathe....


So this morning she was on a mission to find wedding rings for us at the Black Friday sales.  She asked me, if she found some rings she liked if I'd meet her at the store.

At 4am.

Or 5am.  

Silly me, I said of course I would. 

So, Liz calls me at a little after 5am, saying they were at JC Penny and Alene found some rings she liked. I got dressed, baseball hat, t-shirt, sweatpants, and jacket, no coffee, and drove bleary-eyed over to Sunrise Mall to the Penny's jewelry counter to meet up. 

Aaaaand they weren't there.  I called Alene who said they were over at Sears, and would be right over.

Two minutes later, after power-walking the mall, Alene and Liz show up, giggling and out of breath. 

Crazy Black Friday shoppers.  

Anyway, the rings were gorgeous.  Turns out I have fat fingers so we had to order mine, but Alene's we brought home right then.  We walked to our cars, I hugged and kissed her goodbye, (they were going to continue shopping) and I drove home. 

They walked back into Pennys where,  Liz tells me, she asked if Alene needed a moment to collect herself.  

Alene stood in the men's section of Penny's and cried tears of joy. 

Another thing off her list, yes, but the greater joy was the reality setting in: she and I are actually, truly, really really really going to be married.  

I'm actually, truly, really really really going to marry her.  

So, here's to Black Friday.  You can keep your 70% off electronics and household goods, and your lines around the store.  

I'll take my fiancĂ©e and make her my bride, at any price.

At any time of the morning. 

I look forward to another restful night's sleep with another thing crossed off our... er... her list.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Heads In the Clouds

You ever have those times in your life when things are just going so well that you need to pinch yourself?

I don't normally, either.

However, these past few months have been like that, for me.  Some days I lay down at night and think, is this really my life? 

And I mean that in a good way.

A lot has happened since my last post.

My eldest daughter, Emily, announced that she is making me a Grandfather.  She is expecting a child in June.

My middle child Lindsey announced she and her boyfriend are going to Ireland for a work/study abroad trip for 4 months.

My youngest daughter Camie went through the trauma of her dog being hit by a car and dying essentially in their arms.

I asked Alene to marry me.  (She said yes, by the way.)

Alene's daughter Elizabeth (my future step-daughter, how's that for a different thought for me?), told me she couldn't think of anyone more perfect for her mom.  That acceptance has meant the world to me.

I'm quite excited about all of it.

As you can imagine, it's been a crazy, exciting, wonderful several weeks.

Emily told us she was expecting just before we left for Fort Bragg last month, but we had to keep it under our hats for a week or so until she could tell her sisters all together.  We had them over for dinner when we got home from Fort Bragg, and she shared with everyone her good news. Emily seems to be doing well, and Alene and I are beginning to stockpile baby stuff here at the house. Grandparents, after all, need to be prepared.  

Just a few days after this, Camie called me one night in hysterics, saying their dog (actually it's her friend's dog, but since they all live in the same home, he was like a big 'ol family dog),  a big American Bull, had been hit by a car on a busy street.  I told her I'd meet them at the animal hospital and rushed out to help them take care of the dog, but the dog died in their car before they could get anywhere close to the hospital.  She and her boyfriend and their friends buried took care of things and buried the dog.  What a rough night for her and her boyfriend.

Soon after this, with the date for my divorce being final quickly approaching, I decided it was time to get a ring and bend a knee and ask Alene, for real and for true, if she would marry me.

The romantic day started out like most other.  I slept in a little late and woke up to Alene already outside washing her car.  I got dressed and we took both cars to the carwash and vacuumed them out. We came home and got out the ladder and hose and she mucked her way through the roof gutters, getting them cleaned out and ready for winter. I manned the hose and sprayed all the gunk down toward Alene who was up on the ladder with the bucket, pulling the leaves and pine needles out.  After that we pulled up the old summer garden plants in the backyard and did some weeding.

Yes, we were a mess. Romantic, huh?

About 1:30 or so we got cleaned up and took a drive to Apple Hill.  I'd had it in mind to ask her that day, I just wasn't sure when or where.  Apple Hill has some good memories for us, so I figured some opportunity would present itself.  We drove all over, taking in the changing trees and wonderful smells of the mountains for the afternoon, and headed back home about an hour before sunset.

That's when I got the idea.

One of our very first dates was a walk at Lake Natomas, near the aquatic center.  We'd gone there to feed the ducks.  We wound up not feeding ducks because Lake Natomas is part of a California State Park and there were signs saying no feeding wild animal.  There'd also just been a park ranger in the area, telling some little kids and their families not to feed the ducks.  I felt horrible about feeding the ducks in front of some little kids who were just told not to, so I convinced Alene that we could feed ducks elsewhere, and not lead the little ones astray by being rebels.  What kind of example would that be? Alene (pretend) pouted, and not feeding the ducks has become a running joke between us.

You never let me feed the ducks.

Since we had to drive right by that very same lake on the way home from Apple Hill, I asked her if we could stop and see the sunset.  She and I both love sunsets, so she agreed.  We sat on the very same bench we'd sat on and watched the sunset, after not feeding ducks, on that first date.  The sky was clear, and the sun began to set in a beautiful flurry of reds and purples.  We talked about that earlier date, and she chuckled about not feeding the ducks, and that's when the light went off.


I said to Alene, since I took something away from you last time we were here, I think I need to give you something back.

Just as the sun was setting, and some geese glided by on the water, I got down on one knee, pulled the ring box from my pocket, opened it, and asked Alene if she would do me the honor of marrying me.

I think some fireworks actually exploded somewhere in the distance.

Her eyes were huge.

She was smiling.

She said yes.

We cried.

We laughed.

We watched the rest of the sunset.

We went for dinner at Chili's.

Ok, Chili's isn't the most romantic place, but trust me, romance is where you find it and what you make of it.

Chili's was just as romantic as it could be.

I had achieved complete surprise.  Alene never saw it coming.  It was wonderful!

That was November 6th.  Since then, we've begun to think about wedding dates.  We were initially thinking sometime in March or April.  As Alene talked to the girls to see what dates would work for them, Lindsey made her announcement.

Lindsey will be in Ireland from February through May.  She and her boyfriend have been thinking about doing a work/study thing abroad for some time, but I 'd never heard about any concrete plans.  Apparently, they just solidified and she hadn't had a chance to tell us.

I'm super happy for her, and completely support the trip. That just means February through May are out for a wedding, because we want all the kids to be there.  Emily's baby is due in June, so I don't want to add anything to her plate during that time, and I don't want to wait until July to get married!

So.... we are targeting January . Yeah, right around the corner.  Alene will be calling the church this morning to see what dates are open.  We're pretty confident we'll be able to pull it off.  I love this woman, and she loves me, so we'll make it happen somehow.

I did tell her that if thing begin to get too stressful, I'm going to just scoop her and the kids up and run to Reno and make it happen. My brother already offered to drive, so plan B is all set, just in case.

So back to my premise:  you ever have those times in your life when things are just going so well that you need to pinch yourself?

I don't normally, either. 

But it's sure nice when it happens.  

Alene was telling me last night that she's still on Cloud 10,000, or something like that, and was having trouble coming down to earth.  I told her, don't try. 

I say enjoy the ride.  It's nice to have your head in the clouds once in a while.  The view is nice, and the air is clean.  

We'll have to come down to earth soon enough, but for now, its a wonderful ride.  

Friday, October 08, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End......

Today is Friday, the last full day of our trip to Fort Bragg.  All in all, Alene and I have had a very good week.

Among the things we've done, Alene and I explored the town of Mendocino. 

We took a short hike at Russian Gulch state park to investigate an amazing "blow hole", a 100' diameter crater on the bluffs that formed when the roof of a sea cave fell in who knows how long ago.  The sea rushes in through the cave opening and churns around the floor of the crater (very cool, I highly recommend it).

We drove north to Westport, a tiny little town where my sister and her husband enjoy staying,  and spent an afternoon sitting on the long sandy beach reading books and picnicking, while watching the surf gently rumbling on the shore.  I think there were a grand total of three other visitors on the beach that day, besides us. 

We took a couple of walks at McKerricher State Park where they have some neat tide pools. Tuesday (I think it was Tuesday, the days kinda run together here) we visited during high tide, so the tide pools were under water.  We watched sea lions frolic in the waves instead, and chatted with a few couples who also came to observe the beautiful vistas.

Thursday we went back in the evening during low tide, and I mean really low tide.  We were the only people down at the tide pools, so we walked out onto the very slippery rocks and began looking around.  We saw hermit crabs and some small fish, but nothing to really write home about.  A father and his 15-year-old daughter came to the pools soon after.  They were able to find some starfish right away, which they gleefully pointed out for us.  Alene picked up a bat starfish, and we could see its little pod-like feet trying feebly to grasp at air.  She put it back and after a moment the starfish was clinging to the rocks as if it had never left.

We spent another afternoon, Thursday I think, sitting on the beach, this time at Caspar Headlands. It's remarkable how many state parks and reserve areas there are along the coast.  We arrived at the beach during high tide, and before we left, the tide had nearly gone all the way out.   I was amazed at how much of the beach got exposed while we were there.  Alene scoured the beach for sea glass and pretty shells while I played fetch with Jett on the newly exposed beach.   

Jett pooped sand today.  No joke.  Yeah, I know, gross, but interesting.  

We've taken a few walks around downtown Fort Bragg, which is obligatory of course, to see what shops there were, and to just take in the town.  Many shops had closed or changed hands since we were here last, with several book store going out of business.  There was a small farmers market set up on one of the main streets on Wednesday afternoon.  I bought some peanut brittle for the girls back home, and for myself a little jar of carrot cake jelly.

Mmmhmmm.  Carrot cake.  Yum.

While in town, we stopped and talked to one local artist in his shop who does sculptures, and after a few minutes of chatting he invited us behind the counter and showed us one of his works in progress: a wax likeness of rock-star Neil Young set against a dressing room mirror, looking back at you, as if you were Neil sitting at the dressing room table.  Very cool, and very good work.  He showed us around his shop and genuinely seemed to enjoy sharing his craft with us.

Another popular stop for us has been Cowlick's Ice Cream. We saw the ice cream shop last year when we stayed in Fort Bragg, but never did go into the shop.  This year, before we left home, a friend told us we must stop in and try their Mushroom ice cream.  He said it was the best ice cream he'd ever had.


Yes, Mushroom.

So we did, and he was right.  Just.... plain.... delicious.

I asked if they made the ice cream locally, and the young lady behind the counter said all the ice cream is made on site, in a room just behind the counter.  She said the Mushroom ice cream has no other flavors except the mushrooms themselves, the cream and the sugar.  I swear to you, it tastes like the most delicious maple ice cream I've ever had.  Truly, I was impressed.

I was also impressed with a mixture of their Pumpkin Pie and Chai Tea ice creams (yum!), something they called The Candy Store Floor, which was a mixture of several different kinds of candy swirled in ice cream, and their Pralines and Cream.  Alene was partial to her favorite, Rocky Road, and the Almond Fudge. I don't think they had a bad flavor in the bunch.  If you're ever up here, stop in at Cowlicks.  You'll be glad you did.

We also enjoyed Headlands Coffeehouse, which specialized in organic coffees and foods, and Eggheads Restaurant where we had breakfast one morning.  Both are also on my list of must hits in the area.

But I think the best part of this trip has been meeting and talking to the locals.

I think of the two ladies we talked to at the Mendocino Art Center auction who told us all about life in Mendocino, and the artist in residence who invited us into her studio to show us about wax sculpturing and bronze casting.

The local artist here in Fort Bragg, who invited us into his studio too.

The preacher at First Baptist Church of Fort Bragg (whose name also happens to be Mike) and several of his very warm, if small, congregation, who made us, and several other out-of-towners, feel welcomed.

The honest older ladies who found my cel-phone on the bench at MacKerricher yesterday evening, and the gracious man who walked quickly to catch up with us near the parking lot to see if it was ours.  They were life savers.

The museum curator at the Kelly House in Mendocino who was only too happy to tell us all about the place, as if we were long lost relatives come for a visit.

The waitress at Silver's on the Wharf who remembered us the second night we came back, and was very kind.

The lady we chatted with at MacKerricher who was there with her mother and granddaughter, telling us about where they were from and what they liked about the area.

The father and daughter who shared the tide pool experience with us and talked with us for some time before we left.

The young couple at Russian Gulch who worked up the courage to ask us to take a photo of them and their kids so they could all be in one photo, and talked with us for a while after.

All of these people, and more, have added a dimension to our trip that I've enjoyed greatly.

I am looking forward to returning home, to friends and the comforts of home.  I've enjoyed my trip, and I've enjoyed Alene's company even more than I can say.  I look forward to our next adventure.   

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mendocino Musings

Monday morning dawned bright and sunny here in Fort Bragg.  A light, cool breeze pushed around a teenie bit of coastal fog high up in the trees.  A hummingbird flitted around the blooming star jasmine out on the patio, and the aroma of coffee filled the cottage.  

Nice, huh?

After breakfast, Alene and I got our gear and headed for the village of Mendocino, a quiet and very beautiful little town on the Pacific coast, known for its shops and galleries, and for the community support given to the arts and to artists in the region.  The town is maybe six blocks by eight blocks or so square, sitting on a peninsula, surrounded by cliffs, pounding waves (on a windy day like yesterday), and wonderful vistas all about. 

We stopped first at the Kelly House museum, and talked for quite a while with the curator there, who gave us a primer on Mendocino history.

Founded by a timber company, as most of the settlements in this area were, 40 hardy men landed here along the coast and began logging the abundant timber in the area in the 1850's.  The Kelly House is one of the surviving houses from the era, refurbished and renovated to be a glance back into life in the late 1800's.  

The Ford House museum is much the same, with a nicely preserved look into the past.  The Ford House, though, also houses an exhibition of local art, some of which was genuinely unique and beautiful.

Alene I walked up and down several of the town streets, looking into various shops and galleries. Local goods and jewelry produced by local artists predominate, with a liberal sprinkling of the kitsch you'd find in any tourist town. Shop keepers were mostly kind and welcoming with but a few exceptions, and those shops we didn't linger in.  

We stopped at Moody's Organic Coffee for a wonderful mocha latte and an organic brownie, which was delicious.  Thanksgiving Coffee company makes some wonderful coffee as well, which I know from a previous trip here.  The market in town stocks a tidy supply of all the sundries one would need to live in the area.  There are several small cafe's and eateries catering to a wide variety of tastes.  

But therein my enamoration with Mendocino kinda putters outs.  It's a lovely town, a beautiful destination, and  picturesque setting. Local art and artists flourish here. History abounds, and the pace of life is slowed down to a pleasant meander, but even here consumerism conquers all and, in my opinion, mars the beauty and joy of visiting such a lovely town. 

As Alene and I walked the town and took in the various shops, I couldn't help but feel a sense of beauty marred by the greed and commercialism of the shops and sellers.   

Don't misunderstand, I'm a capitalist with a capital "C", and agree that sellers can sell their wares for whatever the market will bear.  If someone agrees to pay your price, good for you, and hopefully your buyer feels like they received value with their purchase.   That's the name of the game. 

But as I walked the streets, I saw two Mendocinos : 

One is a town dedicated to the free spirit of art, encouraging artists to create and to be creative, endowing them with a sense of freedom and support for their craft that is somewhat unique to Mendocino and other enclaves like it.  I saw a community accepting of diversity, giving residents an opportunity to be unique and to pursue their dreams. 

At the Mendocino Art Center, Alene and I talked to a couple of ladies who were very kind, telling us all about life in the area, how they came to be there, and how much they enjoyed Mendocino.  We talked to an artist who invited us into her studio and showed us how she makes bronze sculptures, walking us through the process from wax model to casting in the furnace.  

We ran into kind, open people all over town. 

But the other Mendocino was one off commerce and perceived value, which in my opinion is highly inflated, and takes away from the authenticity and beauty of this little town.  

Granted, without  commerce, the arts wouldn't flourish because artists would have no way to support themselves, and the community can only support so many "free spirits" out of the goodness of their hearts, so I'm not really deriding the commercialism,  it just seemed a bit out of control to me.  

It seems the mystique and lore of Mendocino has overtaken the truth of Mendocino, and the perceived value of things here have far outstripped reality. 

It's just a town, after all.  A rather small, picturesque town that produces little of actual practical value. 

It's true value is in the beauty of the setting. 

Enjoy Mendocino at  own your pace, and enjoy the value you perceive the town to have.  Just  enjoy it on your level and at your leisure, and I think you'll find Mendocino a nice place to visit.  

I'd recommend finding a place to stay down the road a ways, though.  You'll save money, have the same grand views of the Pacific, and have some extra cash to spend on coffee in town. 

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Camping Food Effect

Have you ever noticed how food tastes different when you're away from home?

For instance, years ago my x-wife and I took the girls camping up in the sierras.  The setting was beautiful - cool crisp air, blue skies, and fragrant pine trees all around.  The girls were having a great time.  As we sat down to a dinner of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, one of the girls chimed in, "Is this regular macaroni and cheese? This can't be regular macaroni and cheese. This stuff is really good! What did you different, mom?"

The answer, of course, is nothing.  It was the same ol' macaroni and cheese the kids always got at home.  The only difference was the surroundings. 

It's an effect my girls and I have come to call the camping food effect.

So, as I sit here quietly in our little cottage in Fort Bragg, the sun is beginning to rise.   The scent of the star jasmine blooming outside wafts in through the open slider and mingles with the aroma of the fresh brewed coffee.  I find the camping food effect in full effectiveness this morning.  

The cup of coffee Alene brought me is just outstanding!  Some fellow at the Yuban coffee factory must have switched the normal Yuban coffee for some sort of  primo blend by accident, put it on a truck bound for Fort Bragg, and as fate would have it, Alene and I found that exact can on the shelves of the grocery store yesterday. 

It's probably Kopi Luwak or some other exotic blend that I would otherwise, in my rather humble life, never hope to experience were it not for that kind, thoughtful person at the Yuban factory who thought of me....little ol' me.... and made this wonderful, out of this world coffee experience possible.  

I think I'm going to cry.

Yup, I just shed a tear. 

Moving on, we had a nice drive from Sacramento, yesterday.  We got into town about 2:30pm, a little bit before check in, so we went to the dog beach and played with Jett a few minutes before going to the store (where that nice man had just then stocked the coffee just for us!), and then headed to the cottage to check in.  

On the door of the cottage was a nice note saying "Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Jones".  We got a good chuckle out of that.  I think that's a bout the 3rd or 4th time in the past few weeks someone has said that to us.

We put away groceries, Alene started dinner, and we had a most wonderful meal outside on the patio deck.  Again, the camping food effect in full gear, I think I had the most delicious tortellini I've had in ages! I wonder if Mr. Alfredo himself made the sauce, because I'm not sure there's ever been such a savory sauce served! 

Ooooo dinner was just so yummy....... oh, and we saw hummingbirds while we were eating too! 

Anyway, we were beat from the day, and went to bed around 7:30, as soon as it was dark up here.  Yeah... 7:30.  Slept 11 hours and up this morning about 7am.  

I think that was some of the best sleep I've ever gotten!  It's like the little sleep angel hovered over me, singing quiet lullabys and .........

Well, everything's better when you're on vacation.   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pull Up Your Favorite Chair and Have a Seat

Lately I've really been wrestling with what my faith means to me, and how do I live that faith daily in my life? 

I mean, people throw on the phrase "my faith" like cheap cologne, putting it on anytime they want to smell good for someone.  

Saying "I have faith" has become, for too many people,  like saying "I have a vague notion about some set of beliefs that I like to think I may or may not have, depending on what we are talking about, but whatever it is I think I may or may not believe, you may NOT question it.  It's my faith, after all, and it's very important to me, and I live my life by it.  Mostly".

OK, maybe that was a little over-dramatic, but you get my point.  The term 'faith' has become a sheep's mantle for some, that we throw over ourselves so that we have the appearance of one who actually practices their faith, whatever it may be.

But what does "my faith" actually mean? 

To me? 

To you?

What do I (or you) actually have faith in? 

My point here isn't to question your faith, or what you may or may not believe in. That's up to you. What I'm writing this for is talk out, for myself, what it is I have faith in, and see for myself if I'm living up to what I have faith in. 

Whatever a person says they have faith in, be it Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc.... if that faith is real, it should affect how you live.  Faith is not just believing, but its relying on that belief to help guide your life.  

I can believe a chair will hold me, but I don't actually exhibit faith until I sit in the chair and let it hold me.  Those of you who know me, understand this is not a fallacious example.  I am a man of some considerable girth, and on occasion I do assess a chair carefully before I sit.  There are some chairs that I do not have faith in, therefore I don't sit in them.

"My faith" should be something like that.  It should be something that makes a difference in my life. Something that I act upon. Something that I trust.

In my life, I have put my faith in Jesus.  I know there are some who know exactly what I mean when I say that, and there are some, although they've heard the phrase, that really don't know what it means. 

What it means to me is, not only do believe in the historical figure of Jesus, a man who walked about the earth in much the same way you and I do, but also that Jesus was who he claimed to be: God incarnate on the earth.  

Jesus is accredited with doing many good things in the Bible stories. Most philosophers and students of religion acknowledge the good things Jesus taught in regard to personal relationships, kindness, love, generosity and things of that nature. 

But Jesus claimed to be God.  And, according to the Bible narrative, proved it by miracles, and by being resurrected from the dead.  Outrageous claims, to be sure, but all the more amazing if they are true.  

As the old adage goes, it ain't braggin' if you can do it. 

Which is where faith comes in.  I'm not trying to convince you that Jesus is right and the stories about him are all true.  I couldn't do that in a million years.  That's a decision that we all make for ourselves, about any religion.  Freewill and all that, ya know?

What I'm saying is, if I, me, Mike, have read the stories, heard the messages, and God has laid it upon my heart that Jesus IS real, and he did come back from the dead, and offers that to me as well, shouldn't that change my life? 

Shouldn't that change the life of every Christian? And I mean radical change!

The Apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 15, "But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead?  For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.  We apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. 

But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 

And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!  And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead (Paul wrote elsewhere encouraging his readers to seek out people who had actually seen and met Jesus after he rose from the dead, for many of them were still alive). He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

So you see, just as death came into the world through a man (Adam, in Genesis), now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man.  Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life."

So do I, as Paul did, have faith not only in Jesus and his teachings, but in the person of Jesus as someone in whom I can trust? Can I have faith that he will do as he says, and that he has the ability, because of who he is, to fulfill his promises?

If I sit in that particular chair and its holds me up, shouldn't that radically change my life? 

If Jesus is who he claims to be, and I claim to have faith, shouldn't my life reflect the teachings and lifestyle he encouraged?  After all, Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commands."

In many ways my faith has become more and more real to me over the past few years.  I've become convinced in my own mind and heart of the validity of Jesus' claims, and have come to accept them as true.  As always, people can argue, but no one can prove or disprove, the validity of these claims.  It's been that way for 2000 years, and will continue until God changes things, or the earth dies a burned out cinder in space.  

My faith has begun to change how I live and  how I treat people.  I have much  more kindness and compassion than I ever had before.  I live with peace and joy in my heart, even through many sad and tough times.  

In short, I took a step of faith, sat down in the Jesus chair (terrible analogy I know, but work with me), and  found it was able to hold me up.  In fact, it was quite sturdy and comfortable, even when I put all my life's weight onto it. 

I tested Jesus, and he held fast. He didn't cave in.  

I guess my question to you, reader, would be, what chair do you trust to sit on?  

Will your chair hold up when life gets heavy and times get tough? 

Just food for thought. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Testing a New Droid App

I love my Android phone. I know IPhone users love their phones too, but Android is the future, trust me. IPhoners, get onboard or you'll be left behind.


I have one of the new Samsung GalaxyS™ phones. Although there are lots of good phones, I'm very happy with this phone. It has capabilities I haven't even touched yet.

Blogging on the go, for one.

Facebook is fun, and its easy to post quick tidbits of thoughts in your status, but to actually write and explore your thoughts a little bit requires a slightly longer forum.

Blogging on the go, for instance.

I sometimes wonder, how did I ever occupy myself before this technology came along?

I have books gathering dust, but I can download fresh copies on my phone's Kindle app. I can read my Bible on my bible app (which is actually very cool - access to several different transactions and word searches at my fingertips). Facebook and my photos are all available at a touch.

I am more connected and share my life with more people than ever before, without seeing, touching, or actually talking to a living soul!


That sounded more appealing in my head than it did when I re-read it on the page.

My dad and I go 'round and 'round about the wisdom of being plugged in to all this modern technology. He thinks the tech has changed people and taken away our desire to connect in the real world, and somehow people are damaged by it. I think people are basically still the same but misuse the technology, mistaking the exchange of photons on a display screen for the actual intimacy of looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them.

I guess balance is the answer, as in most things. Use the tech, but don't let it rule over you.

(Adrienne Bankert on KCRA is talking about a DroidX giveaway the station is doing as I write this post! Funny!)

Well, one thing you still can't do, even with a cool advanced phone like mine, is enjoy the conversation and share the warmth of having a meal with a good friend.

Speaking of, my daughter just texted me to remind me we are meeting for breakfast this morning.

I don't think we'll need to text across the table.

 Blogger-droid v1.6.0

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

As Good As It Gets, My Disillusionment is Over

I hit a major milestone this week.  One that I'd been contemplating and ruminating over for several years.  A milestone that, although ignoble in some books, is an important milestone nonetheless.

After a short default hearing on Monday, September 20th, a judge at the Sacramento Superior Court granted my request for a divorce.  A journey that began with starts and stops nearly 12 years ago is finally coming to a close. A long journey of separation, reconciliation, separation again, and finally disillusionment is at it's end.  

As of November 11, 2010, I will be, legally, a single man again.  

Granted, and very very joyfully, that condition will probably not last very long, but, there you have it.   It's finally done. 

I have to give partial credit for the ease of this process to my soon-to-be official x-wife, who trusted me to go through the process uncontested, and not take advantage of her.  I thank her for her trust, and wish her the best in her new life with her boyfriend and likely soon-to-be husband. 

Some folks have greeted my news with gladness, others with concern for my well-being and my emotions.  

One gentleman, after learning I will officially have been married for 12 days shy of 26 years when the divorce is final, greeted me with a smile, a handshake, and congratulations at meeting another "25 year man".

I must say, though, my biggest emotion is relief.  Relief for a thing that is finally done.  Not like a monkey off my back, or a weight off my shoulders, just a serious thing that needed to be taken off my to-do list, and finally has been.  

Seven years of separation left plenty of time to deal with the emotions of a broken marriage.  The mourning is long over, and the healing has long been in process.  This is simply paperwork done, and I'm glad of it.

I am so happy and looking forward to the future.  My relationship with Alene is the most solid and trusting relationship I've ever had.  She's been supportive and very patient with me, and I owe her my heart and soul.   I love her with my very life, and I look forward to a long future together. 

In the words of Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets".... she makes me want to be a better man.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cops and Robbers and Alarms and Quests

I got up early this morning.

I think our alarm went off about 5:30 am or so.  Alene has a habit of just hitting the snooze and rolling over every ten minutes for an hour until it's time to get out of bed. I'm more of a "set the alarm for the time you want to get up, then get up" kinda guy, but whatever.  Her way, with a little extra snuggle time in the morning, is pretty good too.

The problem for me this morning was that I had worked a long 15 hour shift yesterday.  When I came home last night I was very tired, but I couldn't get to sleep. My mind was still kinda adrenaline soaked after working on the radio during a particularly gnarly bank robbery and vehicle pursuit earlier in the evening.

The robbers walked out of a bank, followed by a cop who'd been in the bank on his own business and saw the robbery go down.  He followed the suspect's truck and gave updates on the radio until marked units arrived and took over, after which the chase was on!

The bad guys took off and wound around several neighborhoods, up onto a crowded rush-hour freeway, down the right shoulder and up and down several off and on ramps.  After about 20 minutes, the driver crashed their truck into a canal about a block from their home.  They both got out and ran, and after a short scuffle with several police officers and a K9 partner, were taken into custody.  From the looks of one of the bad guys afterwards, it was pretty clear the officers and their K9 won the fight pretty convincingly.

My job, I must admit, has it's cool moments.

Anyway, I didn't sleep much last night.  I think I got to bed around 1am.  When the alarm went off, I had planned to get up and go to a men's bible study at church.  I laid in bed and considered my options.  Get up, go fellowship with the guys at church, or sleeeeeeeeeeep until about 9am.

I bet you can guess my choice.

So I drifted back to sleep as Alene got up and went into the living room to do her morning Bible study.

All of sudden, my eyes opened and I was awake! I began to think about the men's study and how much I'd been looking forward to it.

The study is about a men's fraternity, a curriculum called The Quest for Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis.  Seeing as how it sounded very similar to book I'd read some years ago called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (which, by the way, provided the title and inspiration for this blog),  I was curious to learn more.  Wild at Heart changed my life. Made me think about what it means to me a man in today's world, and got me to rethink many of the ways I approached life.

I also didn't want to disappoint one of the guys I'd made a commitment to when I said I'd be there.

So, it came down to God's will, or my will.  All I really had to do was brush my teeth (for the benefit and comfort of others in attendance), slip on my flip-flops and go to church. So, at what I'm certain was the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit, I got up and toddled off to church.

Via McDonald's for coffee, but I think that's a given.

It turns out I'm very glad I did get up and go.

I met with a group of about 7 or 8 other men, all of whom I'd seen before at church, very few of which I knew well.  It was a good time of fellowship, listening to some teaching, and sharing a little bit in discussion. The subject matter seems to be very close to what I was hoping it would be, which got me excited about the study.

As I go through this study I'll probably make some posts about things I learn and changes I make. Naturally I'm not going to talk about too many specifics or anyone else's journey. Each man has his own journey, and can talk about it or not to their own desires, but I'll not be breaking any confidences here, anonymous or not.

So I'm tired and sleepy, but also eager to see where God guides us.  I'm looking forward to making deeper friendships with some of the men in my group, and to becoming a better, stronger man for the benefit of those around me.

Especially for my family and the woman I love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coffee and More

So yesterday I woke up early.  It was Monday after all, "Breakfast with Dad" day,  and I wanted to spend a few minutes with Alene before she left for work. Mondays are one of MY days off.  It kills her that I get three days off every week.  I don't blame her, but it still kills her.  

Anyway, we chatted a bit, I kissed her goodbye, and I sat down to a cup of coffee. Yuban Dark Roast was the coffee of choice that morning. Strong, dark, and aromatic.  Then I make it blonde and sweet.  Yummy stuff.

(Coffee purists, please don't harangue me about how cruddy Yuban or Folgers is, and how by the time you open the coffee can it's already stale coffee.  I know.  I occasionally grind fresh beans, but this morning was just good ol' Yuban.)

After sipping that cup for a bit, and getting myself a second cup while doing some work on the computer (hahaha did I say work on the computer?), I drank that and poured myself another cup, sipped and worked some more, then got myself ready to go down to my dad's house.

After picking up dad we went to our favorite restaurant, Lumberjacks, for breakfast and what.....?

You guessed it. More coffee.

We ate, talked, and solved the world's problems (as we do each time we go), over several more cups of coffee. I like Lumberjacks especially because they have these neat, big, coffee cups.

 No little thimble cups that you take about two sips from and the cup is empty.  Oh, no.  These are almost like those old "Friends" TV show mugs that hold a bunch of coffee!

(I actually asked the server if they sell the cups, and they said no.  She said if they did, they'd run out because everyone asks to buy them!)

Next we went to Walmart to get dad his monthly supply of sundries.  After that, on the way home, dad got a sort of thoughtful look and asked, "Mike, do you have time to stop by Starbucks for a little cup of coffee?"

Now, by this time I'd truthfully had enough coffee, but who am I to turn down Starbucks? I actually enjoy taking dad to Starbucks, because it is a nice place to sit and talk and solve the world's problems that had cropped up since the last time we solved them about two hours ago. We're good at that, trust me.

If only I were King of the World, I tell you what I'd do.....

Anyway, I do enjoy my time with dad, and the coffee habit I inherited from him.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Full Bellies and Flying Shows

Saturday, September 11th, we marked by daughter Lindsey's 22nd birthday.  

Lindsey enjoys her birthday candles.
Alene and I gathered the kids together along with the grandparents and had a wonderful time of fellowship and celebration for Lindsey.  

Grammie Dorothy and Grandpa Bob
Camie and Emily

Liz and Grammie Dorothy
The fellowship was close, the conversation sweet, and the love was warm.  Alene and I cooked and kinda over did it.  Pork chops, lasagna, corn on the cob, green beans and bacon, watermelon, and garlic bread. Throw on top of that coffee, tea, and birthday cake, and most all of us rolled away from the dinner table with full tummies. 

Can you really over-do a birthday dinner?

Sunday was equally wonderful in a different way.  I began by sleeping in (thank you baby), then coffee and my bible study.  Reading in Psalms 19 about how God has wonderfully revealed himself to us through nature and through life was uplifting and reassuring.  Church, as usual, refilled my heart with the faces of friends and my ears with the word of God.

Afterwards Alene, Liz and I had plans to go over to Kelli Stewart's house and have a picnic.  She and her husband live out near Mather, and since the 2010 California Capital Airshow was happening this weekend, she invited us out to see what we could see.  As God would have it, Kelli felt moved to invite Brian Bennet with us, and I'm glad she did.  He's a neat brother in the Lord and I really enjoyed getting to know him more. 

As sandwiches were being made in the kitchen, I kept hearing the sounds of jet engines outside.  I'd run out, and of course by the time you hear the jets they're usually already passed by, so it was hard to get a good look over the rooftops, but..... as were standing out front setting up some lawn chairs, I looked up and coming directly over the house was a screaming F-18 Hornet at about 500 feet! 

Ok, this isn't the actual plane that passed over us, but it looked just like it!

I yelled at Brian, "Dude, straight up!" pointing up, and the Hornet howled and shrieked as it passed over us at what seemed close enough for us to touch.  It was just amazing to feel the thrum of the engine actually shake my chest as the plane passed over. 

After eating we drove a few blocks to an open area on Excelsior Road where we could see the flight line.  The Patriots performance team were doing their show, which I'd seen before up and Beale AFB, and is a pretty good show for a private team.

The Patriots air performance team.

Later, the F-22 Raptor took off.  I was excited about seeing this futuristic fighter up close for the first time. 

F-22 Raptor

P38's and an F-22 Raptor in formation.
After the show we headed back to Kelli's place for some much needed water and fellowship before heading home.  

All in all, as I look back and think of all I've been through, I count myself highly blessed and very thankful.  The love of a good woman, the respect of children (at least I think so!), and the joy of a wonderful extended family of friends and relatives, combined with the love of the Great Healer and Creator,  make life not only good, but worth living, with purpose and joy.  

I know crappy-crappy-crap will come my way in the future.  It always does, and it always gets dealt with.  Having joy, though, makes it a lot easier.   

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Prayer for Peace and Humility

I'm sure most all of you have heard about the pastor of the small church in Gainesville, Florida, that has declared Saturday, September 11th 2010 as "International Burn a Quran Day".

If not, I'd like to crawl under whatever rock you live under, too, because it's probably quiet and peaceful under there.

If you don't live under a rock, no doubt you've seen the headlines and stories, such as this one, or this one.

I don't need to detail the pastor's feelings or reasons for you, you can read about those or watch the news.  I don't need to repeat the political establishment's reactions to the story, you can Google them on your own.  I don't have to give quotes regarding the Muslim world and what their reaction is or will be, we will know within hours if the pastor actually goes through with his plans.  

What I do want to express here is what I see as both an American issue, and a Christian issue.  

First, it's very sad that US news media has focussed so much time and energy to the issues of one very small church in Florida.  Our news media has inflamed this for it's own financial benefit.  The ensuing firestorm of controversy has been a boon to media outlets all over the country.  

They are all benefiting from the increased circulation and viewer-ship of their products.  

They are all making more money. 

They are controlling the news product, and controlling what we see and hear about it.

Understand that to begin with. 

Second, as a First Amendment issue, I have no problem with someone who wants to burn a book as a political statement, no matter if that book is the Bible or the Quran or any other book.  I may disagree with the message and the means of making it, but it's clearly protected "speech" according to the US Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of what is legal and what is not legal in the US.  

The speech may be offensive to some, indeed it may be offensive to many, but that's exactly what the First Amendment protects - offensive political speech.  Pleasing speech needs no protection, and our Founders knew this very well.  

No one in the US has the right to "not be offended", just as no one has the "right to be heard".  We have the right to speak.  

Whether anyone listens is up to the individual.

Which brings me to my third point - is this action correct or beneficial from a Christian viewpoint?

I contend it is not.

As a US citizen, I'm not terribly fond of anyone who wants to kill me, my family, or destroy my way of life.  Radical Muslims have clearly avowed these very things as a major goal.  They hate western life, culture and prosperity.  They dislike the fact that most of us in the US are what they would call infidels, or unbelievers. We are routinely called "The Great Satan", which I think pretty well sums it up.

As a US citizen, I think it's important to stand up to and resist people who want to hurt you and take away your way of life. God bless the US military and all they stand for in protecting us.

But as a Christian, one who is not only a US citizen, but first a citizen of the Kingdom of God, as Jesus called it, I think this Quran burning is very misguided.  I don't think offending people is the way to win their hearts and minds to favor with Jesus.

Jesus' first and foremost desire on earth was to bring glory to His Father.  Everything He did was pleasing and correct in the eyes of God.

Jesus never, ever, attacked a "foreign" religion or government.  Speaking of an evil and oppressive regime known at the Roman Empire at the time, he declared "give to Caesar that which is Caesar's.  Give to God that which is God's."

Speaking to a heathen Samaritan woman at the well, a person detested by Jews, Jesus offered up a well of living water to the woman, if she would believe he was the promised Messiah.

Jesus told his followers that if they are struck on one cheek, to turn the other cheek. People often argue about this passage, wondering if Jesus meant to literally not resist physical force, but in thinking about this command, consider the fact that Jesus went quietly to his death without fighting back one bit.  He recognized God's will in that moment, and by his obedience brought glory to God by his death.

Jesus was all about saving people from spiritual death, not political power. One day He will come in glory and He will be King of All, both spiritual and political, but for now, the Good News is about saving souls and eternal life, so that we can enjoy Jesus' reign later.

So how are we as Christians supposed to deal with evil people or ideologies?

Jesus told his followers to love our enemies, and pray for them.

He told them to "treat others the same way you want others to treat you".

And in Romans 12, the Apostle Paul wrote, summing up his assessment of how Christians should live:

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, "it is mine to avenge. I will repay", says the LORD.  On the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. "

I pray that the pastor has a change of heart, but I fear the damage is done.

If he wants to stand as a US citizen and decry Muslim terrorists, that is his right, but his words and actions have consequences that may be farther reaching than he can imagine.

If he wants to stand as a Christian follower of Jesus, he must evaluate his actions in light of bringing glory to God and spreading the Good News to those who need to hear it.  Will this Quran burning help to achieve that goal? Does God Almighty really need to have His Honor defended by men?

Even Islam acknowledges that God knows what is in the heart of a man or woman, and our actions speak louder than our words.  God knows this man's heart, and I pray that God will speak to his heart, and take him away from this confrontational attitude to an attitude of love and humility in Christ.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Gorgeous Day for Wanderlust

I was struck with a bout of wanderlust yesterday.  I decided to take a drive up Hwy 80 to Auburn, connect with Hwy 49 and drive to Hwy 89 and Sierraville, head down to Truckee, then take Hwy 80 back home. The weather was beautiful, so off I went.

View Larger Map

I took off about 8:30, taking my dog Jett with me.  The first stop was, of course, coffee. My thought was to wind my way through the foothills and mountains, stopping at little coffee shops along the way, tasting my way through the drive.  After the second stop, Dutch Brothers in Auburn for an "ER-911", consisting of 6 shots of espresso, Irish Creme syrup, and steamed milk, I modified my plan just a little bit.  That second stop for coffee was, shall we say, sufficient for the morning. (Dutch Brothers, by the way, is in my opinion one of the best coffee chains in California.  I'm just sayin'.)

I continued up Hwy 49, and came to a little town called Camptonville, with an interesting claim to fame: the invention of the Pelton Water Wheel.  

 Its not much on the map, but as I drove through I found it was a quaint little town.  And I mean little.

I stopped and got lunch at a little diner called the Pelton Wheel Cafe.  It was very small and quaint, but they made a very good burger.  I talked with the gal who ran the place for a few minutes before heading on up the hill.

On up Hwy 49 I went, winding through some beautiful mountain scenery - winding being more of the operative word in this instance.  Jett found it hard to stand in the back seat of the car, so she found curled up and chilled in the sun as we wound up the road. 

I came to a town I wasn't expecting along the way: Downieville.  This is important because it's a favorite place of Alene's, and I didn't realize it was on Hwy 49..  What a cute little town.  While in town, looking for an inn Alene had stayed at some years ago, I talked to an old man named Andy who told me, in five minutes, all about the gold rush history of the town, where the medi-vac landing zone is outside of town, and about a search-and-rescue event where 250 townies volunteered to search for a young boy lost in the hills.  Very nice man.  

And a Scary Bridge.  Literally, just wide enough for my car. 

After leaving Downieville, I continued on up toward Sierraville, coming to the vista point looking out over the Sierra Valley. What an amazing site.  The photos don't do the view justice, believe me. 

Up here in the high Sierra, it's truly cowboy country. 

Leaving Sierraville, I drove past a closed gas station that caught my eye.  For one thing, the last gas price posted was $1.55 a gallon, so how long ago was that, especially up here in the high Sierras? As I looked around, I found an entire pet store inside, simply abandoned.  All the pet supplies, food and toys were just left there.  It's obviously been years. The rest of the store was cleared out, for the most part, but again, simply abandoned.  Signs are all in place, even a California Lotter banner still hanging.  I'm amazed the place hasn't been burglarized and cleaned out. 

So when was this?

Pet supplies, leashes and such, just abandoned.
Dog food and treats still on the shelves. 

Register's cleared out. Looks like they left in a hurry.

Still has some sort of drink product stacked up.

I wound my way back through Truckee, where I stopped at the Wagon Train for a cup of by then needed coffee, and played with Jett at a grassy park.

After that, with the sun beginning to get low in the sky, I pointed the car toward home.  In all, about 240 miles, 11 hours on the road, one tired dog, and a great day.