Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

The Basin Improvement Committee of 1890: it sounds like an exciting group to be a part of, don’t you think? Nestled on the heart of Main Street in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this marker commemorates the intentional efforts of a small group to make things better and to improve life within the community.

If asked, I would likely say that a basin is a small container of water. According to Dictionary.com, it is that, and more…

1. a circular container with a greater width than depth, becoming smaller toward the bottom, used chiefly to hold water or other liquid, especially for washing.
2. any container of similar shape, as the pan of a balance.
3. the quantity held by such a container: We need another basin of water to dilute the mixture.
4. a natural or artificial hollow place containing water.
5. a partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth, where boats may be moored: a yacht basin.

I must admit, definition number 5 is my favorite. You see, I have a basin of my own, and the improvement committee has been meeting the past two days to make it even stronger. “A partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth…“: it’s called marriage, and yes, it is only partly man made.


To coin a phrase, I might say “those who go away together stay close”. Little Frau and I first visited Eureka Springs in the Summer of 1991. Yes, for those of you young ‘ens keeping score at home, it was indeed last century. The Frau and I had been married all of about two years, maybe a little less. We were young. We were in love. We were broke. Truth be told, we weren’t really broke, we just didn’t have much money to spend, so everything was carefully allocated to make sure we could do the trip and make it home.

The pinnacle of the trip was supposed to be a day at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Like I said, we were young, and traipsing around an amusement park in the heat seemed like the be all and end all of a good time. As we almost ran toward the ticket booth together, hand in hand, a man called out to me. It seems that he and his bride of 20+ years had gone to Silver Dollar City on their honeymoon, and returned each year as season pass holders. With the purchase of their season passes came one pair of single day tickets each year, and each year on their anniversary day visit, they would seek out a young couple to take in with them for free.

Almost in shock (remember, I was the ripe old age of 24), I asked the man if we could repay them, buy them lunch, or something else. His answer? “Do something nice for your wife with the money, and that will be just what I wanted“. We thought about that couple and their request all day. We looked at kitschy souvenirs. We thought about going to a show. Ultimately, we decided to use the money to spend a night in a Bed and Breakfast here in Eureka.

It’s not that spending a week sleeping on the ground in a $19.99 pup tent from Wal Mart isn’t romantic, but we were beginning to feel the trip growing on us. An indoor shower, air conditioner, and a bed turned out to be a pretty nice break in the trip.

A few years have come and gone since that trip. Life and kids have placed a few demands on the days and the dollars. Little Frau and I don’t get away as much anymore, at least for just the two of us. But, courtesy of kids at camp and a mid week July 4th calendar, the stars aligned for a brief 2 day excursion back to Eureka. We were not so adventurous as to desire a day in the amusement park this go round. It seems this Basin Improvement Committee of two finds catching up with old friends, casual dining, a small bit of kitschy souvenir shopping, reading, and napping more the order of the day. And it has all happened at a little Bed and Breakfast just a few doors down and 21 years removed from the last Eureka meeting of our little group.

I think we may not wait so long to reconvene the next time…



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As a few acquaintances of mine already know, I am leaving on a business trip soon, and it takes me across some water, and a border or two. Accordingly, those with
loved ones across the same borders have asked me to deliver a package. Make that, two packages. Actually, it is now three packages, and counting.


So go ahead. I can take it. You know you want to. Just say it. Just call me “the mule”. It likely won’t be the worst thing I’ve ever been called. 🙂

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Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. (Luke 1:1-2)

Richard Wright pointed out to us this morning in a discussion of Luke’s account that inspiration does not necessarily require originality. Touché. Arigatou gozaimasu – thank you very much, in Japanese.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was written in the 1950’s by children’s book author and theologian C.S. Lewis, and was the third tale in his Chronicles of Narnia series. It details a young hero and heroine being drawn back across time and space to the land of Narnia, where good is at war with evil, not all is as it seems, and heroic voyages and responsibilities call forth to the characters present.

Sounds a little like the present day. However, in this era of modern narratives chronicled by digital photography, the world wide web, social media, blogging, and the like, we often see the story unfolding before our eyes, seemingly as if the final plot has not yet been written.

Our young heroine boarded a ship last evening, not of wooden sailing vintage, but of Cathay Pacific Airship caliber. And, much like the mythical Starship Enterprise, time and space are relative as she seeks out new frontiers.


As she began her voyage at 1:00 AM PDT, family and friends had already lived those measured hours, restlessly sleeping at a time zone two hours removed. As the airship ventured out into the blackness over the Pacific, our Dawn Treader and her faithful companions were literally flying “toward the past”, over land and sea measuring points historical in time, until such point that they “warped into the future”, courtesy of the international dateline. One man’s Sunday afternoon is another woman’s Monday morning, but who can decipher which is which? Quite the “time/space continuum”, indeed.

Prince Caspian, as we will refer to him today, has remained behind on the distant shore with Little Frau, myself, and a cast of thousands. His swashbuckling exploits will await another day, as this narrative journey unfolds before us.

Returning to our original “source of inspiration” narrative for today, that being the book of Luke, we see it ending as follows: “So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:52-53)

Amen. Sail on, Dawn Treader. We will spend our time in the Temple, and await with great Joy your return and the forthcoming real time tales of life across the seas.


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“Our little baby’s all grown up and savin’ China…”. I could not have expressed my sentiments any better than our mythical friend “Mushu”, and like him, I don’t do that “tongue thing”, at least I hope not.

Anyway, Baby Girl #1 (and one of the best two young ladies on the planet, may I add) leaves later this morning to see the world, starting with China. I’m so excited for her, and I’m gonna miss her.

But, I’m not worried about her forgetting her sword. On the “Digital Front Porch”, among other places, I have found Hank to be one of the most accomplished swordsmen around. If I could tell her anything this morning before she boards that plane, it would be not to forget her sword, and her shield.

Ephesians 6:16-18: In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

So, this morning, I bow to you Bruce. Bruce who? Bruce you. In the words of Fa Zhou “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter”. Love you girl.

Now, lets get down to business, to meet, the Huns…

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“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” The quote is from a woman named Karen, the subject of the 1937 novel and subsequent movie “Out of Africa”.

As I get older, I confess to conjuring up a bit of a “bucket list”, but admittedly, traveling to Africa was not tops in that department. Not, that is until a colleague and I were discussing potential for the establishment of a business line in Kigali, Rwanda. Then we began to discuss the need to go establish banking and other relationships, and I began to get a bit more interested. Seeing the “Gorillas in the Mist”? Hmm.

Then, we began to discuss necessary vaccinations, and he said the fateful words: “You won’t be able to give blood anymore”.

Ouch. Small stick, then a burn, followed by several small squeezes…

There is a blood drive coming up soon at our church, and even before hearing a passionate plea this past Sunday morning regarding the value of blood donations from the father of a cancer patient, the friendly vampires from The Oklahoma Blood Institute had called to inform me that I was again “eligible”.

As evidenced by the stack of T-Shirts pictured above, and this is only a fraction of those collected over the years, I’ve donated a few gallons in my time.

You see, Bing (Jeffrey Bing) really is an agent 007, and I even have that logo on an OBI shirt to prove it. I possess O Negative blood, the universal donor type, as does .7% (.007) of our society. To top it all off, I am CMV negative as well, meaning I’ve never had a common flu like virus where antibodies would be harmful to preemie babies and others who are ill.

I must admit, I don’t love the exercise of giving, but I cherish being gifted to perform said act. Very few (.007, anyone?) can give their blood and know that a small baby or a very sick loved one might see new days because of my slight inconvenience and minor pain. I don’t know that I’m ready to give that up, just yet. I’m just not sure if my calling is over in that department.

At my last donation, I was feeling good about clearing over 4 gallons when an older gentlemen nearby told me that he’d surpassed 13. Wow. I was humbled. Maybe I needed to hear that as a challenge and motivation to prioritize “the list”.

Maybe the gorillas will have to be seen on Discovery Channel. Maybe the banking can be done via phone, internet, and FedEx. Maybe a yet to be born child needs “a little bit o’ Bing” to brighten their day?

Here’s where you come in: are you giving the gift of life? Some can’t for various reasons, but many can but have never tried. You could save a life. You could save many!

“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” I think I’m not done being an OBI special agent just yet, even if it keeps me “Out of Africa”.

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I went jogging on the beach this morning. Go ahead: begin humming the tune from “Chariots of Fire” here. I will even insert some bad Irish accent dialogue to go along with it: “whenn A runn, A feell HIS strenth“. And, yes, one man’s slow motion is another man’s full speed.

The family was sleeping late today, so off alone I went. I wanted to run in the surf, so I left my iPhone behind. No thought of taking pictures would distract me on this morning jaunt. I also did not want to get a lot of things wet, so I went simply equipped with a wristband given to me by the OC International Programs Office and my trusty old pair of Dallas Cowboys gym shorts. No shirt, this morning. Shocking, I know, but it was 6 something AM, and a man needs his vitamin D. And, of course, I was wearing a garment made by the good folks at Hanes. I may be a rogue at times, but I’m no commando.

Running unencumbered was quite liberating. As mentioned earlier, no temptation to stop for pictures. No fear of losing my keys. No worry about what would get salt water or sand on it. And yet, as I ventured down the beach, I began to wonder “how will people identify me if something were to happen?”.

I began to imagine the musings of my fellow beachcombers, were something to occur. Some might say, “with that physique, he must be someone noteworthy”. OK: it is acceptable, even suggested, that you stop laughing now. Others might say, “he is wearing Hanes, but he is too pale to be Michael Jordan.”. And others “judging by the farmer’s tan, he is most likely not a lifeguard”. Still others, “he is wearing Dallas Cowboys gear: he might be Tony Romo, but where is Jessica?”. Even my “international” wrist band might cause some to suggest that I was some type of international man of mystery from a land called OC.

And they would all be wrong. As my run continued, I even came across three large prawns that had washed up on the beach. Perhaps I could be Survivorman, and maybe I was diving along the reefs earlier searching for food, and I hit my head and can’t even remember my own name.

Nah. None of that is true. And I, for one, am grateful. I’m just a guy, on vacation, whose dear family is sleeping soundly back in the condo. But I’m still a rogue, at least from time to time, or maybe from blog to blog. Taking off for vacation and staying away from email (as much as possible, or more) is but one way to evidence such “rogueness”.

I believe it was Job who said, in a less positive context, of course “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”. Of course, positive circumstances noted, I also was not naked: I had my wristband, and my Dallas Cowboys shorts. And my Hanes. I almost forgot about my Hanes.

All that being said, I might suggest, unencumbered is a good way to go. Less to worry about. More time to think. More time to observe. Less distraction. More opportunity to pay attention. Little Frau would say an “Amen” to that. And only a rogue man of mystery like me could have ever landed a woman like her.

And by paying attention, I even met a nice team of people clad in khaki and white and carrying little nets as they walked in a line and studied the surface of the beach. They worked for some company called “BP”, and seemed to be looking for a ball or two, made of tar, of all things, that I can only assume they lost, somehow. More on that in a blog post all it’s own for another time.

So, back to the morning run. As I was heading back to the condo to rejoin my secret agent beach-combing family, I passed another man who was decked out almost just like me. Middle aged, gym shorts, maybe even a wrist band. I don’t recall. I don’t know if he was a commando, but I could tell that he was no rogue man of mystery, like Yours Truly. You see, there was one key difference between he and I. He was not Unencumbered. He was carrying an old style portable compact disk player, held high up to keep it from getting wet. I’m sure it was likely equipped with “no skip” functionality.

He was no rogue agent like me, indeed. He’s probably just some nerdy accountant from the Midwest. 🙂


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It’s been 10 months, and yet it feels like a day. And yet, so much is different. I hardly even want to think I know the guy who bore my name this time last year. He got angry a lot, but I digress. It has been a good year, in so many ways.

As we enter the early stages of Roadtrip, Day 3, 2011 style, I am up thinking, reading, and writing early while the family sleeps. Thankfully, some things never change.

As I’ve been collecting thoughts and memories from this go round, I found some rough notes from last year and figured they were too good not to share.

Notes from roadtrip, day 1…

I have the sudden urge to hit small mammals
Tell me again why we have to take so much stuff?
Can I have some gum?
Too much Nervous energy…
Is it OK if I’m embarrassed by the minivan?
Hey, those grapes hurt!
You’re crushing my larynx…
Dad, what about that u turn was “official”?
Can I have some gum? Sorry…
These foothills look a lot like mountains.
Beautiful land; beautiful weather !
Unwinding at the Doubletree
You are a large man…
Do you still want to hit small mammals?
Physical therapy session!
I am incredibly vexed right now…
A million miles in a thousand years
Is that quesadilla made with corn? …..Yes…. Not!
Hey, there’s Seth…going to the GC also
Beautiful prayer; powerfully so!

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