The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is the second most visited national park in the US, just behind the Great Smoky Mountains. The GC gets 5 million visitors a year, while the Great Smoky Mountains gets 10 million.

As you would imagine, there is no way to fully describe what you’re looking at, and what you’re looking at is only a fraction of the entire canyon. Pictures do not do it justice. You’re compelled to take pictures, like everyone else. You cannot stop yourself, but the full experience is more than what a camera can capture.

Leaving ABQ

We left ABQ around 10 AM CT, and arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park at 5:30 PM MT. It was about a 400 mile trip. We took our normal pace, which meant a lot of pit stops along the way.

The topography heading west, out of ABQ, was flat, dirty, and spotted with all kinds of vegetation. It also looked desperate. The desperate parts were all the mobile homes, small “Home Depot” out-buildings, that were used as homes, and the small hut-type structures.

You could not help but wonder how these Americans lived. Survived. There were IMG_0097scores of miles in-between nothing, that was surrounded by desert like conditions.

There was also a lot of marketing of the Indian: pottery, clothes, moccasins, and trinkets. Every place that sold anything was pushing Indian paraphernalia.

Minona, Sedona, & Flagstaff, Arizona

There was also a discernible difference in Arizona from New Mexico. It was not long after we crossed into Arizona, that the terrain and quality of life seemed to be better. By the time we arrived in Flagstaff, it was not a lot different from home with all the pine trees and hills.

After we cleared out the van and settled everything into our lodge, we went hiking. We could not resist. The big hole was calling us.

You could hike all the way to the bottom. I suspect we hiked about a mile one way and back. The going down part was a breeze; the coming back part was a bit more arduous.

There was this one sign that suggested you not try to hike to the river and back to the rim in one day. It said some have died trying. There was this one guy sprawled out on a rock. He was making his way back up, but was stopped with leg cramps.

Everyone will sleep well tonight. Four-hundred miles and a one mile hike is about right for a good night’s rest.

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A full day in ABQ

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Today we traveled all over Albuquerque. It was fun. We went everywhere from downtown to scores of side streets that took us off the beaten tourists paths.

We talked to a lot of people. Two of them were George and Belinda. They have been married for sixty years. He was an engineer for a nuclear bomb building company. He worked for them for 35 IMG_0045years.

He said the reason the buildings and homes were brown was because it’s dry and the wind kicks up a lot of dust. I did notice the past two days that the wind was gusty.

ABQ has tons of character. In its own way it’s a beautiful town.

If you like brown, then this is the place to be. It seemed nearly every home was some version of brown.

We talked to several folks who went on about the Breaking Bad TV series that was filmed in ABQ. One store clerk said it was the biggest thing to ever happen to their town. We saw a Breaking Bad tour bus, which was really an old RV used as a tour bus.

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Another part of Old Town

The clerk said other than the TV series, all they could brag about was their hot air balloon fest. Breaking Bad paraphernalia and balloon stuff were on sale throughout the town.

We spent the most time in what is called Old Town, which was the original founding section of ABQ, circa 1500. (The main pic, above, is a Catholic church, built around 1550.) Many of those buildings are still standing.

Now, that was truly phenomenal.

The folks are super-friendly and easy to engage. It was a good visit, and like OKC, there was not enough time to fully appreciate it. We’ll leave in the AM for the Grand Canyon.

Onward to Albuquerque

IMG_9959After four wonderful days in Oklahoma City with Lucia’s sister and brother-in-law, we headed out around 11AM CT on Thursday (May 28) to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was an excellent and quick trip. We arrived in Albuquerque by 8PM MT, which made it a 10 hour event.

It was not bad at all.

The beauty of God’s creation is somewhere between inspiring and stunning. Not able to see the colors and scapes from the southwest back home, made the trip more than worthwhile.

We stopped about eight or so times, which is typical for us. I suspect the trip could be made a couple of hours quicker, but being in a hurry has never been our style.

Going across the panhandle was cool, since there is no other way to transverse Texas so quickly. We stopped at the Cadillac farm, or whatever they call it, where some rich dude put ten Cadillacs 1/2 way into the earth, leaving the back half jutted up into the sky.

It’s a popular stop in the middle of nowhere where folks can spray paint the cars. Our kids checked that off their bucket list. It was kinda cool to be able to spray paint a car IMG_9964and get away with it.

Sandia Mountains

The Sandia Mountains that were just before Albuquerque were beautiful. You could see them for more than sixty miles out, thinking you would never get to them. The land is so flat out here, that it is hard to gain a proper perspective on what you’re seeing.

As we came closer to Albuquerque, the mountains surrounded us. We drove through them, and into the city, where we found our hotel. Our plan is to stay here for nearly two days. We’ll checkout sometime Saturday morning, and head to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon

The plan is to stay at the Grand Canyon from Saturday through Tuesday, leaving sometime on Wednesday for a week or so in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area.

Maybe the best part of this trip is the pace. Traveling 500 to 700 miles is not a big deal on any given day when you’re staying for two to five days at the different stops.

The other perk is having wifi, which allows me to continually serve our community. To be able to speak live across the country, while serving our folks around the world is a mercy from the LORD.

The Murrah Building in OKC

Murrah Federal Building

Today we went to the location of the federal building that Timothy McVeigh bombed in 1995. There is a monument there. (See the panoramic pic, which is somewhat distorted.)

It was a sobering–to say the least.

The reflecting pool is the exact location of the street where the Ryder truck was parked, the one that had the bombs in it. One-third of the building–where the trees are–was destroyed by the bomb.

They have since closed off the street to make the memorial, which you can see in the pic.

There is a building across the way from the federal building (where I am standing to take the pic), which has been turned into a museum. It was formerly the newspaper building. I’m not sure why it was changed into a museum, but it was an appropriate and good thing to be able to honor those who died and/or suffered other losses.

They did an excellent job retelling the story of that day. The tour progressed from just before the bomb exploding, to the conviction and execution of Timothy McVeigh. There were a few times where it was difficult to hold back the tears as I thought about the lives of the people who were murdered.

There was so much detail, including the McVeigh’s getaway car, his gun, and knife. They also had the tickets that were written when he was pulled over for not having a license plate, plus a gun violation.

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Then there were the stories, which began from the start, and went throughout the museum. It was emotionally draining to absorb it. Standing in the round room that had pictures of all the victims was overwhelming.

From there we went to the water taxi, which was an over-priced and under-whelming 40-minute boat ride. Then we walked down to the Bass Pro Shop because it was a nice walk through the city, which took us beside the baseball stadium and a few other interesting buildings.

I did walk into K.D.’s, which is Kevin Durant’s restaurant. It looked nice.

If you’re ever in OKC, it would be well worth your time to spend four to five hours in the museum, which is what it would take read, watch, and listen to all the information. Probably will never forget it.

Mt. Scott, outside Oklahoma City

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Today we went to the Wichita Mountains, which is unrelated to Wichita, Kansas. It was endless rocks and quite beautiful. We saw an excellent waterfall, which was a long hike to the mountains, and then straight up.

The clouds rolled in while we were on Mt. Scott, which was on the other side of the reserve from the waterfall. (We were on Mt. Scott first.)IMG_9875

Because it was government land, we saw all kinds of game, like bison, long-horn cattle, deer, prairie dogs, and turkeys. You could walk up to the bison, if you dared, and take pictures. I stayed in the van, but was close enough to get some cool close-ups.

It was a tiring day, but the enjoyment of God’s creation was worth the effort. We arrived home by 7PM. Everyone was well-worn.

It was a good day. A very good day.

Wild west trip

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We have been planning a two month wild west trip since last summer. The past few years we have taken extended times away from our home, testing our business model, which was originally setup to where we could run our ministry from any place in the world that had the Internet.

After successfully trying this out for a few years, we have decided it would be okay to do some extended travel. Thus, we planned to go out west for the summer.IMG_9800

I will be doing my normal ministry work, just not at home where I do most of it. (In that sense, nothing will change.) I’ll also be speaking at a few churches.

We left the day after our double campus, ten-week conference with Summit Church in Greenville, SC ended.

It was Friday, May 22nd.

We left around 10:45 AM ET and headed to Atlanta, to Birmingham, to Memphis. We arrived in Memphis at 9:30 PM CT on Friday, and stayed at the Hilton on the east side of the city. It was a beautiful hotel.

We spent all of Saturday in the downtown area of Memphis. We saw…

  1. The Peabody Hotel
  2. The duck walk at the Peabody.
  3. Some fantastic ice cream on their “main” street.
  4. Visited Sun Studios, where Elvis and Johnny Cash, et. al. recorded.
  5. Went to their humongous Bass Pro Shop.

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We then began making our way to Oklahoma City to spend a week with Lucia’s sister and brother-in-law. They have been to Greenville many times over the past 15+ years. We have never been to OKC.

We arrived in OKC about 11:30 PM CT.

We visited their church on Sunday. It was a nice church meeting.

I did not go to the PM church meeting. I needed to do some recording for the upcoming podcasts. It was a great time to get three of them recorded.

Slept well Saturday and Sunday nights. Really well.