Category Archives: Travel Journals

2015 Photo-Some-Days 3.13.2015

We toured the University of Oklahoma, which for our son is a prospective college choice. During our tour, our guide took us into a section of the library called “The Stacks”, where old volumes are stored and accessible to students. As our guide told the story of a girl that had supposedly fallen through one of the glass tiles to her death, thus rendering The Stacks to be haunted, I explored a couple of the aisles. I found this volume from 1902. I wonder who the last student was that opened this? I couldn’t help but be rather enamored with these old bound pieces of history, and I’m thankful that OU has preserved them for future generations to enjoy.

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai via brainyquote.com

History preserved at the University of Oklahoma. 3.13.2015

History preserved at the University of Oklahoma. 3.13.2015

2015 Photo-A-Day 2.28.2015

I’ll spare the details. Suffice it to say that our flight home from Denver was cancelled, and with no air options available on Saturday, we took to the roadways. The drive was uneventful until we hit north Texas and road conditions rapidly deteriorated. They were at their worst in Wichita Falls, and the many bridges we had to traverse were quite hazardous. Thankfully, God answered our prayers for safety and we returned our rental car at DFW Airport just after midnight Sunday morning.

Jesus, take the wheel…” ~ Carrie Underwood

Icy bridges in Wichita Falls, TX 2.28.2015

Icy bridges in Wichita Falls, TX 2.28.2015

2015 Photo-A-Day 2.26.2015

Now THAT’s a hat, and it even matches her braid! This lady caught all sorts of attention when she walked into the bar at Grand Lodge at Peak 7. And I wasn’t the only one snapping pictures, either.

Skiing is the only sport where you spend an arm and a leg to break an arm and a leg.  ~Author Unknown via quotegarden.com

Now THAT's a hat! Breckenridge 2.25.2015

Now THAT’s a hat! Breckenridge 2.25.2015

2015 Photo-A-Day 2.25.2015

My winter mountain adventure with IMA continues as we’ve relocated to beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. We spent part of yesterday afternoon at the Grand Lodge on Peak 7, where several in our party arranged for their rental equipment for today’s skiing. I haven’t skied in years, but it sure is tempting, especially considering the fresh snow that awaits! It is breathtakingly beautiful here!

“If you like the outdoors, Colorado is a big adventure playground for adults: it’s great for skiing, cycling, climbing, and hiking.” ~ Tyler Hamilton via BrainyQuote.com

The snow was really coming down in Breckenridge! 2.25.2015

The snow was really coming down in Breckenridge! 2.25.2015

The Joy of Weddings

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the nuptials of two nieces, one in Colorado and the other in California. And, thanks to both couples, I have memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Jenny & Evan

My niece Jenny is one of the most genuine people you could ever meet. She is happy, confident, loves nature, and welcomes everybody with arms open wide. Evan is a very talented musician. I admire anybody who can play the guitar and draw you into a song by the way he interprets and presents the lyrics, and Evan is one of those musicians.

Jenny and Evan exchanging their vows.

Jenny and Evan exchanging their vows.

Jenny and Evan enjoy the music scene in Grand Junction, Colorado. They also enjoy rafting, hiking and camping in the many beautiful areas of the western slope in Colorado. They are blessed with a tight group of friends, referred to as their “Friend Family” who are as genuine inside and out as are Jenny and Evan.

Consistent with their love of music and the mountains, Jenny & Evan selected Ridgway State Park in western Colorado as the venue for their lovely wedding. The nuptials themselves were celebrated at the Visitor Center Overlook – a beautiful spot overlooking the Ridgway Reservoir. As we walked down the short trail from the parking area to the overlook it was easy to see why they love this place so much, for the view was simply breathtaking.

The reception was also at Ridgway, in a pavilion in the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area of the park. Offering a 360 degree panoramic view of the western Rockies, we all relaxed and enjoyed the celebration. Given their involvement in the Grand Junction music scene, many of the Friend Family brought their instruments – we had guitars, a mandolin, a banjo, drums…you name it they brought it. All of us enjoyed some of the best musicians from the Grand Junction music scene taking the stage and jamming together; it was an experience that this music lover enjoyed immensely. It was one of those nights that, for me anyway, ended much too quickly.

Bailey & Brett

My niece Bailey is a lovely woman of faith. Her tastes tend toward simple and sophisticated. She has a heart for those less fortunate and her smile lights up the room. Bailey met Brett as they both worked for the Daily Skiff student newspaper at Texas Christian University. They met some six-plus years ago. Brett impresses me as a genuinely kind and caring man, absolutely perfect for my niece. I liked him immediately upon meeting him a few years ago, even though he beat the snot out of me in Laser Tag! Brett is a native of Pasadena, California and upon graduating from TCU Bailey followed him out there.

Bailey & Brett

Bailey & Brett

Bailey has adopted Pasadena as her home, and as such, having her wedding there was the logical choice. The venue was the beautiful Altadena Country Club, where I understand Brett’s parents are long-time members.

The wedding ceremony took place on a beautiful lawn enclosed by large, perfectly groomed hedges. The bridesmaids and the bride herself entered from a landing above us, then descended the stairs to their waiting guests. The ceremony itself was beautifully Christian. The pastor talked about how the joining of a man and a woman in holy matrimony is akin to Christ offering Himself to his beloved creation – in essence His bride, the church.

The reception featured a DJ – one of the best I’ve heard in a long time – a nice sit-down dinner and an open bar. During dinner the DJ spun classics by such greats as Frank Sinatra. After dinner many of us enjoyed cigars on the veranda as the DJ spun current era dance tunes. Yours truly, along with several others of us older folks, shared the dance floor with Bailey & Brett and their friends and had a marvelous time dancing to the beat. Of course, it didn’t hurt in my mind that I was burning calories at the same time!

The Joy of Weddings

The pastor at Bailey & Brett’s wedding reminded us that Jesus Himself enjoyed weddings. In fact, it was at a wedding that Jesus performed His first miracle as he turned several jugs of water into the finest of wines.

I enjoy weddings, too. Weddings are an object lesson in love. Every time I attend a wedding I remember the day I married my lovely wife. I remember my sisters’ weddings and how I was one of the young people breaking a sweat as I broke moves on the dance floor. This summer, at Jenny and Bailey’s weddings, I enjoyed being one of the adults. I enjoyed watching my nieces, their new husbands and their friends celebrating love and friendship. I enjoyed meeting Evan’s and Brett’s friends and family who are now part of my family – what a gift!

My lovely bride and me. 12.28.1991

My lovely bride and me. 12.28.1991

I not only enjoy my memories and the day at hand, but I look ahead to the weddings of my daughter and my son. Yes, someday it will be DeLisa’s and my turn. At Bailey & Brett’s rehearsal dinner, Brett’s mom Cathy told us that she had been praying for Bailey since the day Brett was born. I, too, lift up the young man and young woman who will one day join with my daughter and my son as life partners though holy matrimony. Of course, no rush!

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Photo credits: All taken by yours truly on my iPhone 5s

This Place is Perfect

Sometimes it takes others’ eyes to help us fully appreciate what God has given us. Such was the case with me and our house on Lake Tyler.

Built in 1964, situated on about an acre of land and measuring at about 1,400 square feet, our lake house was previously owned by my mother-in-law. Darla was a certified Master Gardener, and “back in the day” she kept the grounds and gardens immaculately groomed. She planted gardens, each with a plant type or color theme and installed brick walkways among them. When we would visit, we always spent the first hour or so walking her gardens with her as she proudly showed us her latest additions. To say that Darla had a green thumb would be a gross understatement; Darla had a gift. She enjoyed nurturing her gift and, even today, we enjoy the results.

Darla moved out of the house in 2008. With no full time resident since that time, the gardens have not been properly tended. Brick walkways that were once beautiful garden pathways are now overgrown with weeds. Garden nooks and crannies, some featuring ornamental ponds and others featuring shaded arbors and park-like benches, are obscured and overgrown. I sat on one of the benches recently and it nearly collapsed as I lowered my weight onto its rotted boards. I no longer mow the lawn, for there is no lawn – now I groom my weeds. The exterior of the house needs a paint job, but first we must power wash the cobwebs from their positions under the eaves. Succinctly stated, the place needs work, and work is what I see when I pull up the driveway. My frustration grew to the point to which my wife and I recently agreed to put the lake house on the market. That was the case, anyway, until last weekend.

Last weekend we had five college friends join us for a weekend at the lake. As the weekend approached I was nervous, and even a bit embarrassed, given the run-down condition of the gardens and the home’s exterior. I was concerned about allowing my friends to see our property in this condition, so much so that I considered moving the event to our home in Keller to spare me the stress. I’m glad I didn’t.

My friends were awestruck. They gushed over the open space and the gardens they could see. They appreciated the lake views and speculated with us how the views will be improved when the brush along the channel is cleared. One fished from the yard and remarked how this would be a desirable vacation rental.

“Really,” said I, “somebody would actually pay to rent this place for a weekend?” I was shocked.

“Of course,” he said. “There are lots of people looking for an inexpensive weekend getaway. This place is perfect.”

“This place is perfect.” That phrase hung in the air as I contemplated the magnitude of what my good friend had just told me. As he continued to fish I looked around me and began to see our house and yard from his perspective. And I was sorry – sorry that I had adopted such a negative attitude about this beautiful gift that God has given us.

Yes, the place needs work. But you know what? My friend was right: This place is perfect. And it is not for sale.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” ~ Psalms 118:1

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast courtesy of the Dunn's.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast courtesy of the Dunn’s.

The Art of Vacation 2 (Sequel to “The Art of Vacation” posted 3/25/2014)

“Aaahhhhh!” That utterance, offered by yours truly this morning, is the essence of having achieved a clean and refreshing break from routine through the Art of Vacation. And what a vacation it was!

A Celebration of True Love

Our family vacation commenced with a two-day drive to beautiful Ouray, Colorado where we would join with family from all over the country in celebrating the nuptials of my niece, Jenny.

Panoramic taken from outside our room at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs

Panoramic taken from outside our room at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs

A Celebration of True Friendship

Upon returning from Colorado June 30, we prepared for the arrival of our friends from Roanoke, Virginia the next day. When they arrived at DFW Airport we hit the ground running, spending lots of time catching up on each other’s families while we played tourist in my home town.

Dealey Plaza, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, was our first tourist stop. Offering an audio tour through the events of that fateful day, the museum on the sixth floor of the old Texas Book Depository is extremely well done. If you live in the Metroplex or find yourself visiting here you must put this on your bucket list.

We lightened the mood on July 3 by visiting downtown Grapevine, Texas. This historical area features several Texas wineries along with cool shops offering everything from fine chocolates to antiques to Texas apparel & souvenirs. Grapevine also offers several fine restaurants to suit any taste. We were apparently so caught up in the excitement that none of us took any pictures!

Independence Day, July 4, found us in the historical Fort Worth Stockyards, one of my favorite places to visit. We took in the sights and sounds of this beautiful historical district and celebrated our freedom at the Stockyards Rodeo – you can’t get much more Americana than that!

Our friends departed for home Saturday afternoon, and we spent the remainder of the day relaxing at home as we recharged the proverbial batteries.

The Art of Vacation

As I prepared to leave the office for vacation I put the wheels in motion by letting my coworkers know that they will hear from me when I return to the office on Monday, July 7. I updated my voice mail greeting to state clearly that I am not checking it, and my email auto-reply clearly states the same. And I kept my word. Today I returned to work reenergized, refreshed, and ready.

Have you lost the Art of Vacation? If so, find it. Reclaim it. Live it. I promise you won’t regret it.

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