A Great Adventure

Lexi stretching her legs
Lexi stretching her legs

Stephanie and I have been married for nine years, yesterday.  I took several days off work to celebrate the occasion, even though we had not made any formal plans.  Back when Stephanie and I got married, we used to take day trips on a regular basis, even some weekend driving trips on a whim – trips to near by cities a few hours away, trips to the beach or to Washington DC over 8 hours away, and even longer trips to see family in Maine or Charlotte NC weren’t uncommon.  But as we got more busy, added children to the mix, and moved across the country, those driving mini-vacations all but vanished.

J-Haul - that made me laugh!

We both miss them despite all the ups and downs of being in a car for several hours at a time, so when I suggested we hit the road and head to San Francisco – Stephanie said yes with enthusiasm!  Wednesday night we headed out and got as far as Blithe, CA.  We stayed in a cheap (in every sense of the word) hotel.  The next morning, we hit the road with a San Francisco or bust mentality.  Zander and Lexi have been been great for being trapped in a car most of the day, but we did stop to let Zander climb a tree or two at rest areas and we took a few pictures along the way.  We got into San Francisco last night at about 9pm.

Zander being awesome!

After paying $4 to cross the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco, calling several area hotels, attempting to drive around to look for a descent place to stay that wasn’t $200 bucks a night, and climbing the scariest hill of my life in a stick shift four cylinder, please never do that again to me car – we left San Francisco and headed back to Oakland for the night.  Let me pause here to say, if you ever drive to San Francisco and get there after dark and you are in a Hyundai Elantra – don’t climb the hills!  It was difficult enough just driving up them, but when we got the red light, and my wife started yelling for me to run it, then panicing that I stopped, then screaming when I rev’ed the engine to over 5 thousand RPM with the emergency break on, dropped the break, came off the clutch, in first gear, only to still travel backwards, I must say I was beginning to doubt turning up a street that looked like it went straight to up to heaven.  It was only after I rev’ed it to 7 thousand RPM and quite possibly damaged the transmision that we started to move forward at a pace of about 1 mile per day.  The entire time, my son was saying, “Its OK Mommie, I’m not afraid.” and my wife was trying to remember the number for 911.  We are on a great Adventure!

A Night at the Movies: The Dark Night

Ok – I know it was likely irresponsible of me, but I went to the midnight showing of The Dark Knight.  I really enjoyed Batman Begins and knew this was also Heath Ledger‘s last movie – I really wanted to see it.  I text messaged a friend at 10:30pm and asked if he wanted to see it with me and within the hour we were on our way… to a sold out theater … without tickets.  Minor oversight, one quick call on my cell and we had tickets to another theater across town.

I’ll start with what I didn’t like – they changed Rachael!  In Batman Begins, Rachael was played by Katie Holmes – very cute… but this version was played by Maggie Gyllenhaal – Not as cute.  The movie wasn’t quite as dark as Batman Begins either.  What I really loved about Batman Begins is how it really removed the cartoonish nature of some of the Batman villians as well as Batman’s charactor.  I’m not saying the The Dark Night is comical at all, just not as dark as Batman Begins.  My only other negative thoughts are the length.  Some movies are three hours long and at the end you say – wow, that was fast – I wish it were longer… this isn’t one of those movies.  It had about three endings – kinda like a preacher promising to close the sermon down at noon on a Sunday morning, then preaching to almost one.  Sometimes you don’t mind if the preacher just kept on going, other times you think – “I wonder how long the wait is at the restaurant…”

Ok – on to the positive: Heath Ledger.  He was amazing.  Did you see Johnny Depp play Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl?  Do you know how he brought something special to that charactor?  Well, Heath Ledger did that something special for the Joker.  Don’t get me wrong, Jack Nicholson played a great Joker – but Heath Ledger was truly amazing!  He really took the charactor over the top in the best way.  If I were rating the movie based soley on his performance, it would easily be two thumbs up, 5 stars, a must see.  But, I’m not rating the Joker only…

In all, I give it 3 stars out of 5.  They traded out the eye candy, they missed several shots at a big ending, but the Joker was amazing, the special affects were good, and a few other points I will keep out of the review so I don’t ruin the movie for you.  For now, I have less than three hours before I have to go to work – so g’nite!

The First Ascent of Mt Everest

You may have noticed that today was the anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest.  It caught my eye when I hit the google homepage and got me thinking.  Mankind has made many advances over the last 100 years – we’ve invented cars, airplanes, computers, and television.  These are wonderful inventions and improve our lives – on a daily basis, but there is something life-changing about a personal feat like climbing Mount Everest that is very different than inventing a new device.  As I think about my own life, I consider some of the moments in my life that have made a real impact (my personal Everest moments):

The day I got saved: I don’t know that date and I’m not even sure how old I was, but it was after a church service one night.  I was sitting in the back of the Ford Taurus on the passenger side, looking up at the moon and stars, playing with the nylon hairs where the door handle goes into the door panel.  I sat there in prayer – not the formal “Our Father” type of prayer – the simple child’s conversational prayer when I thought, ‘LORD, I know you are real, I know you gave your son for my sins, but I don’t know if I have ever asked you into my heart – so, just in case I haven’t – please save me and come into my heart’.  I still talk to God this way and my life would be entirely different had it not been for that night, in the back of a Ford Taurus.

The day I decided to go to Bible College: It was raining and I was stuck at the house without a lot to do.  I was bored with what was on television and had already seen the movies (VHS) that we owned but I had not yet watched the WHBC promotional video that my pastor’s wife had given me several days (maybe weeks) before.  I put it in and hit play.  I had never watched a Breakthrough broadcast before, I had never been to World Harvest Church before, and I had no interest in Pastor Rod Parsley either.  I had seen him on Christian Television before, but nothing that made me feel that I should look at his school or church – besides, WHC was located in Columbus, Ohio – and I wasn’t interested in Ohio.  A few minutes into the video and I felt a deep-in-my-soul drawing to WHBC.  I didn’t know then that my future career in IT would begin there or that I would meet my wife there.

The day I left home:It’s an 8 hour drive from my parents house in Stanley, NC to my new dorm room in Columbus OH, it took me over 12.  I packed a couple of suitcases, some towels, a pillow, and a few blankets.  Not to be sent out on my own, my mother drove her white van with the front plate that read “Prayer changes things” right behind me the whole way.  I drove my 1968 VW tan colored bug named Biscuit.  The first delay was when my rear passenger side tire started making some sort of noise.  We pulled over in Virginia and found a parking lot where I could try to determine what the issue was.  A lug nut post had come lose from the threading and was actually working its way into the brake drum.  The next big delay was when the car overheated in Ohio about an hour and a half from our destination.  I was able to safely park it in a McDonald’s parking lot, move my things to my mom’s van and we went on without my bug.  When we finally arrived, it was dark, the day had been much longer than expected, we were all tired, and I noticed the blue lit WHC sign that my mother called soothing was only half lit.  I never moved back into my parents home and I never moved back to NC.

The Day I got Stephanie’s phone number: It was a Sunday.  I had known Stephanie for a couple of years and I had already graduated from Bible College.  I had a lunch date planned with a friend of mine – an old girlfriend to be honest.  But then, Stephanie found me in the foyer of the church.  She was excited to see me since we hadn’t seen each other in a while.  We had been close friends the first year of Bible college, but never romantic in the least.  After a little bit of small talk, she wrote her number on my hand.  I met my old girlfriend in the parking lot and told her about my Stephanie-reunion.  I even asked her to write down Stephanie’s number for me so I wouldn’t lose it when it came off my hand.  I think that was rude of me since I was having the girl I used to date and was on a current lunch date (albeit just as friends) write down another girl’s number for me, but had things gone differently that day – I might not be where I am today.

I could go on, but its late and I think I’m going to save them for a second post… until then…