In another strange twist in a wonderfully bizarre year, I find myself typing this blog using pirated wireless internet in the guest bedroom of my Uncle Dennis' home in Costa Mesa, California. As a part of this Beeson Pastor experience, we were told we could go visit two churches we want to see, all expenses paid by the Beeson Center (Thank You Uncle Frank!). Thus, after a totally (and I am not making this up.... it was the best flight I've ever been on) smooth flight on Delta Airlines, a rented MPV mini-van (I reserved a HHR.... they apparently knew how to TAKE the reservation, but couldn't HOLD the reservation, which is really the most important part of the reservation process), a trip to the Soup Plantation (it's like the Golden Corral, except there's no meat... just salad and soup and surprise - it was great!), a nice day long visit with family, and a few frantic phone calls to bolster some last minute arrangements, I'm in the heart of the O.C., thirty minutes from Laguna Beach.
Strange, but true.
Have never been California before, and it pretty much looks like Ohio, except its pretty and warm. Am wondering why my Dad's brother had the foresight to come out here years ago and buy real estate that is now priced out of the stratosphere (no joke kids... I'm in a very nice ranch style house, with no basement, on a tiny lot, and the average value of a home on this street is $750,000) and I'm living near my folks in Lima? How did that happen? Dad became an engineer cause Dennis became an engineer. Why not follow his lead and move somewhere where it's in the 70's year round with no mosquitoes?
Anyhow, over the next six days I'll be doing nine interviews at All-Saints Episcopal church in Pasadena, making what MapQuest says is a seven-hour trek to Tucson, Arizona to do eight more interviews and some worship at Casas Adobes Church, a stop in Phoenix to see a former youth group-ite from the very old days, and will end my experience eating a place called Ruby's which sits on a pier, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I already received the treat of seeing my cousin Brenda, her husband Brad, and most of their kids (the oldest is 22 and a senior at Cal-Poly, while their youngest is 5 and starting kindergarten next year.... pardon me while I laugh so hard that I damage my spleen. Also, that reminds me, I'll need to make a little appointment with a doctor when I get home). Here's a couple of pics:
All of Brenda's boys play all kinds of sports, ski, ride motorcycles in the desert, have lots of fun, and break lots of bones. They are great kids. Their folks are doing a great job raising their boys.
Later in the evening Dennis and Sandy's daughter (my cousin) Heather and her husband Paul stopped by for dinner (Salmon on the grill, salad, green beans, and lots of other healthy stuff... between that the salad today my system doesn't know what to do), as did also Sandy's mother. It was a lovely evening of my catching up with family and hearing what Californians talk about, which is mostly the price of real estate, the beautiful place they just went to or about to go to, and how to drive from point A to point B.
And by far, most of the time is spent on talking about the best way to get places. It's like an obsession in these parts, where everything (except the beach) is an hour away unless the traffic is bad. So you talk about the best ways to beat the traffic. I'm just hoping I don't get lost and end up in Compton with Dr. Dre or in the LBC with Snoop Dogg . I've seen to many rap videos and movies about South Central to feel safe in that part of the world. Fo shizzle, my hizzle!
Anyhow, I've been up since 4am EST, and now it's almost 2am at home, so I'd better hit the hay. More tomorrow if the neighbor doesn't encrypt their wireless internet before tomorrow night.
But before I do, say a little prayer for my cousin Rhonda (Brenda and Heather's sister) who just had surgery (probably the only breast reduction done in the last six months in Southern California - I hear it's already made a huge difference for the better in how she feels), Sue Dickerson (knee replacement surgery - heard her knee was so bad that the surgeon said she'd have less pain in post-op with no meds than what she experienced walking around on that thing), and for Stacy Minger, a prof at Asbury (who traveled with us to London and Korea) who has been experiencing some MS-esque symptoms the past few days (very serious!).
Guess I'll do a little California dreamin'.