Good-Bye Again

According to several tour guides and other people I talked to, there is a sort of supernatural draw of people to Gettysburg and the famous Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania.  Lisa and I certainly understood that attraction after spending over four months there this past summer and fall.  Just like the two armies were drawn to that location one hundred and fifty years ago, people go there to pause and think and remember those tragic events of that tragic war.

Lisa and I now understand the “draw” people have for southern California.  I have heard some tell of family and friends who came here and never went home again.  We feel the need to take back some of our bad-mouthing that we may have done about this place early on.  Much of that had to do with being here during the Christmas holidays – away from home and family and far, far away from Kentucky winter weather.  But now we freely admit – we absolutely love the weather here in Loma Linda and we fully understand why people would not want to leave.

But tomorrow we will begin our two thousand mile drive home and after four months away – we are ready to see our family and friends again (Yes – we are even looking forward to seeing our dog, Agnes).  And then there is the anticipation of our first grandchild on his way – so there is much to look forward to.

Saying our good-byes are never easy.  We became very attached to people in Hanover Pa., and we both are looking forward to a return trip very soon.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that Lisa may be reassigned there sometime and if not in Hanover – then somewhere in that area would be wonderful.  Now we find ourselves again facing some painful good-byes here in Loma Linda.  Aside from the near perfect weather (we now realize how brutal weather is in Kentucky) there are some people we will miss.  Though we have not made as many friends here as we did in Hanover, there are some really good people who have been very nice to us and it is still hard to part company.  We will be going out to eat with some of them one last time this evening and I’m sure saying good-bye will be hard.  This part of traveling is just not easy.

Besides the friends we have made – we will miss other aspects of Loma Linda and southern California.

I will miss the perfect conditions for walking (or jogging or bike riding, or skateboarding, or wind surfing – whatever requires being outdoors).  Since January the high temperatures have been in the mid-seventies and the lows (with just a few exceptions) have been low fifties.  I could count on one hand the number of days we have had rain and if its snow you want – we are ten miles from a ski resort.  You want to walk along the ocean shore? We have been less than an hour away.  This place offers everything.

We will miss being within an hour of Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks.

We will miss the “In and Out” burgers.

We will miss the Ontario Mills Mall and the Victoria Gardens shopping complex.

We will miss Stater Brothers grocery.

I will miss seeing and talking to the veterans while walking through the Veterans Hospital complex.

We will miss the relaxed pace and slow. easy-going flow of life here.  Lisa was amazed that people at her work would come in late and nobody really cared – just as long as you completed your eight hours – it did not really matter.  We thought driving here would be difficult.  But to our amazement it was easier driving here on the twelve lane freeways than most places we have been.  Here people will actually let you merge – no problem.  Avoiding the motorcyclists was a problem since they tend to squeeze between cars going seventy miles an hour while doing wheelies and standing on their seat.  We could not decide if we should be mad or applaud the show.

But mostly it will be the people we have met that we will miss the most.  It always, in the end, is really about people.  We don’t know where God will send us next – it is the exciting and scary part of a traveling job.  But we do know there will be people there to meet and get to know.  And then another day will come like it will for us here today and tomorrow – when we will again have to say good-bye.

On our way home!

Steve and Lisa



Our New Digs and More

This and that:

Lisa and I moved around the corner from where we have been since we arrived in Loma Linda in early December.  Because Lisa was extended three weeks at the last-minute – we were unable to keep our apartment and secured a room here in the Loma Linda Inn – literally not more than a hundred yards away.  The room is nice but is just that – a room.  We have already bumped into each other and feel cramped – but (trust me) we can survive these last eleven days.  (Hang on a minute – Lisa needs to get around me…, “My gosh! Will you get settled – Your knee is in my side”).  Ok – maybe this won’t be as easy as I thought.

We have made some friends who are here for the proton cancer treatment and had been living across from us at our apartment.  Richard and his wife are here from Arkansas (Little Rock) and he is undergoing the treatment for prostate cancer. He told me that there are three locations in the United States that provide proton cancer treatments and that Loma Linda University Hospital has the most experience and came highly recommended.  I hope to share more about the treatment and share that here on our blog.  They are extremely nice and we promised to look them up for dinner if we are ever in Little Rock.  One of the things Lisa and I have enjoyed most in our travels is getting to know people and we have stayed in touch with friends in Hanover, Pa. since we left there in October.

Lisa met a lady at her work whose (former) boyfriend married “Little Debbie” of the snack cake company.  I’m not kidding about this.  There really is a “Little Debbie” whose family owns the company and her face is who is seen on the box.  They live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I confess I’ve had a love affair with Little Debbie for a long time – “Devil Squares”, “Swiss Rolls”, and “Cherry Cordials”.

Lisa and I had to kill some time today waiting for our room and we visited some car lots to kick some tires.  Met a sales manager for the local Hyundai dealership whose aunt (his dad’s sister) married the Greenwell of Greenwell Chisholm printing in Owensboro.  He has been to Owensboro several times.  Small world indeed.

We were told today that when you live here long enough you can actually hear a rumbling before an earthquake hits.  Apparently you hear it before you feel it.  For most of the earthquakes we have had – I’ve not heard or felt them.  Lisa will also tell you – I wouldn’t notice a moose in our backyard.

See Everyone Soon!

Love, Steve and Lisa


Update: Lisa and I will start home on Thursday March 28th after she is done with work and we will try to get to Flagstaff Ar. On Friday our goal is to get to Oklahoma City and then be in Owensboro Saturday night (Easter Eve).  We have to move out of our apartment this Sunday and will spend the last week and a half at the Loma Linda Inn which is just around the corner.  It is essentially a hotel room – but we will make do.  We are excited to get home and spend time in Owensboro before Lisa’s next assignment – wherever and whenever that will be.

We have lived through some really bad weather situations in our lives – a couple of tornadoes, severe ice storms, and many high wind thunder storms come to mind.  Now we can add “earthquake” to that list.  In fact there have been five minor earthquakes felt here in Loma Linda in the four months we have been here – four in the last three weeks.  Lisa thought I had fallen out of bed last night only to realize it was yet another earthquake.  Fortunately – they have all been minor (5.2 or less) but have been enough to shake us up.

People who have lived in California seem to pay very little attention to earthquakes.  I would assume they blow them off about the way people at home ignore tornado watches.  But I am not gonna lie – these earthquakes scare the bejesus out of me.  There is something unnaturally powerful about the sound and reverberations earthquakes cause.  I can now fully appreciate their severity and understand their potential devastation.  No wonder places like Haiti were so decimated by the power of an earthquake.

Where once the drill was to get under a desk or something sturdy, now they tell everyone to exit any building during an earthquake and to be on guard for possible aftershocks.   So I have spent time running down our steps to get outside our apartment and have it down to about six seconds.  In recent days there have been some forecasting a bigger earthquake is possible – especially in the next seventy-two hours. I may just stay outside for the next three days – geez! They are also telling people to have two weeks of supplies at the ready in case of power outages and travel limitations. Ain’t no problem

Should something like that happen Lisa and I will be ready – we have a full tank of gas and a good map to get us home.  We will be out of here!

God willing we will see everyone in a couple of weeks.

Peace! Steve and Lisa

Our Poor Feet

Here in California Lisa and I have discovered that one doesn’t have to look long for places of business specializing in hair, nails, eyelashes, or massages.  Those businesses are everywhere.  Lisa has tapped into the fake eyelash craze and is amazed at the amount of business at these places.  At twenty to thirty dollars a pop – I realize I missed my calling.  Forget college – heck I should have learned how to glue fake eyelashes on.  Maybe there is still time.

Lisa and I share many things in common and a healthy amount of differences to keep our marriage interesting.  She loves home improvement shows on television and I love sports.  She loves Lifetime movies – I love sports.  You get the idea.  But we share one common, frustrating trait that manages to rear its ugliness anytime we go to purchase shoes.  We both have really weird feet.

Lisa was blessed with nice looking feet but they are extremely small.  Let me put it this way – most of the time the only tennis shoes she can find that fit her size four and half feet – light up or have cartoon characters on them.  I am amazed she can stand up on those things.  It is especially frustrating for her seeing all the latest fashions here in southern California.  Unfortunately the women out here must have whopper size feet to fit into these things.  Now let me tell you about my dogs.

My feet are flat, wide, high arched, bunion jutted atrocities that even my kids refuse to look at.  When I say they are wide – let me explain.  They are WIDE – like 4E wide.  They are almost as wide as they are long.  Where Lisa’s feet seem almost out of balance to give her support – mine are so wide one would have to wonder if I could ever be knocked over with these things.  Most of the shoes I find to fit these freakish clown feet only come with velcro straps.  I am absolutely convinced that all shoe manufacturers sit back and laugh at the wide shoe styles they come up with.  I mean they not only are not stylish – most look like something that should be sold only in a medical supply store.  Could they at least put a stripe or add a little color or is there a weird shoe rule that wide sizes must come in only solid white or solid black without any other markings?  Come to think of it – maybe that is a good thing.  I don’t want to draw any more attention to these kayaks at the bottom of my stumpy legs than I have to.

Recently, Lisa talked me into going with her to one of the many nail places in Loma Linda for her to have her nails done and talked me into having a pedicure.  I actually felt sorry for the little Asian lady as she sat on the stool at the end of my recliner and watched as I removed my shoes and socks.  I did notice that once my file cabinet feet were revealed she turned the water up a little hotter and poured more of the disinfectant into it  She then motioned for me to place my feet in the water and they boiled for several minutes before she was (apparently) ready to place even her gloved hands on them.  But really – I don’t blame her.  If I didn’t have to put my shoes and socks on every day I wouldn’t touch em either.  After adequately disinfecting my Fred Flintstones, she proceeded to pick, clip, scrape, sand and massage before returning them back to more disinfectant and finally a clear coat of polish.  Wow! I could not believe it!  They were still the ugliest feet I had ever seen – even cleaned, clipped and polished.  I paid thirty bucks for that treatment and felt like I should have apologized to the nice lady and slipped her another twenty just for touching these things.

Soon I will be needing a new pair of tennis shoes and will once again go through the frustration of trying to find a cool looking pair of ten and half, quadruple “wides”.  I will go into the shoe store with high hopes thinking that Nike or Adidas or other name brand shoe companies finally gave in to that small population of people like me with two by six feet by giving them something with style.  I will see many really nice shoes on the shelves and not one of them will fit.  I will even try to squeeze into some of the needle wide “cool” shoes and limp around for a moment thinking they may work.  But then, realizing my bunion is about to pop some threads on the side and that my toes are turning blue – will return to the only pair of  “wides” in the store.  They will be a solid white pair with two velcro straps and given a really cool name like, “Air Comforts”.  They might as well call them, “Air Ugly Asses”.

So the search continues.  If you find some 4E’s for men or Barbie sized shoes for women – go ahead and buy them for us.  The check is in the mail.

Ouch and Out!

Steve and Lisa

Nixon Library and Museum

Yorba Linda, California is about forty miles from Loma Linda and Lisa and I traveled there yesterday to visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.  Nixon was born on the property and the original farmhouse where he lived until the age of nine is still standing and can be viewed by visitors.  Nixon is probably the most controversial President in history and to view exhibits detailing the Watergate scandal seemed surreal.  The Museum holds nothing back about the scandal and eventual resignation of our 37th President.

But much that is displayed was memorable for Lisa and I beyond all the controversy.  The space program and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon is highlighted as is the work Nixon did in China and, of course, Vietnam.  In one corner of the courtyard you can see Buzz Aldrin’s footprints imbedded in concrete and displays feature recordings of Nixon on the phone with the astronauts on the moon and food that was taken to the moon on Apollo 11 that was never opened.   Nixon’s presidency reminded Lisa and I of our childhood and many of the displays feature sets designed to reflect the 1960s.

I was struck with Nixon’s fortitude. We remember his resignation speech and the way he smiled and saluted when he and his family left the White House on the Presidential Helicopter.  His famous “you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” speech came after he lost the California governor’s race in 1962 and is detailed at the museum.  The amazing thing is that Nixon lost that election after serving eight years as Vice-President under Eisenhower.  And yet he came back in 1968 and in 1972 and won the Presidency.  It was impressive that the museum did nothing to hide the man’s defeats and I find that admirable.  It was interesting to Lisa and I that while living in Gettysburg – we visited Eisenhower’s farm and home located near the famous Civil War battlefield and here in California we were able to visit Nixon’s birthplace and realized they served as President and Vice-President together for eight years.

There is also some attention given to the famous Nixon meeting with Elvis Presley and we were told the photo of Elvis and Nixon together in the Oval Office is the most requested picture at the National Archives.

One room is dedicated to gifts Nixon received while in office.  Interestingly enough – presidents then were not allowed to keep any gift valued over $50.  Today that minimum amount is $350.  There is also a banquet room that is an exact replica of the White House “East Room” and workers were setting up for what looked like a wedding and reception while we were there.

The funniest story detailed at the museum is one about Nixon presenting Russian leader, Leonid Brezhvev with an automobile as a gift while at Camp David.  Bezhnev insisted on taking it for a ride around the camp and Nixon didn’t think he would live through the experience.  Brezhnev was taking turns designed for twenty miles an hour doing fifty.  Really funny to read and imagine those two in that car spinning around Camp David.

But, perhaps the most interesting part of the Nixon museum was touring the helicopter.  Seeing where the President and first lady sat as they were flown away from the White House after his resignation left me wondering what that ride must have been like and feeling a bit sad for he and his family.

Nixon and his wife, Pat, are buried on the museum’s grounds.

Take Care!

Steve and Lisa