Let Us Introduce You

When all is said and done – it really is the people you meet.  Lisa and I have come to that conclusion as we reflect on this vagabond life we have taken on as we travel the country with Lisa’s job as a traveling ultra-sound technician.  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and its surrounding area was historic with profound meaning as a place in history.  But we remember most Megan and Scott, Karen and her family, John (who I met while shooting basketball in his neighborhood) and Don Knox – whose son is an animator for Disney.  And in Loma Linda, California we remember mostly Amy and Mark and Marcello and Martha.

And now it is time to introduce you to some of the people we have gotten to know here in Kingman, Arizona.  So without further ado:

Meet Paul Daniel.  Paul is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Kingman.  We have actually not met him personally – only have heard him preach twice – but we love his family and his style of preaching.  Our first Sunday visiting the church – we learned that he was recovering from a heart attack but was expected back to the pulpit the following Sunday.  As we were about to leave that morning, a lovely young lady approached us and introduce herself as the pastor’s daughter.  She was so welcoming to us that Lisa and I decided to return the following week.  Her father, Paul, preached the next two weeks and we fell in love with his relaxed demeanor and casual style.  Where so many preachers seem to be loaded up with “Red Bull” and blow and go with such gusto it seems they hardly take a breath – Paul’s “aw shucks” kind of style has been a welcomed respite from the ‘fire hydrant force preaching style’ of the day.  At one point during the service he invited people to come forward and kneel at the altar while he led in prayer and he did so with such ease I was not surprised to see half the church go forward.  Just no big deal.  I also noticed there was no offering taken up and no invitation in the end.  Lisa and I loved that.  When he finished preaching he had a prayer and said, “You’re free to leave. Have a great day!”  I did notice that they managed to reach their weekly budget as printed in their order of service – so I suppose not “taking up” an offering did not matter much.  People gave by placing their offering in a box as they left without being told how or shown the plate.  I hope my telling this does not create problems for them in the Southern Baptist Convention.  Not having an invitation or designated offering time during the service may be more dangerous to some than denouncing the trinity or the virgin birth.  But – way to go First Southern of Kingman!

Meet JC and Carol.  When you live in an RV park – you see people come and go on a daily basis.  Since we are in a popular vacation area (Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon all within two hours or less) we notice a lot of people come and go.  But we have met some of the long-term campers including JC and Carol.  Although they live in Las Vegas, they travel to higher elevation spots during the hot summer to avoid the furnace like temperatures of Vegas and other lower elevation cities.  Of course the first week we arrived in Kingman they had record high temperatures here not seen before in a hundred years.  But since that first week the temperatures have normalized and average 98 – 100 degrees.  JC, we learned, is a retired craps dealer and an interesting fellow.  I asked him how to win at craps and his reply is one I will never forget.  “Don’t play!”  Carol is a retired nurse who also traveled some with her job and is now recovering from cancer.  Very boisterous and fun, she is the one who pulls people together to go out to eat or get together at the pool.

Tom and Diane.  Another long-term camping couple we have met is Tom and Diane from Redding, California.  Diane’s father lives here in Kingman and is in poor health and so they are here for a few months taking care of him.  This very nice couple have a few dogs that they keep and recently was the cause of a stir with an unfriendly neighbor.  All their dogs are completely harmless – one is toothless, one is too fat to hardly move and the third is a skittish Chihuahua seemingly afraid of his own shadow.  A neighbor complained that their dogs were off their leash and the camp manager threatened to have them evicted.  In years to come it will be known as the great “Kingman KOA Dog Controversy of 2013”.  I learned of the problem and that they may be asked to leave one day while talking to them at the pool and the next day they were gone.  I was so depressed that they had been asked to leave – I told Lisa it made me not want to stay here any longer.  The next day, while driving through the RV park – I noticed that had, in fact, only relocated to a different RV spot – away from their tattle-tale neighbor.  Whew!  I was so glad to see them later I nearly hugged their necks.  So Peyton Place is back to normal and all is right with world.

Gary.  Lisa was told that one of her co-workers would be hard to get along with and she may not like working with him.  What the hospital did not know is that Lisa is a southern girl who could find good in Stalin.  She and Gary have actually hit if off very well and she may be the only traveler here (and they have had many) that has been able to appreciate Gary’s dry sense of humor and skill as an echo-tech.  Whenever I hear that Lisa may not get along with someone – I just have to laugh.  When that day comes, I believe, Armageddon may be around the corner.

Hope you like our new friends – we think they would like you.

See ya!

Steve and Lisa


Life in the Mohave

It is hard to believe that Lisa and I are already nearing our first month here in Arizona.  My how time flies when its 100 plus degrees every day.  To be honest – we are adjusting to the climate and are getting more and more comfortable living here in the Mohave Desert (actually are living in “Mohave County”).  The people here are really no different from anywhere else.  They complain about the weather and politics – go to church and don’t go to church – exercise and don’t exercise.  People here do seem to think Lisa and I talk different.  But (like in Pennsylvania) we think they do.

We have been attending the 1st Southern Baptist Church of Kingman.  I’m not sure why it isn’t just called the “1st and Last Southern Baptist Church of Kingman” since it is really both – but that may be a little wordy.  The church is small – probably 150 people in attendance for two services on Sunday.  This past Sunday we joined them in a patriotic celebration and even waved little American flags during a medley singing of all the military branch theme songs.  It is good to know there are still people who love America and love God – even out here in the Mohave Desert.

Kingman has a downtown area that is promoted as being part of the original Route 66 highway.  Like downtowns all across the country – it is full of empty buildings, a couple of mom and pop restaurants and few antique/junk stores.  Lisa and I ate at “Redneck Bar B-Q” yesterday and were interested in seeing they referred to their food as being like Memphis Bar B-Q.  No one we spoke to had heard of Owensboro – so we didn’t try to convince them we were from the Bar B-Q capital of the world.

Life in an RV park has its ups and downs.  People generally are very friendly and we have made some friends that we go eat with occasionally.  Others seem a little territorial and petty with regard to their RV space – so we avoid those blessings.  Some come here to Kingman every summer to avoid the higher temperatures of the lower elevation cities such as Las Vegas, Lake Havasu and Needles (California).  Some of those places can average 120 – 130 degrees in the summer.  Lisa and I traveled 40 miles south to Lake Havasu City this past Monday and the temperature there was 115.  Lake Havasu City features the London Bridge which was purchased at auction by a Lake Havasu business man for 2.5 million dollars and moved piece by piece from England in 1968.  They reconstructed the bridge on Lake Havasu and it is now a popular attraction and a pretty good bar bet.  Lisa and I took some quick pictures of the bridge and then headed back to our air-conditioned truck.  I told her get a good look – because we ain’t never coming back here again.

Wildlife is a little different out here and (thankfully) we have not seen our first rattlesnake or scorpion.  We have spotted some jackrabbits (strange-looking, long -eared rabbits that run like a kangaroo) and many fat, long-tailed lizards that seem as frightened by us as we are of them.  There are some other rodent-like creatures scurrying around that I am trying to identify.  As long as they stay in the field and out of our RV – we will get along fine.  If one ever manages to invade our camper – Lisa will be moved out and checked into the nearest hotel before I will realize she’s gone.  She does not do heat or creepy creatures very well – though she is doing better with the heat.  I have little faith that she will ever adjust to having strange-looking creatures anywhere near her.  I should feel lucky she lets me in the RV.

Have a great day!

Steve and Lisa




This Past Friday

A couple of years ago my son, Justin, and I invested in a piece of property with the hope of “flipping” it for a profit.  It took an entire year to complete the project as we ended up taking the interior down to the studs and adding a new kitchen and bathroom.  It ended up being a really nice house that we were proud of but, unfortunately, could never sell outright.  We ended up renting the property and have been doing so for the past year and a half.

I struggled trying to figure out why it never sold.  Everyone loved the property and the neighborhood – but we never received one offer.  All the hard work and the hours and hours spent trying to complete the project seemed all in vain.  Until this past Friday.

Justin and I had talked for a while about him eventually moving into the house.  Eventually, Lisa and I hoped, he would bring a new bride to live there with him.  And so we would mention that scenario on occasions to him but he never really committed to moving or marrying.  Until this past Friday.

Now parents reading this will understand when I say that Lisa and I have been praying for the spouses of both our daughter and son since the day they were born.  We have always wanted them to marry someone that would love them as much as we did and love God and our family as well.  Heather was able to find that match a few years ago.  With Justin – we just had to wait.  Until this past Friday.

In November Justin got serious about possibly asking his girlfriend, Lori Johnson, to marry him when he invested in an engagement ring.  Lisa and I felt that an engagement would happen by Christmas.  Then we thought it may take place soon after we got home from Loma Linda, California.  When that did not happen we began to think it may never happen – until this past Friday.

We had decided that one way or another Justin would move into our remodeled house and so we offered our renters a six month lease with the understanding they would probably have to move out by the end of July.  We were hoping that Justin would ask Lori for her hand in marriage before we left on Lisa’s next work assignment.  But that did not happen as we headed back west to Kingman Arizona.  Before we left Justin decided to go ahead and move into the house but he would not commit to when he would get engaged.  Still waiting and still wondering – Lisa and I left for Arizona more unsure than ever that he would ask Lori to be his wife.  Until this past Friday.

While working on that house I had many people come and say that I was doing way too much.  Some said I should just clean it up and throw some paint on the walls and call it done.  However, I just could not do that.  I wanted it to be a nice home and so we went above and beyond – putting in all new windows, insulating all the walls – even adding an additional bedroom.  But it never sold and I could not figure out why – until this past Friday.

This past Friday our renters finally moved out, Justin invited Lori over to see the house for the first time.  There in that house where we sweat and bled and almost cried over numerous times – he asked her to be his bride.  The date for a wedding has not yet been set – but they will live in our little remodeled house and there they will start their lives together.

I have written before about theologian Eugene Peterson’s idea that life is really a story and that in our lives we often cannot understand why some things happen the way they do.  He described his wife and he reading books together and often she would say, “Why did that happen?” or “What does that mean?”  He reminds her that she needs to let the storyteller tell the story and eventually they would understand.  “We are on page 200 – we may not know until page 326.  Let the storyteller tell the story.”

That is the way I now can look at the story of our remodeled house.  Lisa and I have been stuck on page 200 with a lot of unanswered questions – until this past Friday.  The storyteller just told us the part about how our son would use that house as the setting to propose to his future bride.  The story of their marriage and life together is in just the first chapter – with many pages yet to be turned.  All those prayers – all the waiting – all the worrying was really unnecessary since the part of this story Lisa and I have waited for so long – has finally been told.

Thank God, the great storyteller, for this past Friday.

Congratulations Justin and Lori

Love, Steve and Lisa

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Traveling with Lisa’s job this past year has allowed us to experience life in various places – see some amazing things and meet some wonderful people.  But along the way we have grown more appreciative of home.  While in Pennsylvania we found ourselves missing the high school football season and sweet tea.  In Loma Linda California we missed Christmas at home with family, gas under $4 a gallon and the good chance of snow in December.

Now we are experiencing our second week in Kingman Arizona and already know one thing we miss – grass.

I go through a phase every summer when it crosses my mind to lay fake grass turf in  our yard to avoid mowing.  In the spring the grass grows so fast it is hardly necessary to put the mower away before needing to crank it up again.  Grass grows everywhere in Kentucky.  It will find every crack in the sidewalk and has been known to pull down gutters as it roots itself among roofing gravel and rotting leaves.  Caring for a yard in Kentucky calls for an arsenal of tools and talent to keep a lawn looking acceptable.  Not here in Arizona.  All you need is a stiff rake.

Lisa and I are just not use to the rocky, sandy, dusty, dirty appearance of lawns here in the desert.  Where you find grass growing here you will also find a lawn watering system sophisticated enough to care for a major league baseball field.  Now when I see a grassy area – I want to stop the truck and throw myself headlong into it.  Lawn mower salesmen are starving to death out here.

While in Gettysburg last summer – the campground where we stayed required long-term campers (like ourselves) to weed their own campsites.  I had to go purchase a weed eater and (not really knowing what expect) brought it with us out here to Arizona.  I found a little patch of something growing near our camper the other day and am hoping it gets high enough to require a little weed eating – which should help me feel like home. We have found Kingman to have every amenity in terms of restaurants, groceries and entertainment – just no grass.

So next time you have to go out and cut grass – think of us out here in the desert.  And go easy with that “Round-Up” will you?.  Those weeds really are beautiful things.

Happy mowing!

Steve and Lisa