Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why "Nathan Movies"

I often receive friendly criticism for the type of movies that I collect and enjoy. My friends up here at Hume call them "Nathan movies". I suggest that people come over to watch a movie, and they say, "as long as it's not a Nathan movie." And, I have to admit that I don't often watch movies solely for entertainment value. Sometimes, I do, sure, but sometimes the movies that I watch aren't an enjoyable experience. Sometimes they are, but not always. The movies that I tend to buy, I do so because I want to see them and think that others should see them as well, but they are the kind of movies that I wouldn't be able to borrow from a friend or neighbor. I do enjoy the blockbuster action movies, chic flicks, and romantic comedies, but I could find those in most anybodies' collection. I like movies that move me to care about the world, and to care about the people in the world. I like movies that resonate with who God has made me to be.

So, I've wondered how to describe the movies and stories that I like. I've said that I like movies about reality and truth, even if they are told through fiction, even if the truth is painful. I like movies that move me, that I identify with in some way. I like movies that make me cry, that invoke real emotion. I like documentaries and foreign films. I like artistic movies that see the world and the people in it through a different perspective deeper than the surface. These kind of statements were my best attempts at describing the kind of movies I like.

I just recently watched the French Three Colors trilogy (Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge) by the Polish writer/director Krzysztof Kieślowski. I really liked them, and even more, I liked watching all the behind the scenes videos about the director and the film makers. In their words I discovered a good description of why I like the movies that I like. Check out these quotes:

"He [Kieślowski] understands that the Cinema is a great tool to tell the audience about something else. The story is only a pretext."

-Slawomir Idziak


"They're not Genre films. They're not Love stories, as we think of them. They're not even Art movies, as we think of them. You wonder how Kieślowski and Piesiewicz, his co-screen writer, even dreamed up these stories. They're full of odd little details. He was trying to make films about the soul, for want of a better word, or about destiny. And, I think he succeeded more than most people have done with Cinema. And, of course, in doing that, he's actually getting to some very basic questions that we have about our lives: why are we here?, how do we find happiness?, what's going to happen to us when we die?, how do we react to the death of other people?, what's important in life?, is it equality?, is it love? And, he's dealing with these very abstract things, but in a very material and accessible way, and I think that's what made him great, and what made him popular."

-Geoff Andrew

Film Critic and Author

When Krzysztof Kieślowski would select his cast and crew, he would talk to them about philosophy and their lives, asking them questions about life and death. He wanted to get to know the souls of the people that he would be working with. It was those things that were of first importance to him in the making of a film. I suppose his belief was that these things would carry through their acting, their editing, their cinematography into the very soul of the film itself. I believe that in many ways, he was right. This reminds me of David, when he being full of the Holy Spirit played his harp for Saul when he was being tormented. There is something deeper, something spiritual from the soul that is communicated through the artist in his performance.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


oh, how I long for Heaven.

Oh, come
Oh, come Emmanuel
And, Ransom Captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here.

I'm crying right now.

One of my closest friend's dad just passed away from a fight with cancer yesterday.

I wish I could be there, close, to hug you.


I'm crying. I don't know what else to do.


An Italian movie with English subtitles about a Spanish-speaking Chilean poet.

Il Postino feels like one of my favourite movies.
I think it's mostly just that, the feel of it, the music, the awkward main character who reminds me of the genuine, beautiful simplicity and depth of my friend John Coghlan, the poetry of Pablo Neruda, the ocean...
I've fallen asleep listening to the soundtrack before, and woken up in Paris.

Here are a few quotes:

"The whole world is a metaphor for something else."

This reminds me of the shadowlands that George MacDonald wrote about in The Golden Key. C.S. Lewis echoed this same imagery in many of his writings. The movie Shadowlands, the biography of Lewis used this title because it was such a big theme in his life. The idea that the created world that we experience, and all goodness and beauty is just a shadow of what is truly real. The word "poetry" comes from Greek "poema" which means to create. Our longings and desires are just shadows, meant to show us and bring us to to the reality of our God and creator, Jesus Christ. This same theme is described beautifully in chapter 7, Dulce Domum (sweet home) of the Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Graham. If you've got a copy on your shelf or can find it in your neighborhood library, it would be worth it to shake off that childish dust accumulated from years of neglect and rediscover at least this one chapter of a classic tale. And, if you want to travel farther down that same road, find another of my favorites, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. If you want some biblical foundation for all these fancies, a good place to start would be Hebrews 11, specifically verses 8-15. Our scriptures are laced with with this ribbon. Jesus Christ is Longing Fulfilled.

Here's another quote from Il Postino, A poem by Pablo Neruda
(Try reading it while listening to the sound of the sea.):

And it was at that age...
Poetry arrived
in search of me.
I don't know how,
I don't know where
it came from, from winter or river,
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of the night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

-Pablo Neruda

a little inspiration

I was watching the 1988 black and white movie Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire is the English title) by German director Wim Wenders. It's the original movie that the movie City of Angeles was based upon. It's a beautiful movie, both the photography and the story. It feels like a very old movie, perhaps due to the european style and the old school cinematographer Jürgen Knieper. It stars Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, and Peter Faulk. Peter plays himself, an actor filming an episode of Columbo in Berlin.

There were some great lines and a bit of poetic imagery that I wanted to post here. I'm not sure if these were written by some famous german poet,by Wim Wenders, or by the screenwriter Peter Handke. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these two. I know that they resonated with me.

"Longing. Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me. That's what makes me clumsy. The absence of pleasure. Desire for love. Desire to love. "

When the child was a child...
it lived on apples and bread,
that was enough.

and, it is still that way.

When the child was a child...
berries fell only like berries
into its hand...

and, they still do now.

Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw...

and, they still do now.

Atop each mountain,
it was longing...
for a higher mountain.

And, in each city,
it was longing for a bigger city...

and, it still does.

...reached in the treetop for cherries...
as elated as it still is.
...was shy in front of strangers.

and, it still is.

...waited for the first snow...

and, it still waits that way.

When the child was a child...
it threw a stick like a lance into a tree.

and, it is still quivering there today.


Just six before I fall asleep.
Six moments spoken wordlessly.

The Rain on roof and
windows, sigh.
The street by lamplight
soft and harsh.
The breath of ocean
beneath the wind.
The still of time
as winter comes.
The passionate soul;
a song beside me.
The cool of covers
embracing, consoling.

Six moments spoken wordlessly
―not as here
which mar their form and
tear their beauty

at night

before I dream




Small is a word that

I am


at night

in crowds in conversation
in waves that overwhelm
in tides
that sweep and fade

where mountains rise
above the shore

where earth succumbs
beneath the throws of
all the heartache of The Sea


carries out to


what's left of all




from my Journal - Thanksgiving

I do love traveling. I know that I'm only on a train from Fresno to Fullerton, but I still love it. I love watching the land roll away; seeing the backs of the buildings, the goats and sheep wandering in the junk yards of yester-year's Americana. I love all the strange faces; personalities so separate, yet riding together on a shared adventure yet to be realized. The children, the kids, loud and quiet, wild and shy, may annoy some, but I find joy in the privilege of being their traveling companion.
I had thirty minutes to wait for a connection at Union Station in LA. So, I walked around outside on the streets watching the people. I wish I had longer... I would have gotten a hot, french dip sandwich at Philippes across the corner and walked up the Historic Olvera Street where the Hispanic heart of this beautiful city still beats.

I got a thrill as I walked down the tunnel to track 12, platform B with all the people pushing past me just coming off their trains busy to be home. As we rolled out of the station, the setting sun filled the sky with it's golden light while a single building stood silhouetted against the sky, its windows orange against the blue haze of the LA sky. I felt its weight as if a sigh escaped as our departing train slid by.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How I Spend My Evenings, as of Late

A few nights ago a friend of mine needed some help making decorations for his coming wedding. He was building candle holders out of the thick cardboard tubes found in the center of industrial rolls of newsprint. He somehow obtained over forty remnant rolls from the Fresno-Bee newspaper with a “mere” hundred yards or so of paper left on each of them. Our task was to get rid of the paper and salvage the cardboard tubes. This turned out to be great fun as soon as six of us got involved, pooling our creativity and energy late one night.

The first method we tried was using razor blades to cut through the inch or more of paper along the tube length-wise, then peel it back and lift the tube out of the newly created paper stack. This was hard on the fingers and quite slow. It would take one person nearly ten minutes on just one roll. There had to be a better way. One person started rolling his roll down the hill, kicking it off into the dark. While this might have been fun, it kept tearing and catching along the ground, thus slowing him down to about the same pace I was going. Then someone else had a brilliant idea, which turned out to be very quick and quite fun. We used a bench press outside of the weight room as a support, then a long wooden dowel on one side of the bench and a shovel handle on the other to hold two rolls at a time as alternating runners pulled them out across the road into the dark. The pile grew very large, very quickly, soon we were running through waded paper three feet deep. It was great fun to have your feet get caught up, tripping and falling, or getting tackled by a friend hiding in the dark. Every once in a while a car would drive by and clear out the paper, spreading it down the road. We worked quickly until all the rolls were all bare, then we collected the paper into a huge pile over eight feet tall, tackling each other, and jumping into as if it were a pile of leaves or a snow drift left over from the snow plow after a storm. When we had it fairly compacted, we pushed, wrestled, and lifted most of it into the back of a full size pickup truck. We had to lay on top of the towering pile to keep it from blowing away as we drove it all up in two trips to the needle dump to be buried and burned. I haven't had so much unexpected fun in, I can't remember how long!

Now that the temperatures drop below freezing at night, I spend my evenings the old-fashioned way: tending a fire. Last week I stacked up a large pile of wood outside the door where it will be easy to get to once the snow comes. I'm impressed with how proficient I've become at building an extremely hot fire, maximizing efficiency each night, in the shortest amount of time possible. I saved a stack of newsprint that I had cut off from two of the paper rolls to use for starting my fires each night. I would much prefer to have some paper with the excellent writing of The Los Angeles Times or even The Chicago Tribune, but seeing how expensive a subscription of that sort would be, this blank stuff works quite well for now. It burns just as well, and I suppose there are less toxins for lack of ink. (I was surprised to notice that the paper is white, and only turns the “newspaper gray” because of the ink residue.)

I've got a little routine down:

I start with the crumpled paper, just one layer of crumpled pieces, cover it with a handful of pine needles, then stack as much wood as I can fit in the wood burning stove on top of it, leaving a channel of air up through the middle. I light the bottom paper just in one spot right in the middle, I immediately close the doors with the small air vents shut as well. I let that burn with the flu open for about five minutes, while I put on a kettle of water, then shut the flu two-thirds. After about twenty minutes, I open the flu, open the doors, poke the logs to collapse them, add wood until it is stacked full, then shut everything as much as I possibly can. Really, this stove is nowhere near as air tight as a Vermont Castings stove like I grew up with at home. If you shut all its vents it kills the fire for lack of oxygen. On this one, I can hear it sucking in from all over, and even see the glow of flame through the large crack which runs across the top plate of the stove. With a full load of pine, all closed down like that, it will burn to nothing in about three hours. I can add wood every hour if I want to keep it burning at its peak temperature. Tonight I had it so hot that I couldn't get close enough to it to add another log. I have no idea how hot that is, but from what I remember of our temperature gages at home, it's way into the red zone. Is that “Chimney Fire” zone? I can't remember. Maybe, but the flu is all the way closed, and most of the heat is coming out into the room. It keeps it quite warm in the cabin.

I enjoy being able to settle down in the evening with a cup of tea or hot chocolate. I either read, write, or have friends over to watch a movie or play games. I've been trying to have game nights once a week, since I know from experience that there are plenty of people like myself who could use a bit of local family hospitality. Right now I've got the room for it, and I feel it would be irresponsible not to be sharing it. I love sharing it. I don't think of myself as being gifted in hospitality, but this is how I grew up; my parents modeled this kind of living for us. God blesses us so that we would bless others. Just like he's been doing since the days of Abraham. Thanks mom for showing that to us as kids. It makes life more full...
more full of life, I guess.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Build A Better Tomorrow

Sometimes I don't know where I'm at, but I keep going.
Right now I can't see very far, all I know is...

It'll be all right
In the morning.
I'm gonna open my eyes and see the light.
It'll be all right, when the sun is shining.

-singer/songwriter, Andrea Hamilton

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle.

Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:

Keep deception and lies far from me,

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Miscellaneous Thailand Photos

These are the few photos that I actually took myself on my camera.

A Story From Thailand

Now that I have a little time, I will be able to get back to a few of the stories that I wanted to tell. Here's the first:

Wandering Alone
The Junior High Students had just loaded onto Songtaos and left for their homes. We met as a staff to clean up the chapel a little bit, and then Rich announced what the rest of our day would look like. The High Schoolers would not be coming until afternoon the next day, so we had almost a full twenty-four hours of free time. These were our plans: eat lunch at 12pm, then meet in front of the chapel at 2pm to take Songtaos to a massage parlor in Chang Mai for traditional Thai Massages, take Songtaos to the McDonalds at the Night Bazaar then spread out from there for dinner and shopping until 10pm when we would meet back at the McDonalds to ride together back to the resort. From the time that we were done with lunch, until we met to leave at 2pm we had free time, but we had to move our stuff out of the rooms that we had been staying, spread out all over in different houses to be with the students, to now all be in one house together while they cleaned the others. We were also supposed to use this free time to take a nap. So, I figured out where I was supposed to go, then packed up all my stuff, ready to move it, then took a nap right there where I was. I woke up right at 2pm, in a panic! I rushed my luggage up the new house, then ran down to the front of the chapel. It was 2:07 and nobody was there. I looked inside the chapel and walked around a little bit, but nobody was to be found. They had left promptly, as scheduled. I had been left alone at the resort. I didn't know of a way to contact anyone in our group, and I didn't know the name or location of the Massage Parlor.
I wasn't too worried. Since, I wasn't really interested in getting a Thai massage, and I knew when and where they were meeting for dinner, so I figured that I would just hire a ride into the city and meet them there. The ride into Chang Mai was about 45 minutes, so I had two hours before I needed to leave the resort. I found a porch with a good view and a relatively cool breeze in the hot humid afternoon, and settled down to read for a little while.
Well, I got bored after just an hour. I figured that I would just get down town early and wander around before everyone else got there. So, I walked down toward the main office to call for transportation. One of the resort employees saw me and asked in broken English and hand gestures if I was the one American that had been left behind. I communicated that, yes, I was, and he told me that somebody had called to talk with me. I went into to the office, all the resort staff looked at me smiling, like good Thai people would, but with humor behind their eyes, "That's the guy that was late and got left behind." I was handed a cell phone, and told, "Kru Fai talk to you." And, she did. Fai is the language teacher at Grace International, and had been helping us as a translator and counselor during camp. She worked with Hume Lake when they came two years ago, and has visited the camp in the United States as well. She was with our team today, taking them to the massage parlor. She wanted me to be able to experience the Thai massage, and to have me be included with the rest of the group. I really appreciated that, even though I wasn't keen on the massage. "You can still get an hour of massage; I will have somebody from the resort drive you down." Okay, sure. So, I handed the phone over to one of the women in the office. She motioned to a van and then to a man rushing by, "He take you massage," she said. I got up to get in the van, "No. You sit here. Wait." Uh, okay. I guess I'll wait here, then. After about five minutes, I was brought to the van, then I sat in the van for another ten minutes before the driver got in and we left. I tried to talk to him, but he didn't speak English and I didn't speak much Thai. I got out a piece of paper that I had been given our first day in Thailand. It had a few common phrases, just the very basics to get around. So, for the next hour of driving I learned how to count in Thai, and memorized a few phrases to help me out when I got lost later during the trip. At this point, I was just expecting to get lost if not today, then at some point during the trip. I wasn't afraid, I knew I would be able to find my way around, getting help when I needed it, even if it took a long time and I had many adventures along the way. And, adventures I did have.
I was watching carefully the whole drive, trying to remember every detail of our route, so that I knew where I was. We turned down a large, busy street with shops and businesses on either side. Then, we turned down a small alley, while the driver looked intently at each shop. He looked like he was lost. We did one circle around the block before he stopped on the side of the road. He got out without saying a word, opened my door, helped me out of the van, then pointed up at a large two story building. "I'm supposed to go in there?" I asked. He nodded, "Thai massage!" Okay, so I crossed the street and walked walked up the steps to the door of the pink stucco building. It had large lettering in Thai, then smaller in English below it, "Massage Parlour". "This must be it," I thought as I pulled on the doors. They didn't budge, and as I looked down I realized that there was a large chain and padlock wrapped around the handles on the inside. There was a sign in Thai taped to the inside of the glass. I looked through the dark tinted glass and saw that there was nothing inside, just torn up walls, and a bare floor with splattered paint and drywall dust everywhere. I turned around just in time to see the van speeding off around the corner. I was alone in the wrong place, in a city I didn't know, with a language that I didn't speak. I walked back out into the alley to look up at the other buildings, maybe he had just pointed at the wrong one. Next door, there was another smaller building that looked like a massage parlor. I walked over, and a janitor looking man was outside sweeping the side walk. I asked in English if there were Americans inside getting massages. He nodded enthusiastically and led me inside. I took off my shoes, and sat down in the chair as he gestured for me to do so in the politest way possible before quickly hurrying down the hall. "Well, I guess I'll just wait here..." I thought. Ten minutes later, I was starting to feel uneasy when I saw him return down the hall way and begin knocking on each door down the hall, listening for a minute with his ear to the door before moving on to the next. It was slightly humorous; I refrained from laughing out loud. Finally at the last door, he heard something, stepped back, and waited as the door opened just moments later. A women dressed in a hospital like gown, a mask, rubber gloves, and booties came out blinking at the bright light. The man quickly said something in Thai, motioned towards me, then bowed slightly as he scurried back down the hall. The women came over to me, smiling politely, though she looked like she had just been rudely awakened from a good sleep. She asked me several questions in Thai. I asked if she spoke English. She asked another question in Thai and gestured kindly toward the hall of doors, smiling. No. Uh, "I'm looking for Americans getting massages." "American Massage?" "No, American tourists?" It when on like this for what seemed like fifteen minutes. She was still speaking Thai at me most of the time. So, I was trying to use the phrases I had learned. I finally gathered that the big Thai Massage parlor next door had moved "across the street". I said thank you, "Kaap Kuun Krap," put my shoes back on and left with a polite bow of the head. "Across the street," what ever that meant. Literally, across the street was a large, unmarked warehouse with steel roll up doors locked shut. Maybe she meant across the main busy street. I walked up the alley and looked across that big four lain divided road, now busy with five 0'clock rush hour traffic. There was nothing that looked like a massage parlor. So, I began walking down one side of the street looking in the windows of each business looking for my friends or at least a massage parlor that looked like it could handle twenty-five people at once. I got all the way down to a large five-way intersection, beyond which, there was just green open land, junk yards, and street-side taco stands that don't serve tacos. I decided it probably wasn't down there, so I crossed the intersection and started down the other side. That's easy to say, but quite difficult when you're in an unfamiliar country. They drive very different in Thailand. First of all, it's primary western influence was British, so they drive on the other side of the road. Then, they tend to make up lanes, as many as can fit, the traffic lights are kind of different, and nobody stops at a red light when they are turning left, also most of the vehicles are motorized scooters with riders in masks and strange helmets. It only made things worse that this was a five-way intersection with no pedestrian signals. Does nobody walk in this city? When I got across the other side, there was what looked like a biker gang. It wasn't, but that's what it always looks like, about fifty motorcycles with people in masks and rubber gloves, sometimes brightly colored rubber galoshes. I was walking against traffic on the side of the road with no shoulder. Fortunately they were waiting at the light, and not running me over, but I had to squeeze around each bike. Most of them just stared at me, like the stupid foreigner that I was at that moment. One women was not paying attention. She was looking down at her right foot when I squeezed by on her left side, just inches from her body. Suddenly she looked up and got startled really bad, she almost dropped the motorcycle on it's side and grabbed tightly, her hand landing on the horn as she quickly responded in a panic. I just smiled, while the guy on the motorcycle behind her laughed out loud. We shared a moment together, two complete strangers, able to laugh at an awkward situation, understood even without a common language. Some things are just universal.
I walked for forty-five minutes, up and down the street. I saw many massage parlors, but none of them held my friends. I went into several of them, going through conversations similar to my first one. I even walked down and around a few alleys. I was so many interesting things. I saw construction workers just getting off the job, loaded into tall trucks with large cage enclosures in the back, fifty people or more crammed in the back, looking forlornly out between the bars as if they were refugees in a war torn country. I saw a Starbucks Coffee, and two 7-Elevens. I saw a motorcycle rental store, and thought about renting one to continue my search. I crossed the street in the middle of busy traffic, at first following closely with locals, then later by myself. I was just about to give up on meeting them for a massage, and just catch a Songtao for a ride to the Night Bazaar meeting for dinner, when up ahead I saw Fai standing out near the street on her cell phone. She turned just as I called to her. She smiled, glad to have found me. "Where were you? What happened?" she asked. "I slept too long at the resort, and then got dropped off at the wrong place here." She showed me inside a building that said something about Kid Works on the side, so it had moved, but hadn't gotten a sign yet. No wonder I couldn't find it. Everyone had just finished their massages and was very glad to see me. Rich admitted to me that nobody noticed I was missing until they had all driven the hour drive into Chang Mai, gotten into the massage parlor and finished handing out money for the massage. He had agreed to pay the tip for everyone, 100 Baht to each person, until everyone had gotten their money. "Why do I have a hundred Baht left?" "Who are we missing?" "Where's Nathan?"
So, that was my little adventure. The rest of the night was fun. We had dinner at an outdoor market, I think I got Kao Soy Gai, curry, coconut soup, the favorite among locals. And, we spent the rest of the evening in the Night Bazaar, bartering for cheap, knock-offs of designer things. I was glad to be with the rest of the group, but just in that little bit of being lost and wandering, I had gained a new confidence in being able to find my way around and ask questions of strangers. I'm glad that this happened. I was just worried about the stress that I caused the rest of the group worrying for me, and feeling guilty that they hadn't noticed that I was missing until sooner. I don't mind, it was my own fault. Actually, it was kind of funny. The rest of our trip, everyone always asked, "Is everyone here? Is Nathan here?"
When all was said and done, I think that I got to know the city in a way that I couldn't have otherwise.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I just found out that my parent's trailer where my family spent many vacations traveling around the western US is all burned up. The were storing at a friends house where the fires came through. My dad and I spent many hours fixing it up, and modifiying it to accomadate a family of eight. This news also means that my sail boat, which was parked next to it, is also burned. That's very sad, as I was never able to get it out onto the water. I bought it very cheap over a year ago, intending to refinish the hull, before I took it out. Oh, well. I'll sail the sea some other season in life.

In an Airport Again

Well, I'm back in the Chang Mai international airport. The last few days have been very busy, full of tourism and site seeing. It was supposed to be a relaxing time of rest and relaxation, but it turned out to be very full.
We finished camp on Tuesday morning, had everything packed up by lunch time, then left the resort to spend our last two days in the city. Tuesday evening we went to a traditional cultural dinner where we all sat on the floor to eat, and watched ladies with long fingernails dance around waving their hands in the traditional Thai style. There was also a guy who danced with knives and later fire. Wednesday we went to an orchid farm, then rode elephants to a small village out in the mountain jungles. We then rode on an ox cart to the side of a river to eat lunch. From there, we boarded bamboo rafts and took them down the river a few miles through small rapids and beautiful mountains. That night, and the next, we spent at the Night Bazaar. I may spend more time describing it in detail, I sure could. It's pretty amazing! I got to know my way around it very well.
Yesterday, we visited an orphanage and played with the kids, singing songs, teaching them games, and just seeing how they live, showing them love. We ate lunch at Grace International School with many of the students who had been at the camp. In the afternoon, we visited the largest Buddist temple in Chang Mai. It was on the top of the mountain right behind the city, with a beautiful view of the smoggy city. Last night, we ate dinner on a river boat cruise on the dirty Ping river. It was beautiful, even romantic, reminding me of Paris. Our boat looked like it was from the Jungle Boat Cruise at Disney land. I couldn't have asked for a better ending to our time here.

It is strange being here in another country, almost another world, while Southern California is on fire. All my family is safe, and, last I checked, our material possesions have not been burned. I have been praying that the community would become united as Christ's people act with the love that they have been given.
I expect to be back in Los Angeles by 9pm, Friday.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why I Am Here

Some one asked, and I realized that I hadn't made it clear what I am doing here in Thailand.
So, here's what I'm doing:
Hume Lake puts on camp in different locations around the world. It's part of their Off-site and International Ministry. There are 25 of us on the team; most of us have worked at Hume during the past year, and a few of us still currently work at Hume. We are here from October 16-26. We just finished running a four-day camp for 160 Junior High students, and just started another four-day camp for 260 High School students. Most of the kids are MKs from Grace Internaional and CMI in Chaing Mai, Thailand, though there are many from other schools and some individuals as well. The kids represent an expatriate international community larger than just Thailand and more than just MKs. They are all Third Culture Kids, owning a culture of their own that is different from their parents and from the community in which they live. We get the opportunity to put on a western style camp, much like a regular week in the summer at Hume Lake.
We are using BanKlangDoi, a resort near Chaing Mai as our camp. It is a resort, so our "Hume in a can" takes on a bit different flavor here. The kids stay in fancy houses, and we eat really good restaurant-style Thai food. We play games like KaJobe Kan-Kan on a lawn that is highly ornamental. A few of the very few difficult things about this trip are the hot, muggy, moist weather and the insects and reptiles of all kinds and sizes the seem to get into every thing possible. I am currently sleeping under netting in a quaint, picturesque bamboo hut that is floating on a beautiful, yet mosquito infested pond.
Chris Simning is speaking on the parable of the talents; we are using the Many Return of Honorable Grasshopper Fighting videos that Hume used two summers ago for their high school theme. Robbie Conrad is leading worship with a band that he put together from the San Diego area. Camp has been going very well, so far.
My responsibilities are running sound for all the meetings, lead counseling, helping with recreation, and anything else that might need to happen. I'm supper busy most of the day, and very tired every night. I love this kind of ministry for so many different reasons! This just fits who I am, so well. This is the kind of thing that I was made to do. I just finished going around to all the guys rooms that I am responsible for, laying down the rules, and spending time getting to know them a little bit. I think this was the best first night of lead counseling that I've ever had. I felt like I really connected with the students, and I wanted to spend so much more time talking with them, already, about what God was doing in their lives. This is a very critical time for them, and I know that God wants to do great things in and through them. It's very exciting to hear and see that, being even just a small part of what God is doing.
Keep praying for us these next few days, please. There is so much that could distract from what needs to be heard. And, there is a larger spiritual battle that is happening in this part of the world. Not all of these students know Jesus. We are here to make Jesus known, and there are many who would try to stop that from happening. Do battle with me, even as I am...
on my knees
praying with you with one God and One purpose.

Junior High, Part 2

Here is a link to some more photos from Junior High Camp.

A rain forest Adventure

Okay, so I don't know that it's actually a rain forest. It's rainy, and it's a forest, it's wet and more like a rain forest than any of the rain forest sections at the Wild Animal Park.
On Thursday afternoon, I took a group of junior high kids part of the way down the trail to the waterfall. We stopped at the first falls, before the trail gets too tight; it wasn't very far. I let them play in the waterfall a little bit, and Eric came along and took some pictures for us.
So, here they are.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Photos from Thailand

I heard it, From The Inside Out

The highlight of my day was hearing 160 junior high students sing louder than the band tonight.
It's not always easy, just coming in like we did. Everything about is different. It's a new band, with new people, a different face, with different students. Our culture is different from theirs, and we are singing different songs that they probably haven't heard before this week. They have so many reasons to be disengaged and jaded. That's why I was so excited to be a part of them, worshiping our God together, with hands raised and voices together louder than the drums and guitars, all the things that could so easily just be a good show. This was real. This gives indication to why I am here. That God be praised, in the way that He ought, before any other thing, and that it would be seen and heard loudly above all the noise around us.

An Afternoon Hike

Thailand, North of Chang Mai
Today, I hiked through a lush, dense jungle-like forest down an overgrown, little-used path beside a small river to a beautiful waterfall. The small river (or large stream) runs through the resort area where we are running camp. The name of the resort is Baan Klan Doi, which means House in The Center of The Mountains. That’s what it is; we are in the mountains, beautiful mountains covered with trees, vines, and dense undergrowth. There are springs up higher (I hear rumor of some caves) and cliff faces peaking out of the trees at the higher elevations. The earth is very red, clay and soft. Because of this, the water in the river is murky and milky, slightly red, almost brown. After spending so much time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which are rich with granite and crystal clear water, this stream looked like sewer water. The waterfall was beautiful, but I was distrustful of touching it. I initially wanted to jump into it like I jumped into Mist Falls on the King’s River two months ago. –I asked the local, Chum Li, who had brought me to this trail if the water was safe. He told me that there probably was sewer in it, since there were many people living in remote locations up stream, and that there might be chemicals from crops grown on the mountainside. He recommended not putting my head under the water. Since I didn’t have any open cuts on my legs, I felt it would be okay to walk through the water. There’s no such thing as Hookworm in Thailand, right?
We walked farther down stream until the trail split. Ryan and I took the path that led down closer to the water, while Chum Li and Matt continued on the upper path, agreeing to meet back up where the trail met the water again (at least, according to Chum Li).
Ryan and I soon lost all signs of the trail, perhaps it was just badly overgrown, but we didn’t let that stop us as we pushed through vines, bamboo, and trees along the edge of the water. Sometimes we walked in the water, climbing down the rocks when there were waterfalls and crossing, as we needed when the sides had no room to walk because of the dense growth or slippery rocks. I had been told that there were no poisonous plants, so I had a certain level of confidence; I just had to avoid the thorns and push back the rising fear of snakes and spiders, both of which are very poisonous in this area of the world. We never found any snakes, but I had to brush off spiders from my body every so often and avoid as many webs as I could.
Soon we realized that Chum Li and Matt were nowhere to be found along the stream. I didn’t feel lost, because we were only a mile or two down stream from where we started. Though I was afraid because we had lost them. We started yelling, but couldn’t hear any response. Our voices were swallowed up by the sound of the waterfalls crashing upon the rocks. So, we headed back upstream, trying to take every possible notion of a side trail that might lead up the canyon side towards the other trail. This just brought more confusion in the dense jungle-like growth.
Finally, we found the higher trail and followed it a bit before deciding that we weren’t going to find them. One of them was a local, so I wasn’t worried that they might not find their way back. So, we returned to the camp. There they were, waiting for us when we got back. I guess they weren’t as adventurous and had turned around when the trail got tight.
Something must have bitten me, because my feet itched for about an hour after I got back.

Monday, October 15, 2007

First Days in ChangMai

Thailand is lush, full of life, many plants, lots of moisture. All the wood living or structural is dark colored, full of moisture, deep... as the land itself. We are in Chang Mai, "The New City", a city that was new over seven hundred years ago. There is a weight and depth of history that permeates everything, like the moisture.
Last night as soon as we got off the airplane, we collected our luggage, passed through customs without any issues, and loaded onto three, non-US Toyota vans (the tall skinny ones that, in Africa seat sixteen and in Thailand seat ten, limosine style) and two Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks. We ate dinner at what must have inspired the Rainforest cafes in the US, except these were real. I didn't see any snakes while we were eating, but there were trees and vines, and dripping water everywhere. It was pretty amazing, and beautiful. The food was delicious, every meal has been amazing so far. We set up all the sound that night, and got a quick sound check in before going to bed at 12:30 am.
This morning we had a crash course in Thai culture and learned a few practical phrases before being sent out into the city in pairs on a scavenger hunt. It was almost like The Amazing Race tv show. We were each given a little bit of money, and a card with an item written on each side for us to find and buy, then a place to find and meet at in 45 minutes. The writing on our cards was phonetic, so we couldn't just show it to a stranger, but we had to form sentences and be led from stranger to stranger, place to place through the city until we found what we needed to find. Ryan and I eventually found Roses (dawk gulap) and an Eraser, (yang lope). Then, we got a tuk tuk (a three wheeled, motorized, covered vehicle) to take us to what turned out to be a temple on the other side of town. All in all, it was a very fun, slightly stressful, challenging exercise that immersed us immediately in to the culture.
This afternoon we finished setting up the chapel, and planning the details of the week's schedule. Kyle and I are going to be lead counselors in addition to running everything technical in the meetings. The junior high students arrive tomorrow after lunch, 160 of them. Right now, it's 11:08 pm, I'm sitting in a covered porch, outside, it's pouring rain, probably 82 degrees, and humid. I'm ready to head back to my room, crawl on top of my bed and drift off to sleep.

Oh, the building that I'm sleeping in is probably the closest to living in The Swiss Family Robinson's tree house that I've ever been.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Welcome to Singapore

12:13pm. We just arrived in Singapore, not more than ten minutes ago. I immeadiatly found a free internet Kiosk. Next to me are four other team memebers, staring out the window. Over their shoulders I can see the runway, and then green, lots of green, trees and trees, then clouds and patches of blue sky. It's warm and muggy, 86 degrees Farenheit. We'be been together as a whole team for 24 hours already. I've been travelling for seven hours more, a total of 31 hours. By the time we get to Chang Mai, Thailand, it will have been over 48 hours. Everything is going as planned. I got quite a few hours of sleep, and already feel a little bit adjusted to my destination time zone.
I got a pleasant surprise at LAX, David, my brother and one of my sisters, Rebecca, came and spent several hours with me before we went through security. It was so good to see you two!
We ran into several people from Rock Harbor Church in Orange County. They were on their way to India for a week.
It's just another trip, I guess, and I'm expecting good things in the next two weeks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This frustrates me:

I just got a call from a school that I attended my first year in college, Moody Bible Institute. Most of their majors are focused on preparing young men and women for working in a full-time Christian vocation, with a heavy emphasis on over-seas work. I, for instance, was a Missions Aviation major. I was planing on living in a jungle somewhere, in a very basic, minimalistic lifestyle without much money at all. I think the expectation of that lifestyle was felt by most of the students, whatever their major might have been.
So, I got a call from the Alumni Association wanting to verify my contact information and current career, etc. for their Alumni book. I was pretty excited about it. It would be pretty amazing to have a book with all of my friends and former classmates, even my roommate, to know what they are doing now, to know about their new families, and to be able to get into contact with them. So, I was excited to be giving my information.
Then, the women on the phone asked if I would like to reserve my very own copy for two payments of $39.99. Suddenly she was a telemarketer.
$80??? I was so sad to have to say no, no, and no as she tried to sell me the book. I can't afford that. For the most part, I'm fine with the lifestyle that God has called me to live. There are times when it is hard, and this was one of them. I was sad, but even more so, I was sad for so many other people. I suddenly had faces flashing through my mind, like my old roommate, Greg, who last I heard was working with Eskimos in the northern tundra, traveling from village to village. There are so many others that I wonder about; I don't know where they are, but I do know that they were expecting to live with just their daily necessities being met. This would have been a hard thing for them to spend money on. Moody should know that. Maybe they do, and this was just a plan to raise money off of the alumni who are working for wealthy churches, or who have been called to places where God has chosen to bless them with money. It is those kind of people, I suppose, who helped pay for my college years. It's just sad to me that usually the only time an alumni association from any school calls me is when they are asking for money.
Sometimes it's just hard, and I have a moment of sadness.
"No, I can't afford that."

Friday, October 5, 2007

God loves

If you don't already know, a storm came through our mountains and dumped several inches of snow all day today. It was so amazing, so beautiful, so perfect!
The last thing I remember last night was feeling like I needed it to rain; like my soul needed to just stand in the rain, arms outstretched with my face toward heaven. So, the last thing I did before I left the waking world was tell that to God. It was kind of like praying for rain, except not so much literally, maybe poetically; my soul needed it... like the desert... yeah, "needs the rain." Longing expressed. That's all.

I awoke to the sound of rain. That is the first thing I remember, the sound of good, hard rain. The second thing I remember was looking out the window of our cabin and seeing a world covered in a soft blanket of white. Then I realized that it wasn't raining, it was sleet, or hail, or white dip'n'dots. I was outside as quickly as I could be.
I was in such a different spirit all day today. Such a good day. Everything was beautiful, everything was good, was peace, was right, was home. God had answered my prayer, more than I could hold, it had spilled outside of myselfishness and onto the world. The food tasted better, I laughed, I smiled at friends, I talked to strangers.
In the past week some of you have asked how I as. I usually replied, "melancholy." It has been a bit of low week for me. Today I was changed. I think you would have noticed if you had been here. I want you to notice now and say, "Wow, God loves." And, I want you to be sure of it like I am. That is why I'm writing this right now instead of sleeping.
Oh, and to top it all off, tonight I went off-roading with Rich, in dark, in the snow, up Sunshine Mountain. By then the clouds had passed and it was a stellar, clear night. Glorious. I saw my favourite cluster of stars, The Pleiades. They are a small, distinct cluster of seven stars. Yeah, God is the one who holds them together. "The Bible contains three direct references to the Pleiades in Job 9:9 and 38:31, and Amos 5:8, and a single indirect reference in the New Testament. This latter passage (Revelation 1:16) describes a vision of the coming of the Messiah – who holds, in his right hand, seven stars…"
The context of the Amos passage affirms God's creation of The Pleiades, and the Lord, Himself, exhorts, "Seek me that you may live."

Job 9:5-9
It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how,
When He overturns them in His anger;
Who shakes the earth out of its place,
And its pillars tremble;
Who commands the sun not to shine,
And sets a seal upon the stars;
Who alone stretches out the heavens
And tramples down the waves of the sea;
Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south;
Job 38:31-33
"Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
"Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?
"Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?

Yes, This God! He is the one who loves.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Yosemite Weekend

Last Fall season, I hiked Half Dome at Yosemite during the night with friends from Hume. We got to watch the sun rise over the valley. It was a moment that reminded me of heaven.
This year we wanted to return to the park and try to make something of a tradition out of it. Only three of us were able to make it this year: Karly Solderholm, Mojave, and me. And, we brought along two others, Josh Mull, and Ali Dishman.
We ended up just hanging out most of the weekend. On Saturday we drove to Glacier Point, enjoyed the view and hiked to Sentinel Dome. On Sunday we hiked out past Mirror Lake and under the face of Half Dome. I don't think that we hiked more than six miles the whole weekend, but we enjoyed a more laid back pace than last time. I slept under the stars both nights. The second morning I awoke with ice on the backpack next to my head. I don't think I've slept in temperatures that cold, ever. I have a cold now. I guess it got cold enough that my immune system just couldn't keep up.
I got to see two bears while we were hiking. I was so excited. I haven't seen a bear in over three years. One of them was content to just forage amongst the trees along the edge of the trail, so we got to watch him closely for a while. The other one was lumbering down the trail towards us, so we made noise and watched him run away into the bracken. I thought he was a cub and his mother might be nearby. Josh contended that he was large enough to be by himself. I'm just glad I got to see a bear.

First Snow

We had our first snow two weekends ago. I had been editing video all night, so I saw the rain change to sleet down here in camp. I knew that there would be snow up at the higher elevations. So, after breakfast, I got in my truck and headed up to Buck Rock to do a little bit of off-roading in the snow. It was beautiful. I got to make fresh tracks, visited the ranger on top of the rock and learned a little bit about deer hunting and disease screening. Enjoy the slideshow via Picasa Web.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I got to hold ferrets.
I bet you're jealous.
They belong to Canyon, one of the guys working Outdoor Education.
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Oh, Fresno.
You bring such a smile to my face.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A few from my collection

Exploring in the Sierras

Self Portrait in the glass of the Media Shop

Can you guess what this is?
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A few from my collection

Michael Butterfield took this on Erin's Dad's Sailboat a few years ago. Scala film, I believe it was.

What else do you do when you have a broken radiator in Barstow, CA?

Yup, Big Sky.

It fit the mood.
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A few from my collection

Ah, San Diego.

Yosemite in the Winter

The Dead Sea

One of my nephews. Can you tell which one?
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I love the rain.

I love a rainy afternoon, cloudy skies, dripping trees, water running down the windows, the smell of the soft dirt and wet wood.

I love the sounds, everything's different; it is quiet, the normal sounds of an afternoon are gone. Above all is the carried sound of dripping, thumping, almost a clicking... whatever it is, it is constant – continuous, steady. Soothing, like a night ride on a train. Voices are softer, people run inside to hide, normal activities cease.

It makes me want to hold a hot cup of coffee.

I want to see the steam from my cup rising to meet and mix with my breath in front of my face.

It's crisp and cold. It might snow, but I'm still strolling around in a sweatshirt, now soaking wet.

The water, softly like tears, is rolling down my face and everything that I can see.

Suddenly I can see and feel, externally, everything I am inside, now reflected, carried up and out to be shared with everyone else walking around in this world with me. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Watch, listen; these things don't need to be spoken. Let's just sit here and feel it. Together.

It's beautiful.

There is no wind. Everything is still. Content. At peace. Sliding along the edges of joy. It catches and holds like the clouds, hiding the mountains, revealing the trees, loose and soft, drifting and mysterious. Dripping with joy, but withholding happiness, steeped in melancholy. Here I am. Oh, there you are. That's okay, we can sit here together for a while. I've got nowhere to be, and if I did, well, it's gone now. We can wait for tomorrow.


Consequently, shooting a highlight video for a couples conference at Hume Lake in the rain is quite adventuresome, and not very easy. Oh, yeah, and very, very wet.

I hear that there is snow above seven thousand feet. Possibly up to 18”. I am going to go exploring in Shifty tomorrow and see if I can find some of this snow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At Hume

I'm back up at Hume Lake. I start today working as a lead counselor for the Spiritual Emphasis school camps. I'll also being doing some other miscellaneous program stuff. It should be good. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Just A Weekend

Beauty and Adventure are way more fun when you have somebody to share them with.

Waking up on the ocean shore.

Getting buried to my axles in the side of a dune.

A bike ride with The Governator.

Hearst Castle, but not the castle.

A car crash,

because someone pulled a “Denmark”.

The most expensive Gas in California.

Oh, her bike got hit by the car, too.

Playing Host at Andrew Molera Campground.

A private beach.

Dinner at a public house.

Cold nor-cal water.

Cliffs, dunes, and a sunset.

Up at 5:30am for a drive back through the fog.

What's a weekend without adventures?

Well, I'm not too sure, so I guess this was a pretty normal weekend.

My friend, Eric, upon hearing that I was camping on the beach decided that this was just the adventure that was needed for him and his wife, Alexa. After several phone conversations and directions over the phone they showed up on the beach with me at midnight. Somehow I forgot that it was the weekend. The crowds are crazy now, I could hardly find a place to park my car and make camp near the water. I just spent the last three hours just watching huge motorhomes and converted busses getting stuck and rescued over and over again. This shouldn't be so entertaining.

After we finally snuggled into each of our sleeping bags under the stars, and effectively blocking the bright blue beacon light floating above the trailer next to us, just as I was drifting into dream land...

“What's the beeping noise!?”

“An alarm!?”

“Is somebody backing up?”

-Why is it raining sand?!

“Oh, there's a big trailer stuck right next to us.”

-But, what is that beeping noise?

“Why is there sand on my face!?”

“HEY!! Could you turn of that Beeping!!”

-I think they said it was “just” carbon monoxide.

-I have sand in my mouth.

-Hey, look, we have new neighbors.

Eric woke with the sun apparently, because he was running around bare foot near the water with a camera when I woke up.

Then Alexa woke up:

“Why is there sand on my face!!? What happened?”

“Oh. There's a big trailer stuck right there.”

We packed up camp, and climbed into Shifty for a romp in the dunes. This is a little bit difficult and uncomfortably loud when most of what I own is piled into the back of my car. I think it rearranged itself three times before we settled deep into the side of a dune.

-We're stuck.

“Well, that's what I have a shovel for. Eric, jump out and help me.”

“I can't. The door won't open. I think the sand's too high.”

It took a while. Our biggest fear the whole time was that a powerful vehicle would come flying over the dune and land on us. But, we finally got out. Shifty, you're Fabulous.

Eric's car truck was stuck in the sand where we had camped, so shifty had to do a little pulling down near the water.

We were finally on our way off the beach with way more adventure than most people have before 9am.

Coffee and Internet at Zadok's next to YWAM Pismo Beach. A quick check of the campsite available up towards Big Sur, and off we go.

The coast is gorgeous! Sharp cliffs, wild looking trees, the winding road going over large bridges... a bicycle... another bicycle... another...

“Are they in a race?”

“They all have jerseys and numbers.”

-They don't look very... athletic?

“I don't think there in a race.”

“Hey, look, that one has a dog on her back!”


“He's wearing bag jeans!”

“It must be just a ride.”

I found a newspaper later that showed Arnold in one of the jerseys on his bike. It was a ride to raise awareness and support for Best Buddies, an organization "that develops friendships and job opportunities for folks with intellectual disabilities."

We stopped at Hearst Castle, just to see it. None of us had. It turns out you can't actually get near the castle without dropping $24 per person. So, we looked at pictures and interior samples at the visitors center before moving on up the road.

-Hey, look more bikers.

And, cattle. The beach is pretty.

“Those bikers are coming down the other way.”

“They look like they might actually be in a race.”

-Oh, we're slowing down. Why is the car in front of us stopping?

“Yeah, it must be a different event.”

-Maybe they are racing down from


-NO, NO! Go! Gun it!


A couple on vacation from Denmark was enjoying the scenery a little bit too much and smashed their small rental car right into the back of our stopped Nissan Xterra. I thought for sure that our three bikes hanging on the back had been smashed. But, apparently not. Their car was all smashed up in the front. I guess Nissan trucks still use metal bumpers. At first glance you couldn't even tell that we had been hit. But, on closer inspection, the bumper was bent, the spare tire jammed under the rear differential, the rear hatch handle had broken from the bikes during the accident. Everybody went into cordial but down to business “We just got into and accident” mode. Everybody was fine, we were just all shaken up. It could have been way worse. “Not another accident.” A guy from Denmark, a girl from Sweden, flew to San Diego, driving to San Francisco and to New York, then flying back to Denmark. I guess we're part of their trip now. “Sure, you can take a video of us.” Pictures all around. Smile! We've got their passport information. Maybe I'll send a Christmas card.

-Okay, we're on the road again.

The car rest of the car ride was super tense. How could it be otherwise?

“We need gas. How much farther to the next city?”

“I don't know. Twenty miles?”

“Okay, I think we'll make it.”

I turns out, that the next city was just three buildings on the side of the cliff with two full-serve gas pumps. $4.79 per gallon. Ouch. After a quick calculation, we got only what we would need to get to cheaper gas and got out of there. I saw a motorcycle with a video camera and LCD screen mounted on the handlebars.

The campgrounds around Big Sur were all full, even the last and most rustic, Andrew Molera.

The ranger at the guard shack told us it was full, then glanced quickly over her shoulder before she told us that the camp hosts were not staying there tonight and we could rent there space. Okay.

We unloaded the bikes, inspired by the bike race to have a nice long ride of our own. That's when we discovered that Alexa's bike had gotten hit by the car. The wheels were both bent out of shape like Curious George's. Now that I think about it. I guess he “pulled a Denmark” in that story. George was so distracted by the things around him, he didn't see what was right in front of him. I tried to straighten the wheel, but like George, I couldn't. This bike ride was the thing that Alexa had been looking forward to the most and it just wouldn't have worked to have her ride a wheelie the whole way. We were all sad.

So, we hiked to the beach.

We hiked to the beach through hedges of Poison Oak. It was a short beautiful hike with plenty of wild life and a water crossing. The slowly arching beach cove had shelters made of driftwood, and smooth perfectly curled waves rolling in from around the point. Wow. I wish that I had my sufboard. I tore off everything but my shorts and headed for the water as Eric explored the nearby cliff. We joined up out toward the point where the cliff met the deep water, and we explored more discovering the other side where there was a hidden beach with a large pure dune coming down from the cliff. I jumped into the water and caught a couple of waves just body surfing. Then we ran back to get Alexa and spent the rest of the afternoon running in the sand, jumping down the dune with the thrill of jumping off a cliff, exploring the tide pools -Alexa picked up a large crab, I found a star fish, and Eric claimed that he had already done all that as a kid. Our feet hurt terribly bad. Those rocks are sharp.

The sunset was beautiful, but I was cold so we didn't stay long after the sun was hidden behind the incoming fog bank.

We had hamburgers and fish 'n chips at a pub/art gallery/grocery store. The food was good, the environment was great for people watching, there had been a community art project that afternoon, so several people had painted faces, and I could hear the hammers still going outside as they erected the large pieces of a 3D mural, and there was a band setting up for a concert while we ate. The guy who ran the place looked like he really enjoyed his job and he reminded me of a Brad Pitt character. Actually, I most of the people looked like they were straight out of a movie scene. It felt a little surreal.

The stars were once again, amazing. Thanks God, You make greatness! We watched two episodes of The Office on my laptop in the host spot of the campground and went to sleep.

Actually, I was just about to doze off when a truck pulled up, shinning it's brights right on us. Two, rangers stepped out and told us that we weren't allowed to be here. This area isn't for camping.

“This is the Host's spot, right?”

“Yes. You're not allowed to camp here.”

“But...” We explained our story, what we were told, that we paid for this...

“Okay, you can stay, it wasn't your mistake.”

I felt bad for the lady that let us in. She had been nice, there wasn't anybody sleeping here tonight, and the campground had made money from us.

Alexa needed to be back in LA for a wedding shower, so we woke up at 5:30am packed up, jumped in the car and headed back down the beautiful coast, watching the fog lift as the sun rose over the mountains.

We got a bit of light breakfast and coffee at Zadok's in Pismo again with some good conversation, and sent them on their way.

Why did all that happen? I don't know. But, I think it was just what we needed. And, despite what I think, God knows what we need.

We experienced all of it together, the good and the bad.

This was a beautiful adventure.

More Photos to Follow

Photos to Big Sur 3

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Photos to Big Sur 2

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Photos to Big Sur 1

Shifty on the beach near Pismo

After Pulling a "Denmark"

Highway 1

Alexa Sad

Friday, September 7, 2007

Self Portrait

On the train watching the pacific coast roll by.

August 2006, next stop: LA, then Honduras.
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Off The Mountain

So, I had a few days off from Hume.
I just finished my first whole summer working at Hume Lake. I've worked there just bits and pieces for years, but never a whole summer. I'm not sure how much this one can count, since I was in four different departments and spent three weeks in San Diego running camp off the mountain. I was working up there all winter at the Joshua Wilderness Institute, since September. We had trips once a month to San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, San Diego, Ensenada, Israel. So, I've by no means been stuck in one place. But, I still feel stir crazy and unsettled. I'm restless, still.

So, I find myself with some time off...
I made last minute plans to head toward the central coast of California. I thought maybe I would hit up a few hostels or a campground or two. I had a few errands to run in Fresno, and finally bought a cheap computer, without which you wouldn't be seeing this. I had dinner in Fresno with some Hume staff, spent the night and next day with them. Then, I headed back to Reedley for a house concert with
New Heights on tour from Washington. I spent the night with the band at Ryan Corum's Road 56. And, then got on the 41 South toward Pismo Beach.

It had to be the beach... the ocean, the crashing waves, the sea gulls, the salty smell calling me. So I drove.

After spending money on a computer, I decided to go super low budget on the rest of the trip. As much as I love Shifty, he is not Fabulous for his consumption of gas. My major cost on this trip would be gas. Pismo was the closest beach. A stop at Food Maxx (That's Food-4-Less in SoCal) and $10.41 bought food for the week. (Bagels, Tuna, Black Beans, Corn Tortillas, and Tapitio) The Oceano Dunes in Pismo are the cheapest place to camp at $10 night. I didn't have a tent, so I spent $3 on a tarp to lay my sleeping bag on. I had this great plan to grab scrap wood from some dumpsters for a fire. I found a broken pallet behind a Vons and loaded it into my truck. Unfortunately when I got to the security booth at the entrance, I wasn't allowed in with the pallet. So, I ditched it behind another Vons, and actually spent $5 on firewood. The tide was high; the beach wasn't too crowded. I drove about three miles south and found a fairly open spot in the flat sand, fifty yards from the edge of the water.

I made my camp and started a fire. The hot fish tacos were delicious, especially because I was just sitting on the sand with a little fire. I think that if Jesus was from California ( I know some of you think that He was, but He wasn't.) But, if He was, He would have cooked fish tacos on the beach and shared them with his disciples.

I walked over to the edge of the water and just stared out to sea. Slowly, then suddenly a huge smile crept over my face. a big smile, one of those ones that I couldn't hold in if I tried. At first I didn't know why I was so filled with joy, or that I was smiling at all. It was that goofy kind of smile that you might normally try to hide if you knew others could see you They couldn't; it was dark. Suddenly, I realized that I was crying, tears streaming
silently down my face, happy tears. This is good. God is good. I remembered standing on rocks out in the surf at the cliffs above Del Mar with Nick Maybury and Tim Mika six years ago on night like this. Our moods had been heavy all day, and suddenly it was all gone, swept away by the tide. So we sang songs of worship together standing together in the midst of God's overwhelmingly beautiful creation. It's like standing in a waterfall. I remembered that same spot a year later on one knee with a girl. Bittersweet. The tears taste sad now, they were happy then. Still the waves wash over the rocks and sand, smoothing out the holes, carrying out to sea all that is temporary.
So I sang songs of worship to the God who is Faithful, who is constant, who Is.
He is so, great and mighty, so powerful and unchanging, full of justice, yet intensely personal!
He is so close to the broken hearted.
I need this.
I need Him.

Just as my fire was starting to die down, a huge motor-home got stuck in the sand forty feet away, between my camp and the ocean. They couldn't get it out with their "Bakersfield Truck" (Lifted, full-size, quad-cab, with tires that look like off-road, but are designed to never leave the road.) So, they set up camp right where they were stuck. Turns out, that was just the beginning of their caravan. Next came, two more motor-homes with dune buggies in tow and another truck with Sand Quads stacked high. I would call it a flotilla, but they weren't floating. I would call them Summer Folk, but Summer is over. Still, I felt like Willy Potts: "Thick as sand fleas and twice as pesky."
They revved their engines, testing and tuning each vehicle, driving in circles around me, shining their HID Baja lights at me in my sleeping bag, over and over till 2am. I could see the light of a light house off in the distance cutting through the fog over the ocean. I thought it was beautiful. But, now, I felt like I was inside a light house. Closing my eyes didn't help much.

I realized, that most of the people who camp down here have spent lots of money on camping toys. It's definitely not the same crowd that we see up in the Sierra Nevada mountains around Hume. I haven't seen a single pair of Birkenstocks and mine was the oldest vehicle on the sand, except for a large yellow Yamaha 400 from the 70s. If I hadn't just seen it out of gas on the road to Shep's house at Hume, I would have thought that it was the old Ferreira bike that was on my first desert trip to Ocotilla Wells in High School. Once they were done, and cozy in their luxury-mobile toybox, it got real peaceful. I couldn't see the stars for the foggy clouds, but the sounds of the ocean and the feel its cool breeze on my face put me to sleep quickly. I slept hard, not waking until 10am. I broke camp and took Shifty out to play in the dunes while they were still asleep. It's not the most peaceful beach, but it's the cheapest beach, and I'll probably spend one more night down here. Then I'll head north toward Big Sur.