The photo of the day today is one I call a classic but it is really just because I like to take photos of lighting in hotel rooms, especially when they are accompanied by the classic exposed brick wall. Similar to this shot in Colorado, but with no ambient light here.
I missed my Friday Feet post last week but today I am in the glorious city of Atlanta to do the photo shoot for the Maximum Impact Simulcast. It has been a fast few weeks and in another two weeks Deb and I will make a trek out to Dallas for an annual Czech heritage festival. I spent most of the day doing a walk through for the shoot at the Georgia World Congress Center and then made it over to the CNN Center to catch up on some reading. I feel like I was just here (see posts from the Georgia Aquarium photos here and video here) but for totally different reasons.
I thought about doing a nice serious group of photos down at Centennial Park but opted for the shots below from the top of my hotel in downtown Atlanta. Some day I will get back over here and take my camera to the park and get some of the fountains and all the many different people that are always walking around down here. Have a nice weekend everyone.
It is starting to be that time of year again. Today was the first day of the new year I actually had to get out the grass cutting paraphernalia and chop away the spring growth. Since I just got back from the Unleash Conference late last night, our Friday Feet today was just some work at home and some dinner in town. The conferences are always a huge amount of information and even though this one was only a one day event, it was very draining mentally and physically, so we didn’t plan a whole lot for today.
I have been trying to run back through the events of yesterday in my head. All the various one liners I posted on twitter, (sorry for the twitter dump yesterday to all my followers, next time I will probably use Scribble Live) the volumes and volumes of information given out in just a few hours on how to lead and grow today’s church body, and the face to face contacts I made were great but almost overwhelming. The photo below is me in the hotel room the night before contemplating about the day ahead.
To clear the head, I love to get out on the John Deere tractor today and take care of business on the farm. For those who don’t have a tractor or any large plots of grass to mow, it is one of the more relaxing things I know to do that of outside just sitting on the beach (which we should be doing soon I hope). It was an enjoyable day and I am looking forward to a nice evening with Deborah.
We made it to Atlanta and made a quick run over to the convention center to check things out. We just happen to run into Anne Jackson from Cross Point Church in Nashville, also hosting the Catalyst 2008 Backstage blog. It was pretty obvious once we saw the sole-2-soul suv out front, great paint scheme. Now for the hard work, setting the alarm. Heath was busy at work about 30 seconds after we arrived (see photo below), but the alarm is going to go off very very early tomorrow, so time to wrap it up for today. For more info on the conference see Headed to Atlanta for the Catalyst08 Conference // Catalyst Wednesday. For now, here are two arrival shots into Atlanta, Heath (@hspur on Twitter) and a HDR (high dynamic range) image of the Hyatt.
Check back tomorrow for some photos from the conference and we also want to shout out to the team arriving back in the United States from Uganda tomorrow, welcome home guys.
Two weeks ago we left on our round trip journey and we are happy to be back home again. We left for California on March 16th with inventory in the car and motorcycles in tow. The trip to California would take us through Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and finally Rosmond, CA (near Mojave and Edwards AFB). We decided to have a little change of scenery on the way home by going the southern route. This took us through San Bernardino, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola. Throughout the entire trip we recognized many, many places we had been repeatedly in the bus when we were vending at the national shows. One of the things that was very different this time though was that we were staying in hotels and eating at local restaurants. Not quite as inexpensive, or predictable. I will explain this one later.
We started out from the house in Alabama very early in the morning. Our mission for the day was to make it as close to Oklahoma City as we could before stopping for the night. Scott surprised me before we even left the house with his new haircut. I was so surprised and thrilled. It took a little getting used to, but I really love it.
Arkansas was beautiful, as always.
The first night on the road I gave Scott his second harmonica. This one is in the key of G. He loved it and played it throughout the trip. Below are some other sights along I-40 between Fort Smith, Arkansas and Albuquerque, New Mexico where we stayed the second night.
Leaving Albuquerque the next morning we headed out for our first planned (fun) destination of the trip, Las Vegas, NV. We arrived at the hotel, and after freshening up we headed over to our favorite place for ribs. This little casino is a couple of blocks off the strip and is loaded with locals. Inside the casino is a micro brewery that serves only two menu entrees. There are no menus as the entrees are posted on the hostess stand as you enter. There are a total of 12 booths/tables in the entire restaurant and we made the mistake of arriving right at dinner time. The wait was ultimately 2 hours for a booth, but the ribs were fantastic as ever as well as the (free) micro-brew beer. The total for dinner for the two of us came to a whopping $10. NO, I will not give the name of this place out. It is one of our secret spots.
The next day we headed out for a bike ride and eventually ended up at the the Bellagio casino to watch the fountains for a while before heading to dinner. The fountains are really incredible to watch and the choreography is fantastic. We love to stroll this part of the strip, watch the tourists and soak in the flavor of the city.
The beauty of the fountains on the outside of the Bellagio is rivaled only by the beauty of the seasonal flower displays on the inside. Every three or four months they change the decorations throughout the casino. There is a very large vestibule just off from the main check in lobby that is completely decorated in flowers always with a central theme. We have usually been here in the fall or winter so we have seen the Christmas display several times. This time we were treated to the spring display complete with gigantic butterflies, storks and frogs. There were fountains of water pouring from an enormous watering can (actually the water was flowing into the can) and a fountain archway. The crown jewel of the display was the glass butterfly house at the back of the room that you could walk through and view all types of colorful butterflies.
We spent a few hours playing video poker and eating Panda Express Orange Chicken, two of our favorite things to do. When we left the machines for the night the jackpot had reached a pretty high number so we decided to play the same bank the next day if the jackpot had not been hit. As our luck would have it the jackpot was still in tact the next day so we played for a few more hours until a man on the other side of the machines hit the jackpot. All was not lost though, since we had played enough to earn a free buffet lunch in comps. Cool. One last photo before heading to the Mojave desert.
As we traveled to our farthest destination on this trip we talked about the business we were selling and where we wanted to go from here. We decided to start seriously looking for a larger sailboat (one that we could keep on the coast somewhere) and to sell the bikes and our current sailboat. We really love our bikes and I will never forget learning to ride my Rebel, then upgrading to the Shadow. We have decided it is time to move on to the next thing life brings our way. What a coincidence to see this traveling through the desert. Is is a sign? HA HA
We made it to Moab and spent two full days training the buyer of our business on the ins and outs of eBay and online sales. It was a whirlwind course and I wish I had recorded it all because we could really do some serious seminars on this stuff. It is amazing how much you know that you don’t know you know. Anyway, after two exhausting days we headed back toward home. We were not at all interested in seeing I-40 in reverse so we headed down the southern route down to I-10. We knew we could dip down through Houston and the coast throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.
We trekked through El Paso and decided to take a detour through Austin instead of going down to San Antonio and back up again. Our goal was to reach the famous Threadgill’s restaurant where Janis Joplin got her start in Austin by lunch, hit Brenham between lunch and dinner for a dip of the famous Blue Bell ice cream and end up close to Houston for the night. The day went perfectly. The bluebonnets were in bloom all over the place. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch and a huge scoop of Blue Bell before ending up in Beaumont for the night.
At this point I must tell you that you should be very happy that we do not have such a thing as smell-vision. Let me explain. When we arrived in Beaumont it was time to stop for the night and we started hunting a room for a reasonable price. We found several hotels and all were full. The last one we checked was the Motel 6 and they had a few rooms left. There is probably a good reason for this. We checked in and Scott noticed the unusual smell oozing out of the lobby. He didn’t mention the odor until we entered our room and I remarked “This place stinks!”. Seriously, I have never and hope to never stay in a hotel room that smells that bad again. We had to leave by about 4:30am because we couldn’t sleep anyway. A word of warning, if you are ever in Beaumont, Texas and you are tired, drive past the Motel 6 and sleep in your car at the rest area. You will be better rested, save money, and a lot less stinky. Below is the photo of the room. Can you see the smell??????
With our new plan for the future developing we were anxious to start looking at the different boat options out there and frankly we were very desperate to see the ocean, or at least the gulf. Our first glimpse of salt/brackish water came at the Trinity River Waterbird Rookery. It is a little place near the border of Texas and Louisiana, just an exit off I-10 that is oblivious to the human traffic surrounding it. We saw alligators and wild birds every where. It was a refreshing pit-stop.
We took I-10 down through New Orleans to see the remains of the damage from hurricane Katrina. We were amazed to see that there were still complete subdivisions falling apart. One of the interesting things we noticed was that in the subdivisions that were rebuilding there were travel trailers or motor homes parked in just about every driveway. The amount of damage that is still visible two years later is just incredible.
Our final destination was Pensacola to look at a few boats before heading home. We were exhausted and happy to be home, but after just a few days we are already looking forward to the next adventure.
About a month ago, August 18-20, we rode our bikes down to Panama City Beach for the weekend. We were originally going to ride down with a group of riders from Hog Heaven, in Columbus, GA for the Ride to the Beach, an annual bikers trip to raise money for the March of Dimes. We found out about the ride a little to late to garner sponsors this year so we just decided to make the trip ourselves for the fun and sun.
Along the way we took time to do a little geocaching.
We arrived at our hotel just as it began to rain. Since afternoon showers are common here we hung around in the room enjoying the view for a while until the storm subsided.
Once there was a break in the storm we headed out to dinner and to observe the nightlife of Panama City Beach. We decided to eat at a place called Pineapple Willy’s. This place is supposedly famous for it’s ribs that were featured in a Visa commercial some time back. The ribs were average, but the dinner was quite memorable. We arrived at Pineapple Willy’s just before it started to storm again. We were seated out on the far end of the gazebo pier and enjoyed our dinner while it rained heavily, complete with simultaneous lightning and thunder. Apparently we are braver than most because all the other tables in the gazebo cleared out as people finished their dinners and no one else wanted to sit out there in the storms. Eventually we had the entire end of the pier to ourselves. Magnificant!!
Saturday we spent the day exploring the city, marinas, and geocaching. We had lunch at a great little spot called Lime’s that was tucked away and was a bit of a challenge to find. Dinner that night was even more fabulous as we enjoyed the boat traffic and the sunset from the upstairs open air dining area of a place called the Boatyard.
We made our way back home on Sunday taking a few detours here and there to investigate some of the backroads of Alabama. Although the trip was very short it was a lot of fun and we were able to get a feel for how far we can travel comfortably on our bikes in one day (and how much stuff we can take along).