Tag Archives: roadtrip

Entertaining Angels – Part Two

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  

Hebrew 13:2 KJV

After spending what I’m sure was a wonderful week or more in California, I hit the road back to Colorado, this time taking the southern route through Arizona.  Despite being late September, it was a brutally hot day as I drove towards Phoenix.  Along the 10 freeway in this part of Arizona, there are few exits, and even fewer places to stop for gas, food, or the bathroom.

As happened on the way to California in my previous post “Entertaining Angels – Part One”, I saw a figure walking in the distance along side the freeway.  And I knew.  I’d be picking this person up, too.  Only he wasn’t hitchhiking.  He was trodging, head down.  And he was in trouble.  Even though the temperature was pushing 110 degrees, as I pulled up next to him I could see that he wasn’t sweating.  He was beet red and he was panting and he had no belongings, no water.  He was wearing probably all the clothes he owned, including a heavy jacket.  The sign for the next place where there were “services” indicated it was 10 miles down the road.  I drove along side him with the window open telling him he needed to get in so I could get him cooled off.  He was muttering to himself.  I finally drove a little in front of him, got out and opened the car door telling him to get in.  He did but he told me it wasn’t a good idea.  I was busy wetting down a towel and some fast food napkins and putting them all over him, so I didn’t care if it wasn’t a good idea.  I made him drink water.  With all my years of experience as a nurse to help me, it wasn’t hard to determine two sobering things.  One, this man was less than an hour from death and would not make it to the next gas station.  And two, he was deep in the throes of paranoid schizophrenia.

I wasted no time in getting back on the road with the AC cranked to maximum and heading for that exit while the man sitting beside me had a conversation with someone unseen about how no, he wasn’t going to hurt me, because I was helping him.  I sped up.  He was rocking back and forth telling me to hurry because he didn’t want to hurt me.  I kept encouraging him to hang in there, that it would just be a few more minutes, and told him to keep drinking water.  Man, I was nervous.  I was just praying that if I had to die that it would be quick and painless, but asked if I was going to get a prayer answered, let it be that I could just get the guy out of my car and to safety in time.

That was probably the longest six minutes of my life.  But we made it.  He had started to sweat by then (as had I) and wasn’t nearly as red, and he jumped out of my car as soon as we hit the gas station.  I gave him some money.  And I got the heck out of there.

No deep spiritual lesson in this one.  Just that sometimes doing the things the Lord wants you to make you reeeeeally uncomfortable.  I don’t know if either of these men I stopped to help ever made it to their final destinations, but I do know that both of them helped me along my way to mine.


Entertaining Angels – Part One

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  

Hebrews 13:2 KJV

I have a long and, well, colorful, if you will, “relationship” with hitchhikers.  I was not brought up to pick up random people off the street, but I learned at a youngish sort of age that my path would often lead me to places where I would do just that.

My driver’s license was not even dry yet before I had my first experience with a hitchhiker.  It was dusk and I was driving alone down a long stretch of road.  The road was chain link fenced on both sides and I was the only car on it.  I passed a young man going the same way as I with his thumb out.  Without a thought I drove right past him.  Women alone in cars don’t pick up strangers, right?  But I immediately felt the Lord prompt me that I should have offered the man a ride.  I made a U-turn as soon as I could to go back, but the man had disappeared.  To where?  There was no one else on the road, and there was no way to get off the road.  I had thoroughly missed an opportunity.  And I decided that in the future, if I could help it, I would not let that happen again.  Over the years I practiced listening to that prompting and picking up people that I felt I was in the right place at the right time to render aid to.  I never felt much in the way of hesitation.  Until eight years or so ago…

Instead of flying on my annual September pilgrimage from Colorado to California to visit my people, I was driving this time.  The sun was just rising as I crossed from Colorado into Utah.  I found myself alone on the vast expanse of the freeway winding my way through the high desert.  Off in the distance I saw a figure walking along the edge of the road.  “Please Jesus”, I begged, “please don’t make me pick up someone out here in the middle of nowhere.”  I slowed down as I drove past him.  He looked pretty rough, was unshaven, and was barefoot.  I kept him in my rear view mirror so I wouldn’t lose sight of him as I briefly argued with God, ultimately pulling over and stopping about 200 yards in front of him.  He walked up to my window as I was tossing things into the back seat from the passenger seat next to me.  He was rather incredulous as I told him to get in and asked where he was going.  I knew full well this guy might be in my car all the way to Los Angeles.  Offering him a ride stretched even my usual calm reserve about picking up hitchhikers.

No, I don’t remember his name.  He was on his way to Phoenix and I told him I wasn’t on a schedule and offered to take him there.  He declined that offer.  We decided on Moab.  A big detour, but what the heck.  As we talked I learned that he’d been trying to get to Phoenix from the East Coast for months.  It had been a huge struggle.  He’d walked most of the way as few had been willing to stop and pick him up for more than a few miles at best.  His shoes wore out some time ago.  He hadn’t bathed in weeks.  He was hungry.  He had absolutely no money.  His little kids were in Phoenix and it had been years since he’d seen them.  We ate breakfast out of my cooler.  When we got to Moab, we went shoe shopping.  I gave him money, offered one more time to take him to Phoenix, and prayed with him.

But none of that was all that important.  After he first got into my car, he told me why he almost couldn’t believe that I’d stopped for him, and it’s truly amazing…

“I slept out in the desert last night.  I was cold and I was wet.  It was the worst night of my life.  I was feeling desperate, and I was feeling so angry.  This morning I stood up and raised my fist to the sky and shouted at God at the top of my lungs…WHY WON’T YOU SEND SOMEONE TO HELP ME?????  That was fifteen minutes ago.”

This man learned that God sometimes answers prayers immediately, even ones that weren’t asked in the nicest way.  And I learned that I never want to forget what it felt like to know that had I not listened to that voice I would have missed out on the opportunity to be the almost instantaneous answer to that desperate shouted prayer.  Now, instead of waiting to hear the voice, I ask God if I’m supposed to pick up this or that person.  I even offer rides to some people who are not asking for one.  Part Two of this particular story takes place on the way back to Colorado on this same trip.  Stay tuned.  (Click HERE for Part Two)

But don’t tell my dad.


Why I Do Not Make a Good African Woman – Reason #1

And this is a big one!

In many parts of Africa there is a form of transportation called a “bike taxi”.

The bike taxi strikes fear into my heart.

Take a battered bicycle and put a “seat” on the back of it over the rear tire, and you have a bike taxi.

Like this one?

I wish.  No.

Like these ones.  (These have really good seats on them, by the way).

I recently went on another adventure to the African continent.  The trip in a nutshell went like this:

Fly to Dubai, meet up with Abner, hang out in Dubai for a bit waiting for our next flights, and sleep in the airport.  Fly to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania…me via Qatar, Abner direct.  Meet up with Abner again.  Spend night in DAR.  Take boat to Zanzibar.  Spend time in Zanzibar.  Take boat back to DAR.  Spend night in DAR.  Take buses and minibuses from DAR to Malawi.  Spend time in Malawi.  Take buses/minibuses to Mozambique.  Spend time in Mozambique.  Fly from Mozambique to South Africa.  Say good-bye to Abner as he heads to Lisbon.  Fly home.

This post is about the middle part of the trip.  The part where we meet up with friends in Sani/Nkhota Kota, Malawi.  There’s a lot of stories to tell up to this point, but this is as good a place as any to start.

In Malawi, especially in the rural “bush” areas, women wear skirts.  So, I was in a skirt.  And we were backpacking, so I had a big pack on my back, and a smaller one on my front.  And I’m not a young thing anymore…pushing 50 in fact.  And we’d been on the road for over two days, so I was tired and sore.

As we neared the place where our bus would drop us off to meet our Malawian friends, I began to wonder how, in the dead of night (it was after 10 PM) we would get from the roadside drop off point to Sam’s house (about 10 km) into the bush.  Is it too remote for a regular bush taxi?  Would we walk?  Or, please God, no, would he have arranged for bike taxis?

As you have probably guessed, it was the latter.  I took one look at those taxis and pictured myself trying to jump up onto the back to ride it sidesaddle with all my gear, and in a skirt, and I nearly died.  That was SO not going to happen.  “Fortunately”, once the “taxi drivers” saw the color of my skin, the previously agreed to price all of the sudden became seriously inflated.  I took that as my opportunity to encourage their immediate dismissal, opting instead to do the long walk.

Sam was quite amused.  African women have literally no problem with this form of transportation.  Even the very old ones with a parcel on their heads and one grandbaby in their laps with another one their backs.  And they are graceful while doing it.  Of course, they’ve been doing it their whole life.  This would have been my first time.

I seriously hate being a “problem” like that.  I try very hard to do the best I can to just quietly do what needs to be done.  And normally, I am extremely “game” in most travel circumstances.

But not this time.  I just couldn’t do it.  So we walked.  So I made all of us walk.  😦  And I was glad we did.  It was so very dark and the dirt road was bumpy and full of washed out areas, rocks, and potholes.  Even if I’d have gotten up there, I’m pretty sure at some point I would have fallen off, and possibly injured myself.  This is what I tell myself to make myself feel better about not doing it.

Perhaps the next time I find myself faced with a bike taxi I won’t be in a skirt, I won’t be loaded down, it won’t be dark, and there would be a step stool.  I’d give it a whirl if so.

But not this time.

In this particular case, I did not make a good African woman.


Happy Birthday, Julie!

Today is my cousin Julie’s birthday.  A few days ago we decided, should the weather permit, that we’d drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Until recently I didn’t even know that there was a road up to the summit, but there is!  It’s called the Pikes Peak Highway.  Parts of it are a little hairy, but we made it to the top without incident.  This was my second time up to the summit.  Last time it was winter and we took the cog railroad up.  Very cool!  Next time up, I hike!

Click HERE to read about my last trip up to the summit and see a wicked cute picture of my nephew!  And HERE to see another picture of my niece, Alaska, from the same trip.

Here Julie and I are.  Taking the requisite touristy picture in front of the summit sign.

At the Summit by you.

From “down there”, those little red rocks in the middle of the right side of this photo are massive monoliths at the Garden of the Gods!  On a clear day, you CAN see forever!

Garden of the Gods, From 14,110 Feet! by you.

Weird looking railroad tracks, huh?  These are for the cog railway that goes from Manitou Springs to the summit.

Cog Railroad Tracks by you.

And of course, a foot picture.  We are facing west.  More of the Rockies off in the distance, and two lakes!

Two Feet at 14,110 Feet! by you.

We had planned on stopping at one of the rest areas/picnic areas/scenic overlooks to have a picnic lunch, but time was not our friend and so we ate in the car while driving back down the mountain in the lowest gear my car had to offer.  It’s such a steep drive that there’s even a mandatory brake check on the way down, and if your brakes are hot, you are off the road until they cool off!  Never seen that before!  AND on the way back down we actually got snowed on!  It was a perfectly clear, bright, and beautiful day, and out of nowhere, snow!  That’s why they warn you that the weather is unpredictable up there.  Unpredictable, indeed!

Happy Birthday, Julie!  For sure we’ll do this one again!  On foot next time!

And under the category of “ask, they can only say no” goes this one!  I told the ranger at the tollroad that Julie was only 12 and that it was her birthday, and could we get her in for the child’s fare…

And he did it!  Ask.  They can only say no!  🙂


I Want a Teardrop Camper!

(That needs to be read with a hint of a whine in your voice.)

I have too many blog drafts in my queue, so you’re getting two right off the bat today!

I have been letting my magazines stack up.  Be horrified.  My magaizine subscriptions are as follows:

  1. Time
  2. Cottage Living
  3. Conde Naste’s Travel
  4. Reader’s Digest

I get Time because I need something that gets my ire up every once in awhile!  I get Cottage Living because I love all the design ideas for small spaces.  I get Travel.  Do I need to explain myself on this subscription?  I get Reader’s Digest because it’s one of the best magazines around and I have subscribed to it for as long as I can remember.  And my family competes to see who gets the most right in “It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power” (which they now just call “Word Power”).

While reading my May copy of RD yesterday I came across a tiny little article which talked about hitting the road in a “teardrop camper”.  OH MY GOSH.  These things are CUTE!  Even I might camp if I had one of these little babies!

http://www.tinycamper.com/

One of the things on my “List of Fifty” is to drive the original Route 66.  Now tell me, how much fun would it be to do THAT with one of THESE!!  I do believe even my Honda could tow this!

 

(http://www.cozycruiser.com/images/super-deluxe-teardrop-trailer.gif)

That’s a kitchen in the back, and in the front is a sleeping/living/storage space.  I’ve done some shopping, and, as with most things, they pretty much run the gamut as far as cost and amenities are concerned!  I like how the aluminum ones look.  They have a retro Route 66 sort of feel to them.  These seem to be very popular in Australia and New Zealand, and they’ve got some really sharp ones for sale down there!

Anybody want to go with me???


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