Tag Archives: travel

Our Lovely Day of Rest – Naples, FL

Yesterday I set out to journal the amazing day of rest my wife and I enjoyed on Saturday, and instead the words flowed concerning the acquisition of my employer and the new “normal” my coworkers and I face. Well, given the turmoil the transition period put on my work plans, I was so looking forward to resting for a day, and finally got what I wanted last Saturday at the Ritz Carleton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida.

First, I’ll say that the Ritz has mastered serving their guests. Their response to every request is a cheerful “we can do that,” or “my pleasure!” They greet you upon each arrival and bid you well on each departure. The grounds are immaculate and the setting pristine. We were fortunate that the cost of our accommodations were covered, for the Ritz is very pricey. But, as a wise person once said, “you get what you pay for.”

As for our day of rest, I’ll allow a few photos to speak for me.

Honey, Be Still

American Airlines MD-82; N7521A@SLC;09.10.2011...

American Airlines MD-82; N7521A@SLC;09.10.2011/621dx (Photo credit: Aero Icarus)

I settle into my aisle seat, 9D with extra leg space, and watch as my fellow passengers board our flight from Orlando to Dallas/Fort Worth. Flying home on a Tuesday evening usually means I’m sharing my flight mostly with other business travelers. However, that is usually not the case when flying out of Orlando. Passengers boarding our flight include families with young children sporting their Mickey Mouse headgear, young adults heading home after a long weekend getaway, and just a few of us road warriors sporting our casual business attire and our Swiss brand backpacks. All of us want the same thing: to take our seats and enjoy an uneventful flight to our final destination.

“Honey, be still.”

Over the hustle and bustle of the boarding process, those words spoken in a husky voice by a female passenger close by grab my attention. She is seated in 8B, the aisle seat across the way and one row in front of me. Although we are at the gate, her seat is fully reclined as she sits under her blanket, clutching a plastic cup and a small stuffed pony. She is blond, middle-aged, and somewhat heavyset with large glasses. Her eyes are closed. Her husband, a rather small man with dark hair, is seated at the window next to her, looking outside and commenting on the baggage handlers and other tarmac workers busily prepping our plane for takeoff.

“Honey, be still.”

She says it again as he comments on something else he sees as he points outside. Is she nervous? Is she downright afraid to fly? Maybe she’s not feeling well. Whatever it is, she appears to be quite uncomfortable and more than just a little annoyed.

Seated behind the couple in 8A and 8B is an older couple obviously traveling together, both entranced with their iPads. Attired in dark dress slacks and a white business shirt with no tie, he is a distinguished looking gentleman with salt and pepper hair and silver wire frame glasses. She looks more than a tad bit younger than he, dressed in a sophisticated dark pantsuit with her iPad adorned in a white leather case. As the flight attendant walks by he points to “Honey, be still”, reclined so steeply that their eyes would meet if she simply looked up, silently reminding her that all seats are to be in their full and upright position for takeoff. The flight attendant acknowledges his gesture with a smile but says nothing.

Now, fully tuned in to the people around me, I notice the gay couple seated in front of me. How do I know? Men don’t gaze into each other’s eyes and lean into each other unless there are feelings between them far beyond fraternal friendship. These guys aren’t buddies, they are a couple; even I can see that. Although I am not a fan of the gay lifestyle I can’t help but be touched by their obvious affection towards one another; I’m just hoping there is no in-flight PDA.

Seated next to me are two ladies, each traveling alone. Both are donned in professional business attire and sport nicely coiffed blond hair. We exchange friendly greetings as I stand to allow each of them access to their respective seats, but once seated the three of us are all business. Beyond our friendly greetings we focus on our respective in-flight habits. 9F listens to her business motivational book on CD (I haven’t seen a portable CD player in a long time!) as she gazes out the window at the sunset on the horizon. 9E has her hardcover book called [Something] One nestled in her lap as she sleeps. I try to make out the title, but I can’t unless I lean far closer than what would be appropriate or comfortable. It has a large silver question mark on the cover; maybe you’ve read it. And I, in 9D, compose this essay as I observe the people around me.

IMG_2104

Blogging at 36,000 feet.

Well into our flight, “Honey, be still” wakes from her nap. From where I sit I see a smile on her face as she speaks softly to her husband. That’s a good sign. I take a sip of my red wine as I look at the people seated around me, and I can’t help but smile. Tonight we share a flight to Dallas. But I’m reminded that we all share this life we live on planet Earth. Each of us has a story. Each of us has a purpose. We have our burdens, our hopes, and our dreams. We have victories and we have losses. We have each other. I find myself lifting each of these people seated around me in prayer, asking God to guard and protect them as they complete this flight and continue on their journey through life.

As I re-read the draft of this essay, feeling somewhat proud of my perception and intellect, “Honey, be still”’s husband rises from her seat and heads to the back of the plane. That’s right – her seat. He is a she, with short-cropped dark hair, sporting a gray tank top, baggy painter’s jeans and tattoos on both arms. What was once a smile is now a full-tooth grin as I remind myself that things aren’t always what they appear to be. Husband? Daughter? Partner? Caregiver? Close friend? I have no idea. All I know for sure is, as perceptive as I thought I was, I had totally missed the mark.

“Honey, be still.” As I wash down my slice of Humble Pie with the remnant of my airline Cabernet, I’d say that’s some pretty good advice.

Our Day of Rest ~ Jeremiah 17:19-27

“But it will come about, if you listen attentively to Me,” declares the LORD, “to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, then there will come in through the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. ~ Jeremiah 17:24-25

English: American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taki...

English: American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taking off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in October 2007. Français : Un Boeing 737-800 décollant de l’aéroport international de Los Angeles (LAX) en octobre 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it mean to keep the Sabbath? This passage hits home for me this weekend, as I am on a rare weekend business trip. Today is Sunday and here I sit in a Chicago-area airport hotel preparing to travel home. The timing of my return flight early this afternoon juxtaposed against the worship schedules of local churches is keeping me from worship. Can I still honor God in this situation?

In this passage God tells Israel that they must rest on the Sabbath; doing so carries a promise of blessing while ignoring this command carries a consequence: “But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.” (17:28)

Keeping the Sabbath day holy is the third of God’s Ten Commandments delivered through Moses:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

Why did God command we keep the Sabbath? He answers that question in the Exodus passage above: God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore He declared the seventh day of the week to be a day of rest, so important that He made it holy. God knows the needs of His creation; we need to rest from our daily toils. Rest is so important that God commanded we take it.

English: The Sabbath Rest

English: The Sabbath Rest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I study this question, my mind recalls a show or movie I watched on TV many years ago as a child. I remember the show was set in the 19th century. The family lives in the country. After attending church on Sunday morning, they sit in their chairs at home, Bibles in hand. The family’s children keep asking to go outside and play and the parents repeatedly tell them “no”. It’s the Sabbath and they must rest. The children are miserable. Is that what God intended?

To coin a popular phrase (I almost hate to do this, but in this context I will), “What Would Jesus Do”?

Here are two clues from Mark’s Gospel:

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He (Jesus) entered the synagogue and began to teach. ~ Mark 1:21

Jesus addressed the Sabbath when confronted by some Pharisees:

And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

Based on these passages, it would appear that the Sabbath has two main purposes: (1) It is a day on which we deliberately take time to focus on the things of God. Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. Presumably, there were believers at the synagogue ready to study and learn God’s Word. So it is permissible to travel to the synagogue and exercise our brains in worship and study. On the Sabbath we worship, we study, we pray, we congregate with fellow believers to be refreshed and reenergized through worship and the reading and teaching of God’s Word; (2) It is a day on which we rest from the chores of daily life. It’s OK to tend to and provide for our daily needs. Lightning won’t strike us if we rise from our chair and do something physical. This Sabbath, this day of rest, was not intended to be a millstone around our necks; it is a gift to us from our loving Heavenly Father.

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

In Jeremiah, God is angry at Israel because they have set Him aside in exchange for a worldly lifestyle in which they seek after false gods. Every day looks the same. The true God has been shoved into the background as they pursue their lives of sin. I can relate to that, can you? God’s stressing to them the importance of keeping the Sabbath is a reminder to all of us that we must deliberately seek Him. We must take time from our daily routine to focus on Him and His Word. Setting aside a day in each week for these purposes – worship and rest – allows us the opportunity to recharge our spiritual and physical batteries so we are equipped to face a world enamored with sin.

As I spend this Sunday morning packing and preparing to fly home, I will do so with holy music filling my hotel room. My plane ride home will be a time of Bible study. I will miss my time of corporate worship this morning, but I will set aside my work today to consider all that God has done for me. First and foremost, I will remember and confess my sins and rejoice in the hope of eternal life in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ponder this: Do I take enough time during the week, and even on each day, to consider the things of God?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, as I travel home today I pray that You will guard and protect me. Let my mind focus on You and Your Word as I rest from my daily toils. Forgive me of my sins, and help me to honor You with this day of rest. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

Route 66: Fading Away

If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.
~ Nat King Cole; Lyrics by Bobby Troup

IMG_2258As we approached hour 12 in the minivan, my daughter and I debated whether we should continue another 90 minutes to Amarillo or stop for the night along historic Route 66 in Tucumcari, NM. Stopping in Amarillo would make for shorter day tomorrow; stopping in Tucumcari would allow us an earlier dinner and a chance for me to show my 17-year old daughter a bit of Americana.

Mural on the side of Motel Safari, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

Mural on the side of Motel Safari, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

The Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

The Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

Flying eastbound down Interstate 40 at a cruise-controlled 78 miles per hour, I began to regale my 17-year old daughter with memories from my childhood travels. In the days before the Interstate system crisscrossed the country, the American road trip was an event in and of itself. Towns like Tucumcari thrived on the tourists passing through, and many of those towns developed strips of activity – a main road lit up at night with the neon signs of so many motels and restaurants, each trying to woo the weary traveler with a comfortable bed, a refreshing swimming pool, and the classic restaurant/lounge.

As we approached Tucumcari, we saw a sign that directed us to take the first of 5 exits to follow historical Route 66 through town. My daughter and I agreed that we would select a place to stay based on curb appeal, attached restaurant, and general Americana coolness. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that an era has passed.

The Royal Inn, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

The Royal Inn, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.”
~ Clark W. Griswold

The pool at the Royal Inn, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

The pool at the Royal Inn, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

I should have known. Travel has changed. When I was young, my parents took us kids on a vacation road trip every summer. Pulling up to the night’s motel was a daily highlight on the earlier trips. It was fun to check out the room, and we couldn’t wait to change into our swimsuits and jump into the motel pool. Today, they’re all the same. Hampton, Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn – name a chain. On the plus side, they are generally consistent and reliable. On the down side, there is nothing unique to see here.

After dinner tonight I took a drive through Tucumcari and included a few of my pictures in this blog. Times change, and my travel habits have changed with it. Perhaps that’s why I was so disappointed that our eagerly anticipated trip to Americana didn’t quite pan out. At least I have the memories; sadly, my kids will never know that wonderful era in American road tripping.

Only the sign remains at the site of the Lasso Motel, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

Only the sign remains at the site of the Lasso Motel, Tucumcari, NM, July 6, 2013

Small Town Independence Day Eve

I had my eyes opened tonight.

La Plaza Inn, Walsenburg, CO. July 3, 2013

La Plaza Inn, Walsenburg, CO. July 3, 2013

After logging 606 relatively easy highway miles in our 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan, my daughter and I finally arrived at our stop for the night: an historic and quaint inn located in downtown Walsenburg, Colorado.

Before settling in for the evening, we walked around downtown Walsenburg. We noticed several shops offering antiques, clothing, gifts, and even an H&R Block. Sadly, we were past closing time so we were not able to venture inside. We also noticed several vacant storefronts. We enjoyed our walk around town and I was pleased that my daughter found the town as intriguing as I did. After our walk, she wanted to relax in the room and I wanted a glass of wine. We both had the same objective, just in different forms!

After safely settling my daughter into our room*, I headed downstairs and took a seat at the small and nicely stocked bar in the lobby. At first I was alone, but soon a few others entered and took seats at the bar. One gentleman mentioned the meeting tonight, to which the manager responded, “tomorrow is a holiday and you have a meeting?”

“Yes. We need it.”

I learned that each of them owns a small business in this quaint little downtown. Their discussion quickly turned to a building prominently located on Main Street. As they described it’s teal trim and salmon color I remembered walking by it just a short hour ago. The building’s owner had recently ordered one tenant to relocate; now they had heard that the antique store occupying the majority of retail space in that building had also been ordered to relocate. Once the antique store leaves, there will be two prime retail locations on Main Street completely vacant.

Downtown Walsenburg, Colorado. Borrowed from flickr.com

Downtown Walsenburg, Colorado. Borrowed from flickr.com

The antique store quickly became the focus of the conversation. “People from all over come to visit her. Then many of them visit me. Is there a suitable space for her downtown? Where will she go? What if she just gives up and closes her business?” I gathered that the building’s owner is not from here.

As I nurtured my glass of wine, I looked at the people seated around me and I felt empathy with them. This is huge. This development, completely beyond their direct control, could significantly impact their businesses. Their concern was evident; hence, the Independence Day Eve meeting of downtown business owners.

I have always had an appreciation for Small Town, USA. That appreciation was one of the reasons I chose this particular inn for this particular stopover. Tonight I looked the backbone of America in the eye and had my eyes opened. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have a clue about the issues facing small business owners across this great country of ours. And I question seriously whether those in power at the state and federal level have a clue, either. Yes, this is a local issue. But this local issue reaches far beyond the confines of Walsenburg, Colorado. This town depends upon the success of these businesses; so does the state of Colorado and so does the United States of America.

Flag of the United States of America, backlit,...

Flag of the United States of America, backlit, windy day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I finished my wine and paid my tab I found myself wondering how many similar conversations are going on in small towns across the country. As I type this, the meeting is going on downstairs. I can’t stop thinking about these people. What can I – a person who lives in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area and who works for a major corporation – what can I do? Well, I can support small business owners – the backbone of this great country. And so can you.

Tomorrow is Independence Day. On this Independence Day Eve 2013 I pledge to do my part to honor the people I met this evening by supporting the backbone of America – local businesses – at home and on the road. I invite you to do the same.

I wish the people of Walsenburg much success.

*“Room” is not a fair word here. We have what amounts to a suite with separate quarters, each with a queen-sized bed, and a shared bath. Nicely decorated, incredibly comfortable, and priced lower than most major chain motels the inn offers a great value. I highly recommend it.

%d bloggers like this: