Monday, December 31, 2007

Day Five

We awoke at 6:30 am CST in our Jackson, TN hotel - showered, packed and headed east on I-40 for our last leg. Turns out that this is the second interstate that Jeff has traveled from one end to the other (I-70, the other) and the first Teena has. When we picked it up in Barstow, CA there was a sign that read "Wilmington, NC 2700 miles."

The terrain only changed by elevation since the abundance of foliage started yesterday. It was good to be back in the Appalachians again. This time it reminded us of other mountains we've been around and we were able to compare and contrast from our experiences. We hope to make many trips into this range as they are the most serene we've been near.

One witty highlight was passing by a town that you could only find in the state of Tennessee. It would be fun to hear someone from this place tell folks elsewhere of their hometown.

"Where you from?"

"Mye? Wha' Ah'm from Bucksnort, Tena-say."

As we pulled into the storage center in Newton, NC Teena commented that she felt that we should be planting a flag in front of the office just as explorers do on unconquered mountain tops. I guess that comes from traveling over 2600 miles in "one trip." Just short of our final destination at Teena's mom's house in Lewisville, NC. Newton is the location where we plan to store our furniture and we will earn a part-time income by managing the storage facility which is changing from the traditional style of management to an automated kiosk management.

We no sooner picked up the key from the hidden location in the shrubbery, than we went in to explore the office which we have been granted permission to use at no charge for our own purposes for the time being. The timing was interesting. Just after we got into the office an elderly couple stopped by to try to use the automated system and were temporarily stumped. Imagine the two Stewart stooges trying to help them after having been there for only 5 minutes. Interesting scene to say the least but with a little phone assistance from Joel McMinn we were able to assist them and make some new acquaintances in the process. Jackie made herself at home in the office and flopped down on her tummy and proceeded to watch doggie tv out the big glass door office.

Teena wonders if maybe the storage facility clientele might not provide additional prospects for our coffee shop ministry as we helped one other person before we left. Jeff guided this newbie through the process like he'd been at it for months instead of mere minutes. The folks here are very friendly. The funny thing about the storage center is that it is walking distance from an antique store we visited while out here on vacation. Who would have thunk it? --Answer: God.

We checked out the units we'll use until we find a home, so we could get acquainted with the logistics of offloading. After checking online, we learned that our belongings beat us to NC. They are at a terminal in Fletcher, NC (near Ashville) and should be in Hickory on the 2nd. We hope to start unloading on the 3rd. Jeff's twin brother will be here to help. They should make haste as they plan to sit down together and watch the FedEx Orange Bowl as they both "Rockchalk Jayhawk" a KU victory.

It's amazing how natural all this quickly feels. We miss many of our dearest friends, but we are convinced this is what we are supposed to do. As we've said all along, "We are going to die trying." Thanks for your prayers. We value them.

Happy New Year!

Jeff and Teena

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day Four

Jeff forgot to mention that when Teena described the peculiar trees she had seen in the Arizona desert (see Day 1) Noah had a name for the tree--the Joshua Tree which she now foggily remembers hearing about somewhere before. You can find out more:

As we've traversed east, we've watched the terrain change gradually from the plains of Oklahoma (which had more trees than Teena expected and some lovely horse farms) to the tree lined placid lakes and streams of Arkansas to the more familiar forresty terrain of Tennessee. (It's starting to look more like NC.) Teena drove through Memphis which was a bit more Las Vegas looking than expected with even a pyramid type of building.

Except for a stomach bug which Teena picked up and which has remained somewhat manageable forcing her to make only one unplanned pit stop, we are doing well. Hopefully she'll be feeling more herself by tomorrow. Jeff stopped at WalMart in Arkansas to pickup some Pepto Bismol and came out with glazed eyes. "It's a whole different culture in there." (Evidently all the motorized carts were in use by obese women buying junk food.)

Liz Tognoli called to see how we and Jackie are doing. Jackie's adjusted fairly well since the initial barf-in-the-car-on-the-dog-rug incident. She's learned to hold it indefinitely and to go at the end of the leash. Her only protest is dumping her food bowl, even after we stopped and bought more enticing food. Oh well. I guess it's her way of letting us know she's pretty bored with the drudgery of sitting in the back seat. Last night as a treat we picked up a stick during her evening constitutional and let her bring it inside. She was very happy chomping away.

Day Three

We are posting this at the end of "Day Four" as the "no frills" Motel 6 (the only place that we could book that allows pets in the Oklahoma City area) had no Internet connections. They did have 2 washers and 2 dryers so we filled our time doing laundry.

We woke up in Albuquerque at about 7 and walked down to the "Owl Diner" to have a hearty and leisurely breakfast with Noah and Rachel. It was like a "Rosies" or "Gunther Tooties" style with very tasty and fatty food. We had great conversation for over an hour. We walked back to the motel and they helped us pack up for our next leg. We bid them farewell promising that something was in our scheming to get them out to our new home either in the summer or next Christmas. We have a feeling that this might be another "Ocean Isle Beach" family year.

We pointed east on I-40 and headed toward Oklahoma City at about 9 am.

It was amazing to watch the topography change from desert to plain. As you travel east there seems to be a transition as the fertility of the ground takes on a gradual transition - more scrub bushes with some grass to half bushes and grass to all grass.

We arrived at our motel after dark. The area (north of the airport) is a bit rough and tumble. It looked like about 20% of the businesses in the area had closed. We wondered if the airport had changed its main entrance to the south or another direction. We were glad to pull out of there prior to the dawn with suitcases full of clean clothes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Two

Jeff is asked at about 2 AM to take Jackie (our 12-year old Scottie) outside because she's wondering around the hotel room. Maybe she needs to do her business. So Jeff gets up, puts on some jeans, shoes and a coat; grabs the leash and heads out into the Flagstaff, AZ night.

The air bites like he hasn't felt it in awhile. Perhaps being in the Bay Area over the past 6+ years had made him forget what anything below 35 degrees feels like. The dog only wants to sniff where others of her kind have been. So both head back to the room. At 6:30 am the ritual is repeated, only this time more successfully. "Man! How different the air feels from anything in the past few years."

Teena and Jeff head east on I-40 toward New Mexico at about 7:15 and turn on the radio. A station giving Arizona current temperatures includes Flagstaff and announces a reading of 2 degrees. It has probably been nearly 10 years since we both felt that.

Today was intended to be a relatively short trip (4 hours) so that we may spend time with Noah and Rachel in Albuquerque. Teena wanted to see the Petrified Forest National Park, so we took an hour-long diversion to see a government protected lot of land that looked like the surface of Mars.

We get to Albuquerque at 1:15, meet Noah and Rachel and have an enjoyable lunch near our hotel.

We wanted to do something for the afternoon, so we agreed to find the "Rattlesnake Museum" listed in the front of the Yellow Pages. It turned out to be in a section called "Old Town" which had many shops and sidewalk vendors. After seeing many versions of American rattlesnakes, we walked the shops and enjoyed a Mexican dinner in a local restaurant.

We concluded the night by watching a couple of movies in their room. We will breakfast together in the morning and head to our separate destinations before the morning is half way gone.

It is great to see them and they look very happy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day One

The ABF "pup" trailer with all of our worldly belongings was picked up late yesterday evening by a driver. It will make its way across country as drivers going East are available and we'll store those goods in a storage center at no-charge in Newton, NC which a generous donor has allowed us to use for a few months at no charge until we secure a home. We'll be living with Teena's mom in Lewisville, NC for the time being and camping out there.

We left Benicia at 4:55 am this morning after spending the first half hour repacking and getting rid of excess boxes that wouldn't fit. We put things in every cubby hole we could find in the trunk and back seat of the Bonneville. It was tight but we made it with room for one 12-year-old very confused Scottie dog named Jackie.

Jackie whimpered slightly in protest as we made our way down the Benicia hills, positively certain we were going to the vet or the groomers. It took her about 4 hours to figure out that maybe we were just going for a very long ride. On our first pit stop after just having made comments about traveling without having to worry about the hassle of kids, Teena gave Jackie some water and Jackie promptly puked on the sleeping bag in the back seat. So much for not having kids.

"1 state down, and 7 more to go" - is what Jeff told Teena when we crossed the Colorado River on I-40 into Arizona. We were amazed to see how the terrain changed and as we passed through the Mojave desert Teena was surprised to see it wasn't a Sahara white sandy desert, but rather one consisting of scrub brushes and very odd looking pine trees which looked as if they couldn't make up their minds as to whether they wanted to be a cactus, palm tree or pine.

After 765 miles in .5 of a full day, we arrived at our motel in Flagstaff, AZ with below freezing temperatures, a biting wind and crunchy snow underfoot . Not exactly what we imagined taking the "southern route." We're glad we took it as we can't imagine what systems we could run into going over the Sierra Nevadas, the Rockies, and through the heart of the country at this time of year. Jeff checked the weather ahead and it looks to be very much in our favor.

Rachel and Noah will leave Parker, CO tomorrow morning at 5:30 am and we will leave here at about 7:30 am so we can meet in Albuquerque to spend some time together. However, there is some snow in CO as we speak, but it is supposed to tapper off and pass through tonight and be partly cloudy tomorrow. Hopefully the roads will be cleared ahead of them.

We'll post on how our day and time go tomorrow..

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stewart Travel Itinerary

Please pray for us as we trek across the U.S. Here's our schedule. We'll try to post updates.


Jeff and Teena

Thursday, 12/27 Travel from Benicia, CA to Flagstaff, AZ

Friday, 12/28 Travel from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM

Saturday, 12/29 Travel from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday, 12/30 Travel from Oklahoma City, OK to Jackson, TN

Monday, 12/31 Travel from Jackson, TN to Winston-Salem, NC

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Present Relevance...

"He replied, 'You give them something to eat.' They answered, 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.' "
-Luke 9:13 (NIV)

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

There are 2 pieces here. We are seeing them being put together.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Training Day

This Saturday (December 8th) we will be learning the operation of the Espresso machine we are purchasing from Shawn West (of Coffee That Cares). The brand is "Azkoyen" (From Spain) and the model is "Xpression." From doing online research, I've discovered that the system is fully automatic. At the push of a button you can get cappuccino, latte, warm milk, steamed milk or just coffee (weak, strong or "white" - whatever that is). I saw an article that mentioned this machine entitled: "The End of the Barista?"

It sounds like our kind of machine. Shawn has given us a full year warranty and assures us that repair is pretty basic - if you know computers and appliance systems (both of which I've tinkered with). It retails for up to $12k. I've seen it listed in a few places for $8k. That's just the machine. Shawn will sell the machine with a milk refrigerator and a ceramic cup warmer (see picture) for $5.5k.

We've both prayed about it and feel that we can purchase this to build the rest of the ministry around it. We figure if we can create good lattes, then we'll put other pieces together as we progress - even other people we can train to operate the system.

Another step toward our vision. We're pumped - needless to say.