The Land of Enchantment

Driving across the desert with my own thoughts and a couple books on CD was uneventful.  Well except for the large rubbermaid trashcan that decided to play chicken with me on the road.  But I won.

I’m not good at being alone but when the GPS says, “Left turn in 236 miles.”  and you’re the only one in the car, you settle in and make the best of it.  The drive was actually quite cathartic.

Cloudhaven was everything I thought it would be and more.  A sweet retreat in the pine covered mountains.  Each day dawned with a new wave of possibilities.  Piles of books, miles and miles of forest, an unending ball of yarn, conversations to be had and yet nothing planned.  And everything was done with a wonderful backdrop of fresh green.  At first it was warm and clear but towards the end of the week, the clouds moved in and the rain added another layer of sweetness.

Each morning was started with a walk or a hike higher up the mountain.  Sometimes there were deer along the way.  Sometimes I had four legged companionship.  There was a waterfall to walk by, trees to look at, gravel and pine needles underfoot, and miles of blue sky.

Meet the four-legged companion.  Bailey just loves to be where the people are.  Whenever I left the house she was always there by my side and ready for anything.  She’s getting a bit old so sometimes I wondered if she would survive the hike but a little water, a bit of rest and a scratch behind the ears can do wonders.  When we weren’t out exploring Bailey loved her post in the middle of the road, sunny, warm and a great view of the neighborhood comings and goings.

When I wasn’t hiking or otherwise out exploring, I perched myself in a rocking chair on the porch.  Armed with a blanket, pen, a pile of books and my knitting, I spent many happy hours reading, writing and just enjoying the quiet.  After most of the week just taking notes  and jotting down thoughts, Jesus- An Introduction took shape.  This is part summary of the Bible, part synthesis of all the books I read, part personal journey and part step forward.

When it was too cold to sit on the porch, I curled on the couch inside and enjoyed a nice fire.  No stresses, no unwelcome distractions, just a great week with great people.  Thank you Jim and Katy for the showers of blessings you poured out on me.  Cloudhaven truly is a haven.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.—Is. 44:22

The Joys of GPS and Freeway Culture Shock.

Ok so I may be a bit behind the times but in my defense, a lot has happened in the past 3 years.  When I left I knew a handful of people who had GSP systems and they were pretty much only handheld, most people with a BlackBerry phone needed them for work and smartphones were just gaining mass popularity.  It was exciting enough during college just to use mapquest to get directions.  But now things are different.  It is common to have built in GPS in cars, BlackBerrys now have touch screens too and smartphones are everywhere.  You can still use mapquest or ask for directions but now it is much easier to use GPS for directions or your smartphone to see how to get around traffic.

Yesterday I drove down to southern California to visit my cousin and her new baby (pictures of the G-man later).  Instead of asking for directions I simply punched in their address to a GPS and let the voice guide me.  This was great on the freeways of Los Angeles because I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at a map or worry that I missed a freeway turnoff.  Maybe this isn’t amazing to any of you but for me it made all the difference.  Since LA is just a mass of freeways, driving could have proved very difficult but two miles before a turn or merge, the GPS would warn me.  This gave me plenty of time to navigate thought the LA traffic and I made it to and from my destination with no problems.

I had to laugh at myself as I was driving.  For the first part of the trip the roads had relatively light traffic and we were traveling at pretty normal LA freeway speeds but I was a bit nervous.  I turned my music down and concentrated fully on the road.  Traffic and driving are still ‘new’ to me.  However, just before LA the traffic slowed down to a crawl with red taillights as far as I could see.  Instead of getting frustrated (the normal drivers reaction to traffic), I felt my pulse slow down a bit and relaxed.  Inching down the freeway, I turned the music back up and could enjoy the drive.  By the time the traffic thinned, I had calmed a bit and was ready to resume the freeway speeds that I will hopefully get use to once again.

So I guess the moral of this story is that LA freeways are a good place to test out GPS systems and how they work.  And that culture shock can manifest itself in many funny ways.  I should remember this a few months from now when traffic no longer seems like a nice calming break.