August 13

A Rideabout to Start a New Phase of Life

Next January, at the age of 65, I will enter into semi-retirement – or, as I like to think of it, I’ll be put out to stud.  To mark the occasion, I’m planning a two-week, solo motorcycle ride to the Southwest, with one or two side trips outside that territory.

Here’s my tentative agenda:

Las Vegas, NM:

IMG_2059My wife and I have stayed at a KOA near here in the past and really liked it.  It’s on I-25 but can be reached with only a few short stretches on interstates.   It’s also en route to my next destination, but on the way I’ll ride the

Million Dollar Highway:

million-dollar-roadHard to find a prettier stretch of highway anywhere.  That is, if you’re into mountains and such.  That will take me to

Ouray, CO: 

Winter Twilight over OurayProbably my favorite place in all of the Centennial State, Ouray is at the northern end of the Million Dollar Highway, which winds its way up from Durango.  I’ll have to make sure that I get to Ouray before nightfall: I don’t want to be riding at night in the mountains.  Since my next stop is not that far away, I”ll be able to enjoy Ouray a little longer than some of the other places.  From Ouray I’ll head to another familiar and favorite town:

Moab, UT:

moab utI’ve been here a couple of times but there’s so much to see that I couldn’t think of being so close without going there.  It’s the northern-most destination on my rideabout but the Arches National Park is an incredible introduction to the canyonlands.  From Moab, I’ll backtrack a bit and stop at

Dead Horse Point State Park, UT:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAUntil a few years ago, I’d never heard of this place.  After seeing some photos of Dead Horse Point, though, I’d be crazy not to stop by.  The Colorado River runs through here and does some amazing carving in the landscapes.  I’ll likely have too short amount of time at the park, unless I decide to stay another night in Moab.  When I leave, I’ll ride south on U.S. 91, skirting Canyonlands National Park, and turn left on SH 95.  I’ll have a long ride ahead of me: my next destination is

Capitol Reef National Park:

capitol reefThis would be an ambitious ride for a single day: from Moab to Cedar City is 431 miles through some amazing country..  Capitol Reef National Park is about halfway and would be a logical stopping point.  Not a bad place to spend some time.  The next day I’ll ride to a familiar town in southwest Utah:

Cedar City, UT:

IMG_0453

Cedar City is one of the gateways to what is (so far) my favorite park: Zion National Park.  I saw it for the first time last year and was stunned by the beauty and hands-on feel of the place.  The road that winds through the changing landscape is perfect for a motorcycle and I look forward to being on it again.  Cedar City also marks the halfway point in the trip, in terms of distance (but not time).  I’ll head south and east for Arizona and spend the night in

Page, AZ:

DCF 1.0Page is well-known for Lake Powell but not so much for Antelope Canyon, where I plan to spend some time.  You’ve probably seen the pictures without knowing where it was but the formations are unlike pretty much any place else.  I’ll take a lot of pictures.  Then it’s back to Las Vegas, NM, where the rideabout started.

There’s still 700 miles or so to go before getting home but northwestern Texas doesn’t have a lot of beautiful scenery.  If I have time, though, I’ll be sure to make one last stop at

Palo Duro Canyon:

palo_duro

Never been here but it looks to be a good place to wind up the trip.  It’s a little bit southwest, a little bit Texas.  A final place to soak up.

A man can dream, can he not?

August 5

Losing My Way . . . Again

(The following was written more than a few years ago; I really don’t know when. Maybe ten years ago?  I started writing about this topic some years later and then realized I was merely re-writing what I had already said.  So rather than reinvent the wheel, I offer the wheel once again, with some more recent thoughts and observations to follow.)

____________

I have lost my way.   Again.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, before I became a Christian, I was a Freak.  A Freak in those days was not merely someone who smoked marijuana and perhaps did other drugs; a Freak was a person who had rejected the culture and lifestyle of the day and was now living a quite different existence.  Hippies wore the clothes and did the drugs, but they were part-timers: they didn’t reject the lifestyle but continued to value the same things they had previously.  Freaks looked down on Hippies, considering them to be insincere and inconsistent.  Hippies were the Samaritans of the drug culture.  Freaks, we told ourselves, were the real deal.  Stoned snobbery.

As a Freak, I lived a pretty austere lifestyle.  Along with a roommate whom I rarely saw, I lived in a one-room cabin in the woods with no running water and no telephone.  Whenever possible, we took baths in a creek that was a hundred yards further into the woods and down a hill; in the winter, we showered at work, a friend’s home, or at our parents’.  We had an outhouse with a fingernail of a moon cut in the door.  No telephone meant visitors were rare: if someone wanted to see me, they had to drive the 25 miles or so out of town and hope that I would be there.

I drove a simple vehicle – a VW Bug, of course – and had few possessions.  When I moved to Colorado once, everything I owned fit in the back of my VW.  My primary possessions were a huge collection of select albums – vinyl – and a stereo system with speakers the size of a file cabinet (I still have them, 30+ years later, along with the turntable).  My wardrobe was simple: jeans, t-shirt, boots, and an old, dark, drab sports coat.  I didn’t spend any money on haircuts: my mane was past my shoulders and my mustache was thick and long.  Long hair was a badge of defiance and a celebration of freedom.

Although I had three or more years of college behind me, I pursued no career, had few ambitions, and prosyletized anyone who would listen to me.   I believed in marijuana and the lifestyle associated with it.  This was before it became the focus of “venture capitalist” and other criminals driven by profit.  We were outlaws, not criminals, wanting to live outside the law and selling drugs at cost.  Marijuana missionaries.

I was an atheist and a nihilist, finding no basis or sense in the morals and values of the culture.  If tomorrow we die, why not eat, drink, and be merry? Why spend so much time trying to “do something with my life”?  I was Koheleth with a bong.  I stayed stoned for more than five years, usually all day every day.  I liked my life and the rejection of culture for which it stood.  I didn’t make much money but it was more than enough.  I had all I wanted and wanted all that I had.  I traveled light.

Then came Christ; on His heels, like a spiritual carpetbagger, came Christendom.

Once I overcame my resistance to Him – or, rather, once He overcame my resistance – I was deeply committed to Him and His kingdom.  I found in Him a meaningful substance for the form I had been living: Jesus had placed little to no value on the worldly priorities or culture of His day; further, He encouraged His followers to do the same.  The lifestyle He called for resonated with me: I had rejected the culture because it seemed to be stupid to work so hard for something that was meaningless.  Now, however, Jesus was telling me to reject it because of a different, higher, eternal set of values and purposes.  I liked this concept a whole lot.

But with Christ comes Christendom, or so it did for me.  I was welcome in the kingdom but it was obvious that I didn’t understand some of the basic niceties about being a follower of Jesus Christ.  Christians didn’t have shoulder-length hair or ponytails.  They didn’t live in cabins in the woods; they didn’t wear boots and jeans to church.  They didn’t listen to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, or Emerson, Lake & Palmer.  My education and indoctrination were about to begin.

(Not having grown up in a Christian home, there was much I didn’t know about what was appropriate or acceptable behavior in the church.  Shortly after becoming a Christian I learned that tithing was expected.  The next time they passed the plate in church, the smallest bill I had was a fifty or hundred so I made change from the plate.  I quickly learned that this was not done, although no one could tell me why not.  I still don’t know why not.)

The long hair was the first thing to go, followed shortly thereafter by the Army fatigues and ratty sports coat.  The mustache got trimmed and thinned, jeans and t-shirts were replaced by khaki pants, dress shirt and tie for church, and – for the first time in over five years – I began wearing socks and shoes in the summer months.  Most of my music “had to go” since, as I was to learn, it was demonically inspired if not downright possessed.  I also began listening to music at a much lower decibel level, which was fine since I didn’t like most of the Christian music anyway.

I was learning to be a Christian.  I was “fitting in” with the Christian subculture.  Being naive, I thought I was doing the right thing and honoring God.

Thirty years later I sit in my professional chair in my professional office, typing on my professional laptop and looking out my professional window.  I have four cars, four televisions, four computers, and an mp3 player; in the garage is a lawnmower, a weedeater with attachments for edging and blowing, power tools, and a dismantled trampoline.  I have a mortgage, two graduate degrees, three tennis racquets, and three sets of golf clubs.  Two digital cameras.  Indoor plumbing.  I am a well-respected man about town, one of the acceptable people.   I am a Christian.

In short, I have conformed to the world.  Not just “the world,” though: I’ve been conformed to the “Christian world” system.  I left my cynicism at the gate of the kingdom, believing that there would be no need for it in the community of God’s people.  It never dawned on me that the values and priorities of the church might be harmful to my spiritual health. Continue reading