On the Road Again

In my last post, “Vacation Church”, I described my memories of our family going to strange churches while we were on vacation. Strange, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because we were going to a church other than our own. I felt weird, uncomfortable, insecure, and on display.

I had an enlightening conversation with our daughter after she read the post.

“How many times did you have to go to church on vacation while you were growing up?” she asked.

I thought for a moment, “Probably twelve or more,” I answered.

“I think I got that beat,” she said. Then she reminded me of all the times I preached or we sang at churches and conferences all over the country and she stayed with strangers while we were on the stage.

I have to admit I never really gave it a thought. We put a lot of trust in strangers who watched over our daughter while we were away from her. When I think about it now, it scares me.

We worked for a traveling evangelist in Fort Worth, Texas for three years, from 1977 to 1980. Mary taught in the school owned by the ministry. I was the crusade coordinator and led worship and performed in all the events around the country.

In the summer of 1980, I decided it was time for us to begin doing evangelism on our own. We sang at a conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma in July attended by thousands of people. As a result, our calendar was full for the next six months. We literally traveled from one end of the country to the other, from Sylacauga, Alabama to Portland, Oregon.

Our normal routine was to stay at a church for three or four days, preaching and singing every night and twice on Sunday. There were times we stayed in hotels. There were times we stayed in homes.

On one occasion our daughter was to sleep in the bedroom of the host pastor’s daughter. She locked our daughter out of her room.

Most of our hosts were more than kind and gracious. That didn’t minimize the discomfort our daughter experienced while I was busy with other things.

We did have fun traveling between engagements. Our new Olds Cutlass was packed to the roof with sound equipment and clothes. Our three-year-old usually sat on the armrest between us. If she got tired she climbed up on the speakers in the back seat for a nap.

When we purchased a new cargo van she had room to play with toys while we drove. After a year of travel and unpredictable living conditions, we decided the road was not for us.

Hats off to people who live on the road and are energized by opportunities to stay in strangers’ homes.

My childhood vacation Sunday School and church visits pale by comparison.

Cottage Outfitters Expands!

In Caseville, Michigan, there is a shop that is the place to go when you’re in town. Caseville is a popular vacation spot drawing people from all over the Midwest for camping, boating, fishing, swimming and doing all the other things that define a great summer.

Just like many other lakeside towns, Caseville has a few stores that have all of the things you would expect, like Caseville shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, coasters and painted driftwood, all manufactured in foreign countries. There are several good restaurants. My favorite is Walt’s Restaurant where we often go. Their breakfast of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast made with homemade bread is unbeatable. Walt’s happens to be right next door to the special place I’m bringing to your attention.

Cottage Outfitters, in my opinion, is the one destination you have to include in your trip to Caseville, no matter how many times you’ve been here before. There is always something new to see.

Owner, Jonathan Bibby, is incredibly gifted at staging in such a way that your attention is captured many times as you walk through the store. Cottage Outfitters offers some beautiful antique furniture pieces, decorative items that will be perfect for your home or cottage, and even has some kitchen items. Homemade edibles like jams and pastries are also available.

Included among the displays at Cottage Outfitters are many items offered on consignment. You will not, however, have the feeling as you walk through the store that you have entered another booth operated by different vendor. Jonathan arranges the entire store masterfully so that all items flow together and make it easy for you to find just the items you’re looking for.

If you’re one of those people who use the term “cozy,” than you will immediately understand what it’s like to visit Cottage Outfitters. Many times I have walked through the store and thought, “I would just like to sit here with a cup of coffee and enjoy the surroundings.” It’s that kind of place.

Especially exciting for fans of Cottage Outfitters is the store has doubled in size. Jonathan Bibby acquired the storefront next to the original store and expanded his floorspace. There is much more to see and a much wider space to enjoy.

Be sure to visit Cottage Outfitters in Caseville, Michigan, during your summer travels. Oh, and be sure to have a cup of coffee in your hand so you can stop and sit for a while.

Travel to Australia

Have you ever been to Australia? Do you have a desire for LONG-distance traveling? If you do, Australia is a terrific destination.

We had the incredible privilege of visiting Australia. It was our first trip half-way around the world. Our son and daughter-in-law were married in Queensland and we were thrilled to attend.

We were able to make all connections originating with our local Flint Bishop Airport in Michigan. From Flint we flew to Atlanta, then on to Los Angeles International (LAX). Our flight from home was mid-morning, but we didn’t leave LAX until 11:00 p.m., which was 2:00 am home time. Obviously, by the time we were in flight to Brisbane, we were exhausted.

We flew Qantas Airlines round-trip from LAX to Brisbane. The attendants were wonderful and made our flight as comfortable as possible. We were offered dinner as soon as we boarded, but we were too tired to eat. We immediately fell asleep and awoke some hours later, far over the Pacific Ocean.

Qantas food was very enjoyable, and plenty of coffee and other drinks were frequently offered. We were able to walk around the cabin as needed to stretch our legs. There were many choices of entertainment including movies, music, comedy, and, my favorite, watching live progress of our flight on a digital map.

Being international travel rookies, we made a couple significant mistakes. We didn’t purchase our visas until we were at LAX, which maybe wasn’t a problem, unless it had been. I don’t know what we would have done if they had said, “Uh, you were supposed to get these weeks ago.” When we arrived in Brisbane, it was immediately apparent we had no phones. We didn’t know about purchasing an international travel option from Verizon. Luckily, our son and his fiancé arrived pretty quickly.

The family we stayed with provided a car for us to use. Driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car was tough at first, but we managed. However, I soon discovered my “I know where I’m going” attitude didn’t stretch from the US to Australia. We left the rehearsal dinner and were quickly lost, but just happened to see a couple from the party on the road. We followed them to their house and they told us how to get to our home.

Our host took us to a local country club to see the resident wallabies that were everywhere. They were lying in the grass just feet away from our golf cart and couldn’t have cared less we were there.

It would have been great fun to see a koala, but it didn’t happen.

We were only able to stay in Australia for five days due to work schedules. Our trip was amazing, just not long enough. Someday it would be fantastic to return.