<*Crack the knuckles...*> Okay, let's dive into the Festival edition of Too Many Es in KEESEE. To summarize, Atonement, our pre-trip and Feast were awesome! Those of you with Internet ADHD can now go back to YouTube.com. For the rest of you... Oh, there's only one of you. Okay, you can keep reading.
Okay, so we flew out Sunday morning bright and early. Peder drove Rachel and I to the airport. We drank a 24 oz. cup of coffee on the way there, then got a huge bottle of water and two things of orange juice at Starbucks (that's right, we drank coffee from home and water and OJ from a coffee shoppe). Immediately after finishing the juice and water, Frontier Airlines decides to start boarding 45 minutes early. No bathroom break for Mikey. We weren't even through security yet. I always get picked on for wanting to be at the airport an hour early and that day it should have been 10 minutes longer. Oh well. So we strip down to our skivvies for the usual airport strip search (or so it feels anymore). "Do you have any toothpaste to declare?" "No, only this C4 compound and these copper wires." "Proceed." Once we're in the air, the coffee-OJ-H2O has completely bypassed my stomach and intestines kicked my kidneys for good measure along the way to my bladder. So I get up 5 minutes after take-off to hit the head. "Sorry, sir, you're not supposed to be up yet. The Fasten Seatbelt sign is still on." When isn't it still on?? Anyway, I figured I'd waste an entire paragraph with this pointless story since that's what modern news and advertising is like these days.
So we meet Marshall up in Denver and fly into Phoenix where my ears simply won't pop. This is a recurring theme the whole time we're gone. We stop to get a somewhat quick bite to eat before deciding to look for the airline we're connecting with to fly up to Prescott, AZ (that's press'-kit for you natives, press-SCOTT' for you normal-talkin' folks). As it turns out, as we're walking around looking, we inadvertantly leave the security area. That begins the fun of the Pa-ho-nix aero-complex, complex being the key word here. So we talk with Information and they say we're supposed to go to another terminal. Mind you, we thought we'd have to walk somewhere, take a tram, maybe, so we saved all of 30 minutes to get there. "There's a green bus that will take you to Terminal 2." So we go outside, and as with every airport, there are 10,000 green buses. Airport shuttles, Enterprise Rental, Alamo, etc. So we walk across the road to where some buses are at and a security guy tells us the terminal buses are on the other side. We walk across the street again. Another individual tells us the buses are on the other side of the road. This continues three times before Rachel starts interrogating minivan drivers with the word Prescott on them. We finally see two green buses coming at us on, of course, the opposite side of the road. They have wildly cute names like Roadrunner and, had we ran in front of it, Roadkill. So we finally pick one and we're on our way.
5 minutes later (T-minus 15 minutes to take-off), we realize we have to go get our boarding passes and go through another security area. Marshall already had his pass, so he bolts on ahead. The airline calls ahead and tells them we'll be late. Running to security, we strip down again only to have some very confused older couple in front of us not sure which way to go in a security line. I generally prefer going forward, but that was just too complex for these folks. Apparently, Marshall had the "hoop lady" in front of him with 4 hoop earrings in each ear, multiple necklaces and bracelets on. Naturally, she was completely oblivious to the fact that metal detectors even exist and had to take each one off as slowly as humanly possible. We run to the terminal in the wonderful Arizona sun, since this terminal was outside. I began to understand why they called them "terminals" cuz I felt like dying after that run. We get there, and, hmmm... No Marshall. His boarding pass said "Gate 1", which didn't exist in Terminal 2. No one at Pa-ho-nix seemed to know where our airline was. After we were informed that the tiny little two prop plane outside was refueling and we had time to catch our breath, we see Marshall booking it towards the building. As it turns out, everybody was waiting and we didn't need to rush so much.
We board the plane and notice that there is only one seat on either side, 10 rows total. We, naturally, have the back-most row with 3 seats across. Marshall joked with the stewardess/luggage attendant/co-pilot about weight limits, to which she replied that she needed four of us big guys up front. Yikes! So the little plane takes off and soon we're flying over the mountains. About 30 minutes later, I look down and notice we're only 300 feet above the mountains. As I thought, hmm, that's strange, the plane turns 90-degrees and dives like one of those old WWII planes. After I almost wet myself, the plane straightens out about 3 seconds before touching down on the runway. As we get out, we notice a bunch of old, well, WWII planes out there and an F-18 warming up for departure. Now I understood where our pilot got his training. Actually, it was pretty cool to see them all, especially since we didn't have to run off to some other destination. So we got our soccermommobile and booked it out of there towards Biscuit, I mean, Prescott.
Atonement was nice since a lot of the Phoenix brethren drove the hour and a half up there ("You mean you flew up here??"). We listened to Mr. Lujan and Mr. Nork give offeratory and the sermon and were well fed. After that, we went with some of the local brethren to their apartment and talked with them for a bit. I had recently contracted an ingrown toenail and by now, it was throbbing for the 3rd straight day. So Jan, our hostess, gave me a nice epson salt bath for it in her foot massager. We found out that epson salt is good for many things besides infections, like being a diuretic. So I started calling it "poop salt". We left Jan's and drove towards Sedona into the mountains, but headed back so we could grab some dinner. After dinner, we shopped for a bit, then headed for Williams, AZ, just south of the Grand Canyon.
On Tuesday, we drove up to the Canyon and looked around. After snapping many pictures, we decided to hike the paved trail to get more scenery pictures. There were a few places appropriate for climbing down to ledges so we could get a better view. Yeah, it was a tad risky since it was a precipitous (big words are fun) 1500-ft. drop straight down if our foot slipped. As Marshall and I got out to the edge of one cliff, we could hear school kids all mocking us for our stupidity. Rachel, who was the designated stunt photographer, didn't seem to realize that we had completed our daring task. So we were shouting her name when it began to rain. Great, now we have to deal with slippery rocks. Oh good, Rachel notices us and takes awhile to figure out Marshall's camera. No problem, we'll just stay out here. Okay, picture taken, the rain dies down and we make our way back. The rest of the hike along the South Rim is super quiet and peaceful... Well, with the exception of Marshall crackling his water bottle. After a few pictures of a gnarly "Tim Burton" tree (for the reference-challenged, see Sleepy Hollow and the Nightmare Before Christmas, but not Edward Scissorhands) and a fat squirrel, we complete our hike and start driving out of the park.
That night, we drove to Durango, Colorado so we could ride the Durango-Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad (or neatly summarized by the acronym DSNGRR. Did someone say "Designerrrrr"? I felt so fashionable!). Wednesday, we boarded the steam engine train and got underway. Durango was beautiful as we saw aspen trees changing colors and spent most of our time next to the Animas River. Soon, we were climbing steadily into the mountains along cliff-side tracks and looking straight down 500 ft. to certain doom. No, those rock slides just beside the tracks didn't bother me. Pretty soon, everyone tired of the scenery and started discussing relationships, jobs, budgets and frisbee golf. Nevermind the huge towering masses of rock just over our heads and huge boulders that came right up to the track. I wondered how recent they were... Pretty soon, we were in the rustic old Western town of Silverton. It was kept in it's 1890's glory. We ate and shopped and I even grabbed a drink in the Shady Lady Saloon while a tinny piano was played in the background. Pretty cool. What wasn't cool was the mannequins sticking their heads out of the upper floors of the now-understood meaning of "Shady Lady" Saloon. Yeah, I knew what they were simulating, and Mr. Meredith wouldn't have let that slip by in one of his sermons, let me tell you
We took a bus ride back to Durango in order to cut some time out of the trip. The bus driver apparently didn't have enough to do navigating a 40-foot bus around steep mountain curves, so he talked to us the whole time through the buses' speaker system. We learned all sorts of useless information about this resort and that mountain over there and why the car he almost hit should have gotten out of his way. It was fascinating.
Aftewards, we thought we'd try one of the local frisbee golf courses. Finding it, however, proved to be difficult. Apparently, someone thought a couple of rocks lined up made a suitable tee-off point and some rocks and dirt holding up a 3-to-8-ft. sticks were suitable "cages". Some locals finally helped us find a few holes, and we finally tired of the silliness before heading back to the hotel.
On Thursday, we drove to the Royal Gorge, which was rather anticlimatic since it closed roughly 15 minutes after we got there at 3:15. So we got to take a quick tram-ride to the bottom of the gorge to get a close-up of the Colorado, no, Rio Grande, no, ARKANSAS River! I should shut up before acting like I know anything (so I changed my story a couple of times). Then we walked across the World's Highest Suspension Bridge (1,053 feet high), which was built because... um... they wanted a... um, tourist trap?? Yeah, the road we came in on had signs pointing to the south and north sides of the gorge, so it really wasn't necessary except to risk losing your car on a rickety bridge. I had an eery recollection of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, "See, you got the north side. You got the south side. I'm on the east bank. I'm on the west bank." I guess it was the principle of the thing. They had signs all along the bridge, including one that said No Fishing and one for each state in the Union. Why, you ask? So you could take your picture next to your home state even though you were probably nowhere near it! This just screamed "Hey, look at us rednecks!"
Anyway, we drove to Colorado Springs that evening and ate at the Melting Pot for dinner. Delish! Later, Marshall and I sat in the hot tub, but not before gashing my already sore toe on a metal drainage grate in the pool area. I didn't think the Courtyard Marriot would mind one bloody towel. Oops...
Anyway, on Friday, we drove up to Denver and dropped off Marshall at the airport so he could get his rental and pick a bunch of other folks. We journeyed to Copper Mountain by ourselves enjoying the climb from 5,280 ft to 11,800 ft at the Eisenhower Tunnel, and back down to 9,317 ft. at Copper. From that point forward, I couldn't drink enough water. Even my teeth were dry 90% of the time. The boys (Marshall, Peder, Mike Novotny, Charlie, Charley, Karl and Jared) were in the same building as we were, so that made things easier, as far as get-togethers, for the rest of the Feast. Opening Night and the 1st day were nice with messages from Mr. Meredith, Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Monson(s). I got the opportunity to play offeratory (I was told it was "pathetique", which it technically was... 2nd movement). Rachel and I also sang in the choir this Feast.
Honestly, the rest of the Feast went so fast, it ended up being quite a blur. I was fairly tired and dehydrated most of it, but didn't manage to get sick. We played three rounds of disc golf at a really cool course in Frisco. We ate out at Breckenridge. We rode ATVs with a large group without any supervision (which was only a problem for some of us). We had a nice dinner dance with good food. We even had a movie night in which The Privileged Planet was played. A definite must see, even if it is a bit technical in places. I have a copy, for you KC locals. I even got talked into playing a round of tackle football with the younger 20-somethings and Karl. I didn't put Karl in there, mainly because he's old, but also because he and I were being weenies at the onset of the game and wanted to play two-hand touch. Silly us.
From a spiritual perspective, I got to meet a lot of you in Bloggerland. And I even got to tackle some of you! The messages were terrific with themes such as True Government, Fear and Trembling (not just awe) Towards God, Having the Mind and Heart of God (as did King David), the Power of God and the Kingdom, and Kingly Leadership. That sermon, given by Mr. Ames, caused some ruffians to stand up and yell at Mr. Ames. Unruly youth... Here we were, sitting stationary at church services, and they're telling this distinguished minister in God's Church to get out of their way and "Drive! Drive! Drive!" Such impatience. Oh wait, that's misrepresentation, isn't it? Okay, so try the 7 Laws of Success (and many other helpful magazines and booklets at http://www.tomorrowsworld.org... We were also instructed to help spread the word about the Kingdom).
On the Last Great Day, Mr. Ames was speaking in the morning and told us that someone gave him a flashlight that morning at breakfast. He said that it was a reminder from the 1987 Feast in Tulsa when the power went out on the Last Great Day and he was given a flashlight and got asked to speak after the satellite feed went out. Needless to say, in the afternoon, 10 minutes into Mr. Meredith's sermon tape, the power goes out, the video is dead and the whole congregation is sitting there laughing. About 10 people hand Mr. Ames a flashlight, Rachel yells at him that she hopes he has another sermon prepared and on and on. Someone even gave him a little pocket "Froggy" light from their kid's play set so he could see his Bible. He spoke for a good 30-40 minutes, impressively enough to a crowd of 550 without a microphone. It was about 2 minutes into that I thought those 19-year time cycles are a strange thing (LGD 1987-2006).
Good stuff. Well, that was the Reader's Digest version of the Feast this year. Please come out to KC this winter break so we can share more stories in person...