The Madison in Covington

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed an evening with the glitterati attending the Sellers/Phillips wedding reception last night at The Madison, just across the river in Covington, Kentucky.

The occasion was glorious, and the company was great. Unfortunately, the acoustics in the packed room were horrible. We got to renew fellowship with a bunch of dear friends but spent most of the evening either shouting across the table to be heard or leaning and straining across the table to hear.

And, while our kids were all there, they sat at a different table. But just having them nearby is a joy. Even when Aaron (as usual) has to ruin the picture.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Full Montgomery

As mentioned before on this blog, the Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati is one of my (and the lovely Robin's) favorite places to eat.

This evening, following a wedding rehearsal at St. Aloysius, we enjoyed a wonderful meal there, in a lovely upstairs banquet room (above), compliments of the groom's parents, the Phillipses.

Need proof? That's my plate above. I left a little parsley behind, for propriety's sake. Manners are important. Just not as important as Montgomery Inn ribs, baby!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Crowne Plaza in Dallas

I checked in last night to the Crowne Plaza here in Dallas, Texas--not far from the Galleria, I'm told.

It's a beautiful hotel (as one might expect from a Crowne Plaza). Above is the lobby.

My room isn't huge but it's comfortable and beautiful.

Like most hotels of this ilk, however, they're stingy with their wifi, making free wifi available only in the lobby.

But I have my phone so they're not getting my money.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Pinch Me Places: Petra

I honestly never really imagined I'd see Petra, the ancient rock city ("petra" is Greek for "rock") referred to in the Bible as "Sela" (Isaiah 16:1 and Obadiah 1-4). It just seemed so remote and inaccessible (which it kinda is!). It is located in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which run from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

That's why it's on my list of "Pinch Me" sites, since the lovely Robin and I visited Petra in 2010. There's no way to describe the impact of walking through the siq (crevasse) and seeing the "Treasury" for the first time!

Not a treasury, but an elaborate mausoleum (which could also describe the whole place), it continues to yield new discoveries (six years ago, tombs six meters beneath the facade were discovered).

The area also provides a picturesque spot for a camel ride....which the lovely Robin laughed and screamed through). It's a one-of-a-kind spot on the face of the earth. And another place in which I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there.

Cimarron Steakhouse

I had the pleasure of going today with six friends from the Oklahoma City ACW Conference to Cimarron Steakhouse for lunch.

Wow, what a happening place--and at lunch on a Saturday! The western decor was fun to take in. I counted thirty-five saddles hanging from the rafters all around the room!

And the Mesquite Steak Salad was terrific!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Oklahoma City Digs

My digs last night thru Sunday morning are here at the Oklahoma City Airport La Quinta Inn on S. Meridian Avenue.

I don't just have a room. I have a suite. Overlooking the lobby.

It is spacious and comfortable.

The hotel is also the site of the ACW Conference at which I'm speaking today and tomorrow.

P.S. while my room was nice enough, I must add that spotty wireless service (very frustrating), filthy lobby restroom, and barely okay continental breakfasts make this a hotel I would rather not stay in again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


I arrived safely--and right on time--in Oklahoma City this evening. True to its reputation, as I stepped off the plane, the jetway was rocked by crosswinds. Sweeping down the plain, apparently.

The airport here is named for Will Rogers.

It took no time at all to get from plane to terminal to curb. A pain-free arrival in a pleasant place.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Pinch Me Places: Stratford Upon Avon

In 1995, the lovely Robin and I traveled with Aubrey and Aaron to that "green and pleasant land" that gave birth to the U.S., where we were hosted by our dear friends Nigel, Rachel, Samantha, Carlene, and Dathan Horridge for a tour of England. While there, of course (OF COURSE), we visited Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace and hometown of William Shakespeare.

This is me (above...right in the, really, that's me, the silly American in the trench coat with a camera hanging from his neck) exiting Shakespeare's birthplace and first home. The Bard grew up here and played here. He ate meals in the hall and slept and dreamed in those rooms. He spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway.

Shakespeare's house. SHAKESPEARE'S HOUSE. Did I mention: SHAKESPEARE WAS HERE? THE Shakespeare?

Not only that, but previous visitors to this spot have included Charles Dickens, John Keats, Walter Scott, and Thomas Hardy. I didn't happen to recognize any of them while I was there, but neither did they recognize me, so I guess we're even.

And, of course, included in our day at Stratford-Upon-Avon (I just like saying that) was a visit to Anne Hathaway's cottage where, obviously (judging from the photo above) Aubrey was saying something utterly baffling to Nigel. Although his face always wears that look, so maybe not.

But did I happen to mention: SHAKESPEARE WAS HERE! And I was, too. Though it all seemed so hard to believe, I probably literally pinched myself.

Collierville First Assembly

I worshiped God this morning at Collierville (TN) First Assembly of God with my friends Reg and Eleonore.

As I entered, a crowd was making their way into the auditorium (nee gymnasium). I was welcomed repeatedly as I entered, and three times after I was seated.

Worship was capably led by a young man with a New Zealand accent and four other mic'd vocalists (though for the life of me, I couldn't tell if their mic'd were on; I heard no voice but his).

They were supported by three or four unmic'd singers along one wall, a grand piano, drums, bass, and trombone (though I never heard the bass and only occasionally heard confirmation that the others were playing). But it was a fine worship experience, as we sang all praise songs, ending with Revelation Song.

The pastor, Jason Murphy, got up to preach at 11:15 (the service started at 10:30) and did so enthusiastically and effectively. Unfortunately, I had to leave at 11:50 for the airport, just as the pastor was getting to some exposition, which I was sorry to miss.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Corky's BBQ

The lovely Robin and I try to observe a rule when we travel: no restaurants we can eat at when we're home.

When I told some of the conferees at today's Memphis writer's conference at which I'm teaching, they took me to Corky's.

Corky's is a barbecue place, terrifically decorated with vintage posters and photos of visiting celebrities.

We ordered takeout, which was ready in short order.

My lunch was a pulled pork salad--or pig salad--which was delicious.

I'm not sure I can forgive myself for having a salad instead of ribs or a pulled pork sandwich. But I'll try.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Hampton Inn, Collierville

I checked in last night for a two-night stay at the Hampton Inn in Collierville, Tennessee (near Memphis).

It's quite nice, comfortable and clean. But most importantly, just outside my room, are machines offering free candy.

The breakfast room is spacious, and the breakfast bar has a great variety.

The fitness room, unfortunately, is small. And its location (entry on the far side of the lobby from guest rooms) seems odd.

But it's a lovely place to stay overall, just off the busy Poplar Ave. not far from I-240.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thing #64 I Like About Living Where I Do

I had some errands to run on Tuesday, which reminded me of one of the reasons I like where I live.

After leaving some outgoing mail to be picked up from our mailbox, I dropped off a FedEx package at the pickup spot in Staples...

Deposit a couple checks at the bank...

And fill up with gas at Meijer's gas station (I also bought a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. And maybe or maybe not a Reese's Cup).

From beginning to end, it took less than ten minutes to do it all. THAT's why I like where I live.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Pinch Me Places: Jerusalem

The lovely Robin and I have been so blessed to visit Jerusalem four times (in 1988, 2000, 2005, and 2010), and I still can't believe it. We plan to return again in 2014 (see here), and I still can't believe it. And I can't believe that I've been there with my children, Aubrey and Aaron, as well as my niece Elissa (far left, above) and father-in-law Dick (far right, above). And to have shared the experience with so many other dear ones, Bill and Marty Francis and Susan and Billy, the Kellys, the Sellerses, Debbie, Willa, Carol, Barb, Betty, Dave and Millie, Susan and Brian and Ellen and David, and more. Oh, there's nothing better.

There is nothing like the sight of the Old CIty coming into view as we crest the Mount of Olives, and read aloud Psalm 48: "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the mountain of our God, in the city of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the Great King."

There is no city like it on earth. And the sacred spaces and history are literally stacked upon each other, one next to the other, one after another. Calvary. The Temple Mount. Bethesda. The Pool of Siloam. The teaching steps of the Temple (excavated in the 1960s by a team that included another fellow-traveler, Dr. Ed Yamauchi). The Kotel (Western Wall). The streets of the Old City. The Garden Tomb. Gethsemani. Caiaphas's house. The Via Dolorosa. And so much more. It's mind-boggling. The person who's never been cannot possibly imagine it. And this person who's been there four times can only shake my head. It's a pinch me place.

Starbucks's Cheeriest Barista

At the time I took this picture at the Starbucks I stopped at this morning on W. Paces Ferry Road NW in Atlanta, I didn't know I was about to meet Starbucks's Cheeriest Barista. But I was.

That's her, in the cap, the barista closest to the camera. I wish I'd caught her name, but I didn't. Still, nice job, Starbucks's Cheeriest Barista. I salute you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Atlanta Cumberland Center Courtyard Marriott

Here in Atlanta for my brother-in-law's wedding celebration, we're staying at the Atlanta Cumberland Center Courtyard Marriott:

It's a very nice hotel in a very nice area.

The lobby and other ground floor areas are quite modern, among my least favorite styles of decor, but otherwise appealing and inviting.

Our room is comfortable and spacious. Though, like many other upscale hotels of this kind, free wireless Internet is available only in the lobby. I continue to be befuddled and flummoxed by such inexplicable lack of service at otherwise quality hotels (there IS free Ethernet in the rooms, however, so they've got 1994-era guest services down pat). And just don't ask me about the hotel parking garage.

However, having said all that, the staff has been helpful and our stay has been enjoyable. And, thanks to our hosts, we couldn't be staying at a better price!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:E Pine Valley Rd NW,Atlanta,United States

A Weather Channel

The lovely Robin, Aubrey, and I drove to Atlanta last night, through a lane of memorable weather: tornadoes, thunderstorms, hailstorms...and a rainbow.

Around Crittenden, Kentucky, we apparently missed a tornado (or it missed us) by mere minutes. It had cut a visible swath through trees, and deposited one in the right lane of I-75 South.

A semi had been turned on its side, which with the tree in the roadway slowed traffic to a stop.

The rain at times was torrential, and gave us no more than a few minutes of rainless driving. A tense 9-hour trip (instead of the usual 7.5 hrs), but we arrived safe and sound. That's what counts.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone