Monday, October 21, 2013


 Please note that the front of the van was free of bugs when we left CA. It was not to remain so. Like so many six-legged kamikazes thousands upon thousands of insects wasted themselves against the relentless eastward advance of our Chrysler Town and Country. SPLAT!
 This is what our kids look like when they are watching TV in the van. TV in the van?!?! What an amazing invention? I would have loved that as a kid.
 Bowden atop the van outside a Starbucks somewhere in New Mexico.
 That may be true, New Mexcio, but...
 ...pound for pound there was more protein in the grill of that truck than you can get from beef.

 Eastern New Mexico and West Texas were infested with these winged monsters
 After a long day cooped up in the van the boys were wild as chimps. I took them for a walk around the railroad town of Van Horn, Texas. We happened upon an abandoned caboose. It was dark inside so we stuck the camera through a hole in the door and snapped this photo of the caboose's interior. The flash provided the light.

 We all climbed up on top of the caboose, and that despite the fact that the legality of doing so was murky at best. Extricating Miles from the roof of the caboose was possibly the scariest moment of the entire trip.
Enjoying ice cream after supper at the river walk in San Antonio, TX. I did not take enough pictures of the river walk, which stands out in my memory as one of my favorite moments from the trip. The downtown of San Antonio is built along the river which meanders it's way through past walkways, shops and restaurants. It was really stunning. The photo above, which is the only one I took, does not do it justice. You can't really tell, but that's the river behind us.

Friday, October 11, 2013


It hasn't worked out to bring the daily updates on our progress eastward as I had originally planned.

Here's an overview of the past few days. Van Horn- San Antonio- Lafayette- New Orleans- Biloxi- Mobile. We enjoyed stops at the river walk and the Alamo in San Antonio, TX as well as the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA. We slept in Daphne, AL last night, which is on the far side of the bay from Mobile, AL. Today we plan to press on to our new home in Lulu, FL.

Along the way there has been a lot of "oohing" and "ahhing" at the scenery. After driving through the parched wastelands of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas- Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama appear to have an embarrassment of riches in the water department. Everything is swampy and green. A lot of empty miles to just think. I like empty-mile daydreaming. With the increase in water has come an increase in the road kill seen alongside the interstate. Really, until east Texas there wasn't much road kill to speak of. I am grateful for the comedic stylings of Jim Gaffigan on my I-Pod for getting me through some of the longer stretches of Texas. Last night we permitted ourselves a detour along the Gulf coast, which was beautiful.

I have never been to a number of these states we've traveled through, and I have to say that at first blush I like them. I was especially impressed with Texas. San Antonio is a wonderful city. Louisiana was also special, and the gulf coast in Mississippi seemed nicer than average.

The cheapest gas we have seen was $2.95 in Slidell, LA. It has been over a decade since CA has seen gas that cheap.

There have been a lot of emergency pee stops, both on the side of the howling interstate and in some of our nation's most unwholesome bathrooms.

Jack threw up twice.

Sarah has been collecting Starbucks mugs from each state we pass through only to find that, according to the Starbucks employees in Biloxi, no such mug exists for Mississippi, and "maybe not for Alabama either." They are a little upset about that, but not as much as my wife. She is vexed.

We have celebrated at each state line by taking one last gulp of air in the state we are leaving and holding our breath as long as we can into the next state. Then hooting and hollering. Now we only have one more state line to cross as we pass into Florida. If our van is found crashed on the far side of the state line you will know that I held my breath too long.

Today the road trip adventure will give way to the Lulu adventure.

Please be praying for us, especially the kids, during this time of transition.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Tonight I'm writing from the Ramada Inn in Van Horn, TX, and I am exhausted. I won't be writing much. Yesterday at 1:06 pm our van pulled away from the beach house in Oxnard. Although there were plenty of unscheduled stops to pee we mostly just powered through until we stopped for gas at the flying J on the other side of the Arizona State Line. We had an emotional moment as we zipped past the 8th street exit in Banning.

Rolled in to the Irving's house at 8:45pm apx, and we were grateful for their hospitality. Had a nice but all too brief visit with them before pulling out early the next morning. East Arizona and Southern New Mexico were beautiful. I had never been to Texas before so I was excited to cross the TX state line. It was fun to Juarez on the other side of the Rio Grande as we drove through El Paso.

Mostly just mind-numbing miles and a whole lot of nothing as we drove. Kids are bouncing off the walls and nerves are frayed, but still it is an adventure nonetheless. The countryside is stunning.

Tomorrow we plan to stop long enough to tour the Alamo in San Antonio.

It's a big country.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Who can resist the urge to build and create with the Catan game pieces between turns as you play the best board game ever created? I can not. I have seen some amazing art created with Catan game pieces during my years of playing Settlers of Catan, and it is time to recognize this emerging form of artistic expression with a contest right here at the BFZ.

If you would like to participate, entries must be photographed and submitted by email before the first of the year. Send your entries to

Only entries consisting of one standard baggy of game pieces of a single color will be considered. No other materials besides the game pieces may be used and absolutely no glues, tapes or adhesives may be used either.

Here are some examples of some Catan art I made last night. These move in an architectural direction but entries can be whatever you like.
A pioneer fort.

Catan Henge (Surprisingly difficult to construct.)
A Mayan Pyramid
The winner will get a $10.00 gift card to Subway!

Friday, October 4, 2013


The beast was close enough
I could smell its fishy breath.
I yelled to brother Beanid,
"Prepare yourself for death!"

But Beanid wasn't resigned
To enter in the gaping maw.
He yelled out, "It isn't fitting
To eat a sailor raw."

With that he smashed an oil lantern
Setting the ship a'light,
And the sudden conflagration
Gave the beast a terrible fright.

For with a look of wide-eyed terror
It dove with a parting roar
Creating a wave of such a size
As washed our ship ashore.

And to those who doubt this story
Tell me how else could it be
That our charred and blackened ship
Came to be up in a tree?

Beanid's the hero of the story
For it was he who set the fire
But if the fire hadn't saved us
It would have proved a funeral pyre.

Setting the ship on fire
May have seemed a little hasty
But if Beanid was gonna be food
He wanted to be cooked and tasty.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I wonder if the pilgrims, those hardy pioneers who ventured forth upon the North American continent, had landed in Southern California instead of the NE coast if they ever would have expanded eastward. Most likely not. They would have stayed put. Who would voluntarily leave the Garden of Eden?