Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the Road--Doc Ends It All With Smokey and the Gunfighters

I know . . . I know . . . you were kind of expecting Smokey and the"Bandit" in the title, weren't you?
Doc shivered in his boots when these guys came looking for him.

    Our vacation with Doc is drawing to an end. If you've missed any posts in our series, here's your chance to catch up: Meet Doc gnomeDoc and the Jenkins Reunion, Doc Goes to Church, Doc Gets a Taste of the DesertDoc Encounters Poop, Pool and PhysicianDoc on Route 66Doc Visits the Grand Canyon,  Doc Visits Las Vegas.
     It is the last day of our vacation in Arizona and we're taking votes as to what we want to do. After much discussion, it is lunch time and we decide on a return visit to an unexplored section of the Grand Canyon. We pour into two vehicles and we're off, with a pit stop to eat  at the "Steakhouse" restaurant. Our other family members had visited this particular restaurant the day before. Overnight, my nephew, Duane, has worked up the courage to try something he saw on the menu--fried rattlesnake.

The small portion is delivered to the table and with all eyes on him, Duane takes his knife in hand and saws . . . and saws . . . AND SAWS! The poor guy has to stop for a breather as a bead of sweat appears on his forehead. My husband cracks up at this point and I can hear a furtive giggle from Doc, who is resting comfortably in my purse. Duane looks around and asks in a  breathless tone: "Am I doing this right?"

      How should we know? The rest of us just run when we're close to a rattlesnake, we don't hang around to eat it. Duane gives up on the knife and picks up the piece with his fingers and bites into bone--or spine--or something inedible.( Surprisingly it doesn't taste like chicken). His wife, Stefanie, bravely gives it a try and because there is so little "meat" involved, they send it back and it's marked off their bill.
     Lesson learned.
A different view from the Southern rim. 
     Afterward we tour the far south-eastern rim of the Grand Canyon and today, the wind is whipping around at 65mph. We learn that in the 1800s a hotel was built on the site that overlooks the GC. Since few guests could tolerate the rough trail ride to get there, the place soon closed.  The canyon looks completely different from this vantage point and I get a little camera happy. Again, I am struck by the fact that the view we are witnessing just doesn't seem real. It is so vast and breathtaking.You did so good, God!!!!
You can just make out the "green" river in the middle-- the reason for this beauty.

     We're heading back to the campground when Doc asks us to pull over. It just so happens Doc's favorite celebrity is posing for pictures at the park entrance. Smokey the Bear is here! Doc begs us to take a photo as he converses with his stoic pal. When Smokey mistakes him for the Travelocity gnome, Doc rolls his painted eyes in disgust, heaves a sigh and admits, "No that's my cousin." Afterward, a disgruntled Doc offers an excuse for the bear's obvious error. "His pants are too tight," he mutters, " and it's cutting off the circulation to his brain."
     We take another look at Smokey . . . (like you are doing now) . . . and you know what? Doc is  right--those are some super-tight britches on that bear!
Doc meets Smokey the Bear.
     Later that evening, we decide to close the day with one more trip into Williams. It is the final call for souvenir shopping. Out on the street, some colorful cowboys grab Doc's attention and he ducks out of sight, convinced they are after him. Before we know it, we are caught in the middle of a western gunfight-- although the gunfighters are more hilarious than they are threatening.
Even gunfighters need to party from time to time.
Our final destination is the Pine Country restaurant so we can have one more taste of those delicious homemade pies. 
Finishing our day with smiles and pie.
Writer's Reflection:
When we throw something new at our characters it can create tension for them--or humor. In Duane's case, the rattlesnake sampling  did both. Although the experience was a disaster, it was a funny one our family will remember for a long time Don't be afraid to let your characters try something new and get out of their comfort zone. It can make a great reason for minor characters to add a nickname or tease your main character. At the very least, a humorous incident might be a great ice-breaker for your hero and heroine. Happy writing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On the Road--Doc Visits Las Vegas

     "What? You've never been to Vegas?" My husband and I have been asked the question so many times, it's become borderline embarrassing to answer it with a humble shake of our heads. It seems we are just about the only people in our family, church and  . . . our hometown that have never been to Vegas. Even my best friend manages to fly there at least 1-3 times a year. Although she's invited us several times, the timing has always been off. So Las Vegas was added to our imaginary vacation Bucket List. 
     "Hey, guess what?"  It is the last few days of our vacation and my husband's eyes are focused on the computer screen. "Vegas is just 3 hours from our campsite. Let's go." With the sights of the Grand Canyon fresh on our brains, we pack up the next morning and head for Las Vegas. Since the rest of our family-party has already been there, they opt to take a second look at the Grand Canyon.
     I guess my first hint that we were "not in Kansas anymore," or Texas either, came at the fast food restaurant we visited before we got to the famous Vegas Strip. Doc mentioned he needed to freshen up for the upcoming photo shoot. I had to ask management for the restroom keys. I may be dating myself here, but I haven't had to ask for bathroom keys since the family road trips in the 1970's and that was for outside facilities at less-than-elegant truck stops. Upon closer review, the clientele frequenting the restaurant while we ate was . . . "interesting", to say it nicely. But I hadn't seen anything yet !!!!!
Can you see the likeness to us? 
       It was early afternoon when we finally found a parking lot and launched our plan to tour the fabulous streets of Vegas. Ever thought you had a game plan only to discover you didn't really have a clue after all? That was us. It was literally "the blind leading the blind," on the confusing maze of sidewalks, escalators and casinos. The Beverly Hillbillies had come to Vegas, that's what is felt like.
     We toured through several of the hotels including the Luxor, Ex Calibur and MGM. They were gorgeous and we made a few touristy purchases along the way. Even caught a glimpse of a lovely  bride waiting with her father outside one of the chapels. Outside, the landscaping and building architecture were true works of art and we snapped a few of Doc's favorites.
Lauryn and I pose amid the chaos.

Doc enjoys the view.
     But there are images I didn't have the nerve to record. I saw one guy dressed in cowboy boots--hey, at least that was familiar-- but I had to stare at the rest of his "interesting" outfit. Around his waist, he wore a  blue checkered-vinyl tablecloth that he'd tied in the back like a mini-skirt. A sleeveless mesh shirt covered his torso and a pioneer-style yellow bonnet covered his head. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that his ponytail stuck out of a hole in the bonnet. I could fill another column with all the colorful characters we saw, but suffice it to say, I wanted to cover my 19 and 23 year-old's eyes plenty of times. 
       The old Sesame Street song , "One of these things is not like the other--one of these things just doesn't belong.  . . . ." kept running through my head. WE were that thing that didn't belong here. It didn't help that my orange UT Longhorn T-shirt seemed to stand out like a sore thumb among the bikinis and abundant cleavage. More than once I murmured quietly to myself, "If the wind blows, I sure hope that woman has on underwear beneath that short skirt." 
     Oh no . . . it occurs to me that  I've become my own mother--in Vegas.
Didn't know photos were forbidden in the casinos till later, but Doc had fun.
     Oddly, it was my teenage son who made the most astute observation of it all. "You know," he said as we returned to our car, "the people here aren't nearly as happy as they were at the Grand Canyon." He was dead-on. They weren't happy, they weren't smiling, they weren't helping each other. They were stumbling around in a drunken haze, falling on the floor of  the hotel lobby as their amused friends looked on.They were pulling up to stop lights, opening their doors and throwing up in the street while friends laughed hysterically. Others were begging to be to be noticed for their handmade bamboo roses, while the braver folks pushed pamphlets offering prostitution into our hands. The word "desperate" comes to mind.
       I was relieved when we were on our way back to the campsite. Others have told me I didn't see the best side of Vegas and that I really needed to see it at night. That may be true, but if there's a next time, I'll need to go with someone who knows the ropes.
      And I won't wear my UT T-shirt.

Writer's Reflection: 
As writers we are taught that setting is hugely important to a story. But until my trip to Vegas, I don't think I understood the effect it can have on the psyche of a character. The setting has the the power to bond and unite as it did with us in the Grand Canyon, but it also has the power to intimidate and repel. Either way, we are swayed by our surroundings and act accordingly. Delve into the setting of your manuscript or WIP,  and see if the setting/environment is having an effect on your character's mood and actions. It should.  

How about the rest of you? Have you been to Las Vegas? If so, what was your experience like? Have you visited a location that made you feel like a "fish out of water"?  I'd love to read your comments. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On The Road--Doc Visits the Grand Canyon

Doc enjoys the view from Mather Point.   
      Finally it is the day we've waited for-- we're going to the Grand Canyon! At our KOA Kozy Cabin, my family of four is packing for the day while across the lot, The RV campers are doing the same. Diana, Russell, Delayne, Duane and Stefanie are sharing a vehicle and my family will be following in the Rav-4.
     Just as Darell is loading the ice chest into the trunk, I hear a squeaky voice from the front seat. I pull open my on-the-road bag and Doc asks to be let out. He refuses to go with us. What??? He reminds us that under the terms of his "contract", we are to shoot photos only of his good side. Now that he has two mended legs, he is a bit self-conscious and doesn't want to pose for the pictures. The issue is debated among his handlers for a few minutes.
     "How about a touch-up session with a black permanent marker?"  I propose.
     He presses his pointer finger gingerly against his mouth and pretends to be deep in thought. After a few tense moments the little "diva" gnome gives us the silent treatment. Now I know it's time to play hard-ball!
     "It's either the permanent marker, or back in the suitcase with the panties and socks," I say, with a hand on my hip for serious emphasis.That did it.
     "Fine," Doc huffs, "but you better cover up all the glue lines."   And I did.
Can you see Doc and the other dare-devils on the ridge?

     About an hour later we are at the entry gate of the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. For all those newbie travelers out there, you can't really see the Grand Canyon (hereafter referred to as GC) all in one day. In fact you are given a week long pass at the gate for $25.00, along with a much-needed map of the 277 mile chasm.
      We think we have picked a good day to come, who else would be here on a Thursday while most schools are still in session?  My answer:  Everybody and their dog! Like a million other tourists, we fight for parking space and then proceed to the most important facilities in the park . . . the bathrooms.  Ahhhh . . .  now we can concentrate on the scenic views. We skip the visitor center and follow the signs to our first overlook at Mather Point.
     There are no words that can describe my first sight of the canyon. "Awestruck" comes close, yet it fails to describe the emotion that bubbles up inside me as I peer into the vast crevice. It doesn't seem real, more like a painted backdrop and I can't quit staring. "Wow," I whisper over and over. There is an overwhelming majestic quality about the place that humbles me to my core. I know in my heart God is here and  He has made every bit of this for us. Being here is a dream that Darell and I have shared for years, but I never expected to be so moved by it all. An unexpected  rush of  tears well in my eyes and I turn away from the group to stifle the sob caught in my throat. God is so good.
Doc took this family  picture. Not bad for someone smaller than the camera.
     It isn't long before our family members are posing for pictures and suggesting great shots for Doc. We spot a great perch for Doc and I carefully set him in place. While I'm clicking shot after shot to find  Doc's "best" angle, Darell sees that a German-speaking family has noticed Doc and are excitedly  shooting his picture too. A little farther down the walking trail, I set Doc on a rock for another picture. Darell takes this one and just as he finishes I watch a grinning Japanese family approach Darell and in broken English, ask permission to take Doc's picture. I think I actually saw Doc's chest puff out a bit more. Here's a few of his best poses:
My favorite shot of Doc at the GC.

This is the shot enjoyed by the Japanese family. Notice the Colorado river. 

Writer's Reflection:
English is not the primary language spoken at the Grand Canyon we soon discover. All day we hear snatches of foreign conversations floating on the breeze. But Darell and I notice one thing all the visitors have in common--they are happy, really happy. Everywhere you look, people are smiling, joking and offering to take pictures for strangers. In this place there is a common bond of joy that joins our various cultures and for a time, diffuses the differences.

      "My world is filled with beautiful things; they are meant to be pointers to Me, reminders of My abiding Presence. The earth still declares My Glory to those who have eyes that see and ears that hear."--Jesus (From: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

      All Christians, including those in our manuscripts and stories, should be doing the same thing--pointing others to God and reminding them of his ever-abiding presence in a gentle manner. Then, and only then, will their lives and ours be filled with that spiritual joy that transcends all our differences.

Here's to Happy Endings! Happy 30th anniversary, baby!

Coming up: Doc Tours Las Vegas   

Friday, June 8, 2012

On The Road--Doc Gets His Kicks on Route 66

Doc's Viewpoint

     The time has come to bid Dell, Pat, Keo and Kacy a sad goodbye.Our bags are packed with clean laundry, courtesy Pat's very cool steam washer and dryer, and we are back on the highway again.If you missed our last post about visiting Dell, you can catch up:Doc Encounters Poop, Pool and a Physician

 Our destination is a KOA campground  just outside of Williams, Arizona. What looks to be a 3-hour drive takes longer because of the mountainous terrain. And what a difference that 3+ hours makes. We are leaving 109 degree temperatures in Mesa but recorded a chilly 33 degrees on our last night in Williams.

     Russell's RV is chugging up the hills behind us and we are enjoying the panoramic views around us. They are lovely and remind us of some places in Colorado, but a hazy sky tops most of the mountains, a smoky reminder that several wildfires are still raging across other parts of Arizona.

     We arrive at the KOA just before closing time and check in. My family rents a small one room-cabin, while the RV parking sites are a short walk on the other side of the campground. We settle into the 4-person cabin and try out the front porch swing.  Now, I know I'm getting old when I found the most exciting part of our accommodations was the close proximity of the bathrooms. They are only a few steps away from our front door! But the great part is that each door contains a private shower, sink and toilet. At the end of the building is a small laundry room. There are at least 3 more of these heavenly bathroom buildings at the front of the campground, so we have this one mostly to ourselves. Hooray!!!!
Our kozy cabin as KOA calls them.

"Heavenly" bathrooms with private shower

       On a sad note,  poor Doc is hit by a falling suitcase and takes another tumble inside the cabin. We turn just in time to see two dismembered legs go skidding across the wooden planks of the floor. I fish them out from under the beds and pick up the legless little guy. I can almost hear his disgusted tone: "Really, again? Can't you humans be more careful? Don't you know I have more dutch oven camping contests in my future? Sheesh!" Fighting a guilty conscience, I reach for the glue again and slowly put the"diva" gnome back together.

     The next day we have a bit of time to kill, since we are waiting the arrival of  Delayne, Duane and Stefanie, who are flying in to meet us, so we can all tour the Grand Canyon together. We decide to explore the town of Williams which is situated along the Historic Route 66. And nearly every souvenir in town has that slogan proudly written on it. The town caters to tourists and although the main drag is roughly one mile long, there are 27 hotels accessible from this street. Yes, Doc counted them just to be sure!!! The reason for so many hotels is because Williams is the home base of the train yard for the Grand Canyon Railway,  which offers daily scenic trips to the Grand Canyon. Click here for more information on this charming town : Williams, Arizona
Russell and Diana visit with Elvis in Williams
        Several souvenir shops line the main street and are housed in historic, old-west, themed buildings and so we, of course have to explore each one. Doc insists we lunch  at the Pine Country Restaurant because he saw the "Homemade Pies" sign in the window. For once, we are so glad we listened to him.

At the Pine Country Restaurant. Doc is sunning in the window behind me.
    The pies are so beautiful I had to take pictures of them all. Then of course we indulged. Not once. . . But TWICE! We actually came back to the restaurant after Delayne, Duane and Stefanie arrived and tried different varieties. I think you can understand why, when you see the mouth-watering pictures.

Yummmmmm!!!!!!! As good as they looked!
       Late that night, the rest of our family arrives at the campground and the RV is now home to 5 people, who cannot use the toilet or shower inside the RV. Why? Although the black-water tank has been emptied, Russell has waited nearly two days for the darn thing to stop dripping so he can apply the costly "magic" tape. After some sleuthing, Darell and Russ realize that the water from the kitchen sink must also be filtering into the tank causing the never-ending drips. Hand washing is now banned in the RV until further notice.

     Doc says it is a good thing we are going to tour the Grand Canyon the next day. Not only will that give the tank time to stop dripping, but we all NEED to walk off those calories from those sinful pies! 

Writer's Reflections:
     A bit different this time. If you've enjoyed Doc's series of adventures, it would mean a lot to count you among the followers of my blog. I'd like to be published someday and among an agent's considerations  before taking on a writer is their blog site and the number of followers they have.I'd love to count you among mine.It only takes a minute to register and afterward you won't be notified of future posts or bothered on your email or Facebook.
     Click on the "Join this site" tab in the right margin under "Followers". Most folks choose the Google-connect option. Thanks for taking the time to do this, it means a lot to me.   

Coming up: Doc Finally Goes to the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On The Road--Doc Encounters Poop, Pool and a Physician


  Okay, admit it, I had you at "poop". Who can resist a title like that--at least that is what I'm hoping. :-) But lest you get your hopes up, no, the poop was not in the pool.. Let's move on.

     I'm excited that so many of you are faithfully following Doc and our family on our blog journey. But in case you are just joining us, you can read a recap of the series up to this point.
1. Meet Doc,
2. Doc Goes to the Jenkins Family Reunion
3. Doc Goes to Church
4. Doc Visits the Desert

    Having shaken the sand from sandals, or rather in this case, our "flip flops", we left the lovely, white hills of Monahans State Park and headed west again. Within a few hours we zoomed through El Paso and left our home state behind. Actually it was hard to tell we'd ever left at all since New Mexico is obviously a continuation of the scrub-brush plains of Texas.
    We are making good time and by mid-afternoon we are slowing to enter a border checkpoint in Arizona. Since we've never been through anything like this before, we find it pretty cool. Darell rolls down his window and the burly border patrol officer peers int our car, makes eye contact with both of us and asks if everyone in our car  is American citizens.We nod and say yes. He waves us on.
    From the backseat, we hear a small voice. I reach back and shove the bag of Reeses Pieces  to the side and shift the package of jalapeno beef  jerky off of Doc's face. He says we lied to the border patrol guy. Lied? When we ask what he's talking about, he tells us to look on the bottom of his boot. I turn him upside down and focus on the bottom of the little guy's lone, still-attached foot. A small label reads: "Made in China". Doc insists that is where he was "born" so that makes him a . . .  what . . . a Chinese gnome citizen???? We're not sure about all of his heritage questions, but we assure him that his paper work is in order. It had to be, to pass customs when he moved to his new home in Garden Ridge, Grapevine, Texas, USA!
      About an hour over the Arizona border, we are following the RV and Darell, Doc, and I notice some sticky residue attaching itself to our windshield. Darell washes it off and comments on the unusual amount of "bug juice" . Within a few minutes the windshield is covered with the gunky residue again and we click on the windshield washer once more. Darell suggest it's coming from the RV's air conditioning, but we've been following The RV for two days and not had any problems. Just then I point out a large spray of fluid coming from underneath the RV. Every bit of the misty cloud seems drawn to our windshield as if pulled by a magnet. While Darell washes the windshield a third time I call Diana and within minutes all of us have pulled off to a deserted section of road. Russell crawls under the RV and of course Doc thinks he needs to help.
Doc and Russell  on poop patrol.

    I put a cup under the dripping liquid and just as I announce that the water is grossly brown, Russell announces there is a large crack in the black water tank. YUCK!!!! In case you are not an RV person, the black water tank is pretty self-descriptive--it hold all the pee and poop from the RV's bathroom. So . . . .
Want to guess what was landing on our windshield?  Yep, you're right. The Jenkins vacation curse just took a uncharted trip into the toilet.
     Since we are only a few hours from our destination of Mesa Arizona, we decide to chance it. But there is one change--we are leading now, and I think you know why. . .

    The sun has set by the time we make it to Darell's brother's house. We are greeted warmly by Dell and his lovely wife, Pat. To us it feels like 10:30 PM Texas time, but we've lost two hours and Dell and Pat serve us dinner at 8:30 PM  Arizona time. Pat is a wonderful hostess and a fantastic cook. Her tostadas and homemade salsa is awesome and we can't get enough. Pat's grandson, James Patrick also helps serve the meal and we feel like very honored guests. After a short visit, Pat directs us to our prepared beds and we tumble into them, totally exhausted.
     The next day Russell and Diana spent a great deal of the morning at the RV stores and find the tank has to be special ordered. In the meantime, they are directed to some tape to hold the crack together--the cost is only $70. For tape????? The rest of the morning and early afternoon, we catch up on laundry, go swimming and visit with Dell and his two dogs, Keo and Kacy.
Did you know dogs can fly? Kacy can.
 Now these dogs are as smart as they come and serve as adorable, non-stop entertainment for us.Witnessing the dogs' amazing devotion to Dell and their almost human-like perception of Dell's vocabulary is fascinating to me. But then again, Dell has most everyone he meets hanging onto his every word. He is a born storyteller and comedian and we are blessed to have him and Pat in our family. Dell is recovering from heart problems faced earlier this year, but he looks great and  we praise God for the strong recovery and for Pat's part in it.  
     Doc whispers he wants to swim and play with the cute dogs. (Seems he's gotten a bit braver since he met Tammie's dog, Romo.) But as his physician, I remind him that he is scheduled to undergo a leg re-attachment at 1:00 PM.  He relents and I perform the pool-side surgery.
Doc in surgery with Physician Ava.

 Within a few minutes on the recovery towel, he is good as new. You can see for yourself there's no stopping that little dare-devil.

Doc is pretty good at hide-and-seek with the dogs.

Writer's Reflections:
      Families are our safe harbors from the rough seas of this life.There's nothing like family. I can say it a million times, but those of us who are blessed to be in a strong family know the feeling is beyond description. God, in his infinite wisdom designed it that way and knew we would need that special support that only family members can offer.
    Granted, some family units are scattered and dysfunctional and for those people there seems to be a longing for inclusion that can't be filled.They are on a constant search to belong to something or someone and gravitate toward those that have those strong family ties. I see it in my husband's family and now in our own. Our children's friends gather often in the safe harbor of our home and become part of our family unit.
     This is the way it should be in the family of Christ. Entwining our lives with our heavenly Father and strengthening our family bonds with Him first, is the key. Then we can be that shining light that draws the lost to safety and brings them into God's family.
       Just reach up before reaching out. Then, whatever you do--Don't let go.

Coming Up: Doc Goes to the Grand Canyon.


Friday, June 1, 2012

On the Road--Doc Gets a Taste of the Desert

Doc and the wind turbines of West Texas

            Remember what I wrote earlier? About our family's uncommon habit of having bad vacations? Well . . . uh . . . but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.
        It is late Sunday afternoon and we have left the family reunion behind and headed west. Joining my family of four on the cross-country road trip is my sister-in-law Diana and  her husband, Russell. They are traveling in their Winnebago, affectionately called "Winnie",  and we are right behind them in a borrowed Rav 4. Together the six of us are on our way see my husband's brother, Dell Jenkins in Mesa Arizona. We've never taken this journey by car, so the excitement of a road trip is in the air.

     The route is planned and everything is going as designed.After a good three hours on the road, we are starting to relax. We should be close to El Paso by nightfall and have an RV park as our destination for the night. "Should" is the operative word here because . . .
      It never happened that way.

      Just outside of Colorado City, TX,  Russell and Diana pulled off at a roadside rest stop to examine their tires, but we couldn't find a problem. We snapped a few pictures of Doc with the turbines. He was pretty pumped about it all and said the platform he's on, reminded him an outdoor amphitheater stage--the kind rock-stars like to sing on in the summer. We didn't have the heart to tell him it's actually the lid of a smelly trashcan.

      Only fifteen minutes down the road, the first bit of tread flies off Winnie's back passenger side tire. Another big chunk sails through the air and we are slowing to a crawl as Russell looks for a safe place to get off the road. If you have never changed an RV tire, there's probably a good reason--they come in pairs and it is nearly impossible to do without the right tools.
The cactus adds a forlorn touch to the deserted cafe lot. 
         We roll to a stop in front of a long-deserted cafe that rests beneath a large, colorful billboard advertising all the glorious amenities of Pecos, Texas-- almost taunting us in a way. It is hot and windy and and we are miles from any town. Diana manages to find a tire shop that has someone on duty this sweltering Sunday afternoon. While we wait out the next hour, we sort through the sprawl of  junk that litter the cement around us. The cafe has been turned into a junkyard garage of sorts. We peer through the dust-streaked windows and find the remnants of a kitchen that has been taken over by a tire collection, hubcaps and a desk with a chair. It all makes for an interesting story, but we are much more concerned with our current plight.

         After the first hour, we wonder out loud if "Marvin" exists or if the garage might have been yanking our chain. Perhaps "Marvin" is a codeword the garage uses when all the personnel have gone home and are sitting in their recliners and laughing at those goofy travelers stuck on the side of the road. Yeah . . . . Yeah . . . I'm kind of pessimistic that way.
Blowout on Winnie
     We are excited to find Marvin does exist and just to prove it I got his picture. Nearly three hours after the initial blowout, we are on our way again, but we are hopelessly behind schedule now.
Marvin , our tire hero.
        Adjust and regroup! Our new destination for the night is a Monahans State Park in Texas. (Yes we are STILL  in Texas.)We arrive at nightfall and after doing the self-check in, we realize the park only has about 12 camping sites. Thankfully there is room for us. This  place is so cool--literally and figuratively!  Everywhere we look are hills of white sand and in the moonlight it almost looks like mounds of snow. I suddenly remember I have been here once before as a child of 7 or 8 yrs old. Our cousins lived in Kermit, a nearby town. (Yes, Kermit,  like the Muppets) We had come out for the day and played in the soft white sand and had a blast.
Love this shot of Doc in the sand
        The next morning we plan to get an early start, but we can't resist playing in the stuff. Neither can Doc. We giggle, draw our names in the sand, hike the hills in bare feet and giggle some more. Doc was the only one who didn't sink into the shifting granules as he climbed the hill. Our departing time is pushed back as we  play, act like kids and make warm memories.

Writer's Reflection:
You know the old phrase: Humans make plans and God laughs. Sometimes I like to think his laugh isn't sarcastic but joyous. "I know the plans I have made for you," God tells us in Jeremiah. What He has in mind is so much better than our simple plans and agendas can forecast or achieve. If not for the distressing flat on the RV, we would have missed all the child-like fun of playing in the beautiful, white sand. We would have missed  His unique handiwork.

1. Don't be afraid to "sidetrack" your characters and expose their deepest fears and insecurities. ("There is no Marvin, is there?")
2. Allow your characters to be uncomfortable, uncertain and understandably anxious. We have all been there and can identify with characters faced with similar difficulties.That's what makes them interesting and makes us relate to them. We  care about them and what happens to them.

3. Adjust and Regroup!  In the end your characters should see that they were detoured for a reason.  God has a plan for their lives, as He does for ours. They should take a moment in a reflection scene and connect the dots of the ultimate journey God has plotted for them and how they have changed because of it.

4. Think of your own life's detours and locked doors. Where did God lead you after that? To something better? Something you would have missed otherwise? Use your own life story as a teaching tool for your readers and for others.

BONUS: If you stayed for the credits . . .  I mean writer's reflection, then you earned the bonus pic. This is a behind-the- scenes shot of stage-hand, Dalton as he prepares for Doc's photo shoot. Notice the one legged look that Doc is sporting before our CG department airbrushed the photos. Ahhhh , the magic of media!
The making of Doc Goes To the Desert

Coming up: Doc Goes to Mesa, Arizona