Tuesday, July 31, 2007


...is a super-
market chain in Orlando.

I liked it. Better than Denver's Safeway, King Soopers or Albertsons. Think Target for groceries.

I have not been in the States long enough to give you any price comparisons, but I can tell you that I like their generic packaging more than Denver's chains.

And oh yeah, their generic Pecan Sandies taste just as good as the name brand. (Note the subtle humor: "Flour Power" just below the "flower". Pretty cute!)

I am back in Colorado

I just wanted to clear that up for those of you who might be confused.

However, I still have lotsa material from the post-Kenya/pre-Colorado period that I haven't posted yet. So it will be a week or two until I start blogging about the "now" phase of my life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great to see Hyatt again

It has been a while since I have seen Hyatt Moore. He's probably my favorite living painter. Several of his works are hanging at Wycliffe's Orlando headquarters.

This one is in a sub-lobby that I passed through nearly every day while we were there. I guess another reason why I like this one so much is that the lady and her child are in and from Africa.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Remember records? As in vinyl?

Well ladies, I'm taking you a place you may have never been before - inside a men's room.

One of San Antonio's Half Price Books stores uses genuine cardboard record covers for its mens room wallpaper. I thought it was a creative idea. And as you can see, there are some gems there.

Half Price Books is a great chain, by the way. All of the major cites in Texas have them. One good reason to live in Texas, if you ask me.

I was sad they didn't have the National Geographic issue from 2005 or 2006 that features Africa. (It has a great article on Nairobi. One photo shows a matatu with a flat-sreen TV inside. That may be the only one. I felt special to have seen it one night - driving past us at breakneck speed. I always wanted to get some video reflecting the urban train that was photographed for the article. It passed very near to our apartment. Alas, that was one of the many things that was an intention that never came to be.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Note to self

(Be less critical.)

Maybe five years ago, I was visiting a friend. She asked my opinion on a particular subject (an area of personal choice). I launched into a ten-minute heated expression of my opinion, pointed one way. Then she quietly told me that she believed the other way.


Then I proceeded to try to dig myself out by apologizing about twenty times. How much easier my life would have been if I had been careful in what I said!

I had to be critical

While we were in Orlando, we visited the Campus Crusade headquarters.

My fault with them? Not the fact that gators are found on the grounds - but that it seems like a mile from the guard-gated road entrance to the main building's entrance... the grass-mowing for the stretch of lawn along the edges of the aforementioned road must be more than our family's annual budget.

Why such a long entrance? No idea!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Recaro on a plane

AirTran is an airline that is totally new to me.

During our 2 years away from the USA, it appeared.

And it's pretty good. We flew their planes down to Orlando. They bill themselves as a budget airline. The only evidence of that we could see was the meal: pretzels and a Coke.

Yes, the seats were Recaro. (Car enthusiasts will recognize that name as a manufacturer of racing-class seats for cars.)

My only fault with the airline is their name: AirTran... it should be AirTrans.

So yes, I'd recommend AirTran. Remember that you must go through Atlanta, however, to go anywhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bigger than the house - almost

I had never seen these before - giant outdoor screened-in porches. They seem to be all over the part of Orlando we are visiting.

This particular one is almost larger than the house itself. (It covers a swimming pool.)

I haven't quite figured out the purpose - mosquitos don't seem that bad to me. Heather said she talked to a transplanted new native, and she told her that they drop the temperature out there by 10 degrees. That would be a good thing.

Update: a friend here told me they are almost exclusively used to cover pools.

Monday, July 23, 2007

T-shirts... and rock-n-roll

Have you ever been to the Ron Jon Surf Shop? Saturday was our first time.

We have been in Orlando, Florida, for a week of intensive training for our work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We had to get away, just to clear our heads a bit. The first break in the schedule was Saturday, after a training session that ended at 10 am. Some of us elected to head for Cocoa Beach - only about an hour away.

Lo and behold, as we pulled up to the beach parking lot, the skies opened. We ate our lunch standing under a small gazebo-type pavilion. Even then we got wet. So we decided to head for the only dry space around - Ron Jon's. It's a mega-mart of surf wear (and a few surfboards). T-shirts start at about $20. (We walked away empty-handed.)

But I was amused to hear some surf-rock played by a band inside, live! They were pretty good.

After spending some time at Ron Jon's, we decided to do what we came for - swim in the Atlantic. It was great! Very few people ventured out onto the beach, thinking they would get wet. We wanted to get wet, so we frolicked in the waves - and thankfully were not struck by lightning.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Botanical Gardens in San Antonio

My brother lives in San Antonio. When he retired from the Air Force, he stayed planted.

It's a beautiful city. It's a little too hot and humid for me. (I prefer the dryness and temperatures of Denver.)

We visited the Botanical Gardens. Amazing place. Some of the plants reminded us of Kenya.

They set up different zones in the Gardens, reflecting the different parts of Texas. (Remember that Texas is big enough to be a country, so it has a lot of variety!)

We walked around a pond that was in the piney woods section. Visiting the log cabin reminded us of how much life has changed in the last 150 years. (What would those dwellers have blogged about, if they could have even found time to do so? Well, I guess there were writers back then. And painters.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Skatboarding inside a mall?

Yes, it's true - an indoor skate park. I guess it's so hot in Texas for much of the year that kids won't do it outdoors.

Another reason for the indoor variety is profit. Somebody is making a lot of money off those kids. (I didn't even check the price of admission.) And there's also the adjacent skating equipment shop. Suburbanites spend more of their parents' hard-earned cash there.

By the way, this place is at the Grapevine Mills Mall. Get your skateboard on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ya gotta stop

Any long road journey involves stopping. The bladder just can't go on forever.

One stop gave me the pleasure of seeing this mobile shop. Talk about dying breeds - CBs rank right up there with 8-track tapes.

I didn't want to keep the family waiting by asking to see the inside of the shop. I didn't think they would have appreciated the photo as much as you would.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another dying breed

On our way down to Texas, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand to buy some peaches. (They were the tastiest we'd experienced in at least 2 years – maybe 5.)

Fruit stands may be alive and well at the moment, but I'm guessing they won't keep going much longer. (At least Mr. Monroe looked like he wouldn't be around much longer.) Why do I feel there might be a possible death of fruit stands? I don't know. Maybe just this moment's pessimism.

I took a similar photo about 4 years ago in southern Illinois. That farmer had a sign on his wall that said something like, "Don't even try to use a gun on me! Mine is bigger than yours."

And here's to fruit stands lasting forever...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Was there in choice in the matter?

Yes, it's true, when you buy fries at Burger King, there is no choice - the option boxes are already filled in for you.

I wanted mine cold - and not fresh, thank you.

Again, wherever you look, your culture is reflected. Americans need to be told that their fries are hit, fresh and crispy. In Belgium, fries come traditionally in a paper wrap - without anything printed on it. In Kenya, they'd come on a plate. (To-go there is not as much of an option.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

A dying breed

I honestly thought that I wouldn't find any "record" stores (as they used to be called) when I returned to the States.

Wrong. There is at least one Virgin store in Texas.

I only went in for about 2 minutes - I was still too overwhelmed at the vast scope of such places. (Readers in or from Kenya will appreciate the scope of some Nakumatt stores - but it's a different thing to see acres of CDs in front of me.)

My buddy Mark sells CDs out of his (full) garage. That's the replacement for Virgin. iTunes is the wave of today - replacing the selling of any physical media. Mark knows that. He has been working on other options too.

When will I be able to go into such places without being submerged by the scope and diversity? I dunno. I'll keep you posted. Thankfully there is no Virgin store in Denver anymore. I never could afford their prices anyhow!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A new kinda bling

During the Fourth of July time, we visited my mother, sister and her daughter. (Great to see all!) On our way home, we visited my brother too. Texas, all.

As we briefly went to the Grapevine Mills Mall, I saw a vendor selling Texas-style bling. And high tech Texas bling. I had no idea you could get a rodeo belt buckle with a scrolling LED message. (Look closely at the center and lower center.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


One of the biggest shocks we have faced since returning to the States about two-and-a-half weeks ago is the prices of everything. WAY more than when we left for Kenya two years ago.

I'd guess much of it is due to the price of oil skyrocketing. And the ultra-weak dollar vs. every other currency.

But as my friend John observed, you can still get a very filling meal at Taco Bell for about $3. If you drink water. (We always drink water at whatever restaurant we visit.)

And the photo? A $1300 barbeque set - not on our shopping list. I shot it at a sporting goods store. I don't even want to go down that aisle at Home Depot. I think I'd puke.

Adult legos?

Not far from our home, a guy is building a new house in his back yard. He's using giant legos.

I had never seen that before. And I'm not sure he got approval from the local authorities.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Is there someone who speaks Spanish?"

One of the things that struck me the most after being away from the States for two years is how almost everything is bilingual now.

A Hispanic lady was at the post office counter before me, and the clerk needed a translator. Thankfully, someone was found.

I really feel like I need to learn Spanish. (It has been a long time since those high school classes.)

As we were entering America, "our" official at Newark New Jersey's airport immigration section asked where we had been and engaged in some friendly American surface conversation. Then he mentioned his observation that in 5 years, we would need to know Spanish, because of the changing demographic of this country.

By the way, I'm not really back to blogging yet - I just couldn't wait till August, when my life will finally return to normal - so I squeezed in this tiny bit of blogging. So please check back in early August - then I'll really dive back into blogging.

Back in the land of...

Yes, Walmart.

We went to Walmart for the first time in over two years this week. It was overwhelming, because our senses were not up to receiving that level of stimulation yet. (It will take a few more weeks of desensitization.)

Lora suggested that I do this photo, many moons ago. (For most of the time I did My Part of Nairobi, I said I would be returning to the land of Walmart. And here we are.)

What did we buy? I dunno. Life is such a blur right now. Oh yeah - we bought some food for a Fourth cookout.