Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Beautiful Utah

Utah is beautiful. (I know at least one reader of this blog, Nat, will agree!) The train follows a river canyon for a while, past ranches, through tunnels and into rolling hills. I woke up this morning about 7 a.m. (MT), after a pretty good night’s sleep, considering the circumstances. At the time, we were stopped in Salt Lake City, approximately three hours behind schedule. The only good news about this scenario is that it means we were able to see the Wasatch Range of mountains near SLC in the light; otherwise, it would have been pitch black. I’ve discovered the observation car, with big windows, no curtains, and seats that face outside. There is a movie playing, strangers are conversing and everyone (it seems) is enjoying the ride. I’m tired after a late night on Monday and not sleeping straight through last night, but am excited to see Carol and Katie in a few hours. I’m running low on battery power, so this will probably be my last entry until Grand Junction.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sunset over Nevada

Last night I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world. Tonight, I’m watching it over the Nevada desert. Quite a contrast, but both beautiful. I was somewhat anticipating this stretch of the trip to be somewhat boring (although not as bad as Nebraska will probably be on Friday or Saturday!), but it’s just as gorgeous as the Sierra Nevada was. For me, seeing the Sierra up close and personal like we did today was nothing new, although it brought back fond memories, seeing all that manzanita and granite. Now it’s off through Nevada during the night, waking up in Utah, and then on to see the Millers in Colorado!

All Aboard!

All Aboard!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
A few hours ago, I boarded an Amtrak train in Emeryville (next to Oakland) and left the San Francisco Bay Area after three years. It’s kind of a weird thing: I’m moving, but won’t actually be at my final destination (somewhere in the developing world) until sometime in the middle of next year. Heck, I won’t even be in Michigan for another month and a half. But the fact of that matter is that I am no longer in SF. I polished things off last night by winning my SFUL game (now it’s on to the beer bracket championships, though they’ll have to do it without me) and then on to a bonfire at Ocean Beach.

The weather could not have been better for both events. I always tell visitors that SF is not a beach town; residents who want to hit a beach drive two hours south to Santa Cruz. It’s just too cold, windy and foggy. But last night was absolutely perfect: warm, with no wind or fog. I couldn’t stay long (packing awaited me), but had a good time saying goodbye to former roommate Ryan and enjoying the sunset over the Pacific Ocean--something that I ironically have not done much of, even though I only live a few miles from it.

At the moment, I’m listening to great music, enjoying the scenery of the Central Valley, without much of a care in the world.

Travelogue...frequent updates

Just a quick update...I'm hoping to post lots on my blog from my travels this month, including lots of pictures. I may not post immediately after I type something (no Internet access on the train), but will alter the date to reflect the time I wrote it. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2005

36 Hours...

In about 36 hours, I will board a train and leave SF after three years. The past few weeks have been full of good-byes and "lasts" (e.g. the last time parallel parking and other fun stuff like that). Tomorrow will be spent at the post office (shipping the last of my stuff) and running other errands--getting my hair cut is on the list, as I thought it would be good to actually see the scenery out of the windows on the train.

I'll be travelling (visiting Colorado, Chicago, South Carolina, DC, Philly, Baltimore, New York, Boston, and finally Orlando) until October 10, so this blog will be full of my cross-country adventures for the next several weeks. And thanks to my new camera and the wonders of Flickr, I'll be able to share pictures, too!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ace Pitchers and Missionaries

Jason Schmidt!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
I love baseball. Nothing beats being at a professional baseball game, with the sights, sounds and smells that can only come from the ol' ball park. I grew up loving the Tigers (thanks to Mom and Dad for making the five-hour drive at least once a year). My brief stay in Chicago made me a Cubs fan. And now I'm an Oakland A's fan.

But today, due to the A's being out of town and the offer of free tickets to the Giants game, I headed out to SBC Park here in San Francisco. A beautiful day for baseball with three good friends, and my passion for the sport was flamed yet again.

Once the game ended, though, the fun wasn't over. We had gotten the tickets courtesy Jason Schmidt, the Giant's ace pitcher and today's starter. He provides tickets for inner city kids (1600 so far this year) to a ministry with which we work, and then comes out and talks to the kids after the game. My co-worker Leigh Anna and I took up our ministry partner's invitation to meet Jason during this time.

Getting over our nerves, we were able to carry on a conversation with him--just three normal people, meeting for the first time. He is a very nice man (and a Christian!), and seemed genuinely interested in my future career with Wycliffe. He posed for photos and signed autographs (unfortunately, the photo with me didn't turn out), after what had already been a long day for him. Kudos and many thanks to Jason!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fun With MUNI

Public transit is an interesting thing, and I love it. Anything can happen, there are all sorts of people, and in many ways, it brings people together. Everyone on that bus (or train or cable car or whatever) is in the same situation: trying to get somewhere cheaply and efficiently, and relying on the bus driver to do it. This is regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or anything. In part, it's this coming together of people that makes the rides so interesting.

I've seen fights break out based on age, race, and favorite baseball team. (Seriously, I once saw an elderly woman take out a young man at the knees as he was exiting the bus!) Just this week, I thought a man was going to start pummeling the driver--while he was driving! So tempers get a little pent up while trying to get across the city. And then there's the random run-ins, too.

Since I sold my car on Sunday, I've been taking MUNI (SF's public transit system) everywhere, primarily to and from work each day. Every day, I've run into someone that I know on the bus. Monday was Veasna, who works at the Rescue Mission (one of CSM's ministry sites). Tuesday was my boss, who I've seen only very rarely ride the bus. And today, as I made my way to the back of the bus, there was Sam, one of my roommates.

I've always said that if I didn't work for CSM (a job which pretty much requires a car), I would love to rely on public transit. And now that I get to for a few weeks, I feel the same way. The only problem is taking all these boxes, to be mailed to Michigan, to the Post Office...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Old Friend

I'll be saying good-bye to a lot of people this month, but none have I spent as much time with as the one I bid farewell to today. She's been there through thick and thin, rain and snow, tears of joy and tears of sadness. She was steady as a rock, and never talked back, even when I yelled at her. Plus, she got great gas mileage.

Yes, I sold my car today. A friend from ultimate bought it, which eased a lot of my worries about the process. It was the first time he had bought one, and my first time selling, so we walked through the whole thing together, and made the transaction today. It was a prime example of a win-win situation--I was able to sell something that I needed to get rid of, and he was able to get a reliable vehicle to get around in, for a price that suited both of us. All that said, I never want to buy or sell a car again.

It's not that the car didn't run great, or that it wasn't nice to have. But the hassle that went into researching, buying, maintaining, paying for, and attempting to sell the car was not an experience I wish to duplicate. Plus, it's looking like I'll be spending a good portion of the rest of my life abroad, where purchasing a car won't be an issue.

I praise God that the process went as smooth as it did!

Friday, August 12, 2005

My Room in Shambles

My Room in Shambles
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
For the past week or two, my room has been in shambles. From the moment I started taking the posters off the walls (which created a weird echo), this bedroom has been a disaster area, with half-filled boxes, going from totally controlled chaos to out-of-control, to the point where I can't find stuff I need.

Tonight I'm moving from my bedroom to the living room (a cost-saving measure), to allow the new roommate to move in tomorrow. People ask if it's sad having all of these "last" moments, and I really have to say no. Though I'll miss the friends I've made, I'm looking forward to the next steps.

So...having mass chaos in my room is not driving me completely nuts, as it normally would. Much of my stuff has been shipped to Michigan already, and much more will be shipped tomorrow. For now, it's back to packing!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"When News Breaks, We Duct Tape It"

Many of you know about my love affair with duct tape. Some have even contributed to it--like my Chicago friends who bought me the book "Duct Shui" and the CSM group member who made me a duct tape wallet. But how many people know that there's a lot of other people in world that share this passion?

Check out this website for tons of great links! Especially intriguing was the news section and the "Gospel According to Duct Tape". As I have not yet listened to the sermon, I can't vouch for its hilarity, but I'm sure something can be taken away from it...for better or worse.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A New Kind of Tired

Usually at this point in the CSM summer, we are tired. Several weeks of hosting dozens of junior and senior high school students takes its toll!

But today, I felt a new kind of tired, one that I hadn't really felt yet in my three years here in San Francisco. Strangely enough, though, it wasn't the first time I felt it. I remember a distinct period back in late 1997 and early 1998 (AKA my senior year of high school) when I was tired like this. At the time, I was tired of homework that I felt was too easy, tired of cliques and flings, tired of high school. Hey, I didn't even turn in my application to Hope (the college I wound up going to) because there were essay questions!

That feeling came again four years later, during my senior year at Hope. I loved Hope, don't get me wrong, but I was tired. Tired of homework (although no complaints about difficulty this time!), tired of the pressure to marry, tired of dorm life. I was ready to move on, and along came CSM, which became my gateway into what the post-college world would be like.

Today, the past three years hit me like a brick wall. I was tired of shopping for a hundred people per week. Tired of answering the same questions from annoying junior highers. Tired of the frustrations of dealing with forgetful interns. Today, I had absolutley no motivation to do much of anything, work-related or otherwise.

If you couldn't tell, I'm ready to be done. It's a good thing that with the way I'm feeling, there are only 26 days left before leaving San Franciso...but who's counting, right?