Tuesday, April 22, 2014

bus stories part 1

well, I couldn't write that last blog without thinking of some stories! I've got a lot of them! here is one of my favorites:

one time, I was taking a group of kids home from santa cruz and the bus broke down. I called for some other vehicles to take them home, and I waited just off of highway 17 for a tow truck. I called the company and told them that I was from venture church and I needed a tow for my bus. he took a LONG, LONG time to come and get me! when the driver finally got to me he was very excited to meet me. he introduced himself and asked what my name was. when I said Rob his face sank. "what's wrong?" I asked. He said, "I was really hoping that you would be Chip Ingram."

then my face sank.

I've got a lot of bark stories too. so many. I could make my own blog of vomit stores after 20 years in youth ministry. one time we were in the bus and we looked back and it looked like a boy was coughing up blood. we pulled over and he had it everywhere. all over his face, hands, shirt, everywhere. when he got out of the bus we discovered that it wasn't blood, he had eaten a giant bag of fire-hot cheetos and all of that heat and swaying made him car sick. unfortunately he barfed into his hands and touched every seat on his way out of the bus. we had the floors switched from carpet to vinyl soon after.

when I was an intern I was in a bus on the way home from LA. a student said that he had to go potty. I thought he was messing with me because we had just stopped a few minutes earlier. I told him to go in a soda cup. well, he did! I didn't want that thing spilling so we pulled over, and he threw it out. the next week his dad asked me why I didn't let him go potty. I told the dad that I thuoght he was messing with me. the dad said, "rob. when a kid has diarrhea you don't tell him to go in a soda cup!"
wait. WHAT?!
lesson learned.

one time I opened the bus driver-side door with my friend Ed, and we saw in the door hinge that some wasps built a nest. apparently wasps freaked Ed out, because he became a mixture of paranoid and violent. he got a beach towel and waved it at that wasp nest trying to knock it loose. he just ended up making them mad and they chased him all over the parking lot. he ran around the parking lot waving that beach towel and screaming bloody murder. I'm tearing up with happy tears just remembering that moment now. we ended up going to home depot and getting some wasp spray to get rid of them.

one time in mexico we were driving to some remote spot that had no roads. there was this big lump in the road that I had to drive over. I knew that if I drove it in the wrong way, I could literally tip the bus on its side. how do you take a road lump like that? slow? fast? I chose slow. I pulled up slowly and that bus stood there leaning at and angle nearly tipping over. now what? keep driving slowly? gas it? how would I get it tipped back if it fell? would I smash the windows? how would we get home? that moment seemed to last forever. I got the thing over the hump, but that moment haunted me for years.

I used to drive the busses in the morning to shuttle the church workers around the corner so that we could make parking spots for all of the guests at church. we parked right next to a fence that housed a couple of horses. I was sitting in the bus with the door closed, waiting for my friend to step inside. she stopped, picked some flowers, and held them out for the horse. the horse came over to her, and started nibbling the flowers. I opened the bus door, and it made that electronic opening sound, and that horse lost its mind. it freaked out. it stood on its hind legs, and started jumping and bucking. I thought it was going to hop the fence and go wild. I called my friend into the bus, we shut the door and did a duck and cover until he calmed down. super-scary.

one time I drove to the snow in a blizzard. in the bus. not fun.

so many fun and crazy memories! I'll post more as I remember them!
God is love.

my busses-

yesterday was the end of an era.
after 12+ years, I closed out all of our accounts with all of our vendors for the church busses, and I gave away the keys. I'm not in charge of them anymore! no more safety checks, no more drug tests, no more repairs, no more fueling, no more tow trucks!

the vehicles almost never get used anymore- maybe once a year to haul stuff across town. they are unreliable and deteriorating fast. we decided to donate them to some ministries that will use them on a regular basis to drive people to church- that's what they're for!

its a little sentimental for me- i've had some adventures in those vehicles for sure. lots of laughs- and lots of sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck! I've driven them to mexico, hume lake, and all over the bay area.

here are some fun memories in the bus:
some photos of broken busses!


running around with the unis:

that time I took the bus through mcdonald's drive through to get 22 ice creams for 22 middle schoolers:

and my favorite: a rolling party!

well old friends, #15 and #16, thanks for the memories! thanks for getting us all from point A to point B safely. may your seats be filled with many happy faces for years to come.
God is love.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

south bay A to Z:

did you ever play the alphabet game while you were driving? I was doing that recently, and I adapted the game to an alphabet list of all of my favorite things in the south bay area from A to Z. I was thinking of doing a blog for each of them, but I was too impatient:

A: almaden lake park. right across the street from my house. great for walking, running, and watching sunsets.

B: the boardwalk- over in santa cruz. I have so many happy memories of taking the family and the students there. it can be either sketchy or magical, or both.

C: children’s discovery museum- we had passes to this place for years. I loved to see my daughter light up with wonder and imagination. I was so sad to see her grow out of this special place!

D: diddams- jane and I used to go to diddams at 9am and roll a ball back up and down the aisles. the workers were so cool about it. I know all of them by name now. we have loved all of their toy displays and visit often.

E: erik’s deli- the food is good- and the atmosphere is even better. they were doing mason jar cups way before it was trendy. I’ve been to almost all of them across the bay area.

F: the flea market-this place makes me feel like I’m in another country. no one speaks English, and there is so much multisensory stimulation from all around: live mariachi music, fresh fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see, vendors yelling out prices and unbeatable deals on everything.

G: G is for great: the great mall, great America, and the Great Bear in los gatos. the coolest coffee shop ever- and the CCC’s are heaven in a glass.

H: H-parks: history park, hakone gardens, and happy hollow. all 3 of these spots are beautiful fun, and full of history.

I: IMAX- especially the one at the tech museum- we love going to see those movies about nature and space. the entire tech museum itself is pretty awesome.

J: the jungle- my kid has been enjoying this place since before she could speak. she learned how to jump, slide, play videogames, and ride rides at this fun little spot for kids. it’s a great place to go when its raining outside.

K: Kelley park- this spot has 3 parks in it: the history park, happy hollow and the Japanese friendship garden- all are special places for us. jane rode her first roller coaster at happy hollow. we love their café and the climbing area. we love to feed the fish at the Japanese friendship garden.

L: los gatos- especially the downtown area- great shops, great restaurants, and always a great view of the mountains. this spot is rich in local history.

M: Malibu grill! my favorite restaurant. hands down. my second office. remember that show cheers? this is my cheers.

N: novitiate- this is a big white building that overlooks highway 17. it’s a retirement home for priests, and is full of old trails statues and breathtaking views. this is a good spot to go and think about things-

O: oak meadow park- possibly my favorite spot in the south bay. I have spent countless hours on these trails by myself, and on the playground, train and carousel with jane. so many happy memories here.

P: the pruneyard- I liked it more when barnes and noble was there, but this is a great spot to get some food or to go shopping.

Q: quicksilver park- this is another area rich in local history and natural beauty. I’ve hiked every step of every trail at quicksilver. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

R: railroads- san jose has the lightrail, the caltrain and the billy jones wildcat railroad- I love riding all of them!

S: sports- the south bay is close to san Francisco and Oakland, and now you can see the 49ers in santa clara! and I love to watch the sharks at the shark tank downtown. and don’t forget municipal park where the san jose giants play. this is such a fun activity for the family. inexpensive local baseball- great food, safe environment. I like it best at night- there is zero shade in the day!

it’s a great place to be a fan!

T: theme parks! we have great America, happy hollow, the boardwalk, and we’re not far from discovery kingdom. this is a great place to be a ride warrior!

U: mt. umunhum- I always know where I’m at if I can see that building on top of that hill- I heard that they will open it to the public soon-

V: venture church! my church and my work. great teaching and so many wonderful friends and memories there.

W: the weather. seriously. it’s the best anywhere.

XYZ: zoos! again, happy hollow has a fun zoo, so does Oakland and san Francisco.

there were so any of these spots where I wanted to say, “I have spent countless hours here.” where did I get so many hours? anyway, whether you’re new to the area or a local, go out and enjoy the most beautiful area in the world: the valley of heart’s delight, the garden city, san jose california!

God is love.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


we were a little late getting on the frozen bandwagon.
I figured that it was going to be all about princesses and boyfriends, and that's not our thing. but we eventually saw it. we saw it so late that we were one of the only people in the movie theater!

when jane first saw it, she was a mess. the parents died. the sisters were estranged. ana died momentarily. we were convinced that we wouldn't see it again. but eventually we did. and then again, and again. and then the dvd came out and we saw it MANY, MANY more times.

so- when we get on a kick like this, jane usually like to get the toys and act out the scenes in her room. so I went on a hunt for ana and elsa dolls. not big barbie ones, just figures. they were gone. all of them. everywhere.
not a target. not at walmart. not at toys r us. not at the disney store.
through this process I've learned that toys r us gets their shipments in on Tuesdays. if you want a toy really bad, you need to go in right when they open on tuesdays. well- a lot of people apparently know that secret too, because the new toys disappear almost as soon as these places open.
disney store gets their new toys on wednesday. I stood in a long line for almost an hour, but no ana or elsa figures.

finally at one point I got ana- but no elsa. I was starting to think she didn't really exist.

I called a local toy vendor (who will remain nameless) on new toy day, and asked them if they had elsa and they said, "no- but sunnyvale does. they have 6."

sunnyvale is like 30 minutes away. what the heck I figured, and went out there.
I walked in, holding my breath. would I really actually find it?

I was unfamiliar with this store, so it took me awhile to find the frozen section. when I found it, I found ana. no elsa. I grabbed ana and went to the cashier.
"I'm looking for this same toy- except elsa."
the lady said "we're all out. there was a line at the door way before we opened."
my head sunk.
"I came all the way from san jose. they said you had 6."
the lady said, "wait here."

she went into a back room, had a talk with some people, and came out with elsa.

I almost collapsed. I felt a surge of relief and excitedment all over. I couldn't believe that I was actually holding it. I had been searching for months.

the lady told me that she was saving it for someone, but wanted me to have it. she has been where I was- she felt my pain and had pity on me.
she was curious about when I was going to deliver it- she was almost as excited as I was to know that jane would get it.
I thanked her profusely and went online and said lots of nice things about her and her store.
I felt like indiana jones finding a lost treasure.
it was a rush of adrenaline.

I texted the photo above to deanna. jane was going to a new dentist that day and she would need a prize for the bravery that she would surely display.

they came by my office and I gave elsa to jane. she was completely surprised- we had pretty much given up on ever finding elsa.

this morning I was laying in my bed and I could hear jane acting out an epic scene from frozen in her room; and I heard jane's elsa and ana chatting with each other and singing their songs- and it made me feel happy and accomplished.

being a dad is fun.