Road Trip vol. III – Leaving Las Vegas/California, here we come …

(Blogger’s note: here’s part III of the Supermodel’s and my tenth anniversary trip.  Part I is here, Part II is here, and there is no Part IV, so don’t waste your time looking for it.)

So after a whirlwind afternoon and evening in Las Vegas, full of entertainment, good food and a big self-esteem lift for the Supermodel, what’s next?  According to the Supermodel her bad self … hash browns.

No joke.  After two days of exotic meals interspersed with snack foods, what she wanted most was a hearty breakfast before we headed off to a church service, and from thence back home.  Okay, works for me … and thankfully there was a Coco’s restaurant just up the block from the Motel 6.  I enjoyed an orange juice while she plowed through a big plate of scrambled eggs, sausages, fried potatoes and sourdough toast with jelly.  (Okay, I helped her a little with the potatoes and toast.  What are husbands for?)

Little did we know that breakfast was going to be the highlight of the trip back.

We headed straight from Coco’s to a congregation we’d found in the Yellow Pages — Spring Valley Assembly of God.  Spring Valley, we discovered, is an upper-middle-class section of Las Vegas, with lots of big walls around the houses.  We were three blocks into the development before we saw our first front door.  Very closed, very self-protective.

And unfortunately, so was the congregation.  We arrived at 7:45 for the 8:30 service, so we stayed in our car until about 8:20.  We were parked in a “handicapped” space, right near the entrance to the sanctuary, so people were walking right by us the entire time we sat and waited — but no one stopped to ask who we were or why we were there, or even to say hi.  Even when we went inside — near the end of a deafening practice by the worship team — no one spoke to us except the senior pastor.  (And he didn’t speak much.  He first talked to me, but when I signaled that I couldn’t hear him over the music, instead of raising his voice he just ignored me and turned to the Supermodel.  He asked her who we were, she gave him about a two-paragraph response, and he absented himself as quickly as he could.)  There was no other acknowledgment by the people there that we existed, not even the most basic handshake-at-the-door.

The 8:30 service started at 8:35, and the music was, if anything, even louder.  There were 18 people on stage or in the sound booth, and (counting us) 14 in the congregation at that point.  Five minutes later, that number dropped by two as we left.  At that point, there were two “greeters” in the foyer of the sanctuary (two more than there had been when we came in), but neither of them interrupted their conversation to recognize us as we headed out.

But I did happen to notice a copy of the church bulletin as we departed.  In what I can only describe as ironic, the cover of the bulletin that day read, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  And yet, when two fish fell into their boat, they ignored them until the fish flopped back into the ocean again.  How can they expect to reach the gamblers and debauchers of Las Vegas when they refuse to interact with well-dressed strangers who show up on their doorstep.  No surprise, then, that their early Sunday service had more people on stage than in the audience.  It was especially rough for the Supermodel, who isn’t used to that kind of treatment by fellow believers.  For me, alas, it’s old news.  (See Congregational Journey Visit #1 for a similar experience.)

The depressing experience sort of set the tone for the rest of the day, as we headed straight from Spring Valley A/G to I-15.  Lowlights of the trip included:

  • Running into the rain we’d escaped on Friday the second we hit the Tehachapi Mountains heading back into the San Joaquin Valley.
  • A pay phone with sticky buttons in Boron (where we stopped for gas), keeping us from calling home.
  • A seriously lunatic driver trying to run us off the road in Fresno — apparently we offended him by going 65 in a 65 zone while he was steaming up behind us doing 80.  (We got his license number, though.)
  • A massive shower/hailstorm as we passed through Modesto, reducing visibility to about 50 feet and leading to some serious white-knuckled driving by yours truly.

But on the bright side, we had no car trouble, were able to pass by Baker with only a wave, and after dealing with being shunned by our brothers and sisters in Christ in the morning, Mr. Road Rage didn’t bother us so much.  So the glass was half-full.

After 1000 miles of driving over three days, we arrived home at 5 p.m. Sunday to vague interest from our kids (in their defense, they were watching a movie at the time) and a dinner of pork roast and potatoes from my mom (who remarked on how well-behaved the kids had been).  They enjoyed the souvenirs we brought back — Route 66 T-shirts for the kids, a mini personalized Nevada license plate for our son, a pair of fuzzy Las Vegas dice for our daughter, and a CSI Las Vegas badge with “#1 GRANDMA” on the nameplate for Mom (she’s a big fan of the “CSI” shows).  And then Mom headed home, we settled the kids down for the night, then collapsed ourselves and slept the sleep of the comatose.

All in all, it was a good tenth anniversary.  But it was also good to be back home in our own bed, with hot water, phone service, reasonable driving distances … and the only showgirl I’m interested in.  Happy Anniversary, Supermodel — let’s do it again in another ten years!

(But yes, we’re definitely buying plane tickets for that one!)


One Response to Road Trip vol. III – Leaving Las Vegas/California, here we come …

  1. J. Wilson says:

    About these trips you are making on Sunday. “I’m right there with you.” This journey you are making could really save others some wasted time. My wife and I have been going to Quail Lakes Baptist for 3-4 years. They seem to be somewhat efficient in conducting a number of programs and delivering a fresh and uplifting message. However from what I have seen there doesn’t appear to be the kind of flexibility you are searching for here. Although I could be wrong. My wife (who is studying to be a Christian counselor) has really become involved, being able to participate in a volunteer counseling program they offer to the public free of charge. I have fizzled in and out of a couple different ministries; although not from boredom. The physical lighting is easy on the eyes and the sound has on occasion but more rarely been a problem for my semi sensitive ears. A positive of going to such a populated congregation is there is not a big push for individuals to emirs themselves in ministry to the point that it is overkill. With all the different ministries people have quite a selection of where they might be able to work for the Lord
    (Although I haven’t seen much of a need for interpretation of tongues. Then again maybe I am unknowing one of among many or few who practice speaking in tongues to themselves. Theoretically: If this is so, how then would the person with the gift of interpretation come across the opportunity to minister; being among so many unwavering (in this aspect) bible practicing believers.)
    The first service is at 9am consisting of hymn style music. And the second services (10:45) is more contemporary. The church still has a organ and a organ player. During either service there are a number of classes adults can attend. There is a large building where the many children attend, however I am not very familiar with what is offered. The pastor has recently asked for volunteers to park off campus because we have been having a good parking problem where there wasn’t any room left in the parking lot. Was it the week before last that they had to seat people in the café. So this last week we were asked to scoot in to the empty spaces within each pew.
    Ray I was hoping that I might either detour you or narrow down your choices be it fair or unfairly.
    You go man. For the Glory and Honor and Praise be unto his name through your family may God be lifted high!
    May the Spirit lead you.
    John 3:8, Luke 2:27

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