Dear Jesus, please delay your return so we can enjoy Sonic for awhile

I have not typed words on this blog in many months, but I am back today and there is no better occasion than a Sonic Drive-In opening in my local community for me to return.

I jokingly told a friend a few years ago that the Second Coming of Christ would take place before the Twin Cities of Lewis County gained a Sonic Drive-In. I now look like a fool, but that’s okay.

Sonic, an institution in places further east, only started making their presence known in the Pacific Northwest about a decade ago. On Monday, a brand-new one on a brand-new road in Chehalis opened to much fanfare and shouts of praise to God above (and a request for Jesus to delay said return so we can enjoy it for awhile).

Why is Sonic so popular? Make sure you nearly drown in a 44-ounce cherry limeade that you bought for half price between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. and take multiple trips to the nearest restroom to rid yourself of all the liquid you imbibed in, then you will understand.

Sonic is an institution in places like Springfield, Missouri, where I called home off and on for four years. Where there were four in about a 5-mile radius of Springfield, there are four in a 100-mile radius here (Vancouver, Chehalis, Lacey, Tacoma). Now that Sonic has arrived in Chehalis, people have arrived in droves to see what it’s all about.

When I went there yesterday for the first time, there was a really tired guy directing traffic into two lanes. Pick the left to go to any one of about 20 stalls, or pick the right to go to the drive-thru. For some inane reason, most people opted to go to the right and wait for a long period of time — one friend told me he waited for 40 minutes — but I chose the left and promptly found a stall. I ordered a chili cheese coney dog and my food was delivered in five minutes. The Lincoln Navigator that entered the drive-thru behind me was about ten cars deep in line still in the drive-thru.

I cannot stress enough to USE THE STALLS. Sonic hired 120 people (more on this in a second) and most of them will not have anything to do if you opt for the drive-thru. USE THE STALLS.

The food tastes just like the Sonic Drive-Ins I remember in the Midwest. This is a good thing. The hot dogs are smaller than I remember them. This is not a good thing.

If you USE THE STALLS, people deliver your food to you on roller skates. People 75 and over will be transported to the days of yore when people respected each other, and we had presidential candidates that acted in the best interests of the people. For those my age, it’s all about efficiency — rolling takes less energy than walking.

Visit Sonic enough times and you’ll experiment with some gnarly drink combos. Want a Coca-Cola with a bit of vanilla, chocolate and cherry? They can do it. Want a Powerade slush? They can do it. Want a ton of ice in your cup? That comes by default.

The food is good, the drinks flow like water from the rock, and the ice cream products will fatten us all up sufficiently.

I see it as a coming of age for our community. The fact that a company that still only has a few locations in Washington compared to its reach elsewhere, and a franchisee chose Chehalis, says something about the way people see our region as econommically viable.

I have heard from people who frown on Sonic’s arrival, as we have had many local establishments offering similar fare for years. Yes, we have places like Harold’s and Dairy Dan and Dairy Bar and they will still have a good customer base. Locals love ’em and I count myself there. Sonic is just a good addition to it. Plus they hired ONE HUNDRED TWENTY PEOPLE and are another conduit through which cash can flow into our community. I support local establishments, and I also support local people who work at regionally and nationally-known chain establishments that make a presence locally.

Sonic is here, folks. Partake.

And remember, USE THE STALLS.

Travelogue: North Oregon Coast, 160220

Took a trip to the coast yesterday. Second time I’ve been there this month.

This time, had to check out Hug Point south of Cannon Beach. It didn’t disappoint.

Now for the visual evidence.

I haven't climbed the Astoria Column since I was a child and had my fingers smashed in the door at the top. But it is cool to get a shot looking up at a place that folks normally look down.
I haven’t climbed the Astoria Column since I was a child and had my fingers smashed in the door at the top. But it is cool to get a shot looking up at a place that folks normally look down.
Youngs River Falls, about 8 miles west of Astoria, Oregon, is seen in this long exposure.
Youngs River Falls, about 8 miles west of Astoria, Oregon, is seen in this long exposure.
Hug Point just south of Cannon Beach was apparently named because pioneers had to pretty much hug the rocks to avoid the waves that would come in. This area is only accessible in low tide.
Hug Point just south of Cannon Beach was apparently named because pioneers had to pretty much hug the rocks to avoid the waves that would come in. This area is only accessible in low tide.

Continue reading “Travelogue: North Oregon Coast, 160220”

Godspeed to a friend and mentor

My friend Rich, standing in the back center in the blue shirt, passed away last night. He was a friend to many and a mentor to me during my time in Missouri.

A friend and mentor from my time in Missouri passed away last night, and the news hit me hard this morning.

Tonight I was searching for some photos of my friend Rich and found this gem from 2008 when I just started getting into flag football back in Missouri. Rich, in the back middle wearing the blue shirt, joined us one Sunday after church just because he wanted to have some fun.

His straight-arm technique would put someone flat on their back. I would know. And I also know he didn’t mean it intentionally.

Those were some fun days, and I’m grateful to have this reminder of what a good guy Rich Schultz was. A great spiritual mentor during my first stint in Missouri and a tremendous blessing to my family.

I remember one time that I was even more critical of faith-related matters than I am now. I was at a true spiritual crossroads, and shared this with Rich over coffee as we waited for our church service to start. He simply told me, “Follow the Lord and everything else will fall into place.”

When my friends Brandon and Robin were married in Florida in August 2014, it happened to be in the same town in which Rich and Anita were living. I had the chance to meet up with them for lunch, and it was a tremendous blessing. They both told me they were proud of the person I was becoming and that they loved and treasured my parents’ friendship. That last part was special to me, and now especially so because it was the last words I ever heard Rich say in person.

When I received word this morning that Rich passed away, I couldn’t help but remember his words: “Follow the Lord and everything else will fall into place.” I wish he could see that they are starting to, even if it is seven years after he said it. The Lord spoke a word through him that now resonates even stronger today.

I miss you, my friend, and I am thankful for the chance to have crossed paths and shared in life for a time. The promise of meeting back up with you in heaven someday is further incentive to continue serving Jesus Christ and sharing His Gospel with others.

Snapshot: Angel Falls near Randle, Washington

Angel Falls is one of two waterfalls accessed on a three-mile loop hike in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Randle, Washington.
Angel Falls is one of two waterfalls accessed on a three-mile loop hike in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Randle, Washington.

We have a pretty vast collection of waterfalls in Lewis County. One of my personal favorites is one that isn’t dramatic or even really spectacular, but rather it kind of hides behind some of the canopy of the forest and falls from rock to rock until it reaches the creek below.

I shot this photo on a hike last Saturday with a couple friends. It was raining as it usually does in the Northwest this time of year, but a pair of water-resistant pants, a raincoat and a hat provided enough cover to stay relatively dry during the hike. The cooler temperatures made for a great trip too.

To get to Angel Falls, take the Covel Creek Trail across the road from the Cispus Learning Center and follow the signage. It’s about a mile and a half back in the forest, and there is a bit of elevation involved in the hike.

Here’s why I’m excited to buy a house in Centralia

I am in the midst of the process of purchasing a home in Centralia, and it’s pretty exciting stuff. It’s exciting to be on the golden path to home ownership, taking control of my financial destiny and all that wonderful stuff, but there’s another element that is equally exciting: being a property owner in a city that is in the midst of some pretty big revitalization.

There are several reasons why now is the time to buy in the Hub City, aside from the simple fact that the real estate market is picking up incredibly quickly once again. But a plethora of factors should serve to increase the general livability and sustainability of Lewis County’s largest city, many of which will directly benefit property owners.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Long-vacant properties are being bought and renovated. The Wilson Hotel in downtown Centralia is the most notable example of this, with the adjoining annex having already been renovated and turned into luxury lofts. As I touched on in a previous post, this can only help the economic sustainability of the downtown core, which in the past had relied on bars and now antique shops to keep itself afloat. This is a sure sign the cultural center of Centralia is diversifying, and it will be great to see another hotel bring out-of-towners to our region to discover what we’re all about.

Centralia College is in the midst of a major facelift. The only college in Lewis County is growing, not just in students and programs but in footprint as well. Its campus remains tucked neatly into an area just west of downtown, but if you’ve driven through campus you’ve noticed a major change as the college has vacated a couple blocks of Washington Avenue, a previous major north-south route through town, and is building a brand-new student commons where an ancient health sciences building once stood. It’s an interesting addition and necessary as the college has added several four-year programs in recent years, part of an effort to provide affordable education to more segments of people living here in Lewis County. It’s working, too.

The Northwest Sports Hub is seeing a lot of action. A new 76,500-square foot facility that hosts a variety of indoor sports has brought a lot of people from out of town week after week, infusing cash into the local economy and ensuring hotels and motels in the area stay well-occupied. I don’t have any hard numbers, but the evidence is there in that the Harrison Avenue corridor is significantly more packed on weekends and you can walk into Safeway without really recognizing anyone except the folks you know that work there. The increased revenue, sales tax and hotel/motel tax benefits everyone as much of this money gets infused right back into the community.

A new I-5 project aims to eliminate traffic choke points. This is big. Anyone in Centralia knows how terrible traffic gets around the Harrison and Mellen interchanges with I-5 especially in the late afternoon and early evening. The project is ongoing now and it involves some serious reconfiguration of the two Centralia intersections, and while traffic still sucks now (especially on the freeway at odd times) we should probably just be patient and wait for it all to blow over. When it does I think we’ll all be the better off for it.

Got any other reasons? Disagree on any of the above points? Let me know what you think.

Yes, it’s okay to be outraged over both Cecil the Lion and Planned Parenthood

I try not to wax political or overly philosophical on here, but I can’t stay silent about a couple major issues that I’m sure you’ve seen all over the Internet lately.

There’s a lot of outrage over both Cecil the Lion being shot and Planned Parenthood selling parts of aborted fetuses. Rightly so.

Both show a blatant disregard for God’s creation, and it’s perfectly okay to be outraged over both situations. In fact, we all should be.

But here is where I believe the two situations are different: Human life is by Biblical order and mandate stands on top of the hierarchy of created life. God breathed into man and woman, making humans the first creatures on the planet. And as if that wasn’t enough, God told man to take dominion over the earth, meaning that it is up to humans to ensure its beauty and survivability.

On that “take dominion over the earth” topic, I honestly am convicted and convinced that we are not to kill for sport. Killing for food or sustenance is different, but just for the sport of it is wanton killing for no major reason that is beneficial to anyone.

Now on a weightier matter: When it comes to humans, I am convinced and convicted that the decision to end someone’s life willingly should not lie in the hands, hearts or minds of another human. This is true from conception all the way through the end of one’s natural life cycle, whenever God and this world He set in order determines that to be.

As much as I grieve over the act of abortion, I also grieve over death sentences for crimes. Punishing someone by death ends their chances of being spiritually restored to Christ.

Death is serious stuff, and it happens all too often because we do not respect God’s creation as a society.

But I say all that to say this: CHOOSE LIFE!!! Life is a gift from God, and it is only enhanced through His gift of having sent Jesus down from heaven to die for our sins. Praise God that we all have the free will to be able to accept that gift!

I continue to pray and hope that the Lord leads us all collectively into all truth and a greater understanding of the Gospel that we can use to minister to our communities, families, friends and those who need to hear His message most.