Why Christian kids should be allowed to listen to Post Modern Rock!

Ok, going out on a limb here with the moms in our audience, but hear me out.

Christian music isn’t going to “save” your kids.

It’s time to be honest and admit…the ways of the fresh 80’s and inspirational 90’s are gone. Cool – hip and modernized Christian music just doesn’t hit today’s tween and teen with the same “oommphhh” it once did

courtesy of Amazon.com

courtesy of Amazon.com


It may still warm the hearts of thirtysomething moms and encourage pastors there is a sensible way for the younger one’s  to purge their urge to dance without being put in “time-out….but that’s not enough anymore.

The truth is, after three decades of a legit Christian Music Industry that has spawned billions in revenues and launched thousands of Dove award-winning artists, we’re loosing our youth to a godless world view like never before. In the end… it’s statistically sad but true, all that hip and “proper” music is no protection against the evil and seductive world outside the church walls.

Somehow, getting the lyrics ‘just’ right isn’t enough.

What’s that have to do with Post Modern Alt rock ? Well nothing really, but it does point to the larger picture that it’s genuine – heartfelt art and beauty that will leave a mark on our kids lives.

Our kids are FEELING STUFF !!!Yes, just like we did and do and they need to be touched by authentic beauty and art that connects their feelings to God’s heart!

IF and when  Christian artist can stop playing it safe, and are allowed to write and sing with their hearts…connecting their passion and faith with our own… its amazing!  Their music lands with the megaton impact of a nuclear encouragement and reminds us all that God is real and knows exactly how we/they feel. (For modern examples of such creativity check out… “Rend Collective” or “Lecrae“)

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

Rend Collective, Integrity Music

But if 90% of it all sounds just exactly like the previous nine songs on the radio and fails to really connect in any way that’s significant… (before you send me hate mail,I understand there are awesome and authentic artists making a tremendous difference)…Why would I expect it to move my tween-kids to aspire to live a life of holy and sanctified living?

May God give you the wisdom to know which battles to fight and which to concede. The war we must win… is for their hearts! Trusting in Christ for ‘real” transformation is the goal, not dying on the battle ground of being “right”. For some… music very well could be a decisive issue, for others its academics and the pull of all the extra-curricular stuff.

Post Modern Rock from "Animal Collective"

Post Modern Rock from “Animal Collective”

The proof of a true Christian isn’t in their pre-sets on the car radio or the artists on their playlist, it’s in the authenticity of their hearts. Same must be true of our kids. 

Tomorrow’s Christians are not going to be recruited to join “the cause” by making sure we have a “hip” message of purity and purpose. It’s going to be confirmed and accepted by our teens as they observe the consistency in our lives. How we love and live with the integrity of our words and the gentle warmth of a forgiven spirit.

Post modern rock isn’t the danger… faking it, is.

Peace out!

Pastor B

PS – thanks to my 17-year-old son Caleb for introducing me to his extensive post-modern-alt – jazz/rock playlist on our recent road-trip to Philadelphia. Awesome stuff – inspiring really 🙂

DISCLAIMER: as a Christian music & media executive, I have invested large pieces of my life into creating and providing modern media for Christian families (at iShine), I believe in wholesome and engaging content as an essential presence in every Christian home.


Summertime is Road Trip time!

It’s officially “summer” season now, Memorial day is in the rear-view and the 4th of July is fast approaching. What are your plans to enjoy life as a family ?

Courtesy of WARNER BROS / Kobal Collection

Courtesy of WARNER BROS / Kobal Collection

As a fervent advocate of “roadtrips“, I can’t help but step boldly up on my soap box and start my ardent gospel cry…. GO GO GO, TIME TO GET OUT, EXPLORE… DRIVE, DISCOVER and COME ALIVE !

Summer is the special sauce, the moment of each year that a special convergence of work and school schedules that allows for spouses and kids to be in one place at one time and I believe that needs to be “  ON THE ROAD”!

Determine your destination and budget, pick the dates and pack your bags… it is time to GO “O” away. I don’t care if you head for the hills, the hollers, the beach or the peaks… just get everyone in one vehicle and drive. For those of you rigid planners and procrastinator’s alike, get crazy…be spontaneous and dump a dose of adventure back into your life.

We only have a few precious years to discover together. To learn and love and laugh and explore the treasures of our world as a family… you cannot do much better in creating a lifelong family memory than taking them on a cross-country RoadTrip!

Your kids may never remember your day in and day out consistency in providing a roof over their head, clothes on their backs and a full belly…but I can guarantee you they will tell everyone they know for the rest of their life about the Amazing Adventure they had in the summer of 2014!

tate huesmann - candid shot - May 2012 FB picTake the time to invest in your family, THIS SUMMER…

Remember parents, the ultimate language of love is TIME, and to our kids it’s so essential that we stay firmly connected to their world and they to ours. Smashed into a ten by ten box (car) for days on end is one of the most amazing incubators for parents to re-establish common ground with the ones we hold most dear.

I promise you… the adventure of discovering and admiring the beauty of Gods creation as a family, is unequaled in its ability to create new and powerful relationships with your kids and your faith.

If you have teenagers or tweens… it’s an essential milestone moment waiting to happen. Don’t let it pass you by.

Love – Pastor B.

Cascade Mountain Snow at Easter!

Arriving from the gorgeous San Juan Islands we entered Anacortes WA via the Washington State Ferry, we left blue sky and calm seas behind as we lumbered into the grey gusty rain that’s cliché’ for Northern Washington state. Two cups of McDonalds coffee (with 3 creams)later we were cruising through the drizzle of the Seattle suburb of Everett WA on our way to the Cascade mountains via State Hwy 2.

Caleb desperately was seeking to find/see/play in snow. As a ten year native of Nashville, he only had fond memories of snow and winter from his Illinois-Iowa years as a little guy. Today we were gonna find snow if it killed me. We had flown thousands of miles and searched for five days to find him some of the cold white stuff and the Cascade mountains were our last chance at delivering the goods.

Cascades via Hwy 2

Cascades via Hwy 2

An hour into our drive east on Hwy 2, we started to really gain altitude and noticed the grey layers above starting to show teasing glimpses of blue as the late afternoon sky seemed to gradually clear.

We could see patches of old snow remnants along the ditches and in the deeper shadows of the woods as we whizzed by. We were following a roaring mountain stream bed as it snaked its way out of the mountains and back to the sea we had just left behind. Dropping a gear for traction, it was clear the road was winding tighter the higher we drove.  As we climbed over 4,000 feet we suddenly noticed real snow on the curb of the road, snow about three feet high and covering the mountain sides as we rose above the river valley and immediately we felt the cooler mountain air.

I made the turn at fifty five and saw the avalanche ahead…. not kidding. Avalanche !

The road was covered in a pile of snow and rock about ten to fifteen feet deep across all the lanes of traffic as a melting snowbank had suddenly “let go” and it couldn’t have happened more than 30 seconds before we arrived. Talk about close call!

Avalanche !

Avalanche !

We waited until the local WDOT guys came with some end-loaders and removed enough for us to get by and it was obvious to everyone we had indeed found the snow! Now it was up to us to find a way to enjoy it and get back to Seattle in time to catch our flight home in 24 hours. Turns out, it was not a problem at all.

Leavenworth WA is a very “over the top”  Bavarian village, but it “works”. Seems to be the entire city has whole-heartedly embraced their German-roots and every hotel, shop, eatery and establishment has a German or Bavarian theme, menu, style and décor. Even the Italian restaurant we ate at. 🙂

Warning, room prices are high up here as Leavenworth is about your only lodging option for a few hundred miles of Hwy 2 as you come in from the west to east and the beautiful views of the snow capped Cascade mountains and the proximity to famous wineries and Seattle make this a very popular and happening little resort community, year around. We hit it on a Wednesday night in late March and it was very active.

Leavenworth WA

Leavenworth WA

The next morning we drove into the mountains off of Hwy 2 and went snowmobiling. Oh YEAH. We found the last outfitter (Mountain Springs Lodge) in the area who would do a snowmobile ride and we had a blast. They were worth the wait! Super nice and super professional, great gear and everything you needed all included in one fair price. So after driving about 40 minutes we made it to a remote lake (Fish Lake) in the high Cascades and began a 2 hour snow tour that was so much fun, we all swore to do it again 🙂

Tired and hungry we found a legit diner (59 Diner) on the way home and had some of the best cheeseburger and fries with home-made shakes anyone could ever want for. If your in the area, STOP and get some. Seriously good diner food. Sit at the Elvis booth – you’ll know what we mean when you get there 🙂

Flew out the next morning at 5am with the rest of south Seattle after enduring a comic-con Northwest convention at the Doubletree hotel (Seattle Airport) as Good Friday and Easter weekend dawned. Southwest was gracious and efficient and we made our connecting flight in time.

Finally ! Snowmobiling

Finally ! Snowmobiling

If you’ve been reading along… my Point is thiswe had a ball!

Caleb was alone with his two parents for a week and will never forget his time in the Northwest. We focused ONLY on him and celebrated just HIM for a week. No distractions, no business calls – and no sister drama… we loved on him without anyone or anything in the way. The investment is priceless… our kids need to know we value them more than our jobs, our church activities and our own selves and the memories we share will last for generations.

Roadtrips are so unique in how they provide us as parents with an amazing and priceless way to really honor our adolescent kids.

Please consider seriously how to take your 16 year old on their own trip and watch them grow right before your eyes…

Peace out RTP!

Pastor B.

January RoadTrip…Flying Father Brian, Makes his Canadian Debut!

So it’s days four and five and we’ve made it all the way to Canada, sweet Eh? The sky’s are holding clear and the weather is beautiful but cold, -24-27F at times. We’ve visited all of our favorite summer places and all of the places we missed seeing the year before, including Bow Lake, Athabasca Glacier… Jasper and Lake Louise. All “MUST SEE” Canadian stops at anytime of the year!

Lake Louise - Jan 13'

Lake Louise – Jan 13′

But the crazy stuff has yet to happen. On day Four we enter Jasper (Alberta Canada) ready to look for the rugged beauty and wildlife the area is so famous for. It’s in Jasper that the real heart of the untamed wild remains for us and we love to see where and what God will lead us into every time we get to visit. Brian asks about Maligne Lake and suggests we give it a go and try to drive the lonely winding road from Jasper back to the lake, knowing it’s probably not plowed or open to the public in the winter months.

We find the road and sure enough it’s coated in a good five to six-inch layer of fresh snow, but appears to be passable in our SUV. So we drive on, winding our way in the infrequent tracks of other outdoor enthusiast’s vehicles that have come before us. Within thirty minutes we run out of tracks to follow and have to start creating our own in the fresh snow, we have yet to see a soul and it’s clear we are not going to.

Road Outside of Jasper - Jan 13'

Road Outside of Jasper – Jan 13′

We are alone. Isolated and removed from the bustle of tourists and trinkets and happy to serve you Canadian restaurant’s, we are off the beaten path for sure and well into the not to be traveled for another four-five months road. Along the way we discover the awesome impact that total and complete silence can have on the soul and spirit. Nothing is stirring, no one is moving and no animal is even attempting to approach. The wind is still, the snow is completely covering all that we can see and the ambient sounds of nature are all dormant in mid-January. We have the place completely to ourselves and as we wade out in the thigh-high snow to stand at the base of the famous Maligne Lake we are awed by its majestic beauty and wondrous silence.

Brian takes some super cool – 360 view pictures with his new iPhone5 and we stand quietly, soaking up the view and the beauty and the presence of such God breathed glory…all alone and undisturbed in this winter paradise. We are about 40 miles from Jasper and civilization and the sky is a clear but greyish color, hinting of snow to come…but it’s beautiful and open and reveals to us the many glacier tipped peaks that surround this gorgeous place and allows us to remember the ancientness of this sacred site. Knowing that what we are gazing upon what generations of Native Americans have seen for thousands of years before we ever arrived, just as it has always been…undisturbed and perfect!

Flying Father Brian!

Flying Father Brian!

On the way back we are enjoying ourselves, relieved we could find the place and overjoyed that we had ducked the crowds for the solitude of Maligne Lake in January. Brian loves the view we have as we drive the winding snow blanketed road and decides to get on the roof of our SUV with his HD camera and try to film it!

It’s a brisk 5-7F out and he’s bundling up with most of what we have in the car – scarfs, gloves, hats,  hoodie, down coat etc… he gingerly climbs up on our Chevy and balances himself and his gear in the best way to capture the most view without exposing any more skin than is absolutely necessary…. He thumps the roof (he’s ready) and off I go, driving slowly through the Narnia-esqe scene before us. After 10 minutes and about 2.5 miles we stop at the shores of Medicine Lake and Brian unwraps himself from the roof and re-enters the heated atmosphere of our vehicle. Stoked at the adventure, He loved it!

From that moment on… I dubbed him “Flying Father Brian Hardin and it’s clear that his Canadian debut was a success! Can’t wait to see his HD film of it all and promise I will share it with you on RTP.

The truth is this… When we go out of our way to seek out the silence and solitude of being alone, of experiencing God on His terms…we open ourselves up for something beautiful and significant to occur in our lives. RoadTrips are an excellent way to step back from the crazy and chaotic and re-set, re-center ourselves around the beautiful and substantive things that make our lives worth living!

Oh Canada, How I love thee !

Oh Canada, How I love thee !

Tomorrow… our return drive through Idaho and the Land of the Mormons.

Family Traditions that are FUN!

If your like my family… you have special traditions. Things that are quirky and odd and eclectic and to many outsiders… just a bit weird. But they are unique and they represent something unduplicatable (word I thought I made up) by any other family or group or club. Something that is shared with only your closest family and friends.

Merriam -Webster puts it like this… Tradition:an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior”

For instance, we love to watch a crazy movie with Dana Carvey… the “Master of Disguise“!   Possibly one of the stupidist and lowest budget films ever released. For some reason, we watched with our young kids (ages 4-7) and they LOVED IT. So we watched it again and again and well.. as they got older, we kept watching it together. Now the kids have their boyfriends and cousins and neighbors all watch it with us too. It’s a TRADITION! It serves no real point, other than to bind us all together and provide us with endless inside jokes… ( am I not turtlely enough for the turtle club?)

At Christmas time, we like to eat a family recipe from my mom of swiss cheese fondue and volunteer down at the Nashville Rescue Mission. For New Years Eve we usually go to a local Waffle House to celebrate and call each other wherever we are at exactly the stroke of midnight, while gorging on waffles, eggs, bacon and hash browns… it’s so uncool, it’s cool 🙂

For birthdays, my mom (72 years young) will sing a ear-splitting shriek of a song – roughly resembling a falsetto asian version of the traditional “Happee Burstday tu U” to every member of our family. Odd, but hilarious. On a phone connection it’s awesome to hear!

For coming of age events like turning sixteen or graduating from High school, we take a special parent and child Roadtrip. For Jessica’s 16th, we surprised her by flying un-announced to Boston MA in February to explore the city and the New England coastline, when Bethany hit her special date…we drove her and her best friend to Siesta Key FL and some beach front celebrating. Caleb I’m sure, is already seriously considering his options for his special time when he turns sixteen in a couple of years.

For a fun Summer break.. we like to go to “Holiday World” in Santa Claus, IN. 

Holiday World Water Park

We’ve been going there for years, since the kids were very small (3-5 years old) and it’s become our families favorite place to ride the rides and slide the slides. We eat pizza and hot dogs, ice cream and too much soda as we risk sun-burn and nausea all day in the hot summer sun of southern Indiana. It’s crazy fun and a bit odd. But we have a history of doing it as a family. A TRADITION! It provides us with an anchor, that no matter where we live, or what we’re doing, we still have a commitment to family. To being with each other and in sharing life and it’s simple or extravagant pleasures together.


What are some of your family traditions?

Maybe it’s time to consider making some new ones this year…? Whatever your situation is, consider carefully what might be a realistic fun thing you can do with your family, year after year. Then do it. Surprise them! Do it for the fun of it, not for the educational or spiritual value it might bring. Just do it for the sheer joy of life, of living and of being together as a family. Those moments are rare, and precious. A time to reconnect and refocus all of your attention back to family…a wise investment of your time and money! When you find your families special “something“, do it again and again… let become your own TRADITION!

Holiday World – The Voyage Coaster

Peace out and God Bless… We would love to hear about your ideas or traditions as families ! Just email me or post on this blog. bam567@msn.com 🙂


Japanese Gardens, Voodoo Donuts, Lebanese lunch and 7000 Rose’s… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!

Friday June 15: Our last full roadtrip day…kinda sad, kinda happy… but it was here.

Jessica loves cities…so we headed to Portland to check it out! Online she had found the eclectic Voodoo donuts and Blue Plate fountain ( both legendary eateries in the region) hidden in the bustling metropolis that represented well over half of the population of Oregon…and wanted to eat at authentic – off the beaten path places while we were here!

The Sign says it all…

 The Voodoo donuts experience was a wild one, a line had formed around the corner and Jessica snapped pics of the crazy sign and downtown Portland vibe. When it was our turn we found the choices too many to decide… So we bought a Voodoo dozen ( let the staff pick our 12) and had a bite of each in our famous pink box.

Voodoo Sugar Coma

 Our favorites were the bubble gum and captain crunch creations as well as a blueberry with raspberry sprinkles! NICE.

Compared to the donuts and atmosphere of the Seattle “Top Pot” donutery – we liked the Seattle version of gourmet cakes better…  But the sheer audacity of the voodoo donuts design, color and names; was worth the visit for sure! Fun to eat them right out of their pink boxes and matching pink picnic tables as we nibbled ourselves into a serious sugar coma by 10am. 🙂

 From there we went exploring and found the World renown Portland … Japanese and Rose gardens in Washington park. Fabulous details found in the large Japanese garden were clearly world-class in beauty, size and scope. It took us over an hour of walking and reviewing the many micro gardens, water falls, koi ponds, tea houses and zen rock gardens to complete our tour! 

Portland Japanese Garden

The colors and care in the design and maintenance of this serene setting were indeed worth the price of admission. Jessica loved it! She took more pictures here than in Yosemite National park:) Good to know…

 The Rose garden across the street was free and intertwined in the Portland public park system and featured over 500 varieties in 7000 plantings, spread across 4.5 acres. Dating back to the early 1900’s this elevated garden provided a dazzling array of colors and scents as we walked through its expanse and enjoyed the cityscape views of Portland and Mt Hood across the valley below us. Beautiful!

Tried to find the Blue Plate place for lunch…but were unsuccessful. Instead we tried a new ethnic treat. Lebanese, at Karam downtown! After splitting a banquet of lamb and chicken, homemade humus and fresh-baked Pita bread we were stuffed and walked the downtown city blocks enjoying the sun and clear June skies in a truly unique and beautiful city! Jessica was loving it… I could tell it was a high-point for her to be here for sure!

One of the great parts of a father-daughter RoadTrip is the chance to reconnect, to re-orient our understanding of each other and the thousands of little details, nuance’s and shifts in personality, preference and discoveries that occur from the teen years into adulthood. Their new favorites. Colors, styles…taste buds and music all shifting dramatically from their freshman to senior years of high-school. It’s impossible to keep up, but RoadTrip’s give us parents a huge head start in staying really connected with our young adults.

I could see that my little girl was becoming a real lady. Complex, mysterious and hungry for new cultural experiences. Portland was a paradise for her. A new place to explore, to savor new styles and flavors and sights-sounds so different from Spring Hill TN. This was exactly the reason we were here. 

Signs all over the city!

To reconnect and then release her to adult life in college. To make sure she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how special, unique and amazing she was… how proud we were of her AND to expose her to a bright – big new world of ideas, opportunities and challenges that she needed to know existed beyond the shelter of our suburban bible-belt life. She loved the crazy Portland signs painted or posted everywhere… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!..I was less excited, but knew she was already beyond needing to share my opinion. She was now HERSELF.

Mission accomplished!  

After lunch we Drove east to explore the famous Columbia river gorge and Multanomah Falls! A short 30 minute trip from downtown we climbed the popular 1/2 mile path to take pictures from the famous bridge and watch as thousands of gallons of water cascaded over the Columbia cliffs below. Directly off of interstate 84 this national scenic stop is easy for everyone to discover and provides a welcome car break for families with young and old alike. A full restaurant, visitors center and gift shop allow for a great experience on any and every budget!

 With a hotel reserved through Priceline for a 60% discount  in downtown Seattle we headed north on I-5 . On the way we enjoyed the views of the southern Washington mountains including the snow-capped peaks of Mt St Helen’s, the Olympics and iconic Mt Rainier! Each epic silhouette in the afternoon sky was beautiful to watch and remember. It was like they were guarding our east and western flanks as we motored North to our flight home…sentinels to our time together.

We arrived at a first class boutique hotel (Silver cloud inns and hotels) in the capital hill district of Seattle and crashed! The service, the food and the amenities were outstanding and provided a wonderful and a truly fitting way for us to wind down our week-long North-Pacific adventure.  The only down side… Today was my 21st wedding anniversary and I was not with my bride. 😦

Jessica fixed that for me… we had posed for a picture at the Rose Garden in Portland earlier in the day… she used it to post on my Facebook wall with Paige to show me presenting a bright red rose to her on our anniversary. 

Portland Rose for my Sweetheart!

And… I had purchased a great Owl statue from the Japanese Garden for my beautiful wife…gently tucked in paper for our return.

We loved the road… and tomorrow we were heading home. What a time! What a blessing we had been given… sharing 3000 miles and seven whole days alone. God was so generous to us and our time had not been wasted. From Seattle to Yosemite we had explored, tasted and adventured into hundreds of super cool little nooks and crannies, blasted ColdPlay, the Black Keys and Jessica’s iPod playlists for hours…singing along out of tune with the windows open! We had thrown snow balls and walked in the rain, we had sat on rockers and watched spring mist slide in over a gentle lakeside sunset. We had dived into the bustle of a sprawling urban landscape of people and tourists and commercial excess…and we had walked stone & driftwood filled beaches with beauty and isolation. We had trekked to abandoned mining towns in the desert and drove into snow filled passes with scenic vista’s for miles…all with an eagerness to see, to find to discover…to learn…to live! 

Her mother and I are so Proud !

Was our RoadTrip worthy of Jessica’s massive cultural wanderlust…? YEP, I think so!

Peace out RTP… God bless you this summer and if you can… plan your own RoadTrip moment. Get out there… the road is calling and our kids are not getting any younger, take the time before it’s gone!

RoadTripping in Paradise – Yosemite!

Tuesday June 12… time for Yosemite!

We were up at 5am to drive the remaining 2 hours on Hwy 120 to the North West entrance of Yosemite NP !  Arrived at the famous valley floor by 8:30am to beat the crowds & packed buses! (by noon it’s a zoo – especially on weekends) Jessica loved the art and images in their extensive gift shops and we bought a couple of great pictures as life-long mementos from the Ansel Adams gallery & we were off to take some pics for ourselves. The valley & sheer waterfalls were hanging off the amazing granite cliffs ( El Capitan & Half Dome etc) rising like the arching walls of a prehistoric and sacred cathedral! 

Yosemite Valley

  The feelings they inspired… were good and resolute, severe and serene as they allowed us to gaze up into their presence and soak in their timeless strength. It felt like we were being granted a special gift to see this place... like GOD himself was inviting us to taste and see that he was GOOD. Felt like we were standing in a scene out of Genesis. This was my third visit, and Jessica’s first. It still makes my pulse quicken and my “little-boy” heart explode inside me…

If you have not been to Yosemite…it’s not a cliche’ to say it is truly awe-inspiring ! The jaw dropping vertical view of all it is and holds and hides…comes dangerously close to hypnotizing for any who get the privilege to visit… the unique walls of raw stone are just pressing in, towering down at you from all sides of the valley and it’s mammoth grace crammed into this relatively tiny area in which a  peaceful river road winds among the trees and flowers. Pictures DO NOT capture a fraction of its power and impact.

Jessica in Yosemite Valley!

 Driving it with the tourist’s and their kids combined with the world class- heart stopping views and photo-op’s at every turn is like an ultimate obstacle course for navigation. There are literally thousands of visual distractions and dozens of steel roadblocks… mini-vans or campers suddenly stopped in the road… with open-mouthed drivers who all  just saw the “perfect” shot and are literally “stopping” where they are…to get it!

 They do so regardless of the traffic or the presence of vehicles around or more importantly…behind them. Part of you get’s seriously torqued off at their stupidity and part of you totally understands… the views above and around Yosemite  just overwhelm your senses and suddenly it can seem a secondary matter to be careful or “safe” in the presence of such beauty.

We avoided plowing into or being plowed into by any other drivers as we kept stopping ourselves for pictures. We were heading south to the famous Glacier Point, following the winding 25 mph roads, patiently believing that the coming vista’s would be worth the extra effort!  It was. We saw the 5000+ foot cliff faces from above & the unparalleled views of the valley and high sierras! WITHOUT A DOUBT…One the best mountain views and vista’s in the world 🙂

The view from Glacier Point

 Finished the day driving North out of the park via the Tioga pass.. A beautiful & less trafficked road of high alpine vistas & serious layers of rock & stone. Late Late Lunch (4:30pm)  at the Tolume meadows as we drove south out of the park into the beautiful eastern edge of the Sierras ! Stayed at a great little Travel Lodge hotel in Mammoth Lake CA ! (cheap & old, but super friendly – and a great basement with FREE foosball & coin laundry on site – met a hilarious chihuahua named “cheech” who lives with the owner & tried to join us in,our room ) 

Beautiful lakes & snow-capped peaks of the high Sierra’s surround the town at over 8,000 feet – cool crisp air 50F and high desert pink sunset capped off another “perfect” day on this Epic Roadtrip!

 After pizza and diet cokes we drove up to the twin lakes vista parking area to watch the stars at 9500 feet and no city or artificial lights at all. The glory of the sky at night is a lost treasure for our modern time… But the reward is well worth the effort ! Amazing to see the diversity and panorama of a clear alpine sky in the pitch black of a natures night. Dazzling…and almost impossible to see near any city.

Mammoth Lakes Sunrise

 Wednesday June 13

 Woke up to 45F and a cool but sunny dawn. The road north was Hwy 395 and just north of the Yosemite Tioga pass road we saw a sign for a California State Historical marker… An old mining Ghost town named Bodie. If you have the time ( 2.5 hours minimum) I highly recommend the 16 mile one way drive off the Hwy. 

Bodie, CA – Gold Mining Ghostown

The last 3 miles get rough and have rutted dirt & rock instead of pavement, but remain passable at very low-speed.

The State has an amazing historic site set up around this abandoned 1880’s era Gold rush town. Dozens of old saloons, schools, churches, houses and mining stores, motels and mine buildings and machinery are preserved in their “arrested state” of decay. For history buffs this is a “must” to visit. High plains desert with amazing views of the snow-capped eastern Sierra’s frame the setting for this once booming town of 10k. Jessica loved it and at over 8500 feet in elevation walking its old streets can literally take your breath if you’re not acclimated and well hydrated ! Fascinating morning “surprise” for us as we had only made the trip on a  last minute “whim”. ( $10 to get in) If you go… be sure to bring your camera, jacket and a hat -sunscreen 🙂 SUNNY is the word.

 After taking pictures and exploring the sights we drove on north to see the famous Lake Tahoe ! Beautiful and crystal clear… It’s borders surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks that carry a snow pack year around. Downside is the thousands do tourists and locals who flock to its shores in all 4 seasons.

Jessica and Lake Tahoe !

Very commercial on the Nevada side with casinos and condos built on top of each other blocking the views. Best bet is to hit the visitor centers and North shore beaches if you can for unobstructed views and a chance to climb some rocks on the lovely shoreline !We took the scenic route north of Tahoe to Lassen National park in the wilderness of north east California… about the only route was via Hwy 89, a very excellent drive. Almost no traffic on its winding path as it crosses mountain streams and massive mountain valleys filled with horse and cattle ranches. Full of dense pine forests and peaks for over a 100 miles, remote and rugged…but beautiful. We decided to crash on the North shore of Lake Almanor near Chester, CA. when we saw the sun starting to dip.

 A quick drive north (25 miles on Hwy 89 ) after checking into our hotel would put us in the Lassen Volcanic park in time for sunset and then give us the option for more sunrise pictures..if we wanted?  I wasn’t prepared for the rugged beauty that awaited and the complete absence of people or traffic. If you are a high mountain and snow year around kind of guy ( like I am) this is the place for you! We drove up after dinner to catch some sunset views and lingered long enough to see the 15 foot snow banks and frozen alpine lakes at 9000 + on its north facing ridges! Wow !

Lassen Volcanic National Park – June 2012

Take your camera and be prepared for rapidly changing weather year around. We were there in mid- June and was cold after the sun dipped below the peaks. Already in the 40’s by 8pm and freezing by dark for sure. The temperatures at the base were in the low 70s and had been in the low 90s that same day. A place of contrasts and extremes including active thermal geography and a deeply rugged landscape that will evoke memories of Yosemite and Yellowstone tied into one unique locale. I loved it ! Had a snowball fight with Jessica before reluctantly heading back to Chester and our stay at the Best Western…. tired. 🙂

Tomorrow… fun at Crater Lake and southern Oregon!

Loving our last Great “Daddy – Daughter” Date!

Fresh back from my week-long West Coast RoadTrip… I’m still processing. But I had a throughly enjoyable time exploring the unknown. It was just the two of us (my oldest and I)  in a rental car, no firm plans…simply a general desire to see the sights and wander around uncovering the treasures and tastes sure to be found along the 3000 miles and seven days of open road ahead. We had only brought along the basic clothing essentials, a camera, smartphone (of course)and my favorites…Red Vines, Coffee, Cornuts and a map.

Jessica and Dad at Crater Lake 2012

Jessica now eighteen years old… fresh from her High School Graduation, had planned the basics of the trip six months earlier in the year… She wanted to visit Olympic National Park, the iconic city of Seattle and then drive the Pacific Northwest Coastline south to California and a stop at Yosemite. After that it was a bit vague… so we improvised and drove each day feeling our way south and pacing ourselves as the weather and coastline allowed.

What follows is a bit of introspective dialogue from of a father and a journaling of the places we saw and the things we did. All of it was exactly as it was meant to be and maybe the most bittersweet for me. I was aware that his epic roadtrip may be destined in fact to become our last great… “Daddy- Daughter” Date ! 😦

It’s important to note that in our house… the legacy of the Road Trip is a serious thing and the pattern of having regular “Daddy – Daughter” dates is over a decade old. I’ve been dating my daughters since they were able to walk… starting with tea parties, and wacky singing teddy bear karaoke at bedtime and growing into movie matinees’ with Chucky Cheese or Sonic Ice Creams and eventually becoming full on dinner dates at nice restaurants and special escapes to the beach or to a favorite city for a surprise weekend away.

So… for my oldest, watching her graduation day looming and knowing that she would be leaving our home this fall to start college, she was aware that in that transition… our Road Trip was waiting. A symbolic and treasured tradition that would mark in part the passing of one season to another.… the coming of age of a young-woman as she moves from the safety of her familiar world into the uncertainties and challenges of the unknown world of University life.

And of course… this RoadTrip would offer us both a chance to discover and taste of the spectacular beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest…up front, close and personal…together. Just the two of us. Free from the constraints of a scheduled life and responsibilities…just the liberty of the open road and the power of a “whim” to redirect our way at a moments notice.

Ahhh… the lifelong lure of the Road Trip, about to be passed to my oldest. Life is good. 🙂

So much for the introduction… as you may have guessed, things didn’t “Quite” go as planned and my assumptions and her’s were about to be “updated” as we sorted out the realities from the fantasy and re-connected as father and daughter along the way. Exactly what the Road Trip is so famous for doing on our family, in my life… and if you take the risk… YOURS.

Blessings RTP Families…. part 1 of our seven-day epic trip will post  next monday. ( 6- 25-12)

Follow along next week with us as we uncover some spectacular beauty. Starting from the soggy, lush green Rainforests of Northwest Washington State and following the iconic Hwy 101 into Oregon’s rugged coastline to the arid and harsh high Sierra’s of North-Eastern California and everything in-between. Find out where to stop for food and where to keep on moving… and laugh and cry with us as I share some of the personal discoveries that can only come from spending 192 hours alone with your oldest child… Buckle up tight, it’s sure to be a wild ride 🙂