I can’t find the Kid’s Meal!

After a 9-hour driving day, we pull into Jacob Lake Inn, where we’ll stay for the next 2 nights. We left downtown Santa Fe after a 3-crepe breakfast at 8:00am, and get here just after 5:00pm. (It’s actually 4:00pm local time, because this part of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time.) A mostly boring drive was intermittently interrupted by incredible vast open space framed with water-etched cliffs. Along the way we saw yellow cautions signs for deer, horse, and cow. One road-side stand offered Indian Tacos and another Buffalo Jerky.

We stopped for a quick lunch at KFC in Tuba City about 2:00pm. I paused longer to pick something out to order because the menu board was too busy and cluttered. Even Jeremiah exclaimed, “I can’t find the Kid’s Meal!”

Similar to KFC’s sibling Yum Brand franchise restaurants: Taco Bell, Long John Silver, A & W, and Pizza Hut, their menu boards offer too many options as if splattered by Jackson Pollack. I like the much cleaner menu boards of a Chipotle, Potbelly, Wendy’s or even McDonald’s. We have eaten once at Wendy’s on this trip, and have thus far avoided McDonald’s.

I thought we could maximize and cram one more thing in today, and drive the hour to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park so that we could catch the sunset tonight, but I was out-voted. So we’ll be staying around the Inn and resting for tomorrow’s day hike.

For those of you keeping score at home, the Xterra trip odometer says 3,361 miles. [ We’re way out in the sticks, so no cell phone coverage, no mobile Internet; I found this Linksys signal in the nicer Lodge part of the Jacob Lake Inn campus, but there’s no lobby to sit in nor an outlet to plug into, so I’m crouched in the hallway to make this post. What a person goes through to keep people updated. 🙂 ]

finding good food

Cabin fever drove us out of the Plano house we’ve been staying at (I worked from the home office Wednesday); and we ventured into the rain for something to eat for dinner that night. We were on a quest for the legendary world-renowned Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse barbeque, and we weren’t able to find it at the Frisco mega-intersection of Preston and 121. It was listed on our GPS, which I forgot to bring with us in our borrowed sedan, but I knew the intersection at which it was listed. We drove around and couldn’t find it. I even stopped twice to ask for directions. Nobody knew where it was (although one guy from Georgia was very excited to learn that Sonny Bryan was founded here in Dallas and will make his way there very soon). I called up Google 411, and the number they connected me at was disconnected.

We quit that quest and went to a local non-franchise Tex-Mex place called Senor Conrad’s. The place seemed not descript, but soon as we walk in, the ambiance impressed us. It wasn’t a mega-restaurant with 500 seats; capacity was probably right around 100. Cozy setting, $5 margaritas, and nice abstract art on the walls. Because of the smaller size, everything was amazingly personable: the food was great, the service was excellent! (we had fajitas and bbq tacos, plus 3 desserts — sopapillas, flan, and churros.) Sorry, no camera to take pictures, so you’ll have to take our word for it. Reasonable prices too — our highest recommendations. Here’s the info:

Senor Conrad’s 2809 Preston Rd. Frisco, TX 75034 Phone 972-334-0937

And here’s one commentary found on a web discussion board:

Went to Senor Conrads on Preston Road /Frisco.The old Tres Meridas location.OMG what a great meal.Had the caso/beef/sour cream appe it was amazing.Hubby had the ribs and I had the sour cream chickan enchiladas.Had the Sapades w/apples dessert.5.00 margarita swirl all day(which was great).Please excuse mispelled words.We met Conrad and he was so nice.Please give it a try.

Thursday I wander around looking for companions for lunch. I dropped in unannounced at my old home church where I was married 12 years ago. I took 3 people there to a nearby Sonny Bryan’s in Richardson, and I experienced it for the first time. Beef brisket sandwich combo, famous onion rings.. warmed bbq sauce (bottles aligned on a hot plate), fixin’s bar .. wait staff came by 3 times to offer hot rolls .. again, no photos. Well, I was slightly underwhelmed, great Texas-style BBQ, but my expectations were over-hyped. Not to stir up Texas bbq wars, my preference leaned more towards Rudy’s in Austin, where they have 3 kinds of beef brisket — regular, moist, and extra moist.

pastors and families lunching in Little Rock

Traffic delay on I-40 West kept us from getting to the church on time in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, we only caught the tail end of the worship service at Mosaic Church, enough to sense the energetic vibe of the shopping mall space that used to be a Wal-Mart. During the worship hour in our Xterra, we listened to Gospel music en route and got engrossed by an impassioned Pentecostal preacher talking about having the faith to believe God for moving mountains.

I spotted a worship attender with a video camera scoping the scene, a probable sign of someone doing church reconnaissance. So I struck up a conversation and turns out they (Jay & Mickey Robison) were visiting from Lexington, Kentucky, taking field trips all over to learn more about multiethnic churches. We did lunch together with the Mosaic pastor Mark DeYmaz and our respective families. We ate at a local Mexican place– Senor Tequila— great food and great prices. While the pastors talked shop with DJ, the women talked about more sociable things, and the children sat at a separate table and ate & played away. The Robisons had a son named Jeremy, and an instant bond combusted with our own Jeremiah, social gaming with their respective Nintendo DS. The girls got a spontaneous art class when Rachelle pulled our her collage kit to share.

lunching pastors and families

Mark DeYmaz has a new book coming out in October, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation, published via Leadership Network (for which I work) and Jossey-Bass. Linda DeYmaz (Mark’s wife) is an author in her own right, with her best-selling book, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry, which competed head-to-head for an award right up against one of Rick Warren’s titles. Invigorating conversations since we all have a big heart for multiethnic churches. And, yes, we talked about blogging, for which I highly recommended The Blogging Church as a quick read and primer.

Oh, and Jay, we’ve racked up over 1,750 miles on our cross-country drive so far at the time of this writing.

[update 8/10] Mark DeYmaz is now blogging over at http://markdeymaz.typepad.com/

my kind of evening

Asian American Emergents

The most engaging dinner + conversations with David Park (with wife Sunita) and Danny Yang (with wife Susan), and my family of 3. We talked marriage, family, money, food, technology, theology, seminary, lifestyle, emergent, check-fighting, racism, identity, church, categories, labels, Wii, though not necessarily in that order. Danny has actually made the pilgrimage to Glorietta for an Emergent Gathering, while I haven’t, so he’s actually more emergent legit than me.

Of course, the food was incredibly outstanding. We asked for local flavor, and we got very local. This midtown Atlanta place called EATS served up Jerk Chicken with heat that’d make you a believer (or unbeliever), and sides that screamed out “eat me” to me – made it a cake walk for me to order up the Meat and Three = Jerk Chicken + collards + mac/cheese + baked sweet potato, topped with a Jamaican Ginger Beer. Here’s a pix of the aftermath:

after a satisfying meal

Atlanta 2 nights

We’re staying in Atlanta for 2 nights courtesy the southern hospitality of Jeff & Andre Shinabarger. Thank you Jeff & Andre!! I met Jeff at the Q boutique experience, which was an incredibly inspirational time for me as an ideator and all (I had live-blogged it over at the L2 Foundation blog). What’s great is that the inspiration can be had all year round (though you do have to be there at Q to get the 24/7 live experience) now with Fermi Words.

Fermi Words

Last night’s dinner was at the Watershed, and while they’re (supposedly) famous for fried chicken, they only serve fried chicken on Tuesdays, and they don’t serve sweet tea. Other than these 2 quirky things, the Southern dining was delightful, peppered with good conversations. BTW, we tooled around in a Toyota Prius, and we’re hooked! So we’ve got to get one of those as a 2nd car when we get to Cali — it’s got a built-in viral conversational piece called the energy monitor. Way cool.

Prius energy monitor

And to wind down the evening, we played a couple rounds of “Speed Scrabble”. Jeremiah had a blast along with our hosts!


Today (Friday’s) family agenda is the Georgia Aquarium, touted as the largest aquarium in the world. We ordered 9:00am tickets online last night, so we’ve gots to skedaddle. Dinner will be with David Park and Danny Yang — anticipating some conversations about moving from a generic Gospel to a contextualized Gospel…

First Official Day of Driving

[from Rachelle – reflections on June 19th]

COLORS OF THE DAY: Grass Green, Maroon & Orange

Driving through Virginia in the summer is very lush. The gradations of green are broken up by the occasional billboard which I find optically stimulating. (I tend to prefer billboards to break up the visual monotony, that’s why I find driving through Maryland eye-numbing)

When we approached Virginia Tech I saw memorial magnets on bumpers in the classic orange and maroon emblazoned in our collective memories during the April tragedy. Most of the evidence of that day has been taken down on the campus. I’m struck with how global the tragedy was but when we walked around campus and Norris Hall things seemed much smaller and much more localized. The famous VT limestones seemed weighty and silent.

Collage #2 is a bit more abstract. I’m tired of the over-literalism of VT images and this seemed appropriate to my mood of the day.

Collage 2 Virginia


Breakfast: Sheetz in Winchester. We both had the “Seriously Bold Coffee” drinks custom-ordered on a touch pad screen. Nifty! P.S. Unleaded Gas was $2.75/gallon

Lunch: Souvlaki’s in downtown Blacksburg. Seriously yummy cheesecake, slow on service with a busy lunch crowd.

Dinner: Jason’s Deli in Raleigh. Graphics, cleanliness and menu presentation was outstanding but we were utterly disappointed with the price and quality. Jeremiah’s kid’s meal was a microwaved pizza with 3 pepperonis. Jeremiah gives it a “4” which is the lowest score so far on this trip. Rachelle took a trip to the salad bar (passable) and ordered a Fiesta baked potato. I used to eat baked potatoes at Jason’s Deli in Dallas all the time. In fact, I was eating one at lunch time when I first heard about the Oklahoma City bombing so it’s a distinctive memory. I was looking forward to this potato! However, it was shockingly gross, like a pseudo-cheesesteak smashed under a tire. The potato itself was huge but swimming in a pool of butter and orange liquid that calls itself “cheese.” There was supposed to be chicken in the mix but I think I only counted 5 chunks bobbing up and down somewhere. I couldn’t bear to eat more than a couple bites but passed it down to our “never-say-no” friends (i.e. Joe Chen). Dj ordered a sandwich/potato chip platter. Add drinks and it all cost $30. Fortunately, we weren’t there for the food, but for our awesome Raleigh friends whom we met when we lived there from 1995-1997.

Restaurant Log day 1 and 2

RESTAURANT LOG for Father’s Day 6/17/07:

breakfast at Waffle House

Breakfast: Waffle House Winchester
Lunch: Asian Buffet
Dinner: Outback Steakhouse: Jeremiah gives it an “11” for overall, Rachelle gives it a “7” for décor/atmosphere and Dj gives it a “8” for food quality.

Today 6/18/07:
Cici’s Pizza: Jeremiah gives it a 6.

(1-10 scale with 10 being best)