Merrick United Methodist Church


(photo courtesy of the Staten Island Advance)

The Rev. Ann N. Morgan was appointed as the eleventh pastor to serve The United Methodist Church of Merrick, effective January 1, 2009. Fifty years after the ordination of women in the United Methodist Church, she is Merrick's first woman pastor, but is also a third generation preacher in her family.

Reverend Morgan is an ordained Elder of the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.  She has served two other churches since her 1990 ordination, The Community Methodist Church in Middle Village, Queens and Bethel United Methodist Church in Tottenville, Staten Island.

Originally from Washington State, Reverend Morgan attended Perkin's School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and earned her Master's of Divinity Degree at The Theological School at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey

Pastor Morgan's Spiritual Renewal TRIP LOG, weeks 8- :
(most recent posts at the top)

TRIP LOG-Monday, April 7:  Moving toward Merrick, stopping at banks along the way to get money & spend money!  Buy milk & apples (staples!), stop at parsonage to toss suitcases inside.  Pet the cats and make a couple of other stops including the church, to say a prayer of thanks for a safe journey and then to the gym (gotta get those old routines going again!).  Hard to believe:  70 days and 10,225 miles!  See everyone at church on Palm Sunday, I hope, or at Holy Week & Easter services.

TRIP LOG-Sunday, April 6:  After a cold night, the Lord's Day dawned bright and warmer (still windy).  Attended a 9:30am service at Old First UMC in West Branch, New Jersey.  A lot like Merrick:  8 in choir but they had a drum set going & pastor plays a guitar.  35-38 in congregation; a few kids of mixed age.  Sing-along in the beginning, full service & communion; lasted long!  Headed for Barnes & Noble to find a "hot spot" for computer and headed to NYC to see friends.  City bustling with crowds of people enjoying the sights & activities; had dinner & stayed over.

TRIP LOG -End of Week 10-Saturday, April 5:  Day was sunny but windy; drove on local roads thru Wilmington, Delaware to avoid tolls (missed the big dramatic bridge) and sailed by the skyline of Philadelphia.  Managed to get "lost" on the beltway thus circling Trenton (poor Gov. Christy).  Finally found  I-195 extension to the Jersey Shore.  Having driven west to the Pacific Ocean, I thought it would be fun to finish by driving east to the Atlantic Ocean.  The Methodist town of Ocean Grove still shows signs of damage from Sandy: much of their Boardwalk is missing; the public lawns of the Tabernacle are devastated; people are repairing the Bed & Breakfast places.  Stayed at Eatontown where U.S. Army has closed the fort.  

TRIP LOG-Friday, April 4:  FINALLY got to see the Korean War Memorial.  It is very impressive and realistic, with fresh wreaths (at Vietnam Memorial, there are a lot of single roses).  Went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the banks of the Tidal Basin where the cherry trees were dark with buds waiting to bloom in a few days.  Walked past the Lincoln Memorial on the way back to the truck.  I left by driving over the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge but didn't hike to the Island Memorial because of weather & time.  Left Washington by one last drive across their crazy street grid & rush hour traffic.  The drive away included crossing the Chesapeake Bay to the eastern shore of Maryland.  Took back roads across pastoral land:  fields & groves of trees and cranberry bogs before coming to rest for the night.

TRIP LOG-Thursday, April 3:  Back on mass transit early (had to find a NY bank to make a deposit).  Typical NY City situation when there was a fire that stopped all trains!  Got to NPR on time for a tour of their building, news & control rooms and satellite system (they led the way).  Radio ties the nations together (ask me!) & helps Americans in the vast areas of our country.  Thank goodness for Land Grant colleges & radio.  Spent all day hopping on & off the Metro (the fire messed things up ,so I missed going to the National Cathedral), but I got to  see many "normal" neighborhoods which gave me a view of non-government life in the capitol.  Stopped at Sojourners office, accidentally took a ride across the Potomac River (near Pentagon) and back, thru a green market & past the White House before heading back to the hotel to pack.

TRIP LOG-Wednesday, April 2nd:  Took the Metro into the District, heading straight to NPR headquarters to reserve a spot on the free tour on 4/3.  Toured Union Station which is an incredible shopping mall, then walking to the "Methodist Building" next to the Supreme Court.  Washington is full of kids on Spring Break; everyone is a tourist.  Finally found the WWII Memorial which is so well done and moving; couldn't get close to the Vietnam Memorial for the crowd.  Left the Mall by 5pm to get back to Wesley Seminary for a 6pm reception.  Got to attend this small event prior to a lecture given by Michel Martin, host of "Tell Me More" (she is currently a student at Wesley).  The ride back on Metro was long & late (too late for the hotel shuttle).  God bless the angel (a Navy nurse) who drove me there from train station.  Another early night for day 2 of sight-seeing!

TRIP LOG- Tuesday, April 1st:  Was due on campus at Wesley Theological School in time for an 8:30am class on Evangelism.  Had to leave early enough to drive thru D.C. morning traffic.  Their downtown campus is on Massachusetts Ave., in the thick of traffic & construction which I drove through to get to the main campus at far western end of it, next to American University.  After class, headed off to Chapel which turned out to be a special chapel service with a visiting Bishop preaching; his son attends Wesley.  Turned into a full day when I was invited to attend a buffet luncheon with 7 artists-in-residence who took turns talking about their work. Visited with a couple of professors (including one I knew 30 yrs ago when he was student pastor at the church I attended). Joined the mad afternoon rush hour back to the far eastern side of the Beltway.  Needed an early night for a full day of sight-seeing on Wednesday

TRIP LOG-March 30, Sunday:  Worshipped at 1st Church, Lexington on a sunny Lord's Day & began my long drive across the rest of Kentucky.  The terrain & views became more interesting (having left the flat & dull flat-land of Illinois & Indiana behind.  The gently rolling hills of horse country gave way to hills & small forests (very interesting strata of rocks where they have cut away to build the highways).  The hills got higher and the woods thicker (with some evergreens) as I got to the West Virginia state line.  Went thru the Daniel Boone National Forest (largely deciduous) and crossed the Ohio River again.  From Huntington in the south, thru Charleston and all the way north, it was hills & mountains: parts of Appalachia, up thru the Allegheny Mountains, nearly to Pennsylvania.  How fitting!!  I stayed at a hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia!!

TRIP LOG-Saturday, March 29:  Left St. Louis by zig-zagging thru the neighborhoods, from the NW to the SW, to see the real city & make my way to one of the multiple Interstates/Beltways.  Crossed the Missouri (again) and the Mississippi which I last crossed down-river at Memphis on the westernly journey in late January!  The drive to Kentucky, through the southerly portions of Illinois & Indiana was quite unremarkable, and short.  I crossed the Ohio River into Louisville, Kentucky ahead of the sunset.  I drove up & down the streets of this smallish but interesting city, looking at the statues of French Kings and other famous people from its early history.  Stopped for a cup of McDonald's coffee, encountering folks who were disappointed about their loss of the NCAA game that eliminated Louisville.  {The next day, in Lexington, I encountered folks who were overjoyed that Kentucky had won that old rivalry.}

TRIP LOG- Thursday/Friday, March 27 & 28:  Still in Missouri!!  More time with cousin before hitting the road again.  Left the 2 Kansas Cities at rush hour (dumb; 2 sets of traffic!!) toward St. Louis (oh: KC is 1000 ft. above sea level & St. Louis is 500). Started in good weather, but there continued to be severe storm warnings which stopped my journey half-way across the state.  I-70 is a channel for tornadoes; I remember Joplin, but fortunately, the hail & lightning were ahead of me.  On Friday, I got to St. Louis early, checked in and headed for the city under cover of dark (AFTER rush hour!).  The city at night was fabulous.  Walked down near the Mississippi River to touch the Arch.  It is barely lit but still casts a large shadow in the cloudy sky.  A sturdy (read: large) tugboat silently pushed 5 huge barges up the River.  Cardinal Baseball Park lit up; there are several brightly lit casinos and many well-preserved & lighted historic buildings.  Besides "Bud" and Purina, who knew it was the home of Tums!!  Saint Louis University is incredibly large w/ blocks & blocks of well-lit buildings; the city seems large.  Not only was St. Louis a hub & starting place for American Expansion, it continues to be a crossroad for American trade, travel and culture.  As with many cities, it makes one want to come back and explore!!

TRIP LOG-Wednesday, March 26th:  Made it the last 75 miles to the adopted campus of St. Paul just in time for the student chapel service, at which the preacher was Adam Hamilton, charismatic founder of the UM Church of the Resurrection.  St. Paul has sold their 50 year old campus in Kansas City, Missouri and moved into an immense educational wing of that church with administrative and faculty offices in a business park 3 miles away, in Overland Park, Kansas.  There is a campus in Oklahoma City too.  Using cutting edge technology, a class can be held in both states.  I sat in a classroom in Kansas City (Kansas) with 6 other students and a camera/sound tech.  We had a screen with an Oklahoma classroom with 6 students, 2 professors and their tech.  We could all see and hear each other in real time.  Fascinating!  The next morning, my dad's cousin took me on a driving tour of Kansas City, Missouri including another grand train station turned into great commercial space.  Lots to see on a return trip: the World War I Museum among them.  On the way back, I stopped at the seminary to meet with staff and look at the sanctuary of the 18,000 member church.  Then severe storm warnings sent us scurrying home.

TRIP LOG-Tuesday, March 25th:  Turned my back on the real Rocky Mountains, snow-covered and beautiful to the west of Denver (supposed to help one figure out directions since you can almost always see the high mountains to the west).  It was astonishing that the minute I drove east on the beltway, leaving Denver in the rear-view mirror, the terrain changed.  I was in farming country still, with fields and cattle; things were sort of flat.  The challenge was to make Kansas City, Kansas by 11am the next morning when there was a chapel service at St. Paul Theological School.  I didn't think I could drive the full 600 miles in one day, but I did do 525 miles.  I stopped every hundred miles for a stretch, gas or a meal as I traveled across the "High Plains," as they call it.  The altitude was close to the "Mile High City" of Denver.  As I drove east, the elevation drops slowly (half-way at Salina was still 3000+ feet).  By the time I arrived in eastern Kansas (better looking and more interesting than the rest), the elevation was way under 1000 ft. above sea-level and my ears were back to normal.

TRIP LOG-Monday, March 24th:  Took a driving (and little walking) tour of downtown Denver, stopping at home of the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" and finding the Amtrak train station (many of the beautiful old train stations are being saved and retro-fitted into malls, etc.) which now has only a little space in this huge old building.  Much of this old historic western city is well-preserved.  The afternoon was spent at Iliff Theological School; it shares a campus with the University of Denver (separate but they collaborate).  It is a nice small school that also has preserved a beautiful old stone building and added a modernized wing behind and connected to the historic building.  I sat in on a class that concentrates on the role of education in social change, to help pastors and people understand cultural influences and how we live out our faith values in the real world.

TRIP LOG-Sunday, March 23rd:  Interesting dilemma since my hosts at Ft. Collins attend an independent church; on Saturday evening, we dropped in at end-of-service so I could see this "small" branch which was bought & established in a small shopping center that was sitting empty in a new housing development.  Very different, but still looked & felt like church with people serving on volunteer "teams."  I attended a fairly large United Methodist -Ft. Collins First- on Sunday.  They offer a small communion service at 8:30am, but I attended the 9:15am traditional service.  They did a team reading of "the woman at the well" and the pastor preached well.  At 10:30, there is an "alternative" service, but I left after coffee hour.  After a nice afternoon with my friends, I ended up at a Denver hotel with a delicious & healthy take-out meal from Cracker Barrel (my 1st time!).

TRIP LOG-Friday-Saturday/March 21-22: Freight trains & windmills reveal the scale of something that east coast city dwellers don't see:  extensive mining & energy production.  I didn't see many farms (there are 11,000), but there are a lot of cattle.  I80 is known as the Lincoln Highway.  A large bust of him is a huge monument at a scenic view spot.  The town of Laramie is small but more economically vibrant with construction all around the University of Wyoming.  Cheyenne, the capitol, is more my speed.  Well-preserved buildings and lots of good statuary of historic, western and Indian themes... plus which, Wyoming was the first state to ratify the rights of women.  Starbucks, even in Wyoming!!  I haven't been a customer, but was drawn in by wi-fi!!  Left the interstate and drove on hard-pack country road (people DO live out there), over some hills to connect with paved roads north of Ft. Collins.  Found my foster sister's little country house east of there in Severance, CO.  Spent the week-end with her 4 cats and 2 dogs (a Schnausser & a Pyrennies Sheep Dog) and Dale, her tek-savvy husband!  Computers & church took most of our time.

TRIP LOG-Thursday/March 20:  Walter knows there are pretty & impressive places in Wyoming.  I80 cuts a wobbly "straight" line, from west to east, across the least attractive.  Hey:  Did you know that J.C. Penney himself started his store, in 1902, in Kemmerer, Wyoming?  Mostly, I saw 100 car freight trains, constantly runinng in both directions.  The small railroad town of Rawlins is run-down but was still the only interesting site on the 200 mile drive for the day.  In the distant north, I could see the Rocky Mountains near Montana and to the west, Grand Tetons. And, as I approached my destination for the night, the Laramie Range spread from the far north to the town of Laramie where the University of Wyoming is located.

TRIP LOG - Wednesday/March 19:  Spent most of the day in Salt Lake City; drove straight up into Emmigration Canyon, past creative houses perched on bluffs & hilltops as the road climbed up to the snow line.  Incomparable view!  The city streets are wide & clean; there is a trolley rail line (new).  Found a credit union for funds!  Found the Post Office & drove around the city, from the hilltop capital building to the Temple Square.  Parked long enough to walk into the Tabernacle where the big Mormon Choir sings; organist was practicing.  Had 2 small picnic lunches on the tailgate of truck.  The sky was blue w/ gauzy clouds, and warm.  Plants blooming everywhere:  Spring!!  Left town at rush hour and drove 160 miles through red/orange canyons & buttes, with freight trains passing in the other direction.  Entered Wyoming as the terrrain grew flatter & less attractive.  Shortly after Ft. Bridger, as sun set & I came to rest in Green River, Wyoming.

TRIP LOG -Tuesday/March 18:  Correction & addition to the mountains of eastern Oregon...The actual Rocky Mountains come a little further east but there are ranges & ranges:  Wallowa, Blue, Strawberry, Pioneer, Sawtooth and more.  The last section of road into Boise was desert mountain.  Leaving Boise the next morning, the terrain was mostly boring and unremarkable.  Except:  in the distance, east & west, snow-covered mountains & many windmills again, dotting the hills.  I am fascinated with our new source of energy which is found in all the windy desert areas.  The view got better as I sailed past Twin Falls & Burley approaching Utah.  The Wasatch mountains formed a continuous wall to the east and I put up for the night in at the base of snowy peaks in the town of Ogden, Utah.

TRIP LOG: Monday, 3/17, St. Patrick's Day!  Started from Hermiston...Eastern Oregon is generally flat with gently undulating fields of many hues of green (a distant relative grows mint over here for the Eight O'Clock candy company).  A silo here; a hay shed there; a football field long irrigation contraption over there, but fascinating fields of crops into the distance in all directions.  Then suddenly behind and rising above Pendleton, Oregon (of rodeo fame) the snow-covered foothills of the Rocky mountains (many ranges of mountains, with many names).  This spine of mountains stretched north & south as far as the eye could see.  The road was steep with chain warnings for trucks.  I drove up and across several ranges with snow cover and later drove through snow before the next set of desert mountains and a serious windstorm before coming safely to rest in the city of Boise, Idaho. 

TRIP LOG (start of trip from west to east) - 3/15:  On Saturday evening, I escaped Seattle traffic, driving up & over Snoqualmie Pass which was avalanche-free!  Dropped down into the dry "half" of the state where the terrain started to look like some of the southwest:  gently rolling brown hills (elevation of 2500 ft or so) and scrub; few green trees.  Night fell before I arrived in Prosser, Washington, the town of my birth & baptism.  Had dinner with my foster sister from 60 yrs. ago!  Sunday, March 16th, I attended service where my dad served from 1946-52 and found the old parsonage which someone had moved to a new location.  Drove another 30 miles to Pasco, WA, (my mom's hometown), spending the afternoon visiting relatives including some just over the Columbia River south of Umatilla, Oregon.  Passed the McNary Dam on the way to Umatilla/Hermiston where I spent the end of my 1st day "on-the-road" again.

Pastor Morgan’s Spiritual Renewal TRIP LOG, weeks 5-7:

TRAVEL LOG - Week 5/Seattle:  Arrived at 1st Church [UM] in time to meet mom; after service, we joined 25 family (& a few friends) for her 90th birthday celebration.  Their residence catered a great meal.  Mostly RAIN during 1st week here while I took care of medical and caught up on affairs that were neglected on the road.  We had 1 or 2 days of something like sunshine (temps in the 50's).  On those days, the "mountains were out" (as they say in Seattle).  By week's end, I was hard at work helping parents with house projects.  Had to fit time with son & wife Nan into their work week.  We toured the Museum of Flight (Boeing) from Wright Bros. to the Shuttle.

TRAVEL LOG - Week 6/Seattle:  Attended Edmonds UMC on Communion Sunday (3/2).  This was my church during high school; my father served as Associate Pastor in mid-1960's.  More family time & chores for parents & me during the week.  Lots to do in their residence and I have to do their taxes next.  Sister Colleen is a great cook; I am eating at her board and helping to walk her 2 Irish Water Spaniels.  There was another day of sunshine, but it rained, as usual, the day we drove up the mountain pass to see Snoqualmie Falls (part of Seattle's hydro-electric power system) & walk thru an Indian casino.  Having watched the Oscars, we are going to the movies to see some of the nominated films.  That and watching the rain!

TRAVEL LOG - Week7/Seattle:  
Attended church at Tacoma First on March 9th.  I was Associae member there during college.  The church was sold to a hospital, but they retro-fittted a medium-size art-deco building with big clear windows with frosted designs on the avenue.  Pastor is old childhood and college chum; service ended with a song in a circle.  In the afternoon, after a little picnic on the water, we visited the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum; it is unbelievable!  The rest of the 3rd & last week in Seattle went so fast:  more work for parents and starting to pack the truck for the return trip.  FINALLY, we had 2 totally lovely sunny days w/ clear vistas.  All the mountains & mountain ranges were out & gorgeous.  Mt. Rainier is spectacular.  On Saturday, I pulled out of my son's driveway but it took 5 more hours to say good-bye to the rest of family in Seattle (their traffic was chaos due to massive construction projects, a parade, a demonstration, a "walk" and more.  I'll be glad to get back to NY traffic!!).

Pastor Morgan’s Spiritual Renewal TRIP LOG, WEEKS 1-4:

 Day 1 - Sunday (1/26), wonderful worship and a warm Coffee Hour to send me off.  THANX, PPR.  "Late out of the Gate" --Left Merrick after dark, but on my way!  --Arrived safely in Gettysburg before mid-night.

 Day 2 - Monday (1/27) - Spent the morning at the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center, an awesome and inspiring chapter of our American history and values.  --Must return when the weather is better & I have time to take it all in. ...before heading for Virginia.

 Day 3 – Tuesday (1/28) - Lite snow flurries in the morning turned into real snow as I traveled I-81south, playing leap frog w/ tractor trailers on this 2 lane highway.  By afternoon, having out-run the worst of the "Atlanta" snow & ice storm that also hit Tennessee, I saw no more snow starting somewhere west of Knoxville.

 Day 4 – Wednesday (1/29) - Arrived in Nashville Tuesday night (1/28); what a United Methodist town with Methodist buildings. & offices everywhere.  Got to the campus of Vanderbilt Theological School early for a full and meaningful day.  Met with & was mentored by Bishop Pennel before going to Chapel.  In the afternoon, I attended a preaching class & also one on Religion & Film.  --A good and dramatic day.

 Day 5 – Thursday (1/30) - Used the morning to wash the road grit & salt off the truck, find a credit union to get money for gas, got gas and then found a gym so I could exercise.  Last stop in Nashville:  a pilgrimage to the Upper Room Chapel... before leaving for Memphis in the afternoon.

 Day 6 – Friday (1/31) - Morning in Memphis:  2 stops, first at St. Jude's Memorial Garden & and, secondly, the National Civil Rights Museum.  Memphis is worth another trip to see all its riches but I had to head out for Arkansas in order to make Dallas by Saturday night.

 Day 7 – Saturday (2/1) - Crossed the Mississippi River yesterday; on the other side, all radio & TV stations begin w/ a "K."  On Saturday, after stopping overnight in Arkadelphia, I drove into the town of Hope where the Amtrak station features a collection of former President Clinton photos and memorabilia.  A police car followed my NY plates out-of-town! Most of the drive to Dallas was in a heavy rain but I got here safely late on Saturday afternoon.



 Day 8 – Sunday (2/2) – in Dallas: I went to 1st Church at 8:30am; downtown loaded with police directing traffic to the Baptist & Methodist churches!  At 10:30am, I went to a neighborhood church for the 1st half (thru sermon) and then dashed off to another church that started at 11am where I arrived in time for the sermon!!  Afternoon, I drove all around S. Oak Cliff where I had spent the summer of 1963 in my youth.

 Day 9 – Monday (2/3) – How 'bout them Seahawks!  Watched the game while doing laundry and packing to move to another hotel closer to Southern Methodist/Perkins Seminary.  The Conference began with worship at 1pm with about 75 clergy.  The day included 2 great lectures on Joshua & Jeremiah and ended with an elegant banquet to honor a Perkins woman graduate who just retired from the head of the Board of Discipleship.

 Day 10 – Tuesday (2/4) - Egad! Up early for a day chock full of lectures. One speaker just barely made it in from NYC because of your twin snow storms (3rd since I drove away in snow!).  Also, in the afternoon, I attended a 20 person seminar on "How the Bible Reads You!"  After Dinner, there was a presentation on Evangelism by a MOST unusual Baptist preacher who is surprisingly engaged in interfaith work here and in the Middle East.

 Day 11 – Wednesday (2/5) - Double Egad!  The lectures started even earlier (they have to squeeze things in before 1pm so pastors can travel home). Last presentation was a Panel Discussion on "The Authority of Scripture in my Ministry" with 2 lecturers and a pastor of a large Dallas church.  Back to the hotel to check email before leaving Dallas.  I headed for a high-rise downtown gym located on the 15th floor with a great view from the 13 levels of parking as I drove up!  Managed to finished the gym just in time for the 5pm rush as I joined the hordes traveling west on I20, through Fort Worth and beyond.  Wednesday, February 5th was an end to the first major phase of the Leave:  2 seminaries and the emphasis on study or the mind connection.  Lots of Spirit Time too but not much rest.

 Day 12 – Thursday (2/6) - Proved to be one of the longest driving days so far.  There had been snow during the night so I started late, the better to let the big trucks clear the road.  The desert was apparent in endless flat vista across scrub.  Thank goodness for frequent rest-stops!  At Big Spring, Texas I turned north and began to see the first of the oil rigs that signaled I was approaching Midland/Odessa, Texas.  The entire area is booming and hotel prices are at least double (sometimes triple).  At one point, I was surrounded as far as the eye could see with those small bobbing drills (pumps) that looked like woodpeckers or roosters.  On the far horizon, there were flames out of scattered high pipes burning off the fuel.  Entered into the state of New Mexico before sunset; the day was longer because I also crossed into Mountain Time.  More oil drilling as I approached Artesia, a town half-way between Roswell of UFO fame and Carlsbad, the town north of the Caverns.  354 miles: enough for 1 day!

 Day 13 – Friday (2/27) - Headed out early for 1.5 hr. drive to the Carlsbad Caverns.  Scenery was flat and brown with only a few of those bobbing oil pumps.  Went thru some high hills & passed Lake Brantley, a major recreation area and reservoir.  Took the 10am tour of Caves-Incredible (sent postcard to the church).  Had to re-trace the road north as far as Roswell (of UFO fame), then turned west through the mountains.  The road goes between the Sacramento mountains and Capitan mountains.  Hardly the Rockies but high and beautiful.  I was on rolling roads that dropped me down into the Rio Grande Valley on the far side.  Driving right into a glorious sunset, I hit I25 in the dark.  Stayed the night in Socorro, still New Mexico; it is a fascinating state.  After another 300+mile day, I was glad that Albuquerque was a short drive, maybe 80 miles.

 Day 14 – Saturday (2/8) - A lovely blue sky Saturday; arrived at hotel in the afternoon which left time to drive another 50 miles to Santa Fe.  It is the most different town I have ever seen.  All the buildings blend into the terrain, earth-colored stucco; low-zoning & nothing tall.  Lots of artwork scattered around town.  Actually the whole state is the most different and interesting of any I have ever visited.  Found the Zia UMC which I now realized would be too far to come again on Sunday.  The scenery on the way back to Albuquerque was so mesmerizing that I could barely keep my eyes on the road... Amazing sunset and I was back before dark.


WEEK 3: 

 Day 15 – Sunday (2/9) - Two weeks today since I left Merrick.  Had found 5 UMC's in Albuquerque & was able to attend the 8:30am service at 1st Church and also 2 services at Central UMC.  The 9:45am was non-traditional; the 11am was billed as traditional, but they had a sign language interpreter!  Left town after driving for a while on Historic Route 66.  Again, it was a lot of miles to my destination, 368.  The highway (back on I40) was loaded with those fast moving trucks.  The landscape was jaw-dropping to my north as I tried to view the buttes, plateaus & even mountains with their many layers of sediment.  Thought I was already in a sort of mini-Grand Canyon.  Elevation high; you could touch the sky. I crossed the Continental Divide on drive from Albuquerque to Arizona.  Now, all the water flows westward toward the Pacific. Drove well past dark to arrive at Williams, Arizona, the town built on Grand Canyon tourism.     

 DAY 16 – Monday (2/10) – Today, I met the Grand Canyon Tour operator in lobby.  We drove north thru private land (Babbit family) & the Kaibab National Forest, entering the Park without the usual long lines.  Our Guides took us to numerous vistas while keeping up a running patter of history and geology.  They shared a wealth of fascinating information on the day-long trip.  For those who have seen it, you know!  For those who have not, it is wordless beauty.  Good weather, blue sky, clear air & incredible sights.  The ride back took us far into the Hopi Indian Reservation & into the city of Flagstaff.  Quite a tour of the region!

  Day 17-20 – Tuesday-Thursday (2/11-13) - The drive from Williams (2/11) was fun!  I got off I40 to travel 75 miles on Historic Route 66.  Great road with no trucks or traffic!  The rock formations in the Music Mountains were jaw-dropping (again!) but different from what I'd seen already.  The desert is SO different and beautiful.  The last 90 miles (from Kingman, AZ to Henderson, NV) were even more impressive.  The road climbed and dipped & with every curve came another awesome ridge of mountains.  Once I arrived at my friends’ home, I spent the next 3 days letting them drive me around.  We toured Lake Mead (largest reservoir in the US) and Hoover Dam.  We saw a famous Las Vegas Street & drove "the Strip" where I got to see the Bellagio Fountains Water Show.  Stopped to meet the pastor of the Green Valley UMC where my friends go and met up with one other "old" friend before packing up to head for Southern California.  Week 3 ended in a public library, using email before starting off  on an all-day drive (2/15).  Headed for LA & San Diego.  P.S.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

 Saturday, 2/15... Week 3 ended back on-the-road.  Left the vast residential sprawl that is Las Vegas/Henderson behind as I drove due south (toward California) & crossed I40.  Went thru yet again astounding desert mountains as I followed Historic Route 66 into the Mojave Desert where the only gas station for 60 miles charged $5/gal; turns out the typical price in Southern California is around $4.  In the Mojave, just me & lots of LONG freight trains.

  The desert road emptied onto I20 near Palm Springs and a Wind Mill Farm:  hundreds of sleek tall modern wind mills like so many rows of corn, spread over miles of desert.  Drove into the dark, ending the day in Escondido, CA.  Not only were there REAL trees, but many palm trees and 2 loaded orange trees/bushes in the motel courtyard.


 Sunday, 2/16: Dashed off to the 1st UMC for the 8am Communion Service and stayed thru half of the main 9am service (the sermon is always the same).  After a late breakfast on the truck tailgate in Kit Carson Park, I headed for San Diego, 28 miles away.  Walked around (didn't go to) the San Diego Zoo at Balboa Park and then went on a drive thru downtown.  Then, took I5 north to Oceanside where I took a dip in the Pacific Ocean (there were surfers).  Wow:  The NE corner to the SW corner of the US:  I made it!

Southern California's terrain is diverse.  I left the surf & sand, drove around Camp Pendleton at sunset & up over another 2800 ft. elevation thru a state park (winding narrow roads & cliffs!) down into the Moreno Valley near Riverside, CA where I stayed the night.

Monday, 2/17: a national holiday, my luck; the morning rush on LA freeways went easily as I drove 50 miles to the campus of Claremont School of Theology.  It is small & different from traditional seminaries.  They are collaborators & founders of an inter-religious consortium of seminaries.  Attended a preaching lab & class for 3 hrs.  The 2 professors divided the class in half; I sat with 8 students for both a sermon and critique and an interactive lecture.  Stayed in Pomona, CA.  On Tuesday, I head north toward Seattle.

 Tuesday, Feb. 18: A most dramatic long day, long on miles, encompassing almost every kind of terrain.  Left Pomona late rush hour and lucked out, but got a taste of LA traffic.  Made it to I5 in an hour where I climbed up & down over spasms of desert mountains & canyons on that hilly highway.  Ears kept popping until I dropped down into the San Joaquin Valley heading due north on US99.  I passed hundreds of fields of unidentified crops fresh-planted or blooming trees; acres of nut trees: almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts.  Also passionate billboards about the water wars in this dry and drought-stricken land.

In this one day, I drove from hi-density urban areas to vast empty spaces of wilderness populated only with hundreds of trucks to fertile farmland and finally into gently rolling lowland forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains with evergreen trees.  At Fresno, I left US99 to follow the road to Yosemite with the trees growing taller, fuller and more numerous as I drove toward Mariposa, CA.

 Wednesday, Feb. 19: Entered Yosemite National Park going first to the Giant Sequoia Grove before going the 35 miles to the famous big rocks that mark the entrance to Yosemite Village (El Capitan).  Bridal Falls is severely affected by the drought, but running.  Had an expensive bowl of chili in a fancy famous lodge before driving through miles of gorgeous forest to exit the north road on the way to Sacramento.  There were miles and miles of hairpin turns, but fabulous vistas all the way down into the Valley again and into the dark.  One could spend many days in this wonderful place.

Feb. 20-23:  The last 3 days of the drive from east to west were all interstate highway and long days.  I had stayed overnight near Sacramento (after the day in Yosemite) with my long-time friend from seminary in Texas.  Kay and I caught up over a long breakfast before I drove thru the last of California's dry and mostly bare terrain.  The orchards were filled with beehives and in the distance, the ridges and silhouettes of brown mountains framed my drive.

Northern California was a welcome change: REAL snow-capped mountains & REAL GREEN trees in the mountains near Mt. Shasta were sights for sore eyes.  Up & over the Kalamath and Siskiyou Mountains before dropping down into Ashland & Medford, Oregon.  What a sight: acres of green EVERgreens.  Truly the most beautiful part of the 5,600 mile trip was between Grant's Pass & Cottage Grove, Oregon.  In between, the trees were gentle slopes walled with sheep grazing on fresh new grass. Hints of color shimmered as flowering trees began to bloom.

Got to Washington State on Friday night; stayed in the town where I attended K-3rd grade: Ft. Vancouver, the oldest town in the state from the days of the Hudson's Bay Company.  In the morning, I thought I was in New York: there was frost on the truck and it was cold! Drove 150 miles to my sister Gay's house in the capital, Olympia, and after a visit, drove another 50 miles to my son's house for the last night "on-the-road." Unpacked the truck and got ready for my last 20 mile drive into the city of Seattle where I would finally be "home" with my parents...and, oh yeah, take the truck to Toyota for a well-deserved rest and service visit. 

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