Pleasant Surprise — 2X

Today I had two really good experiences in retail stores. One was not really a surprise on my part, but on the part of the salesperson. The second one was a pleasant surprise for me.

I have finally worn out my Tilley Hat. That is not something that is supposed to happen, but since I live in the jungles of Mexico and have worn my hat about 6 days a week for 2.5 years, it has gotten worn out. I sweat a bit more than the average person and therefore do a lot more damage to my hat than most people would.

There have been plans in the works to get my hat replaced when we moved back to the US. I only needed to send $7.50 along with my hat back to Tilley in Canada and they would send me a new hat. I went to the Tilley website to get the details and found out that I could take my hat to a local retail store and exchange it. Even more exciting was to find out that there is a place which sells Tilleys here in Pensacola.

The local dealer is Weatherford’s. I have lived in Pensacola off and on for 20 years and have never heard about this wonderful store. It is full of outdoor/camping/hiking/climbing equipment. They even have a very nice climbing wall. And, best of all, they sell Tilleys.

When I told the lady that I wanted to exchange my hat she responded with: “Oh, those don’t wear out.” It only took one quick glance on her part to see that it really was worn out. I have sweated the seams apart. I told her that the Tilley site says I could just do a straight trade. She had the same model, but not the same color of hat. While I was showing my wife the new hat color the saleslady called Tilley to make sure she was doing the exchange right. She had never done this before because “Tilleys don’t wear out.” She assured the Tilley rep that the hat was definitely worn out and the rep apparently told her to just replace it, no questions asked. The lady just kept saying, “That’s great” and, “That’s cool.” She seemed to be pleasantly surprised that it was that easy.

Unfortunately, they did not have my size in stock. But she had placed an order a couple of weeks ago with my size. She said I should be able to pick it up next week.

My second experience was at the bike shop today. We found our son a nice bike at the Waterfront Rescue Mission Bargain Center yesterday. But the bike did not have a rear reflector. I had gone to Target and Wal-Mart to find a reflector for it today. Neither store had a basic reflector. Both sold $8+ lights, but no $2 reflector.

I went to the bike shop to purchase one this afternoon. I told the guy what I needed and that it was for my son’s bike. He handed me the reflector and said there would be no charge. “If it is going to help keep a child safe, then I will just give it to you.”

I know that reflector probably cost him less than a dollar. It was not a huge gesture on his part to give it to me. But the attitude that says “I am willing to give away a cheap reflector to help a guy protect his kid and in return have him buy something from our store and say something nice about us to other people” is the type of attitude I want to promote. That mentality is desperately missing in so many stores and service centers.

What an encouraging day.

For many of you, these may be normal experiences with retail. But I have not seen that for 4 years.

August Goals Report

I ran 76.6 miles in August. I only ran 12 days this month. This is caused by my training plan only having me run 3 days a week. That means I did not run 19 days during the month. I did not run at all during the last 6 days of the month. We were moving and fighting a hurricane. That slowed down my running for the week. I am about 40 miles behind for the year.

I did some really good long bike rides. 100 miles for the month.

I am not sure what happened this month, but it is a testament to why I need a goal to keep me on track. I only read 263 pages (goal is 800 pages). I read mostly from the book One Candle to Burn by Kay Washer. I wanted to do a full write up on this book, but will just sum it up here.

The book was about a missionary family in Africa. They were in Niger and Togo. I know one of their sons and therefore was very interested in reading the book.

I love biographies. I often do not like autobiographies because they tend to ramble with too many needless details. This book did a great job of staying on track and giving a good outline of the story without too much rabbit chasing. That was true for most of the book. But the last 3 to 5 chapters were everything I dislike about autobiographies. In general it was a good book, but the last few chapters could have really been shortened and tightened up.

I read from a few other works, but that was the only one I finished.

Week 10

This report is late, but it will be short and to the point.

Week 9

Supposed to be a 2 mile easy run. I did 3.1 easy.

7 miles with 5 miles of tempo. I did not run at all.

18 mile long run. That was run, finally, on Tuesday of the next week (today). It was a 14.4 mile run in the rain following hurricane Gustav. Winds were constant at 15 MPH with higher gusts. Rain was off and on. I started cramping pretty badly in my right leg. I decided it was better to call off the run and live to run another day than to sacrifice my training just to get this in.

After I walked around a bit waiting for my ride to pick me up I started feeling better. I probably could have finished the run if I had given myself more time. I am disappointed now that I cut the run short. The post hurricane weather did not help any.


Week 10
: 2 miles easy.

Wednesday: 8 miles of 4X1600 meter intervals at 8:17 pace. Yikes! That is fast. With 800 meter recovery jogs.

Saturday: 20 miles at 10:19 pace.

We are “home”

After a week of traveling, we arrived in Pensacola Sunday morning about 4:00.

We did our final packing and and were ready to hit the road about 11:00 am. We planned to have breakfast with some friends. Because their phone was not working, we never did get caught up with them. So we had breakfast by ourselves then swung by their house to say our final good-byes.

As a travel day, we did well on Tuesday. We did not make it as far down the road as we had anticipated, but we also left a few hours later than we wanted. After 10 trips through the city, we finally found the hotel district of Villahermosa. We have stayed in various expensive hotels on the periphery of the city, but this time located the cheap hotels near down town. Getting our truck and trailer into the parking lot was a bit of a challenge, but we were thankful for a gated parking area.

Because of our late departure on Tuesday, we were about 2 hours behind schedule on Wednesday. We made that up by getting on the road early. We arrived in Poza Rica, or planned destination for the day, and found a hotel with a nice parking lot. We drove around looking at hotel parking lots and then decided if we wanted to check on the price of the hotel. The one we stayed at had a very large lot where we were able to park our truck way back in a corner and not have to worry about losing anything.

This was a sad day for us as the hamster that was traveling with us was not able to make the trip. We had read that they can easily be stressed. Apparently the stress of traveling got the better of him. He was the younger, stronger, healthier of our two hamsters. We left the old one with friends and took the young one on the road. He did not get a proper burial, but we did the best we could at the gas station.

We made the final leg of the Mexico portion of the trip just fine. We had no problems on the Mexican side of the border; we just had to fill out some paperwork to cancel our immigration and vehicle paperwork. The US side of the border was a different story. We waited in a long line to get to the Customs officer. She had us pull over and unpack the truck and uncover the trailer. Everything passed inspection, even the rabbit.

There were friends waiting at a restaurant for us that evening. We were glad to spend time with them. They were 2 missionary families working with the Deaf in Mexico. One family lives at the border and the other happened to be passing through at the same time as we were, so we enjoyed the evening together.

We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by crossing into the US.

We drove from the border to Killeen, Texas to visit with an old friend. She is someone with whom we had worked for several years, but it has been 6 or 7 years since we saw her. She had a pleasant surprise for us when we arrived. A mutual friend was passing through at the same time and she invited him to spend the night with all of us. We all previously worked together and enjoyed sharing stories of days gone by as well as catching up on our current ministries. All of us are still doing the same type of ministry we were when we worked together, just in different locations now.

We lingered at our friend’s house too long, but enjoyed every minute of it. We anticipated being in Pensacola between 10 pm and midnight. By the time we got through Houston, we knew that it would be closer to 1:00 am on Sunday, but not much of a problem.

Starting in Houston, we noticed the long line of cars headed west. This very packed traffic continued steadily from Houston to New Orleans. However, we, headed east, did not have any traffic to deal with. At least till we hit just north of New Orleans. At that point there was no one headed west any more, they were all headed east. Traffic then crawled from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama. The normal 3 hour drive from New Orleans to Pensacola took us 6 hours. We were part of the 1,000,000 people who evacuated the state of Lousiana on Saturday in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav.

By getting to Mom and Dad’s house at 4:00 in the morning, we did not quite make it out of bed in time for church that morning. We also took a long nap in the afternoon and were even a bit late to church that night.

We have landed. Now it is time to find a house to rent and get settled in over the next two weeks while getting prepared for our travel year starting the middle of September.