Tag Archives: Hyundai Elantra

Enjoying The Journey

Aah…there’s nothing like coming home after a two week vacation. Vacations are wonderful, especially while visiting family when returning to one’s original stomping grounds, but there’s something to be said for a comfortable routine at home as well. My lovely wife and I had just gotten back to Arizona, from our trip to Iowa, when I found myself saying aloud in a somewhat sarcastic manner, “Just enjoying the journey.” Well, first I said, “What the?” Our car which had been sitting in the parking lot of Sky Harbor International Airport, while the missus and I were off gallivanting, was dead as a doornail. We were stranded for only a short time because we quickly learned the airport offers free (minus a tip) jump-starts, but it was enough time for me to remember I had said the same thing only a few days earlier. However, at the time when I said, “just enjoying the journey” while back in Iowa, I genuinely meant it.

I have always wanted to try my hand at kayaking and was pleased to find out my big sis had arranged, for those family members willing to endure one of my “bucket list” items, a two-hour kayaking excursion at Rock Creek State Park. It was a beautiful day to be at one with the lake. And I was literally at one with the lake. As I was backing my kayak away from the harbor, I was violently thrown out of the watercraft. Oh yea, and I don’t know how to swim. No worries though. My kayak was not one of those confining cockpit types (I made sure before getting in), I was donning a lifejacket (I’m no dummy…and wearing one was mandatory), and the water was only chest deep at this point. I was the only one in our group to taste the unfiltered water of Rock Creek.

Knee deep in sludge, and drenched with not so crystal clear lake water, I trudged the few yards back to the shore. The park’s employees swiftly met me there with looks of great concern on their faces although assuredly they were laughing hysterically on the inside. Come to find out, I had been given faulty equipment – my theory, but certainly backed up by common sense. A vast amount of water had been left within the watercraft’s shell which made the weight distribution of the kayak extremely unbalanced when I initially attempted to go forward. About ten minutes later, after the staff drained the intrusive liquid from the kayak, I began the launching process all over again. This time everything went smoothly, and I believe during the next two hours I proved to everyone that I could probably be a kayak Olympian. My wife felt so bad for what had happened, even possibly shedding a few tears, but I truly wouldn’t have changed a thing that day. It was an experience not everyone will have, and for me an integral part of enjoying the journey.

Driving home from Sky Harbor I was hoping our car’s battery would recharge itself during the lengthy jaunt. No such luck, so I scheduled an appointment for the ailing Hyundai Elantra at our local Brakes Plus. The following day, after taking the missus to work, I tried jump-starting the car for no less than 35 minutes, but to no avail. I was now angry, sweating profusely, and swearing up a storm. I felt totally defeated and shared with God how ridiculous I thought the whole situation was. I questioned how this could possibly be any part of His plan, and I pleaded with my Savior to help me out. I then apologized for my unsavory tongue and cautioned God I was only going to turn the key one more time before giving up. (He knew I was fibbing a bit.) After the second try, I finally heard the sweet sound of a purring engine. I thanked God! I then phoned Brakes Plus to inform them of my obvious tardiness – my appointment was scheduled for 9:00 am, and it was already 9:10 am.

I was relieved when I was told by the representative to bring the car in anyway. But wait. As I was backing out of the driveway, I became utterly dumbfounded when realizing the Hyundai’s power steering was barely functional. And there were at least four warning symbols now illuminating from the dashboard. I’ve never seen that before. God surely does have a sense of humor. There was no turning back. I silently prayed, and held my breath, as I drove approximately 3 miles to the auto repair shop. (Spoiler alert: The car’s alternator was bad and needed replaced, as well as the battery.)

My original plan had been to relax at a nearby Starbucks while the Elantra was being serviced, but now I was saturated with sweat and just wanted to get home. The gal behind the counter offered me a ride, but I declined. I already had it in my head that I’d be walking home, and I also don’t like to be a burden to anyone. It’s hereditary I suppose. My one grandpa could be quite stubborn at times, and my other grandpa did not like to ask anyone for help. I’m a descendant of both, so I’m screwed. I slung my backpack, almost filled to capacity, over my shoulder and headed out the door. I planned on entertaining myself at the coffee shop with the contents inside my backpack: my Bible, crossword puzzle books, an AARP magazine, my Fantasy Football notes, and most vital – my reading glasses, but now they’d all be accompanying me on this surprising long haul.

I had only taken a few strides when I spotted the large metal cross on the grounds of the Circle of Peace Church. Even though I’ve never been inside that church, one can’t help but notice the iconic symbol when driving by. I’ve seen that rusted cross hundreds of times before, from the well traveled thoroughfare, but this time was very different. I was close to it. I was drawn to it. I was prompted to take a pause. I sat down on one of the six wooden benches at the foot of the cross, and I prayed. I thanked my Heavenly Father for being there with me when I was feeling alone, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I offered Him my gratitude for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me including my family and the finances to be able to afford whatever would be determined to be wrong with our car.

I told God I knew this inconvenience was a Lower Story event, and I wasn’t sure what I could learn from it, but whatever the reason I hoped ultimately it would bring glory to Him. I have always sort of wondered why the Circle of Peace Church stationed benches near their outdoor cross. This is the desert, and the area’s not shaded after all. I had never seen anybody take advantage of their set up the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I’ve even questioned at times whether or not the outdoor arrangement made any sense at all. Now I have my answer. I left that old rusty cross with a new attitude.

I was about halfway home when I became painfully aware that I wasn’t wearing the most comfortable footwear for a trek through the desert. But, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ….” With several more blocks to go, I could no longer tolerate my uncomfortable shoes. I immediately noticed I was, of course, wearing a virgin pair of socks. I’d much rather have dirty socks than blackened feet, so I finished the three-mile hike sock footed. I even showed a bit of moxie, by walking an extra half a block to retrieve the day’s mail, before finally reaching my destination.

I had persevered. I celebrated with a rinse in the swimming pool and a much needed drink. (Fruit Punch Gatorade never tasted so good!) My unexpected hike had given me a new perspective, a renewed appreciation – and a couple of mega blisters on the heels of my feet. Sadly, the very next day I broke my favorite coffee mug, and the garbage disposal stopped working. But the unforeseen circumstances and little inconveniences in life are what make the good times seem even that much sweeter. Things don’t always go my way, but at least I’m enjoying the journey.

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A Flat Tire, Religion, And The Worst Idea Ever

The other day my lovely wife got a flat tire while running some errands without me. Thankfully, she was able to safely pull into a nearby service station before any harm was done to her Elantra’s back rim. The missus then called to apprise me of the situation, including telling me there was no spare tire (aka donut) in the Hyundai’s trunk, before purchasing a new tire and having it mounted. The station’s attendant nonchalantly informed my wife that only about 50% of today’s newer vehicles are equipped with some type of tire replacement. A donut is now actually considered to be more of an optional item instead of a standard feature. I found that news to be entirely suspect, so I launched a full-blown investigation into the matter.

Well, maybe full-blown is a bit of an exaggeration: I looked it up on-line, and I read the Elantra’s manual after the missus got home. To my surprise, the newly discovered information was absolutely correct. Supposedly, one of the main reasons why there are no spare tires, in approximately half of the newer models, is because the majority of stranded motorists would much rather whip out a cell phone, to enlist the aid of a tow truck driver, than attempt to change a flat tire. In addition, I was told current government regulations, concerning fuel efficiency, was a major factor as well. Nowadays, parking sensors, rear-mounted cameras, touchscreens, Bluetooth, and even wi-fi comes standard on most vehicles, but I guess having a spare tire included in the purchase price is just asking too much.

I certainly don’t think issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple is asking too much of Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, though. The Rowan County employee recently had her 5 minutes of national fame after refusing a gay couple their newly acquired rights. Mrs. Davis tried to appear non-discriminatory, by refusing to give out marriage licenses to heterosexual couples as well, but to no avail. Her fa├žade eventually became quite transparent, so she was forced to finally admit she was unwilling to perform a portion of her duties based on her religious beliefs. The government official’s refusal to do part of her job earned her several days behind bars on a contempt of court charge. I understand Davis’ duties changed a bit when the United States legalized gay marriage nationwide, but whose job description hasn’t varied at times throughout their employment?

Some people consider Kim Davis to be a martyr for Christ, but I think she handled the entire situation poorly. I can see only two respectable positions to take in this particular matter. The elected official should either perform all of her duties, as a county clerk, or resign. The Apostle Peter says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” We are also told to “Honor everyone” and to “be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1st Peter 2: 13-19) My unsolicited advice for Mrs. Davis is as follows: by all means, pray for those your conscience tells you may be on a destructive path, but do not make a spectacle of yourself in the process.

I’m sure those words of wisdom will go unnoticed especially since Pope Francis “secretly” met with Mrs. Davis, at his request, while touring the United States this past week. The Pope supposedly offered Davis his support and encouraged her to continue the fight. I’m not Catholic, although neither is Mrs. Davis, but I must say I’m more than a little disappointed in the Bishop of Rome, in this instance, since the last thing Davis needs is any additional encouragement to do what I think is wrong. The Pope bears no significance in my life, so I really shouldn’t care what he thinks one way or the other. I’m not aspiring to sound harsh, but in my chosen realm of Christianity the Pope simply has no relevance. I have a personal relationship with Christ; therefore, I don’t require anyone intervening on my behalf, or relaying messages to God, because I go straight to the source.

I have no use for religious figures, whether associated with the Vatican or not (the “middleman” if you will), to hear my confessions or to absolve me of my transgressions. Regardless, I still respect the leader of the Catholic Church, and I admire his commitment to God. Pope Francis appears to be a humble man who exudes an abundance of gentleness at all times. He effortlessly spreads a message of all-inclusiveness, compassion, and love, seemingly more so than anybody preceding him, wherever he goes. I think the Bishop of Rome triumphantly advocated for universal responsibility and unity, during his recent visit, without offending either the Democratic or Republican Party. I appreciate that because I don’t think religion should ever be used to promote a political agenda and vice versa.

To the contrary, Kanye West has no qualms about self-promotion, and he tends to have an agenda at all times. The popular rapper recently announced his intent to win the U.S. Presidency in 2018. Of course, the next two presidential elections are to be held in 2016 and 2020, so I think his current confusion already suggests there’ll be some problems with his future campaign. Nevertheless, I’m sure he won’t get discouraged since he has such a high opinion of himself. Anyone who would title an album Yeezus, with “I Am a God” listed as one of his tracks, surely doesn’t possess much humility. The rapper’s ego is so elevated that even Donald Trump seems meek in comparison.

The thought of Kanye West as President only gets worse when adding his wife, Kim Kardashian, into the mix. The enormous following the power couple maintains is quite frightening. Their impact on today’s society is reminiscent of the influence former talk-show queen, Oprah Winfrey, had during her reign on television for well over two decades. The possibility of President West and First Lady Kardashian occupying the White House in the near future is not so far fetched. I’m not too confident the American public, especially the younger generations (sorry!), would denounce a feasible West candidacy.

Kanye and the missus assuredly have the finances to support a sustained campaign; the happily married couple enjoys a combined net worth of approximately $215 million. Enlisting the help of Kim’s mother, Kris Jenner, would be a wise decision and extremely beneficial for Mr. West. Kris Jenner, the mastermind behind the Kardashian empire, is a marketing genius, and she has a knack for successfully promoting any agenda regardless of how absurd or immoral it may be. She is unapologetic for exploiting her daughters’ “mistakes” (and their bodies) in exchange for growing the Kardashian fortune estimated to be around $300 million. Popularity, hoards of money, and a shrewd campaign manager have the makings of an effective campaign.

In the past, I’ve heard a few impassioned American citizens threaten to actually leave the United States if certain candidates were ever elected into office, but I assumed they weren’t being serious. However, if there does come a day when Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are residing at the White House then I’d have to seriously consider abandoning this country. I cannot imagine living anywhere where its citizens would elect an egotistical rapper as their nation’s leader. That’s the worst idea ever! Suddenly, getting a flat tire and not having a spare doesn’t sound so bad.