Another Day Trip in Arkansas

(Blogger’s Note: If you enjoy this post, please come back tomorrow, and I’ll show you (in pictures) why the cost of your cheeseburger is about to double, and that’s no joke.)

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Sophie stopping for a pose in Oil Trough, Arkansas. If you’re not familiar with Arkansas, this little town is in the middle of what we call Tornado Alley, and it’s been wiped out several times.

arkansas

Dana cooling down after the float trip.

dana watkins

Lunch at Mikey’s Deli in Mountain View. Note the dead animal in the background.

stevenwwatkins

Self-portrait before launching on our White River float trip.

White River Float

…and we’re off for a 2-hour float.

arkansas white river

Hummingbirds in action feeding at the home of my friends Cindy and Danny Smith.

hummingbird feeder

An Arkansas cliche’. You must have your photo made in the Big Rockin’ Chair.

Mountain View Arkansas

An old Church of Christ building (still active) on the road home.

church of christ

If you go to this church, this is where you go to the bathroom, and that’s no joke. We kidded that it was full of holy crap … (no disrespect intended.)

outhouse

An old barber shop (one seater) near Batesville, AR.

barber shop

A bit of local Olympic history… this is the home and training grounds for Earl Bell, 1984 bronze medalist in the pole vault. Bell lives in this facility near my home and trains world-class athletes here every day.

earl bell pole vaulter

Three of My Favorites from the Ecuadorian Adventure

Was watching a sunset to the west, then turned around to see this beautiful sight over Los Suenos del Mar toward the eastern mountains.

A mile high looking down on the crater of an imploded volcano 1,400 years ago … now some of the most fertile farmland you can imagine. The clouds are actually below where we’re standing.

On the beach in Puerto Cayo, I love the ray of light coming down from the left in this photo.

Our Relational DNA: It Spans the Globe

This sweet lady sold me a pancho at The Middle of the World equator monument in Quito. She reminded me of my grandmother. The pancho is a rather GQ look if you ask me!

Dana and I had a number of reasons for undertaking a 10-day adventure in Ecuador, but chief among them was to immerse ourselves in the culture.

We knew there would be a number of challenges. We have an elementary grasp of the language, knew we would be traveling in unknown territory and had established only a few on-line relationships with a few American expatriates prior to our journey into Guayaquil and our ultimate destination to Puerto Cayo.

This Ecuadorian group of family and friends was on holiday at Los Suenos del Mar, and as they were posing for a group photo I ran to them to get a photo of my own. They were thrilled that I would want a photo for myself, and we spent the rest of the day, posing for more group photos together and sharing stories about our families.

For certain, there were many challenges, and we embraced them. Some have asked about our takeaway from the trip, and for one, I can say to no small degree that my faith in humanity has been restored.

This group of local tourists had been partying all night. As I walked to breakfast, bleary eyed at 7:45 on a Sunday morning, I was yet to have my first cup of coffee when they insisted that I share in a drink of the local spirits. I couldn’t say no! Viva la Ecuador!

People are good. I believe that again. And our last day in Puerto Cayo confirmed that belief.

This is my new friend, Manuel, and his two young sons. We are tough hombres!

Whoever we are, and wherever we live across the expanse of this globe, we have an innate desire to be relational … and it only takes a single kind gesture to make a lifetime of memories.

The woman at center is an Ecuadorian school teacher. She insisted that her daughter practice her English with my wife, Dana.

Dear Daddy…

 

I was thinking of you at this moment.

For just a fleeting second I was thinking how much you would enjoy this view…then I remembered you see something greater every day.

I wish I could look into your eyes again.

I wish we could embrace and I  could feel your chest against mine. I wish my hands could feel the strength in the broadness of your back.

I wish you could give me some good advice while we sat in the backyard watching the martins.

I just wish I could reach out and touch you again.

I’m doing my best to carry out the things you said. I really hope you are proud.

I wished you were here for this moment … and then I realized you were, but I still miss you so.

I know you are enjoying the everlasting Light in which you now bask. You will show me around won’t you?

See you soon. I love you so.

Steve.

Visual Focus (Part 2)

 

Some 65 percent of the world’s population are visual learners.

I’m certainly among them, except I consider myself to be more visually INSPIRED.

If you’re motivated to cast a vision, strategically plan and execute certain things, your environment is critical.

My approach to visual inspiration takes on several aspects:

  • Depending on what’s going on any given day, I dress a particular way. It’s semi-stereotypical, but it works for me.
  • Everything you see on the walls in my house is locally produced art created by some fine artists. Each piece speaks to me in a certain voice.
  • My home office is even more specific. The four-walled room is painted in three distinct colors and I have a collection of framed art from the most significant sports events during my lifetime. There’s Mohammed Ali standing over Sonny Liston after a knockout in the first minute of the first round in their 1965 classic bout. Ali seems to be saying “just try getting up. Liston.” There’s the 1984 Miracle on Ice when the Americans beat the Russian Hockey team in perhaps the greatest sports moment of all time. I have photos of Jack Nicklaus, Larry Bird, Andre Agassi and others. Outside of sports I have huge inspirational posters of Nelson Mandela, the movie Gladiator and Braveheart. On my desk is a small globe helping me remember that it’s a small world where I can have a huge impact. And directly in front of my chair is my continually updated list of 7 focused priorities. I need to see them daily to avoid my tendency for distractions.
  • In my back yard there are a few pieces of small farm memorabilia to honor my dad and help me remember my roots.

If you’re in a sterile environment – GET OUT. We all learn and get inspiration in different ways. I suggest taking time to reflect on what inspires you to be at your very best and get busy gettin’ busy.