Route 66 Vacation: Final Analysis


The BBQ Family’s “Tour of the Southwest” has come and gone.  What a needed time it was!  A godly man in my church recently told me he wanted to pray for me more effectively and asked me to write down some specific requests.  One of the things I put on paper was for balance in my life and ministry.  In the past few years, I have taken some steps to get this part of my life right.  I think I’ve gotten a bit more balanced, but I know I have more things to figure out.  Balancing family and ministry has really gotten complicated.  As the special needs of our family become more apparent, finding a way to give “better than my best” to the ministry, and still give even better than that to my family has become more challenging.  After a week that involved over 2,500 miles of driving, I’ve come to realize how important a major vacation is to finding that balance and compensating my family (that may sound like an odd word to use, but it really does work–more on this in a future “Youth Ministry” post).  Yes, my family needs me, but I must be careful to remember that I desperately need them as well (forgetting that fact is, simply, pride).  Vacations of the last few years have been local day trips or the occasional jaunt to San Diego or Ventura.  They have been so much fun, but there really is something special about truly “getting away”.

Faithful readers of BarBeQuethMinistry know that we started with a great trip to the Grand Canyon.  If you haven’t visited the most popular “Natural Wonder of the World” in the winter, please know that this is quite the experience.  Read more about it here.  We all had warm jackets but I wished I had something to keep my ears warm.

Our next stop was Albuquerque, NM.  We could’ve driven all the way to our final destination, Lubbock, in about nine hours, but didn’t feel that an early morning and rushed travel would be conducive to true worship.  This was a Wednesday and we don’t vacation from our obligation to God’s house.  We got to New Mexico’s largest city in plenty of time to check in to the Radisson, relax for a bit, get dressed in our Fundamentalist best and attend mid-week service at the wonderful Bella Vista Baptist Church.

**A Vacation Tip from the BBQthDirector** USE PRICELINE.COM!  We’ve been using this great site for many years to get great rates on really nice hotels.  We’re not rich, but the BBQthDirector has some back issues and needs to have a comfortable place to rest.  Motel 6 or Bubba’s Inn just don’t cut it.  You name your own price and I told them I wanted to pay $50 for a three-star hotel in the Mid-Town district.  That’s how we got into the Radisson.  With just a bit of research, I found out our room generally goes for $129.  Not bad, huh?  This really is typical of the deals we get, even in a vacation hot spot like San Diego in the summer.  Last August, we got a Jr. Suite on Shelter Island for $75 that was normally published at $299!  Suh-weet!

Lubbock was… flat.  We were there for a wedding, and that was all well and good, but Lubbock is no vacation spot.  It really bothered me to not see any mountains.  Or even mole hills for that matter.  Something–anything–to break up the monotony of all the flatness.  The plains are just… plain!  We found the locals to be very friendly.  Very quick to smile and say “ya’ll”, which we found to be really charming.  We had a chance to hit up a couple BBQ joints (one review down, one more to go), the BBQthDirector’s Wife hit up a couple thrift stores, and the kids got to experience Cici’s Pizza!  This very affordable Pizza Buffet has got to find its way to the West Coast.  Soon!

It was good to visit with two men who were in my youth group.  Philip Burrow and Clint Minnick are two guys who saw my wrath back in the day.  They did some really dumb things, but I did too.  Unfortunately, they saw most of the mistakes I made as a 23/24 year old youth director who was trying to figure things out.  Of course, they had to remind me of those wonderful times.  Those two have turned out to be great guys who are serving the Lord.  Philip, as a faithful laymen, has found his niche and joy in children’s ministries, (namely AWANA) and Clint is a youth dude with an attitude!  He’s a Youth Pastor.  Isn’t that crazy?  I’m just a (BBQ)YouthDirector.  We had a great time hangin’ out.  It was just way too short.  I wish they were both a lot closer.

We had originally planned to take the south route home and go through Roswell, NM, where Brenna’s former Pastor is now ministering.  When I told what I wanted to pay, they weren’t so generous.  The prices I would’ve had to pay didn’t fit into the budget, so we ended up back tracking through Albuquerque.  We actually had one of our best overall hotel experiences there at the Country Inn & Suites (, we love you!).  We stayed a couple nights and attended Sunday morning services at the First Baptist Church of Edgewood, where old friends Brian & Sonya Piatt are ministering.  We knew them from our Santa Fe days (literally, just over 200 days!) and Dr. Brian Piatt is now pastoring this wonderful church.  What a sweet spirit, great folks.  In the evening, we attended the Manzano Baptist Church of Albuquerque.  We didn’t know anyone there, just took a chance, and what a blessing it turned out to be!  The message was incredible.  I’ll definitely preach it and not tell anyone I stole it!

Crossing back into Arizona, the first exit has some indian shops and the “Painted Cliffs Rest Area”.  This is a very picturesque place to take a break and there happened to be plenty of snow on the ground.   The kids just couldn’t get enough of it!  They built a snow fort and even had a pretty good snow ball fight.  BBQ Boy I, J.J., had a good time making foot prints.  He called them “clues”.  The picture above is at the Painted Cliffs as well as this one:

The BBQ Couple with a portion of the "Painted Cliffs" as a back drop.

**Another Vacation Tip**  Check out the National Monuments.  They are scattered throughout this great country of ours and are… uh… monumented for a reason.  Just east of Flagstaff is the Walnut Canyon National Monument.  We knew nothing about this place, but it was on our route and we wanted to add another adventure to our vacation.  The pics don’t do it justice, as this place is absolutely stunning.  The main draw is a one mile hike into the canyon where you can wander through the cliff dwellings and ruins.  We thought about doing it, but it is quite the trek when you’re not used to the 6,000+ foot elevation.  We went down a bit and realized that you also had to hike back up!  We took some pictures and took an easier hike around the rim.  We saw a family of deer (four of them, I’m guessing a papa, mama and two kids), ran around in the snow, and played in some indian ruins.

Cute quote of the trip… While we were hiking, J.J. (BBQ Boy I) couldn’t exactly remember what the monument was called.  In all seriousness, he called it the “Peanut Canyon”.  Well, at least he knew it was some kind of nut!

This is about where we decided we had gone far enough into the canyon.

This is about where we decided we had gone far enough into the canyon.

One of these days, we'll wander down into the canyon.  When the kids are old enough... to carry us back up!

One of these days, we’ll wander down into the canyon. When the kids are old enough… to carry us back up!

These ancient ruins make for a perfect place to have yet another snow ball fight!

These ancient ruins make for a perfect place to have yet another snow ball fight!  I hope they weren’t some sacred burial ground.


I hope we never get over the wonder of answered prayer.  Yes, in faith, we have come to expect it, but at the same time, we should never lose that child-like thrill of seeing God come through.  We needed God to do a couple things to make this trip possible.  If gas prices were still hovering around $4.00, this trip wasn’t happening.  Did God drop the prices just for us?  Probably not… but, maybe!  Why not?  (Think about it, is it really just a crazy co-inky-dink that gas prices are now on the rise?  Huuuuuh?  Okay, world, feel free to thank the BBQthDirector for asking!)  Then there’s the issue of weather.  Winter driving on I-40 can be, literally, treacherous.  There was plenty of snow to enjoy, but the roads were clear and the sun was shining beautifully whenever we were driving.  Did God clear the weather in Northern Arizona and New Mexico just for us?  Just because we asked?  Probably not, but…

Maybe!  He’s certainly that good!


12 comments so far

  1. Sarah on

    What a beautiful post! I’m a pastors wife in the bible belt. Will definitely be sharing this with my husband!

  2. Becka on

    Your trip sounds like it was a lot of fun and beautiful! 🙂 Lubbock is really flat, you’re right. So is Delaware. I totally know what you mean about missing the mountains. At least in DE, there are many trees and that kind makes it not feel so flat! 🙂 Everyone tries to tell me that there are mountains pretty close in PA, but those mountains are more like HUGE hills! lol 🙂

    Glad you had fun and some quality family time! 🙂

  3. ocnative on

    I’ve been “lurking” for some time and enjoy your perspective. It’s nice to read about a minister prioritizing their family.

    By the way, know of any good bbq in Orange County? 🙂

  4. jenmarie on

    I missed the mountains when we lived in WI too! Life just isn’t the same without moutains! 🙂

    lol, I like that, “Peanut Canyon.”

  5. janet2000 on

    Just wonderful! Our family goes the Grand Canyon annually, we need to make a stop at “Peanut Canyon” 🙂 Im also an O.C. native and could use a good suggestion for barbecue as well!

  6. jaynepomuceno on

    Welcome, visitors from the Orange Curtain (and Bible Belt)! In the “BBQ Joints” category look for my post on “Cali Que”. You’ll find a place called Johnny Rebs in Long Beach, but I think they have a location in Anaheim or Fullerton. I haven’t done very much BBQ research in the O.C. but Johnny will treat you good!

  7. becka2132 on

    I told Matt about the “Peanut Canyon” and he got all excited and told me to tell you that he’s been there and it was really cool. Of course, he was in 7th grade and what ruins aren’t cool to a 7th grade boy?

  8. jaynepomuceno on

    Wow, small world!

  9. Matty (Matt-Matt) Dubya on

    Hey Jay, thanks for the tip on Priceline! When I got back from the trip, my parents randomly decided we would take our OWN trip and head over to the Grand Canyon since we’ve never actually been there yet. So, we’re leaving on Monday for a couple! Any “must-visit” locations nearby??

  10. jaynepomuceno on

    Matt, welcome to the blog! That’s great you guys will get a chance to get away. Hope you can get a good deal on a hotel. If you can mix in a visit to “Peanut Canyon”, that’ll make you smile! Be sure to go to the Watch Tower at the east end of the Grand Canyon (Desert View). You need to get there before 4:00 pm, though. Looks like you’ll have perfect weather. Have fun!

  11. Renae on

    So I have heard that there is a CiCi’s pizza somewhere here in the OC I will try to find out where it is and let you know! I am glad you had a great vacation! Give your family hugs from me! 🙂 miss you and your wife!

  12. […] missions trips, etc.).  Funny, the BBQ Kids are never too distressed about missing school.  Last year, we hit up the snowy Grand Canyon.  This time it’s a relatively quiet Yosemite that’s […]

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