Adventure Car Saga

I don’t think you can consider buying up cheap old weird cars as a hobby. However I’ve spent an extreme amount of time pursuing this endeavor. So with some examination I’ve been coming to terms with the possibility that I don’t actually enjoy restoring old cars. I enjoy driving them and I enjoy occasionally working on them because old cars always need work. I’ve been trying to ask myself a few questions about my car…obsession. In a journal I once wrote, ‘Where will the adventure begin?’ and I think that might be the clue about what it is that I have truly enjoyed about these cars. Looking back through the years this is my attempt to chronicle the history and experiences with each one. Maybe by identifying a common thread that connects them all I can work to extract that from such an expensive hobby and weave into something else.

My first car was a 1981 Mustang with a straight six that we called Big Bird because it was bright yellow. No A/C, the gas gauge only worked down to the 1/2 way mark, and a muffler that constantly came unjoined from the pipe underneath (I carried a glove just to reconnect it when that happened). We looked and looked for mustangs; passed up a 79 Cobra, an 8x LX with sunroof, tried to talk a lady in town out of her convertible and found this one parked out under a tree on the West side of Springfield. I bought it and a family of mice under the back seat for 500 dollars and it cleaned up pretty well. Over the next few years this car was a second home. Any weekend you’d either see me cruising in it or preparing for a big Toliet Paper escapade. Jason Gilkey and I cruised from dusk till dawn in it, the carburetor burped and caught fire once, I drove it all around Mt. Vernon one night going only in reverse. It got around well enough in the snow that we’d pop the hatch and hold onto the back and sorta ski behind it. Basically though it was a piece of crap.

My second car and the first automobile to haunt my dreams was a 1985 5.0 Mustang GT. We bought it from a guy in town who had bought it brand new and smoked every day of his life in it. The dash was so soaked with tar that no amount of cleaning would remove it and anytime it got damp it would get sticky. I tried to nickname her “The Enterprise”, but it never really stuck. This car should have technically killed a young man. I exceeded 100+ mph on McCanse street in an escalating car challenge between Curtis, Josh and I. This was the first car I have ever been airborne in. The speedometer only went to 85, but there’s a good chance I hit 135mph, it’s top speed, in this bad boy trying to get to my grandmother’s funeral in Kansas. It handled notoriously poorly in rain, snow and ice. I goosed it once sliding around a corner only to send it careening into the solid metal bumper of a pickup truck. I was driving on I-44 once when a Viper started to come up on me in the passing lane. I thought hey this could be fun so I down shifted to hammer on the gas. When the other driver saw what I was attempting I’m sure he chuckled to himself a bit as he mashed the gas pedal down and left me far behind in his dust. I used to routinely shut off my lights while driving home on interstate to see how long I could go in the dark before needing to turn them back on. On the way home from college during the pouring rain, the back end of the car lifted up and shimmied left, shimmied right and the flipped around 180 degrees. Going 65mph backwards into the median I eventually came to a stop completely unharmed. I kinda looked around thinking ‘what the heck happened’ or  a slightly delayed ‘that was awesome’ and then pulled back out onto the road. This car suffered quite a bit from my youthful rage; smashing the old radio trying to get it out, smashing through the dash while trying to hit my speakers to get them working. The thing that haunted my dreams though was the sound. I’d never heard a more beautiful exhaust note and I even mic’d it and recorded it years ago. After multiple failed water pumps I had to move on. I had neither the cash or the know how to continue to maintain it at that time in my life. I sold it and heard it was resold to someone in Stotts City and I used to even cruise through country roads keeping an eye out for it years later. Just recently I was passed information on it’s current whereabouts…so it sits there in the back of my mind waiting.

From there I abandoned the domestic market and picked up my first import a 99 Honda Civic SI in gorgeous electron blue. There used to be a guy in Siloam Springs that specialized in theft recovery cars. The SI models were notorious for being stolen for their engines. Tragically I had it for only a month or two before running it up a telephone pole after a light dusting of snow. I blame my first real experience with a front wheel drive car. The Civic was my first expensive car and after this disaster I thought maybe I should go back to the route of a less expensive more practical Toyota Camry. What a sore mistake. Looking back I think this may have been the time frame that my Fiat obsession came to the forefront. While driving the Camry I bought the shell of an old Fiat Spider for 50$ somewhere south of Roaring River. It had no engine, no interior, no dents, absolutely no rust and a clean title. Sadly this was very early on in my mechanical experience and it sat in two different garages before being sold off. During this time I also discovered the Fiat 128 through an enthusiast forum. When I found one for sale on ebay out in Philadelphia I bid and won. My dad and I cannonballed our way to Philly in his “new to him” pickup with a u-haul dolly in tow. When we got on scene we found a sad, sad, little rust bucket of a car and though it ran I opted not to go through with the purchase. We dropped the dolly off and drove straight back home. What a long two days.

After having the Camry for maybe a couple years I sought out another Civic SI this time a 2000 in Flamenco Black Pearl and without a huge spoiler on the back. To date this has been the car I’ve owned the longest and has been the most reliable. I got it with under 25K miles on it and sold it a few years ago with close to 300K miles. It was a fast little car and I extracted every bit of enjoyment I could from it. Having it such a long time I had surprisingly few incidents in the car. I hit a deer only 5 miles from where we now live going 40mph and the only damage you could immediately notice was the flat spot I ground on a brand new set of tires(no ABS). In 2009 I started becoming interested in rally racing and played a lot of Rally Sport Challenge 2 on the Xbox. Some would say too much, in fact I would say too much because I would get all amped up and go driving rather aggressively. So again out in the country not far from my future home I pushed it hard up a right hand bank over a hill. Somewhere during the turn at 55+mph the back tires lost grip and the trees that were once on my right hand side suddenly appeared on my left hand side. Miraculously the car did a 180, but never left the road. I remained completely unharmed and hopefully wiser for the experience. I went through some rough time working on the suspension and while it was up on jacks with the door open it got tweaked and wouldn’t shut. So I had to take it into the dealer…doorless to have it reattached by someone who knew how to do it.

Somewhere during the Civic years is when the Fiat bug bit again. Through Chris Keen @ Rusty but Trusty I found a really great 72 Fiat 128 out in Denver that a guy had for sale. He had dreams of setting it up to do hill climbs and it had a real bad ass set of Hella fog lights installed. I quickly called him up, told him I wanted it, got some cash from savings and got a one-way flight out. Up to this point I had no real skills to help ensure that a 37 year old car could make an 800 mile journey in one straight shot. So I’m kinda surprised it made it all the way home and honestly did so completely trouble free. The Toyota Prius malfunction has nothing on this thing; the “cruise control” option in 72 was a mechanism to lock in the throttle cable at a certain position. It was basically great though. I drove that car around Springfield, in the snow, and almost to Atlanta for a New Years Eve concert. Fortunately for me I hesitated, because the next day one of the valve-spring shim buckets split and rendered her un-drivable. I pulled the engine with dreams of taking it somewhere and having it rebuilt. The problem is that when you show up to a machine shop with a milk crate full of engine parts and no idea what to ask for they tend not to do anything with your stuff. I had stored the body shell in a friends barn while I moved and after about 6 months of waiting on any engine progress I picked up the parts. Somewhere during this time I bought a friends VW Jetta that was having transmission problems in an attempt to “help them out of it”. It was having problems going forward unless you were on absolutely flat land or going downhill, but once you could creep up to 45 or 55 the overdrive would kick in and you could drive it. I somehow limped it towards Mt. Vernon, but someone came to a complete stop at the exit in front of me and I couldn’t get it going forward again…so I drove it from the I-44 exit through the country at about 10 at night only going in reverse. I had to stop from time to time to let it cool down. When I finally got it to my folks house I couldn’t loose the final bolt to free up the transmission from the engine. I was stuck. It sat for a few weeks at mom and dad’s house while I regretted buying it instead of just gifting some money to my friends. And then a Yugo came up for sale on E-bay in Topeka that the winning bidder didn’t follow through on. I contacted the seller(a salvage yard) and we worked out a trade; the Yugo for the Jetta. I loaded it up and headed towards the Kansas capital. This was one of the best trades ever. The Yugo was a reddish orange and the previous owner had put a big General Lee style 01 on the side and about a hundred stickers on the windows. They fork trucked the car onto my trailer and I headed back home. The Yugo shares the same guts as my Fiat so my hopes were very high that I could trade out the engines and get Sweet Pea back on the road. Once I got home I was able to hot wire it and she started right up. Greg and I went for a drive and there must have been a broken motor mount because it pulled wicked hard to either the right or left whenever you braked or accelerated. My dad suggested this was twice the car my Fiat was and that I should just get it road worthy and abandon the Fiat. However I just couldn’t leave Sweet Pea as a rusting heap and I decided to try my first engine swap. Dad’s confidence was not high and I only had a weekend to do it inside the climate controlled comfort of his Co-op’s shop. I managed to get everything switched over and about 90% re-plumbed before we had to trailer it back home to continue there. Much to dad’s amazement…and probably my own I managed to get her running and driving over the next few days. Sweet Pea LIVES!!! Now what to do with the shell of a Yugo… January 29, 2012 I made the brave decision to drive her down to a MuteMath show in Tulsa. I painted up the windows and had an amazing drive during a very tumultuous time of life. Little did I know this would be her last major trip. Later that year when backing down mom and dad’s driveway the sway bar ripped away from it’s mounts and the wheels jammed up into the wheel well. For the first time exposing the true extent of the rust that had been covered up with primer by the previous owner.

In February of 2011 a sweet little 1967 Fiat 850 coupe was featured on BringaTrailer. It came from an estate sale in Texas and the new owners must have been smoking crack because they were asking $3500 for it. In March Chris K featured it on his site for 3k and then I watched the price drop slowly over the next few months. Once it hit 1300 in early May I decided I better pull the trigger or someone else would…if only I had known. I borrowed dad’s truck and trailer without being quite straight forward that I was headed out of state with it for another car. Somewhere along the way the truck started missing and pulling really rough uphill. An initial check just off the turnpike resulted in accidentally popping the cable out of the connector on a plug wire, but I was able to reinsert  it and figured maybe I just got some bad gas so back onto the road. I slept for a few hours somewhere near the Oklahoma/Texas state line and arrived in Houston around mid-day. Yuck Houston gets wicked hot even in May. I loaded up the car and was able to talk them into letting me have it for 1100 because I had to spend so much on gas to get down there. They handed over the original title and some estate sale affidavits and papers. Looking through them as I got into the truck I found out they only paid 300 dollars for it at auction. I might as well have sucker tattooed on my forehead when I’m buying an old car. I stopped at the local auto-parts store and tried changing out plug wires. I had them almost all changed when I found out one of the plugs had backed out and had just come loose. I tightened it up and the truck was back to running smooth as silk again. I was now a slimy grease ball after crawling around in the engine bay and loading up the car, but we have an office in Dallas where I could get access to a shower. Having the chance to clean up before doing the last leg of the trip was amazing. I got home without incident and rented a storage bay on the west side of town. For the next 3 years she sat in storage and then out on my property without receiving much attention. The engine wouldn’t turn over so I tried liberally spraying it down with PB Blaster to see if I could coax it free. The body and especially the floors are in amazingly good condition. The rockers and front hood are garbage, but it came with an extra engine. At some point she was towed into town and I decided to finally swap out the engines. Currently she’s in my basement and I’ve deemed her my long term project.

In my continuing Fiat mania, as if I couldn’t get enough, I found another 128 for sale in Utah. A yellow 1974 2 door in Salt Lake city that looked in decent shape, but had a seized engine and had been sitting since the early 80s. At the time I was still considering rally racing my 128 and I thought having a spare parts car would be handy. This time I checked with dad and let him know I would be heading far west and we made sure the truck was ready to handle the trip. I slept under the stars in the bed of the pickup outside of Kansas City and then again in Wyoming. All along the way I stopped and read about the mormon travels west from Missouri. I listened to the Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy audiobook on the way out and I can’t remember laughing so much as when Agrodag(?) the giant spider monster confronts Arthur Dent. This is also the trip where while driving through Nebraska I realized I hadn’t read any scripture yet. I sat my iPad in front of the speedo and began reading in Romans 12 or 13. Shortly thereafter I was pulled over by the NHP because I was reportedly swerving all over the road (untrue). An off duty cop had called me in, but I remember being very wary and was even driving well under the speed limit to conserve gas. The Lord knew I needed a nudge to curtail this bad habit of reading and driving. I had just been reading in Romans about ‘obeying the government authority setup over you’ at exactly the moment when I was going to be pulled over and ticketed for doing something really stupid. It was a good lesson and this time it stuck. Anyways I got to see prairie dogs, great wonderful expanses and hours and hours of road ahead and behind me. I met the seller in town just blocks away from where I would unbeknownst to me be revisiting in just a few months. He was shocked to see another big bearded guy in Mormon town. We figured out a way to attach a flat tow hitch to the car and grabbed a couple of 3% beers before I headed out. I had this sort of uncomfortable feeling like I needed to get out of the city so rather than stay at a hostel like I’d originally planned I headed out of town and slept just across the Wyoming state line. She towed really well the next day and I made it as far as Wakini Kansas and pulled off near a beautiful grove of trees and a wheat field for the night. I woke up to birds chattering in the trees, well more like screaming, but I got to see some deer scamper off into the wheat fields. I stripped down and took a tailgate shower with my remaining water and got back on the road. I arrived home with my new treasure and dropped it off at mom and dad’s to start tinkering with it. Later that year when SweetPea died I did an afternoon engine swap, but it never quite ran right. I’d reached the end of my current frustration level and parked it out at the property. I eventually gave it away to a friend and she stayed away for another year or so before coming back. I got her running good again and replaced some brake lines before selling to a real nice guy who’d transplanted into the area from California. We keep in contact and I know she’s in a good home now and will receive plenty of attention.

In the late fall of 2012 I was hankering for something different than the Civic and a co-worker clued me into the old Subaru wagons of the 80s. Wow. Talk about the perfect mix of quirky and 80s utilitarian awesomeness. Flip up center headlight under the emblem, plaid seats, part-time 4×4 hi/lo. A beautiful sky blue with a hint of pearl to the paint. You can’t dream up this sort of perfection. So I sent supplies out to our office in Seattle; tool bag, gas gan, winter weather supplies, etc. That December flights with Frontier to Seattle were dirt cheap so I booked the travel, stayed the first night in a hostel and took a train out to Bellingham the next morning. Theresa the current owner picked me up from there and we made the drive out towards Mt. Baker to take a look. It was as glorious as I had hoped…minus a cracked windshield, a couple spots of rust here and one kinda big problem – no lights. Getting those working was my first concern before heading back to the big city, so stopping off at a Napa I crossed my fingers that it was simply a fuse. Fortunately it was, but the next disconcerting thing to find was that the oil pressure was shockingly low. So much so that I spent the rest of the evening at the office trying to find a local O’Reilly’s store with an oil pump in their warehouse. I parked the car across the street from our office in downtown Seattle and sailed off to dreamland in the office in view of the car. The next morning I found my pleasant dreams had drifted into coastal crags when I discovered the rear passenger window broken. The would be thief was foiled by a broken door latch and when the glass broke he dropped his pry knife and fled. Good for me because he didn’t touch the cash I had stored in the glove compartment or take my tool stash. I kept the knife with the car for the longest time. Unfortunately now I needed to replace not only the windshield, but the side window too. In the meantime I found an oil pump and changed it out in the cold before heading east. She chugged over the mountains with quite a bit of snow coming down though none really sticking to the road. I spent the first night in what has become one of my favorite towns, Coeur d’Alene Idaho. The hotel had one of those 25 cent magic fingers bed vibration units. Curiosity demanded I try it though after a few minutes you just feel nauseous. I explored town a bit the next morning before getting back onto the road. My first truly remote stretch of road was from Bozeman through West Yellowstone. I stopped at the Yellowstone Park sign to take a picture and while snapping the shot she sputtered and died. No big deal I’ll start it back up and get on the road…is what should have happened. I cranked a dozen times with not much change and started to worry because this was the first really extreme cold I’d encountered and thus far I had been the only car on the road. I was exceedingly grateful that a couple from Nebraska stopped and the gentleman helped troubleshoot. Without him manually operating the carb while I tried to start it up I would have been at a loss for what to do and probably stuck with a dead battery. The cold was apparently extreme enough that the venturis were stuck in full choke. I stretched my 4×4 legs for the next hour or two as the road became increasingly covered and headed towards Grand Targhee. These cars may as well be part goat for how well they handle in the snow. Glad to have stopped in Butte to replace a couple of balding tires I found that RubySu was born to scamper about through the winter wonderlands. Passing through Driggs I spotted a couple of potential Subaru donor cars, but the owners weren’t interested in parting with a door or a window or anything. (Full circle, I happened to see one of these very cars up for sale in early 2017.) Climbing the mountain to the ski area I became more and more impressed with how well she handled the snow. Just outside the ski area I towed someone out of a snow drift and at this point I’m convinced this is the little engine that could. Somewhere in western Wyoming the oil pressure indicator that’d I’d been having problems keeping above 20lbs dropped below. Up to that point I’d been taking it pretty slow to baby her along, but I talked with my dad and under his advice I put the hammer down to make it as close as I could before it gave up. Fortunately it was a faulty sensor, but talk about added stress. On the east side of Denver I was pulled over by the Hi-Po; apparently a bushy bearded guy in an 80s wagon from Washington state going through Colorado fits the profile of a drug runner. He was friendly enough after confirming I wasn’t one. Once I made it to Kansas I began to feel home-free and kept pushing on. On the last leg of the trip knowing I had an extra can of gas I decided to see how much past empty I could take it. Almost to the 400 mile mark and a block away from my parents house she ran dry. The next day heading home I only made it two blocks from their house when the throttle cable broke. To this day I’m amazed at how much of a lurch I would have been in had that happened anywhere else. The summer of 2013 RubySu and I drove up Pikes Peak to watch Sebastian Loeb break the hill climb record. She smoked pretty heavily up/down the mountains and I seriously thought I might have to stop in Colorado Springs to get a new car. In light of that I started contemplating a replacement engine. I found the heart of a BRAT in Wichita that was being sold by a dude originally from my hometown. He’d been planning to upgrade his VW bus, but stalled out on his project. I took the guts of an EA81 to a race shop in Billings and thus begun the YEAR long process of an engine rebuild. In the meantime I found a couple of parts wagons in Arkansas that I towed back up to Missouri. Later under the influence of post surgery medication I promised Ashlee we could have as many kids as I had cars which at this point the count was at 8. Not the proudest moment in my life to have two 128s, an 850, a yugo, 2 suby wagon parts cars, rubysu, and the Audi, but only have 2 of them on the road. Finally the new engine was ready and with some help from mom and dad I got RubySu road ready. Planning to honeymoon in Wyoming in the snowy season I prepped everything that I could for a long haul trip across the country. The 75/80mph speed limit in Nebraska proved too much though and she breathed her last on I-80 near a Sapp Bros 15 minutes west of Kearney Nebraska. The freshly rebuilt engine slipped a bearing and the oil pressure plummeted. I had already been thinking about selling it when we got home, but this was the nail in the coffin. My mom came up to give us a ride home and bring the title for Sheldon the soon to be new owner. I’m not sure why this car was different; maybe it was the plaid or the light hidden under the emblem or some intangible quality, but after selling I just wasn’t able to move on. I’ve let go of other cars with comparative ease; Big Bird, Sweet Pea, my Civic, even the 85 Mustang which I dreamed about often. However I spent the next three years on again, off again looking for a replacement. Even going so far as to fly out to Reno to get one back up and running, but then deciding against it. I’ve contacted Sheldon 2 or 3 times in varying states of acceptance to check in on RubySu. However at this point it is safe to say the odds of seeing her again are pretty low.

While RubySu was off the road getting a new engine I found a cheap set of wheels to have as a backup daily driver. An 86 Audi 4000 that had been previously owned by a local VW enthusiast, but the current owner’s daughter didn’t want anything to do with it. It was in surprisingly good shape and a very sporty drive when compared to an early 80s wagon. It has vacuum actuated automatic locking doors, a full compliment of additional gauges under the radio, a trunk light that could be unwound and presumably extended out to help when changing a tire, and a suspect though working sunroof that would slowly creep open or close when activated. The interior really was perfect and her stout little motor allowed me to make the trip to Arkansas to talk with Ashlee’s dad for his blessing for marriage and then later to meet up with her to propose. I spent the coldest winter I can remember driving her and vividly recall a dial based thermometer I had on the floorboard spun around backwards to -15 degrees. I had to put a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator to keep the interior warm in the frigid cold. We encountered a family racing team from Dixon that used an 85 4000 quattro as their platform for rally racing in the 100Acre woods. Theirs was equipped with 4×4, a 5cyl engine(yes 5) and a turbo; woohoo! She eventually began to have problems with one of two oil idiot lights and I was never able to figure out anything other than their system is really weird. Pressure monitored by a gauge then separate low and high pressure idiot lights and buzzers. It ends up being this spiffy dynamic oil pressure warning system, but being completely in the dark about it you can imagine the mischief and the rabbit trails that can lead down. Eventually the Audi outwore its welcome and I sold it on ebay for 200 bucks less than I paid for it. WIN.

8 months into being newly married I came across a Fiat 131 in San Diego for sale on ebay. I contacted the seller and found out he was an old Mirafiori member. The car sounded great; garage kept for the last 10 years and only minor work required to get it back on the road. Did I mention she was lime green?? Excuse me I mean Verde Chiaro. Lured in by the low price tag I won the auction and worked out my first cross country car shipment. When “greenbean” rolled into the driveway at our little rental property the transport driver was all too eager to talk about these cars from his home country Poland. I’d asked the previous owner to send the title in the mail, but we were gone Thanksgiving weekend when it “arrived” or rather didn’t arrive. Investigation into the tracking number with the post office yielded nothing and as far as we know to this day it simply blew off the porch with a gust of wind. While I worked on getting a replacement title issued the parts began to pour into our house. I replaced hoses, brake lines, tires, gas tank, seat belts, seats, fuel lines and amazingly it started up and ran. Well not very well, but enough to get it inspected. Later I found out it had suffered a head gasket failure. I put everything back together, but hesitated to fire it up or fill it with coolant. I’m in the midst of trying to decide if I want to drive it for a few months and then sell it or keep it longer term. The adventure that’s happened with this one thus far has mainly been the adventure of discovering the delays that can happen with rebuilding an engine in the midst of having a child and building a house. The promise of the dual carb symphony is what’s keeping me going at the moment. I can’t wait to throw her into a sharp turn and put the pedal down. As a recent update, the complications continue to present themselves and this car has been delayed further and further. The new race quality multi-layer head gasket had issues and my patience and available time continues to run thinner. It’s officially on the market for sale.

The less than practical nature of always needing to work on a car led me to a 2003 Outback. I found it on CL near Columbia and bought it from a Greek used car dealer. We talked about racing and toasted a couple of drinks of Ouzo, a greek liqueur, over the sale. Much to my dismay almost immediately the check engine light came on after money changed hands. I thought I’d heard a miss earlier and this left me crest fallen. Going back to his garage he attributed it to the fact that he’d just washed out the engine bay. I’d actually had this exact problem with my Civic so I trusted a little too much and accepted his lie. Months later I found out it was low compression in cylinder 3…lame. Surprisingly however it’s driven really almost without issue for close to 2 years now. I’ve finally got another car close enough to being a backup driver to take it off the road and fix it…just before I plan to sell it.

Being in perpetual frustration with every car I currently own and still having a hole in my heart for RubySu led to my most recent adventure. I found a 1982 Subaru GL Wagon 4×4 for sale in the San Bernadino mountains that finally checked all the boxes and was worth the blowback I’d get from Ashlee to go get. Low mileage, A/C, plaid interior, very minimal rust, four spoke steering wheel, the cyclops light and the right price. Actually there’s one more crucial item that belongs in that list; a pleasant, reliable and trustworthy seller. In the matter of 48 hours after finding this car I broke the news to Ashlee, booked a flight and found myself in LA. The previous owner Daniel met me at the airport and let me stay in their spare apartment overnight. He and his girlfriend treated me to breakfast and all the local history that I had an ear to hear about. They were in the process of emptying out the home that they’d lived together in for 5 or 10 years to move back to Oregon. Daniel was a collector; surfboards, knick-knacks for the yard, walking sticks, etc. He had literally 1000 walking sticks that he was in the process of preparing to either give away or sell. I had hoped to wake up early and be on the road by 9 or 10, but the morning didn’t line up quite as neatly as I had hoped and before long it was past noon. The car was in good shape and fell just short of being great due to some “fixes” that had been applied. Surely everyone can remember to flip a switch to manually turn on the radiator fan every time they drive the car ever… Or this beer tap would make a good shifter…or cat5 cable would make a great harness to hang a fuel pump with…All in all though these were all acceptable and should be pretty easy to rectify. So I got onto the road and headed to TeePee motel #7 and the start of my trip home paralleling some really fun spots on route 66. She had a tendency of burping up coolant and then running hot so I had to stop quite a few times on the way home to let her cool down or fill it up. My second RT66 destination was Cool Springs AZ which involved a really remote through the back country and the opportunity to share the road wild donkeys and rattlesnakes. I pressed on past that for a few more hours and slept in the car. I covered a little less than 300 miles the first day and barely made it into my second state. With 1200 miles still to go I really needed to pick up the pace to make it back by mother’s day. The second day I stopped at the largest and best preserved meteorite crater impact site in the world. The Barringer crater and wow talk about your big hole in the ground. I picked up the pace a little and got some cool shots of the car both on and off the trail. It was an hour or so past the crater that I decided to go roadkill on the car and remove the hood to see if I could keep it running a little cooler. On the edge of New Mexico I stopped to snap some pictures and tried out the 4×4 on a decent little dirt mound. I made a few attempts to jump up to the top of it, but gave up the efforts after recognizing how quickly I’d be screwed if I got high centered and stuck. I made it to Albuquerque for a bite to eat at the Route 66 Dinner. I successfully resisted the urge to go play on the sand dunes where I would have almost certainly gotten in over my head. Pressing ahead I stopped at the Big Blue hole in Santa Rosa, NM and was thoroughly underwhelmed by it. Much later that night I was actually more amazed at the random Indian restaurant/grocery/gas station combo that was in the middle of nowhere. I was able to push past Amarillo and slept in the car on a side road in the midst of a slew of windmills. Within striking distance of home I set off the next morning to finish the last leg through Texas and Oklahoma. When I finally made it home I took her for a dip in the creek behind the house to “baptize” her into the Barb family. Again bad luck seems to loom over me and rather than it being an air bubble in the radiator it ended up being a head gasket on it’s way to failing. This is surprisingly rare on these old EA81s especially with such low mileage, but so it goes. So Butterscotch as we’re calling her sits downstairs in the john deere room awaiting my time and attention. Fortunately I think the worst of the failure happened here in town in the last 50 miles and I don’t think there’ll be any lasting damage. Now I face my nemesis and bane…fixing the head gasket. It wouldn’t be so daunting if I had ever been able to get a car back up and working after either doing this work myself or having it done by someone else. It really should be easy, but I seem to encounter either the limit of my tools, space and knowhow or find I need to strip everything off so I can deck the block to entirely rebuild the engine. This accounts for my hesitancy to begin the job. I’ll have to get her fixed, but it may need to wait until I can recoup some costs from the other two cars currently up for sale. I expect this to be a life long car and adventure companion so I want to do it right.

Big Bird, SweetPea, and RubySu sit at the top as my all time favorite top three. But it’s so hard to limit this TOP category when each has come with its own brand of fun and experiences. I’ve gone up Pikes Peak, volunteered at rally races, traveled cross country for concerts, had endless amounts of fun drifting in the snow and learned a ton about life with these old cars. I’ve faced trials and difficulties too numerous and in these cars I’ve been deep in prayer and confrontation with the Lord, dealt with my heartache by the need to just drive, and in complete abandoned bliss blasted the stereo up loud to just be. So what is it about these cars? Maybe it’s that everything I’ve encountered in my adulthood has included them in someway; trouble, heartache, joy, adventure, the unusual, the sublime. I think the part to recognize is that these cars in no way constitute my life, they’ve simply been included. Life will continue to be exciting and amazing, but these cars don’t deserve the importance or the emphasis that I’ve allowed them to have. Sure they can be fun and they can be a part, but they can no longer be a primary focus. I’ve allowed them so much space and time that I’m not even sure I know how to effectively change this, but I’d like to try. 

For those keeping track the number is 18, with 12 of them being in the last 10 years.


Route 66 Butterscotch Soda

Well, here we are again. A few years later and another trip to check out a Subaru in California. This time I’m headed to SoCal and I’ve lined up a few stops for the trip home on I-40 and RT66. I’ve got 1600+ miles to cover and 23+ hours of driving ahead of me before my feet are back on the Barbarossa. 

My plans are to check out

  • Wigwam Village #7 
  • Cool Springs Gas Station 
  • Barringer Meteorite Crater 
  • 66 Diner
  • Blue Swallow Motel 
  • Blue Hole of Santa Rosa
  • The CONOCO Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café

I’ll be headed east in an 82 Subaru Wagon in less than 24 hours. Pictures to follow. 

I believe Lord, help my unbelief

Trust…trust…are you getting it yet? TRUST!

Seems like such a simple concept to continually fail to realize into practice. Mark 9:14-29 mentions a man who came to Jesus with a son that needed healing and the father says to Jesus, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Christ responds and the man responds again, “I do believe, help my unbelief.” In my life that statement is full of meaning and could look something like this. Christ, I know your Word says you will meet me when I seek you, my experience even says when I have sought you that you’ve drawn near to me and that over and over again you love to bless me in ways I would have never been able to hope for, and everyone around me says everything will all work out, but here I am still struggling in unbelief. …I do believe, help my unbelief!

Christ’s responses to this man causes me to reflect and I can just imagine the tone he used to answer and the sort of quizzical, but saddened expression of shock on his face. “If You can?” Then followed by a barely audible sigh with a short  pause before he softly says, “All things are possible to him who believes.” Almost as if he’s waiting for it to sink in and for us to really get it and that if we did our lives would be transformed.

Later after Jesus healed the man’s son his disciples questioned him privately, “Why could we not drive it [the unclean spirit] out?” I think Jesus’ response doesn’t just apply to their immediate inference to the unclean spirit in the boy, but also to the unbelieving spirit in the boy’s father. “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”  We can worry and we can fret and dwell upon every potentially negative possible outcome, but our spirit of unbelief won’t come out by anything but prayer. 

I believe Lord, help my unbelief.

I’ve just had an apostrophe

Today is the day traditionally celebrated as Epiphany in remembrance of Christ’s manifestation to the world. Most often associated to the visit of the Magi; Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar, but for others it may be associated with Christ’s baptism in the Jordan. Some call it Three Kings day, but I think the Dutch and German’s have the market cornered on cool names for the day; Driekoningen or Dreikönigstag. In some countries groups of young people called Sternsinger (star singers – how cool is that) travel from door to door singing songs and blessing homes. This years blessing written over your door would be 20+C+M+B+16; the numbers are the year and the initials may represent either the Magi’s initials or the Latin words “Christus mansionem benedicat” (may Christ bless this house). So if you’re enjoying a Kings cake to commemorate this day or asking Christ’s blessing over your home may Christ’s presence be manifest to you today and through the rest of the year.

Test of Manhood & proof of foolishness

This is a manly post about manly things and manly feelings. When you’re a man you do manly things like grow a beard, fix broken stuff and on occasion light things on fire. Tonights manly situations include a manly chainsaw and manly work outside followed by a manly test.

My friend helped me cut trees tonight to clear out the area where I’ll be building a house. A few hours of intense log cutting, dragging and experimenting with precisely felling trees and we threw in the towel with the failing light. Our hard work had earned us delicious refreshing water from my cooler filled with ice. We parted ways and I stuck around for a bit to enjoy the storm rolling in over the horizon. After a bit I started the drive home, but still feeling thirsty I began to eat ice from my cooler. While enjoying the crunching of the ice between my teeth I began to randomly throw out ice cubes onto the roadway. When they would impact against the ground I could hear them break. I imagined them shattering into hundreds of pieces on the road and sliding to a halt. As my drive continued I came to an area with a paved median about the height of a curb. There were lamp posts periodically dotted along the center and a manly test began to formulate in my brain. As my car whizzed by these lamp posts I devised a test of great courage, one of bravery and most of all a feat of great skill…could I hit one of these lamp posts with an ice cube. I spot checked the distance from the center of the median to my car; about 15 feet. I calculated the speed of my car, 45-50 mph and tried to work out the trajectory at which I should release my frozen projectile. All of this came together in my mind within the matter of a second and I worked out the complexities of the whole equation in the time of a lightening strike. I reeled back and let loose of the cube waiting to see if my calculations were correct. A split second after I let loose I heard a loud bang! With my inattention to the road ahead my car had drifted into the median where the force and speed of its forward motion hurtled it up over the curb with a loud crash or bang. Realizing that I had tied up precious mental faculties that should have been used for driving I laid hands back onto the wheel and jerked it back down into my lane. Still in shock about what had happened and trying to recover I wheeled my head back forward to the road. When out of the corner of my eye I saw the ice cube end its journey and I heard the sound of a faint ding as it hit the lamp post.

A manly test and a proof of foolishness if ever there was one.


I leave early in the morning for Reno! The last time I flew across the country to pickup a car and drive it home I wasn’t the slightest bit nervous, but I probably should have been. It’s strange that this time when I’m more prepared that I’m definitely more jittery and anxious about the trip. Even just packing my bags today I can sense it. It’s been a while since I ventured out on something without any clue what will happen. Away we go, the only thing to do is to look ahead.

You’re doing what…again?

Yes exactly I’m doing it again. 2500+ miles in a worn out old Subaru.


This time I’ll be flying out to Reno to pick up an 82 GL wagon near Quincy California. I’ll never be able to quite replace RubySu, but for as cheap as I bought this car it’s a good start. She may not look like much, but it’s a California car so I don’t expect much/any rust beyond the rear panel. These old EA81’s are bullet proof….as long as the engine has not been rebuilt by a local unnamed race shop. With 180K on the clock ‘QuincyRoo’ has just begun her life. Dual range 4×4, cyclops headlight and plaid interior! I’ve even got a Weber carb still sitting in the garage for it along with plenty of interior bits and pieces.

The exciting part of the trip begins in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I’ll be zig-zagging south and stopping along the way near San Francisco to pickup a windshield and hopefully seats and door cards for my Fiat 131 sedan. I’ve got salvage yards scoped out along the route that have old Subys in them just in case anything comes up or I want to scope them out for parts. I’ve ordered as many things as I can possibly think of that will help this old girl make it back to Missouri and thanks to RockAuto for a shade under $125. After a few days drive I’ll end up in San Diego for Cisco’s big education conference before I have to head back towards Missouri.

A while ago dad turned me on to the Roadkill show by Hot Rod magazine because it reminded him of some of my car adventures. So I’m going to take a camera and try to get enough video to put together a short fan tribute to the show. I’m calling it ‘Roadkillshow – The Import Trash Edition’. Mostly I’ll just be pleased if I can limp it home without it giving out. I’m more prepared mechanically these days than I’ve ever been, but this will still be a big accomplishment. I’ll keep everyone updated and who knows maybe I’ll see you on the road.


We made it

It’s not too many people that get to have their second honeymoon before they’ve been married for a year. Of course it’s not many people that break down in their 33 year old Subaru wagon in the middle of Nebraska, sell it on the spot and have their mother give them a ride home from their first honeymoon either. This trip was rather less eventful then the last attempt. We rented a Mazda from Thrifty that we’ve dubbed “Tiny Van” (must be said in the Fat Albert voice) and decided to revisit beautiful Kearney, Nebraska on the way. We stayed at the Ramada again, ate at Napolis again, and took pictures near the Sapp Bros where we broke down. Ashlee got to cross off two new states from her travel list and we finished the first audio book of Little House on the Prairie…don’t knock it guys it was actually pretty enjoyable to hear about frontier life. Now begins the most relaxing week of our entire life.

Great Scott!

Tonight Ashlee and I had one of the most hilarious experiences I can remember. We went downtown for the movies in the park summer series where they had a free drive-in showing of Back to the Future. After the movie was over everyone was starting to pack up and head out. Since we weren’t in any rush we hadn’t packed up our blanket yet, but quite a few people had already left. Out of the blue a little boy, probably only 5 years old, walked up to us like he was going to say something. When he didn’t say anything I asked if he was looking for his parents. He didn’t reply, but proceeded to lay down on our pillow and blanket. I tried to ask him what his name was, what his mom’s name was, what color car they have, but his only replies were a sheepish, “I don’t know.” About two or three minutes had gone by at this point and I was trying to figure out how to find out some details from him so we could help. Ashlee looked around and noticed a guy that was hurriedly running back and forth franticly looking around where everyone had been sitting. She dashed off across the field to see if he was looking for this little boy. The sense of relief was apparent on his face and he carried off the little tyke to their car.  We laughed all the way home that we almost adopted a little boy tonight.

Bittersweet Farewell

The day finally came to let an old friend pass on. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I haven’t had a car more memorable and fun in my whole life. I first drove her home at 55mph from Denver in a 15 hour straight shot. Your name (a bit of a misnomer) was lovingly given by friends. Together we spent blustery winter nights plowing through new snow. She put the best 4x4s to shame. We traveled to the Rally races to give her a taste of what was in store for her and I. We had a scare when her heart gave out, but I breathed new life into her with a transplant. Time, age and circumstances caught up with us though and we eventually realized we wouldn’t see those dreams materialize. Our time together was short, but meaningful. Farewell Sweet Pea.

Book the First

“When I first met Belloc he remarked to the friend who introduced us that he was in low spirits. His low spirits were and are much more uproarious and enlivening than anybody else’s high spirits. He talked into the night; and left behind in it a glowing track of good things. When I have said that I mean things that are good, and certainly not merely bons mots, I have said all that can be said in the most serious aspect about the man who has made the greatest fight for good things of all the men of my time.”

I read this short passage by GKC the other day and it made me think; am I this sort of man? A man who at my low is still full of life and high spirits. This transition into married life is a lot to get used to. Especially for a person who up to this point has led a very separate life. One in which solitude could be enjoyed at any time. Long hours driving with just my thoughts. Riding my bike late at night through the darkened, silent streets. Adventures that may put me amongst other people, but still allow for the feeling of separateness or isolation. Time alone can definitely be tough, but being thrust into a life without any time alone can be downright brutal. Without that wilderness or alone time I start to feel light headed, overwhelmed and then eventually discouraged. It was at this point of discouragement when I read this passage. I determined at that moment that I don’t have to go down to the depths because I am not a dead man. I have been filled to the brim with life and life abundantly. I have drank from the rock that gives life. This is not a message of personal power or strength of will, just a reminder that I have been recalled to life.

King of the Mountain

Right after Cisco Live I packed the car and headed out for Colorado. I loaded up the tent, sleeping bag, backpack, and general provisions for driving a 30+ year old car a long distance. Honestly I’m pretty impressed that RubySu and I made it all the way out to Pike’s Peak and back. When driving an old and somewhat sketchy car your expectations and plans have to be pretty flexible. You’re encouraged to pull off to the side to take in the scenery…while the car cools down for a bit. You learn to get out of life’s fast lane and take it all in…because in this car there is no fast lane. It’s a bit of a trip back in time; in my case to the time before the invention of A/C. I think our parents and grandparents had a lot more reason to hate driving across Kansas than any of us do today. 100+ degree temperatures in a metal box scooting across the prairie can make even nun want to kick the habit. As Calvin’s dad would say, “It helps build character”. In these circumstances you learn how to react to emergencies and inconveniences with a much cooler head. Now I know what to do when my car is billowing smoke out the exhaust when coming down a few thousand feet of elevation…nothing. That makes the car guy in me cringe, but in this situation I just had to hope it stopped when I hit Kansas. It did and she ran like a top all the rest of the way home. (I just found out today that someone from JHA actually saw me somewhere near Colorado Springs tending to my car.)

I drove to Pike’s Peak for the chance of a lifetime. I went to see one thing; Sebastian Loeb become King of the Mountain. I truly think you’d have a hard time finding someone better suited to take on the Peak. Seb is the ultimate rally driver, he knows how to push his cars to the absolute limit of control and no further. He’s been perfecting his skills for years in the WRC and he out performs everyone in both speed and consistency. He especially excels on tarmac courses and is backed by a company extremely motivated to take back the mountain. One of the attributes I like about drivers in the WRC is that there is an air of humility about them. I think it’s because each of them know that at any moment the slightest mistake or mechanical failure could cost them the race. Rally races are as much about endurance as they are about speed. Knowing when to push and when to pull back. This is why Seb is uniquely prepared for this race. It’s a different type of race than we traditionally see in the states and so we don’t have home grown competitors able to compete at the same level. If we devoted more time and interest to this sort of racing it’s not unreasonable to think that we could produce a few top notch drivers to compete. However, even then I think it’s unlikely that we’ll see a driver better suited for this challenge than Monsieur Loeb.

And he did it. Loeb conquered the mountain in an amazing 8 minutes and 13 seconds. It’s hard to find a frame of reference for how amazing this feat truly is when looking at past races. Making comparisons between years isn’t particularly fruitful because the race course has evolved slowly from all gravel to all tarmac. Each year as more tarmac is added times naturally improve. Comparisons should only be made between years when the course has been the same. 2012 and 2013 are the first two years entirely on paved roads. However, you also have to consider weather conditions. Last year I heard there was rain near the top which resulted in slower times. So the full minute and a half difference between this year and the last isn’t quite the full story. For a better perspective Pike’s Peak 2012 record setting driver Rhys Millen had an impressive run this year at 9:02, but was still a full 49 seconds behind Loeb.

It’s hard to say how long Loeb’s time will stand and allow him to retain the king’s crown. I’d like to think a very long time, but I’m pretty biased because of my love for rally racing. Who knows, maybe it’ll stand until I race Sweet Pea up the mountain to claim the crown.

I’ve also got a few pictures from my adventures at Gatorland. We went there one evening during Cisco Live.

Year of the Beard

I’ve grown facial hair for a long time. I’ve had big civil war style muttonchops, giant goatees, mustaches of various successes, hipster hawks and soul patches. No matter what though the beard always reappears. For some time I’d wondered how long I could grow a beard without any trimming in a single year. Then in November of 2011 a situation came up and the only way I knew how to respond to it was to shave my head and beard. Sort of an Old Testament putting on of sackcloth and ashes response. After that passed over I found myself with the unique opportunity to give myself a beard for my birthday…a BEARDTHDAY if you will. So on December 9th 2011 I made sure I was clean shaven when I went to bed so that I’d have my first birthday present when I woke up. It was time to see just what I could grow unhindered. Over the course of the year I made sure to stop each Friday wherever I was to snap a shot. It was pretty cool to look back at each Friday and see just where I’d visited over the course of a year. Chicago, Colorado, Kentucky, Utah, Kansas, Washington, the Oregon Trail, helping friends move, out on my property, at work in our data centers, driving in my car, out at the movies, visiting my parents or just at home in my apartment. It was an especially rewarding experience because during month four I entered and won my very first beard contest here in Springfield. Later I found out that the best and most unexpected purchase of the year ended up being a pair of five dollar sunglasses. They instantly transformed me into a seriously cooler looking dude as soon as I’d put them on. I could have picked up an instrument and stepped out on stage with ZZ-Top and no one would have been the wiser. My beard’s starting to grow in a few white sprigs too which I really dig. I’m not sure I’ll be able to look back and pick out a more transformative year…and not just for my face. What a year; it was not good, but it was good to have been.

Birthday to Beardthday 150pixel images

Rally America 2013 100 Acre Woods Rally

This is my first attempt to provide a Rally Guide for spectators of the 100 Acre Woods Rally. I hope this information can be used to help plan your trip, set your expectations and familiarize you with the area.

This event happens around the third weekend in February and is part of the national Rally America circuit. People come from as far away as Michigan, New York and Texas just to be a spectator for this event. Big names like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana regularly show up for this woodland adventure. Newer Subarus, Mitsubishi, and Fords make up the front of the pack, but it also attracts some older vintage cars; Volvo 242s, late 60s VW Bugs, Saab 96, and Datsun 510s. Potosi hosts the super special in the park which is a short track preview of what can be seen out in the woods. The Parc Expose in Salem on Saturday morning will be the perfect chance to see all the cars up close and possibly get some autographs signed. Weather for this event is varied. We’ve seen snow covered roads, years with so much rain that some stages are washed out or canceled, and in 2012 extremely dusty conditions. About the only thing that remains constant is the cold…and it can get cold. Stages are run during the day and up until about 8 or 9 at night. One of the highlights for me has always been the Polish fans that come down to support the Art Logistics drivers. They’re always very animated and help liven up the stages by waving Polish flags and singing. Essential to enjoying these events is coming ready to have fun and all of our Polish fans are well aware of this.

Spectator Points
There are multiple spectator points Friday and Saturday. Generally though you won’t be able to see every point and it’s a good idea to pick out two for Friday and possibly three for Saturday.  It takes between 30-45 minutes to travel between some of these stages and depending on when the start times are it can be tough to make it between consecutive stages. Many of the spectator points are run twice over the course of the weekend and it looks like  they’ve tried to stagger the stage times a bit  to allow spectators to travel between different locations. Just don’t get caught trying to squeeze it all in and miss the stages altogether.  After you’ve arrived it is essential that your cars are only parked along one side of the road. This will help make room for emergency vehicles. You’ll want to drive in and turn your car around so you can make a quick exit after it’s over. These are smaller country roads and are almost entirely dirt and gravel. If it rains the ditches can be quite soft; don’t get stuck. Be prepared to walk quite a ways up to the spectating area. How early you arrive will determine how close you can park.

At the spectator point the road marshals will have caution tape setup to specify where you can and can’t go. They’ll indicate whether you can cross the road and at what times. If the crowd gets out of hand or unruly it is within the marshal’s power to cancel the stage. Double Zero and Zero cars will precede the racers down the track to alert everyone that the stage is about to start. Before these cars arrive make sure you’re in the spot that you want to be. You will not be allowed to cross the road after these cars go by. Show up early for the stages and you’ll get a great spot. If the area is filling up respectfully ask if it would be possible to extend the caution tape further to allow for more front row viewing. Getting nasty gets you no where.

Items to bring
1. Noisemakers!!! When those cars come screaming around the corner its great to cheer them on by making some noise. Air horns, cow bells, shofars, and anything else you’ve got that makes noise will work.
2. A small cooler is perfect because you’ll be out in the woods for a couple hours at a time. Stash away food and drink. We’ve seen one or two stages where local school booster clubs will be selling hot dogs and drinks, but it’s never a guarantee.
3. Lawn chairs and stools come in handy while you’re sitting in the woods. I’ve even seen short step ladders used to help give photographers a better view of the race.
4. Cameras are great to help you capture these amazing cars emerging from the woods and flying by you at break neck speed. Make sure your camera settings are dialed in for outdoor lighting and fast moving objects. Cameras that can take multiple shots in quick succession come in very handy. If you have a zoom lens then break it out. However, be aware that lots of dust and rock can be kicked up by these cars.
5. Warm clothes are very important; especially after dark when the temperatures begin to drop rapidly. You’ll thank yourself for dressing in wool socks and windproof garments.
6. TP…just in case. A few points will have porta-johns, but I’d be prepared all the same.

Spectator Points A, C, D, E, & F

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One Year Ago or This S*** Sucks

One year ago I had this to say, “I’m looking forward to this Christmas as well as the new year. I’m content and hopeful and encouraged and ready to see what will happen this next year.” If I had known then what I know now I’d have probably hidden out under a rock to let the year pass by and come out again like Rip Van Winkle. I can’t remember a worst year in the entire Book of Eli. My failures have spanned all disciplines; girls, house, cars, work, girls. It has just kept on coming. The discouragement has been overwhelming at times and at the end of the day I’m not sure if I’m stronger in my faith or just weaker as a person.

Francis Schaeffer wrote,

The Christian life is not an unbroken, inclined plane. Sometimes it is up, and sometimes -we must all acknowledge if we are not deluding ourselves – it is down. While it is not possible to be more or less justified, it is possible to be more or less sanctified. Justification deals with the guilt of sin; sanctification deals with the power of sin in the Christian life, and there are degrees in this.

This is somewhat of an encouragement to know that my justification has not been undone even though the discouragement has definitely resulted in a decrease in sanctification of myself and life. There have been times this year of great satisfaction and contentment; earlier this summer, I can’t remember if it was before the disappointing appraisal or after, I picked up bike riding again and I can remember sitting on my stoop after a particularly long ride taking in the summer air with a cool gatorade. I’m fairly certain I even audibly voiced my contentment with life even if it meant staying indefinitely at chateau de Woodgate(my crappy cheap apartment). These simple moments are what are stolen so easily; whether by distraction or deception Satan has drawn my eyes and heart away and the contentment disappears.

Schaeffer goes on to say, ‘When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God or have ceased to be submissive to him.’ Ouch I didn’t need that conviction too. Where has my contentment fled and what’s in the way of my submission? Trust? Have I trust enough to be led in a ways that I would not choose? Is what I fear about the future robbing me of the present? The very real possibility of never finding a wife, never building a house, never racing a rally car, no thing for which I had hoped. I stare at these prospects somewhat paralyzed. I’m the first to rejoice at the blessing of others and I would say the last to covet what another has, but the root of this sounds an awful lot like coveting.


Does this mean that any desire is coveting and therefore sinful? The Bible makes plain that this is not so – all desire is not sin. So then the question arises, when does proper desire become coveting? I think we can put the answer down simply: desire becomes sin when it fails to include love of God or men. Further I think there are two practical tests as to when we are coveting against God or men; first I am to love God enough to be contented; second, I am to love men(mankind) enough not to envy.

So I’ve got that second part, but I think somewhere along the way I skipped over the first. I am missing part of the equation and probably the most important part, emphasized here by guess who. ‘”The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” The order is in three steps: rejected, slain, raised. “And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” The order – rejected, slain, raised is modeled for us in Christs substitutionary death and is the order of true spirituality.’ Again, ouch. When the heck was it that I thought this cross and denying of self would include indulging oneself in whatsoever satisfaction one can garner out of this life and his surroundings?

As Christ’s rejection and death are the first steps in the order of redemption, so our rejection and death to things and self are the first steps in the order of true and growing spirituality. As there could be no next step in the order of Christ’s redemption until the step of death was taken, so in the Christian there can be no further step until these first two steps are faced – no in theory only, but at least in some practical practices. Rejected, slain.