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Getting Through Texas

Yeah. This was what we saw for a long time.

Yeah. This was what we saw for a long time.

Well I was right about one thing: west Texas was the worst part of our trip thus far. We definitely traded the enchantment of New Mexico for the ordinariness of Texas. For the first three hours, all we saw were cows and oil fields. Then for a few hours we saw some desert. Finally, we concluded with about four hours of of unchanging grassy hills and trees.

Objectively, there was certainly an appeal to it all. I had never seen oil fields, the rock plateaus in the desert were pretty iconic, and the green area was nice. But there was also nothing particularly awe-inspiring or novel about any of it. The fields could have been just about any state in the midwest (and seemed to never end!); had we not just driven through Arizona and New Mexico, the desert and plateaus might have seemed more grand, but we were kind of numb to them at that point; and if you’ve ever driven through western New York or Pennsylvania, you’ve seen four hours of Texas. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh and it’s the fatigue speaking, but we absolutely struggled through the entire trip.

There was one major redeeming part of the trip, however: San Antonio. I’d say that the trip was worth it if for the River Walk alone. If you’re not familiar with San Antonio, think Venice with its river running through the city and places to see as you walked, but without the smell and with Texas flags and Mexican food everywhere. It was gorgeous, and we couldn’t have asked for a better evening. As the sun set, we got some much-needed exercise walking around the city, stopping for a delicious dinner outside mere feet from the river and passersby. If I lived in San Antonio, I would definitely make it my main place to relax, read, eat, and of course, people watch.

The people of San Antonio got more on their tour than they expected!

The people of San Antonio got more on their tour than they expected!

Again wearing my habit, there were few humorous moments. Since the city is named after St. Anthony of Padua, there is a giant statue dedicated to him on the walk. Naturally, I got a picture with him. As it could only have happened, we stopped just as a riverboat tour guide was talking about St. Anthony. It was a great surprise for the tour to see a friar in real life, and I had a laugh as I called out to the inquisitive, and confused, boat full of people sailing by. It was great fun had by all!

By the time we got home, the friars were back from the day’s work, and we had a good time getting to know each other. Dog-tired at that point, we didn’t stay up too long, but it was great to see more of our brotherhood in a new place and to see how the charism is being lived out in yet another part of the world.

Unfortunately, though, this is a road trip and so we must get back to the road. Today, as I type this actually, we are on our way to New Orleans. There has been a lot of flooding in Houston and east Texas so we might have some problems along the way, but we’re hoping to get to “The Big Easy” before dinner so we can see the city and find the best place to get some cajun food. If you have any suggestions, send them our way. If not, thanks for reading, and please keep us in your prayers as the week goes on. We’re halfway through the trip at this point, and speaking for myself, the lack of sleep, long days on the road, and unhealthy food is really starting to take its toll on me! Until next time, we’ll be here just getting through Texas on our way back home!

 

If no video appears, click here to see our trip from yesterday.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Trips

 

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The Beauty of New Mexico

As we crossed the mountain, it looked like we were descending into the ocean

As we crossed the mountain, it looked like we were descending into the ocean

I know I said in my last post that I wasn’t going to have time to make another video today, but what I really meant was, “I don’t think there will be anything worthwhile to film.” We were planning on driving from Phoenix to Roswell, and having just driven an entire day through the deserts, I couldn’t imagine there being anything to see I hadn’t already shared.

The fact that I present a video to you today (and the fact that I stayed up pretty late working on it and got up early to finish it) shows that I was wrong. Completely wrong. Having now been to San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Phoenix, I have no problem saying that our drive through New Mexico was the highlight of the trip. That’s right, I said it. New Mexico was a greater experience for me than San Diego. Hands down.

One of the many breathtaking sits of the day

One of the many breathtaking sits of the day

We drove most of the day, and yet, I didn’t want to stop driving. They were the most “road trip” roads I had ever seen. With wide open highways, we cruised up and down mountains, cut through rolling hills, and glided across a barren desert. And if we didn’t like the scenery, all we had to do was wait two hours and it would completely change. We drove through cactus-laden desert, high rock formations, a white beach-like plain, over a mountain, through a forest (yes, there is a forest in New Mexico), and as it appeared to me, on top of the world through a desolate undulating field. There was a surprise around every corner, and we didn’t want it to end.

Until it did, and we were more than pleased to get out of the car and meet with the friars. Father Charlie Martinez, OFM, took out us to eat and we had a great time. There are few clips that didn’t make it into the short video today but may make it into the documentary at the end are worth noting: 1) our check engine light came on midway through the trip, but luckily it is off this morning, 2) at the restaurant last, the waitress would not accept my NC driver’s license and I was forced to drink water while my brothers enjoyed a refreshing beer, and 3) there was a mixup at the friary, and having “no room at the inn,” Fr. Charlie graciously got us a hotel room around the corner. As with our stop in Phoenix, there is plenty more worth showing, including another interview with a friar about his vocation and mission, but you’ll just have to wait until the end to see it all!

Hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as we are! I know I said this yesterday, but it’s going to be another long day today as we drive through west Texas to get to San Antonio. We don’t expect any more surprises today, but I guess that’s the point of a surprise: you don’t expect it! Keep us in your prayers as we will likely hit a few storms and drive through areas that have flooded lately, and continue to follow us here and on Twitter.

To see the video from email, click here.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Trips

 

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Video

Safe Arrival in Phoenix

Hey everyone! We made it safely to Phoenix last night where we had a relaxing and enjoyable time with the friars in prayer and celebration. We have a lot more footage than I can share (or have time at the moment to edit properly), so I hope you enjoy this quick glimpse into our day yesterday, and hopefully when it’s all said and done I can show you some of the things I left out.

We’re on our way to Roswell, NM today, a trip that is long and appears to be quite boring. I am not sure if I will be able to post a video tomorrow, but maybe I will be able to bring some thoughts together while we drive into a longer post with pictures.

Enjoy! (As usual, if you are viewing this in email, the video will not appear. Click here to view it.)

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Trips

 

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Let The Journey Begin

Let The Journey Begin

And we’re off! At exactly 10:20 this morning, after five months of planning and three days exploring southern California, Edgardo and I finally left on our cross-country road trip. In just six days, we will have traveled more than 3,000 miles; visited seven different friaries from five different provinces; witnessed an ocean, bay, swampy bayou and rivers, hundreds of miles of desert, and rolling lush mountains; and eaten our weight in unhealthy (and delicious) regional delicacies. All of this without leaving the country.

The first leg of our trip begins in Oceanside, CA and ends in Phoenix, AZ. We’ll be leaving the cool California coastline and for the hot Arizona desert. Because of the change in plans (due to Edgardo’s appointment this morning), we will not be able to travel as far as we had originally hoped. This was certainly a disappointment at first, as it will make the second day very long. On the other hand, a “short” five and a half hour drive is nothing to complain about. Easing into the trip rather than getting burned out on the first day is a good thing, and now that we’re arriving early and spending the night rather than quickly driving through, we’ll have time to explore Phoenix.

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I’m writing this via iPhone so I apologize if the quality isn’t like it usually is, but you’re getting a first hand look at our trip as we drive! Be sure to comment here or Tweet us @Friarcasey and we’ll get back to you! We may even read and answer your questions in our video…

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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Trips

 

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The City of Angels

Day three was the highlight of our trip so far. Besides the fact that it was my birthday, we got a chance to have mass at the Los Angeles Cathedral with the Cardinal, had lunch in Santa Monica, and even met a friend from college for a drink. The day ended with some cake and a movie back at the friary.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to see the third video of the trip. If you’re having trouble viewing it, or if you’re reading this post via email, click here to watch it on YouTube.

Also, our official road trip starts tomorrow! We’ll be leaving around lunch time to spend the night in Phoenix, AZ. Please keep us in your prayers, and continue to follow us here and @friarcasey on Twitter. Send us your questions and we’ll answer them on video!

Our Lady of Angels Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking

Our Lady of Angels Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking

The tapestries were definitely my favorite part

The tapestries were definitely my favorite part

Santa Monica!

Santa Monica!

My mom sent me a cake from North Carolina. Isn't she the best?

My mom sent me a cake from North Carolina. Isn’t she the best?

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Trips

 

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Tour of Mission San Luis Rey

How old is your church? Yesterday, I was given a tour of a church founded in 1798! One of the original missions of the Franciscans in the southwest, Mission San Luis Rey is the largest adobe church in the country, and because it was not damaged like most of the others, is still in incredible condition. Naturally, it is a major tourist stop, as many come from great distances to see the old church and museum, but it is also a thriving parish, complete with two parish halls and a retreat center to accommodate it’s 6000 families! It was so inspiring to see the legacy of the friars alive and well today!

But rather than writing all about it, why don’t I show you? Here are a few pictures of the mission, and at the bottom, you will find my second video blog, Day Two: Tour of Mission San Luis Rey.

Mission San Luis Rey is a gorgeous adobe church in Oceanside, CA.

Mission San Luis Rey is a gorgeous adobe church in Oceanside, CA.

The original mission

The original mission

The friars have a long history in California

The friars have a long history in California

Edgardo having a little fun with Francis

Edgardo having a little fun with Francis

 

 

(If you’re reading this post from your email, be sure to click here to see the video. Apparently it doesn’t show up in emails.)

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Ministry, Trips

 

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Staying Classy in San Diego

Greetings from San Diego! It was a long journey yesterday, but I am safe and sound at Old Mission San Luis Rey with Edgardo Jara, ofm.

The view was breathtaking...

The view was breathtaking…

My trip started at 7:30am yesterday with a drive to the train station, a quick ride to the satellite area, a shuttle to the airport. I was quickly a few miles in the air, and I stayed there for almost six hours! While a bit uncomfortable, the view was absolutely breathtaking. Out my window I saw great plains, snowy mountains, and endless desert. (Seriously though. ENDLESS. It was then, as it took two hours of flying to get past it all, that I realized it was going to take a long time to drive it next week.) It is an incredible country that I can’t wait to explore!

 

Two Franciscan friars in real life!

Two Franciscan friars in real life!

Once we landed, I had one priority: food. Having eaten at 6:30am EST, and with only a bag of crackers and peanuts on the plane, by 1:00 PT I was a bit famished. Edgardo picked me up and we headed to Balboa Park, a nice outdoor area of San Diego with walking trails, museums, art galleries, entertainment, and restaurants. (The meal was a bit pedestrian so no use sharing it here, but get ready for some food pictures on this trip! I know we’re definitely getting some BBQ in Texas and Jambalaya in New Orleans!)

 

The University of San Diego is a remnant of a long forgotten "mission" world.

The University of San Diego is a remnant of a long forgotten “mission” world.

By then, I was much less irritable, and it was time to do some exploring. Unlike DC where most of the museums are free, San Diego felt a need to charge $18 to see everything… so we didn’t. But no matter, we were in San Diego: the city itself is a spectacle. Walking around without a plan or a care for a few hours was wonderful. We saw Balboa Park and University of San Diego (both of which were having graduations), and just enjoyed the beautiful weather.

From there, it was off to dinner with a few of Edgardo’s friends. Again, I don’t have any pictures to share, but man… it was delicious. A going away present to Edgardo, his two friends served us a feast, including the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. After dinner, we took a much needed walk around the city, which ended up turning into more food: dessert! (Seeing a theme with my travel posts?

Anyway, by this time it was about 9:00 pm, which doesn’t sound late, but I had technically been up since 3:00am PT, and I was dead tired. With a 45 minute drive back to Old Mission San Luis Rey ahead of us, we called it a night on our first day.

We found Junipero Serra, soon to be Saint!

We found Junipero Serra, soon to be Saint!

Unfortunately, even though my body was incredibly tired from the day’s happenings (a bit much for an introvert to be around people non-stop for about 15 hours nonstop), it wasn’t fooled by the clock this morning. At 2:11am, I woke up, ready to go this morning, after only three hours of sleep. Woo hoo! Luckily I was able to get back to sleep for a few hours, but it’s going to make for a long day today!

As far as the trip goes, we’re not planning on leaving San Diego until Tuesday, so we’re here until then. That doesn’t mean the posts will halt till then. Today, I’m going to get a tour of the Old Mission San Luis Rey from Lalo and probably go on a hike, tomorrow we’re planning on celebrating my birthday with a trip to Los Angeles, and Monday, well, who knows what we’ll do, but I’m sure it will be interesting. Check back with us each day and be sure to comment or post questions for us to answer on video.

Which brings me to this final gem: my first video. It’s incredibly amateur and a bit shaky at times, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I hope you enjoy the new medium, and feel free to offer as much advice/critique as you want! I’m learning as I go along and could use all the help I can get! Until tomorrow, you stay classy San Diego!

(If you’re reading this post from your email, be sure to click here to see the video. Apparently it doesn’t show up in emails.)

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Fraternity, Trips

 

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