Also while I was in Oregon, I went to Vancouver, WA, just across the river from Portland to see this girl I had gone on missions with 5 years ago in high school. We had gone to Portugal together. That was also good. That we kept in touch really amazed me, because we only knew each other for 5 weeks, but we’ve managed to keep in touch for 5 years. There’s something about missions that really bonds a team, I think. On that high school trip, I really did bond with 3 of my teammates. One of them I don’t really talk to any more, but Mindy I just saw, and Bobby and I are pretty close now, and it’s mainly due to that trip. I feel really close to the East Asia team this summer, also, and look forward to keeping in touch with them all. So missions really bonds people. I guess this is just another side benefit of short term missions, as if we needed extra motivation. So think about it next summer.
After Oregon, I went back down to Stanford for a few days to see people and take care of some things for next year. I can already tell that next year is going to be a strange one. We’ll see how things go. After hanging out there, I drove down to L.A. and stayed with Eddie for a few days and saw some people there. My cousin Marshall drove down with Alex and Susan and we met up in L.A. and started our trip to Houston. Well first on Sunday we visited the Anaheim Vineyard with Andrew Wong and Alvin Chan. I was expecting and hoping to see all this crazy stuff, like healing notes from God on the electric guitar and dancing and barking and whatnot, but it turned out to be pretty tame. One thing I noticed about myself is that I kind of have trouble initially trusting white Christians. I guess when I was growing up all the sincere Christians I knew were from church and were Korean, and all the white Christians I saw were televangelists and kind of sketchy. So I think I have this instictive distrust of white Christians who act a certain way. It’s kind of bad. Don’t get me wrong, not all white Christians strike me this way, and even those that do when I get to know them I get over it, but just certain ones, I feel nervous. And I kind of felt that at AVCF. It’s bad. Two cool things, though: they had was tissue paper all along the front of the stage for crying people, and there was a tongue and interpretation. I’ve only been to Vineyard twice, once in Palo Alto and then at Anaheim and both times there was a tongue and interpretation.
After church, my cousin and I had lunch with this girl he became friends with in Korea who goes to KCPC named Esther. Anyway, we ate at that mall in Cerritos that everyone always talks about. Kind of uncomfortable. Because we’ve never really talked before, so there really wasn’t much for me to say. Our conversation consisted mostly of what’s going on at church and Kris Song, our 2 points of contact. But she’s a nice girl so lunch was cool. We also took pictures with the rocks that play music. Ask any Whitney “person” about it. They’re famous.
After lunch my and my cousin set out for Las Vegas. This whole trip was kind of interesting because we went with absolutely no plans, not even when we would get to Houston. That was actually kind of fun. I mean, if you went with someone anal, it might suck, but Marsh is laid back and cool so it was a blast. Anyway, we went to Las Vegas and knew nothing about the city, so we decided to walk up and down the strip, the main street. Kind of a mistake. The strip is long, and Las Vegas is hot. We didn’t know what to do, and shows were a little pricey, so we went to the Stratosphere, which looked cool because it was a big tower. We went to the top, and there are these 2 roller coasters at the top. One was a disappointment. But the one that bounces up and down was pretty impressive. Then we gambled exactly 5 dollars each (I lost about 4 dollars total and Marsh came out 75 cents ahead) and walked around. Both of us got a sense in L.A. like it’s not a real place, that everything felt artificial, but that doesn’t even compare to Las Vegas. My goodness. So fake and gaudy. The inside of Caesar’s Palace was amazing though. There’s this shopping center with a fake sky so you can never tell what time it is, whether it’s day or night. Casino’s like to do that.
Las Vegas was one of the most depressing places I’ve ever been. Just seeing how depressed all the people there are. And it’s all built on money. We were watching this one blackjack table and one guy was trying to make conversation with the dealer. The guy talking was so lonely, and the dealer seemed so unhappy and didn’t feel like talking much. She was from San Jose, but had come here 25 years ago. And she didn’t like it here, but it’s like she had no choice or something. So depressing. I never want to go back to that place again. The thing I can’t believe is that people would bring their kids there. When I have kids, I am keeping them far far away from Las Vegas. Yikes.
Another interesting thing I noticed was how there’s a social hierarchy in the casinos. Like Caesar’s Palace is more upscale, upper class, and Circus Circus is lower and for more lower class, and there’s more minorities there. Interesting.
The next day we set out for the Grand Canyon, stopping at the Hoover Dam on the way. By the way, the Hoover Dam is really quite impressive. I’ve always wondered how people build dams. It just makes no sense to me. If someone can explain how that works, I would appreciate it. Anyway, we got there just before sundown, so me and my cousin parked the car and watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon. It was the most amazing natural sight that I have ever seen. Incredible. When me and Marsh first glimpsed the canyon, we were amazed. Because seriously, it’s just in the middle of nowhere. Like you wouldn’t anticipate it from a distance, this big gorge in the ground. It was very cool. The entire park was booked so we slept in a small city an hour away, came back the next morning and hiked for a few hours around the rim, then left for Phoenix. Hiking was fun. I’m not normally afraid of heights, but the canyon did something to me. I hadn’t felt like that since I was a kid. Also, some girl fell in while we were there. We saw the ambulances. It apparently happens a lot, as there’s really no rails or guards along most of it. She was backing up for a picture, and just took one too many steps. Like I said, that apparently happens a lot.
In Phoenix we stayed with a friend of mine who is actually coming to Stanford Med this year. We had Korean food and saw Saving Private Ryan. A pretty good flick. Definitely intense.
The next day, we set out for Tombstone. You’ve probably seen the movie. It’s where the showdown at the O.K. Corral took place, with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday . We thought it would be fun, so we went. When we entered the city we stopped at the sign where it says “Tombstone” and took a picture. But I was so excited about being there that I locked my keys in the trunk. My car doesn’t have a little thing that lets you open the trunk from inside so we had to wait for a few hours while the nearest locksmith (the third one we called) came and took care of it. It was an adventure. Tombstone was cool, but it’s entire economy seemed to be based on tourism, and there weren’t many tourists at supposedly the height of the tourist season. That made me sad. I get sad at stuff like that.
After Tombstone we set out for Texas, passing through New Mexico. We stopped for dinner at a Taco Cabana in El Paso. My cousin got a kick out of how they played Tejano (in Spanish) music there. It’s common in Texas, especially in El Paso. We decided to keep on going, switching off driving, so we drove through the night until we were near San Antonio. By this time we were both dying so we slept at a rest stop for a few hours before entering San Antonio. I’m not sure I would do that again. Yeah, I’ve heard it’s unsafe. But at night, there are like 30 cars and trucks at the rest stops, so it feels somewhat safe. But when we woke up, there were 3 cars left. The thing is, I found out from There’s Something About Mary that it’s the bathhouse of the 90s. Yikes. Avoid. Anyway, we hung out at the Alamo and some stuff there. Then to Houston. So that was my trip. Since then I’ve just been doing little things. I helped my sister move up to Austin. Other random things.