Saturday, August 29, 2009


I awoke with a start! A quick glance at the clock and relief replaced the fear that I had overslept. It was 4am. I am going to the Temple.

“I have time,” I mused. I could lay there and enjoy teasing myself with how far back into slumber I dared go … only to be jarred back to life when the sounds of KTAR 92.3 fill the room. No, it wasn’t worth the risk of waking my wife. I’m up!
As I leave the house dressed in white shirt and tie, the sweet smell of dew arouses my senses. I think “sweet!”

Five minutes later, I take my place in line to enter the freeway. My pulse quickens just a little. I glance at the cars speeding ahead and wonder why so many people are up at this hour of the morning, already dressed, breakfast in hand (or cup), listening to the traffic report giving time-saving instructions every hour on the “9’s.”

I think ahead, reminding myself not to get lost in my thoughts and miss the freeway exit … a costly mistake when you drained every drop of extra time out of the snooze alarm. But this morning was different. I beat the alarm; a trophy day already. I am going to the temple.

For Latter Day Saint members, going to the temple means service, sacrifice, and fulfillment. It is service and sacrifice that brings fulfillment, and it is voluntary.

Hundreds will visit the LDS Temple and its grounds in Mesa, Arizona, today. Some will come as visitors and curiously wander into the Visitors Center located adjacent to the temple, where the purpose of life is explored and presented in audio and visual form. Questions are answered here, connections with a spiritual self are often made, and no one leaves without feeling just a little better.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or more commonly known as the “Mormons,” or “LDS,” has owned and operated this sacred edifice, the Mesa Arizona Temple, since its dedication in 1927. It stands today as a “light unto the world,” for it represents a place of holiness and peace apart from the world as we know it. As in the days of ancient Israel, where its people worshiped regularly in the synagogues, but reserved the performance of more sacred ordinances for the temple, Latter-Day Saints also embrace the temple as the house of the Lord, a place of sanctity.

I arrive at the temple at just after 5am. The sweetness of the morning fills my lungs as I breathe deeply to soak in as much as I can before the hot desert sun wakes with a vengeance and strips the desert air of any hint of coolness.

I love to walk the temple grounds and smell the fresh citrus blossoms that announce the beginning of spring. On this day (October 10,2008), however, fall is in the air ever-so-lightly, but it is there, nonetheless. Fall and winter flowers have been planted, still in their infancy, yet radiate so much potential. They adorn the House of the Lord, as if they knew.

As I climb the steps to the temple entrance, I pause for a moment and listen. The sounds of the world are so loud, even at daybreak. Rarely do we get to meditate in solitude anymore. There is always sound, even the sound of a fan at night, white noise, I believe they call it. Inside the temple, people use their “temple voice” when they must talk; otherwise, they just listen. It is a time of re-connection, re-dedication, a time to focus on the family and its eternal nature; a time to shut out the noise of the world and leave behind those cares that seem to mean so much during our mortal stay, but are quickly shed once we are called back to that home before this.

All too soon, I will be returning through the same doors that carried me in, my service complete for a time. Yet, I know I will return a better man for having attended a temple of our Lord.

Friday, August 28, 2009


My "Quest" the last 10 years has been to provide SOLUTIONS for PROPERTY OWNERS who have property to DEVELOP but lack the time or expertise to do it on their own.

I started developing gas stations in 1986, just as the "convenience market industry" was being born. The majority of those 30 or so stations were a result of a changing market and reflected an attempt by the owner to "do something different" and to create their own brand.

Most of those stations became "Star Marts" in 1990, and are branded Shell today, with the merger of Texaco and Shell a few years ago.
[FIRST PHOTO] Just after the turn of the new century, I was fortunate enough to be involved in my first retail center, located in Mesa at the NWC of Baseline and Power Roads. You know it as the Honey Baked Ham store, or where the best fish tacos can be eaten, at Rubios.
[SECOND PHOTO] I then had the opportunity to help develop a beautiful gas station amidst the tall pines and San Francisco Mountains as a backdrop, in Flagstaff, AZ. This project was loaded with "mines" such as special interest groups and pouring cement in the dead of winter ... but we got it done and it still looks beautiful even today.
[THIRD PHOTO] The next photo was a real stretch. In 2003, the intersection of Hwy 260 and I-17 [Cottonwood side] was just dirt and an old Chevron gas station. A developer siezed an opportunity when the State widened Hwy 260 into Cottonwood and needed some dirt. Well, he had mountains of it ... and thus began the nesting place for the Verde Travel Center, located in Camp Verde, AZ. The owners wanted to preserve the Native American influence that is predominant in the area, so after extensive research and many different designs, a 12,000 square foot building was designed around a gas station, c-store, trading post, and Wendy's Hamburger franchise. There were many issues to overcome, public sentiment to win over, and utilities to bring from afar. But when I still get phone calls today, telling me how beautiful the architecture is and how clean the grounds are and so well maintained, I tend to forget the many hours of focus it took to produce such a jewel in the high desert.

The Upper Village of Moenkopi is one of the first Villages within the Hopi Nation to develop and own a project that will be staffed predominately with Native Americans living in the general vicinity of Tuba City, AZ. This project would not have been even dared if it were not for dedicated individuals such as the CEO and President of Moenkopi Developers, Daniel Honahni and other Village Board Members. These individuals had a dream of self reliance apart from the mother ship, and I watched them overcome hurdle after hurdle to achieve their dream of independence. How grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to direct the team that designed and constructed this beautiful structure. The inspiration for this project came, I believe, from my project in Camp Verde (Photo #3), for it was after seeing this facility that they contacted me about doing the same type development on their property.
When I first set foot on the parcel, I had already put into motion my team ... and then found out the site was only 2 acres in it's present state, and it needed to be 4 acres. Now that should have scared me away, but it didn't. We just moved ahead and transported over 2 acres of import ... where at one point is 16 feet high from the original base.
The facility has a Smoke Shop, Convenience Store, Gas Station, Car Wash, RV Dump, Artisian Booths for locals to show and sell their crafts, a Cafe specializing in local fare, and a Taco Del Mar, mexican food franchise. The entry to the food and artisian court showcases an amazing engineering spectacle of wood and beam. You must put Tuba City on your "places to visit" list, just to see the woodcraft in this building ... and of course take a break or even stay in the new Moenkopi Inn next door.
I will provide links to these places, once I learn "how" to do so.
I do enjoy PROVIDING SOLUTIONS to whatever needs you might have. I will post at a later date my foree into the Self Storage market... but off to spend some time with the grandkids at Pizza Piper :>)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Life at Woodland Lake

Woodland Lake, located in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, is a little slice of Heaven. Linda and I were both raised in Northern Arizona and have a special place in our hearts for such beauty. If you want a place to stretch your legs or work up a sweat, you can do both by walking the path around the Lake. Just watch out for the serious joggers. Yes, you can take your 4-legged companion as well and both get a good workout. Just be sure your companion is on a leash (the 4-legged companion, that is).
I love Woodland Lake in the morning ... or in the late afternoon ... but either time, you are sure to be treated to some great photo opps. It's a place where amateur photographers, like myself, can just about point and shoot ... and turn out something as beautiful as this. Put a yellow mat around this and watch the colors jump out at you. You can get to Woodland Lake by taking Woodland Road off the main drag between Lakeside and Pinetop. Or take the road by the Chevron station in Pinetop and it takes you right there (Can you tell I'm from a small town where directions given are structures and not street names? I still do not know the street names in Happy Holbrook).


Linda and I were headed to Lakeside (2005) to load up our furniture and transport back to Phoenix. It was about 6pm, we were listening to satellite radio's Fibber Magee and Molly, when an explosion stunned me into seeing everything move in slow motion. I saw the brown blur just at impact, but I also saw chards of glass-like dust moving in slow motion. While cruising at 62 mph, the truck had hit a trophy bull elk head on and the truck never left the road. It didn't fishtail, or roll, or even go sideways. It just coasted to the side of the road and stopped, as if it was on automatic pilot.

Upon impact, the bull elk staggered a few feet and then fell dead on the side of the road. People traveling behind us gasped in horror as the scene unfolded. They expected to find us dead and buried after that impact, but inside the cab, it was the most peaceful feeling ... as if we were in a protective cucoon. Both Linda and I had the same peaceful feeling, as we compared our thoughts later. Neither of us felt any fear, or pain ... nary a broken bone. Except for some blood oozing out my arms and neck from the flying chards of glass, we were not harmed at all. We can only give thanks to our Heavenly Father for tender mercies shown on our behalf. It was indeed a miracle and one that we shall be eternally grateful for.

Once the realization that we had hit something broke through the clouds, all I could do was sit there. Linda said I was mumbling "I love my truck," but I think she heard wrong. Well... maybe not. I did love that truck. But only after I checked to see if my wife was ok :>) People stopped immediately and came to offer help. A nurse just coming home from her shift was there in a moment. She checked Linda and then me ... and said "I can't believe you aren't hurt."
A forest ranger was next on the scene to tell me what I had hit and that it was mine if I wanted it. Linda got out of the truck and started taking photos for insurance purposes. I stayed right behind the wheel. I just couldn't move. I guess I was processing what had just happened. Then, the highway patrolman arrived. He came over and noticed my air bag had not deployed and gently remarked that if that bag goes off while I am behind the wheel, I could be injured. That got my wheels moving and I quickly rolled to the passenger side of the truck and made my exit. That is when I got the full impact of just how miraculous this was. There, laying on his side, was the largest bull elk I had ever seen.
The forest ranger started on me again, wanting to know if I wanted the elk and if so, I needed to arrange to have it transported somewhere. Now remember, I had just taken the life of this majestic animal in an unfair fight ... and this dude is pressing me for an answer. Of course I didn't want it. Who would want to be reminded every time he entered a room that his truck had taken a life? Not me. So I said give the meat to the poor and I don't care what you do with the rest of it. Then someone came up to me and started razzing me for giving it away. "Don't you know what this thing is worth." he said. "It's a trophy elk and those antlers are worth some money, let alone the meat." I told him to bug off, but I did go over to the ranger, as he was loading (or trying to load) the carcass into the bed of his truck, and asked, if I wanted to keep the elk how would I get it processed ... and he just about handcuffed me right there for even "thinking" about it once I told him I didn't want it. Gee whiz, I was only asking.
Anyway, there we were by the side of the road ... alone and no one to call but our Realtor in Lakeside. He didn't even think twice when I called him and he drove out to get us, which by then, was quite late at night. Thanks Neal Thompson. He loaded us into his SUV, with glass and blood ... and transported us to Lakeside. We refused to go in the ambulance and probably should have stopped off at the emergency room in Show Low, but we just wanted to get back to our little home and get some rest. Our kids came up the next day and helped us load everything into a U-haul and by 6pm Saturday night, we were headed back to the Valley. And yes, I was driving and yes, I was quite nervous driving in the forest after that, and even now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Blog - First Posting

At the insistance of my blogging friends and family, I have decided to join the 21st century and create my very own blog. My daughter Shelly said it would only take 5 minutes to set up. I was stopped for 1/2 hour at the very first question (other than what is your name). I decided to name my blog Quest Driven because that seems to define my actions in the past and no doubt the future. It seems I am always on a quest for something. Never quite satisfied once I get there. But my goal with this blog is to add something of value that others might benefit from. I have never been bashful about using my own mistakes when teaching life's lessons. I hope to use this blog as a platform to express my views and possibly expose some hidden talent for writing and photography. I might even add some value once in a while. But mostly, my blog will be an outlet for my self expression and for sharing my quest with anyone who might share my interests.
Love to all ...