Friday, September 6, 2013

He is Always Right

Sheldon Sorge, Canadian Travel Guru
I realize an affirmation like that is giving a blank check to Sheldon Sorge for many things. But when it comes to selecting get-away sites in western Canada, he is Always Right.

Of course he is. Sheldon grew up out here. So did his wife Tammy. They know the territory. And Sheldon knows me.

He is the pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery (AKA Grand Exalted Poobah, or Presbytery Executive). That is a thankless job. He deals daily with struggling churches, confused pastors, and theological water balloon fights. To keep sane, he has three extracurricular joys: a very wonderful wife, a love of playing jazz on the piano, and any overpriced beverage from the Isle of Islay. We have those joys in common.

We also love pastoral ministry, which is closer to how we met. Sheldon recruited me twice to serve as a mentor for new pastors, which I enjoyed thoroughly. It became the basis of a great friendship that we keep building. He gave me tips on where to take Jamie for our honeymoon in Calgary, recruited my band to play jazz for a national pastors conference, wrote a recommendation letter for my first sabbatical grant, lined me up to preach and present at a few church events, and invited me to share pizza and beer with Walter Brueggemann and Barbara Brown Taylor. In turn, I recruited him for the board at Stony Point Center... (uh, maybe I get the better end of the deal).

Anyway, a trip to Alberta and British Columbia requires Sheldon's expert advice. Want to know where the picturesque lake is located? The really cool restaurant? The best local brew? He knows and he is always right. That is how we landed at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for the weekend. Sheldon and Tammy were just here two weeks ago. He has been talking about this joint for years.

Now I know why. The setting is stunning, the atmosphere is relaxing. At $99 per night, the price is certainly reasonable.

We drove through amazing scenery to get here. The Crowsnest Highway traces down from Nelson drawing near the US border. There are ominous warnings of avalanches and 8% grades. Add a pounding rainstorm, highway signs for possible caribou, and the absence of guardrails, and you have a good sense of today's four-hour drive.

A misty pause along the Crowsnest Highway

So we enjoy a bargain-priced resort that my dear friend wisely recommended. We haven't enjoyed much luxury this summer, opting mostly for modest accommodations. But tonight and tomorrow we splurge and relax. I picked up a good novel in a used book store in Nelson and Jamie is knitting her third major project on this trip. We are enjoying the opportunity to plot out our empty nest and discuss all the projects we want to do around the house. The time and space is a wonderful gift for us and we are grateful.

All praise to Sheldon tonight. We toast him from the mountains that he and Tammy enjoy whenever they can. We celebrate their friendship, their encouragement, their love, and their deep wisdom.

When it comes to travel in western Canada, Sheldon is always right.

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