Well, we have officially left Toledo and landed in the Ocala, Florida area. We had a nice, safe trip down and on the way we stopped to see Terry and Jill's new place in Asheville, North Carolina. What a cool town!!!! I highly recommend it for a nice summer vacation. After that, we headed to Hilton Head and Steve and I were reminded of how much we love that area. If things don't pan out here in Florida, that is where we will head and stay. It is such a beautiful area and centrally located to so many things - - 30 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes from Savannah, and one hour from Charleston.
Steve is investigating flipping houses in Florida. The housing market is coming back and it is considered one of the top 5 areas to make real estate investments right now. I am in the process of sending out resumes and looking for a job in ministry. I have one class left in the Spring and I will then complete my Master's in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship. I am excited about beginning my new career and being of service so pray that the right opportunity comes my way soon.
In the meantime, Steve and I are enjoying what Florida has to offer. We've already been to Disneyworld and plan to go to Epcot next week. We are meeting with a real estate agent today and have already scoped out some investment homes, so we're excited about that. Next month, we travel to Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda to visit friends and family and the job search/house hunt will continue there if we don't find something here. In February we are on the east coast as the Daytona 500 takes place February 23, 2014.
Take care everyone!!
If you are an RVer and a Red Cross volunteer, you could be a Disaster Operations Volunteer Escapee (DOVEs).
More information about the DOVEs' organization can be found at http://www.dovebof.org/
Well, our time on the road is coming to an end --- for now. Steve and I are going to stay put in the Toledo area for the time being. I have an internship at Westgate Chapel, which I am very excited about, that will begin August 1 and run through November. We were going to head to Wyoming for a rally, but we have important things like finding me a car, finding a place to live, getting utilities and the like set up, etc. to worry about - - not to mention the $1,000 it will take in fuel to get us there and back. YIKES!!!! So, it just made good economic sense to stay here until after I finish up at Westgate. Plus, we get to head to our cottage in northern Michigan to spend the 4th with my extended family on my dad's side. That's always a good time and we are looking forward to that.
After my internship is finished, we will be heading south to resume an adult lifestyle - - meaning, I go back to work!!!! I am finishing my seminary studies and looking forward to beginning my second career. I will be working on my resume and sending that out while here in Toledo, focusing on Charlotte, Hilton Head and the Ocala areas for permanent employment, but who knows what God has in store for us. We just put it in His hands and pray.
Thanks, everyone, for your well wishes and comments on our website. It was fun to do and served two purposes - - it kept you up-to-date on where we were and what we were doing, plus it also served as a permanent record of our trip for us. We had an absolutely wonderful time and highly recommend it to everyone. We were truly blessed to be able to spend two years on the road and see this beautiful country. And, who knows. It may not be over. We may find a traveling ministry in our future and if that's the case, you will be the first (or close to the first) to know!
Take care and for most of you -- we will see you soon!
Steve and Lauren
"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again."
– Flavia Weedn
What a great couple of weeks we've had in Colorado. First, let me say that I am sorry we haven't updated the website in a while but we've been busy. We left Moab, UT and started our trek east back to Chicago to drop me off for school. Our first stop was Cortez, CO which is in southwest Colorado and is quite beautiful. We stopped there specifically to see Mesa Verde National Park to see the almost 1,000 year old ruins of the Pueblo Indians. The first few pictures of this series are Steve playing with different settings to capture the clouds that we drove into and some animals that we encountered on our way up to 8500 feet where the ruins can be found. Aren't they cool? Anyway, this National Park is home to some 4,500 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings. At its peak, some 30,000 people lived in this area, which is considerably more people than live in the Cortez area now. You may say to yourself, "how did these people find food and water?" Well the answer is that they farmed the tops of the mesas and lived under them along the cliff edges. Rainwater would run down the rocks and would be captured in cisterns. They had ample forest for wood requirements and they reached their farm fields by hand-and-toe-hold trails that they etched into the cliff walls. These were some extremely hardy people, wouldn't you say?
The first picture of ruins is the Cliff Palace, which can only be explored with the assistance of a Ranger. We didn't head down to see it first hand as there were a ton of school kids there on field trips. Plus, to get out of the palace, you have to climb a very rickety wooden ladder (see the pictures) and - - Homey don't play dat! Anyway, there is a black and white picture showing the state of the Cliff Palace when it was found and the next picture is how it looks today. As you can see, it was pretty well preserved as were all of the ruins in the park. The ranger told us that 95% of the structures are as they found them. Nice. Steve did a great job of capturing the educational signs that go along with the various ruins that we stopped to see. Check them out and learn some really cool stuff about these people. For example, between 1100 and 1300 A.D., the Pueblo Indians were thriving in this area. They were extremely industrious and very inventive - - developing housing from mere pit houses to the extravagant cities like Cliff Palace in a matter of 100 years. Then, for some reason, they left the area and never came back. These ruins then lay completely untouched until the late 1880's when two cowboys discovered them while on a hunt for some lost horses. It became a National Park in 1906 and is truly one of the best examples of cliff dwellings anywhere in the world. If you make a visit to the four corners area of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado I would highly recommend checking out Cortez, CO as it is home to the Mesa Verde National Park, but is also a mere two hour drive North to Moab (see our previous post) and two hours west to Monument Valley, not to mention Taos, NM to the south.
From Cortez, we headed west to Alamosa, home of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Now, those of you in Michigan are probably saying to yourselves - "I've seen sand dunes. I mean, we have Sleeping Bear Dunes for crying out loud." Well, let me tell you, the Alamosa dunes make those dunes look like a mere drift. This sand deposit covers some 330 square miles and the dunes themselves reach to heights of 750 feet. In the summer, the sand gets to about 150 degrees so they are not a good place to hike, if you know what I mean. For most of the year, however, these dunes are climbed and sledded and snowboarded by visitors. You cannot imagine how high they are until you are standing in front of them and I have tried to climb sand dunes before so this was not an activity that beckoned Lauren Anderson, if you know what I mean. But we had fun seeing others having a good time on them.
From Alamosa we headed north to Colorado Springs where we basically stayed put while I worked on school-related projects in preparation for my two weeks in Chicago. We did do one thing that I truly enjoyed and that was a visit to Compassion International. As you will recall, we went to Haiti last November with this organization to meet our sponsored child, Wilguens. Visiting the corporate headquarters and touring the facility brought back a lot of very good memories for us. As you know, God calls upon us to have a heart for children and the poor and Compassion International is an organization that makes a difference for both. Check out their website and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child. It only costs $38/month and with that donation, you could save the life of a child and improve their family's quality of life as well. www.compassion.com.
Ok, so after Colorado Springs, we headed to Breckenridge where we meet up with Steve's sister Beverly and her husband Larry. YAHOO!!! I cannot tell you how special time with these two people are for Steve and I. We have been traveling together for years and always have a great time. Anyway, before I get to the fun stuff, let me tell you about Breckenridge. First, it's 9600 feet above sea level. HELLO! Can you say "suffocate"? Honestly, I have never experienced anything like it before but the altitude literally takes your breath away. Even when you are simply sitting in a chair watching TV, you are out of breath. There is this constant feeling of imminent suffocation - - like when you dive into deep water holding your breath and then run out of air just before you make it to the surface - - know what I mean? The scary part about it is there is just no place to go for air. There isn't any. I was particularly hampered by this and was nauseous and light-headed the entire time we were there. Then, on top of that, it snowed for three days. Yes, in late May, it was snowing. One area a little north of us got 24 inches the week before we got there. Say what? I cannot imagine actually wanting that kind of snow fall in May, but that's just me.
So, our first adventure with Bev and Larry was a drive up Pikes Peak. Steve volunteered to drive and man was he regretting it. He stuck as close to the yellow center line as he could and it still wasn't far enough away from the edge for him or the passengers on the right side of the truck. The drive up was really remarkable. It's 19 miles of some beautiful scenery but when you get to the top, it's absolutely FREEZING. The wind is blowing about 40 miles per hour and it was also sleeting. The lack of oxygen at 14,110 feet caused all four of us to have trouble breathing and all we did was walk around the gift shop. There were a bunch of crazy people riding bikes up the mountain (I mean, c'mon folks, really????) and on the way down, we were all stopped as a life flight helicopter was taking one of them to the hospital after being hit by a car. Based on the speed at which the rescue people were moving, the injuries were not life-threatening, so we are happy for that. Lastly, check out the picture of the blue bird that I took. Isn't he beautiful?
Our next adventure was a trip to the Royal Gorge. This is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world at some 1,178 feet above the Arkansas River below. We walked out to the middle of the bridge and watched some rafters down below us. On the other side of the bridge is a sort of bungee thing that people would strap themselves into and swing out over the gorge. No thanks! We played it safe and visited the little zoo there where we got to see some Big Horn Sheep (aka rock sheep), buffalo, and some elk, one of which had a very handsome rack! We also visited the old cowboy town they have there and stopped to see some funny headstones. Our last adventure was taking the tram back across the gorge but the walk to that tram nearly killed all of us. It was quite the hike up a steep hill (again, we're at 5,000+ feet of elevation) which is not something this old girl should be doing on a regular basis.
The last adventure for us was a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We were so blessed to see a good number of rock sheep, elk and even two moose, one of which had her baby with her. It was a beautiful day in Estes Park but as you can see from the pictures, the snow in the national park was still overwhelming. I was shocked to see the depth of the snow that is alongside the road and believe they need every bit of that snow plow we saw. Larry is in absolute heaven in the mountains so it was nice to see him really enjoying the drive. Steve was a passenger this time and hated every second of being close to the edge of the road like he was. I mean, there is no shoulder folks. It's a couple of inches of asphalt to the right of the white line and then nothing but cliff. We had a wonderful day and a nice lunch in Grand Lake, Colorado (which was an adorable town).
Steve and I said goodbye to Bev and Larry who flew back home to Toledo after visiting their friend Ursula in Boulder. We headed to North Platte, Nebraska where we are right now but heading to Omaha tomorrow. From there we hit Amana, Iowa and then into Illinois to deposit me at Moody (isn't that just the perfect name for a school for me????) Our next update won't be until late June as I will be in school for two weeks and then visiting family the week of June 17. After that, we are headed back west to Gillette, Wyoming for a rally with stops in South Dakota at Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument as well as a stop at Devil's Tower before we hit Yellowstone and a visit from my sister Carolyn. So there is much to look forward to in the weeks to come.
Take care everyone. Some of you I will see soon and I am very happy about that. Those of you that we won't see for a while, know that we miss you very much. Later!
"When you cannot make up your mind between two evenly balanced courses of action, choose the bolder."
– William Joseph Slim
Hello from Colorado!
We are making our way east again and heading for home soon. We haven't finished with the western part of the U.S. just yet, but I have to be in Chicago for school the first two weeks in June and Steve is going to take that opportunity to go home for a visit. Looking forward to seeing family and friends again.
So let's finish up our adventures in Utah. We moved from Salt Lake City to Moab for some time in two of our great National Parks. The first that we visited was Arches National Park. What a gorgeous place. The pictures do not adequately pick up the red color of the rock so you miss the incredible contrast between the red, the green of the sage, the blue of the sky, etc. Very picturesque. There are artists all over the place with their water color paintings going on and for good reason. This park holds great beauty, to be sure, but it is also a nice place to take a good hike. A lot of these arches were not available from the road so we got some good exercise while visiting this park. What makes hiking here even more adventurous is the altitude - - it is more than a mile up so breathing is difficult at times. An added bonus for this area are the petroglyphs and pictographs that are all over the place. It's fascinating to see these etched into the rock. Some of them definitely look like space men,don't they?
Another interesting park was Dead Horse Point State Park. What a nice surprise this place was. We stopped there on our way to Canyonlands and am I happy we did. The canyon views here are spectacular and both Steve and I felt they were more amazing than the Grand Canyon. That's not to say that the Grand Canyon isn't majestic or breathtaking - - what both of us felt about Dead Horse Point is that it was so much more available. The canyon below is only 1/2 mile down and not a full mile like the Grand Canyon, so the view of the river was better and there was clearer detail on the geological variations of the rock, etc. Plus the colors really popped more too. The name is such a deterrent to visiting though, don't you think. I would not have expected such beautiful vistas from a park named for a place where horses were sent to die. Check out this website for the story behind the name: http://www.utah.com/stateparks/dead_horse.htm.
Our last stop in Moab was to Canyonlands National Park. This place was sort of like Dead Horse Point, only the canyons were really much different. They were a lot more pronounced and held really cool geological features. Lots of good hikes in this park too, and one especially cool one leads to Mesa Arch which overlooks the canyon. Steve got some great pictures of this arch which looks, based on the cracks in the rock at the base where it attaches to the cliff, like it will go over the edge at any time. There were some spectacular wildflowers in this park too. Lots of yellows, purples, reds, oranges, whites, and blue. We weren't able to get a lot of them because they grow along the side of the road (of all places). But like Arches National Park, this place was awash in color between the rock, the canyon, the royal blue sky, and the wildflowers. Nice visual feast!
While in Moab, we experienced one of the most incredible wind and sand storms. The wind would gust upwards of 50 mph which would kick the red dust up into the sky to the point that you couldn't see a thing. It took two days of rain to get the sky cleared again and our pictures from Canyonlands suffered as a result. There was still a considerable haze when we were there so you aren't really getting the full impact of the view like we did. Anyway, Utah is an absolutely fabulous place to visit. From the south there is Zion National Park, Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon. In the north there are the ski resorts and the interesting history of Salt Lake City, and the central area has great National Parks like those we visited this week. If you are thinking about a place to visit for vacation, check out Utah. There is just so much to do here.
So we left Moab and headed to Colorado. We will update you on our visits to Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Colorado Springs in our next update. We are super excited because Steve's sister and brother-in-law, Bev and Larry, are flying into Denver on Saturday to spend a week with us. YAHOO!!!!!!
Take care people
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Hello from Utah. What a gorgeous state! Steve and I have been to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon before. We've even spent time in Lake Powell and that area, but honestly, the northern part and Central parts of Utah are even more spectacular, if you can imagine.
This week we will focus on our time in Salt Lake City. Next week, we will give you an update on Moab and the National parks we visited.
First off, let's start with one of the weirdest things I have ever seen - - the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is just miles and miles of the Great Basin covered in salt. It looks like snow but given the arid climate, it could never be snow. The first picture in the gallery from this area is not water. That is a mirage reflecting the mountains against it. Isn't that cool? The remaining pictures give you an idea of what i am talking about. In between the Nevada and Salt Lake City is what used to be a giant lake bed which is, I guess, where the salt comes from. Check out this website for more information: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/salt_lake/recreation/bonneville_salt_flats/Bonneville_Salt_Flats_History.html. Anyway, right in the middle of this salt flats, along Highway 80, is a sculpture called "Metaphor: Tree of Utah" which was created, built, and financed by an artist by the name of Karl Momen. It's 87 feet high and the balls on the tree are coated with native Utah rock and minerals. What a strange sight right in the middle of this stark landscape. I liked it though.
Our next adventure was to see the Great Salt Lake. It's quite beautiful with the surrounding mountains and such. This lake is 12% salt and, much like the Dead Sea in the Middle East, if you swim in this lake, you will simply float. There are no fish that live in the water due to the high saline content, but there are a number of water fowl that feast on the brine shrimp that are present. We met some locals and chatted with them for a bit. They said that the waves out there can reach 10 feet when the wind gets going and that's why the shoreline looks so far from the water. Sort of reminded me of the stories in the Bible about the Sea of Galilee and the storms that took place there. Anyway, the lake water was a funny color of greenish brown (not very inviting) and the salt remnants on the beach did not make this a very appealing place to hang out for me.
We ventured on to see the Olympic Park in Park City. WOW was that cool. This was the location for the various ski jump, free-style skiing (which is where they ski down to a ramp and then do flips and stuff in the air), the bobsled, luge and skeleton events. What a blast it was to tour around the back stage areas for these events and see the tracks and where the athletes would hang out. This venue is still used for Olympic training and qualifying. And because the Winter Olympics will take place again this coming February, Park City will be packed in the fall for Olympic trials. COOL! I cannot wait to watch these events on TV now because they will have so much more meaning to me. Anyway, let me get to the details. The ski jump is almost 400 feet up the top of the hill and the jumpers sail distances of up to 450+ feet once they sail off the end of the ramp. We stood at the top of that ramp and I gotta tell you, it had a significant "pucker factor" if you know what I mean. The bobsled, luge and skeleton runs were also quite cool to visit. These tracks are not very big in terms of the space in which the vehicle and the riders travel. The tracks themselves go about 8/10 of a mile and travel at speeds of 60-80 miles per hour. YIKES! The sleds that the bobsled team uses have absolutely no padding in them and the tour guide told us that she gets very bruised when she rides down the track in one of them. Speaking of which, this place is not just for winter recreation. The bobsled runs are used in the summer for tourists to take a ride. There are also zip lines that go from the top of the ski jump ramp to beyond the landing space for the jumpers (about 1,000 feet). There are 3 adventure courses, chair lift rides, alpine rides, and a free-style ski jumping show daily. Tons to do and a great place for a vacation. Check out this website (http://utaholympiclegacy.com/) and you can see what I'm talking about. Even if you don't avail yourself of any of the thrill rides, the Olympic museum is absolutely cool and very worthwhile to visit. That is free. To make our Olympic adventure complete, we went onto the campus of the University of Utah to see the Olympic stadium and the Olympic torch. We also visited the Olympic Oval, the venue used for the speed skating events. This location was quite the surprise as it lies right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, surrounded by an elementary school and three-bedroom ranch homes. I cannot imagine how those people survived normal life with all the Olympic chaos going on around them. It had to be a nightmare.
Of course, no visit to Salt Lake City would be complete without a visit to Temple Square. This multi-acre complex houses the Mormon Tabernacle, the Mormon Temple, several administration buildings, a museum, a library, and two visitor centers. The landscaping and flower beds throughout this complex were breathtaking. I am a flower lover so I was just in heaven with all the beauty and color that surrounded us. The Visitor's Center gives you the history of Brigham Young's efforts to build the temple, which was begun in 1953 and took 40 years (to the day) to complete. The temple itself is not used for regular worship services. It is used for baptisms and sealing services (which is what the call weddings). Meetings of the church leadership are held here as well as educational programs. The worship services themselves are performed in the Tabernacle. When we visited the Tabernacle, they had a recorded performance of the world-famous choir playing, which was unbelievably beautiful. The organ has 11,600 pipes and there are only 5 people in the world who know how to play it. We met two Mormon missionaries and we had a rather lengthy discussion about their faith and ours, which was very interesting. We enjoyed our time here and went to dinner at a restaurant that is housed in Brigham Young's house. Nice day.
Our last adventure was to visit the Museum of Ancient Life. This was a great museum which houses a number of dinosaur fossils found in Utah. It's mind boggling to think about these giant creatures roaming the earth and the catastrophe that destroyed them all almost instantaneously. After visiting this museum, we went to see the new Tom Cruise movie "Oblivion".
That's it for this week folks. We are in Moab right now and I cannot wait to show you the pictures from this part of the country. Spectacular!
"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure."
- Peter Marshall
Hello all. How's it going? I am a little stressed right now. School is keeping me very very busy and I have a huge paper to write. I have 13 pages down so far and just another 40 or so to go. UGH! It's character building, right? Aside from that, I have some 1800 pages to read by June 2 and some other papers to write, so needless to say, this post will be short.
The last couple of weeks have been wonderful. First, the Escapees rally in Lodi was a blast. We went to hang out with fellow full-time RVers and with the Christian group. There were some 500 people at this rally and 32 from our Christian group. Man we loved hanging with them and enjoyed making new friends. God is doing some amazing things in their lives and we enjoy hearing their stories. We look forward to seeing some of them again at the rally we will be attending in Gillette, WY.
From there, we crossed the Sierra Nevada mountain range into Nevada. WOW, what a drive that was. At times it was a bit hairy, but the scenery more than made up for it. I wish we could have taken some pictures of the mountains, snow, and valley but we had to focus on the road most of the time and, since it was a two-lane road, we couldn't stop and take pictures because we had a line of traffic behind us. Taking that 40' fifth-wheel through mountain passes can be an adventure!
Anyway, we landed in Carson City and loved it immediately. We had an awesome view of some snow-capped mountains in our backyard and enjoyed that very much. Our first adventure there was Lake Tahoe. Talk about beautiful. I thought Yosemite was awesome, but this really was breathtaking. I think because it combines both mountains and water in the same scene. And speaking of water, this is the cleanest lake water I have ever experienced. You can see to a depth of 90 feet in this lake. Cool (literally and figuratively)! It is also very deep at 1600 feet and sits at 6000 feet in elevation. The mountains in the background are the Sierra Nevada's that we crossed over the previous day. Lots to do in this area in both the summer and winter and would make a lovely place for a family vacation.
Steve and I visited one of the casinos in Carson City and lost $120. Man, I just hate that. I feel like such a poor steward of the funds that God has graciously provided to us so we have vowed to not do that ever again. We will pay Bingo (big fans of that game) because it's entertainment. But the slot machines are off limits! We also visited the Del Webb community in Reno and loved that too. This is definitely an area that we will think about relocating to.
Speaking of Reno, we headed into the city to visit the automobile museum that houses Mr. Harrah's (the casino founder) collection. We loved this museum. The way they laid out the collection was by year and also included vintage clothing that came from the same era as the cars. There were also pictures from the same time frame. Very nicely done. I love old cars. They are more like art than machine to me. Especially the hood ornaments. Back in the early days of automobiles, there were tons more manufacturers than there are today and each one had a distinctive hood ornament. I wish we would have gotten more pictures of them because they were just spectacular. Next time you are at a car museum or car show, check out the hood ornaments.
Steve and I also like visiting old cities and experiencing some of the history. We had dinner in the town of Genoa one night. This town was established in 1851 as a stopping point for Mormon traders who were crossing the mountains into California in search of gold. Check out their website for more information http://www.genoanevada.org/visitgenoa.htm. We had dinner at the Tombstone Tap & Grill which is owned by the guy who started Tombstone Pizza (which he promptly sold to Kraft for oodles of money). Cute town. We also visited Virginia City. WOW was this a bit of history. The town is carved into the side of a mountain so the streets are different levels and very steep. The city was built to support those working in the Comstock mine. A good portion of the town burned down in 1875 but was rebuilt in 1876, and those buildings are still standing today. Fun piece of history to visit.
Well, that's it for this week. Steve and I are in Provo, Utah right now and will fill you in on those details next week. Until then, be good and I hear some good weather is headed to the Detroit/Toledo area. Also, if you wouldn't mind, please pray for me as I struggle to get all that I need to do completed. I'm in the home stretch of this Master's Degree. When I finish with these 4 classes, I have 3 to go!!!!
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
― John Muir
Amen to that, John Muir!!!
What an awesome place - Yosemite National Park who's name has an interesting history. John Muir, the naturalist who is responsible for the preservation of both Yosemite and the Sequoia National Forest, also founded the Sierra Club which is the one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His philosophy is that nature, and being in nature, is as important to one's soul as food and water are to the body. I would wholeheartedly agree. Our visit to Yosemite was as much a spiritual experience as it was anything else. One cannot stand in the face of such incredible beauty without being humbled at the greatness of God. There were times when the scenery in front of me literally took my breath away.
We spent several days in this park and could have spent twice as much time. There is so much to do here and so much to see. Our first day was spent wandering among the huge Sequoia trees in the Mariposa grove. You just cannot imagine the immensity of these trees until you are standing among them. They are just massive and spectacular to look at. Sequoias take a long time to mature and some of the trees in this grove over 2,000 years old and still growing. HOLY COW! They also heal themselves in a cool way. The tunnel tree that was carved in 1907 has the bark curling around the sides to heal the opening in the tree's center. Cool! We were thoroughly taken aback with the sight of these trees and can only imagine what a hike through Sequoia National Forest would be like. Sadly, however, we did not have that in our plans this trip. Later in the day, we took a hike to the swinging bridge that crosses the Merced River. That was a nice hike and the river did not disappoint. I sat by the edge of it and just took some time to pray. The sound of the rushing water and the smell of the pine was simply heaven to me. We closed day one with a visit to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. This was a fun place to visit. Steve enjoys old farming equipment (I guess you can take the boy out of the farm but you cannot take the farm out of the boy!) and I enjoyed the cabins and buildings that were relocated here from other parts of Yosemite. One of the coolest part of this village was the covered bridge, which was built by the Washburn brothers - - the same dudes who built all those covered bridges we photographed while visiting Vermont. This discovery sort of ties our east coast trip to our west coast trip, don't you think? Anyway, I love the log cabins and really would love to live in one in the mountains. We close the day with some shots of the Merced River that Steve took from the knotholes in the wood on the covered bridge. Our son, Terry, is an awesome photographer and we knew he would enjoy this different perspective.
Day two was spectacular and extremely exhausting. We begin with a couple of views on our way to the tunnel that takes you into Yosemite Valley. Then, once you emerge from the tunnel, you are hit immediately with the most spectacular view - - El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls - - all right there in front of you. The view is so overwhelming that it sort of made me a bit disoriented. The vastness of what you are looking at makes it hard for your brain to take it all in at once - - at times everything seems so near but really it is very far away. Know what I mean? We traveled to Bridalveil Falls first and hiked up to the base. Since we came at the end of Spring, the falls were very active so we were blessed with a lot of mist, and hence, wet clothing. But it was worth it. The water from this falls flows over a large collection of rocks which made for a great whitewater river. And since it is late Spring, there were three other falls that were active now that would be dry by summer - - Horsetail Falls, Ribbon Falls, and Sentinel Falls. In Yosemite Valley, Steve took the picture of the famous Ansel Adams shot. We had a very nice lunch there and Steve shared a few pretzels with two of the hugest ravens I have ever seen - - these things were chickens, I swear. Anyway, in 1997, Yosemite flooded after the melt of an unusually high snowfall in the previous winter. You can see him standing next to the sign that indicates where the water level would have been at the time of the flood. WOW! I cannot imagine how the valley would have looked with all that water.
Anyway, after lunch, we headed over to the east end of the park and took the hike up to Vernal Falls. This was a particularly grueling hike. First of all, we are at nearly 5,000 feet where we flatlanders have trouble breathing just sitting still. Then, couple that with a 1.5 mile hike that was at such a steep grade it made your heart pound. We rose 500 feet in elevation in the first .8 of the mile so you can imagine the steepness of that hike. This particular trail will also lead you up to the Half Dome hike which is closed at this time of year so we didn't do it. Yeah right! THAT'S the reason. Anyway, we got to the footbridge and took some shots of the Merced from there. It was extremely rocky and the water was flowing in quite the torrent, yet some kids decide to go out on the rocks anyway. Why are young people so stupid? I hate to be rude when I say that but seriously, one misstep and he would have been down the river and dead before anyone could have done something to rescue him. Anyway, Steve continued on with the hike up to Vernal Falls. I had to rest because my bad knee refused to go further and protested wildly when I attempted to further the climb. On the way out of the park, Steve got some cool shots of clouds covering Half Dome and El Capitan. He's got some talent for photography, don't you think?
Day three was a bit more relaxing. All the hiking we did was on flat ground, thankfully. We visited Yosemite Falls this day and Steve experimented with a bunch of different camera features. Feel free to use any of these shots as your screen saver. The last shot from this day contains a quote from John Muir that expresses the spiritual rejuvenation that one can feel from an experience in nature. It is etched on a bronze plaque that was erected in the place where John Muir built a cabin while living in Yosemite. It reads as follows:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir
Can I get an AMEN!!!!
Later folks. This week is an RV rally in Lodi, California where we will be bonding with others of our ilk -- full-time RVers. Next weekend we head to Reno and Elko, NV and then on to Salt Lake City, so don't look for an update again from us until April 29.
"The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world."
– Bertie Charles Forbes
Hello all. Sorry that it's been a couple of weeks without an update, but we've been busy with family visits and such. What an awesome time we had in San Diego!!!!
First, we had a lovely visit with Steve's mom, Connie. We began her visit by taking her to the highest point in San Diego - - Mt. Soledad. This is a memorial dedicated to all the veterans of the San Diego area and it affords you the most spectacular view of the ocean and surrounding La Jolla area. So beautiful! Unfortunately, it was a little foggy so the picture of the ocean isn't as clear as we would have liked, but you get the idea. Our next stop was to the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island. This is the place where my beloved Steve proposed to me some 14 years ago. It is the oldest wooden hotel in the United States and an absolutely gorgeous structure and surrounding gardens. This place has such old world charm and really takes you back to the good old days where women wore hats and gloves and men wore suits. They still have an elevator operator -- how cool is that? The woodwork in this building is unbelievable, too. And, because you know I am a huge fan of native flora, we snapped a picture of the most unusual tree - - The Dragon Tree. Isn't it cool. Lastly, Steve snapped a picture of the rocks that we sat on when he proposed. AHHHHHH, ain't that sweet!
Steve, Connie and I took a drive up to the Los Angeles area where Connie's brother, Frank, and his family live. What a nice time we had with them. It was fun sitting around and listening to stories of Frank's adventures in the war (he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam) and the crazy stunts he would pull with his planes. I especially enjoyed hearing the story of how he and Aunt Kiki met and fell in love. These two have been married 60 years and you can see the love between them is just as strong as it was when they first met - - they made cute faces at each other when telling us the story of their courtship and it just melted my heart. I also got to meet two of Steve's cousins - - Ann and Denise. They are two of Frank and Kiki's 8 children. One other daughter, Ann, and her husband, Pepper, and three boys had dinner with us one night. What a lovely family they are. Josh is a soccer player like our son Terry and is being reviewed by college coaches right now. I know that drill and it is stressful, so GOOD LUCK JOSH!!!!
We did some other things with Connie besides family stuff. We visited The Creation Museum here in Santee, California. What an awesome museum that was. It was dedicated to the 6 days of creation and went day-by-day in detail. http://creationsd.org/ The museum highlights the wonder of our universe and our planet earth, and even discusses the complexity of the cells of the human body. It all speaks to the notion that who we are and where we live is most definitely the result of what scientists are terming "intelligent design" and could not possibly be evolution. One really just needs to study the human body to grasp that fully. What an awesome God we have, don't you think?
Our last bit of fun with Connie was attending Easter service at David Jeremiah's church in El Cajon, CA. For those of you who don't know, David Jeremiah has been a teacher of the Bible for almost 50 years. He has pastored Shadow Mountain Community Church for most of that time and also has television and radio ministries. The Easter service was so beautiful and the song selection was magnificent. The entire service gave me chills. The best part of that, however, was when Connie met David Jeremiah. She was just thrilled.
Later that day, we gathered at Stevie and Aime's house and enjoyed Easter dinner with them, Connie, Aime's cousin Nick and his wife Ashley, Aime's friends - - Ashley and Morgan, but most especially our grandson Jeremiah!!! WOOOO HOOOO! He flew in late the night before so Easter morning was the first time we had seen him and man, has he grown! He is about 6 inches taller than when we were home in October. Aime did a lovely job putting Easter dinner together and it was nice to have so much family around us for this holiday. It was like being home, only warmer!!!
Connie left the Monday after Easter and we spent the next few days with Jeremiah. What a joy it was to spend time with this fine young man. He turned 16 while staying with us so we took everyone out to Slader's 50/50 for burgers. The 50/50 part of the name is for the hamburger patty that is 50% beef and 50% bacon. Yes. It tastes a good as it sounds. I cannot believe how quickly time flies. It seems just a short time ago he was calling me "Dramma Lauren".
Aime had to work and I had a paper to write, so the boys (Steve, Stevie and Jeremiah) got to go snorkeling by themselves and had an awesome time together. Listening to them stories afterwards was a hoot, but what a treat for the three generations of Anderson men to spend some alone time together and bond. They also went kayaking in the La Jolla cove one day and Aime fell in the water! She was not pleased but that also made for great storytelling later.
Our last adventure with Jeremiah was a visit to the San Diego Safari Park. What an awesome zoo that is. It is not the San Diego Zoo, although the two are affiliated. I believe they are phasing out the zoo (which is closer to downtown San Diego) and expanded their land holdings out in Escondido with this Safari Park. HOLY COW! It is an all day thing, for sure, and absolutely beautifully done. Jeremiah was the official photographer on this trip and I think he did a fine job. We had a great time and saw the brand new baby rhinoceros and baby elephant. Aren't they cute?
So, now all the family has gone back home and we are, once again, alone. We so enjoyed our time with family and already miss them terribly. The following Monday we headed up to Yosemite National Park, but had a bit of an adventure on the way. God really watches out for us because somewhere along Highway 57 we lost the right rear wheel on our trailer. Now when I say wheel, I am not just talking about the tire - - it was the entire stinking wheel. Apparently the things that hold the wheel on the hub all sheared off in the process of disengaging from the trailer. Thankfully, we had two angels who came to our rescue. The first was the man who drove up next to us on the highway to tell us that the wheel had come off. We had no idea and felt nothing so thankfully he let us know.
Secondly, once we got off the highway and into a Lowe's parking lot, a very nice man (and fellow camper) took Steve around to various auto parts and camper supply places to find a new hub and lug nuts. They were successful and we were back on the road with only 4 hours lost. If that angel hadn't come to our rescue, we most likely would have been stuck in town for a day or so waiting for parts. In the process of shopping for parts, Steve and our angel traveled back over the area of the highway where we lost the tire because we were concerned that when it came dislodged, that it may have hurt someone or damaged something along the side of the road. Thankfully, that was not the case as that stretch of the highway is bordered by ravine and empty space. Thank You Lord!!!!
So, now we are in Yosemite. A day late but we made it. Steve posted some initial pictures on his Facebook page so check those out. Watch for our blog next week as am absolutely certain it will contain pictures that will take your breath away!
Until then, we love and miss you all so much. Time with family is so precious for us but it always makes us sad when it comes to a close. Like the quote above says - - enriching the world should be our goal and to us, family is one of the things that does that for us. Precious people, our family.
"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."
– Gilda Radner
That quote is so perfect for Steve and I right now. We have gone through so many changes in the last couple of years: retirement, selling our primary residence, giving away all of our personal possessions, being on the road and moving every week, and for me, being in school and preparing for a new career in ministry. We have no idea where God is calling us, but we are ready and willing to go where He sends.
This week's blog is not going to be long as I was in Chicago for school and Steve stayed in San Diego with our son Stevie and his wife, Aime. While in Chicago, however, I got to spend the week with our son Terry, his girlfriend Jill and their dog, Rooney. It was a blessed time for me as we do not get to see Terry and Jill often. They are moving to North Carolina soon so please keep them in your prayers.
I am now back in San Diego and hanging with Stevie and Aime too. My mother-in-law, Connie, is flying in on Monday and we are then headed to Los Angeles to visit her brother Frank and his wife Kiki. We will be attending Dr. David Jeremiah's church for Easter service and I am super excited as I am a huge fan of his ministry. Friday our oldest grandson, Jeremiah, will be flying in and joining us for a week too. So, you can imagine that it will be a busy week with family and Easter and all, but I am looking forward to another couple of weeks with familiar faces.
God has blessed us so tremendously with this trip. Two couples in this campground that we are staying at in San Diego stopped by yesterday to chat and ask about being a full-time traveler and it is in discussing our lifestyle that our blessing really hits home for me. But while I am grateful, I really do miss my family and friends so very much. Skype is nice, but it just doesn't replace a real hug. Especially from the grandkids!
Take care peeps and have a great week. For those of you in the Midwest, I am sorry that you are getting more snow this week. I am so grateful that I will not be in Chicago when it hits. Whew!!!!