Friday, August 27, 2010

Mill Creek Adventure Begins

I can feel summer’s end approaching.  The changes are subtle if you don’t really watch but it can be seen and the signs are everywhere.  The light is just a bit different.  The shades of color in the sun sets in particular has that peach hue that you don’t see in the early weeks of summer I guess I don’t mind that the season is progressing but it just seems that it’s been an odd season that hardly got here before it’s end can be seen already I also realize that fall will be strange with us being in Africa for the first and most pleasant part of it.  I’m not sad but we all know that with age time seems to go by faster.  I can feel the current of life picking up and I find it a bit disorienting.  Sometimes I feel a bit like a cotton ball cloud in the middle of a vast storm that is far beyond my control My thoughts have grown more and more troubled as our trip to Africa approaches like a freight train.  My sleep was disturbed often as we settled into our mountain cabin on Mill Creek.  The usual bleeding away of stress didn’t come easily though I loved every moment of our time away.  We were on the run a lot to go from place to place and then come back to our cabin get away.  Many beautiful things we saw and experienced together but underneath it my thoughts are ever drawn to the future.

We were greeted by a delightful peak near our cabin that seemed to change with the shades of the day as it passed lazily by Our days were not lazy for the most part because Yellowstone was within 30 miles of our cabin.  We went time and again through the Roosevelt Arch which a relative on my dad’s side helped build.  Our first trip in took us to Mammoth where the elk look about as bored as can be with the mass of tourists that pass by all day long Signs everywhere warn not to approach them…most of us know better but people come from all over the world so I guess it doesn’t hurt to state the obvious…hope they can read English.  We didn’t see any bulls there at the moment but I’m sure the mother could do plenty to protect her calf There are many dangers in Yellowstone to be sure…anything from animals to various geysers and hot springs.  This area has thermal formations both old and new to see .  Areas that have been dormant can spring to life again and most dangerous of all is that you may not see it or know it’s happening until you decide to go off trail and fall through the thin crust to be boiled alive This particular mound has been dormant for some time but it none the less spectacular …it’s like a giant thumbs up!  It is called Liberty Cap and has been delighting visitors for many years now .  The minerals in the hot water coat anything that it runs over which makes for many interesting patterns and colors The heat from this portion of the area was obvious however it’s not always so obvious and I don’t know how many I see putting their hand in the water to see just how hot it is.  I was glad I drilled my kids in how to behave here.  Especially Gabby who did very well.  Sticking to the trail still provides some glorious sights to see Some of the terraces were dead and white and seemed to be hopeless of having anything happen again any time soon but this is a deceptive calm which belies the activity underneath.  This jutting rock is known as the Devil’s Thumb Who would guess that such strange things exist in the world and are naturally occurring?  Here is a good example of how thin the earth is in some spots around hereSink holes are everywhere to be seen.  Some spew hot gasses while other seem to have grown quiet and have allowed some growth of wild flowers inside.  I liked the formations whether they were active or not They have done an excellent job constructing the walkways that extend far and wide in this area Notice the stark contrast between the terrace area and the surrounding hills and mountainsSome have described this area as a cave turned inside out…these look just like stalactites so I can see why the description is so fitting This area is indeed a place of shocking contrasts The panorama of the surrounding mountains can be almost dizzying at some points but all too quickly I’m drawn back to those things that ground me and give me a taste of heaven on earth I think she may have noticed Lovely and I taking her picture what do you think ?  Yes, the little Miss took time out of her busy schedule to pose a little .  Ever had a boulder give you a toothy grin?  Well, I certainly have Still in the middle of all the heat and deadly thin earth areas life springs eternal This tenacity reminds me of how fragile yet unrelentingly powerful life can be…I see this power in my children and know it could only come from God Walking on we had an overlook of Canary Springs though it’s very hot and dangerous I find the haunting blue draws my eye It’s a deadly beauty that must be treated with respect.  Golden wrinkles in the hot water seem to testify of the age of this place but it also speaks of the endless process of renewal.  It could all be different a few years from now depending on what the hot water does and where it goes.  I think that I could never have anything but love for Yellowstone no matter where in the park I am Heat rising from this area about took my breath away…it smelled strongly of rotten eggs and burned rubber Sometimes it can almost look as though nature is poisoning itself here but it’s a process that’s so much bigger than us and has to be understood in the huge scope of God’s creation…which I really love.  Anything that falls in this water dies yet in a strange way it becomes immortalized to all who pass by and witness it Everything from insects to twigs or flowers that fall here are covered with a layer of minerals that grows over the course of time.  We actually saw bumble bees that had gotten in the water and were being slowly embalmed.  Some trees were thriving while others were dying in the hot water but it all spoke of a big picture.  This area spoke to me deep down inside…I can’t understand it all yet because it’s still speaking to me but one thing is for sure:  I will listen to what God is whispering in my ear Though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for He is with us.  I know life is filled with cycles and circles.  Good things and difficult things come to us all but what are we living our lives for here and now?  Do we abandoned our faith when life seems unfair.  Or do we stand like these trees who even in deadly circumstance refuse to fall ?  Things that happen to us can scar us but like the scars Christ bore for us they can have purpose and even a beauty all their own as it gives us a great desire for God and a willingness to have compassion for our fellow man Leaving Mammoth left me with a sense of purpose somehow and I intend to hold onto that sense and bring it with me wherever I go.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to the Forest

It’s been a bit of a stressful week honestly.  It took several calls and several trips back to the pharmacist to get the drugs we need for Africa.  It really burns me that such things are treated this way.  These are strong drugs that need to be prescribed and if we don’t get enough the threat for malaria is something I don’t even want to think about.  These drugs need to be taken even after we get back to protect us from possible exposure while in Ghana.  It never bothered me as much when it was just me but when my children’s lives are at stake I find it maddening that the medical personnel don’t seem the least bit concerned.  Our doctor seemed to be simply reading the labels because they don’t usually deal with that.  Even our overseas department seems woefully unfamiliar with this stuff.  I’m thankful for my past experience with this stuff because it’s helped me check dosages and amounts of pills on things…God be with us.  Now we head out on Saturday for five days.  These are the last pictures from our last trip which is just in time for our next one that should have pictures of Yellowstone…that is still one of the most beautiful places on the planet…a must see at least once in your life and we live fairly close to it!

Our last day or two at our last cabin adventure were spent walking near where we were and there was plenty to see!  The glory of the rolling plains has never ceased to captivate me and the sound of woodpeckers pecking trees and the screech of Red Tail Hawks could be heard everywhere There were many roads which I would say are strictly fair weather but that doesn’t matter if there’s no rain and you intend to walk Wildflowers are a particularly classic photographic subject I know but I just can’t resist This year the blue bells were having a particularly good year I noticed I had to laugh at the irony of government need to label roads…really…just now you noticed these roads are rough There’s no such thing as a common flower to me.  A windswept brown eyed Susan is a treat to me no matter how common it’s said to be Climbing the top of some of these hills made me think of bears I have to admit…nobody wants to come over a hill and run into trouble like that but with things this beautiful it’s hard not to go ahead and risk it Purple, blue, white and yellow seemed to be the dominating colors but I still didn’t ever get enough of any of these colors What I like about this countryside in particular is that it has it all:  mountains, plains, forests all in a wonderful panoramaHere you can find farms right next to federal land and both have a beauty all their own There’s nothing in all the world like seeing and hearing the wind play across the tall me on that

Our last walk took us to a remote area where few had gone before No vehicles were allowed and it was free of any other people that we could see and I admit that I did think of bears again.  Mom and dad saw one not far away when they had been driving earlier in the trip.  These thoughts went to the background as I began to enjoy the surroundings.  Soon the forest became thicker and it became quite quiet aside from the buzzing of busy bees and the flutter of butterfly wings The rest of the family were up ahead with mom and dad and I began to realize that of us all I’m the only with a weapon and a sense of unease began to grow in meas we began to near a rather striking peak I began to see some signs that bothered me greatly There were many stones…not one or two but ten or more overturned…if you know bear country you know this is a sign of a bear looking for grubs and other insects.  I then saw some not too old scat on the path ahead and I knew it was time to for us to get out of there.  Dad being his usual self went ahead some but I brought mom, Love and the kids back down the trail with me.  The tension started to thicken and then I heard a sound that I never wanted to hear in the wild on a remote trail…listen to the last sound on this page…the black bear cub call  I knew immediately what it was and drew my .45.  It was a very thick forested area so we only knew the general direction of this bear or bears.  We walked quickly…not panicking or running and fortunately made it back to where we had parked.  Tension eased and I found myself appreciating the irony of this butterfly on the sign near the trailhead I know that I know…God kept us safe as He always had.  we didn’t have tragedy for bear or person and that my friends is a good ending!  My last shot is of the moon rising over the hill near our cabin on the last night.  It was a wonderful sense of peace we all left with and I look forward to the same from our next adventure.  I can’t wait to share it all!