The Playground of Astronauts

On our latest Spring adventure, we set out on the open road to visit Lunar Crater, which sits in a remote area near the center of the state. To reach the Lunar Crater National Backcountry Byway, we drove nearly 100 miles southwest of Ely through numerous mountain ranges, with the last being the Pancake Range (which may or may not have given me a serious IHOP craving).

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The Byway winds about 20 miles through the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field. The dirt road wasn’t bad, but sometimes the washboard bumpiness and deep sand made it slow- going. Which was fine- it is a place you want to go slow and savor.

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We didn’t drive too long before we were ready for lunch. We decided to stop for a picnic at the Lunar Lake playa (a dried- up lake bed). The vast expanse of glaring white sand was pretty cool, especially since it wasn’t a hot day. We decided this wouldn’t be the best summer destination, but we had fun moseying around the playa in the pleasant spring weather.

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After lunch we continued our journey through the pretty red hills.

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Before long, we reached the main attraction- Lunar Crater. This 430- foot- deep maar was formed when underground magma boiled the groundwater, causing lava to shoot up from beneath the earth’s surface. This left behind the dry, circular hole that we now call Lunar Crater.

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The area didn’t really remind me too much of the moon, but it was good enough for NASA. In the 1970’s, astronauts trained here to prepare for the Apollo moon missions. The astronauts, in full gear, traversed the crater in rovers and collected rock samples. The story goes that two astronauts almost got stranded out here. Their rover broke down a couple miles from the rest of the group right as the group was packing up to leave the area, so the stranded astronauts had to race on foot to catch up.

This place was thought to be similar enough to the moon that the astronauts came way out here to middle- of- nowhere Nevada to practice basic procedures. This beautiful, desolate area sure has an interesting history.

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The area doesn’t have any actual trails, so we thought we might as well try to hike up the hill/ mountain that rises from the back of the crater. It was a steep, slow trudge to the top (For me, anyway. Roland raced up the slope like it was nothing, with enough time left over to stop and do nature studies of the rocks and flowers along the way. Seriously- he must be part mountain goat).

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Along the way we saw several different lizards, including this cool guy. I’m no lizard identification expert, but I’m pretty sure he is a northern desert horned lizard. It is a good thing we gave him his space. When threatened, these horned lizards like to swell up, hiss, bite, and stab with their horns. As a last resort, they will shoot blood out of their eyes. Lovely little critters, aren’t they?

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We eventually made our way to the top and we were rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view of rolling red hills, craters, sparse sagebrush valley, and the mountains in the distance.

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We got a good view of Easy Chair Crater, which is a cinder cone volcano.

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We gained enough elevation to also be able to see our picnic playa in the distance, surrounded by the rugged red hills.

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After taking in the view, we hiked down the backside of the mountain, which was thankfully a little less steep. We finished the backcountry byway without any hiccups and made it back to the pavement, which eventually took us back to civilization 100 miles later.

It is so fun to just pick a place on a map we haven’t been before, get out of town and our normal everyday lives, and explore this amazing state. We don’t get to do it as much now that Roland is in school, so every family outing now is even more special.

As our son gets older, I know he will have an increasingly busy schedule of his own, but I feel these outings are so important, beyond just family time. So many kids hardly ever leave the city limits of the town they live in. How are they able to understand the importance and beauty of wild places, or to feel humbled when they actually experience how small they are in the grand scheme of things, or to see God’s power and magnitude bursting out from His own creation? If a child has never experienced the grandeur of creation, then how can he be awe-struck of the Creator’s deep, personal love just for him?  Of course standard education is immensely important, but there is so much more to learn and experience outside of those schoolroom walls, and I think that is how passionate, curious, involved, well- rounded adults are formed. That’s the hope, anyway.

 

“To the dull mind, nature is leaden. 

To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hello Spring!

So far this spring we have taken a depressingly low number of family hikes. Matt and Roland don’t share any of the same days off anymore and we had a lot of lousy weather in March. During Roland’s spring break from school we weren’t able to get away for a trip, but we did go for one day hike and, thankfully, it turned out to be a pretty great one.

We drove two hours south to Echo Canyon State Park (near Cathedral Gorge) and hiked the Ash Canyon trail. It was a beautiful sunny spring day in the upper 50s- a perfect day for a hike. The trail was less than three miles round- trip, but it sure felt longer. The trail started with a somewhat steep ascent away from Echo Reservoir up to the rim of Ash Canyon. As we headed up the dusty switchbacks, we looked back and had nice views of the lake, valley, and surrounding mountains.

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Throughout the hike we of course saw several jackrabbits (Nevada is filthy with jackrabbits), but more interestingly, we also saw three different types of lizards. I have never seen any lizards up around where we live in Ely so these were fun to see.

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After we hiked up to the rim, we started our descent down into the canyon. Ash Canyon is narrow, with many interesting nooks and crannies in the rocks. In many places the route was less of a trail and more of a rock scramble. The pictures may not depict that because in those areas I was too busy just trying to make my way through. Our five- year- old son, Roland, thought it was the coolest place ever. He would have ran the whole way if I let him. He’s already leaving his poor mom in the dust. At this rate, he’ll be summiting Everest at 12.

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After we shimmied and scrambled our way through the narrow canyon, we finally reached the great open expanse on the other side. It was a fun challenge, but my legs were happy for a more straight- forward trail. As we worked our way downhill, we oohed and aahed over all the cool rock formations. I think I started to annoy my family because, now that the hike was a bit easier, my hands were freed up to take pictures every few steps.

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We meandered our way down through the intriguing rocky landscape and we eventually reached the pretty little creek that we followed back to Echo Reservoir. We relaxed for a little bit by the lake, but it was getting late so we needed to start heading back to town.

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The animals were definitely out and about during our evening two- hour drive back home. We saw several herds of pronghorn and we even whizzed by an animal that we are pretty sure was a badger (the first one we have ever seen in the wild- too bad we were going 70 mph).

And….we finally saw our elk! We supposedly live near the largest elk herd in the state, but after a year of living here without ever spotting one, we were beginning to think that elk in Nevada was a myth. When we drove out to the park we passed them, but we couldn’t decide if they were cows or horses. On the drive home we pulled over, and sure enough- they were elk! They were pretty far out in the distance, but still exciting to see.

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With the tricky, but fun trail, impressive rocky scenery and numerous wildlife sightings, we had a great first family hike of the Spring. With all of our conflicting schedules, we needed the time together and I definitely needed the time in nature. There was surely no shortage of things to praise God for on this day.

 

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” 

~Anne Bradstreet

The Lure of the Ocean

We recently got back from visiting my family near Raleigh, North Carolina. Even though it is winter, I have been longing to see the ocean so we made a weekend excursion to the coast. It was extra special as this was Roland’s very first trip to the ocean. I was excited too, but it wasn’t until I was walking along the beach on our first evening there that I did the math in my head and realized it had been 10 years since I had visited the Pacific Ocean and even longer for the Atlantic.

How could this be? I mean, I grew up in Miami! But, ever since then we have lived in pretty land- locked places (interior Alaska, Vermont, Idaho, Minnesota, and now Nevada). We have spent plenty of time near rivers and lakes, including Lake Superior, but sadly it has been a decade since I have experienced the grandeur of an ocean.

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With that said, we had a great time. It was the off- season so we were able to share the beaches with a tolerable amount of people.  One nice thing about taking a multi- generational family trip to the beach is that it is large and flexible enough to appeal to just about everyone- all ages, interests, and energy levels. Roland had a blast running from the waves (although not quite fast enough as he got soaked in the chilly water). Matt played in the water with Roland while  I enjoyed scanning the sand for shells. All the adults alternated between chatting with each other and taking solitary strolls along the beach, just soaking it all in. Doing fun things together as a family creates bonds that can withstand years apart.

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I know it has been said a million times, but there is just something so special about the ocean. The combination of endless sky, fresh breeze, and the rhythmic crashing of the waves creates the most rejuvenating and calming setting.

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It is the most pleasant case of sensory overload and it is so easy to lose yourself in it all- listening to the birds and waves, feeling torn between searching for the pretty sea shells scattered over the sand and watching the waves roll up on shore, feeling the breeze on your face and the soft sand under your feet. The views go on forever and it all feels so big and open and free.

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The ocean is probably one of the best balms that God has given us to soothe so many ailments: anxiety, grief, stress, boredom, sluggishness, depression. Pretty much anywhere in nature will help with those things, but like I said before, there is something special about the ocean.

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One morning we took a detour from the beach and visited the nearby Fort Fisher. We toured the historic fort area and then took a pleasant walk on a boardwalk through the coastal grasses adjacent to the water.

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I loved the twisted branches on these trees. I don’t know what kind of tree they were, but they sure looked interesting.

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Roland is ever- ready to get back to the water. He had so much fun he didn’t even mind his shoes and clothes being drenched in cold ocean water. (I did not anticipate the mild weather so I didn’t pack appropriate beach clothing).

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I really do enjoy and feel at home in the Southwest. The stillness and quiet of the deserts, rocks, and mountains are peaceful. However, the constant motion of the waves gives off an energy that is so refreshing and mesmerizing. It was definitely a nice change of pace. We all agree that a visit to the ocean should occur more than once a decade.

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“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” 

~Christopher Paolini

 

 

Ending the Year in a Valley of Fire

We spent the weekend between Christmas and New Years visiting Valley of Fire State Park, located near Las Vegas. While the East Coast was bombarded with snow and freezing temperatures, we explored a red rock wonderland beneath pleasant blue skies. The purpose of this  little getaway was to celebrate our 12th anniversary. I have always sort of regretted getting married on Dec. 30 because it is hard to fit in an extra thing to celebrate during the holidays and the weather usually is lousy. Now that we live in Nevada, we have a perfect winter destination only 4 hours away.

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We stayed in Henderson to save money so the drive to the park was a little over an hour from our hotel. It was a scenic drive through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area to get to Valley of Fire. We got little glimpses of the lake and I really wanted to check it out, but we were already short on time and visiting the state park was our priority. As it was, we ended up hiking fewer miles than I had planned, due to a late start and the shorter daylight hours of winter.

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Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park (and I would venture to say the most visited.) We loved walking among the red sandstone formations, but we definitely did not have the place to ourselves. I expected the crowds as it was a holiday weekend, the weather was in the 60’s and it was near a large city, but it still took away from the experience. The parking lots and trails were crowded and I yearned to experience this awesome landscape with a bit more solitude, but that is probably rarely an option here.

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The Mouse’s Tank trail took us through a little canyon surrounded by red sandstone walls. It was short and mostly flat so we decided to leave our backpack full of water in the car and just head out. However, it took us longer than we expected since the trail surface was composed of soft sand, requiring a bit more effort. I sure was glad we weren’t walking it during the heat of summer.

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The canyon was pretty full of people, which was not much fun, but seeing where groups of people congregated made it easy to spot the many petroglyphs along the way.

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It was late afternoon by the time we hiked the Fire Wave trail. The winter sun, low in the sky, reflected off the red rocks, making them ablaze with color. In every direction we were surrounded by glowing, rich red sandstone in an array of shapes and designs. The sight was pretty awe- inspiring. It was evident how the park got its name.

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We walked a couple yards off the busy trail to take the family picture below. Matt was busy preparing the camera while I was acting as a place holder for the picture. After a couple minutes I turned my head and saw a bighorn sheep, not that far away, staring right at me, probably wondering what these weird people are up to. (The camera was already occupied so we didn’t get a picture.) It was pretty cool to be able to have a private, memorable experience in the otherwise crowded park. I wonder how many dozens of people walked right by without ever noticing the creature was there.

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Even though we didn’t end up spending a ton of time there and we had to share it with too many people, Valley of Fire was still a pretty special spot to celebrate our anniversary and to say farewell to 2017.

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I hope in this new year, you are able to set aside some time to spend out in nature and fully experience the pure joy and wonder of God’s handiwork. Happy New Year!

 

“Then here’s a hail to each flaming dawn,

And here’s a cheer to the night that’s gone,

And may I go a roaming on, 

Until the day I die.”

~Anonymous (carved into a rock on Mount Katahdin, Maine)

Celebration in the Rubies

A couple of weeks ago we took a weekend trip to our nearest “city”, Elko. It is a three hour drive to get to Elko and it’s population is less than 20, 000 people (yep, our town is pretty remote). Our reason for going was pretty important, though. We adopted our son almost two years ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo and he just now officially became a U.S. citizen. We had to travel to Elko to meet with an USCIS officer to pick up his Certificate of Citizenship (Yay!!). We technically could have done it in a day trip, but we took advantage of the opportunity to visit an area we hadn’t seen before- the Ruby Mountains.

The Ruby Mountains got their name when an early explorer found garnet in them and wrongly assumed they were rubies. While the mountain range may be lacking in precious gems, it is most definitely not lacking in beauty.

On our drive to Elko we took a side trip to visit Angel Lake, the only lake in these mountains that can be reached via paved road. Unfortunately, we got there right as the sun was setting behind the mountains. Even though we ended up experiencing the place in the shade and the temperature started to quickly drop, it was still a beautiful sight. It is also a good thing that we went as Angel Lake ended up being the only lake we saw on the trip (spoiler alert).

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The following day we took a breathtaking drive through Lamoille Canyon. We earnestly scanned the mountain slopes for mountain goats and bighorn sheep, but never saw any.

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We reached the end of the road, had a picnic lunch by a pretty creek, and then set out on our hike to Lamoille Lake. The beginning of the trail took us through this cool rocky valley. We headed out into it for a while, mesmerized by the scenery, until we realized we weren’t really on a trail anymore. We backtracked a couple times until we discovered that we were supposed to cross a creek near the beginning of the trail. We lost some time and energy, but we finally found the right way….and that is also when things got tricky.

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The aspen leaves were long gone (which was a shame since there were so many of them). All we had were these red stick plants to add a nice pop of autumn color.

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Just taking a breather on one of our many rest breaks. At least we had a nice sunny rock to sit on this time.

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The Ruby Mountains are the wettest mountain range in Nevada and we soon found how their conditions differed from the mountains in our neck of the woods.

The trail started out at around 9,000 feet and went steadily uphill from there. There was patchy snow from the very beginning, but the patches became increasingly larger and the trail became increasingly steeper. It wasn’t supposed to be that long of a hike, but after over two hours of slogging uphill in the slippery snow and ice, there was still no lake in sight.

At one point Matt was helping me through an especially treacherous section. My feet lost all traction on the slick, melting snow and they slid out from underneath me. If Matt wasn’t holding onto my arms, I would have slid all the way down the trail. I don’t know how, but we managed to get to the side of the trail where there was a snow- free patch and I was finally able to stand upright again. We hiked uphill a bit farther, but my nerves were shot and I eventually admitted my defeat. I was a bit bummed to give up my chance of seeing Lamoille Lake, but it was not like we did not see gorgeous scenery the entire way. So we rested and then started our slip- and- slide descent off the mountain.

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Even though we didn’t reach our destination, we still ventured farther than most people. The parking lot was full of sight- seers, but most of them just strolled through the sunny and warm rocky meadow. We saw hardly anyone anywhere on the trail. (Maybe they were wiser than us, but we had ourselves an adventure!)

All in all we had a great weekend exploring a new area of our state and celebrating our family and Roland’s new citizen status. We fell in love with the rugged beauty of the Ruby Mountains and we definitely want to visit them again (but maybe not quite so late in the season).

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“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature…We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.” 

~Henry David Thoreau

A Perfect Day

It is not often that a perfect day comes around. A day when nobody is sick and everybody is in a good mood, the weather is pleasant and the views are beautiful, and there are no little stressful hiccups along the way. A couple weeks ago we were fortunate enough to have one such day.

When we had our September snowfall, we assumed we missed our chance of going to Great Basin National Park for one last autumn hike. However, a stretch of warm weather melted the snow and opened the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive back up again. We were a little hesitant to go because the snow on the Bristlecone trail on our visit back in June made our hike pretty difficult. This time we tried out the Alpine Lakes trail and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the snow was almost entirely melted (even at 10, 400 feet!).

At the lower elevations of the park road, the aspens were dazzling in their yellow autumn leaves, but as we drove up higher the trees were past their peak and had already begun to lose their leaves. It was interesting to see the seasons change as we gained thousands of feet in elevation.

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The weather was wonderful as we headed out on the Alpine Lakes trail: sunny and hovering right around 60 degrees. It wasn’t a difficult hike, but I could definitely feel the high altitude as we hiked uphill to Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. They were both petite in size (one barely more than a pond), but they were surrounded by grand, snow- covered peaks, creating the most picturesque of settings. It was pure bliss to set myself down on a rock, bask in the sunshine, breathe in the cool air and take in all the beauty surrounding me.

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Roland’s moods are usually the limiting factor on the enjoyment level of our hikes. His whininess and grumpiness can spoil even the most grand of hikes. However, on this day, not one whine came out of him. He kept up with us without a fuss and he was in a happy mood the whole day. Even when he fell down, he cried for just a minute or two and then he was able to move on and get back to enjoying himself, which is no small feat for him.

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If you have met our son, you know he is not a quiet child. There is always some sort of sound coming out of his mouth, whether it is words, songs, or just senseless noises. On our hike back down from the lakes in the darkening woods, I noticed it was perfectly quiet. I turned around and saw Roland was just walking along, playing with a couple sticks AND WASN’T MAKING ANY NOISE! It may not sound like much, but being able to enjoy the quiet serenity of the woods is not something that happens often when you have a kid like mine.

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I soaked it all in and marveled at how everything came together to create a perfect day. Days like that feel like a little sneak peak of what heaven might be like. In the midst of a string of ordinary days, sometimes God will give you a day that feels like a slice of heaven on earth and you can almost hear him whisper, “Don’t worry, there is an eternity of more days like that. Just wait.”

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“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

~George Washington Carver

Family Traditions

We have been blessed to have family visiting with us over the past week. Matt and I love living in the West, but unfortunately ALL of our family live on the East coast so we don’t get to see them very often. When family does visit, we try to make the most of it and cram as much fun as possible into a week. This was the first time we had company since we moved, so it was extra fun showing off our little corner of Nevada.

We started off the week with a hike at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park. Our walk started off pretty slow as the intense sun baked our skin, but our steps definitely became swifter when the clouds rolled in and the sky began rumbling with thunder. Even though we sort of rushed through the hike, we still ended up walking back in the rain. Although, I think we all agreed the cool rain was more pleasant than the oppressive heat.

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Charcoal Ovens

On another hot afternoon we drove out to Garnet Hill. It is an area not far from town that is open to the public for garnet collecting. We had fun searching through the rocks looking for the shiny, dark red stones. We did find some, but most were little more than specks inside of larger rocks. We weren’t quite serious enough to bring a hammer and chisel with us so we left most of our findings on the hill for the next person.

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Of course we had to pay a visit to Great Basin National Park. We first took a tour of Lehman Cave. We admired the amazing formations and enjoyed the cool, dark air. Then we headed back out into the sunshine and drove up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Gaining over 3,000 feet of elevation greatly cooled the temperature, making pleasant conditions for walking the forested nature path at the end of the road.

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On my birthday we took a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway. We rode out on a steam engine through Robinson Canyon up toward the copper mine. Matt and I braved the sun and sat in the open- air car, but we found out that the coal flakes showering our skin were even more uncomfortable than the heat. We stuck it out and we can now claim we had the full steam engine experience.

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This train has been in operation for over a hundred years. As we rolled through the desert, it was interesting to think of what life must have been like in the early 1900s in rural Nevada. People think Ely is remote now. Imagine living out here without amazon.com, major road systems, or reliable communication.

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Before the train headed back to the depot, it took us by the ghost town of Keystone Gulch. It was not a real town, but created by volunteers for the entertainment of the train passengers. It was a fun surprise and was a cute addition to the train experience. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but the jail was located adjacent to the saloon, keeping things nice and convenient for the sheriff.

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We all had a great time together and Roland got to experience two new firsts: the first time in a cave and the first time on a train. When our week together came to a close, I began to ponder  the importance of family and the traditions and values that are passed on from one generation to the next. The two most important gifts my family gave to me as a child were encouraging my faith in God and my love of nature. Those gifts are precious to me and I try to instill the same values to my son. We had a special week of three generations of my family enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors while giving glory to God for all he has done. It brought back all the happy memories of my childhood and it makes my heart glad that my son is being exposed to the same positive experiences I had. Of all the traditions some families may have, I think my family has some pretty good ones.

 

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

 

Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. 

~Walt Whitman

Mother’s Day

It was a chilly and gloomy day for a Mother’s Day hike at Cave Lake State Park. We put on all the layers of clothes we brought (and wished we had brought more) and headed out into the cool misty air, intermittent drizzly rain, and gusty winds. The scenery was still beautiful even though the highest peaks were shrouded by the clouds.

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We have had bad luck the two times we visited this park. Our first visit, two months ago, was sunny and warm, but the trail was hidden under snow so we had to turn around. The trail was clear this visit, but the weather was much less enjoyable.

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We were lucky enough to spot this pretty mule deer standing up on a hill. She just stood there and watched us instead of running away so we got to enjoy looking at her, too.

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The skies began to clear by the time we reached Cave Lake. We took one layer of clothing off and enjoyed the gorgeous view.

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It didn’t matter if it was cold and dreary or warm and mild. Our family was together, unplugged from all screens and distractions, making memories out in nature. What better way is there to spend Mother’s Day?

It should be apparent by looking at our pictures that our family was not created in the usual way. Our family was forged together through pain, loss, trials, and miracles. The endless waiting and financial hardships tested our faith and perverseness almost to the breaking point. The three of us endured so much before we were united together and I think we are now the stronger for it. I know my faith is stronger and deeper than it ever could have been if I had not pursued this adoption. The adoption started out as a leap of faith because we couldn’t really afford it, and then the situation became even worse as Roland was stuck in Congo for years longer than he should have been. However, God was with us every step of the way and brought us out of a seemingly impossible situation. It was a hard fight just to become a family and every day we are together is precious.

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:2-4, 17

Venturing Outside

Venturing outside the warm comfort of my home to take a short hike during the long winter months is no easy task, but it is vital to my sanity. I first have to figure out which areas of the forest are accessible or completely snowed in. Then comes the hour long process of getting the three of us in our winter gear and actually out of the house. It requires some extra effort, but the fresh air and the quiet beauty are worth the trouble.

We paid a visit to the very large and completely frozen Cass Lake.

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To get to the lake we first had to climb over a large snow dune.

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We admired the vast snowy landscape, but it was about 16 degrees and extremely windy out on the lake and I couldn’t feel my cheeks so we headed back into the protection of the woods.

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The winter landscape is mostly made up of varying shades of white and gray. Without the flowers and foliage that adorn the other seasons, things can get monotonous. That is why I got pretty excited about this area of the forest. The mix of green, red, and white tree trunks added color that could only really be appreciated in the winter.

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After a week of above- freezing temperatures the snow became crunchy, compacted, and unstable. It made taking a casual walk a bit nerve- wracking. We would take one step and sink in only an inch and then the next step we would sink up to our knees. And then every once in a while there were the hidden snowdrifts that would engulf us even more and we just about had to climb out. It kept things interesting.

Getting outdoors in the winter can be more difficult, but spending time in nature is rejuvenating, regardless of the season (and trudging around through deep snow is great exercise!).

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

~Robert Frost

 

The Simple Joy of Sunshine

As summer becomes more of a distant memory, these increasingly rare warm and sunny days feel ever more glorious. When the majority of the days now are cloudy, windy, and just plain chilly, I want to soak every ounce of sunshine out of days like this. Walking around without a jacket on a northern Minnesota October day is a gift from God that is to be truly appreciated.

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Roland running off some energy before gymnastics class at Diamond Point Park on Lake Bemidji. Walking with my family along a lake in the lovely sunshine makes my heart happy. I hope these are the kind of memories I carry with me through life (and not the tantrums, the bickering, the chores, the stress…).

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I could sit here and watch the waves and birds and falling leaves all day (on a day like this at least).

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This boy absolutely loves the warm sunshine. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact he lived the first three years of his life in Congo- a climate a bit different than Minnesota). The poor kid does not know what is coming. Enjoy it now, Roland!

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What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.

These are but trifles, to be sure;

but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

~Joseph Addison