Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Old Faithful

We just came back from a vacation out west where we hiked, fished, enjoyed the mountains and took in the many sites.
One site was Old Faithful at Yellowstone. Like clockwork, the geyser erupts several times a day entertaining the throngs gathered anticipating this wonder. We walked the boardwalk trails, stopping at the many other geysers and then waited for Old Faithful.
Afterward, we walked around the Inn, a beautiful building built over a century ago from rustic materials with a charm all its own. Like everyone around us, we were equipped with a camera, capturing memories to remind us of our travels. Entering the upper deck at the inn we found rows of benches with "Old Faithful Inn" carved into the backs. Our daughter wanted to take some pictures of the benches and we sat down as subjects in the shot she was setting up.
I didn't really think about the picture and its significance until we returned and I loaded the nearly 700 vacation pictures onto my Mac. That's when I noticed the unique quality in this picture. Our picture shows us sitting on a bench with the words "faith" and "faithful" showing.
Yesterday marked our 24th anniversary and having faith and being faithful are the cornerstones our marriage has been based on since 1987. I love this picture, the memories it will bring back and the message too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A New Perspective in the Mountains

We are on vacation in the Gallatin Mountains this week, staying in Big Sky, Montana about an hour from Yellowstone. The views are so different from here; streams, rivers and mountain lakes. The vegetation is unique as well. Instead of the mix of deciduous tree and evergreens, here there are mostly spruce clustered together on the mountainsides. The flowers growing wild along the trails are colorful, ranging from light yellows to dark purples. As you ascend the variety changes too. Reaching the upper meadows it seems spring has only just begun, the ground is moist and some plants are just beginning to sprout from the ground. The temperatures are different too. Morning temperatures start out in the 40s and inch their way up to the high 60s or low 70s. As you work your way to higher elevations the temperature shifts about 2° every 100 feet. Snow is still visible on the mountain tops and if you are determined enough you can hike up to small patches of August snow.
We took a four hour hike yesterday to Bee Hive Basin. The trail wasn't too difficult at first, but soon we were working hard navigating hills covered with stone. We had to traverse streams and take breaks along the way to catch our breath. While we could easily have given up, we marched on anticipating the mountain lake and the view from the top. Giving up might be easier, but our joint determination pushed us on. At times the trial plateaued and we enjoyed the beauty in the meadows with clear water rushing past in the streams. Our efforts were rewarded as we finally reached the top. We found snow patches and the most amazing view of the valleys below. Yes, there were larger peaks in front of us as well, but our journey had been a success. We celebrated by making snowballs and gazing into the distance remarking that this hike was worth the extra effort.
In life we often become accustom to the views we are most familiar with and think everyone experiences life from a similar vantage point. Taking trips like this provide us with an opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective. We realize there are struggles and sometimes it's easier to give up than continue. What's important is that we journey on anticipating what awaits us if we are willing to work.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Unexpected Adventure

 Some of the best life stories come from unexpected adventures. Last weekend provided us with yet another story to tell of a unique adventure. It is etched in our memories to be recalled along with other family stories.
  We were at a family reunion on a lake in Tennessee. We had brought our boat, as we have done for all of our lakeside reunions, and spent time on the water with various family members enjoying the ride, skiing, tubing, knee-boarding and swimming. The lake we were on was over 60 miles in length and most of the banks were rocky and steep with only a few marinas peppered along the shore and scattered houses high above on the foothills. We seemed to have the whole lake to ourselves.
  Saturday morning was a bit cloudy, but the temperature was quite warm and some of the younger cousins were eager to get out on the water. Adam went first on a tube and had a great time riding through the boat's wake. Evan's turn was next. As he rode along we saw rain in the distance falling in sheets and soon the drops were pelting us as well. That's when the thunder and lightning began and we needed to find a place to wait out the storm.
  My husband pulled the boat into a remote cove and set the anchor. He told us we needed to swim to shore since a metal boat on a lake in a thunderstorm wasn't a good place to stay. Our daughter called him "Captain Obvious" at this remark.
  We were all soaked already, so swimming to the bank wasn't a problem and we were soon climbing up the rocky shoreline as our captain made sure the boat was properly anchored. (My daughter with her underwater camera on her wrist.) By the time he was ready to swim to shore the boat had drifted closer to the other side so he was soon standing on the opposite bank with the rain pouring from the sky.
  Standing on that large, flat rock together looking out at the water and completely soaked we began to share stories of other memorable adventures. Biking in the rain and seeking refuge in a barn in rural Kansas, a boat on the ocean in North Carolina with waves crashing, a storm on a lake in Wisconsin and the wild ride back to the marina and driving through the Midwest in snowstorm. We've all had adventures like this at one point or another.
  The storm passed and we swam back to the boat. Climbed the ladder and continued tubing and skiing. By the time we were back at the dock we had dried off and laughing about our adventure. We shared our story with the other family members. For the six of us it will be a special story that we will remember and retell throughout our lives.
  Unexpected adventures make wonderful stories we can share over and over again. They shape our lives, make us laugh and connect us to others. Isn’t that what stories are all about?