Yellowstone National Park: Day One

Ever since I heard of Yellowstone National Park, I have wanted to go. I pictured steep mountains and low valleys. And maybe a bear or two that might say, “Hey, Boo Boo, it’s a pic-a-nic basket.” But Yellowstone is so much more! Planning to go here always seemed a bit overwhelming to me. I had read that if you want to camp in or near Yellowstone that you need to make arrangements a year in advance. But here we are seeing the country spontaneously and it seems to be the best way for me. Looking at the map of Yellowstone, I saw that there are 5 entrances to the park. It’s a challenge to know how to attack a park the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. But we decided to camp in Gardiner, Montana right outside the historic first gate of Yellowstone, our country’s first national park. Here is the Roosevelt Arch at the entrance, built in 1903 and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt.  Matt searched for coordinates to a geocache that was right outside the park and was our first Montana geocache.Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We had to get our photo by the Yellowstone park sign.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Immediately, we were greeted with gorgeous scenery.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We made our way through windy roads to the first big attraction near us, Mammoth Hot Springs. Here I learned that this wonderful park is really a volcano! Thermal activity is evident everywhere you turn. Here are some photos I took at Mammoth Springs.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We began keeping a list of all the new animals and birds we saw in Yellowstone. Bison were everywhere and often created traffic jams as they crossed the road. But we also saw black bears napping. Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And a coyote eating lunch.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I was thrilled to be here at the beginning of June. It was spring time and the animals had babies. Here is my favorite photo of a mama elk and her little one.

Yellowstone National Park photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The beauty of Yellowstone holds so much, but I will have to show you more photos later. There’s a lot for me to go see!

See more posts about our Great Westward Trip! Starting on the trip, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower

Sanibel’s Amazing Shells

Sanibel Island is one place that I have wanted to visit ever since I heard of it. This beautiful island off the shore of Fort Myers, Florida is regularly listed as the best place in the world for shelling. Where we stay in Florida is about 2 hours away and we just never seemed to get there. Finally, we had a day when Matt didn’t have to work, so we took the trip to see what we could find. We got up much earlier than I usually do, so I enjoyed seeing the sunrise and had to take a quick pic out the windshield. It was going to be a lovely day!Sunrise on the way to Sanibel Island www.joyfulwonder.com

Many things were in our favor this day and that was the reason we chose it. I had been researching, especially here, about the best times for shelling. It is said that after a storm is best and just before low tide. Then there are also the factors of the moon phase and wind. Plus it is wise to get there to find the shells before the crowds arrived. Everything was just perfect! We munched on hardboiled eggs and cold bacon as we drove the miles to this famous beach. Would we find anything? I’ve been to several beaches where I never found a whole shell. I was excited to see if this beach would live up to its reputation. We were early enough to find parking for our huge truck, Sherman, but we were definitely not the first ones there. I should have gotten up earlier. Maybe all the shells were already taken. Here was my first glimpse of Sanibel Island’s beach.Lighthouse beach at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It sure looked like there was a lot of something on the beach. I ran down and started looking. There were a LOT of shells! I picked a pretty one up, but the animal was still living it. One rule of shelling is to let the ones with live animals alone. So, I put him back on the sand. I picked up another one. Yikes, another animal! The shells were beautiful, but partly because they were still occupied and useful to their owners. I was getting an education on what these fascinating creatures were like. This shell, called a tulip shell, was just gorgeous…and still occupied.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We always chat with the other people on the beach and we were privileged to meet Ken. He volunteers at the shell museum on Sanibel Island and was a wealth of information. He explained which shells were more rare than others. I joked with him that I planned to find a junonia shell. He looked at me like I was crazy since those shells aren’t found very often. I’ve heard they are found once a week, but Matt said once a season. Anyway, Ken said I probably should have gotten to the beach a bit earlier than 8 am to get a junonia. Here he is holding some tulip shells.photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

While chatting with him, I found a tulip with another shell hanging on to it. He told me to take a photo of it. I had found a tulip animal eating the animal from another shell and Ken said you didn’t see that very often.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We saw many other types of shells too. Scallops, penshells, olives, fighting conchs, clam. Matt found a horse conch shell which is the Florida state shell. It still had its bright orange gastropod occupant.Horse Conch shell with gastropod photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There were so many shells most of which still had live critters in them. We did find a few without, but were starting to wish we could find a large empty shell. The tide was at it’s lowest and Ken had explained that a sandbar would become accessible. We tried to hurry over to it, but by the time we got there, many others had been there before us. There were indeed many shells, but every single one of them had already been turned and left because they were live. I wondered what treasures the early birds had found before us. Matt found a big horse conch that had a hermit crab in it and decided to move it for me to take a photo. It slipped from his hand to the sand and when he picked it back up, the crab fell out of the shell. It was not alive. The shell was ours! Horse Conch shell on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

After shelling for a couple hours, we decided to get a geocache. There was one close to the Sanibel Lighthouse.Sanibel Lighthouse photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Matt found it quickly. His first geocache of 2016!Matt geocaching photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I decided to look at the beach right at the lighthouse. It was even more cluttered with shells than the other part we had been on. Look at all the fighting conch shells.Shells at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The beach was just covered with stuff and the birds were feasting.Beach on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

But it was time to go on. I still wanted to see the shell museum: Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Here I was able to see the elusive junonia shell. Probably the only ones I’ll ever see.Junonia Shells photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And we saw record breaking shells. Matt at the museum photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Lion’s paw shells were another that I would have loved to find on the beach, but at least I saw them at the museum.Lion's paws and angel's wings photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We took a break from the exhibits and went to two different talks they had there. I learned so much about shells and the animals that made them. Really fascinating. I’d highly recommend the museum. After the talks, we saw shell art. Cameos.Cameo photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Cameo photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And Sailors ValentinesSailors Valentine photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

But it was getting late and we had a two hour drive yet to do. It was time to go back to our camper and see what we had shoved into our bags while on the beach. Here is our haul.Sanibel Shells photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Did I have a great time at Sanibel? Yes! Did it live up to its reputation? It was amazing! Do I want to go again sometime? You bet!!Janine with shells from Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

 

One Day in Switzerland

After traipsing all over Italy for Matt’s work, we were able to relax and explore during a week of vacation. One area we had not yet been to was the mountains of northwestern  Italy. After saying fond farewells to Sergio and Ceclia, we took off for lands unknown. Sergio said that we must stop at the coastal town of Lerici on our way. What a picturesque spot!Lerici, Italy by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We only had an afternoon to spare, so we strolled along the coast and ate gelato. We had been told by Sergio that we needed to go to the top of the hill and see the castle for lovely views.Lerici, Italy by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I’ll never get enough of seeing the wonderful colors of the homes in Italy.Lerici, Italy photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

It was time to head to our next agriturismo in the Aosta Valley. We had spent more time in Lerici than anticipated and now I was concerned about making it to La Vrille agriturismo in time for check in and dinner. But we got there in plenty of time to eat a meal fit for a king. They were ready for my dietary needs and even served me a special dessert. This was the first place we stayed that looked like a Swiss chalet to me.Agriturismo La Vrille photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We were in the mountains of northwestern Italy and yet it was so gloomy that we couldn’t see them. Off to bed we went with hopes of clearer days ahead of us. I wanted to see those mountains! We had plans to go on a cable car up into those mountains. Would tomorrow be the day? But alas, we awoke to no mountains. I was beginning to think there really weren’t any mountains they were so well hidden by clouds. We decided not to do the cable car since we wouldn’t be able to see anything. We were, however, very near to the border of Switzerland. Always in pursuit of geocaches in new places, we decided to drive through the mountains and see if we could get to Switzerland. Windy road in Italy photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The roads were quite windy and steep and we couldn’t see much.Road to Great Saint Bernard Pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Beautiful scenery in the alps of Italy photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We also had to go through a 3 mile long tunnel. I used to feel panicky in tunnels, but Italy cured me of that. The Great Saint Bernard Pass, the third highest road pass in Switzerland was our destination. We finally arrived and climbed out of our car. We saw someone walking around and he came over to us. “It’s too bad you weren’t here yesterday,” Anthony Schrag said, “the mountains are spectacular!” But, we only saw clouds and fog. Still, we could cross the border into Switzerland and look for a geocache. We invited our new friend to come along with us. As we drove over the border, Anthony explained that he was walking from Scotland to Venice. Wow, was I ever impressed. He had not heard of geocaching, however, and we had fun enlightening him. Just into Switzerland, we climbed up a bit from the road, and there it was.Our first Swiss geocache photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our first Swiss geocache!! As we celebrated the find, Anthony continued to express disappointment for us in the weather. Suddenly, the clouds lifted and the beautiful Swiss Alps came into view. What a glorious sight!Great Saint Bernard's pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Then Matt continued to climb up for a better view. I tried to follow him on the wet, slippery rocks with my sore knee. He looked down and told me to scramble up one particular rock. I said, “Honey, I’m not much of a scrambler.” Suddenly a man on the other side of the rock started laughing. He said, “That’s pretty funny…Honey, I’m not much of a scrambler. I think it’s the quote of the day.” Well, I’m glad he was amused. I finally made it up there. See how little that cross is in the next photo?

Great Saint Bernard's pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The “scramble” was totally worth it. Oh, the majesty! It was not for long and the clouds came back to cover the beauty again. Here are the buildings at the pass.Great Saint Bernard's pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Then the clouds came back. Just like that, they were gone!Great Saint Bernard's pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I was determined to have a meal in Switzerland and we did, right over the border. Potatoes and cheese.Meal in Switzerland photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We learned a little bit about how Saint Bernard opened a hospice there to help people in the harsh mountains. He must have pointed people in the right direction too.Statue of Saint Bernard photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

He trained large dogs to search for missing people. They still had St Bernard dogs at the pass.St Bernards at the Great Saint Bernard pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And some in the souvenir shop.souvenirs at Great Saint Bernard Pass photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

There was also a museum of religious artifacts. This ancient Bible reminded me of doing Bible Art.ancient Bible photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

What a glorious day in Switzerland, even though cloudy. We were excited to have stepped foot in another country and I’m always happy in the mountains. And next exciting day?  Well, you’ll just have to wait for another blog post!Matt and Janine in Switzerland www.joyfulwonder.com

You may enjoy previous posts about our trip to Italy.

Windmills, Delft and Lighthouses

Our seven week trip to the mid-west was nearing an end, but I had one more town I wanted to visit: Holland, Michigan. With my maiden name being Updyke, I have always been interested in all things Dutch. Since I doubt I will ever get to the Netherlands, I decided that we would go to Holland. Plus, we needed to capture a lighthouse along Lake Michigan. We settled into the Oak Grove Resort Campground and decided to find Big Red. It was nearby and there were bike paths, so we peddled our way to the shore.Big Red Lighthouse, MichiganWhat a beautiful area! There were bike paths everywhere. We found a few geocaches and Matt took a photo of me in my new hoodie. We had found it in Leland and in my quest for more color, I couldn’t resist it.New HoodieI saw this building in the distance and took a quick pic. Isn’t it marvelous? I never did find out if it was a home or a business.DSC_9329One more day in Holland made it possible to explore Windmill Island. I was eager to see De Zwaan, the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States.  This 125 foot tall windmill is 250 years old and still grinds grain today.DSC_9382 2 De Zwaan means “the swan” or “graceful bird” and it looked beautiful against the striking sky.De ZwaanDelft, the blue and white pottery, was another interest that brought us to Holland. I remember calling a crewel piece I had made delft and our son thought I made up a word! Actually, our sons have accused me of inventing that word ever since. But no, it is blue and white pottery that was originally made in Delft, Netherlands since 1512. I was intrigued by it because of the family heritage and had heard that there was a Delft factory in Holland, Michigan. DSC_9348 2

DSC_9375 2I was hoping that we would be able to tour the factory to see how Delftware was made and sure enough we could! Deb spent quite a long time explaining the process. She obviously loved working there and appreciated that all the methods they used were authentic.DSC_9349 2This photo shows each step of the process.DSC_9352 2Every piece of delftware in Veldheer’s Delft Factory is completely handpainted. Even pieces that are imported from the Netherlands are often not hand painted. Bonnie has been painting delftware at Veldheer’s for 35 years!DSC_9369 2They also acquired equipment from the Netherlands to make wooden shoes. Travis demonstrated the machinery and explained that the shoes were made from green wood, poplar and willow. DSC_9361 2We bought a shoe as a souvenir and Thoa decorated it by woodburning our name onto it. DSC_9370 2In the shop, I found this tee shirt. I’ve heard my dad say this many a time!DSC_9373 4As much as I loved being around all those Dutch things, it was time to keep going. We had one more stop. I still needed a lighthouse along Lake Erie to complete getting ones at all the lakes. We stopped at Sandusky, Ohio. Our day at Marblehead Lighthouse was beautiful and relaxing.DSC_9420 2e DSC_9441 2c

We could see Cedar Point amusement park across the water. That’s the closest we got though.DSC_9427 2It was finally time to go home! What a glorious excursion; seven weeks of adventure. We often spoke that getting our 5th wheel camper was one of the best things we have ever done. Traveling is a challenge with my dietary restrictions. But with a roving kitchen, that problem is solved. In seven weeks, we ate out only once. What a blessing to be able to be together, exploring our great country! One that we will never take for granted. Until the next trip, peace to you!DSC_8277 2

Mackinac Island: A Step Back in Time

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? I have. I’ve thought I would have fit better in the horse and buggy days when life was much slower. But then I’d think more about it and decided that I probably would have been one of those wives that wouldn’t have made it on the Oregon Trail. So, I’ll stick to traveling with our rig! Our next stop was just over the bridge to the mitten of Michigan and then to an island that is a bit like stepping back in time, Mackinac Island.Mackinac Bridge

First we crossed the Mackinac Bridge, the Mighty Mac. This 5 mile long suspension bridge is the longest one with two towers in the western hemisphere. I was a bit apprehensive about driving the rig over this bridge. That is a long time to be over water and I wondered if that would freak me out a bit. We started over the bridge and I realized that I would have to deal with another unsavory driving issue: construction. Now, I don’t have any idea what the bridge is usually like since I have only crossed it this once, but our direction was down to one lane and that lane had a metal grating sort of thing to drive on. This surface was not easy to drive on as it pulled and shifted the truck and camper. So much was I focusing on keeping the rig in the middle of the lane, that I had no time to notice how long we were over the water. We did reach our next campground, Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground, on the lower peninsula in Mackinaw City. I loved our spot on Lake Huron with a view of the bridge.Mighty Mac

It looked beautiful in the sunset too!sunset with Mighty Mac

Our next day was a work day and I had laundry to do. I guess I’ve gotten sort of spoiled and thought every highly rated campground had laundry facilities. But this one did not because of waste water restrictions. So, it was time to wander off by myself. Thankfully, the laundromat was clean and right near a lighthouse I wanted to see. I had made it my goal to see a lighthouse by each Great Lake. I’m not sure if Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is technically on Lake Huron, but I’m counting it as my Lake Huron lighthouse. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Finally, we had a free day to explore and Mackinac Island was our destination. I had heard lots of good things about this island. No motorized vehicles, except emergency ones, are allowed on the island. This sounded like my kind of place. First we needed to ride the ferry. We chose the fast one that shot water out the back.Ferry to Mackinac Island

As we flew along, I shot a quick pic of this pretty little lighthouse through the window. Maybe the Round Island Lighthouse could be my Lake Huron lighthouse? Round Island Lighthouse

As we docked on Mackinac Island, Matt and I debated as to how to spend our day. Would we walk everywhere, hire a horse drawn carriage or rent a bike? Biking sounded like the most fun, so we rented 3 speed cruisers and took off. What a beautiful 8 mile ride around the edge of the island.Biking on Mackinac island

We stopped many times for beautiful sights along the way. We climbed 207 steps in order to see Arch Rock and it was worth it!Arch Rock on Mackinac island

Building cairns were encouraged in the biking literature. We had seen these rock formations in so many places on our travels, but we had yet to build one. It was past time.Our cairn on Mackinac Island

Of course there were geocaches along the way and my crazy man tried on sunglasses that were in one cache. Looks great, don’t you think?My geocaching man

We found our 600th geocache on Mackinac Island! Our 600th geocache!

So we celebrated it with a kiss.A kiss on Mackinac Island

On we biked and came to a stone marker. I had read that this island was the filming place for a movie that I had enjoyed when it came out in 1980, Somewhere in Time. The main character did step back in time and it was all on Mackinac Island. When I first saw the movie, I remember thinking that I wanted to see this beautiful place. Now, I was here, in the very spot where Jane Seymour said to Christopher Reeves, “Is it you?”Somewhere in Time marker on Mackinac Island

I must admit that my memory of that specific event was sketchy, but I watched the movie a couple days ago, and it was fun to see that these trees are just like this in the movie, but a bit smaller.Somewhere in Time trees

We had to see the beautiful hotel where most of the movie took place. We turned in our bikes and hiked up the hill to see the Grand Hotel with it’s 660 feet of porch. That’s the world’s longest, and I dare say, most elegant porch!The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

I did indeed feel as if I had stepped back in time as I watched the hotel’s horse drawn carriage approach.DSC_9137 2 DSC_9140 2 DSC_9139 2

We finished the day with some fresh fish from Lake Michigan, lake trout. As we paid for the fish the man asked where we were from. When we said Maryland, he was shocked. “In my 30 some years of working here, I’ve never served anyone from Maryland!” He was not the first to be shocked to learn that we had driven all the way from Maryland.Bell's Fishery

But was going to Mackinac Island worth the drive and ferry ride? A resounding Yes! I truly enjoyed my step back in time.At the Stone Arch, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Can We Please See Minnesota?

Since we were this far away from home in Wisconsin, I thought why not head on over to Mt Rushmore? That’s a place I’ve always wanted to see! Our original plan was to see something of Wisconsin, drive up and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then make our way back home. I couldn’t convince Matt of such a big change in plans, but then I started saying things like, “Well, we are so close to Minnesota, don’t you want a geocache from that state?” And then, “We could camp just over the line and then we could count Minnesota as a place we have camped in too.” It wasn’t much out of our way and compared to trekking over to Mt Rushmore, I guess it didn’t sound so far. Minnesota

Our first view of both Minnesota and Lake Superior was when we crossed the bridge and entered the harbor town, Duluth.Duluth

We stayed at a KOA near Duluth and then I looked for things to do in the area. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Minnesota. I hadn’t known anything about it! We were just a few miles away from Jay Cooke State Park, so we went to check it out after Matt finished his work day. First we crossed a swinging suspension bridge over the St Louis River.DSC_8254 2

Of course, Matt had to make it sway! But it was sturdy and didn’t move much under his weight. This park was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple hours before the sun set hiking the trails and skipping stones.DSC_8294 2

Then it was Saturday and we had a whole day to explore Minnesota. After a bit of research, I realized that there was a lighthouse nearby on Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse.DSC_8509 2

This lovely lighthouse is built high on a cliff that is made of anorthosite which is extremely hard and erosion resistant. We got to the park in time to watch a well done video about the lighthouse and then take a tour. The light station was built in 1910 in response to three terrible Great Lake storms in 1905 that resulted in 116 deaths. It was explained that Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and it’s water temperature stays around 39ºF. As I heard several times while near Lake Superior, “The Lake never gives up its dead.” Violent storms, cold temperatures and a booming shipping industry were a combination for disaster. Lighthouses were needed to save lives. DSC_8375 2

We climbed the stairs and enjoyed the view from the top of the lighthouse. Here was the view out of a window part way up.DSC_8377 2

The fresnel lens is no longer lit up, but it still turns.DSC_8379 2

And makes rainbows on the wall.DSC_8389 2

Here we are at the base of the lighthouse. A great view even without climbing the stairs.At the top of Split Rock Lighthouse

After the tour, we climbed down to the shore to take photos. Such a picturesque lighthouse!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN

But I wanted to also capture the lighthouse in evening light. We had hours to kill, so we hiked trails in the park to complete a multi-cache. We stopped every once in awhile to take pics.Canoe in Lake SuperiorTaking a break by Lake Superior

After hiking 6 miles and completing the geocache, our feet were hot and tired. Matt decided to stick his feet into Lake Superior. He didn’t keep them in that cold water very long!Matt didn't keep his feet in Lake Superior very long!

Finally, the sun was low on the horizon and I was able to capture the lighthouse in the evening light. Such a beautiful site, especially since it helped save lives!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN in the evening light.

Even though I only had a couple days in Minnesota, I loved the scenery and the friendly people. I’m so glad I convinced Matt to go! Guess we’ll have to catch Mt Rushmore another time.

Flip Flops to Snow Boots: Just Got to Adapt

In a matter of hours, I went from wearing flip flops to snow boots. I know, I know…I won’t get any sympathy from all of you who stayed up north enduring a particularly hard winter. But it got me to thinking about change. It’s one of the few things that you can count upon. I remember a Christian comedian, Mark Lowry, joking about “This too shall pass.” Whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in, we can be sure it will change, whether for the better or for worse. As my dad said, “Everyone is either about to have difficulty, is in a difficult situation, or has just come out on the other side of a hard circumstance.” Life is hard! It’s snow boots after beautiful flip flops!

So, I have a choice. Do I complain or do I find the joy in the moment? It reminded me of trees. Recently, we were at Stump Pass Beach Park in Florida. This park was full of thriving vegetation, but strewn throughout were dead trees. DSC_1184

I tried to find out what happened to these trees. One person said lightening strikes. DSC_1187

But I had a hard time believing that lightening took out so many trees! We did search all around these trees. There was a geocache to find among one of the root systems.DSC_1205

After researching online about the park, I realized that each website mentioned change. Here is what the park brochure says, “The sands of this site are always shifting. Historic maps reveal the altered shapes of the islands over time. The islands’ salt-tolerant vegetation preserves the appearance of the Southwest Florida coast before much of it was changed by development.” DSC_1296 2

So, my theory is that the trees just couldn’t adapt to the change. They must not have been salt tolerant. Even though in a way they are beautiful, I don’t want to be like them. My life now that our sons have grown up seems to be constant change! I used to say I hate change and now I am living it and it seems to involve lots of travel. I remember back in 2003 when we went on a short term missions trip to Brazil, they kept stressing that the main thing to make the trip a good one was to “stay flexible.”

That’s not easy. And I still really struggle with it. Part of me likes to have the sure things in life and to be comfortable. But I’m discovering another part of me… the adventurer! And I can be that slightly more daring lady because I know of one thing in my life that will never change. Jesus. I cling to this wonderful promise “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

So, no matter what, I want to be like the beautiful, green trees that flourish. Even in the snow or in the sun. Whether in flip flops or snow boots.  With Jesus, I can say, “Bring it on!” DSC_0974 2

Ps 1: 2-3 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”  (Read the whole psalm!)