#12 Into the Gorge

Oh my word – Mt. Rainier was beautiful to view much of the way from Yakima, Washington, south to the Columbia River Gorge.  First, Rainier was the backdrop of acres of fruit. How appropriate, for as we traveled, we munched on deep red sweet cherries from the area. Never so fresh!

Then Rainier stood white-capped and massive behind green fields of hay; farmers were cutting and raking as we drove on. Soon we discovered corn fields, which we hadn’t seen this far west since Minnesota.

At a later point, we viewed both Mts. Adams and Rainier at the same time. How very beautiful! Their peaks were covered in snow, and it was somehow physically refreshing to look westward toward them, as this day was extremely hot and dry. Eventually, most of the green farmland gave way to hot, dry field and rolling hills,  colorless other than a few small trees that can root in the rock.We stopped high upon a butte to look out over the valley below. Unlike the Wenatchee Valley, this valley was hot and dry and brown, yet it was beautiful. Green fields evidenced ingenuity of the farmers in the area.  It was not my favorite kind of landscape or climate, yet I loved it for God’s people were in the land and worked the land. This land had resources and purpose, just as all His creation does.

Soon we saw an unwelcomed site in this wind-whipped land: smoke. As we neared, we saw the blackened buttes to the east and helicopters dropping bags of water upon the earth below:

We drove past the smoke today, but in days to come smoke from fires such as this would fill the skies around us and traces would penetrate our lungs, as well.

Finally the blue water and green steeps around the Columbia River Gorge came into view. It was a welcomed sight.

We followed the river westward on the Washington side, high upon the edge of the buttes for miles and miles before we descended and crossed the bridge near Hood River. We said goodbye to Washington and hello to Oregon. It seemed a different land – green and cool. But it was still windy  – very windy! 

The next days in the Columbia River Gorge were refreshing – like living in a magical land! 

have you read my other posts from this trip? Click here to Start with #1 – The North Begins at Clare

#11 As Far West As We Go on Highway 2

Our second day at Glacier National Park was a bit more relaxing than the first, as we took a lovely drive and a relaxing boat ride.

There’s a town far north on the west side of the park called Polebridge, just 20 miles from the Canadian border. Along the way, we peeked at grassy settings of cabins, often surrounded by wood pole fences. We wondered if these were summer cabins for people or if they lived here full time.

Polebridge is a long drive down some asphalt and some gravel roads, but everyone seems to go there for the freshly homemade, warm out of the oven, Huckleberry Bear Claws. Huckleberries only grow wild in the northwest, so they’re a special treat. Handpicked! What the bears don’t eat, that is. Bears love them! These aren’t your typical Panera Bread bear claws; the dough is heavy – the bear claw must have weighed two pounds (ok – well, maybe one pound), and we each ate one, along with a cup of coffee. (We’d brought the pot along, as we always do!) It became our lunch!  We sipped coffee and ate  Bear Claws, crumbs covering our laps, as we casually drove south and back into the park at it’s Camas Road Entrance. The drive was well worth it – not just for the Bear Claws but in the hope of seeing wildlife – both plant and animal. You know the saying, You win some. You lose some. Well, we won the Bear Claws, but lost our hope of seeing grizzlies or wolves. It was well worth the drive, anyway, as we had a relaxing drive along meadows of huckleberries and wildflowers, rivers and streams, and the massive west side of the Rocky Mountains we had been enjoying from the other side. 

What does God put in your path? He has put wildflowers along every roadside I’ve traveled on this trip, along every path I’ve hiked, and on the edges of every mountain and lake  I’ve seen. It’s His message to me that He loves me, He leads me, He hems me in – He’s in front of me and He’s behind me, showing me the beauty of His creation and reminding me that He clothed each flower – He’ll certainly take care of me! These things are not coincidental! Not along God’s highways.

We drove back to Lake McDonald, which we had passed the first day – the 9-mile long Lake at the west side of the park. I browsed the gift shop inside the old lodge while we waited for our tour to begin, dreaming of sometime coming  back to stay at this  lodge, spending  my days  reading  and writing,  and  walking along  the  cool waters of the lake. We boarded the DeSmet, a 1930 passenger boat, for a one-hour tour. It was delightful! 

Here’s a beautiful photo of Lake McDonald Stream, taken by Jack Bell: 

I collected a few stones from Lake McDonald Creek as it flows into the lake. It was a perfect ending to not only the day but the entire experience at the awesome Glacier National Park.

While visiting Glacier, we had spent three nights at a peaceful campground in Kalispell, Rocky Mountain High. It was a perfect country setting with the beautiful Swan Mountain Range in the background. We slept with our windows open, breathing fresh pine air, the large trees above then shading our trailer during the day.

We’ve had sunshine nearly every day of our trip thus far, and today was no different. As we readied ourselves and prepared the trailer to leave the site, our neighbors, Barry and Linda, held our hands and prayed for a safe journey for us. The body of Christ is ever present on our journey.

We continued our venture on Highway 2, which we had followed now through five states and would continue well into the sixth state before this nightfall.

Western Montana did not disappoint. It was all we had expected with green forests and beautiful lakes surrounded by tall pines.

Ranches with occasional fields of hay to feed the livestock, dotted our paved trail.

Further west, the Kootenai River came along beside us and flowed beautifully beside us as we entered Idaho. At Bonners Ferry, we separated ways with the river –  it flowed north, while we drove south through Spokane and on into Washington. 

Certainly the landscape murals changed. Sage brush dappled the otherwise barren land. Soon  we drove around brown mountains speckled with small pines that had managed to grow in the dry rocky surfaces.

We ascended and descended these parched mountains  and the twists and turns of their ups and downs, and of the curves I had come to hate and fear, which   were impossible to escape, so I gritted my teeth and clenched the arm rest beside me until we finally descended into a beautiful green valley – the town of Wenatchee, Washington, the “Apple Capital of the World.”

It was a breath of fresh air after hours of driving through a desolate area.

Not only was the valley below filled with orchards, but the mountain walls surrounding the valley were, as well. And not just with apple orchards but with all kinds of fruit. 

The inviting Wenatchee River flowed through the valley, and that night, we camped near the river at the County Park.

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered during this trip it’s that the landscape and road conditions can change within a mile’s drive! And that’s what happened when we left the valley and parted ways with Highway 20, our old original, on which we had driven over 2000 miles in the last ten days!

Leaving the beautiful Wenatchee Valley, we turned south on US Highway 97. The road ascended as quickly as the gas prices! Now the mountains were green and fertile with wild plants, natural trees,  and living creatures.

And a short distance further south, the scenery changed  yet again! 

The windy, hot, dry climate, typical of this area of Washington surrounded us. Although 100 degrees, when we stopped for gas, we noticed how much cooler it seemed than 100 degrees.  Now we know what people mean when they say its a dry heat. Nonetheless, we were in a desert, so our plans to “boondock” overnight needed to change. I called ahead to Yakima and booked us a site. It was one of the strangest we’ve ever had – such tight quarters in the middle of a large city, next to an RV storage lot. But we had electric and the AC we needed thanks to Site #40!

Have you read the series of posts from our Trip West? Click here to start with #1 The North Begins at Clare. Scroll down in the home page tab “Home Sweet Home” to find all the posts.

Click here to subscribe to all my posts.

Click here to read the next Post, #12 Into the Gorge

#10 Mountain-Size Fear

After our perfect day, driving through the Glacier mountains, a fun Alpine lunch with Ron, seeing bear, fox, wolverine, marmots, mountain goat, and deer in their forest and mountain settings, I set the gps to direct us from St. Mary, back around the southeast edge of the park – roads we had not yet traveled – to reach Highway 2 and our RV Camp near Kalispell. Neither Ron nor I had any idea what we were getting into when our “gps Lady” led us to a 12-mile stretch of road, Montana Highway 49, also known as Looking Glass Highway.

I hope to never see that road again!

Sure, Going to the Sun Road” was frightening at times, but this stretch was, well . . . So. Much. Worse.

Traveler / writer of takemytrip.com describes it as “twisty, bumpy, steep, narrow, and generally difficult to drive.”

Yeah, I’d say so.

He further writes that you gain elevation and “it’s one twist after another . . . is crazy dangerous . . . “ with “very little room for error, and no guard rails to protect you in some of the most critical places. Aside from the curves and narrowness, the road itself is in terrible condition . . . potholes and suspension straining dips . . .”

The traveler / writer thinks the spectacular views are worth it. Neither Ron nor I agree.

I’ve borrowed photos from the takemytrip.com website to share with you in this post, as I could not bring myself to hold my phone to take even one pic. In your mind, picture dozens of hairpin curves such as the one in the pic, each with no guard rail, no shoulder, and immense drops. Picture at least one of those hairpin curves with a cross placed on the edge of the mountain, commemorating the loss of life. It was the most stressful 60 minutes (yes, 60 minutes to drive 12 miles) Ron and I have ever spent in a vehicle.

I’d never realized how much I loved the straight, boring lines of Highway 2 across North Dakota until the yellow highlighted route of my Rand McNally Road Atlas began taking on little snake-like patterns. The route became especially frightening when those patterns were accompanied with the triangular markings of mountains nearby. It became a terrifying combination in my mind! Suddenly, every day since that drive on Montana 49, I fight a fear I didn’t know I had: the fear of driving around curves with drop-off edges, often in windy areas, while pulling a travel trailer.  I write this post 13 days and four states after traveling the supposedly beautiful but certainly dreadful Montana Highway 49, and the fear is still very real today, as we travel through an otherwise beautiful location on this lengthy trip we’re taking. 

Do you remember reading about the prophet Elijah?  He was also frightened. The concept of Elijah being fearful puzzled me at first and continued to bewilder me in further study because he was a man who had witnessed the power of God and had performed miracles himself by that power. After all the demonstrations of God’s power, Elijah, nonetheless, was so frightened by the threats of Jezebel that he ran over 100 miles, where he collapsed under a broom tree. He then traveled another forty days and night to a cave at Mt. Horeb, where he hid. Why, I wondered, would a prophet of God be so frightened? Why didn’t he just stand up to Jezebel and proclaim the Word of God to her, as he had proclaimed to so many others? Whatever the reasons, I understood Elijah’s fatigue and fears. I had been raised with fears. My family called it worry. My mother, father, aunts, and uncles had perfected worrying. It wasn’t until later that I realized that worry although sometimes growing from godly concern, was typically nothing but fear. I too was adept at worrying! If my child was out of sight, and I sensed any possibility of danger, my mind could perceive the child dead and buried within seconds!  The slightest fever brought visions of mortal illness and suffering. If there was a place to hide from my fears, I would certainly flee to it.  Like Elijah. And I presume that is exactly what Elijah had done. His fleeing and hiding were all a part of the fear he was experiencing.

Now, it’s easy for us to look at Elijah and question how in the world he would be fearful.

And it might be easy for you to look at me and wonder the same!

One thing I know: Fear is from the enemy, so I need to fight it with the Word of God. When I become fearful, I need to speak the Word. I’ve written about fear in the past, as it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life, and I’m sure many of you have, too. This is how Jesus has whispered to me about fear in the past. He has told me to guard my heart from fear.

Like He did with Elijah, God has demonstrated His power to me over and over throughout my life. So why do I fear?

Like David, the Psalmist, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” So why do I fear?

The Bible tells me that God has not given me a spirit of fear. Instead, He has given me a spirit of power, and of love, and of a strong mind. I’m going to overcome that fear with power, love, and a strong mind. How? By guarding my heart and my mind. And by speaking the Word of God. Loud enough for the enemy to hear. (Proverbs 4:23, Philippians 4:6,7)

What fear are you fighting? Guard your heart with His Word!

Click here to read the next  travel Post #11 As Far West As We Go on Highway 2 

#9 A Day in the Park

“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!” ~ John Muir

The sun gave us a glorious greeting the morning we drove into Glacier National Park. I had cried when I first saw the mountains from the distance yesterday; I cried when we drove Highway 2 around the south side of the huge park; and I cried when we entered the park this morning. All cries of delight.

Ron and I talked about our parents, four wonderful people, who have all passed now. We knew they would love this vast mountain range we were entering, but for whatever reasons – various reasons – life itself – they had never made the long trip. We decided we were doing this for them, as well, and it felt as though our souls were a bit fuller this morning.

As much as we enjoyed the drive thus far – the green forests of the Upper Peninsula, the south shores of Lake Superior, the vast fields of wheat and hay and canola, the buttes, and the prairies themselves – this day seemed to be the peak – no pun intended of this part of our trip.

West Glacier welcomes the visitor with the touch of Alpine one could only hope for. The line of cars and the number of people are significant but not crowding. It is the true northwest, and tradition and history of generations of nature and of people penetrate the atmosphere like a mist. Again, I’m listening to a story – told by nature itself and the people who have heard it and now share it. It’s a story to which I eagerly listen.

We drive past Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the Park, and certainly the longest, spreading nine miles – nine miles of sheer beauty. This road is lakeside, and we are looking across the aqua blues of its enormous depth, viewing various ridges once destroyed by wildfire but now rejuvenating themselves and teeming with life – continuing life – just as Ron’s and my parents’ lives continued in us and are reflected in our children and grandchildren.

We see trails and lookouts and we sense the presence of first nation peoples who walked this land and lived off this land.

We pass the beautiful Lodge, the structure and design unchanged since its beginning. And we begin to slowly ascend the sides of these mountains, each turn in the road revealing plush green valleys with turquoise rivers running through them, some of which we drive beside. Water flows from streams on the edge of steep green mountains, snows still melting, glaciers slowing dying. We stop as often as we can to capture each mural scene, trying to embed it in our minds, as my 12 Pro Max is unable to digitally duplicate.

The water flows in streams beside us. The water is turquoise. I would love to drink from these rocky, cascading streams.

https://youtu.be/cx3hvbtLffY

A pull off allows us to stop and take in such beauty as I have not seen since I visited the Swiss and Austrian Alps so many years ago.

Water streams the mountainside from thousands of feet above. A deer wanders close by. This deer is more golden than those in Michigan.

We climb. And we climb. And we climb. The pressure builds and our ears pop.

We have travelled all this time on “Going to the Sun Road,” but now we read a sign: No passing for the next 12 miles in the Alpine Area.

At one pull-off, Ron has spotted a white Mountain Goat on the rocks quite near. The mountain goat stares. We stare. We feel blessed to see this wild creature so closely. I take many pictures and a video or two.

At another pull-off, we stop and look. Gaze. 360 degree views. I see people moving very high up the mountain on my right. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever get up that high. They’re on the edge of what appears to be a trail. I tell Ron, “I hope that’s not where we’re going!” But as you can imagine, we are going there! We will later look down from that spot to this.

I love the red bus. It is nostalgic of days gone by. Because  the sun is shining, the top is uncovered, like a convertible. I wonder if these people are holding on for dear life like I am.

The road becomes narrower. The rock mountain is so close to my open window, I think I could touch it. The pull-offs are now all on Ron’s side, at the edge of the mountain. The manmade rock border is only one rock deep in spots. Sometimes maybe 8 inches high. I am so glad we are on the mountain side of this steep winding road. We never know what is around the next hairpin curve. It is always beautiful, always displaying more and different mountains, sunshine from varied angles – always more of God’s glory. Even these mountains praise Him, I am reminded. It is quite humbling to be amongst these bits of creation.

Suddenly we encounter what they call a switchback. Now, we are driving on the outer lane of these vast mountains and the signs reveal the greatest distance is yet to come. I often grab the hand support of the door beside me, pulling so hard I wonder if it will loosen the inside panel. I look to see my seat belt is fastened knowing it doesn’t make one bit of difference. The viewing pull offs are always on the outside lane, as they could never be in the rock mountain wall, so we avoid stopping at most of them, although we had agreed to stop at each one!

We want to stop at Logan Pass – there is a Visitor Center there, and by this point, we’d like to step out of the truck and take some deep breaths. It is the only open, large area on this road. It marks the Great Continental Divide. But the parking lot is full. No more cars are allowed. Disappointed, we continue, nonetheless; I know that we are only halfway through this 50-mile road and this middle Alpine stretch. I know that we make the entire descent on the outer lane. I ask Ron to drive as though we are just creeping along. Well, sometimes I slightly scream, asking him to creep along and slow down, although he is not going fast. Our entire lower bodies are both needled with the fright of height. I wish we hadn’t drank so much coffee earlier on the route.

Still in the area of the pass, we are able to stop for a slight waterfall. We see the Weeping Wall, where water steadily drips off the mountain.

A wolverine crosses the road in front of us and lays flat, kerslpat, on the rock border rail. Later, we learn it’s quite rare to see a wolverine. This might have been a young one, yet unafraid of predators.

A family has stopped, their young teens standing on glacier on the side of the road. I am frightened for them.

The road further narrows. We enter a tunnel.

When I cannot bear to look out the side window, I aim the lens of the phone camera to the directions of the valleys below me so I can look at the view later! As I take videos, the view in my camera, draws me to the edge and makes me feel as though we are edging off the mountain.

It is frightening but it is glorious to be on this road! Once we have completed the Alpine section, the remaining ascent is relaxing, and I breathe easier.

We drive past St. Mary Lake and I photograph its beautiful Wild Goose Island. The wild flowers and green plants of this beautiful National Park capture me. I want every scene, every moment to be embedded in my mind.

.

We have travelled from West Glacier to St. Mary. And the first thing we do is head for the rest rooms in the visitor center!

We have lunch at a mountain lodge restaurant with huge logs constructing the walls and a true grizzly encased in glass, with a printed story of her demise some years ago as she had been hunted because of killing numerous cattle and chickens!  I purchase a cute little stuffed wolverine for my grandson, Luke, who like the wolverine, is quite a fighter in this life.

We rejoice in our experience of crossing this vast mountain range on the road made years ago. Now we head further north and enter the park road to Many Glacier. This road is gravel and rough, under repair. We have many delays when we simply shut the motor off and wait, along with a dozen cars ahead of us and another dozen behind. Finally, the small road crew moves us forward. This continues a few times as we travel beside a mountain stream. Then the road opens up and we see Salamander Glacier ahead and a large lake with some kayakers and canoes. It’s a beautiful scene with an Alpine Lodge set in one corner. 

We drive the area and realize we are not prepared to hike here late in the afternoon. Unlike the state parks in which we have hiked, the trails here are not clearly marked, and I have not prepared us by researching trails, so we choose not to venture out at this time, and begin the drive back the gravel road. The traffic is stopped.

Two bears are browsing the meadow for food. It is a beautiful site, and I think I might cry with delight. The ranger tells everyone to pull off the road. I take a dozen photos and several videos. I estimate they are 50 yards from us. One is black and one is brown – both Black Bears. I have learned to differentiate Black Bears from Grizzlies.

Further down the road, we stop for the repairs, and we see a beautiful fox. He seems to be sunning himself in the last remnants of today’s sunshine. He is larger than any fox I have seen in Michigan.

We finally reach the end of the road, so very satisfied with our day, feeling a sense of accomplishment, but the most frightening, stressful stretch of our day yet lay ahead this early evening. . .

Click here to read my next post, #10 Mountain-Size Fear

If you haven’t read my Travel Posts, Click here to start at the beginning! You can read all my posts on “Home Sweet Home” window.

Click here to read the next Post, #10, Mountain-Size Fear. Before you read “Mountain-Size Fear,” you might want to see this lovely video, and be sure to see the map of Glacier below: 

#8 Trains are Everywhere!

The mountains are calling and I must go.

~ John Muir

July 6

Last night had been one of those nights, traveling RV,  you sometimes plan – or they sometimes just suddenly occur – where you must sleep somewhere other than a designated campsite. If you read yesterday’s post, you know that we suddenly uprooted ourselves from Lewis & Clark State Park in North Dakota and headed west into Montana early in the evening. I looked at the map, of course, and searched my Map app, but the Montana map doesn’t identify Rest Areas quite like our Michigan map does. So, after driving a distance, and uncertain how far the next Rest Area might be, we pulled over to one in Culbertson, Montana, a quiet burg, and yes, there was a train track running behind it! Trains are everywhere in our travels! (See my post, My Pink Earplugs)

Nonetheless, we drove around the small parking area a couple of times to find the most level ground, had our supper, and settled in. It had been hot that day – the day we left Lewis & Clark State Park and had our window replaced in Williston. Very hot. And we were concerned about sleeping in the heat through the night, but these are the times one is thankful for the constant wind of the Northern Plains. In the quiet of the evening, a car occasionally pulled into the rest stop. One semi was parked a short distance away, and an old man slowly got out of a white pickup by the restrooms. I watched as he hobbled, bent, and slow going, emptying trash bins, going in and out of the restrooms, and packing the huge black garbage bags into the bed of his pickup truck. Again, I made assumptions as I observed. Most likely, his social security was  not enough to live on. He either needed the county or state job to make ends meet, or he wanted the job – just to keep those legs and arms nimble. I observed stamina, although I could not truly see the expression on his face. He was a hard-working American, I knew that.

We had entered a different time zone again, and although it was about 10 pm there, it felt like Michigan’s 8 pm to us. Wind whipped our little trailer. I assumed it would simply “rock me to sleep,” and it did, but when I awoke later, the strong wind had decreased, the trailer was still. The pleasant, almost cool, dry breeze passed between the open windows on each side of our bed, and it was refreshing.

When we’re without electricity, I heat water on the gas stove, and Ron makes French Press for us, so our morning routine continues!  We were on the road at 7:30, and it was pleasant driving at 65°. We soon realized why Montana is called Big Sky.  Oh yes, it is. One Big Sky from north to south and from east to west. Small towns dotted the otherwise desolate highway, and each had at least one junkyard. Not only were junkyards found in the stops along the way but also in wayside fields. Cars, tractors, farm machinery – rusting and surrounded with weeds. Run-down homesteads – mostly trailers. Those who lived along this stretch of Highway 2 were not the farmers. The farms were set back – on side roads that seemed unconnected to Highway 2.

Farmers raised one crop: wheat. Both spring and winter wheat were mixed in the fields. It was a whisker wheat, Ron said.

Railroad tracks ran parallel to Highway 2 much of the way. These trains were often pulling oil tankers. 

The Buttes still lined the north and south horizons, but now, they also lined the west – where I was gazing, all throughout the morning, anxious for my first look of the mountains.  The day was overcast. The west horizon was hazy. Finally, it came. Not the buttes, nor plateaus, but the mountains! And we saw them beyond a run-down homestead. But hey, they had a beautiful view of the mountains! America is a land of opportunity!

We entered the small town of Browning. It was not what I expected. Galvanized sided buildings were damaged from neglect. This city on the east side of the beautiful mountain range should be thriving, but it didn’t seem to be. Only the cultural center was beautiful. I saw many first nation people. I felt badly that they live in a broken down atmosphere, one in which their ancestors had flourished.

We entered the southern border of the park on Highway 2 through East Glacier. It was beautiful – even on this overcast day.

If the mountains outside this park are this magnificent, we could only imagine what lay ahead for us tomorrow, when we would enter the park and drive its steeps, its passes, and down into its valleys.

We stopped for lunch at a wayside monument at Marias Pass. The tall cement monument had been built to honor Teddy Roosevelt, but the bronze statue was the key point of this wayside. It was to honor a man named John F. Stevens who had surveyed this land for a railroad, far before any highway crossed it. Interesting indeed, and Ron and I were reminded of all those who came before us in this great land and the tremendous work they completed.

Now, it might just seem a little thing to you, but . . . We stepped into our little trailer to have lunch, and while we ate, it rained. Cars pulled in to the wayside. People stepped out, in the rain, covered with hoodies or ponchos – or not. They read the 4 placards placed at the sight, and they moved on. As a tourist, you tour – rain or shine! But when we finished our lunch and went across the parking lot to read the tributes and observe the train tracks, the rain had stopped. It was just another tidbit of confirmation that we were right where and when God wanted us to be.

Of course, one or two trains passed while we were there! Trains are everywhere in this part of the country!

Click here to read the next post, #9 A Day in the Park

#7 Prairie Grasses Have Purpose and Deep Roots

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Yes, all of nature is connected and has purpose. A fellow RV’er advised us not to bother driving through North Dakota and Montana – said it was boring with no striking views, but Ron and I like to make the connections. We appreciate it all. (Well, most of it anyway!) The Northern Prairie is remarkable. And even their prairie grasses have purpose.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, evidently the farmers didn’t realize the importance of keeping those grasses throughout their land. They wanted to plant grains such as wheat and oats instead. When drought occurred, as it often does, dust storms blew the agriculture away. The soil was eroded. Until the rains came around 1939 and dryland farming methods were applied, this beautiful land was useless. Families starved. The prairie dust caused breathing illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, and silicosis.

(The root system of prairie grass compared to the root system of agriculture.)

What the farmers didn’t realize was that the prairie grasses had tremendous root systems. The soil in which they grew could not erode. The person rooted in Christ is the same. The Bible tells us that if our roots are holy, our branches are, as well. The roots support us.  Jesus said that if a man has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When problems come, the worries of life, and the deceit of wealth (notice that phrase the Lord uses) comes, we’re lost in the winds. We quickly fall away, the Lord teaches in his parable of the sower. Have you seen a person quickly fall away? Or has it happened to you? It happens when we’re not rooted.

Oh, how I need to be rooted in Christ in this world. It’s so easy to fall away, and I don’t want that to happen. The Apostle Paul tells us that “just as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord,” we need to continue to live in him, to be rooted and built up in Him, to be strengthened in our faith as we were taught, and to overflow with thankfulness.

He continues to warn us about those things that will diminish our roots in Christ: deceptive philosophy (we see/hear a lot of that these days) and practices that are based on human tradition rather than on the actual teachings of Christ.

Jesus ends the parable by telling us how our roots can go deep: it’s by hearing the Word and by accepting it.

The winds of these Northern Plains through which Ron and I are traveling are strong. They’ve whipped our trailer as we drive through and rocked it when it’s at a standstill. They blow the papers from our picnic tables and mess my hair every time I step outside. But in doing so, they remind us of the deception the world brings – because of Satan, our enemy – but that we’ll stand just fine in that wind, as long as we’re rooted in Christ Jesus.

Further reading: Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:21; Romans 11:16; Colossians 2:7 . . .

Click here to read the next Post, #8 Trains Are Everywhere

#6 Lewis & Clark, Sacajawea, and a man named Josh

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

July 5

We hiked and drove through this park, learning more about the flora and fauna at the present time and that recorded by Lewis & Clark in 1806 during their expedition. (The photo shows a petrified tree stump from long before Lewis & Clark visited the area!) 

We tried to imagine the buffalo that once roamed the grassy areas in these Buttes, long before a single oil well was drilled here.

The wind whips through this part of the country – the Northern Great Plains. It is constant. Today it brings relief from the present heat wave.

This is different country than we are used to, but we are captivated by it and interested to learn more about it.

 

 

We actually paused for a few moments today with a cup of coffee, but later . . .

Every day brings something unexpected to this trip. Today’s unexpected occurrence was simply shattering!

While preparing our lunch, I opened the sliding panel of the window above our table, and it shattered with a crash, both inside and out of the trailer.

We stood in instant shock – then thankfulness for safety glass and no injury to me – then prayer, asking God to take care of this problem for us! We were over 1500 miles and 6 days into this cross-country trip, and in the “middle of nowhere” on the day following a holiday weekend. What would we do? Phone calls and clean up came next. The park’s maintenance enormous Shop Vac was a God-send, and although every RV Repair shop and nearly every Auto Glass Repair was closed on this Monday, one man, who owned an auto glass center in Williston, answered his phone and offered a solution. We closed up and packed up and broke camp a day early, met this man, Josh, at his shop in Williston, which happened to be 20 miles in the very direction we were to travel, and he provided his expertise of a secure temporary window, which will hopefully get us through our trip! Again, Abba Father provides. He says His purpose will stand, and He “will use a bird or a man from a far-off land” to fulfill that purpose. Today He used a man named Josh. Ron and Kathi do not venture alone!

See Isaiah 46 for this promise from the Father. Pray this promise for yourself!

Click here to read the next Post #7 Prairie Grasses . . . 

#5 America the Beautiful

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~ John Muir 

July 4

There seemed no better way to celebrate our freedom in this country than to do just what we were doing – driving wherever we wanted! And we did just that. 

As we drove across this little portion of America, we rejoiced with all the people we observed heading to worship together – the first and primary reason our forefathers came to this country. We smiled as we drove past people picnicking and swimming and celebrating their small town festivals. It was a typical Fourth of July in America but one I think in which people celebrated bigger than ever this year because of the distress of the previous.

Northwestern Minnesota looks much like the northern part of our (Michigan’s) Lower Peninsula. Beautiful. No farms other than hay. Hay for the cattle – both red and black angus here and continuing into North Dakota. 

Shortly, we entered North Dakota, through which we would travel its full distance today to set up camp at a state park near Williston, its westernmost state park before crossing the Montana line. Before our trip began, a fellow RV traveler had advised us not to take Highway 2 through Minnesota and North Dakota – said the land was desolate and didn’t offer any striking views – was boring. But we drove it, anyway, and heard its voice throughout the day. The land itself spoke to us of times past, of hard work, and of perseverance. We  listened.  And because we listened, we also learned. What better day to see this land and hear its stories than the Fourth of July! We were united with the people who lived here – both past and present, and now we had some of their stories to share.

At first, like Minnesota, North Dakota had only fields of hay and cattle grazing throughout pastures near and distant, but further west, the landscape changed. Buttes, lined both the north and south horizons, brushing our trail throughout northwestern North Dakota, still interspersed with grazing cattle but now primarily covered with bright yellow fields of canola. Miles and miles of it – as far as the eye could see, spreading out to the Buttes. , Unlike the native grasses upon which the cattle grazed, the canola was a more recent commodity, and similarly, another commodity,  foreigners in every sense of the word now sprinkled the landscape: oil wells! They were alien-looking structures, metallic and noisy, some large, some small, some with nearby flames on towering pedestals, as though to make a statement of their stature or worth. All in all, they were noticeably odd and contrary to the originality of these Northern Plains. All were surrounded with adjacent storage tanks and gravel trails for the tankers to haul the “harvest” of these fields. It was an unfamiliar sight to us, but commonplace to these parts. Rough, beaten down side roads evidenced the constant wear of oil tankers.

At the end of our long day of driving, the familiar voice of our “lady gps” directed us to turn south from Hwy 2 onto a 16-mile road, toward our destination of Lewis & Clark State Park on Lake Sacakawea. A large semi passed us, stirring up dust on this trodden gravel road. We looked ahead, realizing the entire 16 mile route would be rough, like a washboard, dusty, and battered! Ron’s frustration, which had immediately  reached a boiling point, diminished as we crept along and looked ahead. Soon, we looked down upon the beautiful setting of the park. Towering buttes and rolling hills provided the background for this picturesque setting we drove into – our little piece of North Dakota for the next two nights.

Of course, this park differed from any other we’d been in, but that was good. Today,  in quiet observation and in listening to the voices, we had recognized the value of diversity, if only in landscape and climate. It was a valuable lesson.  From our campsite, we looked at oil wells up in the Buttes, a distance away, their flames visible to us all through the night.

You can view all past posts on this website from the “Home Sweet Home” page!

Click here to read the next Post, #6 Lewis & Clark & Sacajawea, and a man named Josh.

#4 Trust the Magic . . .

July 2 – Leaving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is always disappointing, no matter the direction. We traveled the same Highway 2 in Wisconsin, but, well, it was just simply different. Missing were the delightful Waysides we’ve come to love in Michigan. Slowly but surely, the deep green forests dwindled, but one similarity exists in both states: Iron. Iron Mountain, Iron River, Iron County, Ironwood. The rocks are red; the asphalt is red; even the sand is red!

Today, we once again veered from Highway 2 in order to drive the peninsula from Ashland to Superior by way of the lakeshore roads. It was the Apostle Islands we desired to view from shore, but we found no waysides or pull offs or rest areas on the entire east drive past the islands. We did, however, discover a fine spot along a narrow sandy beach on the west side where we lunched in the warm breeze of Lake Superior. I browsed the sandy bottom for the first of my small rock (actually stone) collection and met a couple from a bit further south who had come to enjoy the sun. They were the first couple to whom I gave a copy of my book. I prayed for them as we drove away. The world is full of nice people, and we get to meet some along the way!

At the base of the peninsula, we crossed the state line, entering Duluth, Minnesota. What a beautiful city it is! Again, we traveled the shoreline north, but contrasting the Wisconsin peninsula, observing an abundance of beautiful homes, large and small, of cottages and pull offs to view the big lake from rocky cliffs. I should have liked to have driven for hours and to have stopped at marina cafes and restaurants along the way, but we turned west toward a small campground in Saginaw – Minnesota, that is – not Michigan. Click here to read my post about staying at the Saginaw Campground.

July 3

The morning was already quite warm as we prepared to leave the little Saginaw Campground. While Ron checked connections and adjusted the sway bar, I conversed with two couples, tent camping nearby. Frequent campers, it was nonetheless their first overnight at this campground. They shared the story of their restless night (click here to read the post). These couples were common everyday people, about the ages of Ron and me, and I enjoyed meeting them. These were the second people to whom I gave my book. Again, as we pulled out of this campground, we asked the Lord to use that book for His glory.

It was a beautiful drive across the short stretch from Saginaw, Minnesota to Itasca State Park, south of Bemidji, Minnesota. This state park reminded us of those in northern Michigan – woodsy!  Now the day was hot. Very hot! Ron was more than a bit flustered when we discovered our reserved, designated campsite. Evidently a site for tent camping, it had no electric or water hookups, was not large enough for both our trailer and pickup, and in looking at the road and trees, Ron doubted he could actually back the trailer in to this site. This site was located in a stifling low spot without any breeze whatsoever. By this time, it was 90◦ Visions of a hot sleepless night entered my mind. Why did I ever book this site, I wondered. But I had. This is where cell phones come in so handy. A quick call to the Minnesota State Park office and a short drive back to the camping check-in cabin confirmed one available electric and water site for the night. One. And on this busy holiday weekend! Site 73E was on the ridge, overlooking beautiful Lake Itasca! It was not the first time the Lord had graciously “upgraded” us, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. He is an Amazing God.

As soon as we got set up, we started our hike, as this afternoon was our only time to visit the spot we had come to see: the Headwaters of the Mississippi River.  The trail was smooth, thank goodness, as it was long.

In time, we reached our destination and I celebrated our accomplishment by wading the headwaters.

I dropped a shoe and a sock in the water but didn’t really mind, as I discovered it to be somewhat refreshing for the nearly 4 mile hike back. We were a bit out of shape to undertake a long trek on a hot day such as this, and I was a overly exhausted when I climbed onto that memory foam topper later, but once sleep came, it was good, and the Minnesota breeze refreshed us that night, calling us to venture yet further west.

 

#3 My Pink Earplugs

We packed plenty of warm clothes for this trip to the northwest: jeans, sweaters, flannel shirts, fleece lined hoodies. We’d read of warm mornings at the campsite but cool temps in the mountains. Within the week before the trip, we began to observe different weather reports in the areas we planned to visit: a heat wave was taking place in Oregon, Washington, and Montana! My weather app showed 101° in Havre, Montana, a location where we planned on perching at a Walmart parking lot for the night. Knowing we wouldn’t have overnight electricity for even so much as our little fan, Ron said, “Kathi, find us a campsite in Havre.” The Lord quickly supplied. I made a call and encountered a friendly voice on the other end, just as I had so many times previously, in planning the trip. I’ve discovered a multitude of friendly people across this vast northwest we will be traveling! And I’ve discovered overnight availability when I least expected it.

Due to the expected heat wave we would be driving into, I realized that we just might have to turn on that atrocious AC in that little travel trailer of ours. I refer to it as atrocious because although occasionally necessary, as it very well might be on this journey, I don’t like it. I don’t like the door and windows closed, blocking the fresh air and open view. I don’t like the loud noise of the unit right above our heads, in the middle of our cute little home away from home. But, should high temps prevail at night, although atrocious, it might be a relief. Thus the earplugs.

After learning of the heat wave, hoping to block the sound of AC, I purchased pink earplugs, perfect for a woman’s ear, so they say.

We’re into the fifth day of our trip now, and the nights have cooled just enough that we didn’t need the atrocious AC, but the earplugs did come in handy. Let me explain why.

 Late Friday, we pulled into a small country campground, just past Duluth on Highway 2. It was clean and tidy and offered full hook ups and internet! This is great, we thought. We had just gotten set up when we heard the rumble. We first assumed there was a busy highway behind us which we hadn’t noticed, but the loonngg whistle soon gave it away. Yes, a train track was just a short distance behind the campground. Ron, hopeful, said, “I don’t think the trains will run at night.”

Ha!

In the morning, nearby campers spoke of trains running through every twenty minutes or so. Whistles blew often, they said. All. Through. The. Night. Ron, exhausted from work and driving many hours, had slept through it all. I did, too. But only because of my pink earplugs!

If you attended Sunday School when you were a kid, you might remember singing a song with the lyric, “Be careful little eyes what you see. . .”

The second stanza is similar:

 “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear;

Be careful little ears what you hear;

for the Father up above

is looking down in love,

so be careful little ears what you hear.

It might be a children’s song, but it’s based on teaching from the Bible, so it’s a message for all ages: We must be careful what we hear.

Sometimes we need to wear our pink earplugs.

The Father is “looking down” – not to judge us but to help us. He knows the danger to us if or when we listen to what we should not. He tells us it is a danger that affects our faith.

He’s given us His Word to teach us in order to protect us and in order to bless us. That’s His desire for us. Abundant life. And in that Word, He instructs us of certain things we should not continue to hear. We’re familiar with many of these things: gossip, negativity; however, in my recent studies, I’ve noticed a continual and strong message given throughout the whole Bible  – a warning about some things to which, when we listen, we can gradually and easily become desensitized to the dangers. (The enemy, Satan, just loves it when we become desensitized to those things God desires.)

The Lord tells us not to listen to mediums, sorcerers, and fortune tellers, but He doesn’t stop there. He warns us not to listen to what some people teach – some who claim to be prophets – some who claim to be wise – some who claim to have the answers. He tells us that these people speak ideas of vanity (the importance of self), they speak ideas from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says that some of these people claim to teach in the His Name, but He makes it clear – their teaching is not from Him. The Lord did not send them.

Sound familiar today? I see it constantly on social media. It is more than subliminal in movies and television shows. Constant little tidbits of teaching that initially might sound spiritually okay but isn’t. It’s hurting us, and God knows it. He says we must plug our ears to it.

He warns us that our family or close friends might be listening to these tidbits of false teaching. But He says we must not listen to it – even if they encourage it. Wow! This is serious business. The train is rumbling.

Jesus tells us to consider carefully what we hear. Tells us it measures our faith. The Apostle Paul teaches that many people who appear to be Christians actually teach false doctrines and endless controversies instead of doing God’s work. He says they’ve wandered away from the truth to meaningless talk. He instructs the Church to deal with them and to command them to change. It’s important to the Church. It’s important to the Lord. The train whistle is blowing.

It’s God to whom we must listen, and we hear Him in His Word. The closer we listen, the more understanding we will be given. In fact, we’ll just keep receiving more understanding, the Word says. It stands to reason that when we’re listening to falsehoods, the more falsehoods will fill our minds, but when we’re listening to the Word, the more truth will fill us.

We are not under law. God does not force us to listen to Him. But we believers recognize His voice. It is the voice of the Shepherd. And we want to hear Him above other voices.

The rumbling is all around us. The warning signals are given. The train whistle is blowing. I need to use my pink earplugs to block it out.

~~~~~

If you haven’t followed Jesus as Savior yet, click here to learn more about becoming a believer.

Further reading:

Deuteronomy 13:8

Jeremiah 23:16; 27:9, 14

Mark 4:24

Luke 8:18

1 Timothy 1:4

2 Timothy 4:3

Click here to read the next post, #4 Trust the Magic