Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ft. Toulouse/Jackson - 12/22/2009

Hike: Ft. Toulouse/Jackson NHP - Tue., 12/22/2009, 09:15-11:15
Distance: 4 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Temp in mid 40's. Gorgeous sunshine; bright blue sky. No wind.
Lots of fauna today: deer, squirrel, and many, many representatives from Aves! Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers are still quite high from all the recent rains. Could not hike the lowland trails near the Tallapoosa River - they were all under water! The mud left from the high water mark was a good 6' higher still. The sight around the boat launch on the Tallapoosa was particularly impressive. I have personally never seen the Tallapoosa that high. The normal placid surface and aquamarine color of the Tallapossa was replaced with a powerfully moving surface and a muddy-brown color.

LORD, YOU really stilled my mind and spoke peace, love, and joy to me today. Thank YOU for this magical place.

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail - 12/21/2009

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Mon., 12/21/2009, 11:17-14:00
Distance: 5 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate
Conditions: Beautiful, bright blue day! Mild temps. Little to no wind.
Got a late start on the trail today. Did not observe much fauna other than several passarines. Noticed that jeep was leaking water from underneath after I shut it off (about a half-cupful). May be water pump trouble. I decided to go ahead with the hike to let the engine cool enough to check the radiator level. (I checked the level after the hike and found it full. CHI-J got me home too! Thank YOU, LORD!)

Some spectacular views of Lake Martin! I felt the need to talk to GOD a little while on the south trail and the special rock altar overlooking the lake is just the place! I have dubbed it the Altar of the SON.

Found myself humming/singing the tune, "Start at the Manger Then Go to the Cross" throughout most of the hike.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Coldwater Creek is BIG!

How would you like to be kayaking today on Big Coldwater Creek???  This link will take you to the USGS real-time river data for Big Coldwater Creek.  The level is about as high as I have ever seen it...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Hike - Mountain Creek

Hike: Fri., 12/4/2009, 13:00-15:00 - Mountain Creek, AL
Distance: 4.0 miles
Rating: 4.5/5.0
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Cool, partly cloudy, high fast-moving cirrus clouds, light breeze. Cool enough for long sleeves but not cool enough for a jacket.
Haven't been able to get outdoors for several weeks - I do miss it.
Had the park to myself - except for passarines, squirrels, chipmunks, and skunks, but found it difficult to still my mind today. Found myself thinking a lot about Diane and what she's going through right now. I pray FATHER, that we will learn what YOU have for us in this situation. I pray for Diane's health and strength. Guide me to be the man YOU are calling me to be.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday Hike - Mountain Creek 11/21/2009

Hike: Mountain Creek, Sat. 11/21/2009, 12:00-14:00
Distance: 4 miles Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Partly cloudy, mild, intermittent light breeze to rustle the trees and shower the ground with additional leaves
Cancelled the planned Saturday COME Hike at Cherokee Ridge because of NWS forecast (90% chance of rain) - Guess how that turned out?

Enjoyed some trail time, just me and GOD. Thought about Diane's childhood - just doesn't seem right that she is to be married in 6 months. She was just 3 yesterday...

Observed many passarines, one whitetailed deer, one chipmunk. A little bit of color (mostly dogwood red) still in the forest but most leaves on the ground now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Expedition #15 Chinnabee Silent Trail

Hike: Chinnabee Silent Trail (Expedition #15) Sat., 11/14/2009 10:00-15:30CST
Distance: 8 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate
Conditions: Simply gorgeous day! Beautiful sunshine, no clouds, mild temps and no wind.
Five total people on this expedition: Jon, Liz, Jimmy, Layton, and myself. Had a wonderful time - could not have asked for a greater day or better group of trail-companions. Leaf color was good but probably a little passed prime due to recent tropical storm. Color of understory was a pleasant surprise. Observed one small ring-neck black snake next to Cheaha Falls on return trip. No other fauna observed during hike. More people than usual using this trail (probably because this is prime leaf-peeping time). Trail was in good shape. Plenty of discharge over Cheaha Falls and Devil's Den. Pics from the boardwalk high above Devil's Den were perfect. Hiked from Turnipseed trailhead to Lake Chinnabee. Ate lunch at the lake and shared a short devotional from Psalm 121 and how GOD is magnified in HIS Creation (e.g. of hummingbird migrations). Layton and Jimmy set a good pace headed back to the trailhead. This is a trail to do again (maybe in the Spring-time - to see spring wildflowers). Thank YOU, LORD, for this special time and place. Thank YOU for the ones that were able to participate.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cherokee Ridge Sat. 10/03/2009

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Sat. 10/03/2009 11:00-13:30
Distance: 4.7 miles
Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate
Conditions: Gorgeous day! Sunny, virtually no clouds. Moderate wind. Warm - but not too humid.
Observed several small lizards throughout the hike. The ubiquitous passerines were singing and flitting around. Many butterflies, grasshoppers, and other assorted bugs were also in attendance. The most striking feature of the day though belongs to the Autumn wildflowers. They are in display all along the trails, hillsides, lake's edge, and throughout the forest. Fall is my favorite time of the year. There is something very special and dear to my heart about getting out in the forest during this time of year. Thank YOU, LORD, for this special time and place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kudzu Jelly!!!

Adventures of Worship in GOD's Outdoors!
"YOU will show me the path of life." -- Psalm 16:11

In case anyone is brave enough (or interested enough) to try out Kudzu
Jelly, this is a copy of the article from Tuesday's Troy Messenger...
Even that part of GOD's Creation that we esteem little has a place and

Kudzu harvest yields sweet jelly

By Jaine Treadwell (Contact) | Troy Messenger

Published Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Folks can have their mince pies, Agnes Johnson would rather have her
"menace" jelly.

For several years in mid-August, Johnson has been making her way to
the kudzu vines that have invaded the property around her home in
Troy. She pulls back the leaves of the "menacing" plant, seeks out its
purple blooms and strips them bare.

From the blooms of the menacing kudzu vine, she will make jelly as
sweet as sugar itself. "Somebody mentioned that you could make jelly
out of kudzu blooms, and the very next day, I looked in The Messenger
and there was the recipe," Johnson said. "So, I decided that I had the
recipe, and I would try it. I did. And, I liked it so I keep making
kudzu jelly."

Johnson said kudzu jelly's not hard to make.

"When you've got Sur Gel, you can make jelly out of anything," Johnson
said, laughing. "Gathering the blooms takes a little time. Just
looking at kudzu from a distance, you won't see the blooms unless they
are hanging. If the kudzu is growing on the ground, you have to pull
back the leaves and look for the blooms. But it doesn't take many. You
just need four cups for a making of jelly."

The blooms have to be picked before late August at the earliest or
early September at the latest.

"If you wait too long, those little green worms will get on the
vines," Johnson said. "I don't pick blooms when the worms are on the

Johnson said the kudzu jelly recipe she clipped from the newspaper has
long since disappeared, but she remembers enough to make jelly from
the menace plant that was actually a Japanese invasion.

The Japanese brought kudzu to the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.

What was, at first, a popular ornamental plant and cover plant quickly
turned into a menace in the United States.

In the summer, the plant grows about 12 inches in a day's time so, in
almost no time, it will cover trees, telephone poles and anything else
that's at a standstill.

Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi can bemoan about seven million acres of kudzu.

Johnson can't begin to imagine how many jars of jelly that acreage
would produce.

"I only need four cups to the making," she said. "Then all you do is
add the four cups of blooms to four cups of boiling water. When the
mixture cools, put it in the refrigerator overnight. The recipe said
how long to leave it in the refrigerator. But, I lost the recipe, so I
just leave it overnight."

The next day, strain the blooms. To the liquid, add one tablespoon of
lemon juice, one package of Sur Gel and a tad of butter, "to keep the
juice from boiling over."

"Bring the juice to a rolling boil and add five cups of sugar and
bring to a rolling boil for one minute," Johnson said.

"Pour the jelly in the jars, seal, and it's ready to eat when it cools."

Johnson said she usually eats kudzu jelly on buttered toast.

"It's good with biscuits, too, but I have more buttered toast than
biscuits," she said, laughing.

"Kudzu jelly has a musky, grape taste, and I like it and most people
do once they've tried it."

Johnson recommends kudzu jelly over most others.

After all, the kudzu blooms are free for the taking, and there are
plenty kudzu vines to pick from. And, in the kitchen, anyone can turn
a menace plant into a sweet jar of jelly, and it's "as easy as


Monday, August 17, 2009

Bike Hike Swayback Bridge Trail

Hike: Bike Hike on Swayback Bridge Trail, Wetumpka, AL, Sat.
8/15/2009, 08:00-09:30
Distance: 4.0 miles Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Mod to Difficult (Technically challenging in spots)
Conditions: Muggy, mostly clear, warming fast, ground wet from recent
rains but not muddy. Trail in good shape. Three other ATB users and
1 runner on trail.


Rode with Robert. He just got his new Trek aluminum ATB. Good
workout. Been too long since I've ridden my ATB on this trail, but I
thought the ride went well. My ATB will require a tune up and some
new tires. Both my tires went flat after I returned home!

Did not observe any wildlife (hard to do from the saddle of an ATB at
speed). Flora was beautiful. Several summer wildflowers still in
bloom. Vines, bushes, etc. have not encroached on the single-track.
TOLA does a great job of trail maintenance. Just be prepared for lots
of roots!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mountain Creek Hike 7/27/2009

Hike: Mountain Creek, Mon. 7/27/2009, 17:25-18:20
Distance: 2.5 miles   Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Muggy.  Temp in mid to upper 80's.  Partly cloudy, a few strato-cumulus clouds in area but no rain yet.  No wind - absolutely still in the forest.
Park was deserted this late in the afternoon (at least by humans).  Many gray squirrels scampering about on the forest floor and jumping into the trees.  The ubiquitous passerines were in evidence as I was serenaded with myriad bird-songs throughout the hike.  It was easy to hear the different bird songs due to the stillness -- no wind and little traffic noise to interfere.  Hiked the nature trail and the field areas since I wore short pants - did not want to pick up any ticks in the pine uplands (trails there are more overgrown).  Was a very quiet and peaceful hike - Thank YOU, LORD.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Great Expectations (With apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens...)

Psalm 145 (esp. v.15)


How much of our lives do we waste as we blindly pursue some vague idea of success or happiness?  How much time and energy do we expend in pursuit of some misty, shadowy dream or someone else's conception of what true happiness looks like?  Why are we determined to "do it our way" when GOD has already shown us the real way?  Is it that we do not believe HIM?  Is it that we think we truly know a better path?  Are we that naïve and foolish?  Are we looking expectantly toward tomorrow because we have a trust in GOD or are we fearing what tomorrow may bring?


How much better it would be if we would pursue HIM, if we would pursue those things that lead to joy and peace and love rather than waste our lives aimlessly pursing the fleeting shadow of richness or so-called happiness.  We expend great quantities of our life groping for something to feed our souls when GOD has already provided the spiritual sustenance for our eternal spirit.  It seems we go after the spiritual "junk food" rather than the real meat.


Just as physical "junk food" leaves us hungry and sick, so life's junk food will leave us spiritually desperate and unsatiated.  We may capture momentary happiness in our pursuit of the world, but we will discover (unfortunately many times late in life) that happiness is not synonymous with joy or peace or true love.  "Godliness with contentment is great gain" we are told in 1 Tim. 6:6.  How well we would do if we listened and obeyed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hiking Paul M. Grist SP Jul-11-2009

Hike: Grist State Park, Selma, AL  Saturday, July 11, 2009, 17:00-18:15CDT
Distance: 3.2 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Conditions: Partly cloudy, mid 80's, light breeze, humid.

Kathy, Glenn, and I made a day at Grist.  We grilled burgers, fished, kayaked, and I hiked a little starting at the trailhead by the lower picnic pavilion.

They have added to the trails here!  Section turned roughly eastward in bottom-land and wound across a ridge-line.  Wide trail, largely cleared - much better maintained than last time I hike here.  Trail blaze is a white horizontal band.  I was pressed for time during my hike as the park closes at 7pm and I did not realize they had added more trails.  These trails will require more exploration.  Note to self to always take SPoT with me (even on hikes I think I know well) and a map.  I did have compass and emerg kit.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Great Western Expedition - Epilogue

Friday, July 03,2009 (Epilogue)


            Made it to Prattville about 3:00am this morning after logging 892 miles of driving from St. Joseph, MO!  It was so good to see the Alabama the Beautiful sign on US78 and even better to see the Prattville exit off I-65 later.


            Diane and the "puppies" were glad to see us.  It was close to 4am by the time any of us got to bed.  Needless to say I slept a little later than usual.  Now we still have to clean out the popup camper and unpack all the clothes and gear.


            The trip was certainly worth all of the driving time and effort.  GOD used this time to teach us some important lessons and some things I am still processing.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone Sunday and my family is coming up for a visit as well! 


            Listed below are my thoughts about the accomplishments and items left to-do from our Great Western Expedtion-2009:



o       Very good for my walk of fellowship with GOD. 

o       Learned some important spiritual lessons. (e.g. Demonstration of GOD's goodness and faithful care!)

o       Learned more about myself.

o       Good for Kathy and my relationship.

o       Good for Diane – some important lessons for her on managing a household (which she did very well).

o       Good for Crestview Church (several individuals filled in for me on Wed. nights and did a great job).

o       Good rest for me away from pressing responsibilities.

o       Saw and experienced some wonderful places (places that are on my "Life List").

o       Learned a great deal about use of our popup camper.

o       Learned that I have a lot to learn about fly-fishing.



o       Yosemite NP

o       Better exploration of Badlands

o       Pacific Northwest

o       Coastal Redwoods NP

o       San Diego Zoo

o       Joshua Tree NP

o       Canyonlands NP

o       Bryce Canyon NP

o       Monument Valley Navajo Nation Park

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

GWE - Day 23 & 24

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 (Day 23)

John 12 is my source for morning devotional this morning. “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.” John 12:35 (NKJV) May we not remain blinded in our pursuit of worldliness and self-centeredness, but rather may we truly see the Light. Kathy recounted to me a conversation she heard from a man a couple of weeks ago. The man was bragging to some of his friends that he “saw” the Grand Canyon in 45 minutes. This is absurd. No one can truly take in all that the Grand Canyon has to offer in a mere 45 minutes. This is a perfect example of seeing but not truly seeing. As we walk through life, it is easy to become distracted and not really see what HE has for us. I pray we will turn from this blindness and turn to the ONE who will heal our blindness – who will make us truly see. As I have absorbed all of the wonders of GOD in HIS creation these twenty-three days, I wonder how many people drive by these magnificent testimonies to the power and majesty of GOD and never give HIM a thought. I suspect the numbers are great. May GOD revive HIS church.

Yesterday was a driving day. We traveled through Yellowstone NP exiting the east entrance station and then traversed the Big Horn Basin and Big Horn Mountains to Gillette, WY to spend the night. We plan to see Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore today on our continued travels toward home.

The Big Horn Mountains were awesome! I realize that is an overused word, but it adequately describes the sight. The snow capped peaks of Loaf Mountain filled our windshields on more than one occasion as we crested the pass at over 9600 feet and began our long descent. The sight literally moved Kathy to tears as we stopped at one overlook to soak in the GOD’s majesty reflected just a little in this impressive sight. The white-streaked peaks of Loaf Mountain rose high before us as the verdant green of Lodgepole Pines carpeted the valley before us. We literally drove through the clouds at one point!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 (Day 24)

"Do you know what I have done to you? John 13:12 (NKJV) JESUS said this to HIS disciples. What if HE asked you and me this same question today? Do we really know what HE has done to us and for us? Do we give it any consideration at all? I pray that I, that we, never loose sight of the depth of sacrifice GOD has made for each of us. The measure of HIS love is boundless. Are we really cognizant of how much GOD loves us and how much HE does for us every day? It almost boggles my mind as I consider HIS love and protection over Kathy and me these last 24 days. We have accumulated almost 6,000 miles on the Explorer and HE has seen us through every minute. We have seen sights that astound, that bring tears to your eyes, that make you consider eternal matters – and HE was in each one. Yes, GOD cares and watches over us just as HE said. How about you? Do you know what JESUS has done to you, for you?

Yesterday was an eventful day. Devil’s Tower National Monument, or as the Sioux would say Mateo Tipila (Grizzly Teepee), is the oldest national monument. How great it was to visit our nation’s oldest national park (Yellowstone) and now its first national monument. Seeing the igneous buttress rise abruptly from the sandstone valley floor is astonishing. It is easy to see how the Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes considered this area special or sacred. The long pillars of stone rising up to the sky do look like claw scratches in the stone. The various Indian tribes ascribed these to a giant grizzly. From the top crags of the obelisk one can see dove, turkey vulture, kestrel, and other birds soar. Patches of yellow-green lichen can be observed up the sides and all the way to the top. Tenacious plants of various kinds dot the tower’s sides. The top is rounded, not flat, and is said to be inhabited by various birds, small mammals, and some reptiles. (That would be a long climb for a little squirrel or snake.) The Tower Trail, which runs around the base of Devil’s Tower, affords an excellent view up to the tower from all angles and provided a hike of about 2 miles.

As we prepared to leave the tower, we had a frustrating revelation – the battery on the Explorer would not crank the truck. Thankfully the National Park Service provided some assistance. A park ranger let me jump off from this (brand new) Ford Expedition. He also gave me directions to the nearest auto parts store. (Thank YOU, LORD, again for YOUR protection.) After getting a new batter and assisting with the economic growth of Sundance, WY, we were on our way to Mt. Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore is stunning. When you look at these granite statues carved out of the Black Hills and consider the length of time required as well as the number of people involved, you cannot help but feel privileged to be an American. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln almost come alive as you gaze at them with binoculars. Even the eyes have depth and shadow that makes them appear more than stone.

The weather did not cooperate with us at Mt. Rushmore as a thundershower rolled over the Black Hills, complete with lightning and cold rain. This prevented me from hiking the Presidential Trail and getting close-up pictures of the monument as well as viewing the local flora and fauna. Kathy and I did get to view some interesting exhibits and a movie on the sculpting of the mountain. After the storm cleared, we took more pictures of the mountain before heading eastward. Unfortunately it was getting late and too dark to drive through the Badlands National Park.

We stopped for the night in Wall, SD. We are looking forward to getting home and seeing everyone. We love and miss you. I have so much I want to share with all of you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

GWE - Days 21 and beginning of 22

Monday, June 29, 2009 (Day 22)

Morning devotional comes from John 11. "Loose him, and let him go." John 11:44 (NKJV), JESUS said to those standing around at the tomb of Lazarus. They were astonished. Lazarus had been dead four days and would be stinking by now. JESUS challenged to do as HE said to “see the power of GOD”. We need to be “loosed” as well, loosed from our bondage to sin and impotence of fear. As Lazarus could not revive himself, neither can we loose ourselves from these fetters. We need a SAVIOR and FRIEND. That person is JESUS CHRIST. Whom the SON has set free is free indeed!

Packing up camp this morning and heading home! We plan to see Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands on the way through. Keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 (Day 23)

John 12 is my source for morning devotional this morning. “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.” John 12:35 (NKJV) May we not remain blinded in our pursuit of worldliness and self-centeredness, but rather may we truly see the Light. Kathy recounted to me a conversation she heard from a man a couple of weeks ago. The man was bragging to some of his friends that he “saw” the Grand Canyon in 45 minutes. This is absurd. No one can truly take in all that the Grand Canyon has to offer in a mere 45 minutes. This is a perfect example of seeing but not truly seeing. As we walk through life, it is easy to become distracted and not really see what HE has for us. I pray we will turn from this blindness and turn to the ONE who will heal our blindness – who will make us truly see. As I have absorbed all of the wonders of GOD in HIS creation these twenty-three days, I wonder how many people drive by these magnificent testimonies to the power and majesty of GOD and never give HIM a thought. I suspect the numbers are great. May GOD revive HIS church.

Yesterday was a driving day. We traveled through Yellowstone NP exiting the east entrance station and then traversed the Big Horn Basin and Big Horn Mountains to Gillette, WY to spend the night. We plan to see Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore today on our continued travels toward home.

The Big Horn Mountains were awesome! I realize that is an overused word, but it adequately describes the sight. The snow capped peaks of Loaf Mountain filled our windshields on more than one occasion as we crested the pass at over 9600 feet and began our long descent. The sight literally moved Kathy to tears as we stopped at one overlook to soak in the GOD’s majesty reflected just a little in this impressive sight. The white-streaked peaks of Loaf Mountain rose high before us as the verdant green of Lodgepole Pines carpeted the valley before us. We literally drove through the clouds at one point!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

GWE - Day 21

Sunday, June 28, 2009 (Day 21)

Today is a turning point in our Great Western Expedition. Today marks the last full day at camp and on expedition. After today everything will be done with an eye toward heading home. After we break camp tomorrow morning and pack up the camper we will point the Explorer south. We plan to stop and see a few sights along the way like Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands of South Dakota but these will be stops along the route home.

My devotional reading this morning is from John 10. How appropriate that this chapter should be on this day and a Sunday as well. JESUS said to us in John 10:10-11, 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

This demonstrates to me the absolute love and care of GOD for me personally! GOD has given HIS life for me! It cannot get any better than that. The GOD of the Universe, the LORD of all Creation, loves me and sacrificed HIMSELF for me so that I might have eternal and abundant life. We have so much to be joyful about today. Start living, really living, today. Begin a relationship with JESUS CHRIST. Ask HIM to forgive your sins and be the LORD of your life. As a shepherd carefully tends his sheep, so GOD will tend your life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

GWE - Day 20

Saturday, June 27, 2009 (Day 20)

My morning devotional reading is from John 9 today. "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." John 9:39 (NKJV)

“None so blind as those who will not see.” Matthew Henry wrote these words as a commentary on Psalm 82 many years ago. The reality of these words holds true just as much today (if not more so) than it did when they were first written. JESUS said there are those who think they see but are in fact blinded – blinded by sin, by lust, by selfishness and a host of other things. HE is the Light. If we desire to be able to walk clearly and safely through life we must walk in HIM. Let me encourage you to see the LIGHT today.

My plan on this breezy, cool morning is to hike the Aspen Loop at Henry’s Lake ID State Park while Kathy sleeps a little late. After that, it’s on to the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. Perhaps we will see wolves and bears today!

(Evening Reflections)

Wow, the short 3.2 mile Aspen Loop at Henry’s Lake State Park was full of surprises. The upper end of the lake is a marsh area where the creek is filtered before entering the lake. The marsh is full of pelicans, ducks, geese, and other assorted water fowl. The trail turned south from the marsh across the roadway and into the aspen forest of the foothills surrounding Henry’s Lake. As I hiked across the steppe my feet were cushioned with a carpet of white, cream, yellow, purple, and pink wildflowers of assorted types. The prairie dogs would stick up their heads or climb atop on of the lowly shrubs to see who was coming. Hawks, ravens, and the ubiquitous water fowl flew overhead. I had seen pronghorn antelope a day earlier but did not observe any on this hike. I was on the lookout for bear (and made some noise as I hiked) but did not see any. I was treated to a rare sight on the return portion of the hike near the marsh. A moose cow and calf were grazing the marsh as I ascended the marsh overlook. If they saw me they did not seem concerned and continued munching on water plants. I was privileged to be able to observe them for several minutes.

The wildlife sightings continued at Yellowstone. We sighted a black bear foraging in a meadow near Tower-Roosevelt. A bald eagle sat on her nest off the road to West Yellowstone. Also observed in abundance were elk, bison, various birds (including raptors), all sorts of chipmunks, squirrels, and the like.

We did not see a grizzly or wolf while in Yellowstone today, but we did view some up close at the Grizzly Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The center is a non-profit organization that exists to educate the public about grizzly and wolf ecology and to care for orphans. The grizzlies were massive as would be imagined but in all honesty it was the grey wolf that captured my attention. Maybe it is because I am a dog lover, but there is something in the eyes of Canis lupus that elicits my sympathy, my care. As you gaze into their eyes there is a soulful feeling. The wolves would come up to the glass partition and stare at us as we looked at them. I wonder what they were thinking.

We also topped the pass near Mt. Washburn today somewhere around 10,000 feet. Snow was up-close and personal here. The views were stunning. We picnicked not too far from the high pass and found snow next to our picnic table. Kathy just had to make a little snow man to go on the Explorer. She tried to hit me with a couple of snow balls but here aim was not good enough!

We met a couple from Birmingham while at the pass. He saw our Troy University decal and came up to us. They drove up as well. It was good to meet someone from “home” – made us feel “not so far away”.

GWE - Day 19

Friday, June 26, 2009 (Day 19)

Reading this morning from John 8. Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8:58 (NKJV) JESUS CHRIST is the Eternal, Omnipresent GOD. HE is always present, in the moment. HE desires to be present with us, present on a daily, a continuing basis. HE is not just for Sundays and Wednesdays – HE is for everyday, all day, for all of our lives.

I woke up to sprinkling rain this morning. The weather service predicts only a 30% chance of rain today. Radar indicates the rain is on the move out of the area – so we should be out of the drizzles soon. Our plan is to visit Yellowstone today. Kathy is intent on seeing bison. Yellowstone is a large park with many features we both desire to see. The next few days should be full.

Yellowstone is all that it is billed to be! This park just about has it all. We had not been in the park 30 minutes before we were greeted with the sight of a herd of elk grazing on the hillsides above us. The wildlife sightings just increased from there. Kathy was beside herself at the bison. She braved a chilly wind on more than one occasion to get videos of her most-favorite animal. At one time she was no more than 20 feet from one of these shaggy mammals! (No, she did not walk that close to one – she was in the Explorer and the bison was grazing at the roads edge.) We observed Bald Eagle nests, saw three coyotes (one was carrying a rodent in his mouth), countless bison and elk, numerous geese, ducks, and other birds, chipmunks, and squirrels. Thus far we have not seen a bear (black or grizzly) or a wolf. Hopefully we will have the privilege of sighting them before our stay here is up. It takes several days to see Yellowstone.

The geysers were phenomenal. I was standing by Jet Geyser when it erupted. It DID sound like a jet engine. Old Faithful was, well, faithful. There were numerous other steam vents, mud pots, fumaroles, and the like. The Mud Volcano was impressive as was the Dragons Mouth. To think that this entire park sits atop the caldera of a massive volcano is sobering.

Yellowstone is another testimony to the majestic creativity of our GOD.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

GWE - Day 17 to 18 -- Prayer Request

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 (Day 17)
Reading from John 6: 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you… John 6:27 (NKJV). How much energy, money, and time are spent every day laboring for the things that perish? Our world is caught in a monumental “rat race”, spinning around and going no where. I pray that we are not blinded by this rabid race to nowhere, but are instead laboring toward the goal of eternal and abundant life – life in the SON.

We are getting an early start on our long haul to Yellowstone this morning. Computer estimates a drive of 308 miles to Henry Lake Idaho State Park. I hope and pray driving conditions are good. I trust YOU, LORD, to take care of us as YOU have done throughout this expedition. Teach us YOUR ways.

Yellowstone will mark the crest of the hill so to speak for our expedition. We will be pointing the Explorer toward home after our stay at this oldest of our national parks. On the way home we plan to take in Devil’s Tower National Monument, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands of South Dakota. After that it is “getting home” driving.

(Evening Reflections)
Through a mix up in communication our reserved campsite at Henry’s Lake Idaho State Park was set for 6/25 through 6/30 rather than 6/24 through 6/29. So… we had to find another (temporary) campsite for the evening. GOD provided us a site at West Yellowstone KOA. We were a little frustrated that we would have to set up at a temporary site for just one night, but (as usual) GOD demonstrated that HE knew best. While we were doing some laundry at the KOA center, Kathy met a lady from Houston, TX. Her name is Donna. She is suffering from chronic pain due to a brain aneurism and failed spinal surgery. Donna has difficulty walking and is in constant pain. She indicated to Kathy that she could not continue living under these conditions. Kathy had an opportunity to share GOD’s love and her belief in the power of prayer. Kathy and I will be praying for Donna tonight. Please join us in praying. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Thursday, June 25, 2009 (Day 18)

Reading this morning from John 7. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:37-38 (NKJV) JESUS proclaimed these words on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. HIS same words continue today.

When we are hot and weary, nothing refreshes quite like a cold drink of clear, pure water. Here at Yellowstone the drinking water is ice cold. After a day of activity it is not soft drinks or even tea that I desire – it is the pure, cold water that revives the body and quenches the thirst. Even so, only JESUS can quench the deep inner thirst of our spirits. Drink from HIM today!

The mosquitoes here at Yellowstone are quite the nagging, little pest. I have heard of the savage mosquitoes in Alaska but I am somewhat surprised at the ferocity of the little buggers here. They attack in squadrons or flights – you can even see small clouds of them flying around! Thankfully they are repelled by our combination sunscreen/insect repellant. They also cease activity when it becomes cool in the late evening and through the early morning.

Oh, did I mention that it is cool at night. One can see his breath vapor as he walks around after sundown. I am not sure what the official low was last night but it was cool enough that the ice dumped out of our cooler late yesterday afternoon is still visible this morning! My mind knows that it is summer, but my body says it must be autumn.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GWE - Start of Day 16 (Arches National Park)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 (Day 16)
Reading from John 5. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, John 5:25-26 (NKJV)

True life, real life only comes from the SON. So many people walk around, fulfilling the biological definition of life but in fact are really dead. JESUS came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Why not start living today? Ask JESUS CHRIST to be your personal SAVIOR and LORD today.

I woke up a little earlier than normal this morning. It was quite chilly in the high desert. In fact, I switched the A/C unit to low heat to make it more comfortable in the pop-up. Our plan is to spend some time in Arches National Park today before starting our journey to Yellowstone. We will not make it all the way to Yellowstone today. I expect to stay somewhere near Salt Lake City tonight. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

I will post pictures and evening reflections when we get to our place of refuge for the night.

(Evening Reflections)

Wow and Oooh are words often repeated while traveling through Arches National Park. This is like a treasured gem hidden from sight – but it is well worth the visit. As we drove through the park we were constantly greeted by some special, almost mystical scene around each turn or over the next rise. Great red monoliths and castle towers rose from the desert floor. Arches were everywhere – from very small to the colossal Landscape Arch. There was Delicate Arch, Double-O Arch, Turret Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Pothole Arch, Tunnel Arch, the Balance Rock, Park Avenue, Wolf Ranch, the Courthouse Rock, and so many others. It is almost impossible to believe that some of these features are really made from sandstone. They look too delicate. It was easy to pick out the shapes of animals or faces in many of the features of Arches.

Arches lends itself to driving and we did drive all of the roads in the park. Kathy waited in the truck or at the trailhead several times to allow me to strike out on a short hike to get a closer look at some of these treasures. It was fantastic! I wonder what the first Indians or first settlers who viewed these obelisks thought.

This place is a wonderful testimony to the creativity of GOD. The same line of sediment tracked throughout the park. In fact there were several distinct layers visible almost everywhere. Massive forces were at work in this area. Delicate arches and spires are now the residual of this work. The beauty that GOD put in HIS creation is astounding.

Monday, June 22, 2009

GWE - Day 13, 14, & 15 (Pictures from Zion NP)

Saturday, June 20, 2009 (Day 13)

It is hard to believe that the Great Western Expedition is half over. As hard as it may be to believe, in many ways it feels like we have just started. Some great adventures still await at Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Yellowstone National Parks. We also hope to see Devil’s Tower National Monument and the Badlands of South Dakota on the way home.

If you were curious, Las Vegas never sleeps. The RV park is a quarter of a mile off I-15 and the traffic noise could be heard all night. Even so, I slept well with the air conditioner going and the high-desert winds rustling the canvas.

Reading this morning is from John 2. “…for He knew what was in man.” (v. 25) Is it not comforting to know that GOD knows us even better than we know ourselves and HE chooses to love us? That is indeed Good News!

Today was a “work” and travel day. We stopped by Camping World and got the breakaway break control wired correctly and then went by Jiffy Lube to get the Explorer serviced (first time it has ever been necessary to have the oil/filter changed while on vacation!). After a chicken snack lunch from Dairy Queen we started north on I-15 toward the canyon country of Utah.

Camping tonight at a nice small RV park in Leeds, UT, Zion West RV park. We are in a valley surrounded by the red cliffs of canyon country. It is an impressive site. This may be the best view from any of the RV parks thus far.

Kathy cooked country fried steak and mashed potatoes on the camp stove. We had watermelon for dessert!

Sunday, June 21, 2009 (Day 14)

Reading this morning from John 3. This entire chapter is such a hitch-pin of our faith. It is appropriate that this passage was my devotional reading on Father’s Day. Our Heavenly FATHER loves us and provides for us beyond our greatest expectations. I know HE has blessed us to the utmost during this expedition. What we have seen and experienced is still being processed. Above all things though, HE is there, always loving, guiding, and protecting. Thank YOU, FATHER.

I believe our plans are appropriate for Father’s Day. We are visiting Zion National Park. We will be surrounded by the wonder of GOD’s Creation in a place with so many Biblical names. (Now if I can just get Kathy up!)

Zion National Park is a wondrous place. As we rode the shuttle up the canyon such places as The Great White Throne, The Patriarchs, Angels’ Landing, and The Altar greeted our eyes and thoughts. A Methodist minister many years ago travelled through this canyon giving Biblical names to many of the sandstone monoliths that stand guard over the canyon carved out by the Virgin River.

As you enter the canyon you discover a very different, almost magical quality to Zion National Park. The canyon gets narrower the farther north you go. If you hike into the Narrows the slot canyon is 20’ or less wide with unbelievable high sandstone cliff walls on either side. The Virgin River flows quickly through some of these portions and you need a stout pole to help keep your balance as you negotiate footing between the river-polished stones.

Kathy and I hiked the Lower Emerald Pool trail near Zion Lodge to a tranquil spot where two small waterfalls cascade over a sandstone ledge into an emerald reflecting pool below. The drop is close to 100’ so the wind whips the water around and may shower anyone, anywhere near the falls. We got showered a few times – the water was refreshing!

The Canyon Shuttle is a great way to see the park (in fact, private vehicles are not allowed inside the canyon during the Spring/Summer season). We rode the shuttle up to the Temple of Senewava (uppermost terminus of the park) to hike the River Walk. Kathy was tough today. She hiked the Emerald Pool Trail and then the River Walk all the way to its end at The Narrows. I hiked on upstream in The Narrows to get a better view and photos of this slot canyon. Even though I have seen pictures, being inside a slot canyon with water rushing under you and sheer, high cliffs on either side is impressive.

The squirrels have no fear in this park. They will walk up close to you to see if you happen to drop any morsels. (For your info: They are wild – do not touch them and do not feed them. They will bite.) We encountered several show-offs during the River Walk.

The Hanging Gardens along the cliff face of the River Walk were especially appealing to me. The soft moss, ferns, and delicate desert flowers clinging to the gray, white, and red sandstone cliffs engendered pictures of an exotic paradise, hidden in the midst of a desert somewhere. I could see why the Methodist minister thought of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon when he first looked at these gardens planted by GOD.

I was again astounded when I saw swamps in the desert! As water seeps through the sandstone cliffs and down to the Virgin River, it collects in pools and low areas. In these swamps cattails and other swamp vegetation grows hardily. There are water insects, frogs can be heard, and moss grows on the water and the rocks. It seems out of place when you look at the desert landscape all around. It is real – a testimony to the creativity and style of GOD.

On the way out of the park our shuttle had to stop for a minute or so for a mother mule deer and her newborn fawn. The fawn could not have been over a day old since he was still wobbly on his legs. He followed his mother casually across the road and into a grassy area below us. They paused several times to look at us and pose for pictures. Of course there were many oohs and ahhs from the shuttle bus riders.

We capped the day off with a meal at the Spotted Dog Café (a very nice restaurant in Springdale). Got back to camp just a little after dark, tired but having thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Monday, June 22, 2009 (Day 15)

Reading from John 4. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Playing church is deceiving ourselves. GOD is not impressed with our possessions or our words. Without faith it is impossible to please HIM. True faith is believing (trusting) faith that is exemplified in our actions. True worship flows our of real love for GOD and will occur in all places and at all times.

Packing up from Zion this morning and setting our sights on Arches National Park near Moab, UT.

It felt like a long drive from Leeds, UT to Green River, UT. It was actually about 369 miles, but I-70 is a long drive. Sights were impressive though. Utah does a good job of providing some view-points with ample parking at certain particularly picturesque areas. We stopped at about three of these viewpoints and took quite a few pictures. One of the areas was a salt-marsh – a unique landscape to be sure.

We pulled in to Shady Acres RV Campground in Green River, UT about 5pm MDT. The park is large and nicely landscaped for the high desert. There actually are shade trees in the park.

Our plan is to pack up early in the morning and see Arches National Park (it is less than 50 miles away). We will then turn north toward Yellowstone. Our agenda calls for us to be at the Henry Lakes ID State Park on 6/24, so we can take our time as we travel to Yellowstone.