Life Verse:

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

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.

GWE - Day 11 & 12

Thursday, June 18, 2009 (Day 11)
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water. 19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, The myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine And the box tree together, 20 That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it. -- Isaiah 41:18-20 (NKJV)

Today is a special day for me. Kathy wants to give her feet and ankles a rest. I am taking the Visalia Sequoia Shuttle into Sequoia National Park to spend an entire day hiking among the Giant Forest. The shuttle picks me up at 9:00am and drops me back about 8pm (PDT).

(Evening Reflections)
What a day it has been! GOD is magnified in HIS Creation everywhere you look. I hiked (a Larry modified) Trail of The Sequoias starting at the General Sherman Tree trailhead, going south toward Crescent Meadow, and then returning northward alongside Circle Meadow to the Congress Trail and the Lower Sherman Trailhead. During the hike I took a few side excursions to such points as Eagles View – an unbelievable vantage point to look eastward toward the high Sierra Nevada. The distant peaks still have snow on them! Other noteworthy locations were Tharp’s Log (a fallen Sequoia made into a cabin by an early resident of the area), Chimney Tree (someone careless with a campfire burned the inside of this Giant Sequoia – you can creep inside and look up at the sky!), Black Arch (a tunnel through a living Sequoia), Pillars of Hercules (a large arch tunnel through another living Sequoia), Giant Forest Sequoia Grove (more gigantic trees than you can take in with a single view), a potion of the High Sierra Trail, and numerous named trees on the Congress Trail. All along the hike I was serenaded by countless passerines and escorted by squirrels and chipmunks (they are in great abundance). I did see another Mule Deer (doe) today (along with the velvet antlered buck from yesterday makes two). Also saw a small mammal alongside Circle Meadow. It moved so fast I only got a glimpse and I cannot positively identify it. I believe it was a Fisher, otter, or similar. It was black with a golden “collar” and a rather long black tail. (No it was not a beaver.)
As I exited Black Arch I heard some yelling and a young couple ran up from toward the Pillars of Hercules. They breathlessly told me they had seen a black bear just down the trail. (Special Note: It is not wise to RUN at the sight of any potential predator – that usually triggers the chase instinct.) I expected at any second to see Ursus americanus charging down the trail. I calmed them down a little bit (I noticed they stood behind me) and got some particulars about where, when, and what the bear was doing. Apparently, they were watching a mule deer doe when they saw the bear within 100 meters of them. They did correctly make lots of noise, but the running was not a good idea. After a while I went on down the trail (praying and making lots of noise). I never did see the bear. Later on I learned from one of the shuttle drivers that a black bear had been seen near the General Sherman trailhead later (it was probably the same bear). A mother bear with two cubs was seen near Crescent Meadow later in the afternoon fighting with another bear (presumably a male) while her cubs had scurried up a nearby tree. According to the shuttle driver, the National Park Service estimates 400-600 black bears live in Sequoia.
My total trail mileage for the day was about 10 miles – going from about 10:00am until 4:00pm. I didn’t realize it until I caught the shuttle to Lodgepole for a late lunch but I had not stopped at all during the day! I was enthralled by the sweeping panoramas, the Giant Sequoias all around me, and the wildlife that was so abundant.
Giant Forest has a prehistoric feel. You are surrounded by gigantic trees all around – Giant Sequoia, Fir, and Pines reach high into the sky. Among these giants, small bright green meadows dot the landscape where rivulets of cold, clear water trickle down from the higher elevations to collect. The bones of fallen gigantic trees are spread throughout the landscape. Lush feather ferns grow at the base of the giants and brush against you as you hike the trail. Thick moss clings to the firs and pines – even spreading out on their branches. It does not grow on the Sequoias. Walking here one almost expects to see some immense dinosaur around the next bend. The only giants here though are the trees. The Giant Sequoias stand as sentinels for the forest and the Sierra Nevada. John Muir called them nobler trees among a noble forest. I could not agree more.

Friday, June 19, 2009 (Day 12)
Reading from John 1 this morning. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:3-4 (NKJV)
JESUS CHRIST, the Light of the World, is the Creator of all seen and unseen things. That includes the Giant Sequoias as well as you and me, friend.

The plan for today is to pack up, hitch up, and move out eastward toward Zion National Park.
Travelling across the Mojave Desert is an adventure. Temperatures soared to 107 degrees F. There were quite a few vehicles that were stranded alongside the road (overheated I presume). The California Highway Patrol was busy on both sides of I-15 with stranded motorists.
I was tired of driving by 8:00pm (Central Time) and we started looking for a place to camp. Guess were we stopped? Las Vegas Oasis RV Campground off I-15 is our place of refuge for the night. I am hard-pressed to call this a campground though. They have 701 campsites with paved and landscaped lots, 24-hour security patrol, swimming pool, restaurant, dance hall, and a guest center that would rival most hotels! Guess this is the norm for Vegas. Most of the “campers” here are in very large RV motorhomes. I saw one other pop-up in our area of the park. We are in Marakesh, lot 128.
It’s on to Zion National Park tomorrow (early).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

GWE - Day 10

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 (Day 10)

“Joyful, joyful, we adore YOU,

GOD of Glory, LORD of Love,

Hearts unfold like flowers before YOU,

Opening to the light of day.”

It is dawning a glorious and beautiful day in Three Rivers, CA. I am still processing what I saw and felt yesterday at Sequoia National Park. The Giant Sequoias are another reminder – more evidence – of the glory, majesty, and love of GOD. I am so privileged to be here.

We are headed back to Sequoia today. Kathy didn’t get to see the General Sherman Tree yesterday due to rain. We will pick up the trail there and then continue on northward toward Kings Canyon National Park.

(Evening Reflection)

Wow! Awesome! Magnificent! LORD, how great YOU are! These are a few of the words/phrases that we uttered throughout the day. Kathy continues to say that each vista we are greeted with is the best. At that rate, I can’t imagine what she will say about Zion, Arches, and Yellowstone (which are still to come).

We saw the General Sherman tree and had our obligatory picture taken with him. This tree is massive! It is the largest living thing on the planet. It would take more than twenty adults linked arm in arm to reach around this tree. Its extended family is scattered all around and there are no slouches in these trees either.

Pinewood picnic area, beyond the General Sherman, was our stop for lunch. Kathy kept hoping to see a black bear, but (thankfully) none showed up for lunch! We were serenaded by numerous birds and surrounded by Sequoias, firs, and pines. (This forest is a conifer forest – no hardwoods here.)

After leaving Sequoia National Park and entering Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Monument, and then Kings Canyon National Park we were greeted with fantastic vistas of the width and depth of Kings Canyon and the power of the Kings River. You will have to trust me on this… the views here are stunning.

We continued our drive, descending all the way to the canyon floor and the banks of the roaring Kings River. This river is not as wide as the Alabama, the Coosa, or the Tallapoosa, but what it lacks in width and depth it more than makes up for in force and presence. The water rages and cascades over granite rocks and small falls as it races down Kings Canyon. The signs warning you to stay out of the water are really unnecessary. The river is froth with the white of moving water and a light turquoise green color. The water looks freezing.

We took in all of the Sequoia groves from Sequoia National Park through Road’s End in Kings Canyon National Park, along with the stunning canyon-up views and cliff-down views of Kings Canyon.

It was dark by the time we got back to camp. After a supper of hotdogs (thank you Kathy), I was ready for bed. I believe I was asleep by the time my head hit the pillow. (Note: the popup camper does, in fact, sleep comfortably.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009 (Day 11)

18 I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water. 19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, The myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine And the box tree together, 20 That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it. -- Isaiah 41:18-20 (NKJV)

Today is a special day for me. Kathy wants to give her feet and ankles a rest today. I am taking the Visalia Sequoia Shuttle into Sequoia National Park to spend an entire day hiking among the Giant Forest. The shuttle picks me up at 9:00am and drops me back about 8pm (PDT).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

GWE - Days 8 & 9 - Sequoia National Park

Monday, June 15, 2009 (Day 8) (Travel Day)
Reading from Psalm 1 this morning…

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in HIS law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf shall not wither,
And whatever he does shall prosper.” (vv. 2-3 NKJV)

Success, prosperity, security, peace, joy, fruitfulness – all of these descriptors we would hope apply to each of us. They are only possible though if we are in a relationship with JESUS CHRIST. GOD provides all of this for us. Notice the tree flourishes because of “where” it is. So then we flourish only when we are in CHRIST. May I be this man, LORD.
Very appropriate reading considering our next destination – Sequoia National Park! I am eagerly anticipating this portion of our Great Western Expedition. I’m almost like a kid expecting some new toy or surprise. To be able to see and feel these ancient, giant trees will be a special time for me. I love the forests and this would have to be close to GOD’s crowing creation in forests. Open my eyes, ears, and spirit to YOUR, truth, LORD. Help me understand what YOU have for me in this place.
At Three Rivers Hideaway RV park in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the gateway to Sequoia National Park and set up before 6pm. I am so eager to get to the park but I restrained myself – tomorrow morning early would be best, then I would potentially have all day in the park! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 (Day 9)
10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalms 46:10 (NKJV)
Be exalted in my life as well, dear GOD.

I can hardly wait to get into Sequoia National Park. Kathy is sleeping a little late this morning – tired from being up late last night. She cooked over the campfire in her camp Dutch oven. It was quite good, but the cleanup took a while (even with both of us working). Her feet are hurting her too. I am a little concerned about fluid building up in her legs and feet.
It’s hard to know where to begin at Sequoia… there are so many possibilities and the sense that I may miss something. I know it will be spectacular, that YOU will work in the midst of YOUR creation. Help me hear and see YOU.
Words fail me as I attempt to describe my feelings and observations at Sequoia National Park. The Sierra Nevada is truly a sight to behold. As we approached the park, we wound our way up from about 300’ elevation in Three Rivers to over 7000’ near Giant Forest. We passed through Chaparral with its more dry and scrubby flora, serpentined alongside the Keweah River, and finally entered the cloudy mist – the domain of the Giant Sequoia. I have seen pictures, watched television documentaries, and read what others have written about these magnificent trees; but it was still an almost indescribable experience the see these ancient, living giants. As I walked the circular trail around the meadow in the Giant Forest, I was awe inspired. This was a worshipful experience for me, as serene and holy as any cathedral I have ever visited. This is not a worship of the trees themselves but of their CREATOR. As I gazed up at these towering monoliths, it occurred to me that they existed in the mind of GOD before their creation. It is indeed humbling and a privilege to be in the presence of these giants. When GOD called HIS creation good – I wonder if HE was looking at these special creatures.
I cannot explain why these trees hold such a dynamic appeal to me, but it is evident they do. I could not wait to get out of the Explorer and run up to one of these giants. Looking up at the towering monument, I think I can imagine how some small creature (like an ant) might feel. One is totally dwarfed by these massive trees. I was in for another surprise though. As I reached up for a close encounter with my own Sequoia, I was unprepared for the feel of this massive tree. Its bark almost has the feel of a coconut husk, but very soft and spongy. One might expect Sequoias to be hard since they withstand forest fires easily, but in fact these giants are “gentle giants”. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us.
The General Sherman Tree is the largest living thing on the earth. It is not the tallest nor the widest but calculating the total mass of the tree it stands out from all other living things. This tree is a little removed from Giant Forest and has a central place among other Sequoias and Firs as you continue up the Sierra Nevada. There a few Sequoias standing in the same grove that would closely rival General Sherman in mass! Walking the trail down to the General Sherman Tree you actually walk through a fallen Sequoia – a tunnel has been cut through the old tree!
I did not do as much hiking as I had planned so we will be back tomorrow!
Thank YOU, LORD, for this special place and time. Thank YOU for the experience of this part of YOUR Creation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

GWE - Days 4, 5, 6, 7

Thursday, June 11, 2009 (Day 4)

Morning Bible Reading from Psalm 148. Let all of Creation praise The LORD. May life praise HIM as well! The landscape in the panhandle of Texas and thus far throughout New Mexico has been dramatic. I have seen the Arizona desert, but Kathy has never been to the Southwest. I enjoyed her ooohs and ahhs. She took quite a few pictures through the window of the Explorer as we headed west on I-40.

Thank YOU, LORD, for another safe day. (The golf ball incident on I-40 could have been serious, but once again YOU took care of us!) We pray for YOUR continued protection and guidance.

Looking forward today to seeing the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest and arriving at our Grand Canyon campsite in Flagstaff.

00:21CDT (22:21MST)

At Campsite #31, Dead Horse Ranch AZ State Park! It has been a wonderful and exciting day. I thought I would have to wire Kathy’s mouth closed as it continually dropped open at the wondrous sites we saw.

The high desert between Albuq. NM and Flagstaff, AZ was impressive in its own but the Petrified Forest NP was so special. Kathy was enamored with the petroglyphs. I was enthralled at the immensity and quantity of the petrified logs – there was a vast forest of huge trees in this area.

The drive down AZ-89A from Flagstaff to Dead Horse Ranch State Park was a white-knuckle excitement coupled with astonishment as we serpentined our way down the valley from 7000’ to less than 5000’. The Red Rock country around Sedona defied adequate description. It is one of my favorite areas of GOD’s Creation (my list does keep growing though!).

We set up camp without much difficulty, even though it was largely done after dark. We’re looking forward to a day at the Grand Canyon tomorrow!

Thank YOU, LORD, for blessing our day. Guide us throughout the Great Western Expedition – may we honor and glorify YOU; may we be refreshed and renewed; may we grow closer to YOU and to each other.

Friday, June 12, 2009 (Day 5)

Psalms 149-150 this morning. YOU are great and awesome, LORD. YOU have protected us through these 1600 miles and quite a few potential serious situations! I’m thinking a lot about my family and my family of faith this morning. Praying for each one. I am especially asking GOD to care and guide you while I am away.

Spectacular scenery today! We visited Montezuma’s Castle National Monument on our way to the Grand Canyon. This is the second time I have visited this site and I still find myself pondering the questions of what happened to these people and how did they live. To walk in this once thriving neighborhood now deserted gives one pause to consider important matters.

The Grand Canyon was all anyone would expect. My second time here but Kathy’s first. I thought her mouth was going to permanently stay open. She literally cried as she gazed over the vista from Mather Point. There is something intangible, spiritual about this sight. To gaze over this majestic scene and not be touched by the greatness and love of its CREATOR is beyond my ability to comprehend. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon helps one view himself in proper perspective.

Something I learned about myself on the way back from the Grand Canyon was that I was tense and afraid. I was fearful of road trouble, of breaking down so far away from home. As the thought gelled in my consciousness, the words of Psalms 56:3 flooded in: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in YOU.” This thought was immediately followed by a view of the mountains surrounding Flagstaff as the words of Psalms 121 flowed through my thoughts! Thank YOU for such love and protection!

Kathy and I made an important decision last night. We want to allow more “down time” – time to rest and recuperate. Being on the road too much can be counter-productive. So in that vein, we elected to camp another night at Dead Horse Ranch AZ State Park and forego the leg of the trip to San Diego. We will be spending some restful time at Dead Horse Ranch State Park tomorrow and then heading to Sequoia National Park on Sunday.

Thank you all for praying for us and thinking about us. I will update this blog as I have internet access (which is sporadic). Yes there are many, many pictures to show!

Saturday, June 13, 2009 (Day 6)

At Dead Horse Ranch AZ State Park. Reading from Psalms 68 this morning. Notice v.35 says “YOU are more awesome than YOUR creation.” After seeing the Grand Canyon one realizes just a little better the immensity of that thought. If this truly awe inspiring sight, in its grandeur and majesty, does not rise to the level of GOD’s majesty, then ponder on how majestic and awesome GOD truly must be!

Today was mostly a rest day (it was surely needed). We spent the day at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, lounging around camp and doing some errands.

We came prepared to fly fish on the expedition and AZ accommodated us by providing a “Free Fishing Day” today. The lakes at Dead Horse Ranch SP are like blue jewels surrounded by the limestone hills of the area. Each lake is ringed by impressive stands of cattails and all three also have islands in the center that provide shelter to numerous birds. Strategically located between the three lakes is a horseshoe drive picnic area complete with nice shade and ample parking/picnic areas. Kathy and I both enjoyed the opportunity to fly fish these lakes. (Please note for future reference that this type of terrain/lake-front is not the best place to fly fish!) At the end of the evening, the score was Fish-2, Kathy/Larry-0. We both lost one fly each and caught NO fish. It seemed as though the fish were “playing” with us. They would roll with the flies but not actually bite them. Maybe the Arizona fish don’t fall for the same tricks as the Alabama fish do!

Day’s end was spent in camp with a nice roaring campfire and Kathy’s Hobo burgers.

Sunday, June 14, 2009 (Day 7)

It really did not seem right to me to be away from my Family of Faith on a Sunday. Know that you all are in my prayers and thoughts. I found myself especially praying for the services today; that GOD would be magnified and glorified in each of you. Thank you all for your prayers and love.

After we passed the exit to the Grand Canyon on I-40 West, I began entering new territory for me. This is the farthest west either one of us has been. (And we’re still chasing the setting sun!)

I will say that I was surprised that the road signage along I-40 in California is not as good as it was in any of the other states I have travelled through. Hopefully it will get better as we leave the desert and enter the Sierra Nevada foothills.

We spent the day travelling through the high desert – a pleasant drive with several ascents and descents. All along the route we were treated to vistas of mountains, desert hills, mesas, and washes. This high desert is populated by numerous small desert shrubs and the occasional Yucca and Palo Verde. The predominate colors are sandy brown, pale green, and grays. Make no mistake though, this desert is alive. If you take time to look and listen you will be greeted with ample evidence that GOD did not forget about life in HIS deserts. Birds, reptiles, and rodents are in great abundance. Small desert wildflowers bloom in a seemingly impossible situation, adding splashes of red, purple, blue, and yellow to the overall brownish-gray panorama.

We stopped at the Newberry Mountain RV Park for the evening. Camping on the high desert should be an experience. The wind gusts across the open landscape unhindered by trees or much of anything else.

Our destination tomorrow is Three Rivers, CA – the gateway to the Sequoia National Park! This is the place I have been dreaming about for a long time…