Thursday, April 28, 2011

Zion National Park

My heart has been so full in recent weeks that I have had a difficult time writing here.  A good friend of our family died recently after battling a brain tumor for several months, I received a somewhat discouraging diagnosis (which I'll be sharing about soon here), we've been busy trying to finish up our school year, put in a garden, etc, etc.

But this I can say: God is good!  His plans are unfathomably exciting and wonderful.  Oh!  How I love following Him.  During all of the difficulties and stretching that we experience here it has been so, so good for me to be re-reminded of His faithfulness, love and care for me.  I have walked with the Lord for many years now, but still I *need* to spend time daily in God's Word in order to renew my poor mind.  How quickly I forget the encouraging truths of God's Word!  Silly me!

Anyway, on to today's post: part two of our recent trip out West with my parents.  After visiting Death Valley, CA for two days, we left and traveled to Zion National Park, UT.

I checked out photos online of Zion National Park before leaving on our trip, so I had some idea what to expect, but as always seems to be the case, it was vastly more than I anticipated!  There is something about being out West that just makes my heart feel at home.  (Well, as "at home" as I can feel, this side of heaven!)  Who knows, perhaps we will pack up and move out West someday!

Zion National Park, UT
iPhone photos stitched together using the app AutoStitch
I think we picked one of the best weekends of the year to visit Zion!  The trees were just beginning to leaf out, but I still had fabulous views of the landscape without competing with the leaves to see.

The majority of my photos were taken using my trusty Canon Rebel xsi, but even my beloved iPhone got in on the action at times... like this shot.


I find myself completely captivated by trees, especially the tough tenacious ones who joyfully hold on for dear life in precarious places.


I love to frame photos with them.



During the few days that we visited Zion, the Cottonwood trees by the Virgin River unfurled their leaves.  Don't you just love that new baby green color?  I thought it was interesting that the shadow of the tree appears to be leafless in the water....


"He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
which yields it fruit in it's season 
and its leaf does not wither;
and in whatever he does, he prospers." 
Ps. 1:3


We explored and hiked.  I was so grateful that my foot/ankle fracture had healed enough for me to keep up with everybody!




One of the things that caused a bit of a delay for me in posting this was that I wanted to spend some time in my new favorite photo-editing program, Lightroom and crop/fix lighting in these photos.  Unfortunately, life happened (as I mentioned at the beginning of my post) and I decided that if I waited until I had opportunity to play with my photos in Lightroom, I would never end up posting them!  So here they are in this post, SOOC (straight out of camera)!


another iPhone photo... pretty cool, huh?
We saw some of the prettiest flowers....





There were many other photos... if you are interested in viewing them, you can go to my Flickr site link in the sidebar and see them.

Meanwhile we're back at work here.  I'm in a major cleaning out/purging spree right now~ *love* having things neat and organized.  It seems to be a constant battle to keep the "stuff" under control.  I'm grateful for all that we have here, but firmly believe that "less is more," and that I want to selectively own my stuff rather than being owned by my stuff, if you know what I mean!

Hope you are having a fabulous week, serving the Lord right where He has you...

Love and hug those that the Lord has placed you with.... it all really does come down to love, doesn't it?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Death Valley, CA

Here it is!  Photos from our recent trip with my parents to Death Valley, CA (today) and Zion National Park, UT (soon... I promise!)

Jacob, Caleb and I were the adventurers on this trip, courtesy of my parents!  Thanks *so* much, Mom and Dad!  (I'll gladly be your "designated photographer" on any future trips!  : )  )

This was Caleb's first time to fly~ I was *so* excited for him!  Flying is such fun!
We flew in to Las Vegas, NV.  It was my first time there.  Talk about sensory overload!  Wow!  We just drove through a small portion of Las Vegas~ and honestly, it was plenty for me.  I'm not at all interested in gambling or shopping, so a quick drive-through was enough.

Can you see the roller coaster in the photo below?  It actually originates in a hotel!  Crazy!
After a few hours of driving, we arrived.  Death Valley.  Even after reading about Death Valley, I found myself unprepared for what it really was.  I knew it was large.  Honestly though, "large" simply doesn't do it justice... it is immense!  And not just a large oval desert with tons of sand either.  There are sand dunes, yes, but also hilly, rocky areas, vast salt flats.... and, well how about if I just show you some photos so you can see for yourself?
Death Valley, taken on my iPhone

Yes, we actually had  clouds the first day we were there!  It was a good thing too, since the temperature topped 100 degrees F!
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, 
In a dry and weary land where there is no water."

At one point when we were driving North through Death Valley to hike it was so desolate that a car didn't pass us for at least 20 minutes.  Such a lonely, quiet area!
Flowers in the desert?  Yes, please!  In a place so dry (less than 2" of rain/year) that even cactus don't grow, I found myself absolutely captivated by the tough little flowers that insist on blooming during spring in Death Valley.

We were able to squeeze several hikes in each day~ the topography captivated and amazed me!
Here, we were hiking out past a small "river" that was significantly saltier than even the ocean.  Incredibly, the water is habituated with a small fish who lives nowhere else in the world... the Pup fish! Such diversity the Lord created, yes?
How about a Road Runner?  This guy was running through the common area near our hotel room in Furnace Springs~ which is a natural oasis there in Death Valley.  I think if I were a road runner in Death Valley, I'd hang out here too!  (sorry, no coyote!)

It was common to find small areas of wildflowers by the roadside... those plants received a small amount of additional rain each year in runoff from the road which enabled them to grow and bloom there.  Lovely!
The next few photos were taken at the original hotel in Death Valley... another natural oasis there~ incredibly beautiful landscaping and so lush!

Only a few miles from the above oasis is the "Devil's golfcourse," more surreal Death Valley landscape.  The ground is pushed up into hard salt-encrusted "bumps" that extend for a great distance. Very, very strange.
Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level.  (Badwater is also the starting point for the infamous Badwater Ultramarathon~ a 100 mile race which is run during July each year here.  It is officially been removed from my bucket list! LOL!!)
Before leaving Death Valley to drive to Zion National Park, we drove up to "Dante's View," overlooking Death Valley from 5,475 feet above Death Valley!  Not only was the view incredible (having trouble coming up with new adjectives!), but it was also about 20 degrees cooler!  Aaaah!

The view wasn't as crystal-clear as I would have hoped due to extremely windy conditions the day before (lots of dust in the air!), but such a view!  The white area in the photo below are the salt flats at Badwater~ mile after mile of salty, desolate landscape.

Love this photo of my Dad... he *thrives* on traveling and exploring~ to me this shot typifies him.
Up next, photos from Zion National Park, UT....

Hope you've enjoyed this whirlwind tour of Death Valley!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living purposefully...

What do you think?  Does documenting your life cause you to live your life with more purpose, more joy? I came across the following YouTube video that I thought you might enjoy...

At first when I saw this I thought, "Why would anyone want to inherit that much information?"  But as I considered I realized that I would *love* to have this kind of information to peruse from my parents or grandparents.  OK, so perhaps not *quite* that many volumes, but I think you can't help but love this man anyway!  I can only imagine how much more *rich* his life must have been for systematically documenting things the way that he did.

Are you like me?  Have you found that simply *knowing* that you are going to have to "give account" of your activities is enough to cause you to live life more faithfully?  Embarrassing to admit, but so true for me.  If I know that I could be called upon to relate what I have been learning in my quiet time with the Lord during our family devotions time I am much more careful to find some good applications during my devotions.  (blush)

When I "give account" of my days by journaling or documenting our life in various ways, I think it inspires me to live the life that I would want to read about later.  (Perhaps you have read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years?)

Two more inspirational journaling posts for you:
  • First, this post detailing a fabulous way to keep a simple family journal~ *love* this idea! (No photographs or scrapbooking involved~ trust me, *very* "doable" and adorable!)
  • Second, another collective family journal~ what a fabulous keepsake this will be!
  • I've also written a few posts about journaling.

So, how do you document your life?  Do you think it makes a difference in *how* you live?

I'm planning to be back soon with photos from Death Valley and Zion National Park!  We had such fun!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Early spring thoughts and travels

I thought I'd pop in for a moment so those of you who live in colder climates would smile....

After my post with photos of the little bits of green spring growth around here I received several comments and emails lamenting your *lack* of verdant green in your neck of the woods.

This is what we awoke to this past Monday!  We honestly weren't too disappointed~ it was so pretty and it didn't last long at all.

Jacob, Caleb and I are off on a little adventure later today.  My parents and flying us out to visit them and go hiking in Death Valley, CA, then in Zion National Park, UT!  Later today it will be 105 degrees in Death Valley (!!) and in the 50s-60s when we hike in Zion Ntl Park.  Fun times await!

I hope to have lots of photos to post here in a few days!