"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Highway of the Giants

Our time in Oregon was brief.
Such a pretty state, I wish we could have stayed longer, at least long enough to drive inland to visit some special friends. But, somehow we felt some urgency to gather miles and so we
drove along the coastline, admiring the Pacific along the way.

And, as predictably as B follows A, our driving south ended up
crossing into California.
Did you know you have to go through a customs border crossing
upon entering this state? Yep, looking for fruits and vegetables again.
Those dangerous things!!!
This time we passed through easily (unlike the USA/CA border)
since we'd parted ways with the offensive oranges.

For as long as I can remember we have dreamed of visiting
the Redwood National Forest.
Called the "Ancient Giants", these coastal redwoods follow the fog and thrive in continuous belts at elevations below 2,000 feet with heavy winter rains and moderate temperatures.
The area designated Redwood National Park is 105,516 acres and contains 36% of the state's old-growth redwoods.

Some of these trees are over 2,000 years old and healthy and thriving.
They stand over 300 feet tall.
They are now protected and cherished for the value of their witness to history,
not seen as products their wood could build.
The era of relentless harvesting and removing is over, thank goodness.

How does one capture the astounding size of these Ancient Giants?
How could we take a picture with our little Canon that would display
their massive and silent glory?

Show the width?

The height?

The innermost parts?

Or just crawl inside with a friend?
We simply didn't know.
But these huge and amazing trees deserve more than one blogpost,
to be sure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Hearts

We arrived in Texas several weeks ago but still have lots of memories of our trip to share with you. But plenty of goings-on are going on here and the blog pauses...

Today is Thanksgiving.
A day set aside for giving thanks.

Here in Central Texas we are thankful for signs of fall.
Oh, sometimes we have to search for those signs among the roses...

and blooming lantana.

Seriously, though, Thanksgiving means more to me than good weather,
turkey and pie, parades and even gathering with family.

I think back to the Pilgrims and their courageous journey over unknown waters
to a new life. A life that offered them the freedom to worship as they chose.
A life that honored their values and choices.
Pursuit of this life meant more to them than comfort, family, homeland.

Despite their decisions and idealism, reality struck.
That first winter of 1621 was harsh and they were weakened by the trip.
46 of the 102 original Pilgrims died.
Almost half. I can hardly imagine the heartache.

And yet, only two years later, they honored God with a day set aside
for giving thanks.
What faith. What strength. What resilience. What fortitude.
And I, an American, am blessed with a touch of that same spirit.
400 years cannot diminish DNA so rich and strong.
Their bloodline stretched to the pioneers that settled the west
and the astronauts that explored the universe.

Today I give thanks for that group of dedicated people
and pray that my life demonstrates even a trace of the commitment
that those first colonists carried within.
I don't want my life of ease and freedoms to breed unthankfulness.
I am giving thanks for Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coastline contemplations

For any of you that have followed my blog, you know how the
majesty of mountains lifts my heart and overwhelms me.
The same feelings are true of the Pacific coastline.
When standing against such a massive expanse of water, knowing that Hawaii,
Asia and Japan are far in the distance, I sense my smallness.
I recognize that the earth was created by a power far greater than man's and that God set controls in place such as shorelines, tides, and currents.
Just about the time we humans, puffed up in our false sense of divine wisdom, believe we
have it all in order, a mere ripple on the earth's surface, deep within the fluid depths and undetected by our finest scientific instrumentation, leaps onto a an unsuspecting shore as a devastating tsunami and destroys people and property in a moment.
The same way a volcano erupts and stops all life as we know it for that region.
For reasons such as these that go beyond the spectacular beauty of creation, I am reduced to a humble and awestruck woman.


Morning fog rolls off the waters and weaves into the forests just beyond.

The northern coast is mostly public domain and available for all to enjoy.
This is an especially interesting coastline with its massive stones jutting out,
somehow resisting the erosion of the pounding waves.
There are many scenic overlooks and the lure of their beauty pulled the Mazda off the road much like a magnet to iron filings.
Our choice: Salty air and mild breezes or the stuffy, crowded car.
Hmmmmmmmmm, let's think this one over-- for a split second!

Look closely over Jack's right shoulder--see anything?

That whale off in the distance doesn't swim very far
since it's actually a solid rock that fools many of us.
The lack of a dorsal fin is a giveaway, but we aren't that astute.
We watched keenly to see a spray shooting in the air until we realized
we were waiting a bit too long...
Sometimes it's fun to be fooled.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Surprised by Oregon Treasures

Waving goodbye to our Seattle family, we turned the car
south and drove down through Washington in pouring rain.
That's typical weather in the Pacific Northwest.
But, once we crossed into Oregon the rain let up and sun came out.
We welcomed the dry roads.
Stopping at a typical roadside rest area,
we were surprised to find a gem of a spot:
"Grove of the States".
A trail wound around an assortment of trees and each was
wearing a label with its name plus the state it represented.
In this one place there were oaks, maples, a palm tree or two,
cypress and pines. Such a pretty place.
Such a blessed break from the drive.
We took our time and read the names of all 50 trees.
Refreshed and renewed, we climbed back in the car to keep going.
I couldn't even tell you where this particular area is located
but I'm sure glad we happened upon it.
Rather amazing (or "awesome" as my young grandson declares) to find
such a vast variety of trees from different growing areas all thriving in one specific place.

Our tired bodies were so happy to find another surprise later in the day.
This no-name motel offered more than a bed and shower.
Situated just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean and beach,
at the end of this boardwalk, was a deck area with 2 amazing hot tubs.
After dinner we soaked away the stiffened, mile-worn muscles while
gazing upwards at the myriad of stars.
Our background music was the roar of the waves, unseen in the blackness of the night.

The next morning ocean was once again hidden, this time by fog.
Again the roar was heard rather like a freight train in the distance.
We kinda wished we could stay a few more days to walk the sand, soak a bit more
and sleep to the lullaby of the ocean waves, but the Redwood Forest
was calling our name.
California here we come!