Road Trip 2022, Part I

The world feels a bit apocalyptic lately. There’s been a growing sense in the back of my mind that if I don’t make time soon for all the things I want to see on this earth, I’ll miss my chance and never get to them at all. So, on a gray morning in mid-May, Luke and Elizabeth and I packed up the car and headed north out of Colorado to check a few more items off the bucket list. 

In retrospect we brought way too much stuff with us, but you never know what you might need on a trip like this. My main concern was boredom in between the interesting bits. I brought books to read, a journal to write in, camp games to play, even the old family hymnal in case we felt like a sing-along. I’m not a fan of organized religion, but my issues with it don’t extend to those lovely ancient hymns. In the traveling days of my childhood, those were the songs that passed the miles.

The books, games, journal and hymnal sat untouched in the trunk for the entire trip. An audiobook reading of “The Fellowship of the Ring” brightened a few tedious stretches of road, but for the most part it was the journey itself that kept us entertained.

We brought boxes of nonperishable food, and most of it came back home with us. Canned and dehydrated provisions and energy bars could not compete with all the fresh local fare we enjoyed along the way.

We brought raincoats, rain hats, sun hats, an umbrella, LifeStraws and matches and never needed any of them.

For myself I packed something like twelve shirts, and then wore the same merino wool top for almost the entire expedition. On the other hand, I brought five different pairs of footwear – snow boots, chelsea boots, trail runners, water shoes, sheepskin booties – and ended up using and being grateful for all of them. You just never know what you’re going to need.

We stopped for lunch in a 1950’s-themed diner in windy Wyoming, skimmed through the northeast corner of Utah and spent the first night in a truck stop parking lot in southern Idaho, just trying to put the miles behind us on this first uneventful leg of the journey. We were on the first runthrough of our road trip music playlist and hadn’t got tired of it yet, so we turned it up loud and sang along.

Back in January when we started discussing the trip, we had planned to stop in Salt Lake City to see Temple Square. I’m no flavor of religious, but I can appreciate fine architecture. Unfortunately the Temple is buried in scaffolding now for renovations. We’ll visit it another time, when the construction is done and we can appreciate it in all its majestic glory.

The next morning we stopped in Twin Falls, Idaho, to see Shoshone Falls. The “Niagara of the West” is fed by the once-mighty Snake River, but agricultural diversion and drought have all but dried this part of it up. Here is what’s left of the Snake just upstream of Shoshone Falls:

The falls were flowing at a sad trickle when we arrived, just before the viewing area officially opened. That big dry riverbed tells a cautionary tale about climate change and unsustainable water use.

Some baby marmots were frolicking together on the viewing path, and there were several larger adults nibbling grass in the picnic area. We had never seen marmots before and had to consult the googles to find out what we were looking at. Yellow-bellied marmots are apparently common in the Twin Falls area.

Shortly after we arrived, the dam released a pleasantly noisy and scenic flow over part of the falls. I’m guessing this is done during the park’s open hours to attract tourists. The riverbed itself was still dry, but at least we felt like we had seen an actual waterfall. Birbs for scale:

Later we stopped for lunch in the Basque Block of Boise, Idaho’s Old Historic District. This colorful enclave is dedicated to preserving and commemorating the language and culture of Europe’s Basque region.

We bought a bar of chocolate in the Basque Market because we liked the wrapper. The excellent chocolate was a delicious bonus.

We had a nice lunch at Bar Gernika, named for a small town that was bombed by nazis during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Picasso’s famous painting, “Guernica,” is referenced on a mural next to the pub.

The Snake River winds back up and around to mark the state line between Idaho and Oregon. We crossed the river for the second time and continued north.

At a rest stop in Oregon we found a little water mill that had once powered a tool shop.

We drove through Deadman Pass, where I-84 follows the old Oregon Trail. This is a steep and winding section of highway that loses 2,000 feet of elevation in six miles of hairpin curves. The views are great.

We crossed the Columbia River into Washington, and made a small detour in the sleepy town of Zillah to see a defunct gas station shaped like a teapot.

Fun fact: there is a “Church of God Zillah.” Presumably unrelated to the Japanese monster.

The weather was unpredictable on this first part of the journey. We’d had rain off and on ever since we left Denver, but so far it had hospitably followed a pattern of raining while we drove and being clear whenever we stopped to look at something.

I was obsessively following weather forecasts for the Olympic Peninsula. I wanted to hike Hurricane Hill via Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, but so far the seasonal road to the trailhead was still closed to vehicles due to an unusually snowy spring. Walking to the trailhead would add an additional three miles to the hike. But aside from that, the Hurricane Hill trail is all about the views from the top. It wouldn’t even be worth doing on a foggy, overcast day with poor visibility. So I watched the forecasts and hoped for open roads and one day of clear weather.

We spent the second night in a dirt parking lot on Snoqualmie Pass Summit, next to some (open and heated, yay!) public restrooms and a gift/coffee shop that had closed for the night. We left early the next morning, before the shop opened, which was too bad because I had read good things about their hot chocolate. The air was cold on the pass.

Tangent: in California I used to ride Stormy on the Pacific Crest Trail where it ran through Anza. Back then I just assumed that at some point in my life I would ride or hike the entire length of it from Mexico to Canada. At my age that project doesn’t sound like fun anymore, but I did enjoy seeing a trailhead for the PCT as we continued on through Snoqualmie Pass.

We took another short detour off the Interstate to visit Snoqualmie Falls.

Photos can’t capture the real essence of big waterfalls: the thundering roar, the fresh mist on your face, the sense of dynamic energy. Snoqualmie Falls did not disappoint.

Saw this colorful boi there! Love his little racing stripe.

In Seattle we stopped to see the Lenin Statue. It had been defaced with paint; apparently someone was mad at it about Ukraine. Maybe they got Lenin mixed up with Putin because they’re both named Vladimir?

Elizabeth for scale.

We also visited the Troll Under the Bridge.

Next we stretched our legs at Gas Works Park, which is what it sounds like: an old gas works that has been converted into a public park. 

The park sits on the shore of Lake Union and offers nice views of the Seattle skyline. The weather had turned clear and fine, and people were out playing with their boats and water planes.

From Seattle we took the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry across the Puget Sound to the Peninsula. It would have been faster to drive the long way around, just because of the wait times for boarding. But we had never taken this kind of ferry before, and this seemed like a good opportunity to check it off the bucket list.

Next up: Olympic National Park!

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, Christianity, environment, Family, food, Holidays, kids, Life, Road trip, Travel, Weather, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Cheer

Handmade gifts from creative friends bring so much joy, and make the season extra-bright.

This last apartment move threw my holiday organizing into disarray, but I promise next year I’ll get my Christmas cards finished in time!


Categories: Animals, Artwork, Celebrations, Christianity, Christmas, Friends, Holidays, Life, Love | Tags: | Leave a comment

Clarity > Confusion

My navel is beginning to feel neglected. Must be time for a gazing session.

* * *

I have a friend who, when he prays aloud, always includes a request for “confusion to our enemies.” It’s always bothered me a little.

When I pray for the people who have set themselves against me, it’s always clarity and enlightenment I ask for them, not more confusion. Their minds and lives seem full of confusion already; I don’t want to add to it.

This post isn’t meant as an attack on my friend; in fact I okayed it with him before I began writing it. It’s just that I’ve been reading the news headlines lately and thinking, confusion to our enemies? No…no…I don’t think the world needs any more confusion, we’ve got plenty. Confusion is violent and destructive and senseless. Humanity is going down in flames of confusion. We should all be praying for clarity to our enemies, and to our friends, and to ourselves.

I look at it this way: if you pray for clarity for your enemies, and God grants that prayer, and the problem still doesn’t go away, then maybe the confusion wasn’t all on their end to begin with. I always begin by asking wisdom and clarity for myself first; it keeps my life much simpler.

* * *

I’m trying to dial back my “soapbox” posts, but this one was loud in my head this morning and needed out. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled whimsy.

Categories: Christianity, Life | 4 Comments

Misty Pomegranate-Colored Musings

Sunday night we got another nice rain, and Monday night we got our first frost of fall. Yesterday most of the pomegranates on my tree had suddenly developed those little splits in their skins that means they need to be harvested soon or they’ll go to waste. So I spent most of yesterday taking pomegranates apart, putting the seeds in containers, and putting the containers in the freezer, which was…about as tedious as it sounds. But also satisfying, because around January and February a handful of half-thawed pomegranate seeds tastes like a fresh little boost of happy.

Still pretty tedious, though. The mind wanders while the hands work, and my mind had lots of time to wander on Tuesday. Some thoughts it offered up for my consideration:

1. I’m amazed at how many people see love as a weakness to be exploited. These people are seriously shortchanging themselves. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and they will live and die without ever tapping into that vast, amazing power.

2. People have to receive before they can understand the value of giving. People have to be listened to before they can understand the value of listening to others. They have to be accepted and respected, in all their quirky uniqueness, before they can accept and respect others who are different from them. If you convince a child that her feelings don’t matter, she will grow up believing that no one’s feelings matter. Feelings either matter or they don’t. If you’re constantly telling your child not to be so sensitive whenever your thoughtless words and actions wound him, don’t be surprised if he grows up to be insensitive and thoughtless of others. If you try to teach your child humility by treating her as if she has no great value or importance, don’t be surprised if she grows up treating herself (and others) like garbage. This often involves chemical addictions and promiscuity. If you try to impose your will on your child by force, don’t be surprised if he grows up believing that might makes right. If you try to impose your will on your child through lies and manipulation, don’t be surprised if he grows up to be a manipulative liar.

3. A common misconception among Christians is that they are (or should be) somehow exempt from the natural consequences of their own poor choices. This is an unrealistic expectation. You may be “saved by grace,” but you still have to water your garden, tend lovingly to your personal relationships and feed the dog, or they will all wither and die. If you lie and cheat and steal people will stop trusting you. If you are unreliable people will stop investing in you. Being “a Christian” doesn’t absolve you of any earthly repercussions or responsibilities. It’s silly (and totally missing the point) to think it should.

4. One person’s “normal” is another person’s “completely unacceptable.” One person’s “attractive and desirable” is another person’s “eww.” What one person admires and reveres, someone else will feel nothing but contempt for. A way of life that feels like heaven to one person will feel like hell to another. What feels like glorious success to one person will feel like dismal failure to another. I don’t think there are any exceptions to this rule. To borrow Alan Alda’s phrase, “all laws are local.” You have to walk the path God designed you for, and accept that not everyone is going to understand.

So much for the navel-gazing. In other news:

5. I’m currently reading “Travels With Charley” by John Steinbeck. It’s one of the books that came with my house when we bought it twelve years ago and it’s been in my “to read” pile all this time, and I finally got around to it. It is an incredible book, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in shrewd, amusing and often brilliant observations on human nature and eerily accurate predictions (it was written in 1961) about the impact of technology on American life.

6. I decided to make some of my kids’ Christmas presents this year, to save money. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that this would suck up the last vestiges of my spare time. If my blog goes dark for a while, that’s why. Turns out there is a finite number of minutes per day, and that number is not negotiable. Who knew?

7. A closing quote borrowed from one of my favorite bloggers, wordsmith Scott White of Caveat Emptor:

Once I met a man with a hundred hands. “It must be amazing to be able to get so many things done,” I said. “Alas,” he replied, “if only I had a few more brains and a longer reach, maybe that would be true.” Then I understood the value of people working together.

Categories: books, Christianity, Christmas, Family, frugality, Gardening, Health, kids, Life, Love, Nutrition, Self-Sufficiency, trees, Weather, Winter | 9 Comments


Pastor Bill left this comment on my last post:

I am curious how does it happen that a person adopts the mindset of an inquisitor? My study of history shows me they are always a strong believer in one idea, which needs to be defended against other ideas the basis of this defense I would say is fear. Because the Human Soul is the birthplace of ideas then it goes without saying, destroy the person any way you can and destroy the idea. In a Google World this is a ridiculous idea in and of itself but yet it still holds sway. It appears the two institutions yet to embrace this Google Reality is the Political and Religious Classes their vested interest in the status quo is obvious. Attacking the Other person’s ideas will soon become seen for the foolishness it is, because these two institutions are no longer seen as possessing the solutions to life. The truth is the solutions we seek are to be found in the sharing and blending of “so called” opposing ideas and there is no room in a Google World for the inquisitor’s mindset anymore.

I’m guessing that current events inspired this question; there was an incident recently here in Anza involving a rather outspoken Christian woman, a teenage Wiccan girl, various other recipients of the woman’s particular brand of Christian love, a subsequent protest, and the resulting social uproar. A largish portion of the Anza community is now polarizing to one side or the other of this conflict.

It’s a big long story that I don’t really want to get into on this blog, because in the interest of fairness and responsible journalism I would have to relate all the tiresome details of both sides of the issue. Meh. For this post, the relevant information is that Pastor Bill feels that the Wiccan girl has as much right as anyone else to wear jewelry bearing symbols of her religion while participating in a federal, non-church-related food commodities program, and for that he’s been heavily criticized by certain members of the church community who have LOTS and LOTS of bible verses supporting the righteousness of their condemnation.

You can almost hear Jesus weeping.

The question of how “Love thy neighbor as thyself” turned into “destroy everyone who doesn’t think exactly the way you do because that’s what Jesus wants” is a complex and baffling subject. There are so many intertwining aspects of modern religion that disconnect its followers from their own humanity and the humanity of others, and each one is a big enough issue to deserve its own post.

But in my opinion it boils down to this: Christianity has stopped being about human relationships and started being about power and control because people have let themselves become too dependent on the materialistic systems of men instead of nurturing the abundance of God’s natural world. In ancient times the Roman Catholic church grew in authority and control by claiming the power of God to subjugate its subjects and take their resources. Men claimed (and still claim) the power of the church to subjugate, neglect or abuse their wives and children. Women are taught that their only value lies in serving their men, no matter how badly they’re treated in return. There’s no true relationship or love or happiness in any of this, but convince people that they’re headed straight to eternal damnation if they don’t go along with it and they’ll fall into line.

So men become Inquisitors to protect their position of superiority and power, never realizing how lonely and empty that position is making their lives. Women become Inquisitors because if their ONLY value lies in being a good Christian servant, then people who are on a different path must have no value at all and are clearly an outrage to all that is good and holy.

As Pastor Bill pointed out, fewer and fewer people are buying into this spiritually empty and unfulfilling version of what passes for the Christian Religion these days, because the Internet has opened up a whole new world of shared vision. Sure, there’s more chaff than wheat out here in the intertubes, but the sheer volume of creativity and differing viewpoints makes it pretty hard for a modern person to convince himself that he’s the sole proprietor of the One True Way. Slowly but surely, Christian churches that don’t extend a true sense of community and fellowship to all of humanity are becoming irrelevant and obsolete.

Pity the Inquisitors, don’t hate or fear them. They’ve traded their spiritual birthright for earthly “treasure,” and then stockpiled it all on a sinking ship.

Categories: Christianity, Life, Love, Marriage | Leave a comment

Blog at