shocking surprise | Death Valley National Park

Seeking to return to our Idaho roots where we can reconnect with treasured friends and settle into a brief stationary rhythm, we begin a northerly ascent. Leaving the palm tree warmth of Southern California, we are now in search of snowy evergreens. Along our route, Death Valley National Park places an unexpected pull on my curiosity cord and we pause our progress to take a peek.

Death Valley shocking surprise

LOW ELEVATION AND EXPECTATIONS

I know nothing more than the fact that Death Valley is the reigning champion of high heat (134 degrees) and low elevation (282′ below sea level) as we descend into her depths. To be honest, my expectations are also low. I anticipate a dry, desolate, wasteland. Right out of the gate, she shocks us in a way we could never have expected.

Death Valley shocking surprise

EXCITED EXPECTATION

Enough margin is built into our afternoon that when Trent asks if we should stop at the Father Crowley Vista overlook, I affirm the idea and look forward to my first view of the valley. Pulling to a stop, we hop out of the truck. The air at this upper elevation of 4,000 feet is chilly but we don’t expect to linger long. Making our way to the edge of the overlook, the wind whips at my hair as I lean over the railing and capture my first glimpse of Death Valley. Continue reading “shocking surprise | Death Valley National Park”

the sea of sanctification | Ventura, CA

Perched atop a wall of immovable rock, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I watch as my kids create an imaginary world.

sea of sanctification

Each child sets up shop in a different location, collecting treasures: sea glass, red wood, seaweed, and driftwood.

Their shell currency allows them to conduct commerce amongst themselves while they build and expand their rocky residences.

BEACHSIDE TREASURE

I’m invited to peruse and shop at my leisure. Soon, I’ve discovered a brilliant excuse to invest in the purchase of driftwood: new curtain rods. Over the course of the afternoon, my living room becomes more personalized as the factory rods are replaced with decorative driftwood.

Later, as I walk through the campground I notice that I am not alone in my driftwood acquisition. Nearly every RV I pass has a stash laying about. In a lifestyle that fosters minimalism, the popularity of this beachside treasure does not escape my notice.

PAINFUL PROCESS

What could be easily overlooked, however, is the inherent pain represented in each piece of wood. Devastating wildfires, followed by substantial rains resulting in fatal mudslides have recently swept through this coastal area. An influx of driftwood debris has ensued.

Birthed from deep devastation and death, a treasure trove has washed ashore. Continue reading “the sea of sanctification | Ventura, CA”

comparison crap | my first 5K

I’ve never done this before. In fact, the concept still seems to lack a sense of sagacious* forethought.

my first 5K

Nevertheless, I have woken up at 5:30 in order to be ready to take my place behind this starting line. In all ironic honesty, I paid money to wake up early and stand behind this line.

my first 5K

I can’t help but wonder what the high-school version of myself would have thought of this unexpected twist. I–the girl who saw no logic in running unless it was from something dangerous or toward home plate–is about to run 5 Kilometers for the pure challenge of it. Continue reading “comparison crap | my first 5K”

hidden treasure | Morro Bay, CA

I’m alone except for a fisherman, a student hunched over a book, and two older ladies strolling along the coastline. The wind, slightly damp and seasoned with salt, plays with loose strands of my hair as I jog, following the line of wet sand. I’m training for my first 5K run in January. After just five minutes, I’ve confidently decided that beach running is my favorite.

THE QUESTION

My bare feet meet the moist ground, pounding out a regular rhythm as my eyes drink in the surrounding splendor. I use the time of solitude to pray and lean in toward my Father’s heart. “What do you want to show me today?” I ask.

BEACH TREASURE

Moments later my eyes catch sight of something shining in the sand. I stop, curiously observing the translucent blob lying in my path. I look around and spot another, tangled in a pile of seaweed. I’m mesmerized. Are these jellyfish? How long have they been here? Are they dead? Would anything have happened if I’d stepped on them? I make a mental note to return and show the kids my discovery at the end of my run.

Resuming my pace, I continue my jog. The waves lap around my feet like puppies biting at shoestrings. Once again, something catches my eye and I halt. A sand dollar, perfectly circular, lies ensconced within its shore-lined bed. Pulling back its covers of sand, I clean it in the surf and tuck it safely in my pouch. No sooner is my treasure locked away, than a second dollar comes into view. Minutes slip past as I tuck forty dollars worth of treasure away for safe keeping. Continue reading “hidden treasure | Morro Bay, CA”

my little green flags | Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

About a year ago I started flagging places in my Google Map—places that sounded fun, unique or exceptionally beautiful. I am not building a bucket list, I’m crafting an itinerary of possibilities; mentally acknowledging that no matter where we are, there are amazing things to discover.

When I see an Instagram picture of a breathtaking scene, I create a flag. If I watch a YouTube video and see an amazing experience, I flag. I flag it and forget it until it’s time to create our next travel itinerary and then, like an airliner landing at night, those little flags help light my way.

My map is quickly filling in, populated by little green flags representing places we’ve encountered and others we’ve yet to explore. (Yellow stars indicate locations where I’ve found RV family friendly volunteer opportunities.)

MULTI-PERSONALITY IDAHO

Bruneau Dunes State Park is stop number one on our before mentioned travel map and was inspired by one of those little green flags in Southern Idaho.

Like so many western states, Idaho has many personalities. What you discover in the panhandle differs drastically from the central valley, and the valley is not at all like the southern region. Continue reading “my little green flags | Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID”