As our little caravan pushes northward, I am settling into a predictable rhythm:
Prep the RV for travel.
Hit the road between 10 and 11.
Chat with our traveling friends (the Sloans) via walkie-talkie about road conditions, a joke, riddle or perhaps a verse of the day.
Help the kids with school in the car.
Watch for animals.
Pause for breathtaking vistas, overlooks, lakes and towering mountain ranges.
Call out animal sightings (black bear, moose, wood buffalo, and rock sheep) over the walkies.
Stop for a potty and lunch break.
Spy additional animals.
See more spectacular views.
Discuss where to stop for the night.
Find a pullout and set up house.
Prep lunches for the next day.
Pull down the shades to block out the sun.
Head to bed.
We are currently on day six of this routine. Our hair is greasy. My laundry basket is plump and we are ready for a solid 24 hours without movement. Yet, despite the fervent pace of our travels, we’ve been blessed by several beautiful pauses:
Back in January, we attended a Fulltime Families Retreat in Southern California. One evening, we invited the Sloan family over to get to know them better. Part of our conversation included upcoming summer destinations. They planned to visit the East Coast and our plans included Alaska.
The next morning the Sloan’s informed us that their summer plans had changed during the night—they now planned to go to Alaska with us! Surprisingly, this isn’t that unusual in our lifestyle. You meet people. You like them. You travel with them. But it is funny to take myself out of the fulltime travel mindset and try to picture a scenario like this happening. You invite someone new to the area over for lunch after church. You talk about your upcoming plans for a family vacation to Florida. The following Sunday they announce surprise: they’ve booked the same flight and plan to tag along! I can’t imagine that ever happening, yet it does when you live your life on the road and get the freedom to choose your neighbors and travel companions.
I thought I knew what beauty was. We are just days into our trip to Alaska and already I’ve had to rewrite that page in my mind.
Banff is dripping with the dignity of royalty, wrapped in her glacial blanket of majestic wonder and completely confident. With each turn of the road, we are surprised by her splendor and sure that we have now seen the best she has to offer. Yet, each outing outdoes the one before and the auspicious* adventure continues in an unabashed fashion.
Water filled with glacial runoff permits lake colors too vibrant to accurately describe.
Hello dear reader! Remember me? I used to write on this blog a tad bit more often than once a month. I bet you thought we got lost somewhere on the side of a lonely highway with no Internet.
Good news, we are not lost, we know exactly where we are!
Allow me to give you a quick recap of the last few months and bring you up to speed on our current adventure: Alaska! (Heads up: every link in this post will bring you to a corresponding YouTube video.)
Our February exit out of Southern California into the Pacific Northwest allowed us to successfully catch winter’s tail and enjoy the dramatic contrast between Death Valley and Northern Idaho. Trent vlogged our interaction within the two beautifully opposing climates of Death Valley and Northern Idaho.
For the last four months, we’ve tucked ourselves into the folds of the Idaho mountains and breathed the pine scent deep into our lungs.
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.
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.
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”