Wonderful Weekends and Road Trips

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Some days just start off with odd things happening. This morning I made some delicious fruit smoothies for my husband and me to have for breakfast. It was early morning and beautiful weather out, so we sat on the porch to enjoy them.

As we sat there, enjoying the quiet of the morning, I saw something drop just as a bird flew past. When I looked in my cup there was a whitish streak inside my cup! That bird had made a deposit in my smoothie! It did make me wonder what the rest of the day would turn out to be. Fortunately, it did not turn out like it started.

The day did turn out hot and muggy; and I commented to my husband that I was grateful that last weekend had been cooler. Last weekend we had the joy of taking a road trip to see our grandson graduate from pre-school.

IMG_3470 A Taste of Frosting

“If Only I Could Stick My Finger in This Frosting!”

We decided to take the scenic route on our way south for our visit. I figured I would just share. with you, a few of the sights that we saw on our way.

We found a hard surface road that twined through the country side and had some beautiful scenery…..we did choose it because the map had all the little dots telling us that it was a scenic route. The map did not lie…..it was beautiful.

This little town was a perfect spot to get out and stretch our legs. It was also a wonderful place to just drink in the view and listen to the water that rushed over the rocks. It will be fun to trace this road trip on the map later on and remember all these little back roads.

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We arrived at our destination….the graduation….with time to spare. It was so much fun to spend time with the kids and grandkids. We had such a good time going to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.

The Grandkids!

A Bridge in Des Moines

When I think back to last weekend the thing that really stands out is the joy on the faces of our grandkids. They were so excited because they got to have both sets of grandparents at their house at the same time!

Wandering through the farmers market with them, finding the balloon man and eating some popcorn…..okay…….a lot of popcorn….made for some great memories.  I hope they remember that time with as much joy as their grandparents do.

The road trips was great, the scenery was wonderful….but the kids and grandkids…..now there is a treasure without compare!

The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing
 Unknown quotes 

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A Day For Remembering

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In small towns all across America, people gathered today to remember those who served in the military and those who gave their lives serving in the military. Bands played, 21 gun salutes were given, speeches made and flags were flying.

As a kid I remember going to the cemetery and seeing the veterans in their uniforms. They made a huge impression as they stood rock still, at attention, guns smartly resting on their shoulders. There was precision in every move they made.

I remember the sound of the breeze through the trees, the slap of palms on the stocks of guns and the sharp report of the guns firing through the quiet of the cemetery. The smell of sulfur from spent shells is a vivid memory.

It was only in later years that I understood what all those little flags meant. It was only in later years that the heartbreak of lives ended too soon, in war, really hit me.

In my trip to Washington DC, last year, I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, as well as many memorials. There is a reverent hush in those places and it is fitting.

It is a hush that invites time for reflection on the lives lost, the sacrifices made and the hardships endured.  It is a hush fit for sacred ground.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- Arlington National Cemetery

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The Three Soldiers-Near Vietnam Wall

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Korean War Memorial

This is a day set aside to honor and remember. Let us not forget to honor those who have made the sacrifices necessary to protect us and others. Let us not forget to thank those who have served, the families of those who have served and also thank those who continue to serve in our nation’s military.

Today I say thank you to my three nephews who are serving at this time……… Sam (82nd Airborne), Kevin (Army), and Justin (Navy).

It is good for me to remember that there is a price to be paid for freedom. It is paid in sacrifice, tears, victories, defeats, despair, pain, sweat and blood. Those paying the price are our brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, dads, moms, children and friends.

It is good to have a day to remember these truths. To remind ourselves that freedom is our heritage . It is something to be protected, defended and not taken for granted. I am grateful to those who make the sacrifice to serve.

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May we never forget

 

AMERICANS CAME TO LIBERATE, NOT TO CONQUER,
TO RESTORE FREEDOM AND TO END TYRANNY
Coleville cemetery-Carentan, France

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13
New Living Translation

Wanderings

IMG_4255 The Black Hills, SD

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Today was one of those odd days where it seems like you are busy, but when you look back at the day you realize you haven’t really got much to show for it. I did get the dishes done. We did get to town and get some groceries. It just felt like we worked so much harder than that!

It has been rainy, gray and drippy here the last few days. Maybe that is why everything seems like it is harder and takes longer to do. It might just be a whole mental attitude thing.

I was at a loss as to what to post today so I went on over to the dailypost to check out the  prompts. It is always a helpful place to give you some ideas to get your brain working. The words for the last couple days were gray and roots. This did make me laugh out loud as my first thought was of my own hair!  Only…..mine is gray on a lot more of my head than just the roots.

After thinking on those words awhile I knew that in my digital files of photos I had some pretty cool pictures of tree roots. I am going to share a few of my favorites with you. They were taken on various vacations through the past years.

The tree pictured at the beginning of this post was photographed on a family vacation years ago to the Black Hills in South Dakota. (My husband’s favorite place!) The roots on that tree were so amazing to me. They just seemed to snake around the rocks and hang on. Eventually the tree died but those roots spoke of such determination to anchor themselves firmly into something solid.

It kind of reminded me of a song we used to sing in Sunday School about the wise man building his house upon the rock….when the rains and winds came…his house stood firm. I suspect that tree stood pretty firm through many storms.

IMG_6912 Lake Thompson, SD

This picture was taken at Lake Thompson, South Dakota. I just could not pass up taking a picture of this huge ball of roots. It made me wonder what it actually took to bring that tree down! Even in it’s present state there is such a rugged beauty to it.  The roots have been worn smooth by the rain and bleached by the sun. It may no longer function as a living tree but I have a feeling that it is probably used by many people as a place to sit and rest. It has been repurposed and made beautiful again by time.

This grouping of three pictures, are probably some of my all time favorites. They were taken at Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota. Just seeing these pictures gives me a wanderlust to go back and wade in the cool waters of the falls, marvel at the twisted trees that are still alive and feel the texture of the lichen covered rocks that line the stream.

It is the perfect place…..running water, sparkling waterfalls, gnarly trees, multi-colored rocks and pebbles, and there is always a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. It is a joy to watch the little kids (and the old kids) splashing in the water and just enjoying being outdoors.

I am starting to think that if tomorrow is also a rainy day it might be time to get out the well-worn Rand McNally atlas and do some vacation dreaming! I have found that sometimes the dreaming is over half the fun.

Perhaps just planning a vacation and dreaming on one can be like taking a vacation and never leaving home. Perhaps the slow pace of our “gray, drippy” day was a mini-vacation of sorts. I may need to rethink vacations in general.

Vacation memories can be like those tree roots that are sunk deep into rock……those memories are firmly and solidly rooted in shared experiences with family and friends….shared joys, laughter and fun……..and that is a blessed, wonderous thing.

The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.
Cesare Pavese

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You Can Go Anywhere From Here……

The Road South

My thoughts seemed a little scattered today so I decided I should take a short walk, up the road, to the blacktop that runs past our farm. Once you reach the black top it rather feels like being  atop of the world…..at least for Iowa. You can see for miles in all directions except one.

As I stood there this morning, in the warm sunshine, I kind of felt like Tom Hanks at the end of the movie “Castaway”. You know ….. the scene at the end where he stands in the middle of the road and wonders which one to take.

I stood in the middle of the blacktop road…..I even stood on the yellow line. For those of you who worry about traffic flattening me out…..not to worry….this is a rural blacktop and you can see a vehicle come quite a ways off.  You can also hear them coming a ways off as this is fairly quiet country…..so it was quite safe.

 

As I stood there, soaking up the sun like a cat, that is sitting in an open barn door, I realized what a beautiful view I had in every direction.  I thought about all the places you could get to from this one starting point and decided you could pretty much go anywhere from here.

Even if you don’t physically go those places it is fun to dream about going to those places. No passport is needed to dream about going somewhere……a fortune is not necessary to just close your eyes and picture far off places…..all you need is a little imagination and a desire to roll with that thought.

For me those roads signify the places I have on my bucket list to go and see. They signify the people I love, who live at the end of those roads. Those roads speak of dreams.

Then, I turn to face the road that brings me back home…..

The Road Home

I realize that though my road home has a few muddy spots, is filled with small rocks…..it is still my path to the place I call home……and it brings a huge smile to my face. It is my safe haven, it is the home where my husband is, it is the place my kids come home to visit, it is the place my “girls” peck about the yard, it is the place where I can sit on my porch on a sunny Spring type day and I can dream of taking all those roads someday.

It is good to realize that home is a great place to be. It is good to be content with where you have been placed. It is also a good thing to be able to dream and dream about wandering to all the places you would someday like to see.

When I was a kid in grade school my report cards used to have comments that told my folks that I did to much daydreaming. I think I still do a lot of daydreaming and I don’t think it is a problem at all. In fact……I think it might be a gift.

May you have the time to travel new roads this weekend. May you have the time to daydream about those places that are on your bucket list. And may you find contentment in the place you that you call home.

 

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you
the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

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“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Journeys

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Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN

There are days when blogging inspiration is hard to come by.  Today is one of those days. It seems small seeds of ideas pop into my brain and scatter before they have a chance to take root.

I am not sure why this is an issue today. Maybe it is because I was already a day late with my Monday post and my brain just can’t quite reset to the normal blogging schedule. It is hard to get my thoughts back on track.

Much of life can be like that.  You find a perfectly good path to take (at least you think it is a perfectly good path.) and before you know it…..your good path has taken twists and turns that you never expected.

What starts out as an easy hike quickly becomes a test of endurance and perseverance. I find when those paths starting getting a little iffy; it is good to remind myself to stop, breathe and take a look around.

It seems to me, that the hardest paths tend to have some of the most beautiful sites to see along the way. Maybe the flowers just appear to be more beautiful when the way is hard. Maybe it is compensation for life taking a difficult turn. Or maybe it is the promise that no matter how tough it gets there is hope to be found.

In the next few days our thoughts will turn to the past year and all the paths that we have had to travel…..the smooth ones and the rocky ones.Then we wonder what the year ahead will look like. One thing I know for sure – there will be some easy trails. There will also be those paths where the end cannot come soon enough.

Enjoy the easy days to the full….without worrying when the hard ones will show up. Take heart on the difficult days.  Stop and look around. Appreciate the small things…..the smile of a grocery store clerk, the way the sun shines and makes patterns on your living room floor, the smell of the woodstove as it warms your home, the hugs from a loved one…..

There is much beauty to be found if we only look. There is much goodness to be found if we give those around us a chance. There is much joy to be had if we just open our hearts and let it in.

May you be blessed…..wherever your path takes you. And may you be a blessing to those who travel with you.  “The joy is in the journey.” (Glen S.)

 

Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in Yahweh will be renewed.
They will soar on wings like eagles.
They will run and won’t become weary.
They will walk and won’t grow tired.

Isaiah 40:31 NOG

 

Road Trips and Memories

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Yesterday was a wonderful, slow, autumn Sunday. As there was nothing urgent taking place in the afternoon we decided it would be a good time to take a little road trip. My husband had a couple ideas of places to go and we picked one that brought back a lot of memories.

The place we decided to head for was a spot that we used to visit a lot as teenagers……the Boyden Pit. Back when we were in high school it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon. After hot sweaty mornings of walking beans it was a great place to go and cool off.

The beach was small and did not have the greatest sand, but it was always full of teenagers, moms with little kids and was loud with the sound of laughter, water splashing, and the tunes belting out of multiple battery operated radios. It was the perfect place to see others and to be seen.

All we needed for a great afternoon was a beach towel, a  radio, a few snacks, some pop, and as many friends as we could round up. We didn’t worry about sunscreen…..skin cancer was not on the radar that decade. In fact we would use baby oil to get the great dark tan that we all coveted.

There weren’t any life guards on this beach and we were all responsible for our own safety. We did make sure to swim in pairs if we were swimming out to “the island”. (I am not sure it was really an island but it was on the other side of the pit and seemed to take forever to get there.)

I don’t know the entire history of the Pit. I do know it was a former sand/gravel pit where some company or other dug out the sand and gravel to use in other places. Once they had gotten as much as they wanted the machinery was taken away and water filled the hole that was left. It became a natural place for people to go and cool off on steamy summer days and nights.

There was even a massive cottonwood tree with a rope attached for those who wanted to swing off the cliff, dangle precariously over the water and let go in a timely manner. If you did not let go soon enough you slammed back into the cliff and slid, in an inglorious fashion, down the face of the cliff and into the water.

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Later the tree met it’s end when it was sawed down because too many people had hurt themselves. (Our high school Bible teacher ended up having surgery after smashing his heel against that cliff wall.) All that remains of the tree is the weathered stump in the photo above.  It was a sad day for those who loved the thrill of flying over the water and plummeting to the water 20 feet below. I never had the urge to attempt that feat after having witnessed the slamming and sliding type of end to a swing on the rope.

It seemed that with the death of the big cottonwood; a lot of changes came to the Pit. Someone drowned and the Pit was closed for a number of years due to insurance issues. The beach that once was alive with shouts and laughter slowly grew over with weeds and small trees. The concrete bath house was torn down and only a non-functional light pole remains to mark it’s location.

Some years back the County took over the Pit area and began the task of turning it into a place where people would once again picnic, fish and camp.  It is not the same as it was back in the day I regularly visited it…. there are some things I like better and some memories that are hard to let go.

The beach area is no longer available for swimming as there is no swimming allowed.  People now come with their canoes, fishing poles, tents and campers. They come and once again this place is a place for people to spend time together.

The quiet that is this fall season, lays like a blanket over this area. The mowed path that now makes it’s way around the pit is an invitation to take a walk and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind. It is fun to observe the frogs sitting on the rotted logs at the water’s edge and to see the birds flit from tree to tree.

I have a feeling it is the same quiet that held this place way back before it’s years as a gravel pit. It is probably the same quiet that descended when the pit was closed to the public for those many years. It is a quiet that permeates this place and seeps into the soul when you stand quietly at the water’s edge.

The “new” pit is a beautiful, peaceful place. For those who did not come here in the 70’s and 80’s it is probably hard to imagine how noisy it once was. All I have to do is stand on the overgrown beach, close my eyes, and those days once again play out in my mind like scenes from an old movie.

I think I have enjoyed the best of both worlds that make up the life of this place.  I have lived the vibrant, noisy memories of my youth spent on this beach and I am also getting to soak in the quiet, soul-nourishing peace that it is now. It is indeed a blessing.

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~Anatole France