Devils Tower

Yesterday Bill and I traveled to Wyoming to visit Devils Tower, America’s first National Monument! What an amazing place. We learned so much, and came away with a powerful respect for the area, the Native American people, their culture, and their history connected to the Tower.

 

We learned that “Native Americans are active stakeholders in the use and management of Devils Tower National Monument. Over two dozen federally recognized tribes are associated with the Tower. Much focus has been given to the oral histories these tribes have about their connections to the Tower. Words such and “myth” and “legend” are frequently used to describe these stories, but the appropriate term is sacred narrative-stories which explain how the world and people came to be.

American Indian oral histories are only a part of tribal connections to the Tower site. In the simplest terms, this is viewed as a place where the physical and spiritual worlds connect. Native people visit this place not only to connect with their past, but to perpetuate their culture today and into the future. The summer solstice in mid-June is a common time for indigenous groups to practice their cultural traditions. Prayer and purification ceremonies, as well as other rites of passage, frequently occurs here.” For that reason, a voluntary closure to the area inside the Tower Trail occurs every June out of respect to American Indian cultural practices.

The most visible element of native connections to the Tower are prayer bundles.

“As you walk the trails of the park, you may notice colorful cloths attached to the trees. These are offerings left by native people which represent prayers. The colors, placement, and contents have significance for the person who made them.”. You are asked to be respectful of the artifacts and to not disturb them in any way, and do not leave other items behind, as prayer bundles are a part of the cultural landscape of this site.

I loved learning what N. Scott Momaday wrote. “at the top of the ridge I caught sight of Devil’s Tower upthrust against the gray sky as if in the birth of time the core of the earth had broken through its crust and the motion of the world was begun. There are things in nature that engender an awful quiet in the heart of man; Devil’s Tower is one of them.”

 

As Bill and I hiked the base of the Tower, we were amazed at how the colors changed depending on how the light and shadows fell upon it. On the backside of the Tower are rocks at the base of the Tower that are not visible from the front side of the Tower.

We learned that several Indian nations share similar legends on the origin of this prominent butte. The Kiowa people say: “Eight children were there at play, seven sisters and their brother. Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run upon his hands and feet. His fingers became claws, and his body was covered with fur. Directly there was a bear where the boy had been. The sisters were terrified; they ran, and the bear after them. They came to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them. It bade them climb upon it , and as they did so it began to rise into the air. The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond its reach. It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of the Pleiades.”

As we continued our hike around the Tower, we had ample opportunities to take in all the beautiful views.

Every curve in the trail exposed something new and exciting to explore.

I couldn’t help but feel the presence of the spirits of the people that lived and died here.

And I admire the people who come to pay their respect to their loved ones, and leave their prayer offerings for them.

I’m so glad we made the trip to Wyoming to visit this sacred place. So much history, culture, and beauty to learn about.

Bill and I both agreed we could spend hours in this peaceful place, and just gaze upon the mighty Devils Tower.

Stay Tuned!

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Lovers Leap Trail

This past Friday, Bill and I hiked Lovers Leap Trail here in Custer State Park. We get lots of questions about this trail from visitors who come in to our Visitor Centers, and I wanted to be able to speak about the trail from first hand experience, so off we went.

We’re not really sure how long of a hike lovers leap is or the degree of difficulty. One map shows it as a three mile loop and describes it a a moderate to strenuous hike. Yet another map shows it as a four mile loop and describes it as difficult to strenuous. All I can say is it was a beautiful hike, that felt like at least seven miles, and very, very, strenuous..!

And those “seven miles” were mostly straight up, up, up! When we reached what we thought was the highest point, as we stood there looking out over the lovely view way down below, I asked Bill if he thought this was the point where they decided to call this trail Lovers Leap? He said “yes, because at about this point, you are ready to throw yourselves over the edge just to get down faster…”

When we gained our composure, from laughing so hard, we continued along our way through an area that shows some the damage from a large fire two years ago.

As we paused to ponder on this sign, I was thinking to myself, these words might ring true, if we weren’t exhausted, and faced with the fact that we had no idea where we were, or how close, or far, we were from getting off this mountain… šŸ™‚

We couldn’t find a log to sit on to “get our sanity back,” so Bill took a moment to lean on a boulder.

We noticed the pine trees in this area have really long needles, we had to try to find something to focus on besides how exhausted we were…

After about an hour and a half of steady climbing up, up, up, we finally started downhill,

and came upon a creek that had foot bridges allowing us to cross without getting wet. We thought that was nice of the park to put these bridges in as a small convenance to their visitors… We crossed five of these nice foot bridges along our way.

Now we find ourselves down in a canyon, hiking along the creek.

Beautiful wildflowers seem to grow right out of the rocks.

And just as we were thinking we might finally be nearing the end of this very long, strenuous hike, with the lovely foot bridges.. we came upon a wide area of the creek where the foot bridge was washed out, and all that was left to get us across the creek was this pile of fallen tree limbs. Not easy when your worried about falling in with your cell phone in your pocket… We had to cross two areas like this where the foot bridge was washed out…

Then we came to yet another area where we had to start climbing up, up, up again…

Finally, after almost three hours of steady climbing up mountains, and over creeks, we came upon an area where we saw buildings. Then we realized they were dorms where the seasonal workers live. We were exhausted, and nearly out of water, so we decided we needed to go down and see if we could get someone to give us a ride back to where we left our car at the trailhead. Lucky for us, one of the workers was just pulling our of her parking space. So I ran up to her car, introduced myself, told her of our ordeal, and all but begged her to give us a ride to our car… She hesitated at first (probably thinking I was some crazy woman), but then she unlocked the back doors and told us to get in. I said a quick prayer to thank Jesus for getting us off that mountain safely. Little did we know (because the map we had didn’t show any landmarks to indicate where we were on the trail), we were actually only about a half mile from the end of the hike. However, that last half mile was yet another climb up, and over, yet another mountain…

Aside from the fact that the trail was not marked well, and the map wasn’t of much help at all…, it was a beautiful hike and I’m glad we did it. But you can be sure that when I talk to folks about that hike, I will tell them it is beautiful, and well worth the effort, but I will also make sure they know it is very strenuous, and longer than what the information sheet indicates.

When I got back to work the next day, I told the lead person what we thought about the hike, and the misinformation, and/or lack of information on the information sheet, and the map, regarding the Lovers Leap Trail. She smiled and said “I’ll look into it.”

Stay Tuned!

Happy New Year

I’ve never been one to make New Year resolutions. I prefer to make positive changes in my life anytime I feel the need to do so. Throughout this year, and especially in the last few months of this year, I’ve made several changes in my life that are bringing a lot more positive energy around me, and into my life.

I’ve always been dedicated to my Catholic Faith, but this year I started dedicating even more time to my prayer life by dedicating a time of day as my prayer hour. This is in addition to my regular morning and evening prayers. I’m amazed at the difference a dedicated prayer hour has made in my life. It has sharpened my focus on what is really important, and meaningful in my life. It has allowed me to look for things in my life that tend to drain my energy, and replace those things with things that bring me positive energy. Did you know there is actually a list of “Everyday habits that drain your energy”? Well, there is, and this is what it says:

  1. Taking things personally
  2. Holding on to the past
  3. Always checking Facebook
  4. Sleeping in late
  5. Fueling drama
  6. Over stressing
  7. Having a poor diet
  8. Complaining all the time
  9. Overthinking
  10. Gossiping
  11. Not living in the moment
  12. Trying to please everyone
  13. Worrying about what others think

Some folks get so caught up in the things on the list, they don’t even realize that is what is draining their energy and causing so much negativity in their lives. Another big change both Bill and I have made in our lives is deactivating our Facebook accounts. We had a conversation one evening and discussed how much negativity is out on Facebook, and asked ourselves why we were allowing that to come into our home and our lives. Then we simply made the decision to drop Facebook from our lives, and for us, it has been wonderful. We want our friends to feel comfortable to stop by and visit us, call or text us, instead of being virtual friends on Facebook that might read a posting and hit the like button or send a heart…

A few months ago, a dear friend of mine gave me a small friendship banner. The words on that banner resonated so much with me that I have it hanging on a door in our home to remind me every day what genuine friendship is based on. This is what the friendship banner says:

“Friendship

We have genuine friendship when it is based on true human feeling, a feeling of closeness in which there is a sense of sharing and connectedness. I would call this type of friendship genuine because it is not affected by the increase or decrease of the individual’s wealth, status, or power. The factor that sustains that friendship is whether or not the two people will have mutual feelings of love and affection, genuine human friendship is on the basis of human affection, irrespective of your position. Therefore, the more you show concern about the welfare and rights of others, the moreĀ  you are a genuine friend. The more you remain open and sincere, then ultimately more benefits will come to you. If you forget or do not bother about others, then eventually you will lose your own benefit.”

H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama

That is what I want my friendship with others to be, and what I want from others as my friend. And, for me, that just doesn’t happen on Facebook.

I will continue to work on myself, my goals, and doing me throughout 2019.

I wish all of you the very best.

Happy New Year!

 

 

New Year’s Traditions

My husband, Bill, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve. Not that we don’t like to socialize with family and friends, we have many opportunities to do that throughout the year, but 30 years ago, Bill and I started our own New Year’s Eve tradition. We decided we always wanted New Year’s Eve to be spent with just the two of us enjoying each other’s company. We have a nice dinner, and spend quality time talking about things we want to do in the New Year that will help us be overall better people. We talk about what we want to do that will help us continue to keep Christ front and center in our lives, what we can do to continue to grow our love for each other keeping our relationship and our marriage strong, and the priority in our lives, how we can help our family and friends that may need our help, and now that we are full-time RVers, we talk about what we want to do in regards to summer travel plans in the New Year. We find it is a great way to reflect on the past year, center ourselves, and make goals for the New Year ahead.

Making sure we get enough exercise is a big part of our lives. We try to take a walk or hike at least five times a week. So today we took a lovely walk around the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills. This park is a little gem that sits right in the center of the lovely town of Fountain Hills, just 4 miles from where we host at McDowell Mountain Park.

The fountain goes off every hour on the hour for 15 minutes. We can see the fountain from our host site at McDowell Mountain Park.

It was a beautiful day and lots of folks were out taking advantage of the beautiful mid 70 degree weather… This is why I never want to be anywhere but Arizona in the winter months.

From every angle around the park there are beautiful views.

They even have a Veterans Memorial in the park. So special. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

The park is surrounded with beautiful plants,

and artwork is everywhere…

There are sculptures with memorials to loved ones lost throughout the park. This one brought tears to my eyes.

 

This one was titled “my buddy.” So special.

As you make your way around the park, there are lots of shops and places to eat…

The park also has frisbee golf. That looks like it would be fun!

Bill and I had a fun time exploring this beautiful park in the middle of Fountain Hills, something we have talked about doing but haven’t done until today. We loved it and will be back.

Over the years, I have had many people say to me “you and Bill always seem so happy and in love. What is the secret after 30 years together?” The answer is there is no “secret”. Bill and I were friends first, then, over time, that grew into a love relationship that we treasure, and decided right from the start we never wanted to lose. We are certainly no experts (we have both been married before) but we have learned, from past mistakes, if you really want to keep any relationship alive and well, you have to give it the time and attention it needs. It is now our number one priority. For us, we never keep score, but we know that as long as we keep each other first, me giving all I can, and him doing the same, the rewards triple any effort.

I thought the next picture from the park expresses what I am sharing in regards to relationships, so much better than I can say. Just like you don’t mind the time and attention you would give to your child, pet, etc, We give that time and attention to each other, but we don’t think of it as a “job”. You get the idea…

Bill and I wish all of you the very best of 2018. Whatever your heart’s desire are worth the effort you put into achieving it..

Stay Tuned!

Heartwarming Update

I wanted to post this update to my previous post, Random Acts Of Kindness. I spoke to our daughter, Shantel, and she told me that she was in the laundry room at her apartment complex again yesterday finishing up her laundry, and a man came in and asked her if she had some clothes in a washer with tide pods in it and quarters in the slot yesterday..? Shantel said yes, and he said he was the person that removed her clothes, and used the washer with her tide pods and quarters. He didn’t say why he did that, but he did give her money back and said he was sorry.

I asked Shantel if she knew him and she said she didn’t, but that he told her he sees her in the laundry room a lot and he said he felt bad about what he did. I asked if she got his name, she said no, but he sounded like he was an older man, and that he seemed to really be sorry about what he did.

 

I believe in miracles, do you?

Merry Christmas!

Columbia River Gorge

We are all settled in at Viento State Park in Oregon, right on the Columbia River Gorge, which of course is one of the seven wonders of Oregon. Bill and I will get to spend some quality time at three of the seven wonders of Oregon while we are here. In addition to the Columbia River Gorge, and Mt. Hood, we will spend six weeks in Prospect Oregon, which is about 30 miles from Crater Lake, which is another of the seven wonders of Oregon.

Our campsite here in Viento is nothing to dance and shout about… but the surrounding area just outside the campground is gorgeous!

 

Shantel, the trees are amazing. Huge, with branches full of leaves that cascade down to the ground.

There are trains that run 24/7 right beside the park and every time one passes by the park they are required to blow their horn at least four times, and it is loud! The pictures I took today are all cloudy looking, but actually it is smoke from wildfires burning in Montana and Washington State. The wind is carrying the smoke all over our area…

This next picture shows how close the train tracks are to the campground. There is a fence pole just a couple of feet to the left of the train tracks and that is the gate to our campground.

Papa/Bill and I took a walk down to see the Columbia River Gorge this morning and saw a big ship pushing a barge down the river. Just on the other side of the Columbia River Gorge is Washington State.

Papa and I decided we both needed to dip our toe in the Columbia River Gorge… just to say we did. The next picture is Papa going first.

Then, I took my turn, and tried to be as graceful as possible, while trying to balance on one foot as I dipped the toe of my other foot in the river.

This next picture is just showing the mountains on the Washington State side of the river.

And another shot of a huge rock, as big as a small mountain, sitting out in the middle of the river.

Papa/Bill and I decided to ditch the freeway, and took a nice drive up Historic Highway 30 to the city of Dalles. It is the largest city on the Oregon side along the Columbia River, outside of the Portland Metropolitan area. It was a beautiful scenic drive up one side of a mountain and down the other side. We could see the smoke from the wildfires even more as we got closer to the top of the mountain.

Everywhere you look are big beautiful trees, mountains, and of course that spectacular Columbia River Gorge.

 

Papa/Bill took a picture of me sitting on a wall overlooking all the scenery, and I said “yep, nothing but just pure beauty everywhere you look”. Ha!

We had lunch at the Dalles, and even through all the smoke-filled air…it was still a beautiful day. And, I’m hoping all this smoke will make for a spectacular sunset picture since I never did get one at the ocean.

Shantel, Papa and I love and miss you and are so proud of you.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Tears in Heaven

I’ve heard it said that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more pain… But I now believe there will be tears in heaven, at least for me there will be.

Today is our daughter, Shantel’s, birthday. She is 24 years old today.

Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer before she was two years old.Ā Because she was so young when she lost her sight, she doesn’t know what Bill and I look like. In fact, when she first lost her sight, I would always say “hi, Shantel, it’s mama” whenever IĀ picked her up from her crib etc. so she would learn to recognize my voice.

As she got older, and I would go to pick her up from daycare, or even a little later when I would go to pick her up from school…, I would always approach her saying “hi Shantel, it’s mama”, and she would always answer “hi mama”.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that was so real, and affected me so profoundly, that I couldn’t even tell Bill about it because it just overwhelmed me with emotion. I dreamed I had passed away, and was in heaven, and I became aware that it was Shantel’s time to come to heaven, and I was sent to meet her at the gates of heaven. I stood at the gates of heaven and watched as Shantel approached me. Of course, she could see now because she was made whole and had both her natural eyes again. As she came closer to me I said “hi Shantel”, and she looked into my eyes and said “mama”? I said “yes”, and she said “oh, mama, you’re so beautiful”, and we hugged each other so long, and so hard, and let me tell you there were tears in heaven that day… tears of pure joy!

Happy Birthday, Shantel.

I love you,

Mama

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