The Rockies are on our right as I write to you, snow-capped in many spots and lovely! Last Thursday we spent the day on the heights in the Rocky Mountain National Park visiting with elk and mule-deer. The views were majestic and left us with a powerful sense of being "upheld in God's righteous right hand." We will be passing through them again today on our way to Aspen. Before we hit Aspen we're going to stop at Glenwood Caverns for some spelunking. Going deep down in the "up!"
This trip has been the unfolding of one delight after another! Sean and Alyssa have proven to be outstanding travelers. Even on our thirteen hour days on the road they have been easy and content. Alyssa is keeping a detailed journal of the trip that will be a family treasure forever, and Sean has been reading non-stop.
After worshiping with friends last Sunday we made our way to our first KOA in Illinois. Our thanks go out to the IV staff in Arizona who recommended KOA camping! We enjoyed the pool, the friendly campers, cooking out... And no phone! We've stayed now at KOAs in Missouri and Kansas, and they are all so clean! In Kansas we met a wonderful little family who shares a vision for church unity - they travel from place to place spreading the vision and helping local churches come on board.
Monday we drove to St. Louis. Our first sight of the Gateway Arch caused us all to explode with happy noise! In the distance it was impressive – up close it was brilliant and awesome, shining in the sun! Later I decided that I prefer to enjoy the arch from ground-level. We rode to the top in microscopic pods lit with fluorescent bulbs; hot and cramped! Rose from Texas (appropriately named, if you think about it) rode with us and helped me feel better by looking terrified. I could relax because Alyssa experienced vertigo and had to be kept calm. I didn't
even fixate on our height, or wonder if there were terrorists in the crowd (very often). Sean and Glen were perfectly happy in the packed, stifling, high, narrow space. Alyssa and I were just glad when it was over! Our favorite thing was dipping hands and feet in the Mississippi. Although the Mississippi is only romantic in your mind (it's full of mud and swirling debris up close and personal), it IS impressive. I suppose that its history (and Mark Twain) has imparted a romantic glow to the muddy river.
That night we spent in Missouri, chasing rabbits and fireflies before bed. Sean and Alyssa caught fish with great ingenuity; Sean placed his cupped palms under the water of the pond we were camped beside, and Alyssa sprinkled breadcrumbs on the surface above his hands. Inexperienced little perch found themselves scooped into space and dumped in an applesauce jar before you could say "Long John Silver!"
Tuesday found us in Kansas. Most people don't find Kansas very stimulating, but I have roots there, so I was excited! It was at that KOA that we met the nice family with the vision for church unity. We met them poolside – our kids were making friends with theirs in the water as we talked.
Again we were camped at the edge of a pond, and next morning we had fresh fish in the applesauce jar!
Wednesday we took a little detour to see "Rock City" Kansas. Rock City is a place advertised by little slips of signs, sporadically placed along the roadside in such a way as to discourage tourism, which is why we went there. A bazillion years ago or so the receding ocean deposited sandstone concretions all on this one little Kansan field. Truthfully, it looks more like receding dinosaurs deposited them there... You couldn't miss those chips!!!!!!!
From there we stopped in Ellsworth - a Kansas cow town and the place where my Granny was born. We found her aunt's lace displayed in the little museum there, and the grave of her second son - my uncle Daniel - who died the day he was born. Granny's treasure, buried here in this dusty little cow town, and I felt richer for having visited.
On we drove and drove and drove across the prairie. It was like a vast dance floor, with the corn and wheat doing graceful waltzes and the dust pirouetting with the wind. Over us all a blazing sun in the blue sky, and cloud shadows in which we found temporary relief from the hot yellow breath of the sun. That was the day we caught our first glimpse of the Rockies – a gray bump way across the plains - that grew bit by bit with the passing miles. We saw our first prairie dogs in Fort Collins, where we spent a few days with our sister-in-law Karen, and our nephew, Christopher.
Local folks were probably disgusted when we veered off the road quickly to take photos of the prairie dogs - it would be like someone risking life and limb to take a snapshot of a squirrel in Potsdam!
Karen and Chris showed us gracious hospitality. (We are driving under the continental divide at this moment! I just saw a shiny black bear lumbering across the mountain above us!) They were busy the first two days, so we entertained ourselves by exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park (as I mentioned) and doing laundry. One night we had dinner at a micro-brewery in old-town Fort Collins, and another day we spent at a water park with the Rockies as a backdrop.
I am too distracted by the beauty of the mountains to continue this email. We'll write again later.
One request I want to leave with you is for prayer for my Uncle Jack and Aunt Ellie Simpson. We were to have visited them in New Mexico... Uncle Jack has been battling skin cancer for years, and is currently having great difficulty with a new skin graft. Three days ago I learned that Ellie has been diagnosed with colon cancer - on top of a host of other illnesses - and is in the hospital. We can't visit because of the risk to them of further infection. They are very dear to me and I wish the timing was different... But our love is with them even if we can't be.
Thanks! May God unfold beauty after beauty for all of you, too, this summer!
Glen, Beverly, Sean, and Alyssa