I spotted it just off the trail by chance, and did a double take. It was one of those things in my wildflower book so unusual that you remember its name. Fairy Slipper. I forget many of the yellow blossoms cheerfully dotting the path, but no grown up pretend-princess could forget a name like that. I made the most of the moment and photographed the floral gem in all of its 4″ inches of root-to-tip glory. We looked around for more, but came up empty. Usually when you see one flower of a kind, more are sure to follow as you trek through the micro-climate on the slope. This was a single, unique blessing. When I got down the mountain, my book told me just how privileged I was to have seen one.
“Fairy Slipper is a very rare wildflower… in fact its endangered. One could look for years and never find this fascinating Orchid.”–DenverPlant.com
It’s the same way with our launch to serve at the Home of Life in Costa Rica. As we are climbing the mountain of tasks that will move us from our home in the prairie to serving in a new country/culture/language, we have been a part of some incredible moments of blessing. Loving words from the Lord delivered to us after worship. Prayer ministry that lightens heaviness into peace. Coming out of the bathroom stall at the movie theater to meet an old acquaintance who stopped right there between stall and sink to speak provision and grace over me. Extravagant gifts of support and affection. Our church’s homeschool community circling up around us in anointed prayer, doing battle on behalf of our family. Each one is unique. Each one a special encouragement. We could look for years and never find more exactly like them. The Lord is decorating this trek with different glimpses of His magnificent presence through the kindness of His people around us. And when we get off of this mountain, I will already know just how privileged we have been.
A few weeks ago my in-laws asked to have our children for the week. Their church was geared up for VBS, and they wanted some hang time with the 3-E’s. Matt and I booked a camping spot in Rocky Mountain National Park faster than you can say “mommy-daddy-time.” He proposed to me up there, and it’s been our getaway of choice over the years since then. We love trekking the mountain trails, listening to the breeze whisper through the trees, and enjoying the views so different from life here on the prairie (and mostly within a city on that prairie). Then there’s just the break from home routine and glorious mountain quiet (absence of all kid-generated requests). Thinking back, we realized there have been a lot of changes in the way we do vacation over the years. Here are some of the fun points of evolution.
- Fork over the gas money and drive on. We used to tent camp, stuffing the car until our gear sometimes obstructed the view out of the rear window. We loved it. Mountain nights can be chilly, though. I learned to change inside a sleeping bag and to wear a stocking cap to bed when necessary. A few years back, Matt’s parents offered to lend us the RV they had scored off of Craigslist. At 8 miles to the gallon, it was a splurge. But rainy weather can take the fun out of a tenting trip, so we gave it a go. Best decision ever. Bathroom, refrigerator, and microwave less than 10 feet away made for a happy 10 hour drive each way. Pulling into our camping spot meant we could hit the sack without maneuvering tent poles, air pumps, or flashlights. And when the raindrops danced our way, we could go on enjoying the day inside. I like the simple, inexpensive way we do vacation, but a little bit of luxury has made the time away an even bigger blessing.
- Simplify. Once upon a time we brought fresh potatoes, raw bacon, peeler, knife, and cutting board when we wanted to make a potato skillet on vacation. We ate off of real dishes, too, and spent way too much time scrubbing and drying at the camp sink. Now we cook ingredients or even whole entrees ahead of time and eat off of disposables. We can be green and cook from scratch when we’re at home, but we can’t make the gorgeous ascent to Sky Pond. We’ve learned to use our time away for the important things. Naps, for example.
- Let Matt buy the provisions. This year I was swamped and Matt took care of almost everything needed to get us on the road. Beef jerky, trail mix, string cheese, Stax, supplies for mini bagel/cream cheese/salami sandwiches, Starburst, Riesens, all our usual bases well-covered. He upped the ante with a carton each of raspberries and bing cherries. When I saw the 15-count box of Häagen-Dazs bars, I remembered all the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place. And the working freezer compartment in the RV meant that we didn’t have to eat them all the first day. Which was probably for the best.
- Slow down. Our first trips to the Rockies were races to see if we could total more miles of trail and feet of elevation gain than the last visit. We still like to be off the mountain before the afternoon rain clouds approach, but we’ve done a better job lately of simply enjoying the land we pass through. Learning to take macro photos of wildflowers probably started it. Now each hike is a treasure hunt for new blossoms. Upgrading from a point and shoot to a dslr camera has definitely increased the effect. Poor Matt has his stride interrupted regularly with “Oooh, I have to shoot this.” He’s a good man, y’all.
Learning to use the timer setting on my camera by Lily Lake.
The Pasque Flowers were finishing up their blooming, and I was enchanted with every single one we saw.
This was often Matt’s view of me during our hikes.
Hummingbirds were courting during our visit this year. The males would trill and dive-bomb the path from 30 feet up to show off for the ladies.
The Fern Lake Forest Fire ripped through the area by Cub Lake twice last year.
This marks the summit of Deer Mountain, where we had the best views of the whole trip.
In honor of our time away, I have updated the “Latest News and Views” slideshow on our homepage. Please stop by, or click <here> to see some of the other sights we saw.