The generosity of Tennessee

We took this ambitious road trip because we know our young lives allow for it now but most likely will not in the future. Our hopes for the trip were to gain experience in handling practical situations, gain perspective about the cultures and lifestyles within America, and to see places that we may never see otherwise. Each of those expectations has already been met, and frankly the proceedings of this trip have gone much smoother than we expected them to. A major factor in that smoothness has been the way we’ve been provided for in random ways. Most of the sweet provision has come from Drew’s relatives or family friends, all of which have been mentioned in earlier posts. Those have been sweet times and such blessings along the way. But it is the four guys from Tennessee that not only hiked but also forded a river with us, and then were willing to be fellow comrades in the hitch hiking process and go so far as to pray for us and then offer monetary provision that I want to extend even greater thanks to in this post.
It is always a great opportunity when we get to interact with locals. The conversations are memorable and always insightful. Our friends from Tennessee however were more than just fellow hikers and nice people. They were used by The Lord to be a source of provision and light. These men were bold enough to pray for three strangers, and then they did what is often the missing link in the Christian witness, they showed us love and genuine care by surprising us with a free meal. I want to thank Caleb and Nathan and the guys from Tennessee for truly living their lives for Jesus and in the process living for three random strangers.
I love seeing The Lord at work.

Wonderings.

Strange how one can live for 21 years, granted, in a place of beauty, yet be completely unaware of some of the worlds greatest natural phenomenons there are to see. Everywhere we go is as if in a different world from the last place. From granite cliffs and waterfalls, to sandstone and canyons, uniquely formed spires of rock, and trees that have petrified to stone, and finally our latest stop, the stalagmite and stalactite pinnacles within the Carlsbad caverns. And all this within 9 days. 9 days ago I didn’t so much as dream of such places. 9 days ago Cars Land at Disneyland was my reference for towering red rock and sandstone, and had someone told me that Carlsbad Caverns look like the inside of the line for Indiana Jones (x1000) I may have laughed at the idea that such a made up scene could ever be real. And those are the reflections that strike wonder in my brain. Wonderings like, what else have I not seen? what else have i not even heard of? how many more such places are yet to be discovered (at least under the earths surface)? and how many different worlds can there be within this one earth??
Their is variety of terrain and landscape on this planet that can only become real once you’ve stood before it in awe. The marvels we have witnessed have come to be by way of natural weather from the beginning of time. But the world in all it’s glory is not meant to bring the attention of men to weather patterns. Natural phenomenons are given to men by God, in grace. The grace I find in them is the reflection of his power, care and creativity. The sites we have seen are mans window to a God who loves all. A God who can take a shapeless planet and through natural causes create a vivid, unique, varied and awe inspiring one. This God is gracious enough to show man his love through creation so that man will be drawn to him. And once a man is, he then becomes the earth in the hands of God. An opportunity for redemption and beauty to sprout.
My wonderings lead me many places. My mind is ready to explore all that is put before it. I value science, I believe science. I would not deny the weathers hand in shaping these national parks. So yes, my wonderings lead me many places. But they always come to rest in one place. That place being the character of God and his willingness to work through natural causes in order to give man a reason to seek him.

Romans 1:20 “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

My wonderings are my own. If they strike wonder in you, well I hope it is wonder that benefits. If they cause feelings of disconcertment, well then your options are to ignore them, or talk to me about them. I don’t pretend that such a conclusion as I hold to is easy to accept. I welcome the struggle even in my own life. Jesus welcomes it too.

I hope to never stop wondering. If you have, go to a national park.

Yosemite Trip Report and Photos (a few days late)

A late night departure turned out to be a great decision for our time in Yosemite. We left Cool, CA. at 11pm on Friday June 6, and arrived at Yosemite National Park just after 3am. Personally I advise such an arrival time for everyone entering the valley. The mountain silhouettes, just barely visible against the backdrop of the night sky, rising hundreds of feet above, strike up a mystery that will leave an impression for a lifetime. We all marveled at the sheer height of the blackened figures and enjoyed the silence in the Camp 4 parking lot as we waited to get in line for a campsite.

At 5:30am we made our way over to the Camp 4 entrance and took our place in line. We joined the other hopeful travelers all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the park ranger to tell us whether or not any campsites were available for us. After receiving the good news that we indeed did guarantee ourselves a campsite by showing up so early, we set up camp and promptly headed out to our first hike.

Yosemite is assuredly a place that all four of us will be back to in the future so we did not spend an abundance of time there. But we were able to stop at Tuolumne Meadows on the way out and I definitely was most jazzed about that scenery. Below are a few photos of the four of us experiencing the beauty of the Lord’s artistry together!

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The beginning of the Mist Trail. Upper Yosemite Falls in the background!

ImageThe foor bridge of Vernal Falls, again look closely to see the waterfall in the distance. Notice, Robert proudly displaying his newly chipped tooth!

ImageThe four of us were pretty stoked about the great sight that Nevada Falls was! And the rain-like mist that we were being covered with was nice too.

ImageWe made it to the base of the 600′  Nevada Falls. Image

The climb to the top wasn’t an easy one but so worth it! And I am so pumped to be doing this trip with three friends from my childhood. It is especially cool to be with the one on my left here, Cameron and I have been friends for as long as I can remember and I love this guy!

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This is a shot that I took from only slightly beyond the fence at the top of Nevada Falls of the three compadres standing on the bridge.

 

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All along the way we have been meeting some of the most friendly travelers! I guess people that aren’t working and preoccupying themselves by seeing the glory of nature are generally just in great moods. I know we are! But this particular picture was taken by a retired couple with the names Alen and Karen. They talked to us for awhile and we had some great laughs and smiles shared. Karen and Allen if you see this we appreciate the way you showed love and hope you continue to make unforgettable memories on your five month road trip!

 

 

 

Destination 1: Yosemite National Park

My first visit to Yosemite was somewhat unconventional, yet left me with a thirst to explore National Parks that is now finally coming to fruition through this great road-trip! I will never forget my first night in Yosemite, which came during the summer of 2010 alongside a great friend, by the name of Dylan Anderson. We drove through the entrance late at night, with no agenda, just an apetite for adventure. The park was still. I knew that I was surrounded by great beauty in the form of towering rock slopes and daunting ledges that overflowed with pure rushing water, yet I could not see any of that beauty. That first night in Yosemite I was blind to everything except the stars. And I am so grateful for that. Those stars made the biggest impression on me. Realizing for the first time in my life how vast the sky was, and how much space there is to fill with these brilliant little lights. I hated that I had lived for 18 years not experiencing the full glory of the night sky. And oh was it glorious! Since that night I have dreamed to go back and spend more time in awe of the heavenly lights. I will not take this first stop of CruzaAmerica for granted!

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The opportunities for exploration are endless. Our plans are not set but we will attempt to experience as much of the valley as we can by way of hiking through and along the majestic meadows, basking in the serenity of some of the 100+ lakes that the park boasts, and treks to the top of the grandest falls, where we will hopefully spend a few nights atop sleeping under my friends, the stars. And once our allotted time in the valley runs out I hope to spend at least a day marveling at the beauty offered on the Tioga Pass (since it was closed for winter and I was deprived of that hope!).

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Destination 1 will be the ultimate way to start this trip with some of the most amazing sights to see in the country. I cannot wait to write up a post while lying underneath the brilliance of the night sky! Yosemite National Park, we will see you in 66 days!!