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I hope everyone had a great weekend! Ours was rainy, but nice. We went on a picnic with our church Sunday after the service, and had a great time. I also spent several hours researching a few writer’s sites and learning. I told Christian that it’s a good idea to never stop learning and he looked a little troubled. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Well, my brain’s already getting kinda full. I don’t think I’ll have anymore room left in there by the time I’m done with high school”. 🙂

And now, back to the road trip.

As we continued on through Idaho, we stopped for a few pictures and a little snack.

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There was a little pullout area along the Snake River with some gorgeous views.

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A memorial plaque for Vardis Fisher, a western novelist from Idaho. One of his books, “Mountain Man” was the inspiration for the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” starring Robert Redford.

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Christian tries to escape from Amy’s bear hug.

By early afternoon we were on the Grand Tetons Scenic Byway, and it was quite the beautiful drive. The vegetation was becoming much thicker and greener, and it was beginning to feel more like home.

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An Osprey poses on her nest for a quick picture.

As we crossed the line into Wyoming we stopped for a break and more pictures. Christian was getting a little restless, so he ran around in the pull out area for a bit of exercise.

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After a quick bite for lunch, we continued on our way. Christian took a brief nap, until our next stop as we were coming into Jackson Hole.

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We stopped in the town of Jackson Hole, WY for a brief tour and some souvenirs. This was a very busy season for the town, and along with us, it was full of tourists. It was difficult to look around at the sites while driving through, as I didn’t want to run over anyone, and finding any parking places was almost impossible. But from what I did see, it was a pretty neat town.

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This was one of the archways in Jackson Hole, made entirely of antlers. There was another archway of antlers with a little bench seat under it at the other corner of town, but traffic was too heavy to stop for a picture.

We didn’t stay long at Jackson Hole, and soon we were entering Grand Teton National Park.

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A beautiful stained glass window in the Sacred Heart church by Jackson Lake.

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By this time it was getting late into the afternoon and some clouds were beginning to form in the distance. It was still very hot, and we were all getting a little tired. We had hoped to find a camping spot for the night, but all the campgrounds were full. So we continued on a little farther.

Soon, we found ourselves at the entrance into Yellowstone National Park.

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All of the campgrounds in Yellowstone were also full, as were all of the lodges. We drove around near the entrance to the park, checking out some of the scenery and watched a gorgeous sunset.

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As we watched the sun set, we decided to turn around and go back to Jackson Hole, hoping to find a motel for the night. We passed the 4,000 mile mark just before we got back to the town.

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As we drove back into town, there were several other people looking for a place to stay as well, and the town was just about full. We finally found a room at The Buffalo Inn, and I think it was the last room left in town…other than a few $300+ rooms that were out of our price range.

After a good night’s sleep, we had an early breakfast and headed back to Yellowstone. We knew we wouldn’t be able to see all of the sights, so we decided ahead of time to choose the ones that we knew we wanted to see. We were already off of our schedule for returning to Alaska, and we didn’t want to make Amy miss her flight back to Virginia. So we selected the route we would take on the eastern side of the park, headed for Old Faithful.

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Christian had become excited about how many times we were crossing the Continental Divide, and the different elevations. We were feeling more at home in these elevations.

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We eventually made it to the Old Faithful visitors center. Christian had started a National Parks Passport book, so each time we stopped in one of the parks he would get his passport stamped and get a sticker for it. I wish we had known about the program when we started our trip. He missed out on several stampings back on the East Coast and down south. He also missed out on the stamp from the Grand Canyon. Guess we’ll just have to make another trip. 🙂

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Inside the visitor center were many educational displays, including interactive areas where children (and adults) could learn about the different types of geysers and how they are formed. The information on geothermal effects was fascinating to all of us, and the rangers were wonderful!

Old Faithful blows about every 90 minutes or so, and announcements are made over a loud speaker system letting visitors know about 15 minutes ahead of time. There are several bench seats available for a close up view of the geyser, but if you want a seat, you better get there earlier.

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As you can see, there were already quite a few people that were waiting patiently to see Old Faithful blow. We were able to get in close enough for a few good pictures. I took a video of the whole process, but it’s too long to post here. Here is a shot I got at the beginning of the eruption. The water sprayed much higher than this at the peak of the eruption.

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After we left Old Faithful, we found another area with several smaller geysers and hot pools. There was a boardwalk leading around the area, giving a close up view of both old and new formations. I was intrigued by the variations of color formed on the surface of the ground from the different minerals that were bubbling up in the water.DSC01192

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I was also amazed at the plant life that is able to grow amidst the hot conditions here. I don’t know what type of flowers these are, but their beauty and ruggedness amazed me.

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Towards the end of the boardwalk, we were all getting hot and were ready for a quick dip in the river. Just before the end of the boardwalk we saw a couple of geese emerging from the edge of one of the springs.

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After we played in the cool water of the river, we continued on through the park. The road followed the river for a while, and there were several more hot springs & geyser fields along the way, along with a few beautiful waterfalls.

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The little creek running through this area was being heated by the geothermal activity underground, causing a lot of algae to grow in the creek bed. It gave the appearance that the water itself was an emerald green.

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As the sun began to set we were seeing wildlife emerging from beyond the trees to graze.

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By the time we came to Mammoth Hot Springs at the north end of the park it was already dark. So I didn’t get any pictures there. But the little town there was filled with elk. They were walking along through the streets and parking lots, totally unconcerned with people or traffic. The hotel there was full, so we decided to drive on through to Livingston, Montana, the next town, which was also full. We ended up driving on to Bozeman, Montana before we found a motel, and it was almost midnight by the time we arrived.

We slept in the next morning and then had breakfast while we did our laundry. We also realized that we had been collecting so many souvenirs, the car was getting quite full. The carrier bag on top was full of camping gear, the back was full of suitcases, coolers & supplies, and Christian was running out of room in the back seat where he had his little “nest” made up. So we decided it would be a good idea to box up and mail some of our goodies to make more room.

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It’s amazing how much stuff 3 people can collect in such a short time! (I’m still trying to figure out where to put it all.) And so with that, I’ll stop here for today. I hope you enjoyed sharing our journey through Yellowstone. It was an absolutely splendid trip, but again, I wish it could have been longer. We only saw a small portion of the park, but I hope to go back someday and spend a couple of weeks exploring the rest of the park.

The next posting will be of the home stretch, through Canada and back into Alaska. Please feel free to share any comments or questions about our trip. We’d love to hear from you!

Take care, love one another, and God bless! – Amber & Christian

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Good morning all!

Christian and I camped out with some friends last night and stayed up really late, so I’m getting a late start this morning. Still re-adjusting to the Alaskan climate, though it is a little warmer than normal for this time of year here. After the 100+ degrees we went through in the deserts, 55F felt kind of chilly this morning. I think we’re getting ready to go into our fall rainy season soon.

Our arrival at the Grand Canyon brought a lot of ooh’s and ah’s, as the largeness of it all spread out before us. It was partly cloudy when we first arrived, and the shadows from the clouds caused the many colors in the canyon walls to change as the clouds moved overhead.

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We entered the park through the south entrance, and then drove all the way through to the end of the east side, stopping at almost every pullout and trail along the way.

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Many of the viewing areas do not have any hand rails, and there were some places where my vertigo kicked in, causing me to feel dizzy. I had to stay back from the edges in those areas. We were also up in elevation, which affected our breathing a little. But we took our time walking around and enjoying the scenery. There was a type of ground squirrel running around in several of the areas we visited. They blended in so well, it’s hard to see them in the pictures.

Grand Canyon squirrel

There were plenty of opportunities to see wildlife along the way, though some species were more allusive than others.

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One of the most impressive things about viewing the canyon were the many unique rock formations. Christian and I both have enjoyed rock collecting and learning about all the different types of rocks, and here we had the opportunity to learn about the different ways that rocks are formed and shaped.

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Evidence remains of a previous year’s wildfire, though new growth is taking hold again.

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The maps we were given for the park where a little obscure in their details. While looking for a certain trail, we took a wrong turn and got a little lost. We decided to make the most of it and stop for a lunch break. The hood of the car made a nice make-shift table top.

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After receiving several heavy rains, our first glimpse of the Colorado River was a bit muddy. But it was still cool thinking about how that river had carved all these amazing forms out of the rock cliffs.

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I found out that I’m not the only one bothered by heights.

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At the end of the park on the east side, our last stop was at Desert View Watchtower. We toured around the outside before going in and climbing to the top. It was quite educational learning about the earlier people of this region and their lifestyles. The tower was also a credit to the period’s architecture. It is a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower, built in 1932 and designed by Mary Colter.

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Walking through the tower made me feel like we had gone back in time.

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After we left the watch tower, we headed back to the center of the park to catch a tour bus to the west side. That side is not accessible by car, but the buses run every 15 minutes and drop you off at the designated stops. There are also trails you can hike as well.

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As we continued on our way down the western end of the park, we watched a storm rolling in from across the canyon.

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Shortly after this picture was taken, we began to see lightning strikes across the canyon. A park ranger was warning people that we should probably start heading back, away from the canyon rim. He said that lightning can strike from 10 miles away, and it can also jump from the metal hand rails we were standing next to. The storm was already at the north rim, less than 10 miles across from where we were.

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Christian was getting excited (and a little nervous) hearing the thunder and seeing some of the lightning strikes. We were almost at the end of the bus route, so we decided to make one more stop at the end of the line before heading back. It was a place called Hermit’s Rest. The building there had been turned into a little gift shop, so we went in to grab a few souvenirs. By the time we came out, the storm was almost on top of us. Lightning was hitting in the canyon on both rims.

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We stayed under the eave of one of the outbuildings for shelter, waiting for the last bus back to the village center. As the bus pulled in, several lightning strikes in a row hit, and we were all treated to a nice light show on the ride back. By the time we got back to the village center, it was pouring down rain. So we got soaked running from the bus stop to our car. Lightning was hitting all around us, so we stayed in the car and enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chips and enjoyed the show. We were all amused at getting to see 3 spectacular lightning storms in 3 nights.

After the lightning faded away, we drove on back through the park and exited out the east end. I drove on to the town of Cameron, where we stopped for gas and a nap.

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Our nap in Cameron only lasted a couple of hours, and I continued on driving north. We crossed the 3,000 mile mark shortly after leaving. Amy was kind enough to hold up the sign for me, though I don’t think she was overly happy about it. I guess some folks just aren’t early morning people. 🙂

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I let Amy and Christian sleep until just before sun up. By then we were on the north rim of the canyon. I’ll post more about that tomorrow. Right now I need to get some chores done, so I’ll sign off for now. I hope everyone has a wonderfully funtastic day! God bless – Amber & Christian

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Good morning!

As promised, here is the segment of our trip from Sedona and Flagstaff through to the Grand Canyon. I know God was watching over us, providing not only safety from the storms, but providing us with spectacular evidence of His splendor in the beauty of His creations.

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A little gecko perches on a rock, waiting for the sun

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The view driving through the town of Sedona

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Views on the way to Flagstaff

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A small tree finds a way up through the rocks

There was a place called Water Slide Park along the way to Flagstaff, where there was a naturally formed water slide. I had heard about it years before during a winter visit. It was too cold to go then, but since it was in the 100’s again, I thought it would be a good place to visit and cool off. Apparently every other tourist in the area had the same idea. By the time we got there, it was so full that we couldn’t get in. The parking area in the park itself was full to capacity, and there were more cars lined up along both sides of the road for at least a mile in each direction. People were walking along the road, looking for places to access the river and many more already in the water. It looked like a really fabulous place, but we just couldn’t get to it. The road is very narrow through this section, and between all the parked cars and people walking along the road, we used extreme caution driving through. I took a few pictures but they didn’t turn out well. There was no where to stop for pictures, and since we were moving, the ones I took turned out blurry.

Christian was pretty disappointed that we didn’t get to stop. He was really looking forward to the water slide and going swimming. I promised him that we would try to find a motel in Flagstaff with a swimming pool.

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We stopped at a few places along the way, enjoying the scenery, and at a U.S. Park for a brief history lesson of the area.

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We didn’t get to drive the whole road, but we did get to drive on it through Flagstaff! 🙂

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One of the beautiful old churches in Flagstaff

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Working off some pent up energy with a good arm wrestling match

As I had promised Christian, we got a motel with a swimming pool and a hot tub. So once we settled into our room, we went swimming. There were other children already there, and Christian quickly made some new friends. While the children played, Amy and I soaked our bones in the hot tub. It felt great to just relax in the hot water.

We hadn’t been there very long when we noticed dark skies in the distance. As the clouds got closer, we began to see lightning and hear thunder. We didn’t stay in the water very long after that. We ended up sitting in the motel room with the door open, being treated to another fantastic lightning storm. One strike hit so close, it made Amy and Christian jump over the bed. The storm continued for a couple of hours with heavy rain and lightning. Once the storm was over, we went to bed, ready for a good night’s sleep. We planned to get an early start since we knew we wanted a full day exploring the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff is only about an hour and a half away from the south entrance, so we were getting close.

Tomorrow I will continue with our journey into the Grand Canyon. Until then, I pray everyone has a great day filled with God’s love and sunshine! God bless – Amber & Christian

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Good morning! Well, our time here in Texas has been way too short, but it’s been great seeing my son and daughter-in-law. And of course, my grand kitties. 🙂 It’s been so hot, we haven’t been able to go out to do a whole lot, but we did go down to the Paluxy River at Big Rocks for a short venture. The river has gone dry there below the dam, so it looked very strange to me. I used to cross the river there at Big Rocks and climb up the cliffs down river after work. I’ve seen the water level high and low, but never completely dry before. But Christian still enjoyed climbing on the rocks for a while.

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Just below the dam

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Christian playing at Big Rocks

During our time here, we stopped by Rainbow Baptist Church, where my son Jason used to attend. His pastor, Don Caldwell, is now at another church, but the music director, Tim, still remembered Jason. We gave him a couple of copies of our book, Faith, Hope & Miracles and asked him to send a copy on to Pastor Caldwell. After the service, I took some pictures of the beautiful memorial garden the church put up for Jason.

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Even though there were some painful memories, it still brought comfort being there. I am thankful that Jason found Jesus, and had a wonderful and loving church family surrounding him. I was told that he touched many lives there, and in the community.

Christian also enjoyed playing video games and keeping cool in the air conditioning. Most of the time he had a little help.

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On our last evening here, I was finally able to get everyone together for a group picture before going out to dinner at Chili’s. We all ate too much, but enjoyed our time anyway.

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My family is a little goofy, but I love them!

After dinner, we stayed up most of the night talking and sharing funny stories and memories. I am not ready to leave yet, but we must be moving on to our next stop. I will miss Daniel & Tricia, but they are always close in my heart. I will post more updates when we reach Arizona.

Take care for now, and love one another. God bless! – Amber & Christian

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Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting, but our internet has been limited since we left Alaska.

We did have a wonderful time in VA, visiting with family and friends. The temperature was much hotter than we are used to, but we managed to stay cool most of the time. For the 4th of July we went out with my sister and her family to the Potomac River. Christian and I spent most of the day in the water, and got sunburned of course. Afterward we had a scrumptious dinner of shrimp, crab, burgers, etc. followed by fireworks on the beach.

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    The kids enjoyed being towed by the jet ski.

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  The fire works are about to begin.

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After our celebration of the 4th, we began getting things squared away for our trip south. Things did not go quite as planned with DMV, but we finally got things arranged and ready. It is always hard saying good bye, so instead it was “until next time”, and though the tears were not in my eyes, they were in my heart.

As we began the trip south, we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while. In all the years I had lived in Virginia, I had never been on it before. It is quite a beautiful drive. We stopped several times along the way for pictures and a quick lunch.

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After stopping to visit a few friends along the way, we pushed on into Tennessee and through several thunderstorms. We continued on into the night, finally stopping at a rest area for a quick nap. We crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas around midnight of the second night, and into Texas around 10:00 am, finally arriving at my son Daniel’s house around 4:30 pm, a total of 51 hours and 1400 miles after beginning the journey. We were exhausted, but glad to be here.

We will be spending the next few days here, and then onto Arizona. I will post more pictures and updates before we leave.

I hope and pray that everyone is doing well and staying safe. Hugs to you all and God bless. – Amber & Christian

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(After a long night of 2 flights, Christian catches a 2 hour nap at Dallas-Fort Worth airport on our way to Virginia.)

 

Good morning everyone! I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. A lot has happened this year already, some good, some not so good. I don’t want to cause sadness, so I’ll skip the bad and go onto the good.

Christian and I have started out on an adventure for the summer. We have started with a 24 hour trip through 4 airports and bumpy flights from Alaska to Washington to Texas to Virginia, followed by tracking down our luggage. But I am happy to say that we finally arrived safely in Virginia and are with family now.

Our plan is to visit here for about 10 days, and then we will begin a nationwide road trip. We have specific stops planned along the way (God willing), and plan to arrive back home in Alaska around the end of July.

I am starting this post as a record of our journey. I will be adding updates as our trip progresses. Hopefully, it will be entertaining and we hope that you all will enjoy following our adventures. We also ask that you keep us in prayers for safe travels, and thank you in advance. Hugs to you all, and God bless! – Amber & Christian

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