Not Our Usual Kind of Vacation

 

 

Lunch break at a rest area in Utah

My Presence will go with you. Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

Twenty-seven days. Fifteen states. Nearly 7,000 miles and 2,623 pictures. Vacation 2017 wasn’t a “rest and recharge” escape—the kind we prefer. Rather, it was a “see as much as you can in the four weeks you have” journey. A definite move out of our comfort zone.

And see we did! Glacier National Park. Mount Rainier. Mount St. Helens. The Space Needle. The rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Indian reservations.

We toured visitor’s centers and museums. We watched video clips and hiked paths to waterfronts and mountaintops. Our F-150 pulled our 29-foot fifth-wheel camper 17 miles up Hurricane Ridge Road in Olympic National Park—a narrow, steep, winding mountain road.

Lesson Number 1: If you want to experience the thrill of the mountaintop, you have to take the risk and climb the mountain.

Gondola ride up Whitefish Mountain

We took a gondola ride up Whitefish Mountain in Montana—elevation 6,817 feet above sea level. We ate seafood at Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56 then rode the Seattle Great Wheel—a gigantic Ferris wheel rising 175 feet over Elliott Bay.

The Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle

Yes, I, with my fear of heights, rode both the ski lift and the Great Wheel. (It helped that we rode in an enclosed gondola both times.) My fear dissipated, and I loved every minute of it!

Let me back up here for a minute. When we pulled into the parking lot at Whitefish Mountain Resort, I took one look at the ski lift gliding up the mountain, cars suspended high over the ski-slope-turned-mountain-bike-trail, and I told Dean, “No way.”

Then I noticed that some of the cars were enclosed.

“I can do this,” I told myself. And I did. I pushed away that fear of heights and had a marvelous ride to the top, where the panoramic view was spectacular.

Lesson Number 2: Don’t let fear stop you from experiencing unique adventures. Remember me and the footlog bridges in Smoky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago?

As we cruised along the scenic routes (“sped” is more like it—but we were traveling with two other couples, who had motorhomes and lead feet), I was amazed at the diverse terrains and in awe of their Creator: waterfalls cascading down rocky cliffs; snow-capped mountain peaks; glacier-green lakes, rivers, and streams gushing through lush green valleys; forests of lodge pole pines pointing to heaven; craggy peaks jutting into a cloud-studded blue sky; feather wisp clouds crowning mountaintops; the brown, barren, treeless, desert-like landscape of eastern Washington state.

Lesson Number 3: Don’t take the scenic route at 60 mph. Slow down and inhale the scent of pine and honeysuckle, listen to the waves rustling to shore, taste the local cuisine, inspect the wildflowers growing by the roadside and wonder what they are, and enjoy the view you’ll probably never get to see again.

Oh, so much packed in 27 days! I could spend 27 months—27 years—in the Pacific Northwest and still not see everything there is to see.

Lesson Number 4: Isn’t that like our life journey? Don’t waste a minute of your sojourn on earth.

I want to share my experiences with you, dear readers. (Some of you followed our journey as I chronicled it on Facebook.)

So over the next several weeks—and perhaps months—I’ll be writing about different aspects of our trip, stops along the way, the adventures and misadventures (yes, there were a few of those!), and how God was there every mile of the way, blessing us with His presence, His protection, and His provision.

So, tune in next week for a close-up look at Vacation 2017.

Oh, Triune God, what a beautiful world You have created for us! Open our eyes to see You in everything around us. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalms 8 and 19.

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Expectations

 

View from our campsite along the Maple River in Michigan, October 2016
View from our campsite along the Maple River in Michigan, October 2016

 

“We can’t see the road ahead, so we must take it as it comes, not as we wish it would be” (Our Daily Bread, 10/20/16).

  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Every year my husband and I spend weeks getting ready for our annual weeklong fall camping trip. Dean works on the camper and the truck, and packs the man things (tools and that kind of stuff), while I plan our destination, route, activities, and meals, as well as clean the camper and pack all the food and clothes.

This year, I spent the three days prior to our departure preparing meals for 10 days on the road so that all we’d have to do was “heat and eat.”

My plan was to read, relax, and recharge, so I crammed a large tote bag with the stack of magazines and books I’d saved to read, and downloaded several novels on my Kindle. I envisioned myself reading while Dean drove, and spending hours plopped in a chair by the campfire, lost in a world of words.

And since we both love to hike, I researched the trails in the areas where we’d be camping.

The plan was to spend a weekend at a campground in Fancy Gap, Va., with our daughter, Jaime, and her family, then drive to Michigan to visit our son, who’d moved there at the end of last year.

So, did everything go according to plan?

Of course not.

First, there was the drenching rain for the first two days, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. But not to worry. I’d packed plenty of games, and our campsite had cable TV.

But when sun finally came out on Sunday, I couldn’t go hiking with Dean, Jaime, and Adam because I had to keep my leg elevated for 24 hours. I’d stumbled into the metal step to the camper Saturday evening, which warranted a trip to the ER 20 miles away and seven stitches.

Then, there was road fatigue.

Whatever was I thinking when I planned the trip? By the end of the two-day drive from Virginia to Michigan—on roads we were totally unfamiliar with—I was road weary, cranky, and sore. Since the route we took was new, I couldn’t enjoy the sights or read. I had to be the navigator. It’s a wonder we’re still married.

We did have a lovely campsite along the lazy Maple River in Michigan—and, because our stay was through the week during the fall, we had the campground to ourselves. But there weren’t any trails to hike. And even if there had been, we couldn’t have gone because Dean’s knee, which he wrenched at the end of August, was too painful.

On Sunday morning, we headed for Pennsylvania in a downpour, arriving home nine hours later—after 10 days, five states, and 1,880 miles.

Was I disappointed in the trip?

Not at all. I’ve learned the difference, you see, between plans and expectations. A plan is a detailed scheme about what you want (or plan) to do. An expectation, on the other hand, is a belief  you’ll achieve something.

See the difference? We planned our trip and prepared for it, but I didn’t set any expectations. I let the trip unfold before us, moment by moment—and the unexpected became an adventure of discovery instead of a disappointment.

On the journey of life, I’ve learned, if you want to be happy, don’t expect anything, except to expect God to work His sovereign will in your life. Plan, prepare, pray—then leave the rest in His hands.

Thank You, Father, that You travel with us on this journey called life. Amen.