A Thanksgiving Road Trip

I’ve been all over the world, but our road trip in August and September is in the top ten.  Marilyn and I drove 3500 miles in several weeks.

Well, actually, Marilyn drove every mile, because she totally loves to drive and totally hates my driving.

After spending a few days with our daughter, Shari, and her family in Colorado Springs, we drove the perimeter of the vast state of Wyoming.  It has total population roughly equivalent the number of people in Mesa.   A half million.

Marilyn 'n me at Old Faithful Lodge

We traveled west from Cheyenne to Yellowstone, through the National Park into Montana.  To the Little Big Horn battle site of Custer’s Last Stand.  To Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Rushmore was less a rush than I expected.  I mean, you drive for hours to the iconic monument. Park in a multilevel, concrete parking garage.  Fight your way though crowds of sweaty people.  Take a few photos, and drive home.  Oh, it’s amazing, and we’re happy to say “been there,” but Rushmore was anticlimactic after visiting Yellowstone.

The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone are extraordinary.  Fabulous vistas.  Violent vents of steam and sulfur.  And wonderful wildlife:  moose, elk and buffalo.  Between us and one those shaggy beasts grazing less than an hundred yards away was a sign:

Stay away!
Buffalo are dangerous.
They look big and clumsy,
but they can run
three times faster than you can.

Did I mention bear?  We saw those, too.  Along with a crowd of people standing along the highway and peering though binoculars at brown specks creeping across a distant mountain slope.

A visit to the Tetons and Yellowstone is visual overload.  Somewhere, along one of the park roads, maybe at seven or eight thousand feet, I had a God-thought.  A miracle of creation as significant as the marvels of our National Parks is our capacity simply to see–and to value what we are seeing.  To feel the creation.  The wind, the crisp air, the sounds and silence of the forest.  To bathe our minds and emotions in indescribable beauty.  To experience wonder and awe.

I read one time about a Christian believer who was spending a day with her friend, not a believer.  On a hike together on a bright, glorious day, her friend burst out, “Oh, I’m so grateful!”  For nature, of course.  But why grateful?  Where does that come from?  And more importantly, grateful to Whom?

For me, Yellowstone is a place of wild excitement where I found myself thanking God, not only for shimmering snow on the steely slopes of the Tetons, shining through a sunny, misty storm, but that I could be there!  Thinking about it!  Lovin’ it.

Tetons in the Rain (Photo from my Droid)

Psalm 19 proclaims:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard.

Next time you get out of town to see something amazing, thank God for it.  Then thank him that you can see it, hear it, feel it, touch it, ponder it, enjoy it, love it.

Come to think of it, that’s how I feel about my wife, Marilyn.  My children.  My grandchildren.  My extended family.  All the wonderful people God has brought into my life.  The churches I’ve been visiting, where scores, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people gather to worship the God of Creation who is also the God of our salvation.

O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
       You have set your glory
       above the heavens....
When I consider your heavens,
       the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars,
       which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him....
       the son of man that you care for him?
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