Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Canyonlands National Park

Monday, August 13th, 2018

canyonlands-national-park

When our family arrived at the top of one of the overlooks at Canyonlands National Park in Utah, we could see an immense canyon with bizarre red outcroppings jutting out of the ground. The summer heat penetrated our skin as we took in the beautiful panorama.

canyonlands

Canyonlands is a desert area, with flat-topped outcroppings that are striped with layers of sedimentary rock. The layers in the distance look purple and blue, making me want to paint the scene with oil paints on canvas. Or maybe a watercolor would bring out the soft hues in the rocks. I didn’t have any art supplies on hand, but we snapped over a hundred pictures. These were my favorites:

canyon

If you ever wondered what a butte looked like, here is a gorgeous picture of one. It seems strange that erosion wouldn’t have flattened the structure by now, since the surrounding area is so much lower. It looks unreal.

canyonlands-tops

This is an area known as “The Needles,” because the rocks jut up in needle-like structures, standing up like an army in the middle of an empty battlefield.

canyon-edge

The edge of the cliff reminds me of cartoons of Wile E Coyote, who chased Roadrunner through deserts like this, only to find himself falling off the cliff–often with an anvil rather than a parachute.

I liked how the tree grew near the edge, allowing people to sit in the shade to enjoy the view.

sitting-on-rock

Here I am sitting on a rock in the sun, from a different vantage point. (I would be paying for it later through a bright red suntan.) I slid the red dirt between my fingers and marveled at how different it was from the stark white sand we saw at White Sands National Park earlier in the week.

canyon-alan

My husband Alan is pictured here in front of a super interesting formation called “Island in the Sky.” From up above in a helicopter, you would see a blob like an amoeba carved into the ground like a ginormous cookie cutter. A river runs through the area.

canyonlands-tree

Gnarly trees like this one grow in this desert area, giving a small amount of shade from the intense heat.

canyonlands-plants

Most of the plants are lower to the ground, and they are sparser the further down the canyon you go–except for the river area, where you will find strips of green along the water.

canyon-view

You’ve really got to see this in person to get the full magnitude of the giant-ness of everything. Looking down from different angles at the beautiful rock formations is truly a breathtaking experience!

Making Sand Angels (White Sands National Park)

Monday, August 6th, 2018

making-sand-angels

I laughed when I saw my son making sand angels when we visited White Sands National Park in New Mexico. We were on our way to Canyonlands National Park, so we only spent about an hour playing in the sand, which was ultra fine and starkly white.

We took off our shoes and left footprints in the sand. The wind made ripples that made the sand look other-worldly. I felt like I was walking on the moon.

footprints-in-white-sand

My oldest son lay down and flapped his arms up and down in the sand to create a sand angel. He must have felt like the white sand resembled snow. Apparently the sand is made of white gypsum. This national park is the largest deposit of gypsum sand in the world.

sand-angel

Not very much grows in this sand; it’s kind of like a desert. In fact, there are lizards and other desert animals hiding in the dry shrubs.

white-sands-park

It definitely looks like another world. It’s silent except for the wind blowing on the sand.

white-sands-couple

Here’s a picture with my husband at White Sands National Park.

grass-tuft-in-white-sand

Here is a weird shrub on an outcropping. It looks like an enormous chia pet.

white-sand

You can see how bizzare this place looks. Its unusual white sand makes it a unique place to visit, and my kids loved it!

Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye

Monday, January 29th, 2018

missionary-kid-book

I have to admit that John Haines’ book about being a missionary kid is better than mine, so if you’re only going to buy one, buy his. Many of you have read mine, which was written from the point of view of a child. His point of view is of an adult looking back with nostalgia and wistfulness at what once was. I like the processing that he went through in a humorous, stream-of-consciousness style. If I ever re-write my own book, I will stop and philosophize from time to time like he did. The memoir of his life made me laugh and cry as I relived my own experiences.

I hadn’t even finished the prologue when I got a lump in my throat and wanted to cry.  It seems that we MK’s have explosively deep emotions that are buried out of sight like land mines. In the book, his land mine was set off by seeing a Moroccan woman who looked so much like his maid/nanny when he was young. It was like he imprinted on her like a mother figure, and then when he moved away from Morocco and hadn’t seen her for decades, he went back as an adult, and the familiar face triggered all the childhood memories. This set off an overwhelming sensation, almost as if he was re-united with his mother for the first time in years.

So I knew by page 4 that I was going to enjoy doing this review, which I agreed to do for compensation. It was the most emotionally satisfying review I’ve done. I wrote notes all over the margins as I pondered why I felt a certain way about what the author was saying (whether grief, laughter, empathy, or whatever emotion was evoked).

The personality (or voice) behind the writing had a detached bluntness and humor combined with the friendliness of a tour guide telling someone the way things are for missionary kids. This is not a religious book, and it is written to believers, unbelievers, and what he calls “innocent ones.” Each category is sometimes addressed separately. The “innocent ones” are not Christians, but they are not against Christians either, so they are taking in the story as impartial recipients.

The author is blunt about everything he experienced as a missionary kid, so I believe that MK’s especially will love the book because he says things with shocking honesty that we would never dare say at the time we were on the mission field.

There was so much MK humor in the book. For example, he mentions “lists of three being a feature of the sermons I grew up on,” and “What better home for an uprooted missionary kid than a boarding school full of missionary kids?” That second quote is from the chapter describing his interesting boarding school experiences.

Many pearls of MK wisdom were tossed out at us throughout the book. Here’s one: “Wandering like the Children of Israel in a land that was not ours, we never got to stop and savor one of life’s most priceless commodities: friends.” As you can see, he uses the language of someone who grew up with what I call church language, and he says things that are profound in a boy-next-door kind of way. The topic itself has poignancy because we constantly had to say good-bye to our friends. Hence the title: Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye.

The book ended in a satisfying way as he returned to the lands of his childhood. I believe that every missionary kid should go back to their motherland at some point in their adult lives to be able to come full circle and heal from all the unresolved grief of having to say good-bye so much in our lives. Last year I did just that, and I felt a sense of completion. I too felt that I had finally come home.

To grab a copy of the book, click here.

Tour of Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, August 28th, 2017

tour-of-panajachel-guatemala

Another highlight of our trip was our tour of Panajachel, Guatemala. Growing up as a missionary kid, my family used to go to Panajachel once or twice a year to rest. The mission had a property that could be used for missionaries and other Christian workers. I loved this time we had as a family–without television and phones–to connect through conversation and card games.

Tour of Panajachel, Guatemala (video)

We ended up going on another boat ride to Santiago, which is right across the lake. This was the only lake town I ever visited as a child, so it was fun to go on the longer boat ride a few days before with my friend Christie’s family. Each town is unique and beautiful in its own way.

Guatemala is famous for its volcanoes, and Lake Atitlán is surrounded by them! Here is a picture of my family in front of a volcano:

family-panajachel

The lake reflects the blue of the sky, and it is tranquil until the late afternoon winds. As a child, I would sit on an inner tube, waiting for a boat to come by and make some waves.

lake-atitlan-guatemala

Through the clear water on the shore you can see pebbles and rocks, which is why we wore flip-flops when entering the water. When I was a kid, I would collect different-colored rocks and seashells along the shore.

rocks-at-panajachel

We walked through Panajachel and realized that the town has grown in size and become more commercial, especially along the lake shore. It used to be that there were no shops on the shore of the lake. Now there are several rows of shops and restaurants crammed along the entire length of the shore, sometimes on stilts.

market-panajachel

Each of the places we stopped had many booths filled with typical Guatemalan cloth and souvenirs. Shopping at Guatemalan markets is fun because you are able to bargain with them about the price. If you have white skin, people think you are rich, so they start the price higher than what they are expecting you to pay. If you think the price is too much, you can offer a more reasonable price.

panajachel-panorama

When leaving Panajachel, you must stop along the mountain and take pictures because the natural beauty of the area is breathtaking! This was a wonderful conclusion to our Guatemala Adventure!

Did you miss our previous Guatemala Adventure posts?

  1. Our Guatemala Adventure
  2. Río Dulce Boat Ride
  3. Tour of San Felipe Castle, Guatemala
  4. Tour of Tikal, Guatemala
  5. Tour of Flores, Guatemala
  6. Tour of Cobán, Guatemala
  7. Coffee Plantation Zipline Tour
  8. Meeting Our Compassion Child in Guatemala
  9. SETECA Seminary, Guatemala
  10. Tour of Antigua, Guatemala
  11. Lake Atitlán Boat Ride

To follow my MK posts and musings, like my Missionary Kid page. And if you love to read about missionary kids, buy the book!

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