Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Latest 5/22

Not a whole lot going on today.  We overslept this morning by about 2 hours, but that still left us an hour to get out of the motel before checkout time

.  We left the quaint and picturesque community of Mariposa at about 11 a.m., had lunch in Merced (at Wendy’s, for you detail junkies), and then headed north.

Our one scheduled stop was in Corning at the Olive Pit.  I had already alerted Sharla to the fact that it was a lot smaller than the ads along the road would lead you to believe, but it was even smaller than normal due to construction.  In any case, we bought some olive oil and a few other items, and then hit the road again.

We stopped in Mt. Shasta for dinner at the Black Bear, and it was pretty good.  They had one waitress for about 12 good sized tables, but she did a wonderful job, and was able to fix the small issues we had.

We finally stopped for the night in Ashland.  We will (Lord willing) be home in the afternoon tomorrow.

Keep praying!

Love to all,

Pastor Will & Sharla

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The Latest 5/21

Sharla & I left Barstow this morning after a wonderful night’s rest and headed up the east side of the Sierra Nevada to the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  Very warm, but the mountains were right there, nearly close enough to touch, including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States.

One of the “cool” things that we did on the way was to stop at a Jerky Shop that had been advertized for over 100 miles before we got there.  (“Great Jerky 100 miles ahead”…”Great Jerky 50 miles ahead”…”Great Jerky 20 miles ahead”…well, you get the idea!)  By the time we got there I was having cravings for jerky for some reason!  So when we got there, we stopped and went in.  The store itself is really small – just a little bigger than my living room at home – and there was very little in the store; just three kinds of jerky (shrink wrapped for freshness), a few different kinds of nuts, and a few kinds of dried fruit.  Anyway, we bought some o

f the regular jerky and took it with us – a total stop time of about 3 minutes. (The jerky was fine – not the best I ever had, but definitely better than the dessicated stuff that you get in most stores.)

The approach to Yosemite from the east is over Tioga Pass (top altitude right at the entry gate:  9,975 feet!), and climbs about 5000 feet out of the desert into pine trees and two feet of snow along both sides of the road in about 15 minutes.  We were greeted by the ranger at the gate (our pass and id was already in my hand) with her saying, “I’m closed, so go on in!”  (Interesting!)  so we just headed on in.  For quite a while we drove along with things looking just like a spring drive in the Cascades.  Then we stopped at a pull-out where we could see the Yosemite Valley, and the view was spectacular. It is all formations made of granite in various shades of gray.  There was Half Dome and a few other peaks that I couldn’t identify.

From there we drove along the valley with no other views of these landmarks, finally turning into the entrance to the Valley itself.  Driving along the Merced River (which I mistakenly thought was the “Yosemite River”, which doesn’t exist!), we came to several pullouts and overlooks, and the view was amazing from all of them.  There are several waterfalls that make Multnomah Falls look like a leaky faucet – I’m talking a more than 1000 foot drop straight down!  We drove by El Capitan, and then arrived at the Village and a very nicely done Visitor Center.  We took in the sights for aobut 3 hours, and then drove an hour to get to a little town called Mariposa, about 30 miles away from the park, where we are spending the night.  By the way, this is a small town, which means that it was a bit of a trick finding something to eat after 9 at night – everything’s closed!  (We finally found a Chinese restaurant who was open for 10 more minutes, so we ordered some Mandarin Chicken, Chicken Chow Mein, and Fried Pork Fried Rice, to go.  The food was fair [Chan’s of Dundee is DEFINITELY better by a long way], but it satisfied our hungries.

Tomorrow we are headed for the valley, and then north toward home (we have to be back in town by evening time, day after tomorrow).  Stopping place uncertain at this point, but we probably WON’T get all the way home tomorrow.

Keep praying!

Love to all,

Pastor Will & Sharla

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The Lastest 5/20

Sharla and I started fairly early this morning for parts west.  We stopped for just a few minutes (or so we thought) at Hoover Dam, and ended up taking the tour of the powerplant, the turbines, and the dam itself.  The visitor center is very well set up, with lots of helpful people to tell you (numerous times) where you need to be 15 minutes before your tour starts.

The tour was very interesting.  Only about half our of group of 40 had signed up for the WHOLE tour (which includes walking through 2 tunnels in the dam itself), and we were set apart by plastic yellow hardhats (that weren’t really all that hard, but they were definitely all that yellow!).  At the appropriate time in the turbine room those without yellow hats had to go back upstairs, while those us us who did have the correctly colored hats were ushered into the dam.

Hoover Dam was built between 1931 and 1935, and is 700+ feet tall, 45 feet thick at the top, widening to over 660 feet wide at the base!  It is honeycombed with tunnels and ventillation shafts (some of which we walked through).  We actually got to look out through a ventillation vent cover from the inside that is 260 feet up on the face of the dam.  On the way over to it we had to walk across a 10 foot long metal grill that covered a 300 foot deep tunnel straight down under our feet.  The grid was pretty coarse, and you could easily see all the way down as you walked across it; pretty spooky.  One lady couldn’t bring herself to walk across.

At the other end of one of the inspection tunnels (which they use to keep track of the hundreds of small cracks that are in the concrete walls of the dam, just to make sure that they don’t get any wider), was a stairway up that they called “The Stairway to Heaven” (400 feet up in one narrow curving flight at a 58 degree angle), and right across from it was “The Stairway to Hell” (which goes down 311 feet in one narrow curving flight at a 58 degree angle).  While I was looking down the Stairway to Hell, tragedy struck:  my yellow hardhat slid from my head and came to rest about 5 feet below me in an alcove, beyond my reach to recover.  But they let me finish the tour after all (I guess they don’t like leaving tourists up in the dam!).

After the tour, (3 1/2 hours after we arrived)

Sharla and I started down the road, and decided to stop at Barstow, out in the desert west of Las Vegas.  Tomorrow we plan to take the backcountry highway to Yosemite and then head for the Sacramento Valley.

Thanks for your prayers!

Love to all,

Pastor Will & Sharla

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The Latest 5/19

Sharla and I were up quite early this morning and back to the Grand Canyon to do the west side of the park. We started off by hiking 1 1/2 miles down the Bright Angel trail to the first stop called (one would think appropriately enough) Mile and a Half House.  The problem is, it’s not a house – it’s actually a set of pit toilets and an outside water spigot!  But it was welcome enough when we got there.  In that mile and a half we had descended 1200 feet from the rim and were seeing things from a whole different angle.  (We even had to stand aside for three different mule trains that were coming up from the bottom of the canyon.)

Of course, now that we had gotten there we had to go back up!  Gaining 1200 feet in a mile and a half doesn’t sound like all that much, but let me tell you, it’s STEEP!  We went slowly and steadily, stopping to rest for 2 or 3 minutes about 6 times, but we made it!  Quite an accomplishment.  Next year we want to take a mule train all the way down to the bottom and spend the night at Phantom Ranch.  We’ll see what happens.

Our next expedition after a relaxed lunch was to walk and ride down the rim trail, which extends about 9 miles west of Grand Canyon Village, and is as far west as a person can go in the Canyon without rafting down the river.  We hiked a little over a mile altogether and rode the free shuttle the rest of the way.  After reaching the last viewpoint

, called Hermit’s Rest, we doubled back to Mojave Overlook to watch the sunset over the canyon.  Very windy, a little chilly, but quite spectacular.  After the sun was down, a shuttle bus took us back to the Village.  We have now had dinner and are getting ready to bed down for the night – very tired, but very full of experiences.

My cough is better today, and so is my little toe!

Tomorrow we are headed to Hoover Dam, and then most likely on to California.

Love to all,

Pastor Will & Sharla

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The Latest 5/18

Well, after I wrote last night, Sharla and I made it back to our room.  As I took off my boots I suddenly discovered why I had been limping so markedly all day!  Earlier in the morning I had kicked the suitcase with my right little toe and, after walking and leaping and praising God a little bit, I had stuffed the foot, sore toe and all into my boot for the day.  When I took the boot off, I discovered that my little toe was badly swollen, and at least 3 colors of purple!  I think I broke it!  Anyway, it was some better today – moderately happy in my boot for the short walks that we took.

We hit the road about noon Navajo time (see yesterday’s blog for the explanation on that), and headed for the Grand Canyon, with a few stops along the way, to sightsee or to do a little shopping at the roadside stands.  (I actually prefer to buy Indian crafts from those kinds of places instead of the visitor centers.  We are often able to talk with the person who actually made the item, and sometimes they will even sign them.)  One of the stops was the Little Colorado Gorge, which is a steep, 1000 foot deep gorge that attaches to the Grand Canyon.  If it wasn’t for the Grand Canyon being so close, this gorge would be a major tourist spot.  Anyway, Sharla actually stood right on the edge to where she was looking 1000 feet straight down past her feet!  (She doesn’t like heights, and a lot of this trip and the climbing and hiking has been a challenge that she has done marvellously with!)

(By the way, in case you don’t know the difference between a canyon and a gorge [I didn’t before today], I overheard one of the tour guides tell his group that a gorge is deeper than it is wide, while a canyon is wider than it is deep.  There’s your trivia for today – no extra charge!)

We made it to the Grand Canyon under thickening thunderclouds and looked over from all of the overlooks.  There was just the right amount of haze to soften the countours, make the colors stand out nicely, and give you a really good sense of perspective and distance.  We also got to hear a LOT of different languages being spoken all around us – people from all over the world were at the canyon today.

Tomorrow we are going to get an early start and hike about a mile and a half down the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon, do a bit of the rim trail, and go back to a couple of our favorite viewpoints to see them in better light.  Then…we’re not sure yet, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see where we end up.

By the way, I slept all through the night last night WITHOUT MEDICATION, and woke feeling very rested (a HUGE improvement since the start of this cold), and Sharla slept better, too.  Still coughing, but not nearly so often or so hard.  Thank you all for your prayers – God is good!

Love to all,

Pastor Will &

Sharla

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The Latest 5/17

Hey, y’all!

What a day!  It has been in the high 80’s with LOTS of blue sky.

Church in Cortez Colorado this morning was VERY good.  We found a vital congregati0n of around 90 with lots of involved kids and youth.  This morning they celebrated their five graduating seniors, including a pot luck to help them to celebrate.  (We didn’t stay.)  Worship was good, and the message from the youth pastor was heartfelt and quite good.

As they say in the old joke, “A funny thing happened on the way to the Grand Canyon.”  Shortly after we left Cortez, we saw a sign for a place called Hovenweep (a Navajo word meaning Deserted Valley) that Sharla had read about and had talked about wanting to see.  It looked to be only about 9 miles away based on the GPS, but it was actually closer to 40 and had us worried a few times that we were lost.  (Lots of backroads, narrow, unlined, through open prairieland, stuff like that).  But eventually we arrived and took a 2 mile hike around the place looking at a lot of stone buildings dated between 1100 and 1300 AD.  Very interesting!

After leaving Hovenweep we drove through some gorgeous red sandstone country on the Navajo Land, including a stop at Four Corners (and yes, we have the picture of both Sharla and I in four places at once all at the same time!)  We had some Navajo Flatbread, bought a few souveniers, looked up Bahazhonie, a Navajo friend of mine who sells his wares there, and then headed for our night’s stop at Kayenta, only about 2 hours away from Cortez, and still 3 hours or so from the Grand Canyon.

The reason for the change was that we noticed in a book that Kayenta is about 20 miles south of a place called Monument Valley, full of all kinds of interesting rock formations, many of which were made famous in old movie westerns.  So we hit town and headed north.  We drove for a little over an hour around Monument Valley on rutted dirt roads that were pretty exciting at times.  (I actually high centered the car on one good sized rock for a second!)  We took lots of pictures (too bad we can only upload about 6 of them – we’ll have to show you the rest when we get home), some of which are spectacular, and drove out after dark.  It was a relief to get back on paved road, I can tell you!

We headed back to Kayenta, grabbed a burger at McD’s, and checked into our motel.  Right this minute Sharla and I are sitting in the parking lot waiting for our laundry to finish so we can get to bed.  (No chairs in the laundry room.)

A couple of interesting facts:  Navajo Land, what used to be known as the Navajo Reservation, is actually a sovereign area that levies its own taxes AND goes on daylight savings time while the rest of Arizona opts out.  (I’m writing this at 10:28 p.m. Arizona time, and 11:28 p.m. Navajo Land Time!)

My cold is pretty much the same.  A pretty lousy night, but not to bad a day, just an occasional cough, but around sundown I started coughing like crazy and my right eye started running again!  Very frustrating!

Keep praying!  God is good, and His creation is BEAUTIFUL!

Love to all,

Pastor Will & Sharla

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The Latest for 5/16

We spent today in Mesa Verde.  I have to admit that I had only ever seen pictures of on

e “cliff dwelling” that was there, and wasn’t sure that there would be enough to see to take the whole day (which was okay with both of us, because we are both running a little empty on energy!).  But there is a LOT more to see there than we had time for.

Of course the cliff dwellings are amazing.  We actually toured the one called the “Cliff Palace,” which had 150 rooms and a population of 100-120 at its peak.  When you realize that these dwellings were abandoned over 700 years ago and are still mostly standing, it’s pretty stunning.  Anyway, on these tours you are accompanied right into the cliff dwellings by a ranger who gives a lot of very interesting historical information.  But you’re right there, able to reach out and touch these sandstone block structures that have been held together with nothing more than clay, sand, water and a little ash.  (That’s what they made the mortar out of, as near as they can tell.)  As you drive around the top of the mesa, there are several overlooks from which you can see still more cliff dwelling communities.  Turns out they are all over the place up there, and they all apparently got together for festivals and such.

The climb down to the Cliff Palace was a little unnearving – you have to go down several very steep stairways cut into the sheer sandstone wall as well as squeeze yourself through a few passageways that are only 18 inches wide.  But it was very much worth it.

After a brief stop for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant (which was pretty good), we are back in our motel in Cortez for the night (unless I can talk Sharla into a pre-bedtime ice cream cone!).  Tomorrow we are going to church with the local Nazarenes (we drove by the church this morning, so we know where it’s at), and then we are likely to head for the Grand Canyon via Four Corners.

(By the way, no real change on the cold.  I must admit to being very tired of coughing!)

More tomorrow!

Love to all.

Pastor Will & Sharla

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