Saturday, August 15, 2015


souvenirs are kind of a funny concept. literal, tangible things kept from an experience. something to remember it by. (as if I don't think about it enough already.) it's all paper and rocks. things with no real value or power or significance, when you think about it. there are billions, countless amounts of paper and rocks on this great big earth but these! paper and rocks that rush memories and feelings of wonder and fear and joy through my fingertips when I touch them. they mean more to me than any piece of paper or any small rock should. it's a blessing to have bits from this little journey to hold and see and share, to remind me of such a neat time, my road-home and bus family. thankful for all of it. the most special souvenirs are not the ones that were bought but instead the ones that were found on the ground, the messes of words written down quickly, and - of course - the photographs. I decided to also document this trip through color; making swatches of dominant or unique colors seen in each park. maybe someday I'll use this guide to decorate my house.

"Here’s to your bright eyes
shining like fireflies
these are my souvenirs
the memory of a lifetime
we were wide-eyed with everything
everything around us
we were enlightened by everything

- switchfoot

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


In the middle of the night, the movement of the bus startled me awake. It was a curious feeling; almost-but-not-quite-like the way it feels when you drive really fast over a bump in the road, or lift off of the ground in an airplane. My eyes opened but it seemed like I was still dreaming. I was inside a bus, on a ferry, floating in the pacific ocean. what? It was dark and we couldn't see outside from the top bunk, anyhow, so I shut my eyes again, disoriented and amazed. We spent the next day sea kayaking, which ended up being one of my very favorite experiences of the trip.

On the island we met Robbie. He became a constant stranger-friend throughout the day, everywhere we went he was there, too. He carried SO much joy and wonder in his spirit. The kind that's contagious. Throughout the day he had his guitar around his neck, strumming and singing at the top of his lungs. On our ferry ride leaving, he was talking about something and all of a sudden asked, "are ya spiritual?!"; before we could answer we were all singing Sweet Chariot at the top of our lungs, too. 
Mid-verse he threw his hands up and exclaimed, 

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Zion captured me completely. I remember when we began to approach the park, our eyes peering out of the window with wonder. Most of us knew next-to-nothing about the place, going in with open minds and no expectations was special when we finally got to see it. The mountains displayed an entirely new character from anything we were familiar with. Everyone on the bus was scrambling around trying to get a better view. Looking out at checkerboard mesa made me feel like I was on another planet, and we got to drive through t h e b e s t tunnel; cut into a mountain, with windows throughout it. 
Desert bighorn sheep greeted us just before the gate.
On day one we hiked along a fairly short trail to a waterfall, stopping just about every five minutes to learn about a new plant someone found, or weather patterns, or mountain formation. We split up into smaller groups and explored the park some more on our own. It started to rain on us and we were so giddy, every once and a while just looking around and laughing in disbelief (the good kind.) Matthew, Eva, and I tried to hike to a place called The Grotto. We kept walking for a while and couldn't seem to find it..later realizing that The Grotto was just a scenic trail that led nowhere other than a shuttle bus stop. We got on the next bus to ride back to our campsite. I cried at a cheesy audio clip they were playing of a Native American talking about Zion and how God made these creations for us to care for and enjoy, and took videos of rain on the window.
We camped in Zion in the rain, our first night in tents. I slept way better than I did in the claustrophobic bus nights prior. Our day had no schedule, we had freedom to explore however we liked. I joined Eva and Margaret to hike Angel's Landing. I was so nervous. Someone had pointed out the top the day before, and the height of completely exposed rocks with nothing on either side but a 1,500ft drop-off made my stomach turn - but it made me really excited, too. So I went. We took it slowly, soaking in this place, stopping to yell and sing into the echoing canyon like kids, talking to chipmunks, climbing in little caves carved into the rock, or shedding or putting on layers because we couldn't decide if we were cold or hot, and the weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be rainy or sunny. When we got to the 'scary part' my confidence wavered; if Eva wasn't there to tell me to stop being dumb I probably would have turned around. (She didn't tell me I was dumb. But essentially that was the message and I was convinced to keep going. I'm thankful for her fearlessness that balances my timidity.)
The thing about Angel's Landing is that it takes your full attention; not only does it challenge your physical ability, but also reaches out and grabs your emotions, and requires that you think carefully through every step. It consumes your thoughts, from fear, doubt, timidity, to complete awe, wonder, accomplishment. Each time you lift your eyes from the trail you see something entirely new from what you saw five minutes prior - mountains of orange carved out so intricately tower around you from every angle. Intimidation creeps in your consciousness about the precarious rocks your feet are planted on, but you keep going to reach the peak, to see the place that seems almost impossible, unattainable, from the valley floor. You rely on sure footed steps and the grip of a chain anchored into rock as you ascend to 5,790 feet. And you worry that you might slip and fall to a really cool but rather unfortunate death. But then you turn a corner and see that you've reached the tip-top, and there's a rainbow below you. And you know that these mountains were made by a really neat God, who made them for you to climb on and gave you the ability to accomplish that. And you realize that seemingly challenging, too-big-to-comprehend, silly dreams are completely tangible and way more realistic than they sound. This is real life.