Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting Outdoors: New Perspectives & Togetherness

Glacier National Park, on Going-To-The-Sun Road
There was no summer vacation getaway this year.  Life is busiest for Jeremy in the summertime, and for lots of other various reasons, we stayed home.  I must explain to you that we are not heat-loving folk.  We'd prefer to wear layers and drink hot beverages.  However, we live in a land where summer lasts for half of the year.  Not just any summer, no.  The daily temperature highs like to stay in the triple digits for a solid two to three months.  There is a six-week period when the garden all but quits producing because the pollen in veggie flowers scorch and never has a chance to bear fruit.  It's that hot.  When autumn finally does grace us, it feels like nothing short of a miracle each year.  Summer finally relinquishes it's stifling grip around late October and we breathe a huge, crisp, sigh of relief.  I get ahead of myself.

Jeremy at Logan Pass, on the Continental Divide

September is the hardest month of all.  We see friends up north and Back East post pictures of turning leaves and steamy drinks clutched by hands barely peaking out of cozy sweater sleeves.  Meanwhile, the highs still frequently reach the hundreds and we lose patience.  This September, however, Jeremy agreed to officiate the marriage of some friends.  The wedding was in Montana.  Neither of us had ever been there, but were always so curious.  We decided to plan a family road trip.  Preparing for this "vacation" was almost so stressful that I wanted to call it off before it even began.  Arrangements had to be made for the animals and garden, school lessons were doubled for three weeks straight so we wouldn't have to worry about getting behind.  Then there's the packing and stress of wondering how the two-year-old would do on a 16-hour road trip (obviously broken up into 2-3 days).  As we squished the last suit case into the trunk and I snuck a couple cast iron pans, freshly-roasted coffee, and jar of ghee under my seat (three things I simply couldn't forsake), we took deep breaths and headed north.

I found myself getting overtly giddy.  I couldn't figure out why, at first.  Then I realized it was because we were about to embark on a real family adventure for the first time in what felt life five years, when we moved into the trailer.  We were all going to a place none of us had been, which is saying something.   Jeremy has ventured what seems like everywhere.  This trip involved everyone, and everyone had to be involved.  We needed help loading the luggage trolleys for our over-nighters in hotels.  We all died laughing as we watched the two-year-old experience the thrill of an elevator for the first time (yes, we live in a small town with precious few of those contraptions).  Jeremy and I almost wet ourselves watching all five kids pull an "Elf," trying to get on an escalator (something not found in our entire county to my knowledge).  Apparently, boarding one does require some skill and doesn't come naturally.  We Yelped good food places along the way and congratulated one another for some incredible finds.  The kids rolled their eyes a little while I geeked about traveling a substantial amount on the Louis and Clark route.  It was lots of little things that wove themselves into a blanket of togetherness that I hadn't felt in far too long. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was go on adventures with my family. 

Fourteen hours and one flat tire later, we made it to Montana.  Needless to say, the place is other-worldly.  My husband and I are enraptured by beautiful places.  This was the beautifulest either of us had ever been.  Visiting Glacier National Park was the crowning jewel of this treasured time.  The kids and I spend hours learning about it back at home.  It was sobering for us all to learn that the glaciers are rapidly vanishing and might be completely gone in just a couple of years, and that this rapid climate change was risking the lives of several creatures who call it "home."  Our nature child was particularly affected, and she reminded us on the trail to Avalanche Lake to pray over the land as we walked it.  We did.  She is desperate for her children to one day absorb the beauty of this land, without the absence of glaciers or grizzly bears.  We all caught our breaths watching a grizzly walk in front of the van.  What an incredible animal.  

I don't think any of us realized how impacting the trip was until we returned home.  Normally, we all basically kiss the threshold after opening our front door after trips.  We love home.  This time, we wished for just one more week back in that captivating land.  Getting away was hard.  Preparation for is was grueling.  As the hours passed in the van on the journey to Big Sky Country, all of us released the everyday stressors, focused our attention on one another, and really enjoyed each other's company.  Feeling so connected and experiencing an adventure together was just what the doctor ordered.  I find myself planning day trips to cool hiking trails every weekend possible.  Removing ourselves from the everyday, as much as I love it, brings perspective and connection with the ones you bring along.  Sure, it's a lot of work to get ready for even a day trip, but I hold these memories at the forefront of my mind and heart.  They spur me up and out of complacency and into fresh air and new places making my blood pump and awakens my mind.  It makes space for memories to be made and connection with those who come along; space that can't always be found in the home, much as I love it.  

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...” 
― John Muir


  1. Thank you, Katie! You've really inspired me to go explore the beauty that California has to offer. I grew up with my step-father taking my family and I to the redwoods, lakes, rivers and the ocean. I was such a tom-boy back then. Over time growing up in the Bay Area it really urbanized me. I no longer enjoyed the joy that nature brought. I was living in a fast paced world that required me to be where the action was. Now, that I have children of my own, I realize that they need the childhood I had. It should be filled with all the wonders that exist by Gods Glory. Your blog post was exactly what was needed this morning :-)

  2. Reading your post made my morning! I enjoy your writing so much. Thank you for sharing you and your family's wonderful trip to Montana. I hope I can visit Glacier National Park some day, too. Maybe when your two-year-old gets a little older, your family can visit Zion National Park in Utah! It's the most beautiful place I've ever hiked in so far. Angel's Landing and The Narrows were my favorite trails. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing, Katie. I love your writing style, and I look forward to reading all your new posts.
    Greetings from Sout Africa :)

  4. I loved reading this & "revisiting" Glacier park in memory. I enjoyed traveling when I was younger. I think there are "wonders" in our backyard & at the local park, but often we are too busy to notice. Old age & special needs children are gifts that God has given me to teach me patience & slow & contentment. Yesterday, I was painting a shed & enjoying the red leaves of the wild rose bushes so much, I hated to trim them back in order to paint. Enjoy October! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia P.S. I STILL have Jeremy's Sweetly Broken (Full Attention) CD in my player in my car. My son in law gave that to me 7 or 8 years ago & it's my absolute favorite! I rarely change it.

  5. This made me think of our family trip we took earlier this year. Spontaneous trip - planned in less than 48 hours. Manitoba, Canada to Florida, 7 kids aged 10 years to 10 months, 3.5 days, 13-15 hours per day in the van, no electronic anythings. One of the BEST trips we have taken. Nothing can replace the family time when you're in the car together, no where else to go, nothing else to do but enjoy each other and the wonderful adventure.

  6. Keep hiking and exploring! You are so close to so many wonderful places.

    I found healing going back to my childhood and setting aside time in the early mornings to hike in the mountains in LA 5-6 days a week. My kids come with me some too or we take on weekends. We noticed how much more we enjoyed our family vacations when they were spent in nature and as a family of Seven it's much cheaper too. We try to get away even if for a weekend to camp at least every other month.

    I've been offered a part time position with the national parks if the funding comes through to write family programming and running a teach me to camp program. Hoping it does because it's a dream job. But in the meantime we are building a website to encourage this exact thing. I will let you know when it's done. Our dream is to inspire families to get outside and to connect those newbies with seasoned adventure families.

    Loved your pictures from Glacier NP!! Looked like an amazing trip full of beautiful memories made.

  7. What a great job offer! I'd love to hear about your website! It sounds awesome.

  8. Ah, I LOVE Zion! It's been ages since we've been. I could never forget Walter's Wiggles and the Emerald Pools. :) It was super windy when we went so we didn't get to finish the Angel's Landing hike, but I can't wait to do it! We are either going there or Yosemite this spring. :)


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