Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Road tripping to Joshua Tree - Part 4

Life in the desert is...complicated. Humans have had to figure out how to thrive in hot environments without lots of water. 

Our rhythm was to get water in the neighboring towns in the evening and then try to do the bulk of our hiking in the mornings while it was still relatively cool. 

We did all sorts of hikes....from 3 mile nature walks 9 mile hikes through remote desert canyons.

When you walk through wild places you get to see amazing things that are otherwise missed from the highways passing through. The desert has an allure that ingratiates itself to you if you slow down and pay attention. 

Warren Peak may have been one of our favorite summits to explore. 

On the top we like to look for the summit register and look at all the people who came before us. 

Once it gets really hot in the afternoons, especially after long hikes...we like to find ice cream! This might be the funnest part of the hiking experience according to the kids. 

Boy Scout Trail was our longest trail. The kids did over 9 miles that day.

I've taught my boys that everyday they need to hug and kiss their sister and reminder her that they love her.

Noah has been our surprise hiker this trip. He refuses to be carried and insists he hike on his own and carry his own water, food, and pack. 

He's still learning though...after the first 4 miles of this hike he was complaining about his feet hurting....come to find out he forgot to put socks on! The sand and rocks in his shoes were acting like sand paper on his 5 year old feet. 

In the afternoons after hiking and ice cream shops...we like to visit historical sites. On this occasion we went to a town called, Pioneertown. This town was created as a living breathing motion-picture set. The town was designed to provide a place for production companies to enjoy while also using their businesses and homes in movies. Hundreds of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown. What a crazy place! 

Though we did shove them in jail in Pioneertown, we didn't leave them there (Joe considered it, lol). We actually like being around them! Vacation isn't our opportunity to get away from our is focused time to pour into one-another. The joy of spending time with them now is an echo of heaven. 

These are good days.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Road tripping to Joshua Tree - Part 3

Spiritual recalibration is the process of carefully assessing your life and adjusting what is most important. Camping has a way of providing an environment where spiritual recalibration is possible. Camping removes the complexities of life leaving you with a bare bones daily schedule which feels simpler and unburdened. When you strip away all the things you think you need...all you're left with are the things you can't simply remove -- your tiredness, your anger, your shame, your passions, your joys, your hopes, your inner thoughts, your feelings, your ideas, your faith. When you create a simple environment, you can see these things more clearly. 

When we create a simple environment for ourselves and our kids...we can see things in ourselves and each other that otherwise would have gone unnoticed due to spiritual glaucoma.

In the mornings we typically wake up when the sun peeks over the mountains and do a devotional. 

Some mornings the kids would join us. 

Coffee is always part of the equation. We bring a French Press with us because there's no reason to drink bad coffee when you're camping! That's an unforgivable sin.

One of the things we love to do on vacation is go hiking. Our kids are amazing on the trails. On this day we went up Ryan Mountain which our guidebook listed as "strenuous." This was anything but strenuous for these kids. While Joel stayed on our back....Elizabeth (9), Josiah (7), and Noah (5) for 3 miles went up/down 1,056ft in elevation in 1 hr 14 min. This trip was Noah's "inauguration" into the world of hiking without the promise that we would put him on our backs at some point. Armed with his own hiking backpack and water, he led the entire time.

After summiting they even trail ran down the mountain! 

In the afternoons we tend to find nature walks to saunter along. The famous early 20th century naturalist and writer John Muir wrote, “I don't like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not 'hike!' Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It's a beautiful word. Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going they would reply, 'A la sainte terre', 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them.”

When we walk slowly through the mountains we always ask the kids the same question, "What's something you see that reminds you of God?" It's amazing the kinds of lessons God teaches through his creation when you walk slow enough to pay attention.

By the evening it's time for dinner. We camp nearly 30 nights every year so we have DIALED meal plans for camping. Our meals have to meet three criteria: They have to be simple to create, be healthy, be easy to clean-up. If you need our 7 day us and we'll send it to you!

We have noticed that the more the sun sets, the more introspective we become. After putting the kids in their tent, we will sit by the fire for hours sometimes in complete silence watching the flicker of the light against a dark night sky. Introspection is the necessary prerequisite for spiritual recalibration. There is no such thing as spiritual progress without self awareness. 

The mountains have a way of creating the perfect conditions where spiritual recalibration is possible. It's the primary reason they are a regular part of our family rhythm. We learn something new about ourselves and one another every time we go into the mountains. It's why we can say with confidence...

These are good days. 

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