Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Top Ten U.S. National Parks that I want to see

With no snow on the ground or green in the trees, the second half of winter is the least beautiful time of the year in Kansas. Normally we have some snow which makes things a bit better, but this year has been nearly completely dry. This has instilled a sort of “Cabin Fever” in me, to see extraordinary sights.
Below is a list (mostly in no particular order) of ten U.S. National Parks which I have never been to, but want to see the most. None of the pictures are mine for the obvious reason that I have never been there. Enjoy!

Denali is probably the National Park which I most want to see. Unfortunately it is also one of the farthest away. This park is named after and centered around Mount McKinley the tallest Mountain in North America. The Mountain was originally name “Denali” meaning “High One”, and for good reason. At over 20,000 feet tall, Denali dwarfs the mountains of Colorado. If you see the mountains in the picture and think they are tall, then just look at the break in the louds to see the top of Denali. With more vertical rise than Everest, Denali is said to be the most impressive looking mountain in all the world.
denali 2


Acadia 1
Acadia is far less secluded than Denali since it is only a part of Mount Desert Island, and the other part is vacation homes. Still, Acadia is not a park you hear much about. It includes the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast, which is the first spot of land to see the sun rise each morning in the contiguous 48 states. Someday I want to be on top of it (Cadillac Mountain) at sunrise. Acadia looks to be much like Minnesota only with Mountains and the Ocean. You really can’t get much better than that!
Acadia 2

Glacier National Park is known as “The Crown of the Continent”. It is a landscape of lakes, Mountains, Bear Grass, and of course Glaciers. Positioned right at the U.S.-Canadian Border, Glacier forms an international peace park with Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada. Some of the prominent features include: the “Going to the Sun Road” which looks like an amazing drive, the many crystal-clear lakes, and “Triple-Divide peak” from which snow melt flows three different ways depending on the side of the mountain. Glacier is a well visited park, and it it looks to be that way for many good reasons.
glacier 2

Grand Teton
teton 1
Grand Teton National Park looks like it may be one of the most beautiful parks of all. Clear rivers and lakes, prominent peaks, and roaming buffalo. It is also significantly closer than the Alaska parks. Despite this, it is normally overshadowed by its neighbor “Yellowstone National Park”. Teton doesn’t have all the geysers and oddities of Yellowstone; it just has a bountiful supply of serene beauty. I would love visiting this park any time of the year, but fall looks to be the most beautiful.
teton 2

Hawaii Volcanoes
hawaii 1
When most people think of visiting Hawaii, they think of warm sandy beaches. I think about the Volcanoes! Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, may not be creatively named, but it is unique among National Parks for the very obvious reason of including active volcanoes and lava flows. Seeing a lava flow is like seeing the Northern lights for me. It is something I must see before I die. But this park isn’t all fire and ash. It also includes beautiful tropical coastline and vegetation.
hawaii 2

Isle Royale
isle royale 1
Although this Island National Park belongs to Michigan, it is closer to both Minnesota and Canada. Positioned in the middle of Lake Superior, Isle Royale is one of the least visited and most secluded National Parks even when compared with the Alaska parks. This is due to the fact that only a plane ride or a four hour ferry trip can get you to the Island. Seeing both Moose and Wolf is a large attraction of this park. It is a canoers/kayakers dream park, and also includes some amazing trails. I here September is the best time to visit due to the beautiful fall colors and significantly lower bug populations.
isle royale 2

Lake Clark

lake clark 1
This is a park which even the most avid campers and park tourists rarely hear about. I didn’t even know it existed until last year. Even after I heard of it, I forgot it’s name and referred to it as one of the Alaska Parks. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I most want to visit it. Lake Clark National Park is very much like Glacier National Park, just more secluded. Imagine seeing Grizzlies fight for food, or hundreds of Caribou migrating across the hills. There are hundreds of waterfalls, and towering mountains. Lake Clark seems to be the one park that summarizes everything Alaska is. That is why if I got to go to Alaska, this along with Denali would be my first choices of destinations.
lake clark 2


yosemite 2
This is probably the most popular park on my lists of parks I want to see. Over-crowding is one reason parks like Yellowstone aren’t at the top of my list. One of the things that makes nature wonderful is the peace and seclusion. Yosemite doesn’t have as much of that except for in winter, yet the scenery more than makes up for it. Yosemite is like a much grander Zion National park. There aren’t many nature calendars that don’t include a picture of Yosemite. It is the scenery of Yosemite which greatly influenced the decision to begin making National Parks. I can’t really even explain it all. Look it up, or even better – Go there!
yosemite 1

Glacier Bay
USA, Alaska, Glacier Bay NP, Stranded icebergs at low tide in front of the Lamplugh Glacier with sunrise clouds over the mountains of Johns Hopkins Inlet
Another Alaska park, I know. They all look amazing, but I chose this one because it has some stuff to set it apart. Have you ever seen footage of a glacier collapsing into the water? If you have then there is a good chance it was filmed in Glacier Bay National Park. As far as I know, all of the Alaska parks have glaciers, but this park holds the land where the glaciers meet the bay. Must be where they got the name. Smile Anyways, the boat tours right along the glaciers look amazing. Definitely a photographers dreamland.
glacier bay 2

USA, Washington, Olympic NP, Moss covered vine maple (Acer circinatum) and ferns in the Hoh Rainforest
Just because this is the last on my list doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. There are a lot of amazing parks that this beat out to deserve a spot on my top ten wish list. This park includes mostly temperate rain forests bordered by awe-inspiring Pacific ocean coastline. From my research it appears wise to bring a rain coat if you visit. I would also suggest bringing a camera. This place is one of a kind among the National Parks.
olympic 1

If none of these places look interesting or appealing to you, don’t worry. Well maybe you should worry a little since these places look extremely beautiful. But even if they don’t suit you, there are many other National Parks in the U.S., and there are many non-National Park areas which are beautiful, and there is also more beauty that can be seen in a lifetime outside of the U.S.. Actually there is probably more beauty in any one of these parks than can be witnessed in a lifetime. I believe Heaven will be far more beautiful than earth, so it is a good thing we will have forever to enjoy it!

For many more great national park pictures, check out the site below. I always enjoy their pictures.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Unfairness of Life

Last night I was awakened by thirst at 2:30 in the morning. After getting a drink I found it difficult to get back to sleep; and as I lay sleepless in bed this thought ran across my mind….

Many times when people are faced with great hardship and troubles in their lives, they will ask God: "What have I done to deserve this?"
I would say to those people that their question sounds an awful lot like one which I often find myself asking. Jesus was sinless and perfect, yet he chose to die a horrible death so that we may be forgiven of all our many sins. What did we do to deserve this?
While I can never give a definite answer for the first question, the answer to the second is simple.... "Nothing".

Nothing we have ever done, or ever will do can cause us to deserve the great sacrifice which Jesus made on our behalves! What he did, he did out of an incomprehensible.
love for us all. That love is such a great gift that it overshadows any hardships we may face in this life; and it makes any questions about why we have such hardships seem unimportant. Whenever life seems difficult, we must remember that as long as we faithfully serve God, whatever difficulties we encounter will work out for good according to God's will. That is a very reassuring thought to all who have faith!
God's love is such a great gift that we should never worry about what we do or don't deserve. For we are unfairly blessed, and any attempt to measure out what we deserve will reveal only our debt to love God and others.


This thought really brings the lyrics of a Relient K song to my mind.
"The beauty of Grace is that it makes life unfair."

Also, These scriptures....

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
-Romans 8:28

"....But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
-Romans 8:37-39

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SNOW!!!!! sort of….

Today we got our first snow of the year. I was not able to measure exactly how deep it is; but I am going to estimate that it is nearly 1/4 of a centimeter.
snow house smll

This winter has been rather warm and dry. In fact the temperatures have been quite spring-like. pup snow smllNormally I would love having spring-ish weather for an few extra months of the year; but the scenery here in Kansas is still very brown, leafless, and un-spring-like. Although with this warm weather, we have had some wild onions starting to sprout. That normally doesn’t happen until March. You can actually see them in bottom right side of this picture of Yoga Bear. He is the last puppy left, and gets picked up on Monday. He turned two months old just three days ago; and his father Teddy turned 1 year old just yesterday. They celebrated their birthdays by playing tug-of-war.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thoughts about the Word of God

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlet bands on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I know this passage was directed towards the children of Israel concerning the Law; but I feel that we Christians today should show the same amount of devotion and regard for the word of God. It should be a prominent feature in our everyday lives. I can't help but think that the children of Israel wouldn't have turned from God as often if they payed this much attention to the Law. I believe the same holds true for us Christians today.

Our attention to the scriptures should be more than Bible reading in the mornings, our time spent at Church, and calendars with motivational verses on our walls. These are good things, but I feel we should ponder God's word all throughout our days, everyday. We should also discuss the scriptures with each other, and not just when at Church. The Bible is the one source of information in this world that we can trust completely; and in it we can find every necessary instruction for how to live our lives.

This year I am going to try to memorize a new chapter of the Bible every week. I have done this in the past, but only kept it up for awhile before my life seemed to become too busy to keep up. This is not how it should be. If anything, studying the scriptures should keep me so busy that I have to drop other things from my schedule. Memorizing scriptures seems to work better for me than just reading. Even if years later I don't remember each verse word for word; I still have a better knowledge of where verses are, and the theme of each chapter. It also makes it more possible to ponder what I have read, even when there is not a Bible in front of me. So far I have done Philippians 1, and this week I am on chapter two.

I am not saying that everybody needs to memorize a chapter a week; but it certainly couldn't hurt to try. I will try to share what I have been reading and thinking about, and I would like to hear about what you are reading!

A Bible shelf in our Parlor

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today I went to the hospital to begin my twelfth and final chemo session!!!

I should point out the bio hazard bag beside me, which contains my portable chemo pump.
Forgive the low image quality. The picture was taken on my phone after my mom suggested that we capture the moment. Although the look on my face might not say it, I was very happy and excited. And taking a picture was a good distraction for me, as I tried to take my mind off of the urge to throw-up.

The nurses gave me this diploma for completing chemo, even though I still have to wear my portable pump until Thursday.
 I am very excited to be done with Chemotherapy for good!!!!