Embrace the Delays and Enjoy the Scenery

Eighteen hours into a twenty-hour road trip from our door to Yellowstone’s South Entrance, my high spirits tumbled at the sight of a sign. A happy-looking sign, it cast a shadow on my plan to get off the road and onto the trail as quickly as possible. It read: Expect delays and great scenery. It was a road construction sign in disguise. And I understood why. In Iowa, where I live, open roads and flat terrain allow travelers in construction zones to slow more often than stop. When a full stop is required, it’s usually short, and governed by a {Continue Reading}

Two Ways of Waiting

Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn gift shop hummed like a hive. All the time. Except when Old Faithful was about to erupt.  Then, every visitor in the area was out on the boardwalk, waiting. After a short lull, the gift shop—site of my summer job between high school and college—began to fill with customers. They came first in a trickle, then in a torrent. Milling around, they searched for some thing to take home or some way to pass the time until the next eruption. Then, as if in response to a silent summons, they turned in unison and brought their {Continue Reading}

Waiting for Tomorrow

Dad and I were the last to check in. The arrival window for the nature writing class was from four to eight, and the sun hung low behind the distant mountains when we stepped out of the van and onto the gravel parking lot. We’d put it off as long as possible. We’d been busy for three days—revisiting beloved sites, taking favorite hikes, and discovering new ones. It wasn’t until we stopped for huckleberry ice cream on the last leg of our journey that the first-day-of-school jitters set it, stirring up worry that maybe the best part of the week {Continue Reading}

Walking When You’d Rather Wait

A couple of Mays ago, our family was in Yellowstone, standing in line at the Visitor Education Center at Mammoth Hot Springs, waiting to find out if a trail was open. Because the wait was long, we ended up eavesdropping as a ranger recommended the Sepulcher Mountain Trail to the older couple in front of us.  My husband and son were looking for a hike to take, one for just the two of them and, in terms of destination, location, difficulty, and length, it was just what they had in mind. When our turn came, my husband asked the ranger {Continue Reading}

Whether We Perceive It or Not

Cool mountain air drifted in through our open window, carrying high-pitched beeps and deep rumblings that broke into my slumber. I lay in the dark of our tiny room at the back of the lodge and tried to place it. A tractor? A road grater? I recognized that sound. I knew what it wasn’t but not what it was. And then I remembered. It was a snow groomer. I recalled seeing one as twilight settled across the mountain the afternoon before, its headlights flickering between the distant trees as it lumbered across the slope like something straight out of a {Continue Reading}

For When We Find Ourselves Waiting

  Bundled against the sub-zero temperatures, we left the cozy warmth of our cabin to brave Yellowstone’s deep winter chill. At twelve below zero, the temperature was up seven degrees already that morning from the previous afternoon’s negative nineteen. After fumbling over my own thick, clumsy fingers to fasten snowshoes to boots, I wondered what kind of people would take their children into the woods in such weather. My husband and I, apparently. We set off across the expanse of barren parking lots and abandoned roads toward the pines on the other side, snowshoes slapping the ground under our feet. As {Continue Reading}

The Spiritual Discipline of Expecting Delays and Great Scenery

Because of the invisible cord that ties writing to life, it is with some trepidation I acknowledge that my anticipated writing topics for the coming months center around a theme which can be summarized by a road sign, especially a road sign in a construction zone bearing this kind of verbiage: Expect delays and great scenery. Oh, I’m all about the scenery.  I’m just not fond of delays. I don’t want to wait. For anything. That the roads we wander will need repair is a given. That there will be delays, an inconvenient fact. That they will occur at nearly {Continue Reading}

More

Twenty Januarys ago, the flat monotony of I-80 delivered us to the foothills of the Wasatch Range of the Utah Rockies and the threshold of the Big Cottonwood Canyon.  As Dad eased to a stop at the intersection leading to the canyon road, we saw a disheartening sign spray painted on the face of a rock. Tall red letters issued a desperate plea: Pray for snow. Those were the days before weather.com and the Weather Channel’s easily accessible ten-day forecasts and tales of doom. It was winter. In the mountains. Of course there would be snow. There was. Sort of. The slopes {Continue Reading}