Through Kentucky to North Carolina

waterfall at ridgehavenToday we arrive in North Carolina for training #3 (only one more to go after this!).  I’m very excited about this week.  Not only are we going to receive some great information and resources to help us in our ministry but we’re also going to be spending time with some awesome people in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 4.16.31 PM.pngI’ve been to this camp pre-Ryan and I remember being disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of the beautiful hiking trails as much as I should have.  Any place that provides a map like this on their website is basically telling you to go and enjoy exploring the area.  creek at RidgehavenPlease be praying for us this week.  Please pray that God would open our eyes, that we would have teachable minds and hearts and that we would have a strengthening week for our marriage.

Nephew Time at Garden of the Gods

Ryan and I are here in Colorado working towards getting to Australia but one of the perks of our travel schedule is time with family.  We are thankful that we can celebrate Ryan’s brother’s birthday today.  May the 4th be with you!  But having yesterday with our nephews while their parents were working was extra special.  We did a few fun things (like take the lizard to the pet store to confirm that she was indeed a she) but my highlight was the Garden of the Gods.PanoramicClimbingThis beautiful park is free and open to the public like it has been since the land was bought in the 1870s by a man named Charles Elliot Perkins.  And it’s been called Garden of the Gods even longer because when these large sandstone formations were seen back in the 1850s, one man remarked that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” to which another responded, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”  This place is indeed a beautiful example of God’s creation.JoyandRyanThese incredible rock formations definitely make you feel small.  Yesterday was a beautiful day to explore, climb and enjoy.  We stayed on the path when we had to but the nephews really enjoyed the places where we were able to make our way up and down the rocks themselves.  Ryan and I also took the opportunity to use a nephew’s photography skills to capture just the two of us together.PhotobombAnd of course a day like this isn’t complete without a little photobombing.  Even the most basic backdrop at Garden of the Gods was lovely.  The bright white clouds and blue sky contrasted beautifully with the red sandstone.RyanNephewsRyan already has lots of great uncle memories with these guys but it doesn’t hurt to make a few more.  I love the fact that the memories we are making now will actually have a chance of sticking with them.  Having the boys say that they want us to stay longer and visit more often is a compliment but it’s also one of the many things that makes it emotionally difficult to think of the reality of our move to Australia.JoyandNephewsUnlike Ryan, I have only had a handful of times with these guys.  And despite the wind, I was happy to have this day to get to know them better and hopefully we will have many more special days in the future too.PikesPeakIf you’re in the Colorado Springs area, Garden of the Gods is a definite must see.  It’s easy hiking and the views are spectacular.  Each different angle of Pikes Peak provides another viewing treat as you walk through these amazing sandstone formations.  I’m so glad that I was able to explore this place with Ryan and our nephews.

A Day in LA

IMG_20160402_111504-2We love to take advantage of beautiful California days and hike whenever we get a chance.  Today we hiked from Ferndell up to the Griffith Observatory, a beautiful scenic hike in the middle of LA.  Last time we visited the Griffith Observatory was Valentine’s Day 2014, a week before we got married.  And this morning we got together to celebrate life milestones with Ryan’s friends from Pardeeville, Wisconsin who live in the LA area.  One couple is newly engaged, we got to meet the other couple’s 8 month old son and we shared more about our adventures getting to Australia.  It was a great LA day.IMG_20160402_114527

Hiking and Visiting

This week we are on our way back to Sacramento but were taking advantage of the good weather.  It’s been fun to visit with friends, get outside, do some hiking and see parts of the country that are somewhat new for me and entirely new to Ryan.IMG_20160302_144301.jpgThis is taken near the top of Badger Mountain in the Tri-Cities area of Washington, which we hiked with a friend of mine who worked with me in Papua New Guinea.  We got to spend some time with her fun family, husband and new baby but we also really enjoyed getting out and hiking.  It’s amazing to think that the area this rock overlooks used to be filled with water before the water carved it’s way through the mountain range and made it’s own little canyon.  Ryan and I drove along the Columbia River through that little gorge on our way out of Washington into Oregon.  It was a beautiful hike and a beautiful drive.IMG_3088Then today we enjoyed Klamath Falls in southern Oregon.  It wasn’t sunny but it was warm enough for a hike and a picnic on Moore Mountain.  We had fun visiting with friends of mine from Santa Barbara and as I type everyone else is still visiting and playing Super Mario.  We had a great day outside and also visited the Klamath Falls museum which boasts an exhibit about the Japanese Balloon Bombs.  It’s worth reading about this interesting and sad part of our history.

Tomorrow we’re headed to our last stop in Grass Valley and then it’s back to Sacramento for us.  We’re super encouraged about the strides we’ve made on this trip, especially the relationships that we’ve built, strengthened and renewed.  Good food and a little hiking seem to go a long way.

The 7th Annual Sunrise Hike

Last year I enjoyed my first sunrise hike up Sandstone Peak.  The 6th annual sunrise hike was windy and cool.  But this year it was warm and wonderful.  There were five of us that ventured up the mountain and it was so amazingly clear.


The view into the valley was amazing and out over the ocean, I have never seen it so clear.  We could see the close islands as well as the islands further off the coast.


And of course the sunrise was worth the hike.  It’s amazing to be awake, warm from the exercise and watch the sun slowly peek over the horizon.  The sky was stripped with wonderful clouds and we enjoyed our time at the top of mountain before heading back down.


Although it’s not our first choice to wake up early on a morning we could choose to sleep in, it was definitely worth the sleep sacrifice.  It was a great 7th Annual Sunrise Hike.


Making the Best of the Sunshine


While other parts of the country are cold and icy, I finally got over my pity party and took advantage of our weather here.  Two hikes in two days was a wonderful way to enjoy the weekend.  Yes, the sun helped but the company made it even better.


We haven’t seen these two since we were in Wisconsin for our reception last summer.  They were escaping the Chicago cold and hiking up to Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara is always a good choice.  We caught up on life and the guys talked adventures in cooking and sports.  So thankful for friends where we can pick up where we left off even if it’s been awhile.


Then Ryan and I took advantage of President’s Day by hiking near Malibu.  The route we usually take is closed because of damage during one of the last rains (since there are still drought conditions, when it rains a lot all at once it can cause major mudslides and problems in these canyons) so we went up the Chumash Trail and it was tough but worth the effort.  From the ocean to these beautiful rolling hills and valleys.  It’s currently so green and the flowers are blooming beautifully.


I got sick of smiling nicely for all the pictures and we made it back down the trail in one piece.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and that our friends in cold places are staying warm and safe.

Wish You Were Here…Hiking Near Pt. Mugu

IMG_20140423_133629This week Ryan and I took an afternoon to enjoy the Californian hills.  What we thought would be a 3 or 4 mile hike turned out to be 7 or so miles but the weather was perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold or windy.  Plenty of sunshine and a nice cool breeze coming off the ocean.  This area was burnt last year in a fire so it was interesting to see the landscape almost a year later.  There is lots of encouraging new growth and green despite the dryness and lack of water.  It is good to see things grow even when it looks impossible.  I’m thankful for this beautiful state and the time to hike and explore!