The Pastor Challenge

The Pastor Challenge

The Assist Pregnancy Center's Walk-Run-Ride for Life is coming up in May and this year I am challenging myself in order to challenge all of you! I am challenging myself to ride a "Metric Century" (100 kilometers) in four hours, and if I can ride farther than I ever have at one time before, I challenge all of you to support me more than ever before. I set my goal this year at $5,000, and our team (Lutherans for Life) at $7,500! If I can do it, you can do it. Assist helps so many mothers and babies, and they are expanding their facility to help even more - and so need our help more than ever, especially coming out of this pandemic. So please help! CLICK HERE to go to my sponsor page to sponsor me, or you can sponsor anyone else who joins the team, or the team as a whole.

Will you step up to the challenge??

Monday, August 20, 2018

Vacation - Philly Pics

I promised some pictures from Philadelphia from my wife's camera . . .

Pat's Cheesesteaks for lunch, of course!

Inside of one of the "spurs" of the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Outside the Penitentiary, in the courtyard.
(The headphones are for the audio tour as you walked around.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Vacation - Home and Past Home

So our time out west came to an end. Thursday morning was one last day at Capitol Reef and then the drive to Salt Lake City for our flight home. A couple last pictures . . .

We had the red eye out of Salt Lake, which left at about 11 pm (MT). That got us into Orlando about 5:30 am (ET), and then our flight back to Washington and transport home, so we got home late morning. 

But lo! Vacation was not yet over! We still had a couple more days, so after doing a couple loads of laundry and repacking a little, we loaded up the car and drove to Philadelphia. That's why I entitled this post "home and past home." We came to our current home and then drove to our past home - Philadelphia. We spend our last two nights there going to an old used book store we liked to frequent, going to a Phillies game (they won!), and also going to Eastern State Penitentiary - one of the first penitentiaries in the United States. We'd been wanting to go for a while, but never had the chance. I don't have the pictures right now, but will post some if I get them from my wive's camera. The picture I do have is of the game we went to . . .

Daughter Peasant and I with a replica of the 1980 World Series trophy.

Our Sunday in Philadelphia, we went to church at the National Mission sight there, Logos Lutheran Church. I know the pastor - he's a good guy. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vacation - One More National Park

Wednesday morning of our second week, we rose somewhat early to go back to Bryce and get one more hike in before having to depart for our last National Park. We went to see the Tower Bridge. Like one of the other trails we had taken yesterday, this one was a significant descent into the canyon, and then (of course) a significant climb to get back out! But we did well. Here is what the Tower Bridge is . . .

As the Ranger explained to us, it looks like the Tower of London. Indeed, it does!

The other thing about Bryce is that it had some cool trees, especially the different kinds of pine tree. But take a look at this one!

There were lots of these "twisted" trees.

And maybe just a couple last photos to share from Bryce . . .

And then it was on to our last stop out West, Capitol Reef National Park.

Now, I have to admit, after seeing Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, Zion, and Bryce . . . well, I didn't "get" Capitol Reef. All the others have some outstanding feature, but Capitol Reef doesn't. It has a whole lot of different things. Not that it didn't have cool stuff - it did. But it was the hardest for me to understand and wrap my mind around. After we took a Ranger-led hike on Thursday morning it made a bit more sense to me, but I have to admit, this was my least favorite of all the parks we went to. Still glad I went, though!

Can you tell where the river is?!

The thing the Ranger said is significant about Capitol Reef is that there are 19 rock layers that have been exposed, giving geologists a lot to study. It is by far the most in one place for study like this.

Tomorrow: Last Couple of Days

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vacation - Bryce Canyon

Tuesday morning, after one last hike in Zion, we headed out to our next destination: Bryce Canyon National Park.

I didn't know what to expect at Bryce - all the descriptions and brochures I had seen were pretty vague. But wow! It was simply stunning and very cool. The views were great. As we walked around the rim of the canyon, each time you look out from a different perspective you saw different features and shapes.

Some views from the top:

The vertical rock formations are called "hoodoos." A few more perspectives:

Yes, it's a long way down!

So after walking around the top and admiring all of it, we decided to hike down into the canyon and get a view from below:

This formation was called "Twin Bridges." Guess you can figure out why!

How cool is this?

The park had a challenge called "Hike the Hoodoos" to go on a number of hikes and find the medallion markers on the trails to show that you had done them. The challenge was to find three (I think there were six total). We did it! Our selfies with the medallions as proof:

After a long day, time to eat and rest. Again, not much around out here, so we stayed in more rustic accommodations. :-)

Tomorrow: More Bryce, and one last park to go.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Vacation - Zion

So because Zion National Park is so popular, you cannot drive around in it - you must take the tram they have at the Visitor's Center. OK, that doesn't sound so bad . . .

So after a long Sunday we didn't sleep in on Monday morning, but we didn't rush either. But by the time we got to the Visitor's Center, we had to wait some 30 minutes or so in line for the tram. So yes, the stories are true of its being crowded!

But pretty impressive, too! One of the things that amazed me were how different all these parks have been - Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, and now Zion - all so very different in their features. For Zion, it was the soaring mountains and cliffs. Some pictures . . .

The three white peaks here are "the Three Patriarchs" - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Jacob is kind of hidden behind the browner peak in front of him.)

We had so many parks to see in a limited amount of time, that we only had a day or so in each one. So with Zion, many of the hikes they have are on the longer and more difficult side, so we weren't able to do as many as we might have liked. Also, they had some rock slides recently, shutting down 3 or 4 of the trails. Here's one of them:

You can see where the trail picks up again on the far side of this picture, after the large rocks that have obliterated the trail! It's going to take them some time to figure out the best way to clear these are re-open things.

We went back again on Tuesday morning to finish up our time at Zion - this time we woke up early and got in line before six, to get the first tram. We did, but we weren't the first ones there! So on Tuesday morning, we hiked up to the section called the "Narrows," and then it was time to head out to our next destination . . .

See Daughter Peasant in the foreground?

Another friend right outside the Visitor Center.

Tomorrow: Wow!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Vacation - Sunday Surprise

After a day and a half at Mesa Verde, we went to church Sunday morning in Cortez, CO - a nice, small, welcoming congregation that was only a block or two from our hotel! Then we changed, checked out, and hit the road - a long drive to Western Utah and the next National Park on our agenda. We knew we'd be driving some six hours today.

It was interesting to note how the landscape changes and how the rocks change. Different landscapes, different colors, different vegetation, or no vegetation at all! Our drive took us out of Colorado, into New Mexico (VERY briefly, for only a mile or so), and then into Arizona. So I got two more states crossed off my list of those I have been to (now up to 37, I think).

But as we were driving, we came to a National Park we did not know would be there: the Glen Canyon dam. I never even heard of it. But it is nearly as big as its better known neighbor, Hoover Dam, and quite impressive. It was interesting to learn how they built it and all that went into it. Very cool.

So after a brief and unexpected stop, it was back on the road until we reached Zion National Park.

Now, those of you in the know, know that Zion is the most popular of all of Utah's "Mighty 5" National Parks. On this day, however, we arrived later in the day and so didn't really spend much time in it except to drive through the eastern part to arrive at our hotel. The eastern part is very different than the more popular western part (a tunnel separates the two) - but it was cool in its own right. We were hoping to see some Bighorn Sheep, but alas, they are too shy and too well camouflaged.

Anyway, a few first day pictures . . .

The famous "checkerboard" mesa.

The view from just outside our hotel room!

Dinner at the Spotted Dog Restaurant.

Swimming and some ice cream capped off the day. One week in the books, one week to go . . .

Tomorrow: Zion

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Vacation - History Day

So on Friday we took the morning a little easy after a couple of long and hot days in the desert at the first two National Parks, and because we had reservations at our next stop on Friday night. So we walked through the town of Moab (where we stayed) and learned some of the history of the place.

Over the Colorado River as it makes its way through Moab, UT.

Then after lunch, we headed back to Colorado to our next stop: Mesa Verde National Park.

The sign says: "Welcome to Colorful Colorado"

We checked into our hotel in Cortez and immediately saw some new friends: Prairie Dogs with their tunnels right by the hotel. :-)

Friday night we had reserved tickets for the Twilight tour to Cliff Palace. What is Cliff Palace, you ask? This:

Mesa Verde is home to the where the Navajo Cliff Dwellers once lived, and there are many of their dwellings that still exist and have been preserved. Very cool! The twilight tour, the last tour of the day, is smaller than the others and more leisurely - we probably had 1.5 hours to go through it and talk with the ranger. The daytime tours shuffle you through in 30 minutes. I was a little apprehensive at first, nit knowing how we were going to get down to the dwellings (the Navajos just climbed down the cliffs!), but it wasn't bad.

We also spent Saturday going through the parks and seeing more of the dwellings. Here are some pictures:

Some of their writing is still visible on the inside of a tower.

We returned to Mesa Verde first thing on Saturday morning to sign-up for another tour, this time for the dwelling called Balcony House . . .

This one was a bit harder to get into! Above the 32 foot ladder we had to climb, and below one of the tunnels we had to go through.

And some other dwellings that were cool, but that we could not get into - just see from a distance:

Tower House

Spruce Tree House
(Was open for self-guided tours, but a rock slide closed it down now. :-(

Statue out in front of the Visitors Center of a Navajo climbing a cliff. 

After after this, back to the hotel for some swimming and dinner. Three parks down and three to go . . . or so we thought . . .

Tomorrow: Travel Day and a Surprise!