Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas Present

We had a special Christmas present this year from Daddy and Mama. Instead of your typical shiny packages under the tree, we went on a family vacation. I am going to post our trip diary now that we are safely home.

It was the best Christmas present ever and we are so thankful that we were able to do it, and that we are home again after a long and adventurous treck.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy New Year!

Arrow 1 for

The Six Arrows

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 6, Wednesday, December 17 Garden of the Gods, Air Force Academy, Denver

This day was full ...
We were a little disappointed with Garden of the Gods. Principally because it was on such a smaller scale than all the grandeur we have seen so far. I mean, once you have attempted to saturate yourself with the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains, pretty much everything pales in comparison. The Garden of the Gods is unique though. Balancing Rock was the favorite feature.

We took a few pictures and got a little goofy for the camera. I think we were all happy to get out of the car and make each other laugh. It's a Lenz vacation "thing."
Note Pike's Peak behind us! We just know it's snowing up there!

Another stop was the Focus on the Family book store. The rest of the family lost Aubrey and I and Garrison several times each. That tends to happen when we are anywhere near books. Christmas presents were purchased...we won't say by who or for whom.
The Air Force Academy was interesting. We walked in to see the chapel, and enjoyed looking over the fences at all the buildings and seeing cadets walking around in uniform. The chapel held a replica of the Shroud of Turin the cadets made using computers. Security here was a little tamer than Glen Canyon Dam. :) It was more a presence of armed security than all the frisking and metal detectors.

Denver, here we come! This is Daddy and Mama's old home. They were enjoying telling us what it used to be like. All the country between Colorado Springs and Denver is filling up with developments. Twenty years ago country lay between Denver and Colorado Springs. You almost never leave the city now! As we started to see the Denver skyline, Mama and Daddy explained how it happens that there is such an ugly yellow "smog" over the city. It has something to do with the fact that the city sits in a valley next to the mountains; all the bad air is trapped in the "hole".

Of course we went to see Mama and Daddy's old apartment...they thought we were a little bored with it. I wasn't bored...I was silently imagining what it would have looked like then, and seeing them newly married and driving on these roads and living in this apartment. All the way through Denver Mama and Daddy recognized landmarks and buildings. I loved watching and hearing them "remember"!

We get to meet and stay with Daddy's cousins Lori and Roger Harsh tonight! But at the moment, we are stuck on I-25 in stop-and-go traffic because of an accident. Our windows are open because it is a beautiful warm day and there is a big truck next to us. Every time we stop, he "screeches" to a halt with his squeaky brakes. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 5, Tuesday, December 16 La Veta Pass, Tammy's

We made it to Colorado Springs! La Vita pass was a breeze...metaphorically speaking.
And it was beautiful too!
We were blessed by the hospitality of a warm family Mama and Daddy know in Colorado Springs. Tammy Maltby, who led Mama to Christ when they were in college had us over to her home for dinner. The fellowship was a blessing; and it was so much fun to get to know her family. Fun is the right word. There was never a dull moment. :) We got to meet Tammy's husband, Jerry, her children, and her little grandson, who was a baby and therefore the star of the show a good part of the time. :) We talked about dreams and personalities during the delicious enchilada dinner. One of the six arrows, we won't say which, has a similar personality to Tammy's... and was the favored guest thereafter. :)
And tonight, the boys are swimming in the pool at our hotel...I don't know how they thought of bringing their suits along. I didn't. I mean, it is December, and we aren't exactly on the Equator. But they did think of it. Mama, Aubrey and I are enjoying a girl chat with our feet up (when we can bear to sit down). Goodnight :)

Day 5, Tuesday, December 16, Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

Good morning Colorado! It is snowing again...lots. We made it to Cortez and are in sight of the mountains now! They were beautiful now with caps of snow peaking through the misty morning air. But we really can't see them anymore...there are clouds sitting on them, and the snow is falling thick and fast.
We have to drive cautiously because the road is a two lane, and it is very snowy. The countryside is so lovely, so breathtaking. I love it here, even more with the snow!

We have something we call a class-three-poker in front of us right now. They are vehicles that drive inordinately slow. I secretly appreciate them because I get a chance at more pretty photos. :)

We are trying to get to Colorado Springs tonight for dinner. The problem? Wolf Creek
Pass! Its elevation is 10,857 ft, and it is not very attractive to drive over this time of year...especially in a blizzard. Some say even summer travel on this pass can be treacherous. :)

A small waterfall frozen in time. Isn't it like a winter wonderland?

The pass is eight miles long. It took us about half an hour! There were times we couldn't see anything at all! Every once in a while, there was an orange post or a road sign that told us we were more or less on the road. Frankly, we were surprised they hadn't closed the pass yet. Mama had the video camera out, but she kept turning it on...and then turning it off again because it was so scary!

I kept getting glimpses of forbidding rocks, dark in the snow and half-submerged in a sea of frosted pines. Once in a while, a grim peak reared itself out of the mist, but only my eyes could catch the shadows because of the snow. It was like being in a dream-country...almost as if the mountains were there only half the time, and shrouded in mysterious shadow.
There was a tunnel that gave us a short respite, but it felt strange to be able to see again.

Honestly, I didn't put the worst "windshield shot" in. It was so bad that it looks like a white sheet...really not much to look at. Later, Daddy said that if he had known it was going to be so bad, he would not have tried it. But when we were down, all of us were so excited that we had made it, that we had a "Let's do it again!" attitude in the back seat...not the front can see more from there.

When we finally reached the other side of the pass, we saw Wolf Creek...not much huh?

Next up is La Vita Pass... Does it look good from here? :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 4, Monday, December 15 - Glen Canyon Dam

Having said goodbye to the beautiful Grand Canyon, we hit the road in not too hospitable weather. It was snowing, and our last view was nearly obscured by the bank of menacing clouds that rolled in before 11:00 am. For a while we were afraid we were running into another bad storm. Then the road dropped a few thousand feet (over quite a few miles). It stopped snowing, the sun came out, and the temp rose to about 40 degrees!
At first, the plains were earthy greens and golden browns.
Jagged gashes in the landscape were replaced by soaring peaks, majestic ridges, and wide vibrantly colored plains.

Then the rocks started taking on the shapes and colors of rock candy. The landscape looked as though it were fresh from the brush of a brilliant artist. The pictures really don't do the colors justice. Some of the earth was really blue and green!!!

A sign told us we were in the Painted Desert, and we believed it!

We didn't get a very good picture of it, but after a while, the hills and rocks around us turned red...vivid red. A ridge climbed up out of the land and cut a sharp uneven line in the landscape like an impregnable wall. Every course of it tilted and folded as if it were a gigantic ridge of red whipped cream turned over by a whisk. This ridge rose out of the otherwise flat terrain a few miles from the road and extended parallel to it for miles.

All at once, we curved around towards this ridge, and for a few minutes, it looked as if we were going drive slap up against it. The road slipped up and along the side of the rocks, and all at once, swung around and it looked like the parting of the Red Sea in stone.

The pass was hardly a mile long, and with it ended all sight of the extraordinary formations that had baffled us for so many miles. This land was for the most part featureless, although, every once in a while, an obviously volcanic rock sliced through the earth as if admonishing all passers-by to be aware of the pent-up power beneath their feet.

We reached Glen Canyon Dam around 1:00! The dam was built in the early 1960's to control the flow of the Colorado River. The Colorado river is the lifeline for the surrounding states that are otherwise deserts. The dam controls the distribution of water over a huge area, and even helps regulate the amount water from the Colorado river that needs to flow into Mexico! It is only sixteen feet shorter than the Hoover Dam! It is located in the little town of Page was originally founded for the workers that built Glen Canyon Dam. The town now has a population of over 6,000.

And yes, that green patch at the bottom is a lawn of green grass! They maintain it to prevent wind erosion.
The Glen Canyon hydroelectric power plant has eight 155,500-horsepower (116,000 kW) Francis turbines. Its total generating capacity is 1,296,000 kilowatts!

The bridge that spans the river near the dam is nearly as remarkable as the dam itself. That little white bump in the middle is a semi. :)

We are trying to make it to Cortez, Colorado tonight. To get there, we are taking highway 160 to four corners...the only place where the corners of four states meet: Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. We are driving through more fantastical country. The rocks look like cake batter now. I'm "on" baking for some reason with this terrain. I haven't been in a real kitchen for three days and I think I'm in withdrawal. :) Its starting to snow again. Goodnight.

Day 4, Monday, December 15

Good Morning Grand Canyon!!!

The weather channel predicted dreadful calamity. The cashiers in the shops are all warning everyone that a "big storm is coming in." Someone said twelve inches and blizzard conditions.

And we think...

Hmmmm. Let's stay a little longer anyway! A conclusion made by Minnesotans...a little foolish perhaps, but undaunted by tales of fierce weather.

The views this morning were still beautiful, if a little more obscure and less extensive than yesterday. The clouds started rolling in by late morning. The temp dropped and the wind picked up later, but it was still beautiful!

Bright Angel Canyon at sunrise

The little yellow splotch of trees is Ghost Ranch, a place along the Colorado river for hikers, etc., to stay on their way through the canyon. It really is a desert down there except for a few green places where the river or a little tributary creates a small oasis. If it is around 85 degrees at the rim of the canyon, it could be well over 100 degrees at the bottom.

Daddy explained the Grand Canyon well. He says there are some places where you see one view and you have seen it all. The Grand Canyon was not remotely like that. Every time you looked there was something new to see. Every view was unique. I think all of us were pleasantly surprised in that way.

We were thankful to get a family picture before there was nothing to see. You can see the bank of clouds rolling in over the landscape behind us. Its hard to believe you are up around 7,000 feet elevation at the rim, but it registers when many of the cloud formations are below or around you.

Here we are walking towards the Desert View Tower. All of us were fairly chilled by this time, so any views we could see while indoors were attractive to us. There was a warm fire and a beautiful Christmas tree and a fun gift-shop inside the tower. Here as well as everywhere else, we were awed again by the views from the added height.

Just for anyone who was wondering...

The morning sun shining through the clouds and painting alternate light the shadow on the terrain.A close up through the telescope of another set of amazing rapids. Ben said that it is four foot-ball fields long!!! It doesn't look like that in this shot, but that gives you an idea of the scale of all the other pictures we have taken...our camera won't zoom in this far even on digital zoom.

We left the last view behind us around 10:30 am.

Goodbye Grand Canyon!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 3, Sunday, December 14 Sunset

This was one of the most exciting times...

We watched the sun's setting slowly shroud the depths, gashes, and pinnacles in shadow.

From this point, we could also see the Colorado River. The Canyon is about a mile deep, so even though we could see some class eight rapids, they didn't look like much. A man who had been through them rafting said that there were ten-foot standing waves!

Aubrey snapped this picture...she was trying to get just the right shot without any really good equipment, and we thought this one turned out pretty well!

Good night everyone!