The Greenbean family arrived safely back in Western Washington last night around 11pm local time.  I mean to emphasize that local time issue.  Arizona and parts of Oregon still confuse me.  We had a thoroughly splendid time putting over 8,000 miles on the Altima as well as enjoying our ancestral homeland.  In a previous blog I compared myself to Chevy Chase and listed our itinerary.  Now for some follow-up.

1.  Arches National Park, Moab, Utah:  Arches was a lot of fun.  We arrived late in the evening on July 4th and no one was there to take our fee for entry into the National Park, so it was free which made it much more fun.  We enjoyed just being in the desert.  The unique color of the dirt and the rocks plus their formations were spectacular.  Being there at sunset and then dark gave it all a magical feel.  Apparently you can camp out there and take extended tours; but it was enough for us to drive up and see.  The wind blew hard and knocked my hat off a couple of times, so I have red dirt stains on my Tilly hat.  I may not wash it.

2.  Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde, Colorado:  In many ways this was the park I was looking forward to the most.  I’m an archaeology enthusiast anyway and seeing and learning from the park rangers how these ancient people’s lived daily was very interesting.  The drive up was beautiful and awe-inspiring.  Cool Fact–I had no idea that these people from the distant past used and manufactured cotton!  Of all the national parks I’ve been to, this is the one and only one I’d like to come back to and spend a week or so doing all the tours and taking advantage of independent study on site.

3.  The River Walk, San Antonio, Texas:  We did several Texasy things like the Big Texan in Amarillo and the Cadillac Ranch.  But my favorite was the River Walk.  We rode a boat, walked around, shopped, and ate really tasty Mexican Food.  My daughters and wife were serenaded by a Mariachi band at our table.  Priceless.

4.  Tombstone, Arizona:  I had more fun here than expected.  We didn’t get to see the live show because it was in the afternoon and we were there early in the morning, but we did visit the O.K. Corral and watch the animatronics display.  We also saw neat photos and time period tools.  The best part was the 25 minute diorama story in the theater.  It was so cheesy it was actually fun.  I bought a book

5.  Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona:  I posted an earlier blog about this one (CHRIST IN THE RED ROCKS) so here it is enough to say that I recommend it.  If nothing else, the geography around Sedona is spectacular.  The area was well-developed with classy shops and businesses.  Not to kid friendly, but I wouldn’t mind going back someday with a pocket full of money and lots of time.

5.5.  Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nevada:  The Hoover Dam was not on my original list, but since we were so close we went ahead and saw it.  Got some great pictures and the thrill of “driving over” Hoover Dam.  The only downside was we were late getting there that day because of car trouble.  I met some very, very interesting people in the waiting lobby of the Big O Tires in Kingman, Arizona.

6.  Rachel, Nevada:  Area 51 made this itty bitty town famous.  By itty bitty I mean, one store/restaurant/bar/hotel called the Little Alie’Inn.  They served great pie and it was interesting talking and taking pics.  We did see some interesting things flying in the sky, though, as well as several low (75 ft?) flying aircraft painted all black.  Oh, and we had to come to a complete stop because of a bull standing in the middle of the highway.

7.  Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:  I’d never been there before and had been told it is the greatest waterfall.  I liked it a lot, especially the height of it, since you can stand at the base and look up.  That is different from many waterfalls which only have an observation deck at fall level.  The drawback to it was the nearness to the freeway.  I love the roar of the waterfall; and the speeding semis sorta ruined that for me.

If there is a theme to this years trip it would be mystery.  Mesa Verde and Arches both echo back to a time long ago and seem to point to unknowable aspects of our past.  The Tombstone story is one of mystery because, contrary to most film and literature, it is far from clear whether or not the Earps were in the right or wrong.  The grave for the Clanton’s in the cemetery says they were ‘murdered.’  Then we throw in Area 51 and the deep echoes of a towering waterfall and now we’ve got the makings for deep mystery.

I’ve got some pics to post later and more blogs from the trip including windmills and what I read while I was away; but now my mind turns toward a fresh mystery–the great mystery of God’s presence manifested through the church.  Ahhh, back to work.

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