Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pennsylvania the Beautiful (did you miss me?)

Pennsylvania is the mother state. I grew up there and could not wait to leave for college. After I graduated, I ferverently sought jobs elsewhere and ended up in Colorado. During the past 11 years I've been back to PA many, many times, but this time Pennsylvania gripped me by the heartstrings in a most powerful way. Her greenery was so bright, it hurt my eyes to stare at it for any length of time. Looking across the vast rolling expanse of the Pocono mountains dotted with weathered red bans brought tears to my eyes and a homesickness I've never before experienced.

"Dang, this place is beautiful," I snuffled to John as we drove West on 118 toward Rickett's Glen State Park.

"Yup." My man of many words replied.

Hiking along the misty forest paths, I drank in the sights and smells. The loamy smell of moss and rich soil mixed with the spicy scent of white pine, ferns carpeting the ground as far as the eye can see and the blueberries! I remember sneaking off into the woods across the street from my home to climb to the top of blueberry mountain gorging myself until my lips, fingers and teeth were blue. Mom was afraid for my sister and I to play in the woods - especially near the blueberries b/c of snakes. Whose afraid of a cute little snake?

What is most disturbing to me now is that my woods are gone. Developed into pricey homes by a developer.

For all the years I lived in NEPA, (that's North-East Pennsylvania for those of you non- natives), I never thought of it as a place of stunning beauty.

Here in Colorado, believe it or not, there are people who are as blind to the beauty here as I was to the beauty of my motherland. I think it's becuase we get so wrapped up in the demands and trials of life we forget to look for and see the beauty God as surrounded us with. As a child, I was so focused on the pain of being different (thick, Hubble Telescope lenses in the glasses) I yeared for escape. Now, years later, I found myself mourning my lack of appreciation. I could have grown up in a stinky, smelly city. Looking back, I had something very close to the idyllic childhood.

It is my prayer, that in this georgous state of CO, Kyle can grow up and see the mountains every day, finding himself breathless by their massive beauty.

Pictures above are from Rickett's Glenn State Park (except for the barn which is in Dallas, PA)- you should all go there sometime and camp there (or stay with my parents :)

RGSP has one of the most awesome hikes along Kitchen Creek. 32 waterfalls cascade down some very slippery PA shale. Unfortunately, due to all the flooding PA has faced this summer, the trail along with many of it's bridges was washed out. We were unable to hike the trail due to its closure. Next summer perhaps...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Over the river and through the butt!!

Welcome new readers! Greetings from a sunny, green Dallas, PA! John and I figured we didn't have enough excitement in our lives so we opted to pack up the dog and the Little Booger in the car and DRIVE...yes, I said DRIVE from Denver to Dallas PENNSYLVANIA. Oh, what a long and tedious journey. The Little Booger did very well, me on the other hand...

We left Denver on Thursday night and drove to Hayes Kansas. We stayed in an Econo Lodge. In the future let the word "econo" when in a business name serve as a warning. The bed was harder than decade old concrete. The towles rivaled 30 grit sandpaper and smelled like an old ash tray while the wall unit blew like a blizzard storm over our bed. The dog was the only one who slept that night!

From Hayes it was onward to Indianapolis to spend the night with my friends from College: Peter and Karen and their two kiddos. I think we landed somewhere after 10 PM. Peter and Karen have an incredible house in the woods and it was hard to leaave early the next morning to make it to PA.

Did you know Ohio is a fat state? It takes FOREVER to drive across Ohio. So far, the Little Booger slept soundly in his car seaat until meal times, then he would work himself up to a wail that would scare a werewolf. One of us would eat one-handed while holding the bottle. I'm amazed at how many fast food places along Interstate highways don't have baby changing stations in the restrooms. The driver's seat became the make-shift baby changing station.

Midway through PA, I hit the windshield. John was glad I didn't hit him. I'd been in the car toooo loonnnnggggg! Around Danville, PA which is an hour west of Dallas, I began to make crazy screeching noises and go into antsy convulsions. Booger slept through it all. The dog even snored! Did I mention I hate long car trips?

What a relief it was to speed past the white picket fence in my parents' yard and skid to a stop in the driveway around 10PM that night. My sister Tammie rushed out the door to grab the baby. Let me tell you - it was all about the baby. No engulfing arms arond my neck, it was more like, "Hey Darcie, let me at that baby!!!"

So we've been here several days and relaxing. Dallas is a quiet place. My parents live in the woods and there is not a growl of air brakes to be heard. Only the echoing chirps of birds.

I'll write more later. And put up some pics.

My dad's keyboard is in a weird position and my wrists are begininig to cramp. Oh, gotta put the caps lock back on. for some odd reason he types in all caps. I guess engineer/contractor type people can get away with that!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Special Meeting

All of us at one time or another dream of meeting someone whose craft we admire. Today I was blessed to meet one of my favorite contemporary authors - Brandilyn Collins. Brandilyn writes
incredible suspense fiction. Take it from me, a confessed bookaholic, her books are nearly impossible to put down! Titles to check out are: EYES OF ELISHA, DREAD CHAMPION, BRINK OF DEATH, STAIN OF GUILT, DEAD OF NIGHT, WEB OF LIES and soon to come VIOLET DAWN. If you go to B&N, look under Inspriational or Religious fiction. In Christian stores you will find her under the mystery/suspense genre.

Brandilyn took an hour and a half of her time to sit, drink coffee and chat with me. She was interested in who I was, in Kyle (she agrees, he's one cute baby!), and my aspirations to write. She encouraged me to focus on what I am getting done, as opposed to what I'm NOT getting done. Too often I find myself gritching over the fact another two months have gone by since I've last touched my manuscript. Or that I have yet to come up with some really cool story to querry to some paying publication. BC told me that's okay. I'm a new mommy and babies should be my focus. In the mean time I'm to read, read, read and learn from my reading.

Brandilyn has a really cool blog you should click on over and check it out! I also encourage you to make a beeline for you local bookstore and snag her books. I promise you will like them!

In the meantime, I will take care of Kyle, read, blog, and maybe get some writing done.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Get Real!

First off, I'd like to welcome some fellow Blogging Chick readers! Glad you want to come back - let me know what your sites are and I'll check you out as well...

A note about the last post: The God Hates Fags people picketed our church one Sunday morning b/c we don't preach hate and actually have small groups geared towards people who struggle with homosexuality. We love them. We help those who come to seek help. Bear Valley Church doesn't turn anyone away.

Okay, now for the "Get Real" post. John and I took some friends hiking on the 4th of July. Hiking is what you do in Colorado for fun that is almost free (GAS!). Wanting to avoid the traffice corridor of I-70 and 285, we decided to find something near Boulder. Why avoid I-70?

Several years ago we camped in Leadville over the 4th. The trip back which should have taken no more than two hours took SIX! Four hours from the tunnel to Georgetown - only 11 miles!!! People actaully sun-bathed on the hoods of their cars. But I digress...

As avid hikers we have hiked many of the front range trails and made a decision to hike unfamilliar trails this summer. We consulted a guide book notating the "best loop hikes in Colorado". I spied the Walker Ranch Loop hike several weeks ago, but John had his heart set on Kenosha pass (see the "Ahhh Colorado" post for pics and a description of that one). The authors described the fascinating hike through a rejuvinating burn area, to a verdant valley in Eldorado Canyon into a dense pine forest, dropping down a cliff face with carved stairs to the Boulder Creek (again), then ascending through some very scenic country side to the trail head. Distance: 7.6 miles. Exertion: moderate. Hiking time, which according to the writers allows for lunch breaks, gawking and periodic rest stops - 3 hrs. Not a bad deal. Moderate would mean some gentle sloping, but to do 7.6 miles in 3 hours, we assumed the trail was fairly flat. So, we suggested this trail to our friends, one of whom does little to no hiking and is only getting started.

We descended and descended and descended for the first mile and a half. Not unusual. Okay, so the last 6 miles would be a gentle climb out. Right? Wrong. We descended to Boulder Creek, ate lunch then climbed very steeply out of the canyon, crossed one ridge, climbed up to another which lead into previously mentioned verdant valley. In the middle of the valley we saw mile 3. Thunder roared and black clouds rolled over our heads as we kicked it up a notch along the flatter portion of the trail through Eldorado Canyon. Maybe the rest of the trail was like this.

After another half hour or so we began to descend and descend and descend and then we REALLY descended. A sign was posted in a spot where a deafening roar of water echoed through the pine forest: bikers dismount and carry bikes. Horses turn around. We inched our way forward and peered over the edge of... a... cliff! We descended and descended some more, aproaching the swollen icy creek. Boulder creek runs deep and narrow and very little aquatic life can exist in its icy waters. Every year people die trying to tube the creek.

Carefully we picked our way over rocks into the deep canyon. The air was cool and clean from the rushing currents. Tired bikers with sore shoulders lay like lizards on the rocks below, huffing from the scary climb down - bikes on back, cleats slipping on the rocks.

We barely past mile marker 4. We already had been on the trail for over 2 hours! What goes down must come back up. It's the law of hiking in Colorado. You'd think the trail would curve and give reprieves. But NO. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Not a gentle rolling climb, but steep loose gravely climbs causing the calf muscles to squeal like stuck pigs. Heidi looked like she was going to die. The Little Booger slept soundly against John's chest. John was slowing down and Perry offered to carry Little Booger the rest of the way. I thought of my legs as pistons in a powerful SUV and methodically placed one foot in front of the other refusing to stop until I reached the top. It never came, or so it seemed. I asked one of the many bikers if a top even existed. They assured me it did. Caleb, my dog plodded on in front of me, his bushy tail marking time. Somewhere along the way I passed mile marker six and shouted "Woooooo Hooooo! Six!" Hoping to offer Heidi encouragement.

I made it back to the trail head aobut 30-40 minutes before the others. The final .6 miles sloped gently downward giving my trembling quads a little break. Caleb wanted water, but John had his bowl.

I waited. Another couple emerged, dusty and trail weary. They were loop-hikers as well.

"Three hours, the wife muttered."

"My guide book said it was a moderate hike," I added.

"Ours too; you must be Kyle's mommy."

"I am."

"Amazing baby to do so well on such a difficult hike."

"Can't believe the guide book said moderate. We used the Loop Hike book."

"Us too," the husband said while loading his hiking poles into the Explorer, "should have considered that the authors were a marathon runner and a professional cyclist. No clue about how long this would take a normal person."

When people write books like that, they need to consider the audience. I was okay, John was okay, Perry and Kyle were okay, but Heidi... I hope she will hike again. Someone needs to write a regular person's guide to hiking in Colorado.

In the end it took us five hours. The park literature I read while I waited for the others suggested 6. Now that was real.

Great hike. Think I'll do it again sometime, only I'll plan on 5-6 hours instead of three!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Snake hygeine and gay naighbors

...that snakes wipe their butts after they poop? I'm not trying to gross you out, really. I'm just sharing a tid bit of information I learned at the Denver Zoo today.

John and I took the Little Booger to the zoo (again - we sure are going to get mileage out of that membership some wonderful unkown person bought for us) after church. On Friday we spent time in the bird house and Primate Panorama. Today the heft of our visit consited of staring into fish tanks and terrariums in Tropical Discovery. We saw a snake poop. John saw it first and pointed it out to me and the hundred others surrounding us. I'll spare you the detials, but when the snake (a huge one, about 8 or 9 inches in diameter) finished his business, he wiped himself clean on a rock! Amazing how God programs some critters with the need for cleanliness! Snakes!

The Little Booger enjoyed his zoo visit. There are a lot of trees. Have I mentioned my son is obsessed with trees?

He also was mesmerized by the fish in the aquariums. I'm thinking of setting up his highchair in front of the one in our house...

Our next door neighbors are the most likeable gay men you could ever meet. We have become friends with them over the past few years and have had some very in-depth eye-opening conversations.

One day Gill and I stood in our back yards on our tippy toes chatting over the fence. Gill popped a whopper of a question; "Does your church have 'gaydar'? Like, if I actaully hung around for a few minutes after one of your choir/orchestra concerts, would people see me, point and yell; 'There's a homo in the sanctuary! Purify yourselves!'?"

Oooohhh. What a question. I would love to say, "No way, our church would do no such thing. We are not part of the God Hates Fag movement." Rather I said, "The mature people who really do what Jesus says wouldn't behave like that." Does your church have a "gaydar"?

Let me say this so you know where I stand:

Homosexuality is a sin, period. Any sort of sex outside of marriage is sin, period. Me not trusting God, and thinking He made mistakes in making me is a sin, period. Stealing, lying, cheating, gluttony, pride, perversity etc are all sins. We all need Jesus.

Gill told me several times he wishes he weren't gay. He's tried in his own power not to be gay, but has finally succumbed to the pull of his flesh. He's terrified of stepping foot into a church b/c he's had some pretty hurtful experiences. What does that say about the "Christian" Church? How would Jesus resopond to these men? They are wounded. They are seeking, but unwelcome in the very places they can find what they are looking for. Why is that?

I'm not knocking my church one bit. I'm talking about Christians in general. The God Hates Fags group claims to be Baptist! Hate is sin too!

Jesus loves these much He DIED willingly for them. He would chat over the fence, eat dinner with them. Laugh and cry with them. He would show them His healing power and allow them the chance to turn to Him and then He would lead them down a new path.

Homosexuality is not genetic. It is most likely result of a deep wound. The world then grabs the struggling youngster/adult and erroniously convinces them they are gay which in the end creates a deeper wound. We have all made sinful choices in the throes of painful experiences.

All that said, if you know someone who is struggling with this pain, love them. Don't condemn them. We ALL have our never-ending battles with sin whether or not its covert or overt.

Pray for our neighbors. We love them deeply. Gill has attended a few concerts, but comes and goes before any stray "gaydar" sensors can go off.

Imagine how different this world would be if we Christians actaully lived what we say we believe the Bible teaches. Oh, and one more thing... ALL 66 books are inspired by God. Some people only beleive the "red letters" are scripture, the rest being debateable. It's all true. We can't throw any of it out. Throwing away what we don't like is what got our world into this mess...