Now, where was I on this tale of tales? Oh, yes, just leaving Death Valley...finally. I must say that I quoted Psalm 23 several times throughout our journey in DV...especially the part, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...". It just fit.
On the outskirts of Death Valley, you run into what almost seems like a ghost town. It's a mining town. If the mine ever leaves, it will be a ghost town. There are actually two little towns that rely on the mine for existence. I was saddened by the conditions in which people lived. Maybe they are happy there; one could only speculate. It was almost creepy as you drove through...very depressing to say the least. I was very happy to find ourselves in Ridgecrest with running water, a RiteAid, and a really good Mexican restaurant.
Yes, it was good to be among the living once again.
We enjoyed the continental breakfast in our hotel before heading out for our day's journey to and through Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks en route to our next resting area, the Snow Line Lodge. I don't know if there's any other route, but we definitely took the scenic one. There were some interesting and fun places to stop off and have some fun along the way. Lake Isabella was the first of many. The cloud cover over the water didn't take away from the beauty of the area at all.
A little further down the road we came to a little town that compares to GA's own Helen. It exists for the sole purpose of being a mountain/river getaway. So many camping, fishing, and rafting by/down the Kern River. Those rafting were all in wet suits. That water was flowing cold. We stopped and enjoyed feeding the trout at the local hatchery. Free and fun entertainment! It was the dry option in the river city. :)
The next few hours of our day were spent winding around corners and switchbacks in the mountains. If you didn't like the direction you were headed all you had to do is wait five minutes and it would change. Literally. The weather didn't, though, for it was consistently cloudy and chilly the entire day...until we even were high enough in the mountains to even find snow still on the ground. I knew it was inevitable, but, still, snow in June? Really?!
Snow, sequoias, waterfalls, and rocks surrounded us as we traveled along. We ate lunch at a little hole in the wall, Nelson's, somewhere in the middle of a mountain. It was really good! Maybe I was just thankful it wasn't PB&J again for lunch. :)
Just after lunch I started noticing blooming yucca plants on the mountainsides. Not just your ordinary yucca plants...blooming yucca plants on the upside of 7+ feet tall. They looked like trees.
In my wanting to photograph a yucca plant tree, Scott pulled over at a spot that not only held many a yucca, but also a treat of a waterfall that we could hike down to without much of a problem. Two for the price of one sale out in the middle of nowhere. Yay! Inbetween all of these treats, to pass the time in the car, I was immersed in my book, "The Last Pirate". It took place in sunny and warm Florida...a distinct
contrast to where I was at the moment. It was a really good book, btw. I so enjoy authors that have the ability to take you to where they want you with their words. It was that kind of book. Anyway, a few hours later, we emerge from the mountains and find ourselves surrounded by a different type of trees. We were in the orange groves of California. The nickname, "Sunny California" was on vacation, however. But the oranges made me smile and be thankful that we were out of the mountains for the moment. A right turn up ahead took us right back into the mountains and into Sequoia National Park. Thankfully it was Saturday and there weren't workers actually working on the road, but we still had to manuever around one lane roads up in the mountains...and, wait our turn for a one lane bridge. It was kind of scary now that I let myself think about it...remember, I was on a boat on the breezy shores of Florida through this at the time. :) I did put down my book long enough to start spying some very large trees among the others. Those sequoias are no joke! The small ones are enormous and the big ones...well, they are just that, BIG! It was fun walking around in the land of giants. It puts things in perspective, really. I enjoyed hearing and reading some of John Muir's thoughts as we went through the visitor center. One that really caught my attention..."No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." Also as we went through the land of trees, another verse kept coming to mind. "You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:12) The sounds of the forests were beautiful. Creation praising it's Creator. I was right along with them thanking God for the opportunity to see more of His wonders. As we walked on snow covered trails, shivered in the rain, and took in the magnitude of it all I was overcome with joy that I was there.
As we were leaving Sequoia Nat'l Park and headed toward our stop for the night, I was looking forward to a quaint little mountain stay. It didn't take long to figure out quaint ain't the word for where we stayed (forgive my slang...it rhymed too well not to use it). How do I describe the Snow Line Lodge? Good intentions. That about sums it up. Mind you, it's the middle of nowhere CA, between two national parks, on a rainy day/night after a long day of driving in the mountains. You would have desired quaint too. Ms. Cindy has taken on the task of reviving an old bar/lodge that has a history behind it...I'm not really sure of all of that history, nor am I sure if I want to know all of it. The rooms are upstairs with a common area downstairs. The rooms are tidy and clean...warm and dry. The downstairs is a mixture of personal items, an old bar area, an out of tune piano, and a black cat named "Knuckles"...all warmed by a wood burning stove. That last item I loved! Ms. Cindy made me some hot cocoa, too. That was a very welcome warmth to my wind chilled soul.
The rains poured down outside, the heat poured out of our room's space heater, and I finished my book before turning out the light. It was a day among days and one I won't ever forget.
I reminded myself of this recently.
It's not about me at all, this wellness journey I am on to a healhier version of myself.
Not at all.
Never has been, really.
It is about the people who invest in me. My husband. My boys. My family. My friends.
They all share themselves with me. When I am not at my best, I'm not giving them a good return for their investment.
They get the tired looks, the lack of energy excuses, and the wimpy "maybe next time" cop outs. I have come to realize that those that take precious time to invest in me deserve better from me. I need to adhere to the direction given on any flight I've ever been on that goes something like this: make sure your own oxygen mask is properly secured before helping others. If I don't take care of myself first, my ability to care for others effectively diminishes quickly. My choosing clean eating, drinking enough water, and exercising on a daily basis is how I put on my mask first. Am I perfect at meeting the n…