Saturday, June 4, 2011

Life Gets Busy

Life gets busy. Even when one is living in a National Park, life still gets busy. Too many things to try and figure out and manage can quickly overwhelm even the stoutest individual and it is very easy to lose focus of what matters in life. This past week has served as a significant reminder for me of what some of those things can be.

I ended up driving down to DC last Sunday right after getting off here in Shenandoah to attend the Memorial Day concert in front of the capitol. Alison had gone down earlier and had a spot on the lawn and I showed up in uniform which allowed me to sneak through the security entrance (they assumed I was working the event, which I had last year, so I knew where to go!) resulting in me getting to the blanket where she waited at 7:54 for an 8:00 show. It was a splendid show, honoring the sacrifice of troops past and present, and focusing and the larger ideals that this country represents. I am really glad I got to go. It was a fitting way to begin my week and to honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. I am deeply proud to be an American, a part of the ongoing story of this country and what it is founded upon.

On Memorial Day itself I managed to escape from a busy visitor center (we logged 2444 people on Saturday and 2500 on Sunday just in the VC, maybe 5% of the people actually visiting the park) and get out on a trail for a couple of hours. It was a hot day, but I still wanted to hike! I hiked about 4 miles on the AT, stopping off to visit one of the shelters here in the park where I checked the logbook to see what the through hikers had to say. I also spoke to five different through hikers along the trail, all five passing through Shenandoah after having already hiked 910 miles, with another 1268 to go. What causes people to take on such an overwhelming journey? That very question is the subject of my terrace talk, which I gave for the first time last Thursday. It is my one chance at an interpretive program here in Shenandoah, and I figured the AT would make a pretty good story!

Today was National Trails day and there were two different special programs at the VC about the AT. I sadly did not get to attend either one because I was stuck at the desk, but I did get to talk to one of the presenters after he had finished. He has hiked the entire 2178.3 miles (give or take--it changes on a regular basis) 5 times. FIVE TIMES! I don't even know how to comprehend doing that! Thinking about such a journey helps to put my own life journey in the proper perspective!

I did have the pleasure of embarking upon my own trail journey yesterday. I actually got released from the desk for an entire day, the first time that has happened since I got here, and I decided to make the best of it! I did two hikes way down at the southern end of the park, which required 75 minutes of driving just to arrive at the trailheads! The first was a 3 miles circuit that included some lovely views and a stop off at another AT shelter where I again consulted the logbook for interesting entries (can you tell someone is looking for fodder for his program?). The second hike was a 10 mile loop which took me to a stunning vista from chimney rock, down to the riprap run to splendid swimming hole (I could unfortunately not partake in uniform!), and along nearly 4 miles of the AT. Now that is the way to spend a day working as a National Park Ranger!

During my travels yesterday I encountered a turkey with four little chicks waddling behind her, a doe and a newborn fawn (I saw another while out hiking Monday; that fawn walked up to me and curled up at my feet!), and a mama bear and three cubs. Methinks is it the time of year to see young animals!

And then there is the wedding. Alison and I have nearly decided on what we are doing for a save-the-date card and also done the initial work to design and set up a website. It is becoming significantly more exciting as the reality of the wedding continues to take shape!

Life continues to be an adventure, and amidst the adventure I continue to be reminded of why I am here at this time in this place and what it means to be a part of the larger story of creation that God continues to write with each passing moment.

Living always in dangerous wonder!

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