The Professor Goes West//A Year Later//Day One

I  have an exciting blog series to kick it off.

Last May-June my family took a three week camping trip Out West. We traveled for 23 days, camped 11 nights, visited 10 National Parks, and saw 11 of the Franciscan California Missions. I kept a handwritten daily journal of our trip.

Since Lyme disease thwarted my plan to write about our family camping trip last summer, I will be posting my journal entries from the trip on the anniversary of each day of the trip. And include some family camping tips along the way.

Today is day one!

Day One–Sunday, May 20, 2018

We pulled out of our driveway at 7:50 am on a cool, sunny morning. The Minnesota river was full and glittering. Someone had built a bridge so we were able to cross without incident. 

Bloomington at 8:11 am–we crossed the Ferry Bridge–if we had come this way before 1996 we would have had to take a ferry. At 8:50 am we crossed yet another bridge over the Minnesota River. We followed the southern western shore of the river for many miles after that. At 10:12 am we passed a freight train with three engines next to a grain elevator. Around elevensies we passed by many wind farms and large plowed fields. 

We entered South Dakota on I-90 at 11:30 am. We took a 60 minute stop at Falls Park in Sioux Falls at 11:45 am. The kids climbed all over the pink rocks out into the river. The rapids created beds of fluffy foam. We saw the ruins of an old granary. 

Later in the afternoon we came to the rolling, soft green hills of the muddy Missouri. Trees and black cows dotted the hillsides and the giant expanse of the sky spread wide around us. We crossed safely over the smooth, paved bridge thankful that we did not have to caulk the wagon and float since we have forgotten the caulk. 

We spent the later afternoon exploring the Badlands. We hiked through them climbing a ladder up and down a steep cliffside. No one fell and there were no sprained ankles.

We saw some game–a few buffalo, antelope, deer, and a few mountain goats. Our food stock is still high so we decided not to hunt. 

We further spotted 20 head of elk on the mountainside in Custer State Park. We got into camp around 7:45 pm, and had everyone tucked in by 9:45 pm. The night promised to be cold, yet quiet. We heard coyotes, which I mistook for yelling teenagers, howling in the night off in the mountains. 

NCRegister: The Desert is Where We Find God

The fertile forests of Yosemite National Park in California, which we had camped in the night before, had given way to the dry, rocky land of Nevada, and our minivan sped on in a land where cities and towns are few and far between. We were on the final week of our three-week western road trip. It had all been so beautiful, but here, in this empty, dry land a sense of dread lay heavy on my chest. The desert went on for miles before us and behind us. Rocks rose occasionally into mountains and cliffs in the distance, but their barrenness only added to the bleakness of the path we had to take. And everything seemed closer on the horizon than it actually was, making each mile seem longer.

This family road trip was the first time I had experienced the desert, and what surprised me the most was the amount of life, life adapted to the environment, that struggled on even in this most desolate of climates.

Read more at the National Catholic Register…