Christmas away from home for the first time.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, beauty can be separated from us. Only by living in a time can we experience our amazing environment. Sometimes traveling to a new and pleasant place helps us pay attention to our surroundings.

Christmas Away from Home

My husband and oldest daughter, Angie, were my traveling companions when we left Grand Rapids, Michigan on the morning of December 24. It was the start of the first snowstorm that year. At 7 in the morning, we had 3-inch-thick snow and more on our way. I keep thinking Oh, please let us get out of Michigan! If we can get off the ground in Michigan, we might escape the storm and get to our destination safely – Las Vegas. Sure enough, the flight was on time and we arrived in Las Vegas at 11am. We had a nice lunch (in 60 degree weather) and did an excursion.

It was fun and enjoyable to spend Christmas away from home for the first time. Well organized travel plans – of course by me! We plan to drive to Koosharem, Utah on Christmas to pick up our youngest daughter, Vanessa, from school. It was a five hour drive from Las Vegas, but we planned to spend three days with him in a hotel not far from his school. We will then return it to school, return to Las Vegas, spend two days there, and fly home to Michigan.

Knowing that we would drive most of Christmas, we went to the Christmas Eve Mass in Las Vegas. It was a new and interesting experience – the church is very modern in design (somewhat unusual for a Catholic church) but beautiful, bright and colorful. There is a male soloist who has an extraordinary voice – we can listen to it all night! He really helped create the tone of the entire mass. I can still hear his voice singing praise to God.

Drive through Nevada and Utah

We went to bed early that night because we had to get up at 5 in the morning on Christmas. The journey through Nevada and to Utah went smoothly – no snow or ice! The Nevada mountains look like a large haystack in the distance. There are many barren highways but mountains march in the sky like a painted picture. When the sun rises on Christmas, a beautiful sight to behold! The three of us were amazed when a ray of sunlight appeared on the mountain peak. Then rise higher until it looks bright above the highest peak.

In Utah the temperature is in one digit. No problem, the view is beautiful – our Lord is a great artist. Entering Utah we were welcomed by a large rock formation. Several times while driving, we saw bald eagles perched on jagged rocks, watching their territory. We passed mountains that looked like rainbows – the colors of pink, gray and orange stones.

We arrived at Vanessa’s location at noon, picked her up, and then drove half an hour to Richfield, Utah. We spent three days there in a comfortable hotel. There isn’t much to do so we ………… shop! That was fun. For three days we shopped, went to a movie, ate out and relaxed. Nice to meet Vanessa again.

Fitness Test in the Nevada Mountains

The next journey begins after returning Vanessa to school. We drove back to Las Vegas and, again, weather in the 60’s. Our evenings were spent on the Strip, but we decided to spend a full day hiking and rock climbing in the Valley of Fire state park. The park is located about 45 minutes from Las Vegas.

It’s very beautiful, I think about it almost everyday. I now understand why the territory of the United States was called the “God Country”. We admire large caves and layered rock formations; large stones with pink, gray, blue and yellow. It looked like a large rainbow that stretched toward the horizon. We got off the beaten path, walked straight down the mountain, and spent nearly five hours climbing the cliff and crawling inside the cave. Over and over we passed a large rock, squeezing between the narrow cracks in the rock. Boulders and jagged stones last for miles – and so do we!

Very amazing! We take videos, pictures and try to store whatever we can in our memories. We have equipment on our backs so our hands are free to climb. Our supplies include water, food bars, jackets, cameras and maps. (Well, the map isn’t good because we’re off track!). We climbed, climbed, and crawled for hours – on big rocks, slippery, loose rocks, and through colorful layered crevices. It seems that the more we climb, the closer we are to the horizon – so we keep going.

I have never seen such beauty – nature in its rarest and rougher form. I enjoy every adventure. It was getting late so we decided to turn around and return to the mountain to the main road. We followed the chalk arrows but climbing back was a difficult task. The three of us felt victorious when we emerged from the top of the mountain. We were exhausted after we returned to our car – and it only hurt a little the next day!

New Awareness

The flight back to Michigan was smooth and we arrived to face 3 feet of snow. However, we have a new appreciation for its beauty. Actually, there is a deeper awareness about everything. What a feeling of euphoria – being able to slow down, look around, and soak in the grandeur of the environment! For me Submission Art, this adventure proves that nature makes me connect with myself and my environment. That’s the feeling I want to cherish forever.