Tag Archives: family vacations

Guided By the Light…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 119:105:

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”

Our family road tripped across the country last week combining family visits with college tours.

9 days – 12 states – 5 colleges – 3 family visits

We rented a van and packed our faith as we set out on our second family road trip in 22 years 🙂 My favorite farmer laughed that who wouldn’t want to explore the eastern half of the United States with four teenagers! It amazes me that our children are old enough to be thinking about college, but that appears to be the reality. My favorite brunette ships off to begin her college journey in a few weeks, and our next two are starting to figure out where life will lead them after high school.

Learning to trust is hard, but it is an important requirement for letting go. I have loved and cared for my children for 18 years. There is a part of my heart that really hurts at the thought of having my babies leave my home and travel out into the world. While my head knows that leaving the house prepared to share their faith and talents is the ultimate goal, my heart doesn’t want to let them go.

As I personally struggle with this, I find comfort in the knowledge that my kids are learning to be anchored in faith and guided by the light. We travel that spiritual journey together. None of us have all of the answers, while all of us have questions. That’s okay. We are called to be faithful — to find wisdom in God’s word, Jesus’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s influence — not to know everything. Faith is about living in the moment and opening your heart to God’s mission. It’s not about answers, it’s about trust.

The above passage from Psalms appeared on a plaque inside an academic building at Davidson College. My sister-in-law is a Davidson alumni and my favorite blonde cowgirls are enamored with the school. We visited it as a part of our family road trip. I love to see scripture posted on college campuses. College students are just getting used to “adulting” and likely need a gentle reminder to look to God in order to live in the light. A supportive spiritual setting allows them to find success amidst the freedom of living on their own for the first time.

I remember a car ride a couple of years with the girls. As we neared home, I turned to Ashley Grace as asked her, “how do you know the path that God wants you to take when you have to make a decision?” She confidently responded, “I open up my bible and read whatever page it falls open to. Some passage always jumps out to me so that I find God’s guidance.” That conversation has come to mind several times over the past few weeks as I prepare to begin this next stage of parenting. Despite the fact that I have to let go, it comforts me to know that her faith is strong — anchored in a loving relationship with God and influenced by His word and active presence in her life.

It is much easier to travel the journey when the path is glowing with light 🙂




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Finding Our Inner Iguana…

My favorite 16 year old and I decided while interacting with the local wildlife population that, during times of stress, we needed to find our inner iguana.  We both found the large lizards fascinating.  Our favorite was watching them pensively contemplate the ocean waves while maintaining the yoga position of “cobra”.




Their nonchalant attitude toward life intrigued me and I found their herd dynamics (interactions between one another) thoroughly entertaining.

The only other animals that I enjoyed more were the sea lions.  The swimmer in me loved the harmonious way that they moved through the water.  I spend the summer trying to get my athletes to find that same sense of natural harmony!


Researchers use EID tags similar to what we use to track cattle health and performance to better understand their habits...

Researchers use EID tags (orange circular button) similar to what we use to track cattle health and performance to better understand the sea lions…

When they were not gracefully frolicking in the water, the sea lions reminded me of our house cats — Lazy with a capital L combined with just a touch of drama 🙂




It seems that everywhere I go, I find fascinating creatures to study.



Filed under Family, General

The Galapagos Islands…

I grew up by the ocean.  Playing in the sand, fishing on the water, and (during my teenage years) competing in ocean mile races to train for swimming.


I love the vastness of the ocean horizon.  I love the sound of the waves.  I love the feel of the warm sand on my feet.  The ocean brings a comforting sense of peace to this introverted Florida girl turned Nebraska farmer.  Although I have happily made my adult life on the plains of Nebraska, there are times when I miss the ocean with a deep seated yearling.


The Pacific Ocean near the Galapagos Islands combined exquisite beauty with melodious power.  We spent hours on the water traversing from island to island by boat — time walking the beaches and lava rocks looking for wildlife — and wonderful days snorkeling the reef areas.  Although I traded the Atlantic for the Pacific in our Ecuador trip, it did seem a bit like “coming home”.



As we snorkeled the reefs, my mind went into the slow motion patient mode that I use when I handle cattle — recognizing that the more that I quietly watched, the more I would experience.  I took pictures with my mind as I explored underneath the ocean surface finding multiple types of rays, feeding sea turtles, a sea horse, a beautiful purple star fish, a group of sharks hiding underneath a ledge of rocks, and a vast array of colorful fish. 

With nothing more than a mask and snorkel, I floated above the ocean city taking periodic shallow dives down to further explore the life of the reef.  My favorite farmer and I generally were the last of the bunch to climb back aboard the boat as we both found contentment observing the ocean’s treasurers.  The girls also enjoyed the mysteries of the underwater world, although it took a bit of time for them to pick up the art of snorkeling 🙂





Perhaps my favorite day of the trip was the afternoon visiting the Daphne Islands followed by a morning of exploring and snorkeling at Bahia Ballena.  I will share those photos in the next post.  Needless to say, the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands created quite a splash for the feed yard foodie family…



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The Andes Mountains…

Day 2-3: The Andes Mountains, the Canari Ruins and the Tomebamba River Valley…



E1rockclimbcollage.jpgI packed my faith and climbed with the family even though I am afraid of heights.  My favorite blonde cowgirl (upper pictures) received the nickname “La Cabra” from our local guide which means “goat”. She out-climbed everyone mastering the rock that stumped her daddy…


The kids, the classroom, and the library — The native Spanish spoken in Ecuador was very clear and reasonably easy for “gringos” to understand!

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Day 1: On mainland Ecuador, the Churute Mangrove Reserve (120,000 acres) serves as the largest mangrove reserve in the country.



The "fan" tail of a crocodile...






The natural salt flats of the Manglares-Churute serve as popular feeding spots for roseate spoonbills, ospreys, egrets, and even crocodiles with beautiful fan shaped tails.

The mangroves work in partnership with the crabs.  Leaves that are sacrificed to soak up the salt in the plant fall to the ground to serve as the food source for the crabs.




A dense forest surrounds the salt flats making homes for Howler Monkeys, sloths, termites and a host of other creatures, including mosquitoes who found us quite tasty!

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Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands…

Every once in a while my favorite father in law decides that we should take a family trip.  Four years ago, we went to Kenya to view the gorgeous animals and diverse types of agriculture.  This Christmas we visited Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

I am a bit of a homebody in addition to being a work-a-holic so it takes a herculean effort to get me to leave the farm.  My father in law is a very smart man. He recognizes that leaving the farm is an important part of personal growth as it allows for a more mature and diverse perspective.


Both times, I came home to the farm smarter than when I left so I guess that proves him right 🙂

I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing pictures and experiences from the trip.  I took 1000 photos, and have them whittled down to a short 100 that I plan to share.  For clarity, I broke the trip down into two major components:  Mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

There will be a regular blog post each Monday talking about a component of the trip followed by additional posts that share the “story” of our trip through visual images.  I appreciate your patience as I take a side-trip off the farm and into a different world!


The dichotomy of ecosystems that make up much of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands left me in awed fascination. While the animal life completely captivated me, the plant life offered a continuous surprise.

Our first day began at Churute Mangrove Reserve not far from Guayaquil.  There we took a boat ride to view the vast array of birds and a hike to see Howler Monkeys. While there, we gave our own personal blood donation to the hoards of mosquitoes that waited excitedly for us!

The bus ride from sea level up into the Andes Mountains amazed me.  The tropic jungles at 8000 feet defied rational explanation to a farm girl who lives far from the equator.  The mountains peak at about 13,000 feet with an interesting change of plant life and no sign of snow.


While in the Andes, we visited a middle school in the village of Cojitambo (near the city of Cuenca).  My girls loved the lively soccer game against the local students.  From there, we spent an afternoon rock climbing and visiting Canari (pre-Inca) ruins.  We rounded out our time in the mountains horse back riding and learning to cook authentic Ecuadorian dishes.  My favorite 16 year old was even “cleansed” by an older native woman at the public market in Cuenca.  This local ritual brought the rich culture to life for my American “Gringa girl”.

Leaving the mainland of Ecuador for the Galapagos Islands brought more natural dichotomies in the midst of an incredibly diverse wildlife population.  Cactus plants growing amongst mangrove bushes — both of them nestled together in volcanic rock along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Penguins living side by side sea lions and pelicans.  Land tortoises, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, iguanas, mating sea turtles, crabs and a host of sea life captivated my fledgling photographer’s eye.


In Kenya, I took a diary full of notes and a few pictures.  In Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, I took a diary of photos with only a small amount of notes.  The images captivated me and seemed to tell a story independent of the written word.



Filed under Family, General

Mountains and Critters…

In typical “Anne fashion”, I took a lot of pictures during our three days in Wyoming.  My favorite farmer told me that I could pick my additional favorite 10 to share with all of you (he figures that you all might not find my “hobby” as interesting as I do…)!

Because I only get 10 pictures to share, I am limiting myself to the topic of Mountains and Critters…If you would like to see my vast array of wildflower pictures let me know 🙂

One of the hummingbirds that live by my parents porch along the river...

One of the hummingbirds that live by my parents’ porch along the river…

Three identical expressions await the arrival of the  trout...

Three identical expressions await the arrival of the trout!

Running at 10,000 feet, anyone?  Gotta love a girl who is fueled by beef!

Running at 10,000 feet, anyone? Gotta love a girl who is fueled by beef!

When you get done running, you can cool off in a snow drift.  And, then warm your hands back up on your daddy's neck...

When you get done running, you can cool off in a snow drift. And, then warm your hands on your daddy’s neck…

Cooling off at the lake with the help of her loving friend...

Or perhaps you can cool off in the lake with the help of a furry friend!

At times the view took my breath away...

At times the view took my breath away…

And reminds me of our precious our Earth is...

And left me with an feeling of reverent awe.

Because fishing is hard work---

Playing with nature  is hard work—

Making my favorite poetry writing / book reading teenager glad to have a horse to carry her home...

Which made my favorite poetry writing / book reading / Cross Country running teenager glad to have a horse to carry her home!


Home is where your family congregates no matter what the address…

In the words of Sai Baba:

Life is a song–sing it!

Life is a game–play it!

Life is a challenge–meet it!

Life is a dream–realize it!

Life is a sacrifice–offer it!

Life is love–enjoy it!


Filed under Family, General