Trip Out West 2007 – page 4


Trip Out West

(September 2, 2007 – September 8, 2007)

Saturday, September 2, 2007

Yesterday we went through the Petrified Forest and then the Painted Desert.  We looked for (and found) much petrified wood, went on a tour around the park (well, the petrified forest), and also went to the Painted Desert.  The children were amazed by the Petrified Forest.  It was amazing to look at those old, old trees that have literally turned to stone.  The more amazing thing, I though, though, is the fact that they haven’t just turned to stone, chemical changes have taken place that have turned most of the interior of the stone to beautiful rocks like quartz and even precious stone like amethyst and other beautiful colors.  This is what gives the trees their remarkable colors.  Sadly, though, the forest may not be there for our children’s children to enjoy.  The park service estimates an average of 1 TON of petrified wood is stolen every single month!!!  This is appalling.  We’ve been reiterating to the children the entire trip how they can’t pick up “souvenirs” because if each little child did that (of 1 million visitors each year), then all the beautiful things would be gone in a few years.  It is said that the ground once sparkled with broken (and larger) pieces of petrified wood, but now anywhere near the trail all the wood is simply gone.  Of course the bigger pieces are there because even the hand-size pieces weigh quite a bit so taking something bigger than a large book would be impossible without help.  Even that would probably weigh hundreds of pounds.  These stones are heavy!!  However, people are obviously taking things because so much disappears every week and the park service knows about it, but can’t really do more than they are now, which is educating the public and prosecuting those they catch.

At the Painted Desert, which is still part of the Petrified Forest National Park, we had the good luck of arriving right when a couple of technicians had caught and were working with a milk snake.  We were able to see them weigh it, measure it, and even put a computer chip just under the surface of its skin.  It was very cool!  The techs let all the children touch it and he answered our many questions with enthusiasm.  One thing we learned is that milk snakes were named that because ranchers saw them coming out of the barns frequently and they accused them of drinking the cows’ milk.  They were probably just looking for other prey, though, like insects or small lizards or perhaps other snakes, because they do not drink milk.

After we left the Painted Desert, we drove as far as we could toward Monument Valley.  This wasn’t on the schedule originally, but Chris really wanted to go there so I added it in.  (We also added Meteor Crater in at his request.  It’s funny how the things he has wanted to add are the things that have cost us money!  Other than a couple of things, all the stuff I had already scheduled was free on the parks pass or museum passes I have.  It just shows once again that guys cost more money!)  Anyway, we ended up arriving in the area for Monument Valley very late and as we were driving along, we saw that the sky was VERY dark and the stars were VERY bright.  I found a safe place to pull over (this means that when I didn’t think we were on the side of a cliff!!!) and we got all the children out, turned out the van lights and just looked at the sky.  It was majestic.  I’ve never seen so many stars, nor stars so bright.  We could see the Milky Way going from one side of the sky all the way across our heads to the other.  We looked for a long time and honestly I could have stood there looking for hours, but we were on the side of a road after all and there were still cars coming occasionally so we eventually got back in the van and drove into the city.  There was no safe place for us to camp in this city so we ended up getting a place for the night.  Also, my legs have begun to hurt more and more and I haven’t been able to see my ankles for about a week.  My feet are too swollen to identify them.  I know they’re there, though, because I still feel them ache!

monument valley

 

This is one of the pictures from Monument Valley.  Chris really wanted to go here so we did and we enjoyed the “monuments” (these great rock formations).  It was very funny, though, because this park is run by the Navajo nation and not the federal government.  This means that the government is not upkeeping the roads.  I swear to you I never drove on roads this bad even when I lived in Soddy-Daisy as a kid and we traveled across the mountain on dirt roads!  We bumped and bumped and we had to have Sarah hold the breakable things in her lap – that’s how badly we were bumping!!!  I thought we weren’t going to make it out either because there is this one huge hill (in a place with all flat land!) and it was covered with red sand.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a 15 passenger van filled with stuff (and people) up a hill covered with sand?!?  I was so relieved when, after much slipping and sliding, we made it up.  I think the guy coming toward us changed his mind and turned around.  🙂

We continue to meet nice people as we travel.  Of course the children are learning things I could never teach them at home, but I have also been pleased with the amount of things I’ve learned – even if some of the things aren’t exactly good.

For example, it always bugs me when people judge a person or a situation before they know all the facts.  That just drives me crazy.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much.  Perhaps it’s because we were so poor when I was growing up and my mom and mamaw always did the best they could, but we just didn’t have much.  Because I was a “poor” child, I definitely experienced prejudice from my friends’ parents or even from other students who didn’t want to be my friend because I didn’t wear the right clothes or have the right toys, etc.  When I was older I didn’t have money to participate in the same activities as the other kids, but when I was in high school, I had some great teachers who provided many opportunities for me.  Of course I still never went to the mall (and I still don’t like to do this!), but they did make sure I got to go on field trips, band events, the prom, etc.  I had GREAT teachers!  Anyway, all this is said because prejudices against other people always bother me and one of those has been the prejudice of “drunk Indians.”  Most of the people making comments like this have never met a Native American.

Well, while we were going through the Navajo nation (most of our trip through Arizona), I noticed that there were many places to buy liquor and everywhere we stopped to buy gas or go to the bathroom or whatever, we encountered drunk people – Native Americans (of course, since we were where they live).  Now at home when I go to the store or wherever they might sell alcohol, I might run into a drunk person every few trips.  Here, there were so many drunk people that I didn’t feel very comfortable sleeping in our tent.  I didn’t feel that they would bother us, but at the same time, all the alcohol made me nervous.  Also, there was an incredible amount of those little pills being sold – the kind that supposedly give you an energy boost, etc. – and I saw at least a couple of people who I suspect were using Meth.  The second guy I saw already had the sores on his face, neck, and arms where he had been scratching his skin off (due to a feeling that bugs are living under the skin).  All these folks were Native American.

I admit that I thought (judgmentally), well perhaps these people (as an ethnic group) really do drink more and just don’t take much pride in their person or possessions.  We had also noticed that there are ALMOST NO houses in Navajo territory.  There are little shacks.  I wish I could show you pictures of these places.  There is no other word for them except shacks.  They are usually around 10 feet by 15 feet or so and made of wood corners with wood and other material making the walls.  Most of the “walls” on the outside are covered with tar paper (I think it’s called) or other real cheap material like that.  We also saw many wikkiups.  (Who knew that Native Americans still lived in wikkiups??)  And finally, there were lots of trailers.  I thought, “Gee, they took such good care of the land, but seem not to care about much else.”

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I spoke with a couple of Native Americans about this and I found out a few facts…

–          Did you know that the reservations – set aside by the government for the Native Americans – still belongs to the government?  (I assumed the particular tribal nations owned their particular land, but the government owns it.)

–          Did you know that because the government owns the land – it is like any other government property – we can use it, but it’s not ours (or in this case, it doesn’t belong to the Native Americans)?

–          Did you know that Native Americans actually can’t own land on their own reservations?

–          Native Americans who want to stay on the same area of land can actually “lease” land for up to 100 years, but because they can’t own it, this means they can’t pass it on to their own children, they have to ask permission for particular changes, etc.  It’s not theirs!

–          Did you know that if a Native American who dies has been leasing land from the government (on the reservation), that person’s children are not guaranteed to get the house that is on that land?  (This is why so few Native Americans build permanent homes.  They live in shacks or easily moveable trailers.)

I mention all these facts to make people think about this for a minute.

–          If you (or your children) couldn’t ever own the land you live on, would you bother to build a nice home on that land?

–          If you were going to “rent” forever, would you make improvements to your land?

–          If you lived in a “modern prison” and you could drive about in a particular area of land, but you still were accountable to the government for what you do, where you live, etc., would you resent that government?  If you were young and rebellious, might you damage government property like buildings and street signs?  (We have seen a lot of this.)

These reservations have the nicest schools – by far – of any school I have ever seen in the United States and I have seen a lot of schools.  There are new buildings, several playgrounds per school, aquatic centers, baseball and football and soccer fields, gymnasiums, etc.  There are also nice community centers and other “government buildings.”  The ironic thing is that the Boys’ Correctional Facility (in one town it was located about 100 feet from the public school) is almost as big as the school.  This is a HUGE indication that there is some serious problem!!!!!

I just found all this so sad and wondered how the pride of Native Americans might increase if we went in and said, “Hey, this land has been protected for your people but obviously this method isn’t helping to preserve your people or your culture so you can have the land to do as you wish.”  I wonder if the Native Americans of each tribe would come together and figure out some way to make their own local decisions about how to best preserve the land for Native Americans, but yet allow the people to have some pride.  Perhaps they could allow families to buy plots and they would own it, but with the one condition that they must be Native American to own it and if they ever sale the land, it must then be sold to other Native Americans.  This would preserve the area in the best interest of the tribe, but yet it would also encourage them to make improvements, take pride in their property, etc.  I just wonder about these sorts of things…

Well, it is way past time for bed and I’m very tired.  I hope you’re enjoying the pictures and the stories.  I’m sorry tonight’s is so much more serious.  I just have these people on my heart tonight.  There are also so very few churches out here and the few that we have seen have been Mormon.  I believe that many of these people are lost and confused in their own land, but they are without the greatest Light.  Instead of judging “Indians,” why aren’t we trying harder to reach them?

Sonya

There were a couple of things I wanted to add before I forget…  In addition to all the plant life here that is different and beautiful and neat, we’ve seen many animals.  To add to my last list, in the past few days we’ve seen a porcupine and a road runner.  I’m 37 and I’ve never seen these animals – even in a zoo.  This was very cool to see them in their natural environments.  The porcupine was climbing a hill beside the road outside the Grand Canyon and the road runner was eating a lizard (and dropping it, chasing it, grabbing it again – torturing it, it seems) in the Petrified Forest.

colorado rainbow

We’re in Colorado now and we seem to be traveling with the rain. We couldn’t resist a picture of this rainbow the kids saw out the window as we traveled. Isn’t it beautiful? Just after this, it turned into a double rainbow, but we couldn’t safely stop to get a picture.

 

September 4, 2007

We went to Mesa Verde yesterday.  It has been one of my favorite sites thus far.  There are over 600 cave dwelling sites there, but we decided to take a tour into the largest one – Cliff Palace.  Archaeologists estimate that at one time over 100 people lived there.

A few things struck me about the tour to Cliff Palace.  First of all, when we asked how the Native Americans who lived here got in and out of the dwelling, the guy said by hand and toe hold trails.  These are literally holes carved in the side of the rock – some are straight vertical climbs.

mesa verde

Here is a view from above Cliff Palace. This is the largest of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. It was remarkably well preserved, too.

 

mesa verde 2

I put this picture here to show a more close up view of the bricks. They are so well made and this picture doesn’t even do justice to some of the areas. Notice how well made the windows and doors are as well.

mesa verde 4

Family photo at Mesa Verde.

mesa verde 3

Daniel and Hannah look so cute through a window at Mesa Verde. You can’t see the great workmanship here, but you can see how thick the walls are.

September 5, 2007

I didn’t get to finish writing yesterday.  I only have a little bit of time online each time I write and I had to finish some other work before I could write more.

What I was going to say about the “trails” in the rocks is this…  It is obvious that these hand and toe holds have been gouged into the rock and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Native Americans who lived here used those for the purpose the ranger suggested – climbing up from and down into the cliff dwellings.  There were several things that I think he was wrong about, though.

When I asked if the natives had ropes to transport items (like baskets of food, wood, etc.) over the rock ledge down into the cliff dwellings, he said that they didn’t use ropes for that purpose because the longest ropes they found were no more than 30 feet long.  Now you should see these ropes.  They are very sturdy ropes made of various materials like animal hair and local grasses woven together.  Now if you have seen these ropes, you know that they are amazingly sturdy.  We would be challenged to make something so well-woven these days without a machine.  Sooo, my point is this – if they can make wonderfully woven, sturdy 30 foot ropes, do you think for a moment that they can’t make ropes 50 feet or 100 feet long?!?  Just because they didn’t find any through archaeological digs doesn’t mean that they didn’t have longer ropes for that purpose.  It simply makes sense.

Then, they also have these rooms called kivas that the ranger said were used for ceremonial purposes.  He said they don’t know if they sacrificed animals or plants or if they used the ceremonies for rites of passage purposes, but they were ceremonial.  (He also said that with the rites of passage, the natives deleted a part of civilization that we have always known… teenagers.  Um, I believe perhaps he has that backwards…  We didn’t actually have teenagers until about 100 years ago.  Before that, as far as we know, societies had the sense to raise children to transition to responsible adults as soon as we could prepare them to do so.  Now I’m not advocating young marriage or anything, but I certainly think that a 12 or 13 year old who is responsible, respectful, dedicated to a cause, and already on the path of training for a profession is much preferable to the teenagers we have “created” who are excused for their bad behavior because we no longer require any sort of accountability for “kids” until they are “adults,” which we term anywhere from 18 to 21.  Perhaps if we would start working on them at birth to be responsible by the time they are 12 or 13, we wouldn’t have a society full of delinquents.)  OK, I have really, really strayed there from the point, but it is a good point to think about!  My discussion about kivas was this… I just stood there looking at the kivas over and over and there is a big round room with stone “benches” around the outer edges.  (Now this is down inside the kiva because it’s a room down in a whole – all made of stone.)  In the middle of this is a fire.  On the side is an air vent to provide fresh oxygen into the room.  The cover would have been made of wood and they found many of the kivas basically intact because the wood fell in and the kivas were preserved as they had been.   Now remember that he said they also thought they were used for sacrifices so I asked if they had ever found any organic material there to indicate that there had been bones or grasses or other material burned there besides wood.  He said no.  Then I just kept looking and thinking about the formation.  I raised my hand again and said, “From looking at the formation of this kiva and the fire pit in the floor of it, you said that they were expert pottery makers, so how do you know that they didn’t just use this room as a giant steam room?”  He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well, because we just don’t believe they did.”  I honestly wonder if they had considered that option.   There was a couple from Italy standing next to the ranger when I asked this and I am writing this because it was so funny, but that lady was translating everything for her husband and she slapped him on his shoulder and started laughing and was telling him about the question I asked and it was obvious that they thought this was a great idea, too.  I couldn’t hear the whole thing, but she said something to the ranger about the fact that they use steam rooms like this in Europe and she thought this was a great suggestion.  It was very funny, but apparently the ranger didn’t think so because the next question someone asked him was why these people left and he promptly told them that one of the most likely possibilities was that they had begun to have too many children and that they just ruined their civilization since everyone knows that overpopulation is one of the primary causes for the destruction of a society.  OK, now here is one of those moments when the Lord must have just closed my mouth because I could not even respond.  I would like to point out to him that actually it’s the misuse of resources that causes societies to run out of food and other resources and NOT the birthing of children, but I couldn’t even speak.  I was so shocked by his disrespect and I have no doubt it was directed at our family.  You could just see this in his non-verbal language and the glance in our direction just as he said it.  (Yes, perhaps I pick up on these things more than most people, but I LOVE studying people and this is one of the things I notice – body language.)

Now this is a place where I actually think they have the timeline correct as far as the time these people lived here – around 1200 A.D..  It is so much easier to more accurately date periods back to about 1000 B.C. because we have tree ring dating (comparing trees in structures with local trees to find a pattern of growth during certain years to trees cut now – you can tell not only how old the current trees are, but also when the other trees were cut) and we have written histories that tell us when particular people were in leadership, etc.   I believe most Christians would even agree with the dates of historians and scientists up to about 3000 years ago.  Now you and I know people were here before that and we even know that people were not as technologically advanced as we are today, but to say that they were just inferior life forms with less knowledge is ludicrous.

Let me give the last example from Mesa Verde.  Many of you know that language is my specialty and my true love.  I took a Navy “language battery” test when I was in college (and joined the Navy for a brief few weeks – long story…) and scored so high that they basically told me I could do anything of my choosing with the score that was the highest they had received in this area.  I absolutely have a passion for languages and for sharing with people the meanings of words and how words and languages develop and have developed over time.  So, bear with me a second here…

Have you ever played one of those games where you tell one person a secret at one side of the room and then you go all the way around the room whispering the same thing, but by the end of the trip the “secret” is inevitably different than what it started out as.  “The cat is in the barn” becomes “the hat is not being worn” or whatever.  This is my theory on why secular researches get so much stuff wrong.

If you think about the story of the kivas above, the ranger said that one of the reasons they know these were ceremonial is because the people believed to be the descendents of the Mesa Verde inhabitants use kivas for ceremonial purposes.  If we can change a sentence in a small room of people and we can change habits over even five or ten years (look at clothing trends or the way we worship in the church today compared to the times of Martin Luther and the purchasing of relics), then habits or customs certainly can change over a period of 600 years.  As a matter of fact, without a written history, I think that it’s not only likely, but very likely that we can base our interpretations of past culture on modern descendants of that culture, but I just don’t know that we can positively state what occurred or what something was used for.  (For that matter, there were a bunch of itty bitty pieces of pottery in the museum and they were very obviously pots, bowls, baskets, etc.  The note said that they do not have any indication of what these were used for, but I asked my husband and my children – separately so as not to influence their comments – what they thought these little pieces of pottery looked like and they all said, “They look like little pieces of doll furniture or some kinds of children’s toys to me.”  Now if we can assess that and we are NOT trained in the field of archaeology, then don’t you think it’s just possibly common sense that these people may have been making one of their pieces of art (and their pottery IS beautiful art!) and a child is sitting nearby – on this cliff dwelling, mind you – that the parent (or the pottery maker) may have said, let’s teach you how to do this and you can practice with your own little piece of clay.  Don’t we do basically the same thing when we allow our children to make little wood implements, crochet a small blanket, cross-stitch a sampler, or even cook in an Easy Bake Oven?

The whole point I was leading to about not knowing everything about the past and making an interpretation is that sometimes what these scientists say makes no logical sense whatsoever.  Here is the last example.  Now this ranger said that they believe these people may (and emphasizing “may”) have had some sort of verbal language, but it would have been very primitive if they had any at all and they certainly had no written language.  Then, he was also explaining in the kiva how this one little hole in the bottom of the floor represents the hole that mankind originated from.  (Some Native Americans believe that the original people came from the lower or under world up into the upper world – on earth.)  The problem with the idea that these people did not have speech is this…  There are these little holes in every single kiva in each of the 600 sites located throughout Mesa Verde alone.  There are also many more kivas throughout the southwest with the same little holes.  It’s obvious that they had some sort of purpose, but do you realize how many interpretations there could have been of that hole if there were no spoken language?  Try this at home – go out in your back yard and dig a little hole.  Then, tell your children you’re going to play a game and this is a quiet game with no talking.  Lead them into the back yard and show them the hole, do a little dance, make motions from the hole to the sky, do whatever you want – honestly – do whatever you so please, but you CANNOT talk (or use sign language – just motions).  After about 10 minutes of this, ask each child individually (because remember that they can’t communicate with one another without language and you don’t want them to influence each other’s comments) to interpret what you were telling them.  After each child verbalizes this to you once, have all your kids come back together and share their stories with one another.  I canguarantee you  that their stories will not be exactly the same.  Now, if you want to make this even more fun, do the same thing, but start with your oldest child and take them into the yard one at a time to see the hole.  (This represents each generation of non-talking natives passing the “story” down to their children.)  There is no possible way that you would end up with the same story from 600 years worth of people if the people couldn’t talk.  (And honestly, as I’ve said before, I bet the stories have changed a little anyway, but with oral story telling being amazingly accurate in some cultures, even if the story hasn’t changed a whole lot since 1200, they would have had to have spoken the stories – not motioned them.)

Finally, I’m going to put some pictures below from Mesa Verde.  Study these.  Look at them more than once and look carefully.  Think about the last time you told someone to do something and they got it backwards.  Think about the last time you were misunderstood.  Try to remember if you have ever encountered a deaf person who doesn’t know sign language or perhaps has very minimal sign language ability.  Think of a time when you’ve communicated with someone who spoke a different language and you’ve tried to give them a simple explanation of something – like where the bathroom is.  Did you get frustrated?  Did you ask for help?  Did you write a message to the person to clarify what you wanted?  Think about these questions for a minute – with the last two, you were still communicating in a language.  If you got frustrated because you asked your husband to buy bread on the way home from work and he forgot, can you imagine if you had no language and you had to rely on that man to provide food for your family all the time in the wilderness?   Do we really really think that humans were able to come to the point we are today and achieve all the greatness we have achieved without the use of intelligent communication?  I am not talking about grunts here, people.  I’m talking about intelligent communication – just like the communication that was had between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  If we don’t believe in the basics of our religion and we can’t rely on faith that the very basic history in our Bible is true, then we have a greater problem than figuring out what a kiva was used for.

sanddunes2

The children (above and below) are taking their Junior Ranger oath at the Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park. They’ve earned several of these badges or patches throughout our trip and it has been one of their favorite activities. The children get booklets (usually about 8 pages) and they have to complete activities based on age and usually they also have to attend one or two ranger programs, then they can turn in their booklets and earn a badge. The Junior Ranger program is a great activity at the various national parks and monuments.

sanddunes3

Hannah was very serious about her oath. 🙂

Great Sand Dunes - waterfall

I just thought this waterfall at the Great Sand Dunes was so pretty. It looks so peaceful, doesn’t it?

September 6, 2007

It’s actually about 2:30 in the morning now.  I hope that the past couple of entries I’ve written haven’t been too depressing for anyone.  I have been increasingly feeling the need to share these thoughts as we’ve traveled out west.  We’ve seen so many amazing things and the more we see, the more I am so impressed that there is no way these things got here by chance.  It is so obvious that we have a God who loves us so much, even though we have betrayed Him, that he not only created us and a place for us in which to live, but he created a beautiful place.  If our universe is this magnificent, can you imagine what heaven is going to be like?

I think my favorite place thus far has been Mesa Verde.  I really enjoyed the cave dwellings despite the ranger’s lack of knowledge of other interpretations of the dwellings’ purposes.  The dwellings are so incredibly beautiful and I would recommend to anyone taking a trip out west that you definitely visit that site in particular.

After we left the cave dwellings, we went up another couple of thousand feet and I began to feel very poorly the night before last.  This is when we slept at the top of a mountain – I think it was about 10,500 feet at the pass.  The next morning we drove down to about 8,100 feet to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.  These were very beautiful, but I couldn’t make it over the first dune.  I climbed up it and just fell down.  I waited there for about an hour while Chris and the children were playing one or two dunes over and finally I just had to go back to the van.  There was another man back at the visitor’s center later who was having altitude sickness and I wondered if this may have been my problem, too.  I take medicine and I have taken no more than usual, but I have felt so sick ever since we went up that highest peak night before last.  I can’t seem to shake the feeling of nausea, my head hurts, and I just feel generally weak and tired.  (The only reason I’m up for a few minutes right now is because I had a nap and I wanted to get a posting on before we leave the hotel in themorning.)

We decided to get a hotel room last night because while we were at the sand dunes, we were going to walk up to a waterfall and a local couple warned us against that.  They said that they had just returned from Colorado Springs (where we are now) and two people had been killed there by lightning.  They said they were tent camping.  There has been a TON of lightning here.  It’s very beautiful, but also quite intimidating.  The sky seems so much closer to the earth here – I guess it’s because we’re higher up, but because of that, the clouds seem so close to the earth.  The shapes are different and they just seem to connect to the earth in a strange way.  The lightning is no different.  Instead of having so much sheet lightning as we do in Tennessee, which isn’t quite as scary, out here the bolts reach menacingly from the inside of the clouds all the way down to the ground!

So, we got a hotel for the past two nights.

Today we went to the Focus on the Family headquarters here in Colorado Springs.  The children just loved Whit’s End and of course we had ice cream at the soda shop.  Chris and I had hamburgers, too.  It was one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever had – for less than $2.00!  (And it’s free to get into the building and Whit’s end anyway.)  We played there for a long time, but we’re going to go back tomorrow so that the children can record their own radio show.  They are very excited about this and we even get to take the CD home so that they can listen to it over and over and we can share it with Granny and our friends!

I met several homeschool moms while I was there at Whit’s End.  Their children were playing a game in the soda shop called Redemption.  It’s a card game sort of like Pokemon, but the characters, content, and point of the game are totally different.  It’s based on good and bad Biblical characters and you get points for playing or trading certain cards, each card has a Bible verse, and your points accumulate, etc.  There was one boy there named Matthew who has a website with more information about it.  He’s a very enterprising young 14 year old who actually sells the cards as part of a home business and he also has blogs and other links on his webpage at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/77Matthew/ .  (His mom gave permission for this to be posted here.)  Anyway, we’re not into gaming cards at this time, but if my children begin to show any interest at all, I bet I’ll be steering them toward this game.  It sounds very fun as well as educational (in a Christian manner).

The moms and I talked quite a bit about homeschooling in Colorado.  It seems that they have a couple of good options on how to register the children and they seem to have lots of homeschoolers in this area so it’s great that they have community support.  Also, it’s very obvious to me the influence that Focus on the Family has had in this town.  This is the first time since we left Minneapolis that I feel I’m really in a “Christian” town again.  If you don’t believe there is a spiritual war going on, people, you need to leave your home and take a trip out west.  Some of the things you see will astound you – as they have me.  I’ve tried not to be too graphic in my descriptions of some of the things we’ve seen (other than talking about the reservations), but we’ve encountered so many secularists and also many homosexuals, I’ve seen lots of alcohol and drug abuse (remember I’m the one going in paying for gas, etc.), and we’ve had to carefully monitor what people are posting, listening to, or watching while the children are within range.  Last week we were at a chain hotel (name unmentioned) and it was a very nice stay, but the next morning when we went down to breakfast, they had the news on (which isn’t uncommon).  The main story of the morning was someone (I believe a politician) who had admitted to having a gay affair and then there was this whole discussion beginning about this issue, etc…  I asked to change the channel and the lady was very nice about it (and of course I asked the other people in there eating if they would mind if I turned the channel while the children were present and they didn’t object either).  An almost identical thing happened yesterday morning and there was only one lady in the dining room and she actually got irritated because I asked her if we could change it – this time the news was about gay sex (I’m guessing related to the same story of last week).  I explained my reason and she just acted like that was the craziest thing she’d ever heard of – changing a channel so that children wouldn’t listen to it.  If we don’t start protecting our children’s minds now, guys, and if we don’t pray over these young people every day and make a concentrated effort to win back our country, I worry about our freedoms in the future.  Already I’m being told that I can’t ask questions about the timeline of geology because it “belongs in church,” but everyone else there can present their different viewpoints???

We need to start realizing that we live in a SINFUL society and that is the root of all these problems.  It’s the cause of all our problems in society – not overpopulation.  J   We don’t even want to admit that sin is causing our problems because it goes back to the accountability thing.  WE don’t want to be accountable.  I have my own set of problems that are being caused by my own sinfulness.  I believe that the reason my legs hurt all the time and I got so sick when I had Hannah is because I sinned.  I will not go into detail about my sins (that’s between me and God), but I honestly have no doubt that that’s the reason I’ll be able to bear no more beautiful little children.  (I pray that the Lord can make good come out of this one day, though, by opening the doors for us to adopt.)

On to other subjects…  I have been dropping off lots of postcards to promote the book and I can’t wait to see if other homeschool parents find it useful.  I really believe the book will be a great asset to the other great homeschool materials on the market today and other than your curriculum, it’s really the only thing you need to buy other than great reading books (and there are some reading lists in The Homeschooler’s Book of Lists as well!).

I found out yesterday that my editor has been reading my blogs so I guess I’m going to have to work harder to promote the book now!

Odyssey 1

Christopher and Hannah check out the wardrobe in the Narnia area of the Focus on the Family children’s area.

Odyssey 2

I really like this picture of Christopher in the Narnia exhibit. He looks like a model.

Odyssey 3

You can get good view of the hall here.  The children’s area at Focus on the Family is truly wonderful.  They’ve done a great job of making it very kid-friendly and it’s quite appealing to adults, too.  I’ll try to post some more pictures tomorrow.  Hannah loved going to the bathroom because they have those little children toilets!

September 7, 2007

We are getting ready to go enjoy Colorado Springs some more today.  I was hoping we would have an opportunity to do several things here, but now I’m wondering if we will actually be able to do more than Focus on the Family.  I was looking at the travel time between here and St. Louis, Missouri, where we are supposed to end up sometime tomorrow to be able to enjoy all day Saturday there and it’s going to be a lot of driving between here and there.  By the way, several people have commented that their children would never sit still for six weeks in a car…

We have plenty of books on tape – particularly Your Story Hour and also some books that Chris borrowed from an online library and put on CD.  We also listen to Adventures in Odyssey, which are produced by Focus on the Family and are absolutely fabulous.  And, we have some really neat magnetic boards for the younger children that they can stick magnetic letters, words, symbols, and pictures to.  Unfortunately we can’t do a lot of reading in the van because it makes almost everyone car sick.  Micah read a book one day for about ten minutes and promptly threw up.  Sarah does very well reading in the van, but I wonder if that’s because she is so piled up with stuff that she can’t see out the edges of the van so it doesn’t affect her as much.  (She is in the back seat by herself.  Then we have two children on each of the other seats with a space in between them and that’s where their “supply boxes” are stacked.  They each have their own clear plastic box with colored pencils, coloring books, and a few little special things.  The other thing we’ve used a lot on the trip that I’ve even enjoyed are Brain Quest.  The kids are very much intellectually stimulated by these, but for me, they are actually like playing a Trivial Pursuit game where I actually know the answers.  (I never know the answers when we play Trivial Pursuit.)

One last observation I wanted to make before I head back east…  I think we should be more appreciative of water and less wasteful of it.  There seems to be water everywhere in the east, but out here people have to conserve water or they won’t have anything to drink.  One lady told me that tourists are especially wasteful because they come from places where water is plentiful, but there may be a time when water is dispersed differently and we need to learn now to be more conservative.  I agree with this to a degree and would like to offer a few suggestions:

–          If you are taking your all children to the bathroom in a row at the same toilet, why not suggesting that the last one flush rather having each one flush?  Flushing requires much water and I know this sounds gross, but it would save lots of water.

–          Keep water bottles in a cooler and don’t pour out water just because it gets a little warm.  Get used to drinking warmer water (so you don’t have to have all the energy required to refrigerate water to the coldness many of us Easterners like).  If you do feel like your water is going bad, use it for something else – to wash hands or to wet washcloths, etc. – rather than just pouring it out.  If you must pour it out and you’re traveling, find a nearby plant and at least pour it on the plant.  It will benefit from the drink.

–          Don’t worry so much about how things look – Do you really need to spend 20 minutes with a water hose on washing your vehicle?  If you must keep it looking nice or if you’re concerned about rust from salt or something, try using a damp rag and just go over dirty areas.

–          Take 5 minute showers instead of 15 minute showers.

–          Make sure all faucets are completely turned off after you use them.  I’ve been into several bathrooms during this trip where the sinks actually still had water running out of the faucets when I’ve entered the bathroom.  That’s sooo wasteful.  I’m not even talking about dripping water (which should also be prevented).  This water was a steady stream running out of the faucet.  (It makes me wonder if the person came from a place where they normally have automatic faucets.  I can’t imagine a reason why anyone would leave water running like you wash your hands and not turn it off.

–          Reuse water when you can.  If you would put water in a tub in your sink to wash and rinse your dishes, then you could take the tubs out into your yard and empty that water on your plants.  If you have little children, give them a bath at the same time or one after another in the same water.  (Just be sure to wash them from cleanest to dirtiest so that you don’t dirty the water too much with the first child.)

Perhaps many of you have already thought of these things, but most of us need to do more to put these things into action for the benefit of all of us.  We are doing much better to try to take care of our resources, but we could do even better.  I think the big issue is that we need to start with individuals and work our way up.  If every ONE person tried to make a difference, then we would have a different world.  I might talk more about next time, but you know what I’m talking about.  If each person who smokes would find a cigarette dispenser instead of throwing those butts on the side of the street, then we wouldn’t have piles of cigarette butts on the sides of the road, especially beside traffic lights and other stopping points.  They think ONE butt doesn’t make a difference, but in actuality that one just adds to the growing pile.  (And I’ve never understood why they put ashtrays in cars if smokers don’t use them anyway – do we have a bunch of lazy people who just don’t want to empty the ashtrays into the trash can later?  That’s ridiculous.  It’s the same way I feel about parents who change their children’s diapers and leave the nasty things beside the road rather than holding on to them – no matter how stinky – until they find a trash can!)

OK, now I’m beginning to feel like I’m on my soap box so I better get off.  Have a great day!

Sonya

 

September 7, 2007

We drove through Kansas today.  I was hoping we would be able to spend the day in St. Louis today AND tomorrow, but we just didn’t make it there today.  We did have a fabulous time at Rock City in Kansas, though.  It’s a little northwest of Salina.  I’ll put pictures on tomorrow or Sunday.  I can’t wait until Sunday!  Not only is it the Lord’s Day and we’ll be back in Tennessee where we might be able to find a church, but also we’ll be going to the resort and I can take a nice loooong shower.  That will be great!

The children have been having a terrific time.  We’ve spent numerous hours in the van yesterday and today.  I believe we drove for about 6 hours yesterday until I finally had to rest so we stopped at a rest stop about half way through Kansas.  Then today we drove for about an hour or so, stayed at Rock City and I used the grill to make us a nice lunch (chicken, black beans, and corn – a great stir fry), then we’ve been driving ever since.  It’s 10:30 right now.  Now we did stop for a couple of bathroom breaks and I went into Topeka and dropped off some more promotional postcards for The Homeschooler’s Book of Lists.

The bookstores have been very receptive of the postcards and I hope that they actually put them out for the customers.  I believe homeschoolers will be appreciative of knowing that there is a new resource out there from a Biblical world view.  The editors at Bethany House worked very diligently with me to ensure that the book contains a true Biblical perspective, which is of course the only perspective we would want to promote.  I am grateful to them for helping me make sure the material is accurate, but also honoring to God.  The only bookstore that has not been receptive to the postcards was one in an un-named large city where the manager – who had a very high-pitched voice and feminine clothing – told me that they were not allowed to put out promotional materials for books and I said that was funny because I’ve done this for a while and I’ve never had any bookstore tell me that – including others in his own chain.  He said he would look into it and I said, “Well, you have a very large homeschooling population in this city and I believe your customers would be very grateful if you would make the postcards available.  It would be great if the book were available on the shelf, too, if you could do that.”  He said, “I will check into the postcards, but if they want the book, we can order it.”  Now see, I think that right there is how particular groups continue to try to dominate our society.  Instead of making products available to the general public and letting them make the decision, he was, in my opinion, prejudiced against the product and therefore decided not to promote it even in a passive manner.  There were several books with skulls, witches, and other very secular material lining the aisles.  I am so thankful that thus far this has NOT been the primary response.  I promptly went across the street to another huge chain bookstore and the manager there had tattoos, a ponytail, and was very casually dressed.  He was as polite as could be, told me he would be happy to put the cards out, would get some of the books to go on the shelf, and he gave me information for authors’ booksignings and told me to consider coming back sometime for a book signing if I was ever in the area again.  (That has been my only disappointment about the trip – that I couldn’t do actual signings as we traveled, but I can’t be too sad about it.  I learned a long time ago that it’s funny how God has a plan for everything and obviously doing signings on this trip was not in the plan, but also it might have worked out better anyway because I was able to spend plenty of time with the children just enjoying our nation and I have met plenty of homeschoolers, homeschool friendly people, and retailers who have learned about the book.  So, I think I’ve done my best to promote the book and I’ll do signings when I go home.)

Some of you have asked how to help make the book a success.  Here are some suggestions:

1)      Buy the book and use it.  Finding out that it is useful and that your homeschooling is so much easier with it will encourage you to tell other moms about it.  Letting other moms know about the book is one of the main things you can do.

2)      Call your local bookstores and ask them if they have the book in stock.  This takes about three minutes, but is possibly one of the BEST, most helpful things you can do.  If the book is on the shelf, then moms who come in for help right now will be able to purchase the book.  And remember, some of these moms may not be Christian.  It is my belief that some people use the secular timelines and inaccurate information simply because they use what’s in front of them and/or they don’t know what to believe.  I believe at least some of those people would be willing to use a Biblically based timeline (that includes such dates as the Flood and the birth of Christ) if they actually had one.

3)      Please send me an e-mail and request postcards for your local support group.  I would be happy to mail you postcards for your personal use (to give out to people you meet who might be interested in homeschooling) or for the use of your group.

Thanks for reading.  Also, I asked this of my friends in Johnson City, but if you would like for me to send your child a postcard, let me know.  At this point, I might make it home before the postcard gets there, but that’s ok.  And the big deal is not to get a postcard from me, I could sign it Mickey Mouse or something.  I just think it’s cool to watch children get mail.  They love it so much!

Oh, I remember one more thing I wanted to mention before I forget…  The kids had been begging to go to a McDonald’s while we were further out west.  They kept saying, “Look at those great, huge play places.  We just have to stop!!!”  Of course I can’t stand begging, whining, or other intrusive conversation so I have told them “no” over and over, but also said that perhaps before we went back to Nashville, I would stop at one of the play places.  Now I already said that they’ve been in the van yesterday and today for many, many hours so I said, “OK, tonight is the night.  We’ll stop and play while I update the website and you guys can play.”  Well, we noticed that we hadn’t seen any playlands for quite some time and we had all been looking diligently.  Finally, after a few hours of looking, I saw a place with the tell-tale signs of a playland – the larger room added on to the eating area.  Well, we got off the interstate, pulled in, and I didn’t see any play equipment.  I went in the McDonald’s and the worker told me that the playland had been taken out about two years ago.  I told him we were going east and I wanted to know if there were any others nearby (before the kids fell asleep).  He checked with the manager and told me that there would be no more further east because they are removing all the playlands from the McDonald’s.  He said he wasn’t sure why, but I’m sure most of us would guess it has something to do with lawsuits.  This was disappointing because I’ve been telling the children for two weeks that we would stop at a playland eventually, but not yet…. I said there are always going to be more McDonald’s with playlands, etc.  You know what I mean.  So I did apologize and admitted that I was wrong.  I guess you can’t rely on anything any more.  (This proves once again that the only thing truly dependable in our lives is our relationship with Christ.)  I realize it’s a silly little thing, but now how many of you can honestly tell me that you knew there would come a day – soon – when all the playlands would be gone.  This guy said that their goal is to have all the playlands removed within two years.  Who knew?!?

Sonya

 

September 8, 2007

I think the McDonald’s guy was pulling my leg about the removal of all the playlands.  Not three exits down from his, there was a huge McDonald’s playland and we’ve passed a dozen more since then.  He seemed like a nice guy so I don’t know if someone passed him incorrect information or if he just thought it would be funny to tell me a fib or if he just liked us so much, he wanted to ensure that we ate at HIS McDonald’s – since that’s just what it achieved.  Oh well…

I’m very tired and while I love to travel, I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to being at home soon.  We have less than one week left and I can’t wait to spend the last few days at the resort enjoying the sun (hopefully! – It looks like there is rain in the forecast.).  Right now I am very tired, though, so I’m going to bed.

Today Hannah was drawing little pipes coming out of the people’s heads on the paper she was drawing on.  She said the pipes were sucking out the people’s brains and the stuff gathering at the other end of the pipe was not very pretty looking.  Now this comes from a four-year-old (disclaimer – she has three older brothers).  Don’t you ever just wonder if we’re somehow damaging our children for life and we don’t even realize it or do you perhaps wonder if people like Albert Einstein and Leonardo DaVinci had similar episodes in childhood?  Life is such a mystery and it is certainly never dull with children around…

Sonya

I hope you’re enjoying the adventure with us.  Please click here to read the final page of our adventure.

If you would like to go back to page three, click here.

If you would like to begin reading about the beginning of this trip, use this link.

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2 thoughts on “Trip Out West 2007 – page 4

  1. Pingback: Trip Out West 2007 – page 5 | The Homeschool Advocate

  2. Pingback: Trip Out West 2007 – page 3 | The Homeschool Advocate

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