Archive for the ‘My trips and travels’ Category

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

A view of Longs Peak and mountain range in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Dec. 2017

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

 across the frozen tundra plains

and winter’s bitter chill

turn to mist that hovers still. 

 How soon might I see

    tender shoots unfolding upon the dew?

   Hidden now they’re cloaked in nature’s own dark room

 waiting patiently to bloom,

and tender blades of grass

that peek from beneath the thawing earth,

and skies with a bright warm sun

promise spring is soon to come. 

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2018


…as a beacon upon a hill

A lighthouse off the Na Pali west shore coast of Kauai, Hawaii

 

 Lord, guide me safely

to your shores where I might find

sanction and sweet peace,

and that my own light be seen,

and my life in You lived well

be as a beacon upon a hill;

Let it shine that one might see

a safe harbor found in thee.

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46 (NIV) Bible

Whispering palms

Kalapaki Beach, Kauai Island, Hawaii, April 2017, photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

So light the touch on my cheek I feel

  a breath of sweet air from the cocoanut palms,

their branches waving like blades of grass;

 ‘Trade winds’ that blow across the island

push away the moist blanket of settling heat,

 a hovering squall of humidity

bringing a welcomed gust from off the sea,

 and the refreshing cool breeze that blows through this place

 brushes past me like a whispering fan on my face.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

 

Pearl Harbor – USS Arizona Memorial – a shrine to lives lost during the attack, Dec. 7, 1941

While on a recent trip to Hawaii we visited the memorial site of the USS Arizona battleship, bombed and sunk off the coast of Honolulu, December 7,  1941. It lay entombed in the bottom of the sea along with other sunken ships when the harbor came under a surprise attack early that Sunday morning by the Japanese, and our country entered the war, historically known as World War II. The memorial site is a very solemn, subdued place of quiet reflection. We took the boat over to the memorial site of the USS Arizona and wondered what it was like to live through that time as a U.S. soldier or sailor called up to serve in a war that nearly destroyed all of our Pacific fleet, one that spread for miles off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii. As our boat drew closer to the site of the memorial we could see a film of oil that never dissipates, but settles in a pool at the top of the gun turret. There were over 1,000 men alone who lost their lives on the Arizona battleship. Below are pictures of the ship, the memorial site and the marble wall with all the engraved names of the lost that went down with the Arizona.

The memorial to the USS Arizona battleship as seen from the shoreline.

A portion of the USS Arizona battleship seen above the waterline, believed to be the gun turret. The remainder of the ship sits below the waterline, still in tact. It remains that way more than 70 years after the attack, a shrine to all those lost.

The marble wall inside the memorial with over 1,000 names of all the men lost on the sinking of the battleship, USS Arizona.

 

There are few survivors of World War II left to tell their stories. Most are now gone. But, their stories are documented, captured on film and video, told and retold to the many visitors to Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. They are written into the pages of history like the lives lost that experienced the horror.

If you are a military veteran or serving in the military now, or a family member of one I hope your Memorial Day holiday will be blessed, and that you will have family and friends to celebrate it with you. Thank you for your service. We will never forget and can never repay you for what you have done in the service of your/our country.

As we are perhaps in maybe the greatest of all battles of historic times, to win the fight against radicalized Islamic terrorists, and those who want to destroy us with their terror and carnage we can only pray and continue on with the fight, to eradicate the evil that conspires to destroy all that we have, and are about and hope for a better tomorrow, and a better world, that one day we will all live in peace and harmony together, without fear.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Footnotes: For more information on the USS Arizona memorial you can find it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Arizona_Memorial

Hallowed treasure

 

 

 

The captain shut off the engine and steered the boat in, closer to the caves deep under the volcanic mountains off Kauai’s Na Pali coast. The low tide sent rippling waves to the shoreline just feet from where the caves opened up. What could not be seen beyond the cavernous entrance could only be imagined as the site opened up to what looked like a mysterious, enchanted place to explore. The boat drifted, rocking gently on a calm sea. Sunrays burst through the opening enveloped by the bright light.

I stood near the bow of the boat snapping pictures, awed by the beauty of these volcanic mountains with their ridges and crevices revealing the effects of time and erosion from the lava flows after eruptions that now were full of vegetation and growth. Older generations of native Hawaiians believe these mountains to be hallowed, sacred places blessed by the gods of their ancestors. At one stop during our cruise our captain, himself a native Hawaiian blew loud notes from a conch shell pointed towards a small inhabited Hawaiian natives’ island where they alone occupy, and no visitors or tourists are ever allowed.

I let my mind and imagination wander as I watched and listened for any movement or sound expecting to see pirates bursting on the scene with drawn swords and guns. Native Hawaiians believed in the folklore and stories told by their ancestors with a deep reverent respect for their culture and historic accounts of the island’s beginnings and inhabitants believing them to be blessed by the gods. Was it just folklore or were there really ghosts that lurked and lived in the hallowed spaces deep in the volcanic mountains of Kauai? Even the fish seemed to scatter from the shallow water that was as blue as a sapphire and as clear as cut crystal. Did they fear a marauding band of pirates’ spears? What was it like here when the first island inhabitants came to shore with little else but the fish, wild boar, deer and goats to coexist with?

I tried to imagine a scene from Walt Disney’s, Pirates of the Caribbean when learning the movie was shot here at this site. I loved the movie. I remembered the adventure ride at Disneyland way back in the sixties when we lived in Los Angeles, and riding the boat through the water canal, never dreaming of its potential possibilities or future. Now, on this adventure to the site of the movie I thought, What incredible beauty! What a journey, cruising the waters, discovering this treasure on Jack Sparrow’s deep blue sea.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Reflecting back

This photo was taken from the boat’s stern while on a sunset cruise off the coast of Kaua’i Island, Hawaii while on a recent trip.

The sun goes down on

Kauai’s deep turquoise sea;

a peach colored sky

     reflecting soft images

on the breaking water’s tide

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Posted for The Daily Post https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/reflecting/

Kaua’i Island, Hawaii

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Where coconut palm branches sway

to a hula dance in the breeze

and boisterous exotic birds

with their chorus choir fly,

and seagulls swoop in

as the fowl stroll lazily by.

 

Where turquoise water rolls in

and flows rhythmically to shore,

and marine mammals lie

near incoming lapping tides.

And surfers catch the swells, riding waves to shore

and swimmers snorkeling, barely seen

in search of what lies beneath.

 

Across dense fields sugarcane plants grow wild

tall and green with thick leaves blowing in the wind

and the ground full with pineapple,

papaya, nuts, taro, and other fruit.

Acres and acres of coffee beans grown,

roasted and harvested in robust blends and ground.

 

We drive up roads and climb

through canyon valleys and see

such picturesque sublime beauty, it’s hard to imagine

how volcanic mountains and lava caves

are now covered in foliage so lush and green.

 

We look out on a never-ending sea

and all I want is to gaze at the sight,

not think what waits beyond this day,

put aside thoughts about the ‘latest news,’

what goes on in the rest of the world,

and dwell instead on what I came to see

across the Pacific on the island of Kauai.

_______________

 

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

Footnotes: This is the first of several pictures and posts of my recent trip to Kauai Island, Hawaii. The above picture I took of the upper east side when we pulled off the road and stopped to take pictures.

You won’t walk that road alone…

Photo taken inside the church of the Holy Seplechure, Jerusalem, Israel in May, 2001 while on my trip there to Israel.

Don’t be afraid, for the road you take you won’t take alone.

When storm clouds come and darkness closes round,

and you fear that you might stumble, and cast your foot upon a stone,

and the burdens that you bear weigh you down and keep you bound,

and you ask, “What am I to do, does anyone really care?”

I want to tell you, I’ve walked this way before when I carried the sins of all.

With brokenness in spirit I struggled carrying my cross up the road.

And your sins? Forgotten, and no more, for I’ve born those too, you see.

You are free. I paid your price. You’re not alone if you’ll walk this road with me.

I came to save and redeem the lost if they believe.

It was all prearranged by my Father at Calvary.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

Matthew 28:5 & 6 – But the angel said to the women, Do not be alarmed and frightened for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here; He is risen, as He said He would do. Come, see the place where He lay.

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He is risen indeed! 🙂 The story of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection can be found in chapters twenty-sixth through twenty-eight of Matthew in the New Testament bible. I hope you have, and know the peace and joy that only Christ alone can bring, and I want to wish you all a happy, blessed Easter.


The Birth of a King

The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001

The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001, Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

Nothing but chaos, crowds and noise

greeted the young couple, desperate to find

a quiet place, warm and dry

for the birth of their child, the newborn king.

Foretold and promised generations ago,

news of his birth was heard throughout the lands,

and the star in the east that lit up the sky

guided men of wisdom across desert sands.

Shepherds fled their flocks

frightened by angels that came nigh

announcing the news of Jesus’s birth.

To the king they hurried, and in haste found

the tiny babe chosen to rule and reign

lying in a feeding trough upon a cold bare ground.

Hope and redemption was born that night

where cattle grazed, and sheep and goats brayed.

No throne or palace was awarded this king,

yet people came from all around

seeking the savior born that day.

Now in a world where chaos, crowds and noise

  leaves hearts searching and seeking one to follow,

  where joy, comfort and peace

is eternal, lasting and hallow,

there waits the savior born that day

to reign in hearts that just believe.

_______________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14 NIV, New Testament Bible.

I would like to take this time to thank all of my blogger friends, followers and visitors who have visited my blog site through 2016, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year of peace and joy in 2017. The amazing friends and opportunities I have, and the positive comments received are what makes blogging fun, rewarding, and an inspiration to my writing. Blessings to all.  JEJ

The annual quest for Colorado gold

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Every year when the leaves turn and Autumn arrives we head out, on our quest to look for the best places to photograph the changes in color and the Aspens turning a bright golden-yellow. And sometimes, a shot of something else will do too when we stop to explore along the road. The top photo is one of the Aspens in the Rocky Mountains seen off highway 7 between Lyons and Nederland, Co.

The bottom photo is one of Barker Dam off the road on the way down to the city of Boulder. Timing, location and altitude can make all the difference in the color and changes seen. In some areas just a few days earlier, there was more color with rust and red tones showing in some of the plant life, brighter in places, but in others it had not yet reached its peak. Photographers with tripods set in place can be spotted along the road, as everyone wants to capture the gold.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/quest/

Painted by the finger of God

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The sun lingers just over the rise,

a tinge of pink reflects off the peaks.

With anticipation I wait to behold

the glow spreading across the sky.

The hour in passing seems too long.

Then dusk descends slowly over the ridge,

and the heavens like a canvas arrayed in hues

of orange and yellow merge together

exploding in color and brilliant light,

an image painted by the finger of God.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Footnote: I took the above photos in July of this year, getting these and many other shots during our wait for the sun to go down while parked up on the lookout ridge overlooking Longs Peak in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Whenever we go up there I come away inspired to write new pieces of poetry, adding more new photos to our ever-growing collection of Colorado mountain photos that fill our albums and digital libraries.

Living just an hour away and thirty miles from Rocky Mountain National Park is a definite advantage to being able to do this, and we never tire of the beautiful drive up highway 34 from our town of Loveland, through the narrows and granite canyons and into Estes Park situated at the foot of RMNP.  At this time of year after a very busy, bustling summer of tourists visiting RMNP we see the busy summer tourist season come to a close with the Labor Day weekend. Soon, the Aspen trees begin to turn a golden color, drop their leaves, and the elk do their popular bugling call (the beginning of their mating season), drawing more tourists for the autumn season. The air turns colder and we see our first winter snow storms, snow skiers arriving, and it is busy again. 🙂

Port cities explored in southeast Alaska

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A street scene in Skagway. Its history dates back to 1898 when the Klondike ‘gold rush’ brought prospectors by the thousands to search for a vein of gold that could be mined and lead them to their riches. Few found it, but the lure and the dream remained with those who stayed and carved out a place to settle down and form roots.

DSCN0796The above gray building is known as Camp Skagway, an establishment of the Arctic Brotherhood, restored in Skagway. It was built from 1,000 sticks of driftwood, and remains a historic landmark today.

DSCN0794The storefronts in Skagway are original; preserved and quaint. The buildings with the ‘Old Wild West’ look add to its charm with the mountain range seen in the background.

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Juneau, above is the capital of Alaska, a modern sprawl of commercial, residential, business and tourism offering attractions like deep-sea fishing and whale watching. Much of the residential areas can be seen with homes bunched up against the hills overlooking the waterfront. DSCN0821A view of Juneau’s waterfront from the Coral Princess cruise ship.

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A street scene of Ketchikan taken from a deck aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship.

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Ketchikan is known for its totem pole carving, a native art that dates back to the 1800s. The wood logs are often seen pulled through the water by boats and taken where they are dried and hollowed out before carving them to avoid the wood from splitting. Each carving tells a story of one’s history or folklore that goes back to the early days of exploration in Alaska, the native Alaskan tribes and people who settled there.

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These last two photos above are the port and skyline of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, a very large city of several million with a high percentage of immigrants from all over the world. Vancouver is also a city that strives to keep it an environmentally safe and green city with plants, gardens and foliage thriving everywhere, even growing on tops of their buildings, literally.

We pulled into port in the early morning hours,  disembarked from the Coral Princess, and once again waited in long lines to go through customs and security clearance. It was the end to an awesome trip, and unforgettable experience touring the great state of Alaska via cruise ship, rail and motor coach.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Frozen; Alaska’s Hubbard, and Glacier Bay

 

After the first day of cruising Alaska’s coastline we came to Hubbard Glacier. It is a scenic winter wonderland of ice floes and fjords nestled up against the gulf of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

 

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The water is almost transparent, like crystal blue glass mirroring the reflections of snow and ice formed on the ridges and peaks.

 

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The dark-colored water lines show sediment formed on the melting glaciers as water levels change.

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Chunks and pieces of ice floes from the glaciers dropped off into the water while the ship was stopped. Then the ship did slow spins and turns so passengers could see the glaciers from all angles to photograph. The noise was like a loud roar heard through the straight as chunks began to slowly break away from the icebergs.

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Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska’s gulf to see this scenic wonder was my favorite part of the cruise. The scope and size of these glaciers, their beauty, magnitude and the quiet had a calming effect, an incredible, peaceful sight.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

What can be seen from the rails

A view from the train

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Capturing a view from the train is one hurried, like the flash of a camera lens, literally. Timing and preparation while racing past the intended object is essential, but difficult to get focused and shoot quickly. Some say a real photographer, professional or otherwise does not put away their camera for even a moment, lest they lose their opportunity to get what they set out to find, like the wildlife perched from atop a cliff like in the case of the Dall sheep seen in the photo below.

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And then the lighting, reflection and rays of bright sun showing through the cars’ viewing windows reflects back distorted images, like this one below, none of which one wants in their final edited image.

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That is what happened a number of times as we tried to get quick shots of scenes in passing. So, most of these images we quickly deleted and others that showed up with what looked like smudged or clouded areas on the windows. But, we worked with the options we had in getting what we ultimately wanted to photograph on a cruising train through Alaska’s dense overgrowth, forests and mountain ranges seen on either side of the rail tracks. The image of the couple seen in the photo above sat across from us at the table assigned to us in our domed rail car, with good food and service, and gave us opportunity to socialize. A Princess cruise guide shared much about Alaska’s history on the regions we traveled through. Having always loved train rides, I found the five and a half hour trip comfortable and relaxing.

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After passing through towns, river channels, across bridges and skirting the shores of marshlands we came into view of an open water mass to the port of Whittier, Alaska where the Coral Princess waited, and our check in and embarkation process could commence with the now much greater increased security measures in place.

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In a few hours our luggage sat waiting for us in our stateroom while we immediately headed out on an open deck to watch with excitement as our ship pulled out of port and headed for the open sea at sunset.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Alaska’s Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley

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A field of Fireweed blooms abundantly all along the Alaska range below Mount McKinley. It is said to have many benefits, used for making cosmetic products, medicines and chamomile teas. Everywhere we went there were beautiful gardens and flowers of all varieties in bloom. Although Alaska can dip down to -40 below zero in the winter months its summer temperatures can reach into the 90’s in Alaska, so they can plant and grow many different kinds of flowers.

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Rafters on the Nenana River below the Alaska mountain range. The waters from this and other rivers are fed from Alaska’s many glaciers as they begin to melt.

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A view of Denali National Park’s mountain range where Mt. McKinley can be seen from the distance covered in a fresh blanket of snow. Denali National Park totals six million acres.

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The peak of Mt. McKinley is partially covered by clouds above and below. Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in the United States and North America at an elevation of 20, 320 feet above sea level, and seldom ever seen without snow or cloud coverage. It is also called, Denali, “The Great One” by the Athabascan native Alaskan people.

Exploring the Yukon via paddleboat

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Our first full day of the land tour in Fairbanks, Alaska was via the paddleboat, Discovery. About a two hour trip up and down and around the Chena River provided shoreline views of life, the way it is now, and the way it was in the early years of the gold rush exploration in the Yukon territories. Gold mining, adventuring across untouched wilderness areas, homesteading, salmon fishing, and hunting caribou and moose were just a few of the reasons that brought thousands into these upper regions giving the state of Alaska its symbolic fame and iconic name, “The Last Frontier.” The town of Fairbanks now has about 100,000 inhabitants, second in size to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.

The instructional guided tour on this pristine river allowed us a glimpse into the culture, history and habitation of native Alaskans, the Iditarod sled dog races, the wildlife, game and environment preserved along the banks of the river and coastal waters.

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On the Chena River, as seen from the paddleboat, Discovery 1.

 

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A group of caribou in protected preserve, along the Chena River.

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An Iditarod sled dog team in training along the Chena River. The competing sled dog teams are a mix of Alaskan Husky, for their ability to withstand the extreme cold, and pull weight, and the Greyhound breed, for their speed. Bred together these dogs know two things well; to pull weight and run fast. Mushing is a word used in training and competing with these sled dog teams. Sled dog teams are not only used for the races, but also for a means of transportation to carry people in the bush country commuting to work, and also their children to school. During the dogs’ training in warmer weather they use ATVs (all terrain vehicles) to train them as is the case in this picture as they prepared the dogs to give a demonstration for us on the paddleboat during our excursion.

 

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After a workout the dog sled team is let off their tethers to go cool off in the river.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

 

 

 

Fairbanks, Alaska – What one sees beneath a wing and propellers of a turboprop plane

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Looking down over Fairbanks, Alaska, July 13, 2016, Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

Fairbanks, Alaska

What one can see beneath the wing and blades of a turboprop plane may be fleeting, a passing moment hurried by, and I did not want to miss it. This picture is out of focus, with no description or knowledge of what we were looking at, but it is the moment captured that counts. It’s as if time and motion slowed, and one sees things from a bird’s-eye view, even if a very high one. The unusual way propellers look as if slowing their speed while looking down from the plane window gave me just enough time to get this quick shot looking down onto Fairbanks, Alaska. We took this one hour flight to Fairbanks from Anchorage, Alaska on a De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprop on July 13th.

There have not been many times when I have ridden on a turboprop plane, but this was one time when at least I had a camera to use for this picture. I had my Nikon stuffed away in a tote bag under the seat, but for some quick shots at something I wanted to capture, I used my Amazon Fire tablet camera, or my smart phone camera, both devices more handy and accessible at the time. Although there are editing options for both it is hard to focus on things when moving at high rates of speed. Of course this picture does not look like we flew at a high rate of speed when one can see what looks like the slowing of propeller blades that couldn’t keep up. It makes it look as if hardly moving at all. So, when I saw how this picture came out I thought it unique and worth sharing. It was day one of our recent trip and cruise to Alaska. I will share some of my favorite photos with descriptions and stories in the next several weeks, and my perspective on a very vast, wonderful place to visit with history that dates back to the beginning of its discovery and exploration, and its famous Denali Peak (formerly Mount McKinley, largest peak in the U.S.) the ice glaciers, caribou, Iditarod sled dog teams, gold rush, and much more, seen while on this journey.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Our Journey

 

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We were nineteen years old fifty years ago today (July 16) when we were married in Kansas City, Mo. We stood at the church altar exchanging our vows, pledging our love, and devotion to one another, feeling as if ready in some ways, yet somewhat apprehensive about what life might bring. Two weeks later, Wayne went to his appointment at his draft board to hear their decision.

It was 1966 and the draft was in effect for the Vietnam war in southeast Asia, which meant that all males, eighteen to twenty-five could be called up to serve. They all had to carry their draft cards with the status, age and identification current and listed, registered and ready. Those who refused to serve were arrested, or dodged service and ran off to Canada. Hundreds more protested in open street demonstrations and things became violent. If they were in college, or enrolled in one by the time they were drafted they were required to keep a GPA of 3.00 or better to be in an exempt status.

Our prayers, faith and an acceptance letter from the college where Wayne was enrolled that fall exempted him from serving, so it was California, “Ready or Not, Here We Come,” and we headed off to school and new jobs in Los Angeles.

Four years later in 1970 we headed back to Kansas City after our daughter’s birth and his graduation. Our second daughter was born before we moved out to Colorado, which was like coming back home for me. Though we met and married in Kansas City while living there neither of us were originally from Missouri. He was from Kentucky, and I, from Colorado.

Life during those fifty years threw us some curves; tough times that challenged our faith, and what seemed at times like ‘Mission Impossible’ assignments. But, we got through them, and grew stronger through the experience because we have a friend in Jesus, who’s always there, always forgives, and wipes away every heartache and tear. We learned to rise above difficult situations, not give up and overcome those obstacles, or mountains in our path in order to climb to this point in life, today. Whether we will make it beyond our fiftieth, God only knows, but we will be together, until death do us part, rich or poor. Our moments here on earth are temporary, fragile and unpredictable, but those with Him are eternal.

At the time of this posting Wayne and I will be in Alaska seeing some beautiful country and embarking on an Alaskan cruise enjoying this moment in our lives, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. And when I return I will have photos and stories to share of our journey.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Experiencing the famed Stanley Hotel

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“Look! There’s an ax. It’s just what we need,” my husband said. The long wood handled ax with its red steel blade was one of the featured sale items in the window of the hardware store on Elkhorn Ave., main street in Estes Park.

“Yes. It looks like a heavy-duty one, and a good buy.” I replied.

We bought the ax. We knew we would put it to good use on our newly purchased mountain property. There were a lot of trees to thin out, and we needed firewood.

When we got to The Stanley Hotel we grabbed up our bags and went to go check in. Then I remembered.

“Wait! We need to cover up the ax in the back of the car. It’s too exposed and someone will think…we don’t want someone calling the police on us.” I said.

I went back to the car, opened up the hatch back of our red Ford Escort Wagon and covered the ax with an old blanket.

This was the start to our weekend at The Stanley twenty-five years ago when we had a reservation to celebrate the weekend of our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a second floor balcony room that opened up to the veranda outside overlooking the magnificent Rockies encircling Estes Park. Beautiful and serene.

When we bought the ax we didn’t know that The Stanley Hotel was used for the inspiration of Stephen King’s horror story in his book, and movie, The Shining. Until we discovered all the copies of his book in the gift shop there, and vaguely remembered the story. The Stanley is also considered to be one of the most haunted hotels known. We didn’t know that either, or believed it. Until we heard sounds during the night like one banging pots and pans on old, creaky pipes. There was little sleep that night. Ghost story events are a regular form of entertainment at The Stanley.

The hotel sits atop a steep grade, in the mountains facing east, overlooking the town of Estes Park, Colorado. It is designated a national historic site, a mammoth four-story structure with the inside furnished in antique, heavy, ornate furniture in old world period pieces. It is located just six miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and remains still one of the most popular and expensive hotels in Colorado.

Our daughters wanted to grant us another ‘memorable’ night at The Stanley, this time for our 50th wedding anniversary we are celebrating this month. So, once again we were guests, in a king size suite, a gift from our girls, after having celebrated with friends and family at a surprise anniversary party. I guess our girls wanted to keep the tradition going, though it is not our wish to repeat it a third time in another twenty-five years, if we’re still around. 🙂

As popular and expensive as The Stanley hotel is we could not understand why there were no screens on the high windows up on the fourth floor in our room this time. They had been cut out. Literally.  The room was beautifully furnished, but, the balcony off of that floor is completely inaccessible by doors so tightly secured one cannot use them to step out for some invigorating mountain air, or for any other needed escape. It was hot, and there was no air conditioning in the room, so we opened up the windows and just pulled the shears together, and hoped for a good night’s rest after a long drive up through RMNP.

Whether the hotel’s popularity dates back to its founding and opening in 1909, named for F.O. Stanley who came into town on his ‘Steamer,’ or is due to its long rich history of story lore and fame, it has hosted many a traveler and tourists, and then maybe those, who walk the dark hallways, and balconies, unseen. 🙂

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For information and history related to The Stanley Hotel you can find it here: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/accommodations

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Sunset on Trail Ridge Road, RMNP

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Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park (June 2016)

The drive up Trail Ridge Road in RMNP is paved clear to the summit. The meandering, steep climb winds through forested thick stands of Ponderosa, Lodge Pole pine, Douglas fir, Juniper, and Spruce. Snowfalls, blizzards and drifts can make the drive treacherous any month of the year when a storm front moves in. I have been up on Trail Ridge Road in July in the middle of an unexpected snowstorm and blizzard that was not forecasted. The gates positioned at halfway and three-quarters way up are then closed to all traffic, except for snow plows.

About three thirds of the way up is the last major overlook with a paved path leading out away from the road about a quarter-mile to a viewing platform of loose rock, boulders, and tundra. The tree line is below the ridge here and one can look down and over to peaks stretching for miles beyond, into the horizon. The Alpine  Visitors’ Center is located at the top of Trail Ridge Road at an elevation of 12,000+ feet. Longs Peak at 14,000+ ft. sits in the middle of the mountain range, viewable from this vantage point.

We parked, walked the path out to the viewing platform and waited for the sun to make its slow descent over the peaks. It was dusk and the chipmunks and marmots played and scampered about on the rocks and tundra beyond the overlook viewing platform. It was another hour before we could get these pictures at about 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. During that time we watched the clouds dissipate, form again, change and move. It is an amazing sight to see the way the clouds change in the process with colder misty ones forming below the viewing point. We took a number of pictures during our wait. These are only a few of our favorites.

For more information on Trail Ridge Road and Rocky Mountain National Park, you can find it here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_Ridge_Road

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

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