Thursday, June 22, 2006

From time to time our family takes off on dorky, educational field trips. We visit sites from the Oregon Trail, recreated ferry crossings for wagon trains, wildlife preserves, places with fossils and museums, that sort of thing. The best part of living in Wyoming is you are always a car ride away from something interesting and/or beautiful, even if you are worlds away from anything else. I realize that I could never get hired to work for the Wyoming Bureau of Tourism because Luke and I think History and Science are fun, and I don't think most people seek out vacations where there are neat geological formations or an abandoned mine town.

We pull over to look at ANY roadside attraction. And sometimes they really pay off. So far, we have found the highest butte in Wyoming, which consequently has a secret ladder carved into one side by the Masons. They used to meet and do...Mason-y things up there. You know all that ritualistic, cult stuff that Masons do (BTW, my Dad's a Mason, so I just don't buy that it's a cult). Today we went to Sinks Canyon, a FANTASTICALLY beautiful state park where the Popo Agie River flows into an underground cave, travels about 3 miles underground and comes back up only a quarter of a mile away running at twice the flow with which it disappears. That basically means it picks up more water from somewhere under ground. We have found Wyoming's Hot Springs, Thermopolis, where you can take a nude swim in a private natural bath house. Kilpecker Sand Dunes is a desert in the middle of the mountains. There are four completely creepy deserted ghost towns within a half hour from our house. There are prehistoric rock formations that look like a big row of elephants, which Luke and I have dubbed Elephant Butt Rocks, a fitting name, I assure you. And these are just a few. We go out every Saturday, or now that it is summer and Luke isn't working, just once a week.

I know I can talk it up enough on here, and maybe there are some of you thinking these things sound interesting. But I really have to wonder...If you came to visit me, and I suggested we go look for Ghost Towns you might say yes. But would you agree if you knew that I would research the town first? If I brought along notes and while you were poking around looking at creepy artifacts, Luke and I were discussing when the last boom was, and what they were mining and who was president at the time, and how weird it is that people used to ride horses everywhere? Because that is what we do. I am so lame!!!! I can tell you ridiculous historical facts about Rock Springs that I admit, are of NO interest to anyone else. But living up here, you just can't help but embrace this incredible sense of history. The Bureau of Land Management has actually managed to keep Wyoming looking like it did 200 years ago. You can picture Wagon Trains and tepee villages. There are wild horses here!!! Herds of them! Free range cattle! Herds of antelope cross the highway while you are driving. It is very...Primitive.

Most people I know can't believe we live in a place without a Chipotle, a Gap...Well, without much of anything. But I am in love with this isolation. I love that my kids will grow up to be smart because we can take them to Yellowstone in under three hours to learn about volcanoes instead of just letting them read about them in school. When they study US history, we can take them to the Oregon Trail. We can show them where Joseph Smith and Brigham Young led a group of crazy people into the Salt Lake Valley. When they are in Chemistry learning about why things don't sink in Salt Water, we can take them to the Great Salt Lake. I love it. I love that my family is so close. I love our little excursions. I love when the kids fall asleep on the way home and Luke and I drive through the mountains chatting and feeling...Well, good.

Today I told Helen, "The Lord has been good to us today. He made this world so beautiful and gave us a chance just to live on it." If you ever want to come visit us, I can't guarantee excitement, and I can't guarantee that I won't tell you stories about scabs and labor strikes in the coal mines, but I can guarantee this. Here in Wyoming, you will be in God's country. It is good for the soul. God is so very, very good. And you just can't help but feel it, hear it and smell it here. I am so glad I get the chance to live on this earth.

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