Lisa and I enjoyed a refreshing visit in Kansas with our son, Nick, daughter-in-law, Betsy, and 15 month-old grandson, Benson. Nick and I played three rounds of golf, Lisa spent every moment she could with Benson, and we all laughed and played together. Our time in Kansas was the perfect start to the journey of reDeploying. There is simply nothing better than uninterrupted time with the people we love!
The Road Trip to Kansas continued as we turned course and headed home to Idaho Falls. The scenery along Interstate 70 in Kansas is somewhat monotonous. We mixed things up a bit by taking a “short-cut” north on Highway 232 through Wilson State Park to head west on Highway 18. The views across the landscape improved quite a bit!
A weather front was headed towards us as we ventured into Lucas, Kansas. I’ll bet most of you don’t know that Lucas is home of the Garden of Eden. (Fooled me, too!) One of the Eight Wonders of Kansas finalists, Civil War veteran Samuel Perry Dinsmoor began construction of this unusual site in 1907. “…(E) very part of every cryptic sculpture has meaning about Populist politics, modern civilization, and the Bible that connect like a dot-to-dot puzzle. The humor and message that he conveys through the sculptures amazes visitors.”
You might wonder why I would even write about such a place. Well, I’ve traveled by a number of small American towns on cross-country trips over the past several years—places like Greensburg, Kansas, home of the Big Well. Few of us experience the unique offerings in the “fly over” states, particularly in the small towns along the way. If you want to discover what made America great over the last century, spend some time on the road in small, Midwestern towns. When you do, engage people in conversation. You will learn a great deal.
We didn’t stay in Lucas very long, as the storm intensified. Soon we were in a blinding hailstorm of marbled-sized ice balls. As the tempest passed over us the skies cleared and the road became very peaceful. We made our way to Colby, Kansas, where we spent the night. Colby is yet another interesting, small town. Walmart is the main attraction!
The next morning we left for Denver, the focal point of the ride home. One of our goals in reDeployment is to reconnect with family and friends that we seem to have “lost” in the hectic schedules of our lives. Mike and Susan live in Greenwood Village, CO, just outside Denver. We hadn’t seen Mike in over twenty years, and Lisa had only a short visit with Susan a few years ago. It didn’t take long for us to feel comfortable with each other again, learn about life’s challenges and joys over the years, and reminisce about great times raising our children in Los Altos, California.
The next day we visited Marc and Erin, adult children of our very good friends. They were expecting a newborn—their first—in a month. We enjoyed hanging out with them at a local burger joint, and felt their excitement as about-to-be parents. We knew their lives were going to change, never to return to the way they are now. Being with them was a spiritual gift of celebration of what is to come.
We headed west on Interstate 70 and Highway 82 through some of the most beautiful terrain we’ve ever seen. At one point we were literally at the top of the Rockies—part of a small caravan to travel over a pass that would be closed for the winter in a matter of days. The transition from mountains to high desert and the Grand Mesa near Grand Junction along the headwaters of the Colorado River was breathtaking.
We spent the following day in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. We visited the Grand Canyon several years ago, and I’ve since been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Yet, the vastness of the canyon system created by the Colorado River had somewhat eluded me. Canyonlands, up river from all of these well-known national treasures, is absolutely spectacular.
We spent our last night in Moab, Utah, a quaint tourist/rock-climbing town. The next morning we headed home. It was the longest driving day of the trip. Isn’t that how is always goes—we always head home like a barn-sour horse!
Lisa and I experienced just what we were looking for on the Road Trip to Kansas. We witnessed the beautiful scenery God painted on the earth He created so many years ago, enjoyed a special portion of our family whom we don’t see very often, and spent time with dear friends along the way. Such experiences, typically joyful in everyday life, seemed surreal as I reflected on the life-threatening experience I endured just three months earlier. Life is a gift worth cherishing!