Category Archives: Travels in America

My Twenty-nine Hour Day

napali-coast-kauai           Do you ever wish you could have a few more hours in your day? sailboats-on-napali-coast          I’ve caught myself thinking: “If I just had a few more hours, I could…lazy-river-at-grand-hyatt-kauai-resort-and-spaget all my work done, find time to exercise, be more thoughtful, eat better, have time to relax and play some music,” etc!  view-of-napali-coast-from-kaialau-lookout-kauai  Well, let me tell you what actually happened on the day my wish was granted. rooster-in-kauai-one-of-hundredsIt was January 21, unseasonably warm with a heavy fog draped across our window panes. Joel had Alan and me to the airport on time to catch our flight to Chicago, but our flight was delayed…once, twice…the third time was the charm. aerial-view-of-holland-and-lake-michiganWe left 2.5 hours late after re-booking our flights out of Chicago to Los Angeles. chicago-ohare-airportWe arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare needing a shuttle bus to the C terminal and no time for the lunch we were looking forward to at Manchu Wok. In fact, the shuttle bus required a 15-minute wait, so we arrived at our gate with just enough time to grab a bag lunch from the venue next door to the gate: McDonald’s. aerial-view-of-chicago-and                                                Better than nothing, right?! aerial-view-of-rocky-mountainsThe flight to Los Angeles was breath-taking. I was thrilled to have a window seat even after the last minute flight switch, since my chief delight on flights is sitting with my nose pressed against the window watching the world glide by beneath me. I wasn’t thrilled to be separated from Alan, and I was downright unthrilled when I discovered that the lovely couple sitting next to me wanted me to pull down my window blind so the light wouldn’t bother them while they worked on cross word puzzles and read.sleeping-seat-matesNevertheless, they eventually drifted off to sleep, and I resumed my watch, rationalizing my uncharitable behavior with the thought that my body was blocking enough of the light so they never stirred from their happy slumbers. aerial-view-of-grand-canyonHowever, it was increasingly hard to relax as the hours passed and I realized we were going to arrive at Los Angeles’ LAX at about exactly the time we needed to start boarding for our flight to Hawaii. “DOOMED!” I think they say. aerial-view-of-los-angelesAs soon as we landed, Alan and I caught each other’s eye to make sure we were both registering the same level of panic and joined the snail trail of passengers who seemed to take longer than forever to relocate and unload their overhead luggage. Wide-eyed, we raced up the landing dock and couldn’t believe our fortune! We landed at Gate 74 and our new flight was departing from Gate 76, just next door! We heaved a huge sigh of relief and waltzed from arrival gate to departure gate with ease and only some slight discomfort from not being able to access a restroom before boarding. Not to worry! We’d have six hours and twenty minutes before landing…definitely enough time to catch up with john. aerial-view-of-sunset-over-the-pacific-oceanWe flew directly into the sunset, its pastel glories blocked by the wing, and soon it was pitch black. We read. We slept. I ate another burger and fries (all the Mediterranean wraps are gone? Hmm…not surprising…) and felt rather ill from a double dose of barf burgers for lunch and dinner. I tried to read some more but was too listless to concentrate. I tried to sleep some more but couldn’t. By the time we arrived, it was only 8:30 pm Hawaiian Standard Time, but it was 1:30 am by EST (aka/ Armstrong body clock time). So far, the extra 1.5 hours on our 24-hour day hadn’t garnered us anything but grogginess.  kauai-sunset-with-palm-treesAn exhilarating 45-mph wind whipped up by the time we reached Lihue, Kauai, and the descent and landing were attended with jostling and jolting unlike anything I’ve experienced since riding Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror.  We all braced ourselves for a crash landing…which switched to giddy applause after we touched down and catapulted safely to a screeching halt.  grand-hyatt-kauai-resort-and-spaThe rest was a bit of a blur, but we did make it to the right spot to catch the right bus to the right car rental to dig out the right car and find our way to the right resort to check in and find our way through an incredible maze of hallways to the right room (600+ of them sprawling like a six-story serpent along the oceanfront). By the time we unpacked enough to bathe and climb into bed, it was midnight Hawaii time. “Whew!” Alan sighed as he flipped out the light. “What we needed was a day with about five fewer hours.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I finally got more hours in my day, but if anything I’d been more grouchy, exercised less, ate less carefully, had not relaxed, and had been too listless to get everything on my “wish list” accomplished! So, note to self (and friends): Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!

waimea-canyon-lookout-kauaiMake me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
” (Psalm 119:35-37)sunset-over-grand-hyatt-kauai-seawater-lagoon(All photos taken last week on a trip to Mayo Clinic’s Medical Update in Kauai.)

Got Time for a Little More Politics? On Presidents and Posies…

yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-7Here’s a big bouquet of roses gathered from Manito Park last summer while helping out with Jon and Gerlinde’s new baby, paired with a bouquet of quotes by former presidents of America that I thought might help inform our thinking as we consider for whom we should vote next week:

pink-perfect-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”  George Washington, Jan. 8, 1790  red-tipped-white-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“The happiness of society is the end of government.”
John Adams (1797–1801)  white-rose-cluster-manito-park-8-1-16
“That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)  red-and-white-striped-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”
Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

pink-peach-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-5“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
John Quincy Adams (1825–1829)  yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“But I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.” William Henry Harrison (1841)
red-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.” John Tyler (1841–1845)  lavendar-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865)  red-and-white-striped-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-4“The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.”
Andrew Johnson (1865–1869)  white-rose-single-manito-park-8-1-16
“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”
Ulysses Simpson Grant (1869–1877)  yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-6
“No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor.”
Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893)  orange-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government.
It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”
Theodore Roosevelt  (1901–1909)  pink-and-white-striped-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty.” Herbert Clark Hoover  (1929–1933)  yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-4Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.”
Harry Truman (1945–1953)  magenta-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy  (1961–1963)  white-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961–1963)  yellow-rose-manito-park-8-1-16-3“If government is to serve any purpose it is to do for others what they are unable to do for themselves.” Richard Milhous Nixon  (1969–1974)  peach-rose-manito-park-8-1-16“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
Gerald Rudolph Ford (1974–1977)  pink-rose-manito-park-8-1-16
“The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.”
James Earl Carter (1977–1981)

pink-and-white-rose-manito-park-8-1-16John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalm 90:17)

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

Lovely Leelanau

Monarch Butterfly+ 08.28.16 copyIt’s been two years since I wrote about one of Lower Michigan’s
best known and best loved hideaways: Leelanau Peninsula. Cherry Republic Sign copyThat post was titled, “What if Your Kid Doesn’t Want to March in his Graduation?” and described a sunny June adventure
àla Joel (my beloved lastborn),Rainy day in Fish Town but this time I want to tell you about a rainy weekend adventure
àla Alie (my beloved husband). Rose Rainy RedAs luck (or failure) would have it, the water pump had burned out in our “Sanctuary” (motor home), and the RV repair shop said
they couldn’t do anything about it until the end of September.

150 year old cedar at Leelanau State ParkAs luck (or brilliance) would have it, Alan just picked up another motor
and did the repair himself after we arrived at our campsite at the northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, which turned out to be especially wonderful because it was a rustic campground (spell that outhouses and take your bath in Lake Michigan), so warm, running water was a particular privilege.

Sunset over Lake Michigan from Leelanau State Park MIWe arrived as the sun was taking his evening dip in Lake Michigan
and settled in for the night with the sound of waves gently lapping on the shore. Rustic campground at Leelanau State ParkWe awoke to the disconcerting drum of a near torrential downpour. In fact,
it rained so hard that most of the campers left ASAP (some during the night).

Wild rose in the rainIt was reminiscent of one of our trips to Disney when a tornado touched down 3 miles from our campsite. That year, Carl and Kathy christened their tent “Pleasure Island” (which it wasn’t…they bailed and went to a motel) because the tent was partially afloat in the midst of a pool of rainwater.

LeLand River (Carp River) (In fact, that year we consoled ourselves
with the thought that we had lakefront property.)  View of Carp River and Lake Michigan from the CoveThankful for our motor home, we drove down to Leland’s Fish TownOn the pier at Fishtown. Leland MIand took a meander along the boardwalk Perch basket at The Covebefore stopping for an amazing perch lunch at The Cove. View from Grand Traverse LighthouseLater, after the rain cried itself out, we toured the Grand Traverse Lighthouse
and enjoyed the ambience of this northern Michigan haven.Porterhouse Steak for 2 at Boone's Primetime PubOur favorite dinner spot is Boone’s Prime Time Pub in Sutton’s Bay,
where the steaks are sharable and unforgettable,
and the prices seem like a bargain compared to those in GR.

Old canoe along Leland River MIUsually if we go anywhere on the weekend, we return home Saturday night so we can make it to our own church on Sunday. This time we looked for a church in the area, but finding none that looked likely, we stopped at a park in Glen Arbor and listened to our own service ( “livestream.”

Monarch Butterfly+ .08.28.16 copyOur pastor is preaching his way through Romans,
and the message (as always) was excellent! Grand Cafe at Cherry Republic MIWe stopped for lunch at the Cherry Republic, after which Alan was more than ready to make a beeline for home. Flower box along Carp River in Leland MIHis wife, however, mourned the loss of a stroll through Frankfort,
a climb up Sleeping Bear Dunes, and a hike along Michigan’s glorious shoreline.

Great blue heron on roof of Falling Waters Lodge Leland MIIt occurred to me that I am like Kipling’s little elephant with the ‘satiable curiosity. Bad for me! There’s no end to good things, and I really need to appreciate the amazing abundance I have, not mourn the ??% I miss. Great blue heron on boat along Leland River MIDo you ever suffer from wanting more than is comfortable for someone you love to give? I hope not. But, if you do, please join me in trying to savor what’s in our cups of blessing, not what’s left in the bottle. Parmesan-encrusted grilled cheese sandwich copy                    Perhaps that will leave possibilities for some other time!Library in Grand Traverse Lighthouse MuseumFor we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:7-9).Cross stitch in Grand Traverse Lighthouse(If you’re actually researching for a possible excursion to the Leelanau Peninsula, it will become even more beautiful over the next few weeks as the autumn leaves color. Here’s more info: )Fishtown and Leland River

Celebrating 100 Years of Inspiration: America’s National Parks

Rafting in the Grand TetonsGuess what? Today marks the 100th birthday of America’s National Park Services! To celebrate, the park services are offering free admission to their 59 national parks from right this minute through Sunday. If you live close enough, I hope you can take advantage of this offer and celebrate by enjoying some of Americans gorgeous 51.9 million acres of national parklands! Mt_Saint_Elias Wiki Public DomainDid you know that our largest national park is in Alaska? Wrangell-St. Elias has over 8 million acres and is larger than each of our nine smallest states! As I looked at all the fascinating parks available, I realized that I’ve only seen 28 of them in my 65 years. I think after Alan and I retire, I want to see a bunch more! Yellowstone ParkBack in 1872, Yellowstone became America’s first national park, and it is still among my favorites. Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in YosemiteFor those of you who are Disney aficionados like our family, you probably remember John Muir urging Teddy Roosevelt to start a national park to protect Yosemite from redwood lumbering, lamenting, “…or what will our children inherit, seedlings?” Actually, that was back in 1903, and I found an excerpt on the Sierra Club’s website from Teddy Roosevelt’s journals about that trip: Yosemite National Park“John Muir met me with a couple of packers and two mules to carry our tent, bedding, and food for a three days’ trip. The first night was clear, and we lay down in the darkening aisles of the great Sequoia grove. The majestic trunks, beautiful in color and in symmetry, rose round us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages. Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening, and again, with a burst of wonderful music, at dawn.” Isn’t that poetic?Yellowstone FallsIt wasn’t until August 25, 1916 that Woodrow Wilson officially created a National Park Service, and since that time, they have established 450 areas that are protected because of their historical, cultural, recreational, and/or natural beauty. Quite a heritage for Americans, and for the world at large! Grand TetonsAs someone entering her senior years, this makes me stop to ponder what I’m leaving as a heritage for my children and those around me. I pray that what I leave is worth possessing..and much more of wisdom than wealth.

Family ReunionA good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
(Proverbs 13:22)  Children playing on shore of lake in Grand TetonsThe just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)Father tying son's shoe

Mt. Vernon: Warmth, Charm and Simplicity

Mt. VernonNo wonder George Washington loved his home at Mt. Vernon. Potomac River at Mount VernonIt’s nestled into 500 acres of rolling woodlands along the Potomac RiverWashington Monument and Airplane in Washington D.C. just 17 miles south of Washington D.C. Capitol Building Washington D.C.and less than an hour commute on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Sunset along Potomac River, VAOf course, there was no such highway in George Washington’s day, Ronald Reagan Airport Washington D.C.nor were there any lovely airports… Ronald Reagan Washington National Airportnor was Washington D.C. even America’s capital city until 1800,
the year after Washington died! Flight leaving Washington D.C.So, in order to serve his country, Washington spent the lion’s share of his career Carriage for George Washingtontraveling along muddy trails via carriages to New York and Philadelphia, George Washington's Vehiclesonly enjoying brief respites at his beloved Mt. Vernon estate. Touring Mt. VernonTouring Mt. Vernon with Liz and Chuck made me admire the Washington family even more than I had, and in light of the current political situation in America,Geroge Washington QuotesI became quite curious about what motivated Corsica Travel GuideWhen you compare their home to the estates of European military heroes
during that period (for example, Napoléon Bonaparte),Mt. Vernon KitchenMt. Vernon was remarkably modest and unpretentious. Pantry of Mt. VernonAlthough they were known for their extraordinary hospitality,Peanut and Chestnut Soup Mt. Vernonthey were never considered extravagant. Bread Pudding. Mt. Vernon Inn Restaurant. VA(We enjoyed two of their favorite dishes at the Mt. Vernon Inn Restaurant:
Peanut and chestnut soup with bread pudding for dessert.)George Washington reflecting on U.S. GovernmentWhat made George and Martha Washington willing to serve the cause
of their country as true statesmen Robert Frost speaking of George Washingtonwithout seeking fame or fortune? Red Angus Cattle at Mt. VernonI kept wondering, but it wasn’t until I found the quiet siteMemorial to George Washington at Mt. Vernon of the memorial Martha made for George, Inscription on George Washington's Memorial at Mt. Vernonalong with her beautiful tribute to his goodness (and I’m not sure if there’s a comparable affirmation to be found among the monarchs of the world), Tomb of George and Martha Washington john11.25-26that I felt I’d found the reason for his true excellence of character. John 11.25-26 Inscription above tomb of George and Martha Washington Mt. VernonIt’s written on the simple inscription hanging above their graves:

I am the resurrection, and the life saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” St. John XI.25.26   Washington's Last Birthday. Painting 1798 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1895The end of the verses that were written above their tombs was not recorded, but it was, “Believest thou this?” To me, it’s obvious that they did believe the words written in that verse, and that their lives demonstrated that faith beautifully!

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Reconstructed Quarters for slaves and farm hands Mt. Vernon VA
(I took all the photos at Mt. Vernon and in Washington D.C. this spring except the picture of Napoléon Bonaparte’s estate, which is from the Corisca Travel Guide, )



You Never Know Who You’ll Meet in Washington, So Let’s Go: Together 2016

President Obama in Washington D.C.If you could meet anybody you wanted to in Washington D.C., who would it be? Out for lunchGuess who came in to the restaurant while my “little sister” Lizzie was out with some girl friends a few weeks ago? Uh huh! The Pres just happened to walk in!

Washington D.C. Naitonal Cherry Blossom Festival 3 That might be even more unique and exciting than seeing the cherry blossom festival, but actually, I believe there’s something even better than either that’s coming up this summer: “Together 2016.” Hillsong Outcry 4.19.2016While Alan and I were at Outcry a couple of weeks ago, there was a young man who came out on the stage to invite everyone to meet him at the National Mall this summer on July 16. 12375044_10153334041351247_6018210484951187046_oThat young man is staying with Lizzie and Chuck this year in D.C. while working with a huge network of people who are praying for a million people to meet together at the mall.  “Together 2016 is the day our generation will meet on the National Mall to come together around Jesus in unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change. We’re coming together with as many people as possible who believe Jesus changes everything.” Wouldn’t you love to be there? I would! Flowering TreeAll sorts of people will be there: Hillsong United, Ravi Zacharias, Francis Chan, and on and on. But, best of all, I believe we’ll all meet God there, and that will be even more glorious than meeting the President of the United States! Are you in?

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

(The first three pictures are used by permission of Elizabeth, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to see President Obama. The picture of Mike is used by his permission, and the “Together 2016” video is from Facebook. If you’re interested, please check out their Face Book page for more details and helpful contact information.)