Category Archives: Weather

Waimea Canyon: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Can’t Go Any Further

the-glory-of-waimea-canyonDid you know there’s such a place as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific?” waimea-canyon-panoramic-viewIt was so named by Mark Twain over a hundred years ago, waipaoo-falls-waimea-canyonbut it sprang into glowing reality for me personally just recently kauai-canyons-and-waterfallswhile visiting Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” Kauai. waimea-canyon-2Waimea Canyon (its official name) is about ten miles long first-view-into-waimea-canyon-kauaiand over 3,000 feet deep. waimea-canyon-kauaiThe canyon was formed originally by the collapse of the volcano lava-ionizing-in-waimea-canyonwhich is the bedrock of Hawaii’s Kauai Island, waimea-river-running-through-waimea-canyonbut Waimea has further eroded by the flow of the Waimea River.grand-canyon-of-the-pacific-waimea-canyon-kauai Waimea Canyon a mesmerizing study in color! stratified-layers-of-rock-in-waimea-canyon-kauaiThe stratified reds and browns come from layers of black volcanic basaltred-rocks-in-waimea-canyon  that have oxidized over millennia into bright red, iron soil. waimea-canyon-hawaii-grand-canyon-of-the-pacificLush patterns of green lace weave in and out…gifts of foliagewaterfalls-streaming-down-mountainside-in-kauai-as-seen-from-kalalau-lookout flowing from Mount Wai’ale’ale, Kauai’s central peak, waipoo-falls-in-waimea-canyonfamed for catching clouds and being one of the wettest places on earth! waimea-canyon-beautyOne of the highlights of Waimea Canyon’s 1,866-acre state park is Waipao Falls, waipoo-falls-in-waimea-canyon-closeup-2which cascades 800 feet down the canyon wall waimea-canyon-helicopterand can be seen at various lookouts along the 18-mile stretch road-up-to-waimea-canyon-kauaiof Highway 550 that takes you to the top of the canyon. waimea-canyonThere are many great hiking trails in the park, and if you have the time, glory-bush-tibouchina-urvilleana-kauai-by-kalalau-lookoutit would be easy to spend your entire day exploring.waimea-canyon-lookout-parking-lot-with-chickens Although most tourists stop here, steep-road-up-waimea-canyon-kauaiHighway 550 winds its way up past Kokee State Park (lovely rain forest) kalalau-lookout-sign-kauaiand ends at the Kalalau Lookout,kalalau-lookoutwhich has magnificent views of the Na Pali Coast. waipoo-falls-in-waimea-canyon-close-upThe concierge at our hotel showed us some photos on her i-phone heading-to-waimea-canyon-highway-50and said that no matter what the forecast, go anyway, kalalau-lookout-viewand don’t stop until you get to the end of the road! (Such great advice!!)predicting-rain-for-waimea-canyon-kauaiThe prediction had been for rain the day she went, bi-plane-in-kauai-01-25-17but rain is a common part of the forecast and usually doesn’t last long. lantana-blooming-in-kauaiBesides, it’s great for the flowers and often produces sparkling rainbows. clouds-and-distant-trees-waimea-canyon-kauaiThe day we went, we didn’t get to see any rainbows, oxidized-volcanic-rock-on-kauaibut the weather was much better than anticipated, waimea-canyon-kauai-copyand the clouds scuttling across the sky above the canyon formed beautiful cloud-formations-over-waimea-canyon-kauaipatterns of light and dark that made the contrasts even richer. waimea-canyon-roller-coaster-roadsPersevering to the end of the road was well worth the time and twists, waimea-canyon-grand-canyon-of-the-pacific-kauaiand being filled with the beauty of this wild, deep canyon distant-waterfalls-from-kalalau-lookout-kauaibrought to mind the words of Scripture:

waimea-canyon-kauai“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19, ESV).another-beautiful-sunset-in-kauai-hawaii(I took all these photos on the day we went to Waimea Canyon in January, 2017. As you can see, the weather changes a lot over the course of one day, so never let the weather stop you from enjoying the incredible beauty of God’s creation!)

What’s Under the Mantle of White?

img_7265It’s snowing and 8° here in Michigan this morning.snowy-lake The sky looks almost foggy,img_7263 and everything is wrapped in a mantle of white as luxurious as ermine fur! img_7262Don’t you love how snow softens lines and covers over the deadness and defects img_7273of our landscapes after the cold has killed off everything green? img_7272-2It occurs to me that it’s almost impossible to guess what’s under the soft, glistening mounds of white unless you know the landscape well.
img_7270For instance, wouldn’t it be impossible to know what’s under the white mounds of snow in the preceding photos grill-buried-under-snowunless you’re able to back up and see the bigger picture?  (Outdoor grill)snowy-stack-of-wood(Not a bed, but a stack of firewood!) img_8471Makes me think of God, who covers over our sins with his grace and makes us clean, not only on the outside but on the inside too! (Kayak on our dock.) overturned-row-boat Thank you, Father, for a new year and the chance to be renewed again!  picnic-table-covered-in-snowPurge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow
” (Psalm 51:7).  huge-snowy-doghouseWhoever covers an offense seeks love” (Proverbs 17:9).

Ode to Icicles

icicles-and-snow-fallingOde to Iciclesicicles-seen-from-insideBars on my castle
Iced drops of rain
Jack Frost was crying
Out my window pane.  rings-and-ridges-in-iciclesSnowflakes dissolving
Wept frozen tears
Ringed like a tree trunk
In hours, not years.  icicles-in-the-sunshineTransparent carrots
Grown in the wind
Sunshine to water
But no one to tend. icicles-like-stalactitesCrystal stalactites
Not from a cave
Born in the open
Where birds must be brave. sparrows-sitting-on-rail-in-winter

icicles-growing-in-a-rowSwords of Damocles
Hung from the sky
Begging the question
Is something awry?
icicles-formingFair jewels from snow
Sharp as a knife
More precious than bread
The Water of Life.
long-icicles-12-15-16The longer they hang
The longer they grow
The longer I know
My life must need snow.
(—Kathryn W. Armstrong, December 15, 2016)row-of-icicles-hanging-off-roof “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22).icicles-snow-and-sunshine

Let it Snow??

winter-wonderland-in-michiganAlthough it’s grey this morning, we had a foot of snow descend like shimmering stardust over the weekend, turning Michigan’s landscape into a winter wonderland. The moon reflecting off the snowdrifts made the night seem almost bright last night. Were it not for so many of my loved ones needing to travel, I’d say, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” deep-snowsHowever, it’s not just Alan commuting to work and my son Stephen needing to drive home from New York for Christmas vacation that’s on my mind. It’s my close friends who are commuting over an hour to Lansing because their father is dying…and my friends who are driving back and forth from northern Michigan, where their parents have just been admitted to an assisted living facility…my friend who is trying to recover from a broken hip, and my friend whose mom is in the hospital with a stroke. snowy-woodsLife is so beautiful, but life is also extremely painful and difficult, isn’t it? Even those of us who aren’t dealing with physical pain ourselves are hurting for those we love, because some of them are really suffering this holiday season. Losses. Loss of spouses. Loss of children. This week’s emphasis on the Advent Calendar is joy, and our pastor reminded us that joy can coexist with pain and suffering, not through denial of the pain, but through the joy of hope and the experience of love. snowy-evergreensI hope during this holiday season you’re able to experience love, hope, peace…and yes—JOY!— with those who are dear to you—even in the midst of life’s heartaches. The very best present is your presence with those who are suffering. I pray for all of us to reach out and touch others with joy this Christmas. ‘Tis the season!  christmas-bells

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.”
(—Lyrics by Isaac Watts, 1719; Music by George Frideric Handel)

 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Table Mountain: One of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders

view-of-table-mountain-from-distanceIconic Table Mountain is the most beloved and photographed landmarkyellow-fynbos-edges-the-view-of-cape-town-from-table-mountain in all of South Africa. lions-head-and-long-lines-at-table-mountainEvery year more than 800,000 visitors ascend to the top (so come early)!hiking-path-up-table-mountainSome hike up the steep mountainsides, aerial-cable-car-going-up-table-mountainbut most ascend the way we did: via a revolving aerial cable way view-going-up-table-mountainwhile enjoying 360° panoramic views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean. view-of-table-mountainTable Mountain is 3,563 feet at its highest point,
although the Back Table is a two-mile long, level plateau of “table top.”

aerial-cable-car-ascending-table-mountainSome geologists estimate that Table Mountain’s mesa was formed by volcanic and glacial action during the Ordovician Period some 5oo-600 million years ago, making it at least six times older than the Himalayas and one of the oldest mountains in the world. panoramic-view-of-cape-town-from-lions-head-to-devils-peakRegardless of it’s exact age, Table Mountain is ancient, and it’s the only terrestial feature on earth that has a constellation named for it: Mensa, meaning “the table,” so named by the French astronomer, Nicolas de Lacaille back in 1763 after a two-year study of 10,000 stars in the Southern Hemisphere.

plaque-on-table-mountainTable Mountain is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. world-floral-kingdoms-at-table-mountainThe Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the world’s plant kingdoms, orographic-clouds-forming-behind-lions-head-gorgeous-wildflowers-near-table-mountainbut the richest for its size, boasting 8,500 distinct species, silvery-leaved-native-species-of-plants-in-cape-peninsula1,470 of which occur on Table Mountain and the Back Table. diverse-plants-in-cape-town-and-around-table-mountainThat is more than all the plant species in the United Kingdom!yellow-fynbos-and-trails-up-table-mountainSadly, 70% of the plants are endemic (found no where else in the world), lilies-on-table-mountainand despite incessant attempts at conservation, this area also has the highest number of threatened species of any equivalently-sized continental area. visiting-the-top-of-table-mountainWe only had an hour to explore the top, but there are many hiking trails of varying lengths to experience Table Mountain’s beauty. cape-town-as-seen-from-table-mountainThere are jeep trails up the steep slopes that make first class mountain bike paths, the most famous being Plum Pudding Hill.steep-sides-of-table-mountainRock climbing and caving are also popular sports.
The largest cave is Wynberg, but over 100 caves
have been discovered in the peninsula and on Table Mountain. yellow-fynbos-and-shop-at-the-top-of-table-mountainGood maps are available, and if you decide to go exploring, be sure to buy a map, because dense mists can descend without warning any time of the year. table-cloth-spreading-over-table-mountain-saIn fact, the flat top of the mountain is notorious for being enveloped
in orographic clouds,  orographic-tablecloth-covering-table-mountainwhich are formed when the moist sea air rises to the top of the mountain
and hits colder air. alan-on-top-of-table-mountainWhile we were visiting, we were able to enjoy one of these dramatic changes orographic-clouds-forming-on-table-mountainfrom sunny to cloudy in a matter of minutes.

table-cloth-of-clouds-over-table-mountainThe locals call this effect “spreading the table cloth,” and legend has it that the foggy table cloth is caused by a smoking match between the Devil and the Dutch pirate, Van Hunks. table-cloth-clouds-on-table-mountainWhat do you think? Do you believe that legend? I’m always charmed by legends, which are known to be fictitious. I’m not so charmed by scientists who promote their theories as fact. view-of-cable-way-station-and-cape-town-from-table-mountainFor instance,  I don’t think anybody can “prove” how the world came to be. Personally, I believe God created the earth with the appearance of age. I believe each “day” was a period of time, like the word “day” is used in other passages, such as “the day of the Lord.”clouds-move-in-to-cover-table-mountain I don’t know if a “day” had 24 hours or one nanosecond or 600 million years, but I believe God spoke and it happened. Our world did not need 600+million years to evolve.clifton-beach-from-table-mountain“Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could…” (as Maria Von Trapp sings). But, I don’t think our world’s beauty comes from our doing something good in our childhood or from eons of evolution, atlantic-ocean-of-cape-peninsula-saI believe the biblical account, which says that our gorgeous planet was created by God, who is the definition of goodness and omnipotence. How about you?
orographic-clouds-obscuring-view-of-cape-town-from-table-mountainIn the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:1-5)

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 (calvarygr.org) “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:  https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/what-if-your-kid-doesnt-want-to-march-in-his-graduation/ )Fishtown and Leland River

A Close Call: Five Tornadoes Touch Down in Grand Rapids

Trees DownLast Saturday our city’s emergency alarm system started to wail and our cell phones were abeep with warnings to take cover because a tornado had touched down and was heading our way. It was raining lightly, but the sky wasn’t dark with that threatening greenish glower I associate with a “tornado” sky.

Nevertheless, we sat quietly (and prayerfully) on chairs in our storage room and waited. Soon news came that more than one tornado had touched down, and the warning period was extended. It was hard to feel very frightened without external confirmation of what might be coming, but I’m one of those who hug the mountain side of the road, so I stayed downstairs until the “all clear” was given an hour later. Alan, on the other hand—exhausted from his morning’s outdoor work—decided to ignore the wailing and went upstairs to take a nap.  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 5In the cellar, I thought back to my first experience with a tornado, which occurred when I was about six. My family was visiting my grandmother’s farm on the vast prairies of eastern Colorado. I knew all about Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, so when my uncles shouted that a twister was coming across the prairie heading straight for us, we all scrambled down into their dark, dank storage cellar…a place I’d never venture into uncompelled. That day, the twister missed our farm, and I felt very relieved that I hadn’t been carried off to somewhere over the rainbow (or worse).  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 6My latest experience with a tornado was reading a children’s book to my grandchildren last week…a book based on a true story about a little boy who lived in a trailer park, where a tornado turned his family’s trailer into a trail of bent metal while his baby sister was asleep in her crib. After the tornado passed, the family ran everywhere, desperately searching for any signs of their baby, and by a miracle of grace they found her still safely asleep in her crib at the edge of the local ball diamond!

Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 11The GR tornadoes never struck our home, and our electricity didn’t even go out, so it almost seemed like a false alarm.Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 9 It wasn’t until we went to church the next morning that I knew how close we’d come to being hit. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 1One of our friends said they heard on the weather station that a tornado had touched down just a mile from our house and was headed toward our lake. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 7For some reason, it lifted before it reached us. Thank you, Lord! Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 8(Yes, I was praying, but I’ll bet a lot of people whose property was damaged
were also praying.) Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 3Yesterday afternoon I drove through the area close to our home that had been impacted, and although there were trees down everywhere,
not a single home had been harmed. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 2In fact, in all five of the tornadoes, there had been mostly tree damage,
and not a single report of any person being injured!   🙂

Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 4Our “friendly neighborhood tornado” had uprooted massive trees, but in the most precise way so that they fell into the streets, across yards, or over fields. It reminded me of a father who’d given his children a stern warning but hadn’t spanked them!  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016I’ve had a swirl of thoughts since then. For one thing, we can’t always tell by present circumstances what the future will hold, but I think we’d be wise to listen to our authorities, and for me, the most authoritative source of information about our future is the Bible, which tells us how to prepare for the inevitability of of our physical body dying. For another thing, God’s ways are higher than ours, and we can’t really fathom what he’s doing or why he’s doing it. Like a tornado, God is a God of great power, but like the five tornadoes that hit GR over the weekend, God is also full of mercy. So often he protects us from the storms, but sometimes he takes us through the storms. Both ways, He is a God of love. He loves us, and he works all things together for our good. If only we could grasp that fully!  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 10And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29).