Family Travel: Grandma Turns 90

In my lifetime, I have had the honor to meet my great-great grand-mother (100 and something) and my great grandmother (97) on my mother’s side and both lived very long lives. However, this celebration was something I was afraid I’d never see.

Last November (2012) my grandmother on my dad’s side had a medical crisis that lead her hospitalized, intubated and barely aline. My dad went to visit her and told me that he really didn’t think she’d survive and from my medical knowledge I really didn’t know either. She gave us quite the scare that month and my strong and wonderful grandmother gained back her breathing, gained back her strength, and was able to return back to her home. I was overjoyed hearing the news that months of going through rehabilitation and living away from home, she’d return.

Eleven months later, my grandmother sat in front of me talking and smiling as I wished her a very Happy 90th Birthday. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel back to Iowa (with a Chicago pit-stop) and spend time with my dad’s side of the family on this special of occasion.

During my 4 days in my dad’s home(region), I spent time at my grandmother’s assisted living facility, hung out with dad’s old friends, visited my cousin’s new farm house along with one aunt’s farm house filled with cows, billy goats and CATS, and partied at my other aunt’s farm with the entire (mostly) Lang family. During our birthday party, I spent time talking with my cousins (who are all older- some with kids a few years younger than me), aunts, and uncles, taking pictures of my grandmother meeting her newest great-grandchild (a couple months old), and even taking a ride in my uncle’s new toy- a classic car (don’t ask me what kind). I even shot a gun for the first time, well 3 different types of guns actually. It was quite fun and quite country as we were shooting a shotgun, in a corn field, drinking busch light. Talk about a fun birthday party!

It was quite the special trip returning to Iowa to honor my grandmother in her amazing life of 90 years and spending precious time with the Lang family bunch. Hopefully, my time away isn’t so long and I’ll be able to visit my grandmother again.

A Hiking Adventure-Birthday Edition: Kendall Katwalk

Moving to Washington wasn’t too tough of a decision for me to make and I can honestly say it was the right move. I have grown in my faith and learned quite a bit about myself, including the fact the I love HIKING. I could spend hours reading hiking books trying to figure out where I want to go next and how far or high I can push myself. And realistically, it’s nice to know that when nothing is set in stone for a Saturday, the Cascade Mountains are a quick 45-60 minute drive.

Over the 5 weeks, three have been spent on the top of a mountain (you can read about Summiting the Si here), including the day I turned 27. Since I had recently moved to a new city, I didn’t know a lot of people, so celebrating my birthday the “usual” way (as in going out to a restaurant/bar) was kind of out of the question. I wasn’t too heart broken about it because I knew the mountains would, and will always be there, to help me grow another year older. And that’s exactly what they did this year.

I decided on a hike, known as Kendall Katwalk, which is a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. If you don’t know anything about the Pacific Crest Trail, a.k.a PCT, here’s a brief summary. The PCT is a 2,650 mile trail that runs along the west coast, connecting Mexico to Canada running through California, Oregon, and Washington (more details, click here). The portion of the trail I completed is located in the Snoqualmie Pass area; approximately 75-minutes from my home. It totals up to about 11-miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,700 ft, ending at 5,400 ft above sea level and is rated at a 4/5 for difficulty.

This hike starts out at a moderate pace through old-growth forests, thinning out to meadows, before becoming a large boulder filled area, blasted out of the side of the mountain. This was my favorite part, because little did I know, that hitting the boulder filled area would mean a perfect view of Mt. Rainier. It took me by such surprise that it took my breath away. Of course this wasn’t the end of the trail. From this point, I still had another 1.5 miles or so to go.  The trail continues to climb high, wrapping along the west side of the mountain and ultimately ending  up at broad shelf on the east face of the ridge, known as the Katwalk.

It’s hard to explain the beauty of this particular landmark or to the flood of emotions and pride I was feeling when reached the Katwalk, as this was (and still is) my longest hike I’ve completed, but I can say this…it was breath-taking. This hike was exactly what I needed to start my 27th year off on the right food and I felt nothing but blessed overlooking valleys with mountains all around. God continues to amaze me with this beautiful land we call home and each lesson He knowingly/unknowingly placed into this world.

What lesson you ask? I’ll explain. While standing on the edge of a cliff looking into a valley, I realized that life is like a mountain range. You might feel that nothing is going right, you’re at a low point (e.g. in a valley) and that life has all these challenges (or mountains) preventing you from moving forwards. But nothing is what it seems. God places these “mountains” in our path, not to discourage us, but to make us stronger and wiser, to teach us and to guide us to Him and His love, as with Him anything can be overcome and conquered. I wander what He has planned for me next. Stay tuned to find out.

Pictures from this adventure, click here.