Our oldest observed how sincere and kind the ladies were and how committed they were to their faith. We discussed the fact that they were prepared to answer our questions and how they had obviously spent time studying and preparing themselves for their work. We had some good conversation about the fact that we too need to be prepared to share and defend our faith. I think it was good for them to see that we must constantly be sifting what people say through the Bible and see how it compares to Gods Word. They also seemed to get that untruth can still appear very lovely and appealing. We definitely had a good discussion with our girls about the dangers of a works-based salvation and the importance of grace to our faith.
From Salt Lake City, we traveled on to Estes Park, CO where we were able to rest up for a few days before we started the longest haul of the drive back. The first full day in Estes, we didn’t do much, we were worn out and ready for a break. We were actually in an apartment type set-up with multiple rooms and bathrooms. We all enjoyed having space to spread out a bit. I cooked while we were there and we were all so glad to have home cooked food after 3 weeks of hotel breakfasts and restaurants. Of course, by the end of 2 days of cleaning up after the meals, we remembered how much we like not having dishes after we’ve eaten!
We did enjoy going in to town and exploring the shops there. I found a clearance sweatshirt for the girls and I which was a welcome addition to our layers. I had been doing more laundry than I intended to, simply because I under packed on our warm clothes. I knew the weather was going to be cool in places, but we honestly have only had one day in 3.5 weeks that we have not needed a sweatshirt. We were all pretty tired of the 2 or 3 I’d packed for each of us.
One day while we were there, we went into Rocky Mountain National Park. We had intended to do more in the park, but it was cold and rainy while we were there. We did enjoy the one day we spent there. We all agreed it was the best place we’d been for wildlife viewing. We saw no less than 100 elk, several mule deer, some big horned sheep, and a variety of cool birds.
They all got their Junior Ranger books done, and so they were able to get their 3rd Jr. Ranger badge for the trip. I just have to say that I love the Jr. Ranger program. It really motivates the kids to observe and record what they see. They practice writing, reading, following directions, drawing, listening, and a host of other skills, all within an authentic and relevant context.
Yesterday we left Estes Park and headed down to Colorado Springs. The kids had really been looking forward to visiting Whit’s End at the Focus on the Family Headquarters. I thought we’d be there a couple of hours, and we ended up spending about 5 hours there. We explored the Adventures in Odyssey section and ate lunch at “Mr. Whitaker’s Soda Shoppe” We also took a tour of the Administrative building and got to see where the broadcasting is done. The kids got free magazines, Odyssey CDs, books, and other goodies. However, the highlight of the day was that the 4 oldest got to record their own Adventure in Odyssey episode. They went into the Kydz Radio booth with a director and the two oldest read from a script while Isaac and Lily were the “Foleys” who made the sound effects like walking, horse hooves, and doors opening and closing. Then, when they were finished, we got a complimentary copy of their recording. It is really fun to hear their voices intermingled with Chris, Connie, and Mr. Whitaker. I don’t know how many hours they’ve spent listening to Odyssey through the years, but it’s a lot. They were delighted!
This morning, we began the first of 3 long days of driving. We stopped by the Garden of the Gods before leaving Colorado Springs so the kids could walk some wiggles off. Then, we hit the road and drove the 8 hours to Topeka, KS. Let me just say, Kansas must have more museums than any other state in the union. I don’t know if it’s their effort to make up for the lack of scenery, but there is a museum billboard before nearly every exit. There’s one for nearly everything you can imagine: pioneers, famous folks from astronauts to senators to presidents, farm equipment, famous battles, the Wizard of Oz, etc.