Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Now is the time to put politics aside and celebrate the greatest gift mankind ever received.

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Christmas is, was, and always will be a holiday established to celebrate His birth. The following is the story of Jesus' birth from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2:

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Thank you God for sending your Son to live and die so that we may have eternal life.

May peace and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, bless everyone in this joyous season.

Happy birthday Jesus!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Count Your Blessings

Another in the inspirational music series...

Bing Crosby offers some great advice in this song, reminding us to count our blessings when we're feeling low. That's a lesson we should all learn.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.--1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, December 6, 2010

Down in the river to pray--Alison Krauss

I can't seem to find the time lately to take to the trails and visit the parks. The demands of work have kept me from the outdoors of late. So, in this joyous Christmas season I thought I'd replace the typical posts you find on my blog with some inspirational music that will hopefully help lift your spirits during the month we celebrate Christ's birth.

Here's Alison Krauss, singing a capella, a beautiful tune that reminds us of the path to true happiness and satisfaction. Prayer. Remember to call on God the Father, who promises to supply your needs.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day we give thanks to Almighty God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us and we wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and pray that you too are blessed by Him!

Also, we wish to remind all of the origins of this joyous holiday with the following, General George Washington's declaration to celebrate the first Thanksgiving holiday of the newly established United States of America in 1789.

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

May God bless and keep you on this Thanksgiving day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beauty all around us...

Sometimes we tend to think we have to get away, travel to exotic places, and spend a lot of money to find the beauty in nature. Then...God reminds us that ALL of his creation is beautiful. The beauty of His creation surrounds us, even in our everyday environment.

It's been several months since I had the opportunity to get back to nature. But, as I left work this afternoon, I was struck with the beauty of the sunset in the pictures below.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Driving Arkansas' "Pig Trail"

Last weekend I had the opportunity to enjoy a drive I hadn't experienced in more than two decades. A narrow, twisting, two-lane asphalt path stretching sixty or so miles through the Ozark Mountains from Fayetteville to Ozark, Arkansas provides drivers with beautiful vistas and serenity never found on the four-lane, divided interstate system.

At eighteen, I was a regular traveler on the route, but not because of the scenery. During my one year attending the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, I returned to North Little Rock several times on weekends. The relatively new I-540 from Alma to the home of Arkansas' flagship university wasn't yet built, leaving two possible paths to reach the college.

Then, most made the trip via US 71, the truck route for points north of Fort Smith. Well known for its switchback turns and steep grades, travelers considered it a treacherous trek the far northwestern reaches of the Natural State. But its hairpin turns didn't hold a candle to "The Pig Trail." And at the thrill-seeking age of 18, I chose to make the more dangerous journey on a regular basis.

Then, it wasn't for the scenery, but the thrill and the challenge of speeding up the twisting mountain road. But that was then...and this is now. Twenty some odd years later, I chose to take the slower route from Fayetteville to I-40 for no other reason than to enjoy the scenic beauty.

We had traveled to Siloam Springs, AR on Friday night to watch the Vilonia Eagles trounce the Panthers 48-28 and stayed the night in nearby Springdale. Early the next morning we headed south on I-540 and took the US-71 Business exit heading south through Fayetteville. On the south end of town, we turned left (east) on Arkansas Highway 16. A short time later, we found ourselves enveloped in the serene setting of the Ozark Mountains.

Though "The Pig Trail" doesn't actually start until one reaches Highway 23 just past the tiny town of Brashears, the beauty of the journey begins not long out of Fayetteville on Highway 16. The road parallels the upper reaches of the White River, offering glimpses of the winding waterway through the thick foliage of the prominent hardwood forest.

Blink and you'll miss the tiny village of Brashears, but just past it you'll find the junction of Highways 16 and 23. Turning south on 23 begins the journey on the well-known "Pig Trail."

Though we'd hoped the season was late enough to enjoy the full effect of the fall colors, the leaves remained mostly green. Still, even without the bright colors we were expecting, the drive rewarded us with spectacular scenery that one normally doesn't spot through the windshield of a car.

Most of the drive carries the motorist through the thick of the hardwood forests, sometimes almost forming a tunnel of overhanging trees that almost blocks out the sun. But a few places along the path provide beautiful overlooks offering expansive views of the Ozark Mountains.

After that drive, the interstate stretch from Ozark to the house promised to be far less enjoyable. But we stopped for a pit stop at the interstate rest area just east of the Highway 23 exit and enjoyed another spectacular look at the mountains to our north.

One of these days, we'll catch the leaves in the full of the fall color change. But even in their late autumn green state, the drive offers travelers plenty of enjoyment. God's artwork is certainly evident crossing the western Arkansas hills.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pinnacle Mountain Hike

Last month my family and I made a three-mile hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park just outside Little Rock, Arkansas. The park has several trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty, but either of the trails leading to the summit are rated strenuous. The base trail has been completed to make a 3.5 mile loop all the way around the base of the mountain, but all the online resources I can find have yet to be updated to show this.

Our hike began at the West Summit Picnic Area. We covered about 3 miles that included a 1.5 mile stretch of the Base Trail, the 3/4 mile East Summit Trail, and the 3/4 mile West Summit Trail for a total distance of about 3 miles. A 700+ foot ascent from the parking lot of the picnic area rewards the hiker with breathtaking vistas of Lake Maumelle from the West Summit and the Arkansas River from the East Summit.

The Base Trail is not marked from the West Summit Picnic Area, but it's really easy to find. The covered entrance to the West Summit Trail head is impossible to miss and that's where our hike began. After only 100 yards or so the West Summit and Base Trails intersect and we made a right turn to begin our walk along the base of the mountain.

This was by far the easiest part of the hike. Though the trail can be a little rocky, and a little narrow, the entire 1.5 mile stretch we covered only nets about an 80 foot rise in elevation. The hardwood forest offers plenty of shade and our morning hike treated us to beautiful views of the sun forcing its way through the oak trees that covered the mountain.

The trails in Pinnacle Mountain State Park offer hikers an opportunity to experience a near-pristine woodland environment only a stone's throw from Arkansas' largest city, but a few man-made accommodations offer comfort to those who traverse the park's trails. The Base Trail is marked with green paint splashes near eye level on trees along the path. Though these remind hikers they are not exactly hiking in the wilderness, the markings are necessary to keep visitors from straying from the trail and following any number of game trails or paths cleared by runoff water rushing down the side of the mountain. Benches constructed every so often along the trail offer another convenience to comfort those traversing the trails. They are painted to blend with the natural surroundings so resting hikers still feel close to nature during their respite.

The only thing we encountered on the Base Trail that really contradicted the wilderness feel we were seeking was a section of the trail that paralleled a large power line for a couple of hundred yards. The open gash cut through the woods and decorated with the huge metal masts supporting the cables carrying electricity to the city to the east remind the hiker of his close proximity to the concrete covered population center just minutes away.

Fortunately though, a brisk pace removed us from the woods' wound rather quickly and we once again found ourselves surrounded by beauty that obscured most signs of civilization.

The only natural danger we encountered along the Base Trail came in the form of poisonous plants, poison ivy (pictured below) and poison oak. Their vines often protruding onto the trail could catch hikers unaware, especially those wearing shorts.

After a mile and a half of relatively easy hiking on the Base Trail, we came to the junction with the East Summit Trail. It had been more than 20 years since I'd hiked this trail, but I remembered it being far more strenuous than the West Summit Trail we planned to descend. It didn't disappoint.

The trail, marked with white marks outlined in red, was easy to follow but the 3/4 mile hike from here to the summit was certainly strenuous. The first 1/2 mile wasn't so bad, consisting of a series of switchbacks on a moderately difficult trail. But the last 1/4 mile was a steep climb of several hundred feet. Far more a climb than a hike, it was even more difficult than I'd remembered. But we made it to the top and were rewarded with the spectacular views you see below.

Looking east from the summit, the Big Dam Bridge is visible on the Arkansas River in the distance. From the west side of the summit, the view is of beautiful Lake Maumelle.

Arkansas River from East Summit

Lake Maumelle from West Summit

Our descent followed the West Summit Trail which offered a far less difficult hike than its East Summit counterpart. This trail is marked with yellow splashes on the rocks and trees. The first 1/4 mile is not quite as steep as what we'd climbed on the opposite slope and the boulders on this side of the mountain are arranged in more of a stair step fashion that facilitates the climb up or down. Near the top of the West Summit Trail, hikers are treated to several gorgeous vistas of the valley below and nearby peaks.

Views from West Summit Trail

Pinnacle Mountain State Park offers a great getaway for nature lovers, only minutes from the hustle and bustle of Little Rock. Breathtaking views await those who want to make the strenuous climb to the top, but serene strolls through the hardwoods are available for hikers who aren't ready to tackle the more difficult trails to the summit.

To get to the park, take I-430 to the Highway 10/Cantrell Rd exit. Go west on Highway 10 to Chenal Parkway. Turn right on Chenal Parkway to Highway 300. Turn right and a short drive will bring you to the entrance of the West Summit Picnic Area.

Bathrooms with running water are available in the picnic area, but hikers should bring plenty of drinking water. There is no water available on the hiking trails in the park.

Please feel free to leave comments detailing your own experiences at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. In September, we're planning a couple of short hikes at Heber Springs, Arkansas. The first is a short trail overlooking the Little Red River that begins at the William Carl Garner Visitor's Center near the dam that forms Greer's Ferry Lake. The second is another short trail just east of Heber Springs that leads to the top of a small mountain called Sugarloaf.

Until next summer, we'll be hiking about once a month on various trails throughout Arkansas and I'll write about each one. Thanks for reading, and happy hiking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It had to end

NOTE: This is the 12th post of a multi-part series chronicling my family's two week vacation in the summer of 2010.

For links to the entire series, click here.

After the Grand Canyon, our two week summer vacation had nearly run its course. All that remained was the long drive back to central Arkansas. It was late afternoon by the time we left the South Rim, so we decided it would be best to find a place to spend the night.

We settled for the evening at the Quality Inn of Winslow, AZ. We slept in a decent room for a fair price. It wasn't anything fancy or luxurious, but we found nothing to complain about either. There was an inside pool that could be viewed from the rooms. The complimentary deluxe continental breakfast was one of the better we'd enjoyed in our many stays at various Choice Hotels across the West on this trip.

Almost 1200 miles separated us from home when we pulled out of Winslow, so we decided to take a couple of days to get there. Using the free wireless internet offered at our hotel, I was able to book a campsite for the next night at Santa Rosa Lake State Park in New Mexico. It was only about 400 miles from Winslow, but camping by a lake seemed like a good idea after two nights in hotels.

We arrived around 4:00 in the afternoon, plenty of time to set up camp and explore. The campsite we had reserved had running water and an electric hookup, so we were confident the girls would be happier here than they'd been in many of the campgrounds where we had stayed. There was a nice, covered concrete picnic table and for the first time in what seemed like ages, we weren't in bear country. So no warnings about food storage or what to do if a bear entered your tent. But that didn't mean there were no pests to annoy us.

Our first task was to set up camp. We unloaded the blazer and began the now practiced drill of erecting our tents. But this time we found a previously unknown adversary in our camping experience--ants. And plenty of them! As we tried to locate the smoothest spots to plant our canvass coverings we noticed quite a few of them scurrying around. But it wasn't until we began to drive the stakes into the ground that we realized the extent of the infestation.

The vibrations created by hammering the metal pegs into the hard ground apparently annoyed the army of ants camped just beneath the surface. Long before the tents were sufficiently tied down, the ground appeared to move as the six-legged critters emerged from their subsurface domicile. We finished the job and decided to explore a little, hoping our tiny neighbors would settle back in while we were gone.

The girls were hoping to find the lake suitable for swimming but that didn't work out. The campground sat high above the lake and it was a pretty good hike over a rocky path to make it to the shore. Once we reached the water's edge, the rocks and brush lining the lake made it difficult to locate a decent place to enter. Then, once we stepped into the water we realized it was way too cold to swim anyway. A little disappointed, we wandered back along the stony path to the campground.

Our ants had settled down, but there were still plenty to be seen. Using the provided picnic table, we were able to cook supper and eat before the insects could overtake us. The running water allowed us to clean up quickly, so we avoided being overwhelmed by our underground neighbors. But they did make it necessary to pack everything not in the tents back into the Blazer. Even though we were no longer in bear country, we wouldn't be able to leave our things outside.

We weren't able to keep all the ants out of our tents, but we did manage to get some sleep. The few that did get in would occasionally bite so the night was passed in a somewhat fitful sleep.

You've probably figured it out by now, but in case anyone is still unclear, this isn't a great place to camp in a tent. If you decide to spend the night here, I'd recommend doing it in an RV.

The next morning we awoke and quickly packed our things. The Blazer was loaded for the final leg, 800 miles, and we were all ready to get home.

The drive was uneventful for the most part, but there is one picture I'd like to share. Just east of Amarillo, TX we passed a huge metal cross beside the freeway. It was great to see this symbol of our Savior, communicating the message of salvation, proudly displayed beside the busy highway.

Reminded that all we had seen and done was made possible through Him, I said a little prayer thanking God for giving us the opportunity to share this experience as a family. He provided us the means and the desire to take the trip and it is my hope that, above all, these articles glorify Him.

We have decided to take another trip next year, but haven't yet decided on a destination. In the meantime, we'll be hiking at least once a month in Arkansas and will post articles and pictures describing those trails and their locations.

God bless and thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grand Canyon!

NOTE: This is the 11th post of a multi-part series chronicling my family's two week vacation in the summer of 2010.

For links to the entire series, click here.

We left the cubs of Bearizona behind and pushed north on Arizona highway 64, headed for the Grand Canyon! The ranger at the park gate took our entry fee and handed us a packet of literature similar to that we received earlier when we entered Yellowstone.

It had been more than 20 years since I had visited the park, but my wife and daughters would see it that day for the first time. On my previous visit I accompanied my grandparents, an aunt and uncle and their two small children. I recalled being awed by the gaping gash separating the north rim from the south, but not much else. We must have done nothing more than drive up, get out, and shoot a few pictures at the lookout, because there was a lot to see and do that I would discover on this trip along with my family.

For instance, I had no idea there were so many hiking trails. My visit two decades earlier didn't reveal the developed area of the South Rim Village. I'd heard of the mule rides available to descend into the canyon, but we didn't get close enough to see the skinners guiding tourists over the rim. I was blessed on this trip to experience many of these things along with my wife and daughters for the first time, even though it was not my first visit to the park.

After leaving the entrance, we continued north on highway 64 to the parking area at Mather Point. The observation area was fenced off and under construction, but the South Rim hiking trail separated the parking area and the construction zone. So we set out afoot heading east.

I was surprised, but grateful, to find no guardrails after we left the Mather Point area. The rim (the real rim with its sheer drop of hundreds or thousands of feet in places) was as accessible to us as it was to a jackrabbit! Some points jutted into the seemingly endless space and provided adventurous mini-hikes when I navigated their less traveled trails.

We could see Yaki Point soon after we left the parking lot and began our hike. It looked close, maybe less than a mile. Visible below Yaki Point was a gash in the cliff face that appeared to be a trail that would take me down into this famous natural wonder known as Grand Canyon. The temptation to enter this famous landmark was great and I wanted to find that trail.

So, with a few side adventures of me climbing out onto the rocks jutting over the expanse, we continued to wind our way east along the rim. But our daughters were tired of hiking by this point in our two week vacation, and we had not planned on a long hike when we disembarked from our Blazer. My wife and I relented against their complaints and permitted them to return to the visitors' center at Mather where they could charge their indispensable cell phones and wait for us.

We pushed on though, but never reached Yaki. A light rain began to fall, and we decided to turn back about a mile from Mather. The precipitation didn't really stop us, because we were already thinking about reversing course before the drops began to fall. The real kicker was, after hiking a mile or so along the rim, Yaki Point appeared no closer than it had when we first spotted it. It still appeared close, but no closer than before we began our march. So we turned back toward the west to link back up with our daughters.

By the time we were all four together again at the visitors' center, the rain had stopped. We walked around and viewed a few of the exhibits, but these were not what had drawn us to leave interstate 40 and pay the fee to enter the park. The beauty created by God, not the trinkets built by man, was what drew us to this awe-inspiring masterpiece sculpted by our Creator.

The map we received at the gate showed South Rim Village a short distance to the west. Lodges, a train station, and more hiking trails were marked there so we decided to head that direction. But first, we took advantage of the picnic tables provided at the Mather Point parking lot and enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches and chips prepared on the tailgate of our vehicle.

The drive west was slow, but beautiful. Our map left much to be desired as to scale and accuracy. It took several loops of the Village area to get the feel for where everything was and to find a parking spot. Parking was extremely scarce here as the Village area seemed to be the most popular on the South Rim. Our parking spot was a good distance from the rim, so it took a short hike to get back in position to enjoy the view.

By the time we reached Verkamp's Store, the girls were already tired of hiking. Once again, we allowed them to remain behind while my wife and I explored. (With much of the previous two weeks spent in areas with no cell phone service, and many nights spent in campgrounds with no electricity for charging them, all it took to make them content at this point was a charged phone with service.) With orders to stay at Verkamp's and go nowhere else, we left them behind and walked westward along the South Rim Trail.

The lodges here were beautiful, but again, these were not what attracted us. We came for the scenery and the experience. There were two man-made structures that did interest us though. The Lookout Studio and Kolb Studios protruded out over the abyss. They virtually hang over the side of the cliff and provide outstanding vistas to canyon visitors.

On the right side of the door entering Lookout Studio hangs a plaque with the subtitle to this blog, Psalm 104:24. This inspirational plaque provided an essential part of the motivation for this website, which is why I chose that verse as the subtitle and the web address. God truly blessed us with His creations, the Grand Canyon and others, and it made me feel really good to see the credit for this natural work of art given to whom it belongs. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Bible verse posted so boldly on an edifice in our National Park, with so many attacks on religion in general and Judeo-Christian religion specifically.

The view from Lookout Studio was so inspirational, my wife and I pledged to each other to bring the girls back here before we left the park to get their pictures. But not quite yet. First, we intended to continue on our westward track along the South Rim Trail.

Not far west of Lookout Studio sits Kolb Studio, where the most famous of Grand Canyon photographers lived for decades. Just outside the studio is the Bright Angel Trailhead, the mule skinners' route into the canyon. The lure of the inner canyon was too much to resist. Though my wife had no interest in dropping below the rim, she indulged my spontaneous quest to descend and promised to wait at the top.

I hadn't planned on plunging into the canyon so I was not prepared to journey deep within the walls. Seemingly everywhere along the rim were signs posted to warn adventurers of the dangers lurking below the rim. One prominent sign told the story of a 24-year-old marathon runner who embarked on a one-way journey into the depths of the canyon. The intended message was clear: if this conditioned athlete could die here, so can you! So my adventure would have to be short, due to my lack of preparation and my waiting wife and children.

My mini-adventure into the canyon took me only a couple of hundred feet down in elevation, and maybe a half-mile along the trail before I turned around. But this short journey both quenched my thirst to hike below the rim and whetted it to hike to the bottom. Though this vacation would start and end without me reaching the river that created this snaking scar across the northern Arizona desert, I pledged to return one day and reach the Colorado.

Heeding the warning signs and common sense, I turned back long before the hike and the heat got the better of me. As I climbed back out, I realized how easy it would be to miscalculate and out walk one's ability in this beautiful, scenic deathtrap. My short hike down seemed to demand little in the way of strength, but the steep hike up quickly works to wear down the muscles in your legs. Because I didn't go far, mine was a pretty easy journey down and back up. However, by the time I again reached the top, it was clear that climbing the 4300 feet from the Colorado to the rim is something one would never want to attempt lacking adequate preparation and conditioning.

When we linked up again, my wife and I continued west along the South Rim Trail for another half-mile or so. Again, distances were deceiving. We could see the rim jutted out toward the inner canyon farther down the trail, then curved back to the west. It looked like a great observation point to look back at the developed area of the Village. But again, we walked and walked and we never seemed to close the distance between where we were and where we wanted to be.

Finally, still short of our initial goal, we decided to turn back because the hands on the clock were still winding the day away. Without stopping we returned to find the girls. Over their complaints, we marched them back to Lookout Studio and descended the steps to shoot their photos leaning against the wall.

On the way back to the Blazer, we stopped and bought an ice cream for each of us. The creamy, cool treat hit the spot after the trek and our family visit to the Grand Canyon came to a close. We left the park and headed for Flagstaff where we would once again hit I-40 and point the vehicle east toward home.