Sunday, May 18, 2014
18th Anniversary of the 38th
I went to Yellowstone National Park to celebrate the 18th anniversary of my 38th birthday, I took the second annual trip to Yellowstone National Park . . . by myself. Like a true introvert I relish the opportunity to spend some time in Yellowstone . . . by myself. I did it for the first time last year to celebrate the big double nickel birthday and had a blast . . . the wife suggested that I do it again this year. Who am I to argue? So, I am spending the 18th anniversary of my 38th birthday in Yellowstone National Park . . . and, it has been great!
After a nice celebration with my church family, I was able to hit the road to Yellowstone by noon. With the Chief Joseph Scenic Bypass open to Cooke City, I was able to take my favorite route into the park. This route is my favorite route as I can pretty much see everything and anything that is in the park. Before I even got into the park I was able to see a mama moose and her calf hanging out by a river. The longer that I live in the Yellowstone ecosystem, the more I value the moose over all the other critters that I can observe . . . despite their clumsy looking appearance they are actually quite graceful and fast . . . don't ever get between a mama moose and her baby. It is always good to knock off the moose on the list of things to see when heading to Yellowstone . . . in over five years of going to Yellowstone, I have only seen a couple of moose in the actual park.
The next wonderful surprise was seeing a wolf feeding off a carcass in Lamar Valley. The wolf in Yellowstone is a highlight of any trip into the park as these creatures are pretty elusive. Typically I see one a summer when touring the park. It is good that I have marked the wolf off early this summer. I got some wonderful pictures . . . well, I guess it depends on whether or not you like seeing a wolf ripping flesh off of a caraass . . . but, they were great pictures.
Further down the road, heading to Mammoth Hot Springs and the North Entrance to the park, I stumbled upon a bear. As of this moment, as I am writing this, I am not sure if this bear was a really, really big black bear or a grizzly bear. I will have to save judgement on that until I get back home and download the pictures . . . the wife will be the final judge on what sort of bear it was. All I can tell you is that it was a really, really big bear. My gut reaction is that it was a grizzly . . . grizzly sounds so much cooler than a black bear.
For the start of the second annual celebration of my birthday . . . it was a pretty darn good day. Top it off with a nice ribeye steak for supper, a Cold Smoke brew from Missoula, and a nice warm motel room with Wi-Fi . . . I just have to say that it was as wonderful of a present as anyone could have ever given me to commemorate the 18th anniversary of my 38th birthday!
I appreciate the grace of my wife for blessing this ritualistic observance of my yearly getting older. I appreciate the gracefulness of her urging me to go and visit the park by myself . . . Yellowstone National Park is just about her most favorite place in the world, and to let me go by myself is a huge sacrifice on her part. She would have loved to see the moose (though we have a lot of them around the Red Lodge area), the wolf, the bear, and not to mention all the other critters I have seen. It was a wonderful gift for her to give her blessing for me to parouse the park by myself. I am not sure others would have understood how special it was to have this opportunity . . . and, I still have tomorrow to go! As much as she has given her blessing upon this trip, I know that it is killing her! I really do appreciate this gift.
Now, I appreciate all of the gifts and well-wishes I have received to acknowledge that I have grown a year older . . . that I have set, yet another, personal record for longevity . . . but, this is still the greatest gift of all. As an introvert I appreciate it whenever someone else acknowledges my need for alone time . . . acknowledges my need to process all of the hoopla surrounding what I would almost forget if others did not remind me. Usually I would take off any Sunday in which my birthday lands, but this year I couldn't as I had already taken off a Sunday two week earlier. Thus it was that I put up with all the teasing and joking that comes with the preacher's birthday . . . but, to be honest, the congregation was respectful as they celebrated my birthday. For that I was appreciative. As my momma used to say, "Keep it simple" . . . and, they did. I appreciate it very much.
I have appreciated the "quiet time" . . . time in which I can let my mind go to wherever it pleases. "Quiet time" to listen to music I want to listen to without apologizing if it happens to be "donker donker" music that drives the wife crazy. "Quiet time" to appreciate the beauty of God's handiwork without having to say a million times . . . "Wow! Beautiful!" God knows that I appreciate the creativity of God's touch. "Quiet time" in which I do not have to listen to our dogs--the roving door bell system--barking their heads off with every movement they hear outside of the house. "Quiet time" to just be. "Quiet time" to just look around, rejoice in what resides in that rock garden between my ears, and proclaim, "It is good!" I appreciate it all.
As I sit in the Comfort Inn in Gardiner, Montana, I rejoice! I rejoice as I have received the greatest of all the gifts one could receive . . . acknowledgement of who I am, what I need, and the world in which I live. To the wife, I say "thank you". It is amazing that after more than three decades of marriage the wife gets it.
I also rejoice in the promise of what tomorrow will bring. In the morning I will once again explore that place where I mark another year of life. I could think of worse places to celebrate one's birthday, but I can hardly imagine a better place. To the wife . . . thank you! Tomorrow it is back to the world of extroverts . . . the wife has a party for family and guest scheduled. I guess that is the price one pays for receiving the perfect birthday gift for the second year in a row.