Recently, I flew out to see my daughter who was completing her internship in the Wyoming/Idaho area. Otherwise known as “Wydaho”. The purpose of the trip was two-fold. This recovering helicopter mom was more than a tad anxious about my care-free daughter making the two day drive home alone. I flew one way and rode back with her. The other purpose of the trip was to catch some views of God’s creation that we were not able to see when we moved her there earlier this summer.
We agreed to check a few places off of the old bucket list.
Once I arrived we quickly began planning the natural attractions that we would take in during our mother-daughter tour. We both agreed that we should see the Rocky Mountains, Garden of the Gods and Great Sand Dunes. Since my daughter has been living “up North” she has become an avid hiker. A real avid hiker… the kind of hiker that hikes for fifteen miles just to eat a granola bar at an elevation of 10,000 feet or higher.
So, of course she wanted to include hiking and lots of it.
I always called myself having a bucket list that included places to go and things to do. But, I can guarantee you that hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park was not on that list. There is too much “drive-by” beauty to be totally committed to hiking. We spent a few hours in intense negotiations because I have not spent the last few months hiking at high altitudes and eating gluten-free grass like she had been. I have been living in the deep south, barely surviving a triple digit summer with three hundred percent humidity.
We finally agreed to a short hike to a water fall with the understanding that when I ask to “stop and take a picture”…. it was a mutually understood code for, “I cannot breathe and will probably die if I take another step”.
Off we went down this very deceiving trail. It started off as a downhill hike so I was feeling very confident before I realized the trail was becoming extremely elevated. It was not long before I enacted our mutually agreed upon code.
“Hey Meredith, this looks like an amazing place to take a picture.”
The trails were lined with aspen trees. They were breathtakingly (pun intended) beautiful as they were taking on their fall hues. I am quite certain that we took a photograph near each and every one of them. The trails were packed with hikers and you could tell they were all at different levels of expertise. Some carried backpacks full of supplies and some carried trekking poles.
As I was using one of these beautiful aspen trees as a leaning and breathing spot, a group of hikers walked by us and told us that the waterfall was just over the next hill. It gave me the second-wind that I needed to complete this journey of my bucket list. Off we went.
Lucky for me and my lungs, the hikers were correct. We topped a small hill and you could hear the glorious sound of water falling. It was music to my popping ears. Truly, words could not describe the beauty that was before our eyes. As I walked closer to the waterfall I noticed there was an elderly lady who had crawled down the rocky path towards the water just to get a better picture of God’s glory.
She was laying down, over the edge, and barely hanging on, just for the perfect photo. I was mesmerized by this adventurous woman. She was all smiles, no trouble breathing and she was staring death straight in the face while her husband stood on higher ground with the rest of us scaredy cats. When she finally decided to climb back up the rocks, I noticed her husband did not offer her a hand to help. She was crawling on her hands and knees. Her hands looked fragile but her face was beaming with confidence.
Another hiker walked up to offer his assistance and he was met with a scowl from the woman and a polite “no thank you” from her husband. The crowd grew curious and continued to stare. She refused help and pulled herself up with no assistance. When she made it we all breathed a sigh of relief but she just dusted off her hands and greeted the crowd.
Being the nosey traveler that I am, I needed to know more. I made my way to her and her husband and introduced myself. My daughter followed. It didn’t take long for us to find out they were a retired couple from New York that moved to Florida and they were taking their “fall bucket list trip”. The precious couple shared story after story of their adventures and how they are the “fun grandparents” that will skydive with their grandchildren and do all of the crazy things that the prudent parents refuse to do.
I was even more impressed that they have an active bucket list and enjoy one thing at a time. Like them, I too have a bucket list but mine has changed over the years. The items I use to have on my bucket list don’t seem so important any more. So, I add new things. Some have been achieved and some will have to wait until another season of life.
It so much fun to make plans and bucket lists. Making plans is all part of human nature and we can set all of the goals we want but if God has other ideas he does not check with us first. He doesn’t ask for permission to rearrange our bucket list. The most amazing thing about his plans is that they will always bless us and prosper us. We just have to trust in him and not our own understanding. His ways are not our ways, they are much better.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”