Wide World

We had one week to travel from White Sulphur Springs, MT to Durango, CO to meet up with The Steel Wheels for one more festival. Draw a (slightly curvy) line between those 2 cities and you hit some of the most iconic national parks in the country, as well as remote and beautiful stretches of highway. We started with Yellowstone, the first and most famous. Of course, we went in July, and that happens to be the time everyone goes. So along with observing some truly remarkable natural wonders, we also observed masses of people crowding the boardwalks and clogging the narrow streets. But it is good to see people from all over the globe being inspired by the beauty and hopefully learning something about the world and themselves. The park focuses on preservation, but also studies the interaction between the sapiens and the rest of the species that reside there.

We were observing from a safe distance in our truck when this guy decided to wander up onto the road, stopping traffic and parading down the middle of the street.
These two have trouble passing a body of water without jumping in.

From there it was down the road to Grand Teton National Park. We particularly enjoyed String Lake, the most shallow and warm lake in the park (not actually warm), and the Lawrence Rockefeller Preserve. The visitor center and nature trail there emphasize the need for the human spirit to be rejuvenated by nature.


We also got the unique experience of staying on a working ranch just outside the park. We stayed with some new friends named Jerome and Chris, who brave the fierce weather year round in a log cabin and feed their cattle from a horse drawn sleigh in the snowy winters. We connected over a shared love of music and spent the evening trading fiddle tunes and singing songs.

Continuing South, we drove through the high sage flats of Wyoming, through the Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area, and into the aspen forests of Eastern Utah. We stopped in Arches just long enough to explore the visitor center and drive up to the first overlook. It was a little hot for much exploration, and we were running out of time to get to Colorado.

I think I see an arch on the horizon! Now let’s get back in the truck.

Upon arriving in Southwest Colorado, we met up with Eric’s sister and explored Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde was striking, not only in its natural beauty, but also in the tangible connection to a past civilization. This was one of many experiences that will, hopefully, stick in the mind of a 9 year old; a mind on the verge of great shifts of consciousness, as she attempts to make sense of her world and her place in it.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde NP
Great Sand Dunes NP

For 3 excruciating weeks last spring, our entire world was reduced to a single hospital room. In a sense the world ceased to exist as we all fought to bring Norah back out of that room. It seems an impossible task to fully enter back into the wide world with all its possibilities, with all the pain and joy it contains. Our lives will never be the same. For every happy moment we experience, there will be a ready thought of deep sadness and regret. We think of what she is missing. We think of what she would have become. We think of all that Norah and the world had to offer each other.

This trip is just a small step in making life livable for the 3 of us who emerged from that hospital room. It’s hard to measure its value. At the very least, we were together, and our daughter saw her parents attempting to engage with a larger world.

18 Replies to “Wide World”

  1. Hugs to you all on this journey. You amaze me…

  2. Nancy Morgan says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful blog. My heart is with you every step of the way. ❤️

    • Beth Menchen says:

      You all inspire me and my family. You remind us to look up, see the sunshine, and enjoy life’s blessings. I share these stories with my 2 boys and we continue to pray for your family.

  3. Valerie says:

    So much love to you all as you continue to take one day at a time- living beyond the ever present grief. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  4. Sandy Hine says:

    So happy for the 3 of you being able to enjoy new experiences together. Your story and photos of Yellowstone, the buffalo, acting like he owns the road, and Mesa Verde brought back memories of when we traveled there with our boys.
    Nothing like being together with nature to help heal your soul. Safe travels!!

  5. Sue Shorb-Sterling says:

    Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. Lydia couldn’t tell me the names of the National Parks she visited! Now I know. I love the pics.

  6. Nancy Curry says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your journey through beautiful National Parks, and joy our journey of learning to embrace the exercise of practicing gratitude in the midst of unmeasurable pain and loss on this side of the Jordan River. We are traveling with you, and speaking for myself I am learning from you to embrace and seize the moment ,and be grateful regardless of my circumstances. There is always something to be grateful for. I am grateful for you all.

  7. Licia Gaut-Correll says:

    Eric and Peggy,
    Thank you for sharing your travels with us all. I love reading about where you have been and it warms my heart to know you are together as a family, seeing this big, beautiful country of ours.

  8. LILA T FORRO says:

    You express beautifully the ups and downs of your days without Norah. Thank you for your courage in taking on this project. Sharing your experiences surely will help others to understand a family’s grief and healing. I hope you’ve found comfort in recording the saga of this summer – and will continue to share daily adventures back at home, when you’re back.

  9. Sadie says:

    What a great way to make new memories. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Vickie says:

    Your insightfulness and willingness to share your thoughts and beautiful photos as your family continues the journey through immeasurable grief and the new life without Nora is most touching Eric. Through your family’s journey, I am learning to be ever so much more grateful. Prayers that these new adventures will strengthen your spirits and bring some peace to your lives. Much love. Safe travels.

  11. Rex Robbins says:

    A very thoughtful post. Great pictures. I’m so glad you three got to make the trip together and began to make sense of a world turned upside down.

  12. Lisa K. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. The photos are simply beautiful! So very glad you were able to spend the time & share such wonderful experiences together.

  13. Jan Houser says:

    We all commend you and pray for you. Your sharing your family’s experiences has enabled each of us to send every member of your circle our love. Thank you for having the courage to write this blog. Your words have been a true testament to your deep spiritual ties as an extended family. All of your readers have appreciated your thoughtful insights.

  14. peg says:

    What a lovely experience, good, solid memories. One step or one mile at a time.
    I have come to believe that there are those rather spectacular ones who are but on loan to us a brief time. That I (we) am to be so very thankful for the gift, tho brief.
    A black hole remains. It’s edges glow.

  15. Suze Davies says:

    Thank you again for allowing us to be a part of your brave journey! I think about you 3 so often and am grateful that you are sharing these beautiful pictures and your heartfelt thoughts with us.

  16. Penny & Rick says:

    Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Rick and I continue to keep your beautiful family in our thoughts and in our hearts.

  17. Jan Houser says:

    None of us can say or do anything to ease the pain of this journey for your family. We can read and listen, though, when any of you needs an ear. Each one of us is with you in a spiritual sense all the time.

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