Category Archives: beauty

West Glacier National Park, Montana

Farm Montana

My journey to West Glacier National Park did not start out as I had planned. Less than two hours into the trip, I encountered snow and strong winds. There were travel advisories out, especially in the direction I was heading. Hearing the travel advisories only 2 hours into a 12 hour trip, I debated about turning around and cancelling. That thought would come again as the time passed.

During the journey, I struggled to see the road, was unsure if I was even on the road, and had to slow to an almost crawl in order to prevent spinning out. Almost no one was out, save for some power crews who gave me a thumbs up and smile as they traveled in the opposite direction. I am not sure if their thumbs up and smile was to say, “good job dumbass for being on the road in this white out”, or, “way to go for having the balls to get out in this shit”. They either thought I was extremely mad, or extremely brave, or maybe even bravely mad. Regardless, it was good to pass them occasionally on the otherwise human-less journey.

The trip ended up being about 2-3 hours more than originally planned because of the weather, but it eventually cleared or maybe I had just driven through it, and when I saw the mountain peaks off in the distance I knew it was going to be worth the obstacles.

The tiredness and stress from the trip disappeared as the sky cleared and I entered what was going to be my stomping grounds for the next few days.

As soon as I was crossing one of the bridges, I spotted this remarkable barn. It was postcard perfect and I couldn’t resist coming to a stop and jumping out of the car to snap a few shots of it.

Farm Montana

 

The scenery that was to follow was just as beautiful and I oohhh’d and ahhh’d the entire way to the lodge. I wasn’t disappointed when I checked into the inviting West Glacier Lodge with its comfortable bed and warmth against the cold. The hot shower after the long drive was magnificent. I don’t know if it was from the stressful drive, the beauty around me, exhaustion or what but I cried the first night and sank into the big bed to drift off to sleep.

I stayed at Glacier Outdoor Lodge. Beautiful view, great room, and relaxing atmosphere.

One day, I ventured out of the park down an old back road and happened upon a unique store, Home Ranch Bottoms, that is “off the grid” in Polebridge, Montana. The owner was out changing batteries (that’s where their electricity comes from) and offered to open the gift shop store for me. Even with no electricity, I wandered through and found some gifts to send back to some of my Florida family. The owner was pleasant and gracious even though I had interrupted his chores. I’ll definitely revisit the store on my next trip.

Great little place to spend some time and unwind.
Home Ranch Bottoms
Home Ranch Bottoms BBQ. Wasn’t done when I got there. Maybe I’ll get the chance to try it on my return trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next few days, I discovered nothing but spectacular beauty, experienced a relaxation difficult to find, discovered a magic I did not know existed, and lavished in Mother Earth’s wonders.

After this trip, I decided to add this to my “must do destinations”. It was simply one of the most refreshing and wonderful trips I had in a while and I am looking forward to going back!

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Chapel in the Hills

After seeing the Dances with Wolves film set and the Crazy Horse Memorial, I decided to take the rest of the day and see the Chapel in the Hills located in Rapid City, South Dakota. I knew a little about the chapel from reading the brochure I had picked up from my hotel. However, it didn’t prepare me for what I would see and experience at this little chapel.

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A Stabbur with a grass roof greets you at the start of the journey and is used for a gift shop. There were several things I liked in the gift shop, but they were out of my budget. I finally decided on two packs of note cards. One pack has the chapel drawn on it and the other pack has a rosemaling drawing on it. Rosemaling is a traditional Norwegian art form.

Rosemaling - Traditional Norwegian Art form
Rosemaling – Traditional Norwegian Art form
Church in the Hills Note Card
Church in the Hills Note Card

The chapel, or Stavkirke, was built in 1969. It is a replica of the Borgund Church of Norway, which happens to be 850 years old. The intricate carvings framing the doorway caught my interest immediately. The detail in those and the dragon heads gracing the top of the chapel intrigued me. I was later to learn that the carvings around the doorway depict the battle between good and evil.

Intricate carvings depicting the battle between good and evil.
Intricate carvings depicting the battle between good and evil.

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There is a covered walkway that goes all the way around the church and this is referred to as the ambulatory.  An ambulatory is a dry place for people to wait for the church to open and it protected the foundation of the church. Additionally, the men would leave their weapons there while they worshipped. I videoed the walk around it and the inside of the chapel. You can view it here:

Inside the chapel, there are carved Apostle heads and crosses. The pegged construction inside amazed me as much as the carvings outside. The altar is a simple stone structure with a cross, the bible, and candles. They do have services Vesper services every evening at 7:30 pm from the second Sunday in June through the last Sunday in August.

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Behind the chapel, there is a prayer/meditation walk. It is a pathway lined on either side with a statue and small prayer posting. I walked the pathway twice, once to take advantage of the walk and have a moment’s peace and again to take the photos.

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"Come to me and rest" - Jesus O Lord I long for your perfect peace, You are my resting place.
“Come to me and rest” – Jesus
O Lord I long for your perfect peace, You are my resting place.
"Lord teach me to pray" O Lord to you I lift up my soul, Listen to me.
“Lord teach me to pray”
O Lord, to you I lift up my soul, Listen to me.
"Trust God with child-like faith" O Lord, I surrender my fears to you, Walk with me.
“Trust God with child-like faith”
O Lord, I surrender my fears to you, Walk with me.
"Pray for children and families" O Lord, bring your presence to my Marriage, my home, my family.
“Pray for children and families”
O Lord, bring your presence to my Marriage, my home, my family.
"Trust God to provide what we need" O Lord, I feel your gentle quietness, Replace my worries with Confident trust.
“Trust God to provide what we need”
O Lord, I feel your gentle quietness, Replace my worries with Confident trust.
"Pray for world peace" O Lord, you love the world and all the people, bring citizens of earth into one caring family.
“Pray for world peace”
O Lord, you love the world and all the people, bring citizens of earth into one caring family.
"Amen, God hears our prayers" O Lord, I rest in you, You hear my words and the thoughts of my heart.
“Amen, God hears our prayers”
O Lord, I rest in you, You hear my words and the thoughts of my heart.

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When I returned to the stone walkway, there was a man, woman, and young boy trying to take pictures of each other in front of the chapel. I took a moment to take the pictures of them all in front of the chapel, the bell tower, and then the heather that was blooming.

The woman chided him for asking me to take the three different pictures, but I assured her I had time. Noticing  she was also using a walker and overhearing the comment that she wouldn’t be able to walk the prayer trail due to it being uneven, I offered to sit with her and show her the pictures I had taken of it just a few minutes earlier.  She had tears in her eyes when she finished looking through them and my heart was full.

After the encounter, I decided to walk once more around the church. I had only taken a few steps when this little guy decided to grace me with his presence. As I took a step forward, he seemed to tense so I dropped my stuff where I stood and eased to a sitting position.

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He watched me a few seconds and went back to eating. I sat and watched the little guy for some time, thinking about life, about my family and friends, about what I should and shouldn’t be doing, about many things and I came to terms with some things.

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All in all, it was a great experience and I was thankful I decided to visit the Chapel in the Hills.

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What Makes a Good Sunset?

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Sunset, Pt St Joe Florida
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Sunset
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Cloudy sunset

I was talking with someone not long ago about what makes a good sunset. Some people think no clouds and just a setting sun is what makes it good; while others think clouds are a “must” to add dimension to the sunset. _MG_6001 IMG_6008

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Sunset, Shell Point Florida

What I have come to realize is, it really doesn’t matter what is included in the sunset. They all are beautiful and I am thankful for each and every one that I blessed to witness.

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Two Beautiful People

76Recently, I was fortunate enough to photograph a friend’s children. These two, Lilly and Chelsey, needed some photographs done for their pageant portfolio.

We met at Dothan Area Botanical Gardens since it makes a wonderful backdrop for any photography you’re looking to do. It was easy to see why Lilly and Chelsey were going to be in a pageant. Both are beautiful children.79 80 16 7

At first they seemed a bit nervous about what they should do and how they should “pose”. When I told them to just act natural and do what they wanted, they loosened up and their inner personalities began to shine.

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I enjoyed not only photographing them, but also getting to know them a little more. Since moving, I sure am going to miss being around these two. And the pageant? Well, they both received the title of “Cover Miss” . In my book, they are both princesses.55

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