Sunday, February 17, 2008


Beautiful Monument Valley a Navajo Holy Place

A couple friends and I rented a plane in Page, Arizona to see one of the most glorious places in America. The sights from the air are unsurpassed and the only way 99% of the area can be seen. When the three hours was up I still welcomed more of this place.

It is not only beautiful in a unique sort of way, but Monument Valley provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, advertisements, and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

The area is entirely within the Navajo Indian Reservation on the Utah/Arizona border with the state line passing through the most famous landmarks. It preserves the Navajo way of life and some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas and spires in the entire Southwest. There is only one main road through the valley, US 163, which links Kayenta, Arizona with US 181 in Utah. The stretch approaching the state line from the north is the most famous image of the valley, and possibly of the whole Southwest - a long straight empty road leads across flat desert towards the 1,000 foot high stark red cliffs on the horizon, curving away just in front.

As well as eroded rocks, this area also has many ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches and petroglyphs.

As we flew over the area in a grid-like fashion I knew I was experiencing one of the most majestic - and most photographed - points on earth.

This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley.

Such a flight slowly revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley and once again I was reminded of the beauty of God’s handiwork.

“And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.” - Isaiah 7:19

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It took more than two grunts to get it back up into the air

One of the most hair raising experiences of my life came while visiting Ketchikan, Alaska. Two other couples were traveling with my wife and I and we decided to take a float plane to the beautiful Misty fjords region. The Misty Fjords National Monument was created by President Jimmy Carter within the Tongass National Forest in 1978 and Congress reconfirmed the wilderness classification in 1980. This area is a 202-million-acre national treasure where in flight you will see from a different perspective hundreds of waterfalls, shear granite and basalt cliffs shooting 3-4 thousand feet into the air, with trees growing everywhere, even out of shear rock, and a temperate rain forest from sea level.

During the 2-3 hour flight you will see wildlife that may include seals, deer, bear, marbled murrelets, bald eagles, guellemonts and others to numerous to mention.

To add to the excitement of the flight the pilot announced he was going to land the plane to give us a closer view of the surroundings. Well, I was already wondering where we would land if we had trouble with the plane, and now he said we would be landing. My eyes bounced from one solid rock mountain to another with nothing to land on or near. Then a small tiny body of water popped into view. That can’t be where he was referring, I thought. It was! In just minutes we were hidden between huge cliffs with snow covering them in every place. The float touched down easily on the calm lake. All six of us were invited to walk on the landing pontoons of the plane and for about 30 minutes we laughed and enjoyed the most serene place I had every been.

Time to go! The pilot commanded. With our seat belts snapped, he turned to us and told us he would need to back the plane all the way to the land because he would need all the water possible to take off. Hmmmm! I pondered. He got us down here, but getting out of here looks impossible. I began to have some concern as I looked ahead and to each side nothing but high granite rocks. The two engines started and he reveled them fast as the plane began its forward move. In front was the huge darken mountain and I was not able to see above it. The plane was now higher in the air, but the stone mountain was still ahead with no view of the sky above. I was nearly to resolve that we would hit it until all at once the plane leaned to the right at a 90 degree turn and I was able to see the valley between the two cliffs. I felt I could touch each one and dip out a hand of snow as he continued to climb until we were above both. What a relief! How majestic.

I was reminded of a book written by a friend entitled, “God has never failed me, but he has scared me to death a few times.”

There is another book full of truths beyond our thinking.

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or before you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psalm 90:2

Sunday, February 3, 2008


A Frighten entrance into Cairo

It had been a long flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Cairo, Egypt, having left Holland in the mid-morning and crossing a few time zones we finally landed in Cairo just after sundown.

After getting our luggage it had become very dark, but knew we had to make our way down a passage way that had wooden fences as barriers to find a bus that would transport us over to Giza about 30 miles away.
"Stock photos provided by"

It had been a long flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Cairo, Egypt, having left Holland in the mid-morning and crossing a few time zones we finally landed in Cairo just after sundown.

After getting our luggage it had become very dark, but knew we had to make our way down a passage way that had wooden fences as barriers to find a bus that would transport us over to Giza about 30 miles away. However, getting to the bus was somewhat scary as there were hundreds of Egyptians hollering, at us, and to us, which made the journey alarming as we speeded up to get away. It had the feeling of being in a gaunlet thinking they were harassing us and wanting to jump over the fences to get us. Of course, they could have been shouting the names of a person they were waiting for, or perhaps they really were expressing anti-foreigner saying. To this day, I don’t know! But rejoiced when we were safely out from those sounds.

After getting to a beautiful Swiss owned hotel we went directly to our room and collapsed. Due to the time zone changes, I woke the next morning about 3 a.m. thinking it was time to be up and about.

Not wanting to disturb my roommate I quietly slipped on some garments and departed outside and noticed the sky was clear and the sun was already lighting the horizon. To my surprise I saw the largest of three pyramids behind some of the trees. I moved over to the side of the tree barrier and sat down on a bench and watched the sun as it slowly explored the tomb of one of the old pharaohs of this land.

After a couple hours, I saw my room partner, who had been born in Lebanon, but was brought to America as a lad, come over and sat beside me. All of a sudden, he saw what I had been glaring at all morning, and he began to cry. His remarks of “ I have wanted to come back to the land of my people all these years and now I am able to view something I had only read about. With uncontrollable tears he loudly proclaimed. Thank you for letting me see this before I die.”

Before the day was over we had not only had a good look at the outside, but were able to go into a portion of this renowned structure. While there are over 80 pyramids in Egypt, these three in Giza are the best known and the largest. Before the week was concluded in that ancient land we had visited most the areas of historic prominence and the well-known Cairo museum.

For nearly a week and a half my friend and I visited site after site of the Middle East and always his remarks were the same.

Leviticus 19:34
“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”