I am now closer to Tokyo than I am to Charlotte. This distance (6,000 miles on our trip odometer so far) from the normal humdrum of my daily rhythms, familiar faces, and usual scenery has given me perspective, space to breath, rest, trust, begin to process the past two years and prepare for the ones to come: grad school + adopting our first child.

I will get to some of that later. For the most part, though, this trip has been taking in so much beauty in nature one day after the other, from Amarillo to Anchorage, that I have run out of words to use for being utterly overwhelmed. Here are some shots of us being dumbstruck, followed by some insights and pictures from the road:

Bears

Yesterday we pulled up to the campsite for the night and there was a sign telling us a bear had injured 4 hikers the day before so the campground was shut down for the next week. There was a news anchor outside the shut gate reporting on the incident. Sherei turned to me and said "I miss being afraid of snakes." Truly, bears have become both the delight and the doom of our trip. If we had seen that momma bear (that was most likely just startled and protecting the two cubs that were with her) that would have made bear NUMBER 16 for us on this trip. I was hoping to see a bear here, maybe even a few, but I was not expecting to begin to lose count of how many. Nor was I expecting to have so many face-to-face near misses.

We were hiking for the first time in Glacier National Park, and we set up our Eno overlooking this beautiful lake and mountain view you will see in the pictures below. A girl walked past us, then came back 5 minutes later and said "hey guys, I don't mean to startle you, but there are two Grizzlies about 200 yards down on the path so I wouldn't keep going if I were you." Nope. We packed up and walked out. And to think - we laughed when we first heard about bear spray! "We won't need that!" we thought...now we have a bear canister for food, a bear horn, two bear bells and I wear the bear spray in its holster on my hip like Clint Eastwood and we practice for bear moments regularly when we hike. Yep. Bears, man.

P.O.V.

In the midst of our wildlife journey, I discovered a delight that has been slowly teaching me to die to myself and learn to love better: seeing things from Sherei's POV (Point Of View). While I am driving, we will pull up on some wildlife or a landscape, and I get to see Sherei capture a moment and review it on her camera. It is often zoomed in so it captures details that I never would have seen. Her shot will have perspective and lighting that I would have missed if I didn't take a moment to see things from her POV.

The Holy Spirit was teaching me something in these moments about empathy. Jesus came to the earth to get our POV: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."(Hebrews 4:15). God loved the world so much that he came here. Loving someone from a distance is not real love. Like Atticus said, "you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." Practicing empathy practically, by seeing things through Sherei's camera lens, has been teaching me to see life through her lens, unlocking a love for her that is deeper and that flows naturally from the heart, not from a striving mind.

My pictures of her perspective:

With all that being said, here are Sherei's photos from our trip so far! 

Glacier and Banff National Parks

Grand Tetons & Yellowstone National Parks

Alaska Highway

To close: a few landscape mode shots from my phone. They don't do it justice, but if you imagine what seems here to be so tidy and tangible to be immeasurably more massive so that it is intimidating to stand in front of - you are getting close.

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