The Most Unusual People!

Rock art at Nampaweap in or near Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Rock art at Nampaweap in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona

God sometimes brings the most unusual people into our lives while we’re traveling.  There’s the milk-truck driver who barely spoke English who tried to convince us that milk was bad for us as we sat in the rest area eating cold cereal.  There was the clown (literally) and his wife in the state park campground who tried out all his tricks on us before going to his niece’s school.  And none of us can forget some of the graphic busses and painted vans that have slept across parking lots from us, from coast to coast.

Photo of the historic Camp Hideaway bus at Corbett's Glen in Penfield, New York

Photo of the historic Camp Hideaway bus at Corbett’s Glen in Penfield, New York

Sometimes I think about these unusual people – the ones who don’t fit into society as “culture” sees itself.  They’re a special tribe, really.  And very often, they can more easily receive the blessing of God from a random stranger than can, say, someone who is more “normal”, going to a church, living the so-called “American Dream”.  They know they’re not normal.  So they’re open to others who also aren’t normal.

At the Virginia Lakes Parking Area, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California

At the Virginia Lakes Parking Area, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California

Very often, it’s these types of people who are blessed when we show up on the scene.  We’re not standing there thinking, “And now, I’m going to go out and sneak up on people and bless them!”  It comes with who God has called us to be – to be a blessing everywhere we go, whether we try to or not.

Rock art at Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Rock art at Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

But it’s often to these “outcasts” of society that we bless.  We usually don’t know we’ve been “sent” to them until afterward.  It happens and we’re like, “Well, we’ve done it again!”

Looking down on Great Sand Dunes from the Zapata Falls parking area, Colorado

Looking down on Great Sand Dunes from the Zapata Falls parking area, Colorado

On our last trip, we were desperate for a campsite.  The campgrounds in the park were all full (constantly!)  We were going to have to drive a couple of hours to a campground we didn’t want to stay at and probably would be full before we got there.  If it was full, we would have to drive another couple hours to get to another campground.  Which meant that we were going to have to drive four hours back to the trailhead in the morning.  It just wasn’t working out well.

Who wouldn't want to stay and see this? Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

Who wouldn’t want to stay and see this? Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

One of my group members had seen a sign for a private campground near where the access road for the park met the main highway.  “We can at least check it out,” she said.  Others in my group weren’t so happy about this solution.  “Private campgrounds never like groups our size,” one objected.  “But if you or someone else wants to ask about it, go for it.”  And he drove us to the campground.

 

Thankfully the road to the campground was better than the Whitmore Trail in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona

Thankfully the road to the campground was better than the Whitmore Trail in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona

I hopped out of the van, but no one was around.  A hand-painted sign on a peeling piece of plywood proclaimed that the sites were $20 (no worse than the sites in the park) and if no one was at the office, to pay via the box, also with peeling paint, that hung on the wall of the office.  The office and restroom were made of painted pressboard.  This wasn’t a private campground with all the amenities (we found later that there weren’t even sinks in the bathrooms yet) looking to suck money off of retirees in big campers who wanted a high-brow place to stay.  They didn’t seem to care how many people were in each site.  So we rumbled down the rutted dirt road to the campsites literally carved out of the scrub brush.

A bison at the Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park, South Dakota

A bison at the Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The owner showed up in her ancient pickup a few minutes later, so I went out to chat with her and give her a night’s worth of money.  She was a native Alaskan and, from what I could tell, could use the money.  There didn’t seem to be a husband in the situation (I later learned that there was, but he wasn’t in good health).  Given what the Bible says about widows (James 1:27, etc.), I was more than happy to bless this older woman with my camping money.

Flat Top Mountain from the Causeway Trail in the Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado

Flat Top Mountain from the Causeway Trail in the Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado

We had a great night’s sleep and put money in the box on our way out at 6:30am the next morning, claiming the site for ourselves for a second night.  Though that evening the horses got out of the pen (not uncommon, I guess) and contemplated nibbling the shoes we were drying on the hood of the van.  There’s always an adventure around the corner, it seems.

Horses in the Pioneer Day Parade in Salt Lake City, Utah

Horses in the Pioneer Day Parade in Salt Lake City, Utah

We didn’t leave money the next morning, being unsure, ourselves, what our plans for the next day would be.  But that night we were back.  And you should have seen how happy that owner was.  “I didn’t think you were coming because you didn’t leave money in the box.  But I’m sure glad you’re back.  You can have your old site.”

Views out across the hills of Washington from the Summer Blossom Trail

Views out across the hills of Washington from the Summer Blossom Trail

She wasn’t your average entrepreneur.  But we blessed her.  Financially, yes, but also just being there and liking her and her campground.  We didn’t complain, or make noise, or call the police on her horses.

Bryce Canyon from the Skutumpah Road Road near Cannonville, Utah

Bryce Canyon from the Skutumpah Road near Cannonville, Utah

She was one of that peculiar tribe that isn’t normal.  In fact, a lot of people might have considered her an outcast from even her original culture.  But like so many unusual people, she could sense the blessing on us and was willing to receive, consciously or unconsciously, the blessing we were carrying.

Clothespin Tree in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Clothespin Tree in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

And there we were, once again, thinking, “Well, we’ve done it again!”  Or more like, “God, You did it again, and we weren’t even trying.”