The Tale of Ranger Randy

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? That is a question that came up in my Facebook stream this year. Perhaps you saw it too. If so, what was your response? 

I remember being asked the question in school when I was a Jr. High student. My answer then was: a Forest Ranger. I imagined myself in the neatly-pressed, green ranger uniform, patches on the sleeves, hat on my head, walkie-talkie on my belt, standing in a fire tower, looking out over the forest through giant binoculars. The picture in my mind is still as vivid today as it was then. I can see the tops of the trees all the way to the horizon, broken only by a river and some winding dirt access roads. There are birds in the air and other wildlife occasionally passing by on the ground, next to my Jeep. Yes, the forest ranger in my head drove a Jeep. 

The follow-up question on social media went something like: …and are you doing that thing today? 

If you know me now, you know that I am not a forest ranger. I am a pastor, serving as full-time hospice chaplain. Life takes us down many roads. Things change along the way and many of us end up doing something completely different than our childhood dreams. Ministry is my calling and I love the work I do, but there are still some elements of my childhood dream that are alive and well in my adult life. 

Sharon and I have been campers the entirety of our marriage. In our early days, we would take a tent to Cook Forest, Pymatuning, or some other western Pennsylvania location. Our outdoor adventures did not let up when our children came along. We would shoe-horn all of our equipment into the trunk of the car, load the kids and head out to a woodsy site. 

I may not be a ranger in the fire tower today, but we have climbed them. My uniform may not be that of the park employee, but my hiking gear does just as good a job at helping me feel connected to nature. I enjoy collecting sticks and starting a fire with my ferro rod. I enjoy a good meal, cooked over the campfire. Although we like the comforts of an RV, we are not beyond pitching a tent, and have on a few recent excursions. 

God created each of us to be a one-of-a-kind treasure, molded together with interests, talents and dreams that are uniquely you. Take time to enjoy the path he has established for you. In so-doing, you will find that life is full of joy and the embers of your childhood dreams are still glowing within. They may not look like you envisioned them when you were young, but they have a way of weaving throughout the building blocks of who you have become. 

My love for the outdoors converges with my faith as I ponder the origin of the trees; the feel of the ground under my feet; the crackle of the fire; the beauty of the vast night sky. Psalm 19:1 says it well: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. All of this natural beauty draws my attention toward God. 

So, getting back to the question; are you living your childhood dream? If you are, congratulations on the unwavering dedication to make your dreams come true. I suspect, however, that many of us diverged onto another path, somewhere along life’s journey. If that is the case, are there elements of your childhood dream still alive in your experience today? 

May you find joy as your childhood dream gets rekindled. Fan that spark into flame and see where it takes you. Perhaps we can share a campfire someday and reminisce about the journey. I’ll bring the hot dog sticks! 

Blessings, 

Pastor… or should I say… Ranger Randy 

©2021 thetravelingkites.com

Weekend at Bear Run

Last month, as we booked our mid-September weekend at Bear Run Campground in western Pennsylvania, we had no way of knowing what the weather would be like five weeks later. It can be a bit unpredictable this time of year. As it turned out, we chose the perfect weekend! The weather was stunningly beautiful; sunny days, cool evenings… perfect. It was a windows-open, fresh air-flowing kind of weekend.IMG_20170917_115839569

We set out after work on Friday, camper in tow, Binx the camping cat in the center front seat, toward our destination near Portersville, PA. We had stayed at Bear Run on Memorial weekend 2016 and really liked what they had to offer. This campground is clean with paved RVsites. The campground is nicely appointed with a beautiful camp store, western town feel and family-friendly atmosphere. The stay was all-the-sweeter as we enjoyed the luxury of paying with a gift certificate that our son’s family gave us for Christmas.

You may remember the challenges of the drive to the campground on our last trip two weeks earlier when Binx made things… let’s just say… interesting. This time out, we placed him inside his screen-sided carrier atop a towel on the front seat between us. He seemed to enjoy the security of his carrier as we drove. He is getting used to camping now. This was his third camping trip and he didn’t even cry when Sharon carried him from the house to the truck.

Our son and his daughter met us shortly after we arrived. We set up camp, then spent some evening time making pizza mountain pies and roasting marshmallows. It was a really nice evening together.IMG_20170918_173828_648

On Saturday, Sharon and I took a morning walk around the campground. This is a large campground that is spread out pretty well. There are seasonal RV sites up over the hill, then a path down past a horse pasture to a road lined with electric and water sites on one side and cabins on the other. Another fork leads down a narrow road that winds through the woods in a large tenting section, including some walk-in-only sites. There are quite a number of cabins available for rent throughout the entire campground. This truly is a beautiful place.

Sharon made a special lunch of zucchini that was spiral cut with alfredo sauce. It was delicious. We took some afternoon time just to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. We did some reading and some talking and took an afternoon off. It felt great to not have anything to do.

We had an ice cream cone for pre-dinner (you can make up meals when camping… it’s OK) from the camp store, then took a one-mile round-trip walk to Lake Arthur. I was able to capture some nice photographs along the scenic dirt road.

We got back, just in time to hop on a wagon behind a tractor for a wagon ride to the lake, along the same road we had just walked. The man who introduced the ride and explained the safety precautions was quite humorous and everyone enjoyed the ride.IMG_20170916_175039_891

We arrived back at the campground just in time for the evening activities; a mountain pie contest and bluegrass music concert. We only visited there for a few minutes before returning to our campsite for a campfire.

On Sunday morning, our son’s whole family came over for a visit. We had another campfire and enjoyed watching our granddaughter sifting for gemstones across from the store.IMG_20170917_115719154_edit_1505681773952

We are in need of replacing our washing machine at home, so we took advantage of the campground’s coin-operated laundry to clean our clothes before departing.

We packed things up after lunch and headed for home. This was another great time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

The weekend was topped off at home by our getting together with friends at a local ice cream shop. It doesn’t get much better than that.

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

Meet The Traveling Kites

Hello world! We are Randy & Sharon; decades-long married couple and long-time campers and travelers. Our adventures have taken us from camping trips around our home region (oftentimes with our family) to journeys across this great country and around the world. We have slept in tents at the world’s largest Christian music festival (Creation Festival) and have slept on the cement floor of a horse stable in Tijuana, Mexico as we spent a week on mission, building houses for the poor. We’ve walked the streets of Athens, Greece and stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

More recently, we have enjoyed local camping in the comforts of a 2012 Keystone Hideout camping trailer (model 25RKS) that we bought used from a lovely elderly couple in 2015.IMG_20170901_172721019-01

Although we are not yet retirement age, we are starting to dream about what retirement should look like for us. We do not intend to stay at home, but rather look to expand our American travels to hike, photograph and write about our great country.

We have considered all modes of camping transportation, from a small pull-behind teardrop camper to a large, tour bus-sized Class A motorhome and have settled our hearts (at least as of this writing) on a Class B camper van. We would love the freedom of not having to hook and unhook a camper or “toad” (towed-behind vehicle on a Class A or C). We are definitely past the desire to tent or crank a roof up and down. Believe me, we’ve paid our dues on that!IMG_20170829_123927803-01

Our plans and timing for a camper van purchase are as foggy as a fall western PA morning right now, but we have been spending a lot of time virtually walking through many, thanks to the efforts of those who produce YouTube videos, and have even had the opportunity to set foot in a small number of Winnebago Era, Travato and Paseo vans at a semi-local dealership.

Our dream is to live in our home region during the warm months, then set out to travel the warmer climates when things get cold and snowy in the north. Unlike the snowbirds that travel to Florida from our region for the winter, we seek to have a constantly changing scenery before us.

So, join us as we work our way toward the next chapter of our life. Then, when we get there, perhaps we will see you on the road!

Please follow us here and share your own story. We would love to hear from you and learn from your experience.

Here we go!…

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

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