Treasures, Blessings, and Opportunities

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

“….to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” – Mission of National Park Service as ordained by the Organic Act of 1916

Dad and Gayle_CedarBreaksI recently traveled the areas of southern Utah and northern Arizona with my father. We visited five national parks (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and the Grand Canyon) and three national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Pipe Spring). We experienced sandy deserts, red sandstone cliffs, and high elevation forests, and we absorbed sights wondrous to behold! In those 2,000+ miles we encountered people from all parts of the United States and the world. We heard French, German, Japanese, Korean, British English, and American English (including Texan, Illinois-ian, and New Yorkan). One valuable lesson I learned: America’s natural gems are treasured throughout the world.

We Americans have environmental treasures throughout our country, from the high-plains deserts of Wyoming and Montana to the lush tropics of Florida and Hawaii. We are so incredibly fortunate that visionaries of the late 1800s and early 1900s ensured Grand Canyonplaces such as Yellowstone (set aside in 1872), Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon were set aside for those of us today and those who come after us can experience these unique, majestic areas for ourselves. Watching The Roosevelts on Public Television, I’ve been reminded that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, saw the value in these lands; so did Bill Clinton when he expanded or established more than 20 national monuments, setting aside Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and the Missouri River Breaks in Montana, among others, as national treasures worthy of protection – both presidents received great flack for their stewardship strides, protecting places for future generations to enjoy. Had it not been for these men, and many other people, my dad and I would not have been able to experience these amazing vistas nor now have this great memory to cherish. Additionally, communities’ as well as America’s economy would not be primed with cash from international visitors who take bus tours, stay in hotels, rent cars, dine out, and buy souvenirs … and who experience something their country doesn’t have: natural national treasures.

Nat Bridge_BryceI was very blessed not only by encounters with other park/monument visitors, but by the incredible scenery and the memory-making time with my father. Sharing this trip with my dad is something I will never forget. Having such majestic places to enjoy with him, and with my parents together as a youngster, is a majestic memory that will never be erased.

I often wonder why so many Americans do not value these national treasures; I’ve heard several say, “if you’ve seen one tree you’ve seen them all,” or “What good is a pile of rocks?” Ask that question of the numerous visitors from Europe and Asia who have no such place to enjoy, who travel thousands of miles to experience the beauty and majesty of vistas, canyons, rocks, and forests. Ask that question of the multitude of creatures that call those landscapes home: a treasure-trove of birds, mammals, reptiles, and plants that exist in the varied environments. Sitting on the porch of a rented cabin near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon one morning, I counted no less than seven bird species, and throughout our trip we saw a plethora of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, and other critters – neither the desert nor the forest is devoid of life.

Best Friends SignThe third lesson I learned is that I’m given opportunity; I only need to be vigilant. My parents taught me at a young age to conserve, to respect nature and to honor the Creator. My faith is re-enforced when I experience nature: a glowing scarlet sunset, the myriad of colors in a forest meadow or a shimmering rainbow, the individuality and creativity of each species of plant and animal. As a writer and an appreciator of nature (thanks in large part to my wonderful parents!), I see opportunity in traveling to these special places. There are magazine articles and blog posts (like this one) to write, there are potential business endeavors to create (offering to write brochure and other marketing copy for tourism-based businesses), and there are books to sell (I met several dog-oriented people during the trip and also made contact with a bookstore at which I may be able to sell my books – it’s located in Kanab, Utah and named for an animal and when I mentioned I write dog stories and am a supporter of Best Friends Animal Society & Sanctuary, the store’s owner indicated interest in carrying my books). Passing out business cards, not being afraid to tell others I’m a writer with a passion for pets and the environment, and sharing my experiences with readers weaves the tapestry of my life – and knitting those treasures, blessings and opportunities together creates a firmer foundation and solidifies the calling upon my heart.

Red Cat Bookstore_Kanab

What experiences have added to the woven fabric of your life? What has influenced your writer’s calling (or whatever other passions are instilled within you?)

P.S. The National Park Service celebrates 100 years as an agency in 1916, and National Public Lands Day is this Saturday, September 27th – I encourage each of us to go out and enjoy the bountiful treasures that are our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges. Volunteer, visit, write, wonder, educate, enjoy – you too may find a treasure-trove of blessing and opportunity!

Red Canyon_BryceSage_Gayle_Children_LibraryGayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She’ll be speaking about “Dogs with Jobs” at the Natrona County Library in Casper, WY at 2 pm on Sat., September 27th. She is the author of five inspirational dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released in August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at


19 thoughts on “Treasures, Blessings, and Opportunities

  1. This is a very special post, Gayle. I wish I had been able to take a trip like this with my Father before he died. But I played music with him all my life and that was precious to me. I have never been farther west than Tucson, AZ and have always wanted to see more. Your descriptions and pictures are beautiful and I hope to someday visit those places. I totally agree with preserving our natural phenomena our country holds. If not, what will our children have? While I was in Mexico I went to a place that is hidden and hard to find, but not preserved. In the floor of the ocean and on shore are ancient petroglyphs carved into stone. It is so sad that this beautiful place will someday erode away and never be seen by those who follow us because the Mexican Government chooses not to save it. Thanks for sharing your memories – they are sweet.


    1. Thank you, Linda, for your comments and gracious words. Your story about the place in Mexico reminds me of a place Dad and I visited near the Best Friends Sanctuary, a cave called Moqui Cave — it wasn’t protected for quite sometime and kids used to party there and put graffati on the walls — near the ancient Native drawings. Some guy bought it in the 1950s and cleaned it up and now it’s preserved. It was an interesting place to visit. If the government doesn’t conserve places, at least some private people are at times willing to step up and do so — I would too if I won the lottery! 🙂


  2. Beautiful rendition of your trip Gayle! So happy for the memories you and your father now have. I, too, wonder when I’m in such places while people can’t stop wars and just appreciate the beauty God provided for all of us. So much peace to flood our soul if we only stop to recognize it! And to remember all the creatures that inhabit that beauty. Congrats on finding a book store that might help get your book into more hands! Neva


  3. I am so happy you had this trip Gayle. Not only are there special memories, but the gifts you will be sharing with the world make the ripples in the pond ever widening. You know I live in a physically beautiful place and I never take that gift for granted. We are indeed lucky there were those who had the foresight to preserve what nature gave. Doris


    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Doris. Yes, you do live in a beautiful area and I’m so glad we share not only our love of the written word, but also for the amazing majesty of creation. I try to walk through doors of opportunity when they open, and I hope they continue to do — for all of us at Writing Wranglers!


  4. Gayle, I’m happy for you too. I’ve seen a lot of these beautiful red rocks in my travels. When we went to the Grand Canyon, we were on the North Rim-I think, anyway there was no guardrail, only a little foot rail to catch your foot on and fall off. LOL. Anyway, I got down on my hands and knees and looked over. It was breath taking. I don’t know how anyone can see such beauty and not understand there is a creator. Glad you had so many wonderful opportunities. Cher’ley


    1. Hi, Cher’ley — yes, it’s a majestic place! We are so blessed in this country to have so much beauty that we as a public can still enjoy — our natural treasures beckon the world and we should not take that for granted. You do get to experience so much in your travels and that, too, is a blessing — continue to enjoy! Thanks for your comments on my post.


  5. What a wonderful sounding trip, Gayle! And your pictures are lovely! It has been many years since I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, etc. Your story and photos make me want to go back!!


    1. Oh, Stephanie, you should! And, there is SO MUCH in southern Utah as well! I love to visit these places, and one day hope to see Yosemite and the ancient Native ruins in New Mexico — BUCKET LIST! Thanks for stopping by to comment!


  6. It’s always fulfilling to write about something you love, and your love of the wild areas of America is sure obvious in this post, Gayle. My best friend and his wife back in Ohio named their boy Bryce after the national park. That tells you how much he loves the western national parks. We took a memorable trip out West in 1980 and toured several of the parks including Glacier and Yellowstone. Great memories. I remember laying in the grass in in a camping ground in or near Yellowstone and watching shooting stars on a clear mid-August night. No light pollution from a nearby city, just starlight.


    1. Oh, Mike, what a bright and brilliant memory of those shooting stars! I remember the first full harvest moon I experienced near Yellowstone — it’s blazed upon my mind and heart forever: nothing like that at all! I hope you get to see some of the wild lands in Nevada now that you are there — I know there are places, but I haven’t experienced them yet but one day…! Thanks for your comments and your kind words.


  7. I’ve never been able to see any of the huge vistas in Arizona or Utah but my brother-in-law, who died in June of this year, was so enthralled with Bryce Canyon when he visited some years ago. A geography teacher, he knew of some fantastic places on the planet but I think Bryce was his all-time favourite, the awesomeness (in the true use of the word) of it got to him. Lovely post, Gayle, and your photos make me want to visit, too.


    1. I hope you can visit one day, Nancy — Bryce is one of my favorite places, too: the majesty of those red spires is captivating! Thanks for sharing your story about your brother-in-law — that comment simply adds to the smile I have when I think of this special place.


  8. I grew up next door to my grandparents but my best memories of both of them are from after they retired and moved to Estes Park, Colorado. I’d visit them and hike all day with my grandfather then play scrabble all night with my grandmother. Lovely times in a beautiful area. I’m so glad you had a wonderful time on your trip and enjoyed your posts on facebook as well as this blog. Well done.


  9. Sounds like a fantastic trip! So neat that you were able to do it with your father.

    I’m happiest in nature and treasure our state and national parks. So glad we had some forward thinking leaders.


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