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Seeing The Forest for More than the Trees

picture of autumn beauty

There are not many things I enjoy more than being in the woods of Western North Carolina in the fall. Becka and I go up there several times each fall, just for the day. If you're a long time iv reader, you know that I try to go camping up in that area one weekend each fall with my son Mark and with my friend Phil and his sons. This year our various schedules just don't mesh. Read about last year's adventure in my post called Camping Tips [1]. This year instead of going camping, Mark and I will be going to a men's retreat at the Wilds this weekend. I'll tell more about it at the end of this post.

As I look forward to this weekend, I decided to post some humor from our nation's Forest Service personnel and rangers. What follows is comments and questions from visitors.

Forest Service Complaints
This list circulated for a while among Forest Service employees. These are supposedly actual comments on Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips:

"A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."

"Escalators would help on steep, uphill sections."

"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."

"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."

"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."

"All the mile markers are missing this year."

"Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse."

"Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."

"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter."

"Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."

"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."

"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."

"Need more signs to keep area pristine."

"A McDonald's would be nice at the trailhead."

"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."

"Too many rocks in the mountains."


These are questions that people actually asked of park rangers around the country. Some of the questions are as breathtaking as the landscapes that inspired them. (excerpted from Outside Magazine)

Grand Canyon National Park
Was this man made?
Do you light it up at night?
I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom — where is it?
Is the mule train air conditioned?
So where are the faces of the presidents?

Everglades National Park
Are the alligators real?
Are the baby alligators for sale?
Where are all the rides?
What time does the two o'clock bus leave?

Mesa Verde National Park
Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
What did they worship in the kivas — their own made-up religion?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
How much of the cave is underground?
So what's in the unexplored part of the cave?
Does it ever rain in here?
How many ping pong balls would it take to fill this up?
So what is this — just a hole in the ground?

Yosemite National Park
Where are the cages for the animals?
What time do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
What happened to the other half of Half Dome?
Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?

Denali National Park
What time do you feed the bears?
What's so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
Can you show me where the yeti lives?
How often do you mow the tundra?
How much does Mount McKinley weigh?

Yellowstone National Park
Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
How do you turn it on?
When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?


As I promised, here are a few details about this weekend. Many of the men from our church, Hampton Park Baptist Church [2], will be going to the Wilds [3] for a men's retreat that happens for us every three years. The speaker is Dr. Dick Stratton, president of Clearwater Christian College [4]. He'll also be speaking at our church this Sunday morning, if any of you locals would like to come hear him there. He was a very active member of our church before the Lord called him to Clearwater. It will be great to see him again and to hear the messages the Lord has laid on his heart for us.

I'm looking forward to the retreat for the spiritual refreshment, the fellowship, and some of the great outdoor activities available at the Wilds. We're hoping that the heavy rains that have hit that part of North Carolina will not keep us men from doing some of those fun activities. For sure I hope the rain will hold off long enough Saturday afternoon to allow those of us who want to (and that includes me!) to go for a ride on the 65-foot (20-meter) "Giant Swing."

I found two videos of the Giant Swing on YouTube — one from ground, watching a pair of people swing, and the other from the swing itself. You can watch the videos on my blog or on YouTube itself, whichever works best for you.

The Giant Swing from the ground [5]:

The Giant Swing from the swing itself [6]:

I'll let you know in my next blog post if Mark and I got to do the Giant Swing. It will be a wonderful weekend either way.

Do you love being outdoors in the autumn? If so, what do you like best?


"It's much more difficult to be irritated with people you're praying for." Drew Conley

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A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.