Monday, October 15, 2018

Crossing one off the list

Do you have a bucket list, a list of things you want to do in your life? 

I recently crossed one thing off my bucket list: I took a trip from Oregon to Denver.  I rode Amtrak’s Coast Starlight down to Sacramento, and then went eastward on the California Zephyr over the Sierras and through the Rockies to Denver. It was like taking a trip through history.

The Sierra foothills, home of the original 49ers
 I went through Donner Pass, where the Chinese immigrants had to blast tunnels through solid granite to get the trains over the pass.  Past Donner lake, which looks far too innocent for its tragic past. 

Donner lake, just below Donner summit
 Past Reno, I started to get the feel of being back in the old West. There were mustangs running wild on the hills. Then the land flattened out into a level landscape of sagebrush and dust, I marveled at the old pioneers, traveling by wagon or trudging through on foot.

East of Reno... a whole lotta sagebrush
 I couldn’t face a 36-hour trip in coach, so I splurged on a bedroom. Falling to sleep on a train was surprisingly easy. I let the rhythm of the rails lull me to sleep as we traveled through Nevada.

Woke to a Utahn sunrise, and the feeling of traveling back in time to the Old West continued. 

Utahn sunrise
 Travel by train is ideal for a writer. I brought my laptop along, and when not gazing out the window, I worked on a scene where the hero and heroine went to a beautiful desert canyon. All I had to do was look out the window for inspiration.
I wrote a romantic scene looking at this romantic scenery

All this needs is a handsome cowboy
The train followed the Colorado river up into the Rockies.

And I do mean up. The route through the Rockies climbed to over eight thousand feet before winding down in slow, wide curves down to Denver.

I loved seeing wild places, far from any road. I had no idea of all the little hidden pockets of beauty the Lord has placed in the loneliest of places. 

White cranes lurking in the emerald-green reeds in a pond in Nevada

Pelicans hanging out on a riverbank high in the Rockies

It was humbling to realize the depth and intricacy of the beauty of the Lord’s works. 

He counts the number of the stars. 
He calls them all by their names.
Psalm 147:4

 Every hour gave me new vistas that I hadn’t imagined before. So many different scenes and settings, people living their lives amid this beautiful scenery. We’d be in the middle of nowhere and I would catch a glimpse of a homestead out in the middle of a clearing. 

It struck me how many different lives were going on all around, hidden from my sight, but not His. If the Lord knows each star by name, I have faith that He loves each person who lives in His creation. And He knows them all by name.

Evelyn M. Hill is a multi-published author who lives at the end of the Oregon Trail. Her debut book, His Forgotten Fiancée, was published by Love Inspired Historical. Her latest book, The English Lieutenant's Lady, deals with British spies in the Oregon Territory (based on actual events). 
When not being distracted by her cat, she writes inspirational romances set in Oregon. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.


  1. Evelyn, what an amazing trip. I love the pictures. And you gained lots of inspiration for future books.

  2. Thanks, Mary! I did get inspired. It was fun to imagine the stories lurking in all these places :)

  3. Oh, I would so love to do that!! What a beautiful experience!!

  4. Oh this is an incredible trip. The photos are fantastic! All those places and each one is equally breathtaking. Great post, Evelyn.

  5. Thank you, Belle! It was incredible. And Laurel, I hope you get the chance to take that trip! I'm told it's even more spectacular in winter.

  6. We rode the Zephyr! It was a great way to see the scenery without the hassle of driving. Our first night out of Chicago was a little rough especially for my husband in the top bunk. But after that, all was fine.

    1. Sherri, I wish I'd gone all the way to Chicago. If I get a chance I'll try the whole trip next time :)

  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. One of my bucklist items was to visit Scotland and Ireland which I did the summer.


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