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Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Freelance: FRIEND Part I

"It is difficult to say who do you the most mischief:
enemies with the worst intentions or friends with the best."
~ E.R. Bulwer-Lytton

One week ago I was in Colorado with a dear friend, Gwen Stewart. I mentioned on last Friday’s post that we flew there together with plans to visit the mountains. Seeing the Rockies was Gwen’s idea. Entering Rocky Mountain National Park was mine—before I knew that Gwen is terrified of heights. Once I learned, she reassured me that she fully intended to enter those mountains, despite the high cliffs and sharp drops which lay there.

While we waited for our flight to take off, Gwen and I contemplated the
Rock of Ages mentioned in Isaiah 26:3-4. We then flew off into the sunset that our plane would chase west for another 1300 miles. Gwen had threatened to squeeze all life from my hand in her fear of flying. Not so. She found the flight peaceful, and my hand still works.

The after-dark drive to our Estes Park hotel spared Gwen a clear view of the winding road up Big Thompson Canyon. Then we entered the national park well before dawn to hear elk bugle. At sunup, we embarked upon familiar-to-me Fall River Road—the narrow 15-mph dirt road which hugs the side of the valley wall until it meets Trail Ridge near its 12,183' elevation point. The single-lane road is uphill only, so one commits to the entire 9-mile trip once it’s begun.

Our four-wheel drive pick-up with a manual transmission proved ideal for the steep hairpin turns, which I've never seen more deeply rutted. The higher we climbed, the fewer the trees to obstruct a breathtaking view of the valley bathed in alternating shadow and horizontal rays of dawn. The sheer drops accentuated the view—exhilarating for me and terrifying for Gwen.

The only thing fearful to me was Gwen. She took something for a migraine, and evidenced alarming anxiety about those cliffs. I closely clung to the inside of the road. But on a road that narrow, hugging the mountain wall doesn’t mean much. When I asked with concern about her breathing, she explained that she sometimes experiences asthma. If measured, her blood pressure and pulse would have surely dismayed a physician. Gwen assured me that she had her inhaler, and that she trusted no one more than a veteran like me for the drive.

I took the drive at a crawl in proximity to cliffs, occasionally pausing to take in the view. Each pause meant starting again from a standstill, with a slight backward roll for the split second it took me to release the brake and engage clutch with gas pedal. I continually spoke words of confidence and peace to Gwen, all the while determined that she enjoy the sights of a lifetime.

We reached a particularly evil looking cliff at a hairpin turn. I stayed to the inside for Gwen’s sake, and found myself halfway around the wall before I realized I’d cut the sharp turn too tightly. I had no alternative but to back up, on a steep downhill, toward the cliff, then make one of those quick standstill starts uphill which would require just a little backward roll. I wished to perform my maneuver too quickly for Gwen to ascertain any danger and panic. But too quick a start would stall the engine, and put me even closer to the cliff with the next start.

I’ve filled a page. Enough for now. I’ll continue next week and tell you what a Friend we have in Jesus.

You will keep in perfect peace
The one stayed upon You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For Yah, the LORD,
Is the Rock of Ages.
~ Isaiah 26:3-4 (author)

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Oh Anne, what a time we had. Have you recovered from my panic yet? :)

    Through it all, I'm so grateful God met me there and grateful that I shared the experience with YOU. I'm forever glad I drove Fall River Road despite my fear. Those mountains changed me. I suspect they change all who come in contact with their majesty.

    You are a treasure and I pray God will bless you richly today, dear friend.

  2. Dearest Gwen, have YOU recovered from the panic yet? I had a WONDERFUL time. And yes, inability to remain unchanged was what I learned from all this. You are a treasure as well.

    And by the way, I guess you didn't actually say that was a peaceful flight. Just the most peaceful one you remember since being a teen. Hope I wasn't fibbin! :D

  3. Nice, you left me hanging. :D

    Seriously, I could write a book about the bond you two share. It's beautiful!
    ~ Wendy

  4. Oh, man, you guys did have an experience. I'm thinking all's okay since you're both blogging now, so I can wait to hear the rest.

    I'm sure I saw you, Anne at the conference, but I didn't get a good look at your nametag and was too shy to introduce myself. Wish I had!

  5. Wendy! Thank you. She and I are rubbing off on each other, and we're both the better for it. The Lord knew we belonged together.

    Eileen, how I wish you'd said 'hi'! I can't believe you'd be too shy--unless you saw the way I hugged everyone and didn't want to be mauled. :D I wish I could remember all the people I met, and could have made personal contact with more of them. But in a crowd of 600... If we're both in Indianapolis next year, I insist you get a hold of me.

  6. The story about your trip sounds like a real Cliffhanger... :-)

  7. I agree with Russell. I'm like Gwen, and I'm very short of breath right now. Yikes!!!!! ;)

  8. Next time, do you want to take me?

  9. This trip was more hair-raising than I had imagined! I'm glad the two of you shared that experience. It's neat to see trust like that between friends...and I'm glad you both survived, thanks to your driving skills. I *was* relieved when I found you at dinner that night. :-)

  10. Russell, hey, it was there.

    Bonnie, glad to have you along for the trip.

    Peter, you can absolutely come next time--the more the merrier. Are you also short of breath with your delightful accent?

  11. Wow, that sounds so awesome, and very God inspired.

  12. whew... I'm holding my breath - I don't know if I can wait til tommorrow - quick e-mail me the rest of the story.

  13. Denise, God DEFINITELY showed up!

    Doug, I don't know how to break this to you, but Part II is next week. Next Friday to be exact. Remember back in the old days before the internet (and I know you've got to remember that far back) when everything wasn't instant, and you waited a whole week between TV episodes? Or stories in a magazine might go a whole month?

    I'm touched that you're that on the edge of your seat tho.


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