31 Days of Paying Attention — Day Twenty


And then there was this magnificence! On our way north to the retreat, we saw a small sign when we stopped for gas: “Pinnacles National Park, 9 miles.” National Park? we wondered. So I looked it up. Pinnacles was recognized and set aside as a National Monument in 1916 — a good long time ago — but it wasn’t made into a National Park until 2012. Score! A new park, one we had never seen before.

So we made a mental note to take the road out to see it on our way home three days later. It was SO worth the trip, even though the road was narrow, twisty and steep and we were almost two hours later getting home than we had originally planned.

This particular terrain needs to be seen to be believed. Strange looking rock formations thrust their way out of the earth in an area barely 45 square miles wide. There is no road through the park, but there are two entrances, one on each side. The one available to us took us to a new Visitor Center which featured this view in its backyard. And then, we discovered a picnic area two miles further. So we drove, down, down, down and stopped there for about 90 minutes. We pulled out our fruit, cheese and crackers and just savored the view.

Sometimes paying attention means discovering things that have always been there, yet you’ve missed them. This was one of those times. One of our daughters used to live in the Monterey Bay area and we drove north to visit her little family regularly. The Camp we went to on this retreat is a spot I’ve driven to probably ten times over the past twenty years.

Yet we had never seen that sign.


Paying attention to small things can sometimes produce miraculous results! The sign was small; the park was glorious. Now this is a park for hikers, which we are not. And for spelunkers, which we also are not. But it’s also a space that can be appreciated for its beautiful strangeness — and that, we can do! We are appreciators of beautiful strangeness from way back!

This particular set of rocks is the result of a massive earthquake many thousands of years ago which caused a 200 mile shift in both directions. The strange chemical make-up of these crazily shaped rocks is only seen in one other place in our state . . . 200 miles to the south. But those don’t look like these physically — in fact, there is nowhere else on earth that looks quite like this place. 


The flowers here are the ones of late summer and early fall. Can you imagine what it must look like in the spring? California’s wildflowers are one of the most beautiful things on this earth. Now, because we caught sight of one small sign, because we took one small risk and went down a new road, we have discovered a brand new place to go looking for them.


You know, that gas station we chose to pull off the road and visit was not a very nice one — not clean, had only outdoor toilets because their well had run dry and it was not well-maintained.

But. That sign nearby it? Absolutely priceless! 


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  1. Thank you for your inspirational words and photos, Diana, stirring up the wonder and worship in our hearts. Those rock formations remind me of the sand sculptures we used to make at the beach with our kids, when we lived in Florida. Perhaps you’ve done it, too: let wet sand drip through a loose fist to form miniature stalagmites. I also found myself thinking about the variety in God’s creation, illustrated by the rarity of those lumpy rock formations. In South Florida, the Everglades were practically outside the back door–a unique habitat found nowhere else in the world. I wonder just how many unique landforms he created? As appreciators of beautiful strangeness, you and your husband enjoyed what many hikers and spelunkers miss, because they have to watch where they’re going. You took advantage of the opportunity to meditate on God’s wonderful works (Psalm 145:5b)!

  2. Margie Bicknell says

    I used to tell the kids that sometimes crazy looking rock formations or mountains looked like God moved his fingers under the earth’s skin and just started poking upward until he laughed.
    There is “Craters of the Mood” National Park in Idaho, that looks just like the lava flows in Hawaii….we couldn’t believe what we saw there.
    The basalt cliffs in the Palouse of Eastern Washington looks like a baby stacked round rocks on top of each other, the pushed them together.
    Creation….what a miracle.