I have dated enough to be married four times…yet I dislike ‘dating’ myself. To tell you how old I am.

Yet, I often ask others to guess my age; I need to say my age out loud in order to convince ‘me’ that I have been alive for seven decades. Really?

Since 1970, I am engaged in a love affair with the National Parks, when my first husband and I drove our second hand VW bug cross country for six weeks while being pregnant with our first daughter. I wonder if she, Erin, could see (tears) the cascading waterfalls of Yosemite, or the towering Sequoias, or the black bear running through our campground.

For a month of the summer of 1986, I drove Erin and Megan, then 15 and 12, cross country in my boyfriend’s Dodge van sporting rusted-rimmed doors and 150,00 miles; trusting it to endure our camping-hiking National Park adventure. Surprisingly, without provocation, tears trailed down my cheeks when seeing a 360 degree scenic view appear after hiking 6 miles of switchbacks on Mount Rainier, many-colored wildflowers lining our trail.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that I realize why I spilled those tears – when I connected that I hadn’t seen the beauty within me. Until then, I hadn’t felt the deep hurt uprooted by my fourth husband’s distrust in me, (saying I’m lying about having affairs when I wasn’t even interested in such), while revisiting several National Parks with him.

This summer, 2017, I am in the Grand Teton National Park for the fifth time, hiking new trails, alone, and for the first time hearing unforgettable music at the Grand Teton Music Festival: cello and piano playing Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor, and my heart strings.

But it is in Capitol Reef National Park where I feel the spirit of my dear daddy in a most miraculous way, tears washing my face like Hidden Falls, sobbing for maybe 20 minutes, remembering we were married on those reefs in a past lifetime, as Native Americans.