My An Arkie's Faith column from the June 23, 2021, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
I had almost finished installing the rear door glass in a GMC when the Hummer H3 pulled into the driveway of my shop. “Good timing,” I thought. I had a busy day scheduled, and the Hummer was my next appointment. I was looking forward to meeting the owners, Cody and Kellie. We first started talking about replacing the windshield in the H3 last December, but the timing was never right. Today, they were able to make the drive from Little Rock and get the windshield replaced.
Cody and Kellie have a YouTube channel called Dome Life. They love camping, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and just about any outdoor activity. After several years of camping almost every weekend, they decided to start documenting their adventures on video. In April 2019, they posted their first video to YouTube, showing them dispersed camping in the Ozark National Forest and hiking to the Big Bluff on the Buffalo National River. Since then, they have posted over 120 videos.
Most of the Dome Life camping videos are from Arkansas. I enjoy watching YouTube videos that feature the Ouachita Mountains. When I first saw a Dome Life video featuring Eagle Rock Loop, I was hooked and started watching more. My wife and I look forward to watching a new Dome Life video every Tuesday and Thursday. While watching the videos, I noticed that the windshield in the Hummer had many cracks. Last year, I messaged Cody and told him that he needed a new windshield, and I needed some Dome Life gear, so we should make a trade. He liked the idea, but it had taken some time to make it happen.
As I worked removing the windshield, I visited with Cody and Kellie. After watching so many of their videos, it was like I was talking with old friends. They are so friendly and down-to-earth. They are passionate about Arkansas, and especially the Ouachitas. Cody says, “a lot of people don’t realize you can vacation every single weekend in Arkansas; it’s like a vacation all the time. We travel all over, and Arkansas has some of the cleanest, bluest water in the whole country, and our trail systems and state parks are some of the best. It is amazing what Arkansas has.”
After installing the windshield, Cody, Kellie, and I headed to The Ouachitas to get some lunch while the urethane was curing. We drove my Daddy’s Ford Model A roadster with the top down. Kellie called shotgun, and Cody climbed into the rumble seat. The engine sputtered to life, and we headed downtown. When we arrived, I introduced them to Derek, the owner, who was happy to give them a tour. Cody and Derek discussed ways that they might be able to work together in the future.
As we ate our pizza and drank our superberry tea, Cody and Kellie shared with me their philosophy and plans. They have made significant changes in their lives and are planning on traveling and making videos full-time. They told me that being outdoors in nature is a way to recharge your mind, body, and soul! One of the Dome Life catchphrases is, “don’t just tour, explore.” Cody explained that when people travel, they look at slick brochures with beautiful photos and are often disappointed when their experience doesn’t match their expectations. He said, “instead of being a tourist, explore the areas off of the beaten path and see what adventures the backroads have to offer.”
Cody and Kellie enjoyed the pizza and the ambiance of The Ouachitas. They purchased roasted coffee to take with them, and Derek gave them a gift basket. They plan on returning to The Ouachitas the next time they are in the area. We drove back to the shop in the Model A roadster with its vinyl seats heated by the sun to temperatures high enough to broil skin. But soon after we started moving, the air rushing around us cooled the seats to bearable temperatures. With the job finished, we said our goodbyes, and Cody and Kellie headed out in the Hummer with its brand new windshield.
I enjoyed spending time with Cody and Kellie and getting to know them. I found that we have a lot of the same philosophies and ideals. Their love of nature and passion for keeping trails, campgrounds, and waterways clean inspired me. Nature can bring me peace in a way nothing else does, even if it is just sitting on my deck looking at the trees and the creek below my house. One of the reasons I love living in this area is that I can be in the national forest surrounded by nature in just a few minutes and feel that I am many miles from civilization. Or I can be on top of a mountain ridge with amazing views that stretch out for miles.
Spending time in nature has profoundly affected my spiritual life. There’s something about a towering tree, a colorful wildflower, or a rushing waterfall that reminds me that my God is awesome! The more time I spend in God’s wonderful creation, I feel that I know Him better. In Psalms 19:1,2 (NLT), David wrote, “the heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.” Nature can show us God’s beauty, glory, power, presence, and creativity if we pay attention. In Romans 1:20 (NLT), the Bible tells us that “ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
Gentle Reader, whether you are into hiking, camping, kayaking, or just sitting on the porch of a cabin, take the time to explore God’s creation and connect with the amazing God who created it. “Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or ask the birds of the air, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea tell you. Every one of these knows that the hand of the Lord has done this.” Job 12:7-9 (NCV) Nature is a witness of God’s love, goodness, and greatness. But to fully understand what nature and God have to tell you, don’t just tour, explore.