It’s Thursday’s noon. We’re in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma, a state I’ve never visited nor would like to revisit. There’s nothing here but truckers, farmers, and other blue collar countryfolk. Bless their hearts, this place is not for me.
We’re attempting 13 hours today. From Little Rock to Albuquerque.
It’s been a joy meeting with friends and family along the way.
From Maryland, where we spent the night at my brother and sister-in-law’s, we drove to Johnson City and stayed at the Jolley’s, our former pastor’s family. A dozen of us reunited at Yee Haw Brewery - my absolute favorite place with nectarous beer and sumptuous White Duck taco.
We caught up with Grayson, Sam, Erin, Jen, John and Jess, Gary, Kristy, Lyndsey and Bill, Brittany, Amanda and Wilson afterwards at Willow Tree coffee shop.
Then we departed amidst “#blizzard2017” which wasn’t bad at all - light snow that didn’t stick and arrived in Knoxville where we climbed with my other sister and brother-in-law, Jenn and Jordan. Afterwards, we celebrated Pi day with Papa Johns and car bombs and discussed the ethics of marijuana.
On Wednesday we left for Nashville and met with our friends the Hicks at their new house. Sky lost 35 pounds and was near unrecognizable. He’s been on a new “eating pattern” (not a “diet”) that uses fasting to burn fat. He once every 24 hours. It sounded terrible but hey, it works and Sky’s doing great.
From there, we met up for beers with our blossoming musician friend Grizel Williams. She’s a talented, free-spirited soul with a bright future ahead. She has the personality to enrapt the whole room. She has a rare quality that enables to perform optimally under intense pressure. The more pressure, the better she does.
(Quick note, I met someone very special at this pub in East Nashville, I don’t remember the name of the establishment. The special someone was Jackaloupe Bearworks, a maple brown ale that curled my toes.)
Okay, that was a weird way to describe a new beer I liked, but whatever. There it is.
We avoided the Trump traffic headed to Hermitage and met up with our good friends Ethan and Sarah Flynn. They have a cute picturesque house with a Chick fil-A at the bottom of the hill. We went to a BBQ place in Sylvan Park and caught up. The Flynns are some of the easiest people to talk with.
At 8pm we prayed and said goodbye and headed for Little Rock, Arkansas. The five hour estimate gave us an ETA of 2:00am. We stayed with Tanner Strickland, one of the smartest people I know personally. He was generous to give us and the kitties a blow up mattress in a spare room.
We chatted briefly in the morning before his work and now we’re on the longest leg of our trip to Gary Ellis’s papaw’s house in the boonies of Albuquerque. Not sure what to expect, but based on my brief phone call with him this morning, he sounded friendly.
We’ve almost completed two Audible books and our kitties are being road warriors.
The life lessons I’m learning through all of this is that there is nothing more valuable (in an earthly sense) than positive, deep relationships. We’re not spending a dime on hotels, and we’re had zero sense of loneliness or isolation. On the contrary, the love and socializing leaves us exhausted at the end of the night.
We’re praying a lot in the car - for our friends and for our unknown future. My need for God, and therefore my faith in God, and therefore my joy in God, is increasing the deeper into this adventure we go.
We’re in uncharted territory. But, to borrow the tagline of the restaurant we’re most frequenting on our stops, I’m lovin’ in.