Tag Archives: travel

Travel

Standard

The paths we tread…

I spent a night over my weekend in Asheville, visiting with a friend going through a difficult period in his life.  We shared some food and caught up with each other’s lives since the last time we had a chance to be in the same space together.  Even though we are in touch daily through the magic of technology, it’s still a joy to share real face to face conversation in the same room!  Simple pleasures.

The drive from Asheville to Knoxville coming home took much longer than normal due to rush hour traffic and, more notably, to road construction and lane closures.  Departing from my usual habit of listening to music while on the road, I chose to forgo any radio or CD, listening instead to the road and to my own thoughts.  It gave me a chance to absorb my surroundings and to imagine the lives of the people in the vehicles sharing the road with me.

What are their stories, I wondered?  I had just said goodbye to a friend I love like family, not knowing how his current situation and challenges are going to work themselves out, but grateful for the chance to visit and share meals, laughs and tears with him, however briefly.  As the road whizzed (and sometimes crept!) under my wheels, I began to ponder the people in the cars and trucks nearby.  To where, or from where, are they traveling?  The woman in my rear view mirror was on her phone, smiling and chatting with some unseen party.  To my right, a man in a pickup was obviously listening to music, and greatly enjoying what he heard.  Several people on motorcycles buzzed past me going WAY too fast…I had to wonder, “What is the hurry?  Is the enjoyment of the speed worth the danger you place yourself in, as well as those around you sharing this stretch of road?”

Here’s the thing.  Every human being I encounter is traveling a path, just as I am.  We each have a journey along which we learn lessons, finding joy and love, heartache and misery.  Each person’s path intersects my own, where it does and when it does, for a reason.  Our paths may cross but briefly, for a mere moment.  We may travel parallel to one another for a while and then take separate forks in the road.  Now and then, though, I have the joy of meeting a kindred soul whose path merges with my own, and we walk hand in hand, sharing the road with all its varying landscapes and its smooth and rocky patches.  Whether this path is with a mate, a friend or a family member, the road is richer and more beautiful when traveled together.

image

 

Advertisements

R.I.P DivaMobile

Standard

She was more than just a car…

Most people have probably seen the insurance commercial in which a cute girl speaks to the camera, saying “You owned your car for 4 years.  You named it Brad.  You LOVED Brad.  And then you totaled him…”  The script goes on to describe the relationship between the car and its owner.  I can relate to this scenario more strongly since, after nearly 12 years of driving her, I wrecked my beloved DivaMobile.

The sadness of watching her getting towed away was overwhelming.  I cried and then I threw up.  No kidding.  (I think the throwing up had to do partly with my taking antibiotics at the time…but only partly.)

In order to explain my attachment to her, I need to give a bit of backstory.  I found myself in February 2004 needing a replacement for my previous car, which had been rear-ended and totaled in that wreck (which was not nearly as traumatic as this one). Jeff and I looked around and test drove a few, and decided that it made the most sense for us to go ahead and purchase something brand new.  So we bought a new 2004 Honda C-RV.  I named her Veronica, nicknamed The DivaMobile.  She had 153 miles on February 20, 2004 when I took delivery, and the only reason those miles were on her was because the dealership did not have a stick shift in my desired color on the lot.  So mine was driven over from North Carolina.  She was not fancy, but she was silver, shiny, new and all mine, and I loved her from the start.

The DivaMobile carried us on many vacation adventures, including, I believe, our first trip to St. Simons Island.  We took her on several trips there and to Destin, our other favorite vacation spot.  She was my companion on my work commute, to music and volunteer activities, taking our dogs to the vet, and she always had more than enough room for all the gear I carried around with me.  (It is difficult for me to travel light, whether literally or metaphorically.)  She saw the transition when Ernie The Wonder Beagle died and then Our Boy Roy became part of our family, hauling them both when they needed to go to the vet or anywhere else.  Roy always gets excited when I ask, “Do you want to go for a ride?”

image

From February 20, 2004 until January 20, 2016, The DivaMobile carried me safely everyplace I needed to go. I spent all of my 40’s with her, and then some.  And with God’s help, she kept me safe in the worst wreck I’ve ever been involved in as either a passenger or a driver.  I walked away from this nightmare with only some bumps, bruises and scratches.  Physically, I am OK.  And I am grateful.

For years  I had a tiny angel on a leather cord hanging from my rear view mirror.  I liked the thought of an angel riding along with me.  I still do.

image

Jeff and I don’t trade cars often.  We tend to make long-term commitments, driving them until they die…or in this case, until they are killed.  The DivaMobile and I traveled 154,408 miles together…minus her first 153, that is.  I’m praying my next car relationship is as long and satisfying, just with a happier ending.

image

image

 

Fragile

Standard

When normal stops…

Last Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Knoxville experienced the first real snow of the season.  The prospect of snowfall still brings excitement to the childlike part of me.  The white blanket that shrouds everything, the quiet, the glory of winter’s beauty fills my heart with wonder.

As an adult, however, my excitement is tempered by the fact that, snow or not, I still have to get to work.  Most of us do.  It is a reality I have dealt with for a long time working in the media.  Our world doesn’t stop for snow or for anything else.

I have also long prided myself on being a careful, and fairly competent, snow driver, preaching the principles of safe speeds, proper following distances and plenty of extra time to get where we need to go.  I still believe in all those principles.  Being careful is just common sense.

But despite my best efforts, last Wednesday, I wrecked my beloved DivaMobile anyway.

image

image

It seemed to happen both in accelerated time and in slow motion, all at once.  I was driving through downtown. The interstate did not look like it had been treated with either sand or brine, and lane lines were not clearly visible.  A small pickup truck veered in front of me, too close for my comfort, and in trying to avoid crashing into it, I applied my brakes, slid, spun several times and crashed into a guardrail.  I came to rest on an interstate on-ramp facing the wrong direction.  Had the guardrail not been there to stop me, I would have most likely gone down an embankment and landed on 5th Avenue.

image

image

image

I am OK, physically.  A few scratches, bumps and bruises, but I’m OK.  And by some miracle, in all this madness, no other vehicles were involved.  I didn’t hit anybody, and nobody hit me, and I never lost consciousness.  After I realized what had actually happened, I found my phone, called 911, then called work and Jeff to tell them I’d had an accident.

Here’s the thing.  Seeing the damage that happened to my car, I realized once more just how fragile life is, how quickly an event can change everything.  I took the day of the wreck and the day after off from work, and on Friday I returned.  In more snow.  And yes, I drove myself, although I had to drive the SweetPeaMobile.  Was I scared?  Absolutely.  Will I be scared for a while?  Most likely.  But for all the fragility of life and how scary things can be, I can’t let fear keep me from doing what I need to do.  I’ll just have to do it afraid for a while, praying and trusting God to protect me and those I love, being as safe as I know how to be and getting on with the business of living and working, finding a new car to try to replace my beloved DivaMobile and looking forward to feeling, eventually, a little less Fragile.

image

Sock It To Me

Standard

A Mustang, a honeymoon and a surprise

Saturday, June 21, 1986, Sweet Pea and I got married and started our crazy adventure of life together.  His car at the time was a 1977 (I think) brown Toyota Corolla station wagon which, while it got him from point A to point B, was not a fancy machine and, at the time, I think the air conditioning might not have been working.  For whatever reasons, we took Pop Cutshaw’s newer, more comfortable white Mustang on our honeymoon.

Our wedding ceremony began at 4 pm and it was about 6 pm by the time we left the church, so, as planned, we drove to Asheville that night and then made the rest of the trip to Myrtle Beach the next day.  I don’t really remember all that much about the drive, except how much fun it was to be taking our first trip together and the excitement of being newlyweds.  And I don’t remember whether/how much I slept while we were on the road.  (I’ve had a long history of not being much use on road trips because I have trouble staying awake.  Traveling with the dog helps keep me from sleeping an entire day’s drive away!)

And I don’t remember what sent me scrounging through the glove compartment of Pop Cutshaw’s car that Saturday evening as we headed toward Asheville and the first leg of our honeymoon.  Maybe we needed a map, or I was looking to stash some small object.  I don’t remember why I went in there.

But I remember what I found.

“Reckon why your Daddy has a sock stuck in here?”

“A sock?  I have no idea…”

It was tied at the opening and when I pulled it out, it was heavy and it jingled and jangled like a tambourine band.

“Oh my gosh!  It’s full of coins!”

I untied it to discover that it was filled with mostly quarters, LOTS of them.  And there was a scrap of paper.

image

 

“I thought you might need some change.  Have a happy holiday.  Love, Dad.”

I don’t know that most people would have described Pop Cutshaw as a particularly sentimental person…and his gesture might have been  motivated more by common sense than the “warm-fuzzies”.  He was probably thinking we’d need money to do laundry at the end of the week, drinks out of a vending machine or that Jeff might want to play some arcade games once we came up for air!  Dads tend to be practical people, after all.

All I know is that his thoughtfulness touched both of us to our cores.  Such a fun, sweet surprise!  Finding that coin-filled sock in those early hours of our marriage was the moment I fell in love with my new father-in-law.

Bookworm Paradise

Standard

Read. Nap. Repeat…

My idea of the perfect vacation has changed over the years (and decades).  When Reed and I were little kids, Mama and Dad took us on a week’s vacation to Myrtle Beach every summer.  What I looked forward to then was spending lots of time floating and frolicking in the surf and sand, looking for shells and sharks’ teeth, and riding the rides at the amusement park.  And one night during the week we would usually go to the movies as a family, which was a huge treat and something I always enjoyed.

As an adult with a job and responsibilities of my own, my desires for a vacation are a lot calmer and simpler than they used to be.  One of my greatest pleasures on a trip is just being able to read as much, and for as long, as I want to.  I’ve been a bookworm since childhood, but as a child, school and reading were my job.  So I didn’t always read a lot during my summer vacations.  Now, my JOB is my job, and reading often has to take a backseat to the other demands on my time and energy.  So now, vacations provide me with a block of time in which I can read all I want.

image

That probably seems boring to some people, and that’s OK.  Some folks are weekend warriors who enjoy adventurous vacations filled with bungee-jumping-rock-climbing-skydiving activities.  Cool.  I looked into ziplining for this trip and that’s still not out of the question.  Flying sounds like a lot of fun to me!

I always bring my Bible with me when I travel, because, like my vitamins and supplements, it is part of my daily nourishment.  I would feel lost if I didn’t have it with me.  The practice of daily Bible reading doesn’t make me good or pious.  It makes me grateful.  And over the years it has become a part of the day that I look forward to.

image

Vacations provide me with a change of scenery, new places to read and write and rest.  Right now I am sitting out back enjoying a balmy Gulf breeze, crystal clear blue sky, sunshine and the rippling water of the swimming pool, a scene very unlike the autumn chill we left behind back home.  It feels like a different season… a different world.

My friend Eileen, and her husband Brad, have a charity website dedicated to bookworms and reading.  It is called gonereading.com.  In addition to offering products for reading enthusiasts, the website donates 100% of their after-tax profits to fund reading-related charities, particularly READ Global and Ethiopia Reads.  One of their very cool t-shirts summarizes my vacation dreams perfectly:

image

So, I encourage you to visit http://www.gonereading.com.  They don’t offer books, but they offer everything else a bookworm needs and desires to support their reading habits!  And they help to provide reading resources to people who would not otherwise have access to them.   For now, I am off to enjoy a little more Bookworm Paradise!