Category Archives: travel


this morning i woke up and drug myself out of bed and drove myself to work (on most days we carpool but andy didn’t have to be up as early and got to sleep in).  i left the house a little early and decided to treat myself to a coffee before i got to work – so i drove to starbucks…oh wait we don’t have one of those.  so instead i went to weigles.  as i was backing out of the driveway, i picked up a hitchhiker.  he was quiet not saying a word, but we had a good time riding to the gas station where i thought he would leave me.  i pulled into the parking spot and i said my goodbyes and thought it a tad rude that he didn’t even thank me for the ride or offer me a few dollars in gas money.  but nonetheless i was glad to help out so i went inside and when i came out he was still waiting on me.  i told him i had to go to work and he was more than welcome to ride with me to my building and could go from there.  he didn’t really say much and made no attempt to stay at the gas station so i drove across the street and into my parking space at work and all he did was stare at me.  it was slightly creepy that i had this hitchhiker on my car and he went and got coffee with me and rode with me to work.  I really expected him to fly off at some point in time!

arriving at gas station

arriving at gas station

leaving the gas station

leaving the gas station

at work

at work

i am curious to see if he is still on my car when i leave work this afternoon and evening.  i don’t know why but it struck me as funny – what if this is like pinocchio and this little grasshopper or cricket is my conscience?  what would its name be?  i was kind of thinking jasper – would that be his name?  if he was my conscience why didn’t he tell me anything this morning?  am i doing an ok job and he was just checking up on me?

I don’t think I will ever know because when I got out of work he was gone.  just up and left me.  if jasper was my conscience I think I will be asking for another one because I don’t think that he helped me at all.

the country: a beautiful thing

growing up we took a lot of family vacations.  i say a lot but i have no idea how many we really took because when you are younger things seem more often.  i know that we travelled all over and i am amazed at some of the places my parents have told me i have been but i don’t really remember.  some of the memories i have of those vacations are of me and will running through museums trying to get through them as quickly as we could so we could move on.  i remember waiting on my parents (who according to my younger self) were the slowest people in the world.  it was a race to get back to the hotel/camp ground to go swimming in the pool.  ah the joys of family vacations as a child.  when we loaded up for vacations as teenagers it was more of the same, but instead of running to the end, it was more avoid and hide from my parents (who according to my teenager self) were the most embarrassing humans alive.  it was a slow form of torture.  looking back i realize that it was actually (dare i say) fun.  now looking back it makes me a little sad.  not only because of the carefree vacations but because i missed out on a lot of things because i was too hurried to really look at the things in the museum or appreciate the sites.  i was too busy making fun of things that we had to do to really absorb it and the history.  as a teenager i was so annoyed that i wasn’t with my friends that i missed out on a lot of great experiences.  i might have been physically there and going through motions but i didn’t really “get” it – whatever “it” was.  this is true for our trip to washington dc, the nasa space center in fl, countless museums across the south, the cherokee reenactments etc. 

that rambling leads me to this:

i grew up in the city, yes i spent time in the country visiting family on some weekends and in the summer but let’s face it…i’m a city girl.  there are times i pretend that i am a country girl…like when we go feed the animals and i move a branch out of the tractor path and act like the world stood still until those tasks were accomplished.  i pretend that i know what i am doing when i grab the horse’s halter to put fly medicine on her face – but in reality i am thinking “please don’t pull me through the fence.”   i pretend that i trust pancake when i think he is really plotting against me (especially when he flattens his ears).  i pretend that pancake has come a great ways and it is all because i am a self-proclaimed donkey whisperer.  i pretend that if it wasn’t for me and andy, argyle would be so skittish around humans that he would be considered for the rodeo.  i pretend that when argyle goes to his new home (whenever that might be) that i won’t miss him because he is just a horse when i actually think that i love him and there is a great possibility that i will cry when i drive up and he isn’t standing in the field with his lanky legs running to the fence to greet us.  

i pretend that i have always enjoyed doing these things…but i haven’t.  i can remember when i was growing up and was “forced” to come to tn with my family.  it was a time when i was starting to really have a social life outside of neighbors and family friends but wasn’t old enough to stay at home so my parents did the responsible thing and took me with them.  i drug my feet the entire time.  i longed to be with my friends in the city and hated that i was missing all of the latest things.  i was worried that my best friends would replace me in the 72 hours that i was out of their sight.  i missed the beauty in feeding animals with my grandmother.  i missed the knowledge in riding around town with my grandfather making deliveries and picking up boxes.  i missed the freedom in running through a tobacco field looking for tobacco worms.  i missed the experience of riding on the tractor around the farm.  i missed the familiarity of walking through the barn yard with the cows.  i missed the understanding of why we picked and shelled beans and cut up apples.  i will take a moment to make it clear that i did all of those things and for the most part i plastered a smile on my face but it isn’t until now – years later – that i fully grasp what i was missing out on by not truly living in the moment.  i didn’t take advantage of the situations and now that we are living here there are things i wish i could do again and wish that andy could experience because they really were life changing things – if i had only let them be.  no one in my family grows tobacco anymore and when we pass a field i am reminded of running through the rows and looking for worms.  it makes me sad that andy may never see one and get to step on it.  we won’t be able to walk into a barn and smell the dried tobacco.  i missed out – i took for granted those experiences because i wanted to be somewhere else.

i have been thinking a lot about all of this in the past year and have come to the conclusion that if i would have moved to tn earlier in my life (or if i was born and raised here) i would not be as appreciative as i am today to be doing the things i am doing.  if i lived here when i was in high school i would have applied to college and moved far away because i wouldn’t have appreciated the experiences that this little town has to offer.  i would have been the first of my class to skip town and get on with my life.  i would fled and never looked back and honestly would have never realized what i was walking away from. 

it took moving to the country to realize how much i took for granted and still take for granted.  i feel like i am more aware now (as compared to when i was younger).  i see the outline of the mountains in the morning sun and notice the way the sun highlights the ridges.  i see the clouds casting shadows in the valleys.  i laugh when argyle leans into me to be rubbed like a big dog.  i practice tough love when i take the feed buckets away from jack and pancake.  i practice tolerance when the horses try to steal each others sweet feed.  i sit in awe listening to the creek at night in the cool mountain breeze.  i enjoy riding around the farm looking for baby cows and wild turkeys.  i do all of these things now with a true appreciation and it isn’t because i am a farmer or a country girl, but because i don’t want these experiences to pass me by again. 

living here in the country with a second chance: it’s a beautiful thing.

weekend highlight: pow, wow, and holy cow

something we have done with different youth groups (usually in sunday school or back home group meetings at camp) is to list your pow (worst thing about the day/week), wow (best part of day/week), and holy cow (time that you felt closet to God…like holy cow that was amazing).  since this weekend was a long one with a lot of things going on i think that this is the best way to do this past weekend update.


wow: got to see 7 youth graduate from GHS (2 of them spoke at it) and the graduates got to throw their caps and spray each other with silly string!

pow: wanted to get to bed early so we could be on the road early – but still got in bed really late.

holy cow: the moon was amazing as we were leaving.  we saw it coming over the mountain and it was a simply beautiful reminder to me that God is good. 

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wow: we got to go back to charlotte and left on time (for us).

pow: it was a long drive because otis didn’t want to ride in the back and because he wouldn’t lay down on my lap.

holy cow: being surrounded by family and friends. 


wow: got to hang out with everyone at the track and had a great breakfast. 

pow: didn’t win the race pool and made cj (our niece cry) – she was tired and ready to leave and i messed with her anyways.  😦

holy cow: two of the youth from monroe came to eat with us and see us and it was a great reminder of the time we spent with them and the faith journey we all went on together.  


wow: hung out with sandy and ginger, otis slept in the back of the car the entire way home, stopped at montreat and black mountain (got a new pair of sun glasses), no work which means a short work week! 

pow: traffic was bad and a ton of police were out and i was nervous (but thankfully we didn’t get pulled over or that would have been worse) and i helped andy make his to do list for the week and his pack list for his first summer trip and it made me sad (even though i love lists).  also on this trip there was little time to get together with other people. 

holy cow: going through the gates at montreat.

the rest of this week is going to be crazy.  there is so much to do with andy’s summer ramping up.  we had the pool party (end of year) with the youth and the rest of his nights are full of meetings.  we had a great weekend in charlotte and safe travels and great conversation and visits so even though my post isn’t full of fluff it was still wonderful. 

recap of the past weekend…

we had an over all good visit to charlotte this past weekend.  we were able to spend time with andy’s family friday night for dinner and just hanging out.  it was great to be able to visit and hang out with them.  it was good to see katie graduate and share in that day with her.  it was wonderful to spend time with my family and friends at the race track.  it was fun to continue the tradition of going to the race….it was one of those weekends where i wish we would have had more time to see more people…but i feel like those weekends are more often than not.

after the all-star race we had to race home (haha see what i did there?)!  andy had to be at church sunday morning.  so before the race i took a nap and after the race we waited around a little for traffic to calm down and started our trip home.  andy and otis slept and i was left with my own thoughts and the sounds of early morning radio.  my drive home was ok.  it rained most of the way and was foggy for the majority of it.  (there were only a few times that i couldn’t really see because of pouring rain and fog so that was nice).  we stopped once so i could get out and otis and andy got out and walked around too since stopping the car woke them both up.  on this drive i think i saw more deer then i have seen in several years.  i saw several packs (is a group of deer called a pack?) and they all made me very nervous.  i could tell that one group just crossed the road and was ok but two different times they were running parallel to the road and i just knew they would run out in front of me – but thankfully they didn’t.  i saw several fresh dead deer in the road.  apparently it wasn’t a good night for wildlife.

as i turned out the road we live on i the sun was coming up.  it was beautiful despite the rain and the clouds.  the sky just glowed.  it is moments like that, when i witness that beauty, that makes the journey worth while.

*this is the part where i admit that i went inside jumped in bed and didn’t give it a second thought that i was going to finally get some sleep and andy had to go to church.  this is also when i could confess that i might or might not have slept until 1.

flap jack aka pancake

do you know how small a 6-9 month old baby donkey is?  not very!  my mistake.  dad said that he was going to get a donkey for the farm and i was so excited that i decided that we needed to “tame” it and it would be like a second larger pet that we would see when we went to the farm.  i knew that it would grow up to be big (not like a miniature breed) and i was ok with that.  i knew that if we got him when he was young we could work with him to be a nice donkey.  i thought that i would be taller than the baby donkey.  i was wrong.  this past weekend we went to mark’s farm in bristol to pick up pancake and bring him home.

**side note…mark’s farm is really like a zoo.  he has cows and donkeys and goats (even an earless one) and pigs and chickens.  we had fun looking at all of his animals and telling mark’s dad that we did not want any other animals**

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we got there and i was staring up into the huge round eyes of our newest pet and thought to myself – he is going to stomp me to death the first chance he gets.  but he is my dad’s pancake and i love him.  loading him proved to be a traumatic experience for him (and me) but he was loaded up and went to the farm.  i held his lead for a few minutes and he almost tried to pull me down once but i knew it was coming and he tried to take down maime stomp attack hug dad twice.  we have been working with him to get him comfortable with being touched and with coming to us.  when andy and i went on sunday night to put him to bed and give him one last treat before bed time he came to us (was hesitant) and took a treat from andy (the little snot took mine from me, made eye contact, and spit it to the ground).  yesterday when we went he was waiting at the door and didn’t hesitate at all taking the treats from andy and eating from the bucket and from being petted (now i know he still has a ways to go – but we are making progress).  dad is delusional and believes that we will be able to put a lead on pancake and lead him through the church for the Christmas play…andy has jumped on that delusional wagon and we will see what happens in the upcoming months.

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what is with the name you might ask?  dad has a jack on the farm and he is called black jack (because of his color – not a gambling habit) or just jack.  he is so sun faded that he is no long black – he is more brown now.  when we found out we were getting a jack i wanted to name it and dad asked what was wrong with lil jack.  my answer…he will get big.  (after seeing him now i know that he is already big and not lil).  i was thinking of things that have jack in them (that would be ok to scream across the farm) and suggested flap jack.  i was so excited and said he would be pancake.  it stuck.  so when he is in trouble he is flap jack and when he is sweet he is our pancake!

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pancake is limited to a stall for now until we get him ready to have some more freedom and so across the stall from him is a horse that has wanted nothing to do with me from the moment we moved over (and before) – that is until he saw that we had treats for pancake.  now he sticks his head over the stall and talks to us while we are there making his case on why he needs a treat too.  we don’t know the horses name so andy and i are calling him luigi.  (it is the best sounding italian name we could come up with when we were both really tired).  why italian?  the farm is named after a place in italy so we have decided (after we named pancake) that everything needs to have italian names.  there is a little calf that hangs out in the breeze way of the barn (it got hurt when the cattle were worked so it needs some extra love and attention).  he doesn’t have a name but stromboli comes to my mind and tortellini came to andy’s mind.

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we hope that pancake will be happy with his new home and that he will adjust quickly.  i am so excited to have him even if he is larger than i had expected him to be at that age.

blank stare

saturday morning we both rolled out of bed and ambled down the hall for breakfast in the hotel.  i will say i perked up when i got close because i remembered that i could make waffles BUT when we got to the little breakfast area there were about 10 7 year olds and they were surrounding the waffle maker.  bummer.  oh well we ate and packed our things and checked out of the hotel.  we sat in the lobby and waiting on our ride.  pam came and took us to look at houses in the area so that we could see what the market looked like.  i will say i was surprised at how much house you can get and for the money.  we saw several houses, some we didn’t like, some we liked, one we wish we had the money to fix it up, and one we loved.  (in this case i am assuming that andy felt the same way that i did about the houses – normal i won’t speak for “we” unless i know that it is true, but today i didn’t make sure that he totally agreed with me).  after we drove around for a few hours we went to the youth building and had pizza lunch (it was really yummy) and had doug’s first pie that he has ever made and some great brownies made by maggie (a youth on the search committee).  we watched a slide show of the past year that ken put together and had a debriefing meeting.  i will be honest i felt like i had a blank stare on my face from the time i woke up until the time i went to bed that night.  it took me a little longer to process what people were saying around me because i was so tired.  i felt like we left there with a lot of questions answered and more asked and next steps talked about.  we said our goodbyes and monica (member of the search committee) and kyle (her son) took us to the airport.  we checked our bag and went through the searches and walked to the gate.  andy got us a drink and we waited.  we tried to talk a little bit but we were a little mentally overloaded.  we had no problems on the plane ride to atlanta.  when we got to atlanta we weren’t hungry enough to eat dinner so we split a cookie and had some coffee.  we waited at the gate and waited at the gate.  we learned that we were about to board a plane that was from honduras and so they had to do a sweep of the plane for extra security measures.  once they did that (45 minutes later) we got on.  it was the biggest plane we were on this trip.  andy sat on the outside aisle, i sat in the middle, and a soldier sat next to the window (which i was glad since we were on an emergency exit he could get the door open).  i talked to him a little bit.  he was from nappa valley, ca and has lived all over.  he currently resides a few miles from my parents home.  he is getting home from 7 months away (i believe he said he was done and home for good) and is leaving in 2 weeks to see his wife (hasn’t seen her in almost a year) because she is in training etc so they are meeting in vegas while she is on leave.  i over heard the solider sitting behind us telling someone that he is on leave to see his mother that has stage 4 liver cancer and he said he hoped that he would make it to her house before she passed away.  the lady he was telling said that her mom passed away the week before.  at this point i realized that i am listening to too many conversations so i try to sleep.  doesn’t work.  we had an uneventful flight about 30 minutes and landed.  got our bag, caught a shuttle, found the car (unharmed), and drove home.  we got home to an otis free house.  it sort of makes me sad when we walk in and he isn’t wagging his tail.  but we ate (im pretty sure) and we passed out in bed.  the next morning we over slept (who didn’t see that one coming) so we got up a little in a rush and we went to church. 

we have been doing a lot of reflecting on this past weekend and have been  going crazy with making our pro and con list.  regardless of what happens with this job and a potential move we got to see a really cool city and meet some truly wonderful people.  so while we wait on final answers we pray and we remember our whirlwind weekend in little rock.

face to face

so i left you guys in the airport trying to find baggage claim…

it was one of the longest walks of my life…we got off the plane and started walking to where the people picking us up would be.  we knew they would have a sign but this was the first face to face meeting and first impressions mean a great deal (no matter how many times you try to deny it).  we expected to see a sign with our names on it next to the baggage claim but we were surprised to see 4 people standing as close to the terminal they could get without having to go through the security gates.  as we approached we say a sign welcoming us and 4 people: cathy, eric, ian, and lindsey.  i honesty thought i would have a few more feet to compose myself and prepare myself for our first face to face impression.  we shook hands and andy grabbed our bag off the conveyor belt and we walked to the parking lot.  eric and lindsey went to their car and we got in the car with cathy and ian.  before they took us to the hotel we drove around little rock and saw things at night since everything was beautifully lite.  we drove by the clinton library, heifer international’s head quarters, the capital building, the river (and saw the pedestrian bridges), and the church.  we drove by the church but an event was just letting out so we didn’t pull into the parking lot.  it was such a beautiful city and i was really surprised by it.  i don’t know if it was because i was expecting something much bigger or if i was expecting to see crazy monsters behind trees.  but it was beautiful.  they drove us to the hotel and we unloaded our stuff and checked in.  when we got to our room and went in there was a beautiful basket made by the search committee.  there were shirts, bracelets, cards, candy, fruit, rice (local), bbq sauce, and a lot of other things with a sweet letter.  it really made us smile after the long plane rides to get there.  we talked about the next day a little bit and were asleep before we finished our thoughts. 

friday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel.  it was really good.  we met eric and cathy in the lobby and started a long day of never stopping.  *side note: to get everything done in 1 and a half days we had to go go go, we knew and expected that and i thought that i was trained and prepared for that, but we were both wore out when we got home* we drove out to the beautiful camp ferncliff and had a brisk tour.  we flew around in the solar golf cart and saw the camp.  it was completely evident that they care about the campers with the attention to detail that they have put into the camp.  after that we drove around a little more and saw more of little rock and went to lunch at bosco’s.  we met doug and debbie there.  we had a great lunch and time to talk with more people on the search committee.  after lunch we had to rush to the church so andy could meet with the staff and i had a meeting with howard for potential job leads.  (he is the dean of social work program so we also talked about that).  after my meeting and half of andy’s meetings we had a tour of the church (it was beautiful).  after the tour cathy took me back to the hotel and andy had more meetings.  he came back to the hotel in time to change clothes rest for a minute and then we went to dinner at debbie’s house.  (have you noticed that food plays a lot into our days?)  it was wonderful!  andy went with a few of the youth to get yogurt and i stayed at debbie’s house and talked to the rest of the adults.  we had a good time and laughed a lot.  it really amazed me how comfortable i was (sometimes it takes me a while to warm up to new places and people).  andy got back and we sat around and talked and laughed a lot.  we went back to the hotel and crashed….

good ole mississippi river

*disclaimer on little rock trip: i failed to take many any pics so i will break up the trip into several post so it isn’t so much to read*

andy picked me up at work on thursday afternoon and we went to the airport.  we checked our bag with no problem and went through security gates with no problems (i didn’t realize that you had to take the 3 oz liquid things in the baggies out of your carry on, so i had to un-organize my bag to dig those out).  i did look at my purse as it was going through the x-ray machine and say the guy digging around.  i don’t know what he saw, but i would assume it was my wad of keys. anyways we got a drink and waited for our plane (that was the size of my first car a geo metro – maybe not but it wasn’t too much bigger).  when they called zone 3 we got on the plane and walked all the way to the back of the plane in row 20.  i sat aisle seat on one side and andy had the window seat on the other side.  i was sitting next to a middle age business man who kept falling asleep and jumping waking himself up.  it was really funny (in my opinion).  andy was sitting next to a middle-aged man who wanted to talk to everyone.  the plane was so small that the flight attendant sat in between me and talkative guy she was really nice.  i read the entire trip (about 2 hours maybe) and had a diet coke.

as we were taking off the sun was setting and it was beautiful.  the sky was full or pinks and oranges with the lights on the ground.  i see things like that and am fully reminded what an amazing God we have and how spectacular his creation is.

we landed and walked really fast to find out next gate.  once we had it in sight we found a place to eat and had dinner (back yard burgers – where you put in your own order on a touch menu thingy) and we ate and went to the gate.  we were excited to be sitting next to each other so that we could talk about our trip.  we got on the plane and looked out the window to see that we right on the engine.  once the plane started we realized we weren’t going to be talking.  it was so loud.  this plane was a little bigger (had 6 more rows) and we were on row 25.  we looked out the window and as we were flying over the mississippi river i started to laugh.  i looked at andy and couldn’t believe we were doing that.  i couldn’t believe that we were flying to another state that we had never even considered and we were 30 minutes away from landing.  surprisingly i felt very calm (after my initial laughing fit) and we landed in little rock.  when we deplaned we entered an airport that was dead.  it seemed that the only people were the ones getting off the plane.  we started to follow people (and signs) to baggage claim…

*check back for more after we landed in little rock*