It’s a long way to heaven, it’s closer to Harrisburg and that’s still a long way from the place where we are… ~ Josh Ritter
Our time in Tennessee was coming to a close. We packed it up and headed out, destination unknown. 10.5 hours of driving straight through was decidedly too long a haul and with no urgency pressing us on, we agreed instead to stop at some point along the way. Where would it be? We’d find out when we got there.
The weather favored us on our journey home and we made good time. Dodging the rain clouds in Kentucky this time, I forgave the state for my previous terrifying drive. Being able to actually see on this pass through, I was stunned at the beauty of the mountains. With the absence of impending death, I could appreciate the sharpness of the rocks as the road cut through the mountains and the contrast of peaks to sky.
Eventually, we decided to stop. Utilizing modern-day technology, we were able to locate the only hotel with a pool in our vicinity and stopped in Dry Ridge. We had assumed it was dubbed as such from some historic meaning but later, we discovered it was called that because it was a dry county. Oh, what the love of a mother will endure for her children! Psh… just kidding! Driving to another county was not difficult and once that small inconvenience was solved, we settled in for a night at the pool.
The next day, we made the final stretch home. Megan and I had conversed as much as a road trip can allot (even for us) and we fell into a comfortable silence the last leg of the journey. As we crossed back into Michigan, I thought about what the trip had meant to me.
It’s a long-standing tradition of mine to overanalyze nearly everything on earth and vacations are no exception. I like to consider what I’ve gained from the venture because without reflection, what was the purpose? And so my mind settled on thoughts of our trip and what I had discovered along the way…
I reflected on how nature’s delights aren’t always in spotting wild bears in the woods or staring at God’s splendor of a waterfall. Sometimes its waking in the morning to find raccoon prints dusted in pollen on your front porch…
Or in capturing the perfect picture for a scary, tale of horror if one ever chose to write such a thing. Which I would never do because I enjoy sleep and I’m a yellow-bellied coward. Still, my mind couldn’t escape the thought that this tree trunk’s roots were stretching out like a monster’s hand to snatch me and drag me deep into the pockets of a hell only a dark forest can know. Yeah, I didn’t hang out here very long.
I was reassured that my musical A.D.D. is a blessing in disguise. When the opportunity to play a fine game of 9 ball presented itself, I was prepared. Bluegrass is the only suitable choice for shooting pool in your bedroom while in the hills of Tennessee. I highly recommend you add some to your playlist just in case.
I found that a pair of rocking chairs on a porch makes a fine medium to trade stories with an old friend or in laughing with your children while rocking them softly in your lap. I was reminded how katydids make the perfect soundtrack to star-gazing. And I acknowledged that deep inside me, there’s a lot more Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” than Carrie Bradshaw’s “Sex & the City”. shhh… don’t tell anybody else
And lastly, the belief that life is for living was solidified for me. Living isn’t the simple act of opening your eyes every morning to drudge through another day. It’s the collection of adventures we create and can be found in the simple joys that life offers us. Engaging in nature, discovering something new within yourself, creating memories with people you love and remembering that blessings are aplenty if you’re willing to receive them.