When we travel, we like to keep things “fluid”, which is actually a positive spin on we don’t plan. We fly by the set of our pants instead. We usually decide pretty last minute to go and pack our bags within the last hour of loading the car. For instance several years ago, I decided to go to Florida to visit our friends the Henrys on a Thursday evening. We arrived on Saturday morning less than 48 hours after I called to make sure they would be home. Our style of traveling isn’t for everyone and would drive most sane people nuts, but hey, life happens. Plans sometimes don’t.
For one thing, it seems life always gets in the way. For example, last fall we were going to head out to see Mt. Rushmore. We actually semi-planned it. It was going to be a celebration trip for daughter Judah finishing her Bachelor’s degree. Well, once she complete her online courses, she double checked one more time to make sure she was totally finished, only to find out she had several more credits to take. None of us felt like taking a celebration trip at that point. So, the trip was cancelled. Life happened. The trip didn’t.
We just got back from a short trip to Laurel, MS and Wetumpka, AL. Andy had sold an evidence tracking software and computer to a small town Alabama Police Department and since we were close to the two towns of our favorite HGTV show, we decided to make a sight-seeing trip of it. The trip was decided in about a week.
We asked our friends, Chris and Annette Durcholz if they would want to go with us on this little excursion. We warned them that we fly by the seat of our pants. When Annette texted to confirm that they were on board to go with us, she wrote, “Just let us know the plans.” I chuckled. She already had them. We were shooting to leave around 4:00 on Sunday. That’s it. That’s all I had.
We tried to set up a time where the four of us could get together, look over the map, and come up with a game plan. We set it for Thursday evening at 7:00pm. When Thursday came, Andy worked late and when he got home, he had to help fix my printer so I could print the menus for the next day, and Judah’s lawn mower wouldn’t start, so he had to help her with her grass. Life happened. The planning meeting didn’t.
Andy talked with Chris and we decided we could leave at 3:00 on Sunday instead. After a busy and hectic few days, it was just relaxing to get in the car and go. It was after we had stopped in Kentucky for dinner (at a restaurant where I was inspired to upgrade our lemonade recipe), that we felt like we had enough knowledge to pick the town where we might even want to call to see if they had a room for the night.
Athens, AL was the location we decided to lay our heads. After a great night’s sleep, we headed out to the small town police department to meet the Chief. Andy called the Police Chef on the way to tell him when we would be there. We could hear the Chief say, “Awesome” on the other end. Annette and I dropped off the guys to install the computer and software while we went shopping. They got done earlier than expected, so the Chief took them to see the local lake that was part of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which had brought electricity to the area during the Depression. Those plans were thwarted when the Chief made an arrest with the guys in tow. Chris got to ride in the back of the police truck with a female felon who would cuss one minute, apologize the next, cry in between, and kept announcing she had to pee. Life happened. Seeing the TVA lake didn’t.
The rest of the trip continued to be fluid. The only thing we semi-planned was where we wanted to stop to eat. (Eating is an experience, folks, and needs to be taken seriously.) While in Wetumpka, we stopped at the Farmers’ Market and sat at the firepit in the swings Ben Napier had made in his woodshop in Laurel. There was a mom and her little 8 year old boy from Montgomery, AL who were waiting on another son to finish ball practice nearby. The 8 year old was trying to build a fire in the firepit. Andy and Chris got down on their knees and helped him blow the ember into a flame. Life happened. A fire was started.
We weren’t sure which towns we were going to stop for the night, little alone which hotel. Even though we didn’t have a clue, God had a plan. Chris called the Holiday Inn Express in Clanton, AL while we were driving to see if they had room. Chris, being a conversationalist, was chatting with the desk lady and built a rapport. This same lady was still working the front desk when we arrived several hours later. The guys went to check in and in the course of conversation, the lady told the guys the emotional yuck she was going through. It was the same basic yuck we had went through about this time last year. Andy encouraged her. The guys prayed with her. Life happened. Grace was shared.
It was a superb get away complete with stimulating conversation and deep laughter. Thrown in were the unexpected and the inspiring. Traveling with friends can either strengthen or break a friendship. For us, it strengthened. Life happened. And it was good.