I recently spent 27 hours alone looking through a windshield. When you’re alone for 27 hours, it gives you a lot of time to think.
First, though, I should clarify that I didn’t drive 27 hours straight! I made a trip to North Carolina for a “Journey” session of the Evangelical Methodist Church, so the drive was broken up into three segments. On the way up, I drove a nine hour session the first day and finished the trip with a five hour trip the second day. The final day, it was thirteen hours of hard driving. I was ready to get home! Here are a few of my random reflections after those 27 hours:
1. Amazon moves a lot of merchandise!
Amazon Prime trucks outnumbered any other trucking company 3 to 1. I lost count after the first four hours on the road. No wonder Amazon is putting Mom and Pop out of business. Jeff Bezos figured out how to capitalize on our desire (need?) for convenience. Convenience is great, but Amazon won’t be reinvesting much in our local communities. We need Mom and Pop shops in the worst kind of way!
2. Buc-ee’s is a destination convenience store.
If you haven’t been to Buc-ee’s, you just have to go! It’s called a convenience store, but it’s really a mall disguised as a convenience store. Or, it’s an amusement park disguised as a convenience store. I’m not sure which. Anyway, I stopped twice in Leeds, Alabama. I can’t NOT stop when I pass one. You have to try the Beaver Nuggets, and the BBQ turkey sandwich ain’t bad, either.
3. Why is there an automobile shortage?
After Amazon Prime trucks, I noticed that auto transport trucks were everywhere, and they were full of automobiles going somewhere. Someone smarter than me who understands the automobile industry would have to explain why there are so few cars on our car lots here in the south. As I made my way further east and north, it appeared as though car dealers along the east coast had greater inventories than those nearer me. Of course, I saw a good number of those transports with “Carvana” written on them. Is Carvana buying up all the used cars?
4. A person can only listen to so much Dave Ramsey.
Or any podcast, for that matter. Yes, I listen to Dave Ramsey. Yes, I live a debt free life (all except my mortgage). Yes, I think generally he gives good advice, but six straight hours of listening to Dave Ramsey gets old! And yes, he can come across as arrogant. Honestly, though, sometimes, so can I, so I give him grace. I really do need to find some other podcasts to listen to!
5. I would have made a great classic rocker!
Pandora Radio is a gift from God! Type in the artist or genre you want to listen to and “voila,” you can listen to your heart’s content. Such was the case for me and Classic Rock Radio. I’m sure there were more than a few folks who looked at me funny as they passed by with me singing along with CCR, The Eagles, The Stones and The Allman Brothers. It would have been great to be a part of one of those bands. Not sure I could rock the hair, though.
I am, however, confused as to what constitutes “classic rock.” In all the hours I listened, I didn’t hear Elvis or the Beatles. I didn’t hear Queen or Aerosmith. I didn’t hear Fleetwood Mac. Who is the arbiter of what qualifies as “classic rock”? Apparently, if I want to hear these folks, I have to tune to “Yacht Rock Radio,” and even that one didn’t play Elvis. But, then again, there’s always “Elvis Radio!”
6. Jackson, Mississippi’s roads are the most fun.
Driving through Jackson, Mississippi is like riding a roller coaster. Up and down and all around. Those roads will take you for a ride!
7. Louisiana roads are still the worst.
Jackson, Mississippi notwithstanding, Louisiana, by far has the worst interstate of any of the six states I traversed over the past week. I don’t know where our tax dollars are going, but they aren’t going to fix the interstate. I also noticed that Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are all charging in their metro areas for using their express lanes. They built express lanes and posted signage to alert motorists to what it will cost if they choose to utilize it. What a novel idea. C’mon, Louisiana. We can do better. We should demand better.
8. I have a greater appreciation for truck drivers.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, imagine being a truck driver. That’s got to be a hard life, and I’m not simply talking about being gone from home so much. I’m talking about after nine straight hours of driving through rain, heavy traffic and Jackson, Mississippi, I was TIRED! Imagine doing that day after day after day. Yup! You get to see a lot of the country, but it takes a toll on your body. And, let’s face it, driving a truck is not conducive to good health. Sitting on your duff all day and eating in greasy spoon truck stops will take a toll on you, too.
I’ll just say a big “thank you” to all those in the trucking industry who keep our economy humming. You’re the best!
9. Love’s Travel Stop coffee is better than McDonald’s coffee.
I challenge you to change my mind! I drank a lot of both over the four days I was out of town. I tend to get sleepy when I’m driving long distances (say like from Ruston to Minden, haha!), so when I’m driving alone I tend to stop and get coffee. No, it’s not the caffeine. It’s the fact that I have to DO something, and the activity of drinking and picking up and putting down the cup keep me awake. Of course, the way I see it, there’s good coffee, better coffee and the best coffee. McDonald’s coffee is good coffee, Love’s Travel Stop coffee is better coffee and free coffee is the best coffee. I challenge you to change my mind!
10. I have an absolutely amazing wife!
We’ve moved. Now, here’s the rub. We moved on Monday and I left town on Wednesday. That should have meant a divorce, but my absolutely amazing wife put her head down and did the work of unpacking boxes and arranging furniture and fixing a home, so that when I got back, it was like we’d lived here for months. Yes, there’s still a lot to do, but it’s just incredible the effort and love she puts into making a house our home. And, all without a single complaint (well, at least not to me).
11. Covid is basically over.
Okay, I know Covid is not over. Just typing that it is over may get me banned from WordPress or Facebook. I suppose it depends on which fact-checker is on duty the day I post this blog. Seriously, though, I was in six states over four days, and everywhere I went, from restaurants to convenience stores to churches to hotels, 90% of the people were not wearing masks, nor were they observing six foot of distance. Though, the pandemic may not be over, most people are acting like it is. That’s not a political statement. It’s a simple observation.
12. I discovered my new tribe.
Okay, so I don’t like to use the word “tribe.” I do so only because it seems to be in vogue, but I did discover that I am at home in the Evangelical Methodist Church. It was my first in-person event with the denomination since joining, and I felt completely at home. The folks welcomed me as if I’d been a part of them forever. I felt like an outsider for about ten minutes. After that, I felt as though I belonged. I’m grateful to the Lord for leading me down this path, and I’m grateful for the new friends I’ve met along the way, and I’m grateful for the beautiful hand-made stole that was gifted to every elder from the EMC in Myanmar. What a gift!
I also discovered I missed going to seminars and conferences. It was fulfilling to hear great Holy Spirit-led preaching. It was encouraging to hear what the Lord is doing in local congregations around the world, and to be led in seminars that were designed to strengthen pastors and local congregations. I confess that I was grieved when the time together came to an end.
13. I’M OLD!
I’m too dad-gum old to drive thirteen hours straight. My butt hurts! I moved more slowly each time I stepped out of my truck, and I was beat when I arrived in Ruston on Saturday. In my mind, I’m still a teenager running around Chatham, LA, but my body tells me another story, and it’s not a story I want to hear. My driving tells me another story, too, and it affirms the one my body tells me. I don’t drive as fast as I once did (that’s probably a good thing). I’m more anxious driving than I once was, and I notice that I seem to be just a tick slower in responding to other drivers than I used to be. It’s bothersome, but it’s real. I promise I won’t talk about old people’s driving again!
So, there you have my reflections after 27 hours of windshield time. There’s not a single profound reflection among them, but they do reflect how my mind works, or doesn’t work (since I’m old). I’m just passing them along as food for thought. Maybe you’ll get something out of them. Then again, maybe not.
Until next time, keep looking up…