Through the years, the world has been brought into our homes first by print, then radio, television and eventually internet. At the tips of our fingers we can “visit” anywhere in the country, and “meet” amazing people. I know I have found some of my best friends via message boards, Twitter, and countless other social websites over the last 15 – 20 years. But is any of it as amazing as “real life?”
My husband and so many of our friends travel across this country all year long, seeing places and meeting people most of us can only dream of experiencing outside of our laptops and smart phones. A couple we consider dear friends has recently embarked on moving across the country, taking their time to visit many of this country’s National Parks. Their photos and Snapchats take my breath away.
I love that they are doing this. Sometimes I sit back and think how I could never just pack up and move as they have done, shaking my head a bit thinking, “they’re crazy.” But even more, though, I marvel at their courage, and I think to myself that maybe they’ve got life figured out way better than any of the rest of us.
My husband and I haven’t taken our friends lead to the extreme that they’ve gone, but we have taken more time the last few weeks to just get away from the house and get out in the world. My husband’s tour schedule is slowing down a bit, and we have more days together to enjoy versus just trying to tackle a to do list. We we’ve headed out with no destination in mind. We may not venture far, but we do escape “real life” for awhile and find… real life. We find the places you can find on the internet or in the news.
On a recent ride, we stumbled upon a little community not too far from Nashville. We’d been riding for a long time, and we were starting to get sore and a little grumpy with thirst. The little general store was like an oasis. Complete with two older gentlemen sitting out front.
As my husband went inside to get us drinks, I was happy to stretch my legs in the parking lot and look at the map on my phone to determine where we were.
But once I looked up and out of my phone, I found myself very quickly enamored with the little community. American flags. Old trucks in the parking lot right beside newer SUVs. People pulling up to the pumps and exchanging greetings with the gentlemen out front.
You could immediately tell this was a close-knit community full of “good ol’ boys and girls.” No one had an age or race attached to them. No one had a hierarchy of jobs or successes on paper. There was an underlying level of respect for all who stopped in to the store.
This. This, I felt in my own heart, was the true heartbeat of America. Not the anger and upset shown on the media. American flags swayed in the soft breeze, and you felt a patriotism and honor in every corner.
When my husband came back with drinks, I told him we should scrap all of our life plans. Sell everything, move to the country and open a general store like this one. He laughed and told me I might be surprised how easy it would be to convince him to do that.
As we put on our helmets and rode away, back home as the sun set, I felt this peace and certainty that deep down the heart of America is as strong as it ever was. I said a prayer that little communities like the one we had just stopped in continue to thrive in their own ways. And I definitely planned to take more back roads and discover more gems hidden along the blacktops and gravel roads.
Ever have a day that starts out all laid back. Turns really weird. Then ends with you just feeling… rejuvenated? I just did yesterday.
My husband and I have started a little tradition of going out for coffee on Sunday after he comes home off the road. We have coffee and catch up from our weekend apart. I look forward to it all weekend, and its become a favorite part of my whole week.
This weekend, due to July 4th and my working at the bar when my husband had to be at the bus, my husband drove himself to meet the band on his motorcycle. So, I didn’t have to pick him up today, but I was up and ready to go when he got home. I grabbed my phone, wallet and helmet and we were off! We rode over to Starbucks, ordered some iced coffee, I grabbed a breakfast item, and we sat down outside to catch up.
After about an hour, we decided to hop on the bike and take a ride around the lake. It was a perfect lake day, and we commented that as much as were were enjoying the bike, we wished we were on the lake instead of on the side. But, hey, baby steps. We get more use out of the motorcycle than we would a boat, so be thankful for what we have going!
We road over to one of our favorite recreation areas, and sat at a picnic table just enjoying the breeze for awhile. After awhile, we decided we’d head home. We were going to grill hot dogs, and just have a chill evening at home. I asked my husband to stop at the restrooms on our way out of the recreation area, so we headed over there.
When I came back and got on the bike, we went a couple feet and my husband stopped. He told me to get off, as he looked at the back tire. Something was wrong.
Sure enough… flat tire.
A park ranger drove by not long after our discovery, and we flagged him down to see if he had an air compressor. Nope. No go. It was time to start calling for help.
If there is anything you need to know about Nashville, its that we all look out for each other. This wasn’t so much a case of “find out who your friends are” as “which one to do we call first?” It took no time at all for us to have help on the way. While we waited, my husband said he was going to roll the bike forward and see if we could see a nail or anything in the tire. I sat down on the ground, and he didn’t even have to push it six inches and I saw it…
The discovery of a nail told us right away, just adding air was going to do no good. We were going to have to trailer the bike home. So while we waited, we discussed how to handle it. We agreed I’d stay with the bike, and my husband would go get our truck and trailer and come back. When our friend arrived we loaded the helmets and bag with my wallet (I at least kept my driver’s license so I had ID on me) in the backseat and my husband left to get the truck.
I could definitely think of a worse place to be stranded! Families were everywhere, so I felt 100% safe the entire time. I called my Mom and caught up with my parents for awhile. I made friends with a dog that was hanging out with his family at the park. I also walked around. A lot. According to my pedometer, did about a mile and a half just wandering around the park. It felt great to do! I want to get more exercise these days, and I grasped the opportunity with both hands.
My cell phone was almost dead (I wasn’t planning on being stuck, so I didn’t exactly try to make the battery last earlier in the day!), so I turned my data off after awhile to try to save what little life it still had. It was kind of amazing to not be able to look at Twitter or Facebook. To not be able to post pictures to Instagram. I found myself missing having a good paperback book to read, though.
It gave me a chance to just… be. I watched the water and felt the breeze. I enjoyed watching the families have fun together, and it just reminded there is still a beautiful simplicity to life. A simplicity that gets lost in technology and social media. A simplicity that gets lost in deadlines and trying to make the almighty dollar.
What we expected to take less than an hour actually took closer to an hour and a half. After all my walking, I was starting to get hungry. My coffee and breakfast square was long gone. I also was keeping an eye on a couple guys that kept hanging out by a truck beside the bike. They were probably just hanging out visiting, but I was paranoid. And did I mention hungry? Hunger makes me a little irritable sometimes. And apparently ups my level of distrust.
I was super happy to see our truck coming my way, trailer on the back. I walked over and we started to load the bike up right away. We were just ready to get this done. Of course as we start that, the two guys who were hanging by the bike had to leave. Right then. My husband had to take the ramp off the trailer so one could back his truck out of the spot they’d been just hanging out in for the last half hour. It very much added to my distrust, but what really surprised me? I was only mildly annoyed. Normally I’d get super annoyed going, “Seriously? You have to leave RIGHT NOW? Can’t wait five minutes?” But instead I was so relaxed from my afternoon! I was able to just let it go within moments.
It didn’t take long and we were loaded up and ready to go, which also helped me forget any annoyance. Our adventure for the day came to a positive end (so far.)
On our way out, we saw a deer. I like to think nature gave us a nice little, “Thanks for visiting!” in that.
We both agreed, we were too hungry to go home and cook. If I’d have gone straight home, I’d have probably just sat down with a bag of potato chips and scarfed them down. Pretty much negating all my exercise.
So we ended up going to Buffalo Wild Wings (a favorite of ours) for dinner. Hot wings and beer on the patio! Which I guess still negated my exercise. But I didn’t care.
When we got to the restaurant, my phone was at 3% charge. We cut it a bit close there! By the time we left, my phone had completely died. I felt so strange and yet also so… free. I had no purse. My phone was dead. I was literally walking around with nothing but my driver’s license.
Granted had I not been with my husband, I’d have been pretty freaked out and felt very vulnerable. I strive to never let myself be in such a position. But as it was, given the circumstances, I just felt so… light! I liked it.
As we we walked out, we ran into a friend we hadn’t seen in awhile and got a chance to catch up for awhile. I marveled at the friendships we have. On our way home, we both agreed we were exhausted. Full stomachs, the stress of the “adventure” we were sent on by a carelessly dropped nail, the summer heat, and the peace of feeling so thankful for friends we can rely on left us feeling very content and peaceful.
Oh sure, I’m not happy that we have to go into the expense of the tire being fixed. No one likes something like that. And it threw a wrench into our day’s plans. But in the end, I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m taking this Sunday Adventure as a lesson in simplicity, friendship, and faith. Consider it a lesson very well learned.