Monday, May 22, 2006

May 22, Mon: Sweet Home in Alabama

I returned to where I started. Last Tuesday I made the drive from St. Louis to Florence and crossed the Alabama state line for the first time since early February, a feeling of many emotions. Home is and has always been a desirable place and one of such comfort, love, and family. So it definitely was nice seeing Mom and Dad and sister Anna when arrived the familiar address of 1610 Lamar St. The stay with the Harbins in St. Louis was somewhat abbreviated, yet another good experience with more good folks. They used to live in Georgia, so it was sort of a warm-up for re-entry into the good ole south (not that the other places are not good, they are truly good and unique, vastly different and beautiful in ways that only the northeast coast or northwest or west coast or mountainous ranges or greatly plained can be...but the south somehow remains the good and ole south).

So 47 states have been visited, 3 remain: Louisiana, Alaska, and Hawaii. Louisiana hopefully in the next month, AK and HI at later dates. The journey was and has been and will continue to be worthwhile. Being away has made me more appreciative of so much, relationships being high on the list.

Oh yeah, and seeing Laura for the past three days hasn't been a bad thing either :) Looks like things are going to be quite alright and I am looking forward to more time together over the months to come. I'll leave it at that for now, as I am extremely happy to be back in a same-state relationship.

Life off the road will take some getting used to I'm sure...but i'm sure I'll make several visits in thought to the places I've that lay fresh on my heart and mind. And perhaps I'll be a tourist in my own state a while and look at it with the new perspective lenses I now wear. And in all things I have to acknowledge the Almightyand unfathomable God and give the glory to Him through my role model, the super Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11, Thursday...Leaving Lincoln

For the latest pictures click here.

And after this entry I will make my way to Kansas City, KS and enter state #46 of the journey. The time here with Mr.Steve and Mrs.Ann has really been another great experience. It's something else to think back in February when I rose for the early sunrise to take pictures, little did I know I was going to meet my host fam for Nebraska. And that is an added bonus to traveling, unexpected surprises are always around the corner...and for the most part, as in this case, they are pleasant ones. So the time in Nebraska expires and the time in Kansas awaits.

Oh, and a special greeting for the ladies at the Cookie Company of Lincoln for such a wonderful peanut butter chocolate chip cookie :)

I'm off to meet up with Tawnya in KC, best friend in college of Niki from Denver. The adventure rolls on. Only 3 states remain for the completion of the continental U.S. This time last year I was preparing for college graduation...and was still contemplating what to do about this Laura girl. Welp, fast forward a year later and much has taken place, much land has been covered, much "news" discovered. New places, new faces, new friends, new experiences, new stories. And such good news it has been. And the end of this journey will only began the start of another one, whatever it may be.

I'm thankful and grateful, and my appreciation goes out to everyone who has helped out or been involved in some way throughout the trip, whether in greeting or in reading, in thought or prayer, or any other way. It is always about someone else, and none of the past year could have been possible on my own. My advice is to live, and to live freely. To enjoy whatever it is however unenjoyable it could be. To see life from the positive and discard the negative. To be better today. To attempt new things, discover new perspectives, and to realize the importance of relationships and conversations.

So now I step down from my platform and conclude with the saying from the bathroom picture hanging on the wall, to be seen while brushing the teeth:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing."

Yes, the importance of work is not be undermined...but neither is the importance of play. So play on my young friends, play on. The world is your playground!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 6, Saturday: the Homestretch

The journey has brought me to Iowa City, IA, state 44. I'm staying with the Ahrens family who I met through Marcus Ahrens, a student from the University of Iowa, who happened to be in Malibu on spring break while I was visiting my friend Hunter at Pepperdine. So after hanging out a bit, some information was exchanged and here I am a month and a half or so later.

As for where I'm going from here, Lincoln,NE. I'm staying with a couple, the Lloyds, whom I met at the Grand Canyon. It has been a refreshing experience to come across so many friendly and open-hearted people. I've been slacking in my blog entries but the notes are down, the people I've crossed paths with will not soon be forgotten. I am appreciative for the people, the conversations, the stories, the relationships, friendships, laughter, wisdom, stupidity, sincerity, genuineness, and goodness, and so much more that has proved worthwhile over the past year. It's hard to grasp the concept of the homestretch and to think the road will soon lead home, and back to the beginning of it all.

I do feel I've changed. In spirit and for the good, with knowledge and an experience like nothing else before. Not that I have become wise and learned so much, but that I've experienced and tasted and given it a go. Seen what there was to be seen, breathed a different breath of a day, partaken in an adventure, and enabled emotion and passion to surface. I remain the same in many ways, but there is a change that has inevitably occured due to life on the open road. I've strayed from the path of normalcy, yet found that God has already been wherever I go and is not at any time far away. And though the trip nears end, there is still plenty of hope to know the journey will continue. At least now, I understand more of the words that I've read on the pages of books that someone else lived. And instead of being confined to the pages of a paper, enclosed within the covers of the book, I've made my own pages. And though nobody else may fully understand or know or even read those pages...I'm satisfied, content in knowing, dreaming, living, and experiencing my own story, a journey that has reemphasized the importance of relationships, conversation, time in the heart of nature and everything that is pure, and the value of inner happiness and simplicity, and the cause for a greater good. Everyone has a story and everyone's story is worth listening to, cause everyone should have something to live for, purpose. And without purpose, life becomes a maze instead of an open road. I don't know too much about Walt Whitman, but I can now better relate to his words. The same for several of the proverbs. Many words are no longer just words. These are no longer just words:

from the Proverbs:

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LOrd will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. What a man desires is unfailing love, better to be poor than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?

All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

And from Walt Whitman's conclusion to Song of the Open Road,

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

(Click here for the entirety of the poem, Song of the Open Road)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday, April 29: Eagan, MN

Currently in Minnesota, the 10,000 lakes state, and #42 of my journey. I am staying with Lennie Gage, brother to Niki Nowell (Denver contact), here in Eagan, MN, just outside the twin cities of St.Paul and Minneapolis.

I arrived Minnesota Thursday and ate supper with the Mays, friends who I met while I was in Searcy, AR at the world mission sorkshop(through Norm). It was nice seeing Mr.Dave, Charlene, Ricky, and meeting some more folks. The networking/crossing of paths continues to be an amazing thing to experience.

I've stayed with Lennie the past 2 nights. I was able to visit the ridiculously enormous Mall of America yesterday(9.5 million square feet, the size of 78 football fields!). I really enjoy conversations and it's been nice getting to know Lennie...and see/taste some of his talents(license plate ripping, deck of cards ripping, unbelievable steak and omelette cooking skills).

That's all for now from the North Star state.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 27, Thur: Updated Picture Album

Monday, April 24, 2006

Picture Update

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23, Sun: North Dakota Arrival

I write from the library at Valley City State University in Valley City, ND. I am staying in the guest room in Robertson Hall on campus. The connection here, like South Dakota, is through Dr.Erdmann back at UNA. One of Dr.Erdmann's high school football teammate is now the head football coach, Coach McCulloch, at the university here in Valley City. And so I met up with him earlier in the evening and we talked a bit, then enjoyed some chinese food at a local restaurant. The university is NAIA and has about 1,100 students. The guest room is nice and a bit more spacious than the Alero...and it never hurts to have access to running water and a shower. North Dakota becomes the 41st state of the journey and only 7 more remain before the return to Alabama, projected homecoming date of May 20. It's hard to believe this is the homestretch and in a month I'll be back to the starting point of the craziness. I came across a quote today..."Spend the day, you can't take it with you"...and so another day has been spent.

I left Sioux Falls this afternoon and the drive to #41 took about 5 hours. The Alero received new oil today, 10,300 miles since February and still going strong. The stay with TC (Dr.Erdmann's nephew) in South Dakota was a good one. I got to meet a good many of his friends and hang out with folks my age. TC played football for the university in Sioux Falls and is now a personal trainer. A group came over Friday night for grilling out and hanging out. I was introduced to the game Bags (or bean bags)... a real creative name for a horseshoe-like game involving the tossing of bean bags onto a board with a hole in it about 25 feet away...3 points for a make and 1 for leaving it on the board...provided some quality entertainment and it goes to show that pretty much anything can be competitive, good times.

An odd job of furniture moving yesterday covered the oil change and gas expenses for today...and car insurance is a good thing, especially when it covers a towing expense, so that is good news.

I'll end with the words of Edgar Allan Poe and his poem that I crossed today while waiting in the South Dakotan Wal-Mart:

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?