I have a wonderful, restful time as I visit some old friends in north Alabama. This post also includes a six-figure announcement… 🙂
First a quick shout out: Thank you to my friend Larry for sending my forgotten phone charger from Virginia. You are the best!
Saturday, October 28th (cont.)
I now believe that time warps are a real thing. There is one located in Nashville. I somehow lost a couple of hours which cannot be accounted for. This lead me to having to ride in darkness to my next destination: Madison, Alabama which is just outside of Huntsville.
Neither of these places are in the song, but I wanted to see some old friends: Brett and Natalie Byford and their kids, Emmaus (“Mays”) and Julia. Brett was a neighbor of mine during my college days when I lived in a run down house affectionately named “The Abyss.” The place is now torn down and probably should have been prior to my roommates and I residing there.
We have done Bible studies and things together until he moved to Alabama (where he is originally from) about a year ago. Before that he was the pastor at F Street Community Church in Lincoln.
I also have a special connection to Natalie. She hired me when she was the Director of the Family Shelter at People’s City Mission. This was how I began my time with the homeless-serving organization at which I worked for seven years. But don’t let the fact that she hired me cloud your opinion of her. She actually has very sound judgement. 🙂
I was wonderfully taken care of by the Byfords. The wall in my room shows why they are in the running for Parents of the Year, 2017:
We had a nice evening: Watching baseball, catching up and chasing children. Mays, four (five now, I think), and Julia, two, are bundles of energy. 🙂
Sunday, October 29th
After some chocolate chip waffles, it was time for Brett to show me one of his favorite places along the Tennessee River. We loaded up the kids and went for an adventure.
It was a lot of fun to see the joy the kids had in the simple things. Mays and I found this “twisty-tie” tree when we were exploring.
Brett had some trash bags in the van, so we spent some time cleaning the area up.
It is great to get kids involved in things like this from a young age. Appreciating nature is one thing. Protecting it is an even greater experience.
However, we maybe should have had gloves. In the photo below, Mays triumphantly holds up a found pair of women’s underwear.
This might be the best photo of my trip so far. 🙂
Also visiting the Byfords was Natalie’s brother, Trevor. He is a Marine and had a couple days off before reporting for his next assignment.
We went to a park in the afternoon and Brett and I got to play a round of disc golf. The first time for me since I camped and played on the course in Maine.
I love the following picture, since Brett is like 6’3″. Always find the high ground when a camera comes out. 🙂
It was a nice course and a beautiful day. Can’t ask for anything better!
Trevor and Mays found some creative ways to use the playground equipment.
That evening we went out to a Japanese place for sushi (though I, typically, chose something more cost effective). We also did a beer tasting at a local brewery. I’ll refrain from telling the story here…suffice to say that Natalie made a new friend. 🙂
I got meet Brett’s Mom and Aunt that evening as well. Despite knowing him for a lot of years, it was the first chance I had to meet any of his family.
Monday, October 30th
A work day.
I used Brett’s “writing closet,” a small isolated room in their upstairs. The kids provided some much needed breaks from the labor. 🙂
The Chiefs were playing the Broncos on Monday Night Football, just the second game of the season that I have been able to watch. They won fairly easily, which should dispel the theory that they’ve only been having a good year since I have not been watching.
Tuesday, October 31st
Yes, Halloween. Though historically, this day is more notable as the 500 year anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. I would have loved to have seen a kid dressed up as Martin Luther, carrying around a hammer and 95 theses. 🙂
Sadly, it was time for me to bid adieu to the Byfords. They were wonderful hosts. I hope I did not corrupt their son too severely.
As anyone with children knows, getting them still and smiling for a picture is always a challenge.
We did pretty well. 🙂
I can’t wait until “Motorcycle Man” comes back to ‘Bama!
Riding away from their place marked the end of a chapter, so to speak. I had been housed for eight consecutive nights, covering very few miles and making very little progress towards my goal over this period. This was perfect, especially since this time coincided with an unseasonably cold spell. The temperatures were in the 30s each night, I believe.
I had previously decided to go straight into my SE loop instead of returning to Nebraska for a break. The preceding days was a break, of sorts. Having the down time should allow me to push hard over the next few weeks until I return home for Thanksgiving. I am so grateful to all of the people who made this chapter a restful one!
On my way out of town, I stopped for a photo-op at the US Space and Rocket Center.
This is also the home of Space Camp. I bullied enough nerds out of their lunch money to pay for a few thousand miles of gas
My Halloween continued as I headed north towards the next place on my list, Jellico, TN. Jellico is in the NE corner of Tennessee, on the Kentucky border. My goal was to get set up to visit it the following day. I had enough daylight that I took a more scenic route, staying off of the freeway.
As the sun was setting I got my first glimpses of Jellico. Trick or treating was in full swing. I detoured to Indian Mountain State Park and found a little trail along a creek. There was a spot just wide enough for a tent. I wanted to be well hidden, since Halloween is an evening rife for tomfoolery.
As I was trying to get to sleep, I heard what sounded like a medium-sized animal outside of the tent. Knowing (hoping) I was not in bear territory, I went to confront whatever it was. I didn’t see anything around. Suddenly, a loud slap of the water caused me to jump. I laughed a little, glad to know it was just a beaver.
I’m going to leave it there for now. I’ll tell the story of my visit to Jellico and Knoxville in the next post
I do have one more announcement that bears mentioning. You guys know how much I like statistical milestones, right? It turns out that I missed an important one for this blog. I eclipsed the 100,000 word mark in my post about Pittsburgh and Parkersburg.
I now sit at about 108k words published on this blog. That’s quite a bit of writing in five months! A few novels for perspective: I’m well over double the 46k of Farenheit 451. I recently passed To Kill a Mockingbird at 99k. The 109k of The Adventures of Huck Finn will be eclipsed in my next post.
If I reach the 587,287 words of War and Peace, that will probably mean that something has gone terribly wrong. 🙂
Stay verbose, everybody.