We woke up refreshed and eager today at 5:30 AM. Pretty surprising considering no alarm was set and we’re on vacation. It must be a side effect of not having a job or something. We ended up doing an offbeat “rambling road trip” 536 mile drive from Jacksonville, FL to Knoxville, TN. It took much longer than it should have because we made it a point to take a bunch of detours along the way and found plenty of things to do. It made the previous day feel like a practice run for the real thing. We headed out that morning full of laughter and giggles ready for adventure to come our way.
Our day was full of various emotions and experiences that were a mix of mundane and the unexpected as we made our way out of Jacksonville and across Georgia to Knoxville on our road trip. We were presented with our first surprise as we came across a string of fires that appeared to be from a controlled burn along the roadside. We both found it odd that they would burn on the side of the highway, but things are just different in the South. As we drove along side them we both agreed that there’s something frighteningly beautiful about fires as they billow in the wind and consume the brush in their path, dancing on the border of control. It felt almost symbolic, as if we were passing a reminder that the old has to be razed to make room for the new.
The days mood became more somber and reflective when ran across this War Memorial in Alma, GA. We stopped and took some photos and read the names on the memorial. While this isn’t the size or scale of the ones in DC, somehow I found it more humbling since it was made up of members of the local community. It somehow hit closer to home out in the middle of the bible belt. I’m not sure why the Vietnam War always meant so much to me, whether it was my mother’s obsession with the topic, or the fact that it completely changed the face of Americas’ politics and planted the seeds for the divisiveness that we see in today’s politics. I always find it strange when I see a veteran of a war like Vietnam or Korea wearing a hat or jacket from their old battalion. I understand that it’s a badge of honor, but I always feel as if they chose to live their lives frozen in that moment and allowed what happened then to define them for eternity. As Lauren and I age, I hope we continue to be fluid and allow ourselves to be molded with our experiences and travels. I don’t ever want to be defined by just one moment in my life, no matter how big the moment.
Seriously, they even had this cool sign pronouncing this very spot as The High Tech Corridor. I truly hope that this sign way eagerly put into place ahead of some future development, as opposed to Central Georgians thinking anything in the area was actually high tech.
It’s alway amazing how a short laugh can change the mood for the rest of the day. Right after we made a quick stop Lauren got a chance to play one of her favorite games. I call it bobbing for plushies. She didn’t win today but somehow after a good laugh and a silly game we were back on track.
After slogging through Atlanta’s urban sprawl and being back on the open road weaving through the foothills around the Smokey Mountains we lightly touched on our plans for the future. It was more in that, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” kind of way than any real planning. It’s important to dream that way, especially once you’re all grown up. You’ve gotta check with that inner child and make sure your still on track. Otherwise you seem to get lost in your work and self imposed “obligations” and you forget how to live.
It’s funny how you never forget how to dream and how quickly our minds can let go of the past when it wants to. Even though I was only out of work for 3-days at this point, I found myself hardly thinking about it. The open road can be cathartic in that way I suppose. The only vestige of my work life remaining was the fact that I couldn’t stop checking my pesky phone for emails and updates. It’s the strangest feeling picking up a smart phone and having nothing to do with it. It ends up making you feel pretty dumb. I started to play a game with myself where I would hide it in different parts of the car so I wouldn’t check it, only to realize that I couldn’t stop my subconsciousness from finding it. It was like playing hide and go seek with myself :-)
The rest of our road trip was a mix of my silly phone games, a few bad rounds of eye-spy, and enough punch buggies to leave bruises. We hit Knoxville exhausted and ready for bed, but only after one of our guilty vacation pleasures; watching TV. We didn’t watch too much though because we had to get some rest so we could have plenty of time for driving and hiking the Smokies the next day.
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