My journey continues

It’s been almost a month since my road trip ended but my head is still in road-trip mode and since I couldn’t seem to settle, I decided to head to the country to explore the country roads where I grew up. The roads were always there, of course, but I never felt a need to see where they led, or it could have been because I was always on the way to somewhere else: to school, church, or to the fields to work. But in addition to the roads around home, I’ve branched out to see places in the area that didn’t seem to exist back in the day.

I’ve been down on the farm for over a week now and my brother GB and I have twice enjoyed the beauty of the lake at Little Ocmulgee State Park in Helena. We’ve been surprised by the history and the display of life on the farm at General Coffee State Park in Nicholls. We’ve been amazed at the history of Scotland as revealed in the Scotland Museum; we never knew that it was once called McVille, or that there was a big flood in 1925 that forever changed the cities of Scotland, Towns and Lumber City.

We’ve also roamed the paved and unpaved roads of Wheeler, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Toombs, Coffee and Tattnall counties. We’ve retraced the school bus route, except for Argo road, and wondered where everyone ended up these many years later. Our visit to the Scotland Museum led to a visit with a schoolmate I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. Later that same day, I ran into three other schoolmates who I hadn’t seen since high school graduation in 1979 and despite time and changes, they recognized me instantly. While at the local–and only–library for wifi, the woman across from me told me about the street dance and fireworks that Alamo sponsors for Independence Day every year.

Surprisingly, I’m really liking it here and since my stroll down memory lane while looking through my high school yearbook, I’m looking forward to more of those encounters….encounters I avoided in the past, by the way. Wow, what a difference a day, or several months on the road, makes!

I’ve lived in Georgia all my life but since returning from my trip, I’m seeing it as if for the first time. I compared it to other states while on the road and while it came up lacking, Georgia really is a beautiful state. There’s nothing like a change of scenery to change your perspective, is there? This weekend, I’ll be in Savannah for a birthday party and am curious to see how it will look through my new eyes as my journey continues.

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I’m going home!

As I type this, I’m sitting on a bench in Old Salem, NC waiting for Moravian Bookstore & Gift Shop to open. I left Charlotte yesterday afternoon, stopping along the way to visit Jetton Park on Lake Norman in Cornelius, North Carolina. A friend and I headed that way the day before but it started raining so when I decided to visit Marian in Winston-Salem, Jetton Park was a must stop and it didn’t disappoint! I found a bench shaded by trees on the shoreline where I journaled, snapped a few pictures, and even dipped my toes in the water. It was lovely!!

I met Marian and her husband Jeff in The Badlands of South Dakota a few weeks ago, the day after we both visited Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. We didn’t run into each other then, though. It’s rare that you connect with people upon first meeting but we did that day so when Marian extended an invitation to visit, I accepted. We dined, talked about our travels, and drank the best scuppernong wine I’ve ever tasted. Hmmm, I think I just caught a whiff of it!

As Marian and I talked, I was reminded of events that happened before and after Daddy died in 1975 that left me with fear, sadness, anger and maybe even hatred for white people. I repressed those emotions and quite a few memories for over 30 years but they started coming forward several years ago as I recuperated from a broken ankle. It was a painfully difficult process but I’m very fortunate to have released and resolved most of them and my road trip has been instrumental in releasing a few more.

But since my last post, I’ve made new friends and also visited my friends Olga Maddox in Arlington, VA and Brenda Simpson-Carrion in Charlotte. It was a gorgeous day as Brenda and I strolled through uptown admiring the buildings and murals. We had breakfast at Showmars in Independence Tower, and I tried livermush for the first time. It looked a lot like scrapple but tasted distinctly different. It was good.

I’ve toured and tasted in Milwaukee’s Miller country; tried chocolate fudge cheese, venison and elk jerky at the Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

I’ve seen Michael Jackson’s childhood home and the memorial erected after his death at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, Indiana. I also added my sentiments to his fans’ memorial fence.

I’ve seen Lake Michigan, Oprah Winfrey’s studio, and the Michael Jordan statue at United Center in Chicago.

I’ve seen the stadiums where the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bulls, and the Indianapolis Colts play.

I’ve seen state capitals in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

I’ve walked where Presidents Harrison, Adams and Jefferson walked in Indianapolis, Montpelier, and Monticello.

I’ve walked where the Hatfields and McCoys feuded in Pike County, Kentucky and Mingo County, West Virginia.

I’ve seen the home of the real John Boy Walton, author Earl Hamner Jr., in Schuyler, Virginia.

I’ve seen the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC with my good friend Olga on a still Monday morning.

I’ve visited towns with familiar names (Athens, Morrow, and Fayette County, Ohio) and streets and towns with funny names (Memory Lane in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Zigzag and Rhododendron, Oregon; and Bat Cave, North Carolina).

I had my first convent experience at the Sisters of Saint Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.

I’m in the home stretch now, though, and feeling a little sad that my road trip is coming to an end. The first thing I’ll do when I “reenter the atmosphere” is get the emissions test for my car so I can get my tag by June 4.

It’ll be good to see family and friends, of course, and I’m looking forward to seeing my lake at Indian Springs. I’m also looking forward to other firsts: photographing a wedding and an interview about my trip. Beyond that, I don’t really know but I’m open to whatever else God has in the works.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m grateful for each experience along the way. I’m thankful, too, for the friends who followed me on Facebook and read my blog. What really surprised me, though, was the number of people who sent Facebook friend requests so they could follow me, too; I look forward to meeting you soon. It’s been great sharing with you, and I thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement along the way.