Let’s Take The Long Way! 

The trip home from the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus to our “little cottage” in Morganton, North Carolina could be made in 6-7 hours, but Cheryl & I decided to “take the long way” back — almost no interstates, and lots of small towns and mountain scenery. Following are some highlights:

Some time after we had gotten on to the state highway in the middle of nowhere, we saw a little sign posted on a stand on the side of the road. We squinted to try to read it: what would it say, some quaint country saying, or what? When we had passed it, Cheryl asked: “Could you read it?” “Yeah. It said ‘Like us on Facebook!'”.  We both burst out laughing

At one point I was trying to update my own Facebook, but I said resignedly: “This phone has no reception in these mountains.” Cheryl responded: “I guess you’re just gonna have to talk to me.” “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom” I quipped. Cheryl, laughing: “I may help you enter it a little sooner!”

When we arrived at “civilization” again (Prestonsburg, KY, small college town) I looked on Zomato and found what appeared to be a great bbq place; very highly rated. We pulled in, sat down, and promptly ordered. We both ordered onion rings. The waitress then asked: “Do you want your onion rings regular, or …” and then her face lit up, her eyes got big, and she broke into the biggest smile: “… or do you want them LOADED?!”

Cheryl asked what “loaded” meant?

Before the server had a chance to answer, I said: “I don’t know, but based on the look on her face, I’m pretty sure I want mine loaded!”

Here is a picture of my meal from Pig-in-a-Poke. By the way, the onion rings were indeed the best I have ever had! They were “loaded” with just the right amount of cheese, bacon pieces, and ranch dressing!  And so big I cold only eat two!  (oh and the bbq was good too!) Not long after our lunch stop, when we had crossed into Virginia, we pulled into The Natural Tunnel State Park, which featured a natural tunnel that was so big that they ran a railroad line through it.

Arriving at the visitors center, we discerned that there were a trio of trails one could take to the site, and we were trying to figure out which one we should attempt. We saw a woman with her two children coming out of one of the entrances. I asked her if the trail was very difficult; specifically if it went much uphill either coming or going.

“Oh yeah”, she said confidently. “It goes uphill both ways.”

Shrugging that word of wisdom off, I mentioned that the park info which was posted said the trail is supposed to be only .3 miles, so that didn’t sound too bad, right?

“Yeah”, she warned earnestly, “but that’s .3 BOTH WAYS , which makes it over a mile in all!”

Discerning that I had likely gotten all the help from this particular pilgrim that I could glean, we headed intrepidly down the trail …

The park was great! It featured a pretty steep trail (downhill going in, uphill going out, by the way!) and at the bottom displayed “Lovers Leap”, from which a star-crossed Indian couple had jumped years ago, hoping to be together in the afterlife: Not far from Lovers Leap was the natural tunnel, and to our delight, a train emerged not long after we arrived: We were fairly soaked with perspiration after the long climb back, but we both agreed it was worth the exertion.

Soon it would be dark, and we still had a long mountain trek home. We didn’t arrive at our place until almost 11:00 p.m., more than 12 hours after we left Columbus. We didn’t “make very good time” some might say, but we both felt it was well worth it to “take the long way”!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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