After the late and emotional night, work today was kind of rough. And on top of being tired, get this, it's a hundred freaking degrees outside and I spent my entire day shelving Christmas books. Lord.
But despite all that, I promised an end to the trip and, by golly, I'm giving you an end to the trip. I'll try to make this as succinct as possible, while not skimping on a good attempt to share how meaningful it was.
(By the way, so much time has lapsed that I've forgotten days.)
We left San Marcos with the intention of making a beeline up I-35 and staying in Dallas for the night. But narrowing down and deciding on who to stay with made things difficult. It was at this point in the trip that our road would take us near people who one of us knew well, but the other didn't. So (and this was another of Jason's brilliant ideas) we decided it would be a good idea to stay in Waco for the night, since we'd been driving for a long time. I managed to get a hold of Kyle and Jen and convince them to meet us for dinner. After hanging out with them and the kids we went to my place and crashed. Watched television for a while but fell asleep fairly early.
We woke up the next day, I made breakfast, then we headed north. Met up with Mark Penick for lunch at this place the Lake's have raved about for years, Blue Mesa grill. Had a good visit.
Mark is a good friend. Interesting thing about our friendship is that, from the beginning, there has always been an intermediary friend between him and me. We met through a mutual friend and the three of us hung out together from time to time. When I moved back to Marshall there formed what I've searched for years to find a name for, but have failed every time. Ethan Waters would define it an "Urban Tribe," although there isn't much urban about Marshall. I'll call it the gang that hung out at my apartment and went and did things together and who was learning how to be adults and how to love each other and how to enjoy life with each other. So the gang became our intermediary. Over the past few years Jason and Blake have been the middle guy.
Mark is a wonderful person with a heart of gold. We have a shared past, a shared affection for each other, and a shared God. After that, there's not much we share. We are very different people in many ways. And that is not a bad thing. Mark's intense, go-getter, passionate temperament is perfectly suited for the path he has chosen. Remember the name Mark Penick, because you will hear it again someday, I guarantee it. And other thing, that boy is going to make a good preacher someday as well.:) (Inside joke.)
So anyway, had lunch with Mark. I enjoyed listening to he and Jason banter about different things. We stayed in Blue Mesa for a while, gobbling down those Sweet Potato Chips from the Lord above.
We then headed to Bridgeport, northwest of Ft. Worth, to visit with Jason's lifelong friend and a very good acquaintance of mine, James Piazza. He and his wife Misty have a baby that Jason has been trying to see for a while, so it was great to head up there. The baby, Bella (Isabella,) was adorable and loved the mess out of Jason. We also got to visit with James' family, who was in town, and heard about the Chupacubra that has been terrorizing some of the residents of Atlanta, TX recently.
After that we headed further west on the backroads and stopped in Albany, just north of Abilene, to visit with my old friends Andre' and Roxeanne Raymond and their kids Emily and Sam. Andre' was the camp administrator at Timberline, the camp where I worked for six years. In many ways the Raymonds were my family during a rough transitional period of my life. I fell in love with kids by spending time watching Roxeanne run the daycamp at Timberline, and got to practice the mad babysittin' skillz I possess today on Emily and sam. Check out how much these tykes have grown...
After an hour with them we headed south to Abilene, our final destination. Met up with Christy at her friend Anna's house. Christy was in town for Anna's wedding. We killed a momma spider, releasing her million baby spiders into the world. What a horrible birth for them. Found out Christy and I were both at the wedding of a mutual friend from different worlds back in '96. Headed to another of Christy's friend's house, Bethany, where we parked our bottoms for the next couple of days and did much of what we did at Blake and Karla's.... Rested. (Luke, it was here that I heard about Alaska.)
Then I left.
Whew, that took a long time to tell that story. I wish I had done a better job. I didn't do justice to many things, like the wonderful time I had with Jason. He is one of my closest friends and I feel the trip made us moreso. He is definitely one of my favorite people in the world. I'll miss him terribly when he leaves.
Well, on to the present....
But first, here's some more pictures......
Jason and Mark
Me, James, Jason. (I just now realized James and I were wearing the same shirt. Mine was given to me by Jason, which suggests the two of them in high school coordinated their clothes.)
J. and Christy. This is what we did for the entirety of two days.
Us before I left. This picture was supposed to be more masculine, us and Bethany's huge dog. But the dog left before the picture was taken, leaving the impression that Jason and I were having a good time swinging next to each other.