Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of our epic road trip to the east coast. It was 13 days filled with joy, sibling fights, a bazillion rest stops, one major meltdown on the side of I-10, great memories and lots of hugs with awesome people. Oh, and we saw a ton of cool stuff, too. You can read all about it by city: New Orleans, LA; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Washington, D.C. and Knoxville, TN.
Praise sweet baby Jesus that the drive from Atlanta to Charlotte was way more enjoyable than the last drive. We timed our early morning departure with a just-in-time arrival at Billy Graham’s Library at lunchtime. Literally, just as we pulled out of the parking lot I got a text from one of my high school friends that we missed one another by 15 minutes. There may have been tears! Neither of us had any idea the other was there. Crazy!
Anyway, as an Evangelical Protestant growing up, I sure came to admire and respect Mr. Graham’s love for Jesus. I believe that kind of love is universal. It was a profound honor to walk through his childhood home and spend time in his library seeing the impact of one man’s life on so many others. He’s a Charlotte institution; may he rest in peace.
Luke’s one request the whole trip was to see race cars. Boy, did we deliver. En route to the speedway, we had about .01 seconds to spare. The last tour of the day was leaving just as we pulled in to the parking lot. Thankfully, 1) we had eaten lunch on the way and 2) I called the office to see if they would hold the tour for us. Who says southern charm is dead?!
It’s not an exaggeration to tell you I saw my life flash before my eyes as we were hurtling down the track, at a 24-degree pitch in a minivan, going 85mph. Luke was in heaven. I was not. We’ve been on the Indy 500 tour track a billion times. This, my friends, is not that tour. You’ve been warned! We managed to make it out of the gift shop with only minimal screaming from Gianna (she tried to get us to buy the whole store and she was #thisclose to making it happen).
Before landing at our home for the evening, we made a quick pit stop at two churches: the Cathedral (Charlotte, you’ve got to step up your game!) and St. Ann. THAT was worth the stop.
Then, off to see another sweet friend and her family! Stephanie and I met at Edel 2014 and we became fast friends. She’s the reason I do this crazy thing twice a year. She’s also the reason I believe in sisterhood. Stephanie’s home was just as beautiful as her heart. Her kids loved on mine and she and her husband stayed up wayyyy too late with Scott and I swapping parenting stories. It was absolutely delightful. Every last bit of it.
Charlotte was the sweetest southern town and I fully expect Scott and I to head back to the Carolinas very, very, very soon.
The next morning, we got a slooooow start and then hit the road for Greenville, North Carolina, the home of my high school BFF. We did manage to sneak in a stop at UNC-Chapel Hill. My boys, all four of them, were in heaven.
Heather and her family moved to Greenville from Lubbock, Texas, about a year ago. I miss her dearly. She opened up her home (and her washing machine) to all eight of us with open arms. We stayed up seriously late, swapping stories, painting toenails, drinking Dr Pepper and wishing that NC and TX weren’t so far apart. Heather has seen me at my absolute worst – truly – when I nearly abandoned our relationship and yet, she stayed. She is a precious person in my life. We spent the evening just being present and it was the perfect breather on our trip.
When we left the next morning, there may have been tears. That just means we’ll have to go back. North Carolina, you were a gem!