So last Wednesday, the 8th of August, I had to go to Raleigh for a bit of training and job interview. The training was finished around 2:30, and from the parking lot I looked at hotels.com and booked a room in Newport News, VA. I was heading north because for about a week all I had been doing was working on two Thompson Chain-Reference Bibles that were sent to me by our former pastors in Delaware. One was nearly 30 years old and believe it or not it was in much better shape than the newer one, which was filled with notes by the pastor’s wife. The big companies don’t bind Bibles with any integrity these days, or American’s aren’t willing to part with the money it would cost to buy a quality Bible. Anyway I did the work pro bono because I sought occasion to speak to them face-to-face.
The hotel in Newport News was a very nice Holiday Inn, if I now remember correctly. When I arrived, I went to the hotel restaurant and bar and ordered a ½ pound cheeseburger with onions and fries, and an appetizer of chicken tenders. The food was stellar. I also ordered a local Virginia craft brew – I want to say it was something called Black Walnut IPA: it was really wondrous with the fresh beef burger. I sipped it for a few minutes and then ordered another. I didn’t finish the fries, but I did order a shot of Woodford Reserve bourbon. I nursed it for several minutes, observing that hotel bars are always populated by middle-aged men in wrinkled shirts. Then I went back to my room and flipped through the television channels. There was nothing on – there never is – but I think I landed on a M*A*S*H rerun and kept it there because it’s a good show. But I turned it off and fell asleep around 8:30; I was tired because I woke up at 3:15 that morning to get through Raleigh traffic in time for the training.
I was up about 1-3 A.M., just generally praying and seeking the Lord, but I went back to sleep and didn’t awake until after nine. I decided to shave and get a bath. I never take baths at home, because the tub doesn’t really fit my rather massive outer shell. I could hear housekeeping out in the hallway, and occasionally some voices as my room was near the elevators. I used my fingernails and a washcloth to exfoliate the begeezus outta myself in the tub, and I just sort of sat there listening to an old sermon by Walter Beuttler – one of my spiritual fathers in Christ though he died a year before I was born. Once I was pruney, I drained the tub and turned the shower on to rinse off, then I packed my stuff and went to check out around 10:30.
It was a beautiful day to be in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. There were big white cumulus clouds ambling their way across the blue sky, yet the sun never stopped shining. I used Google to set a course for the Eastern Shore of Virginia and set out without feeling like I was in any rush. It was a Thursday at 11 o’clock, so the traffic through Virginia Beach was minimal.
After all these years of life I still love to drive, I love being on the road. It gives me a sense of discovery and zest that I rarely feel when I’m stuck in one place. I wish I could be somewhere different every morning…just keep following an endless, winding highway through mountains, plains and deserts until I reach the gates of Zion, the New Jerusalem.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is as it has always been: wondrous. Except the idiots who’d never been on the bridge before ignored the signs that read “Maintain Speed” and they slowed down in the tunnel and created just the sort of conditions which can get a person killed. I drove like a madman, about nine miles over the speed limit, until I reached Salisbury, Maryland. Then I decided I’d go for a walk around Trap Pond State Park near Laurel, Delaware. Sikki and I lived in Laurel for four years, and I used to go to Trap Pond nearly every weekend and run around the Loblolly Trail: 4.5 miles. They’d renamed the trail the “Bob Trail,” which didn’t sound as majestic to my ears, but the trail was the same.
Towards the end of the trail, I was getting blisters because I hadn’t brought shoes appropriate to the task of walking nearly five miles over stone and root and puddle, and though there was an occasional biting green fly, the trail was mostly deserted and peaceful.