Here are a few facts: 1) My new job is going to take me all over the Southeast US on a regular basis, 2) My blog is sorely out of date and neglected, 3) I love to take photos of, well, everything.  

Conclusion? I’m going to travelogue some of my work trips. I won’t be sharing details of my actual work of course. That’s not ethical and frankly, you wouldn’t care. However, I both love to write and take photos, so this seems like a great opportunity to use airport downtime effectively and cathartically. 

First up? ALABAMA!

I’ve been to Alabama before, but only passing through to/ from Florida (that fact shouldn’t really surprise anyone). This week’s trip took me to Birmingham and Huntsville, along highway 65’s gentle rolling hills and country fields. Alabama is a lovely state to drive through. I’m in full agreement with the state’s highway signs that declare “Alabama the beautiful.” 

People in the South are warm and kind. Instead of saying “hello“, you are more likely to hear “how ya doing today honey, everything ok? You need anything else here? Ok, well you be safe out there. Bye now!”  Southerners are also very courteous – the amount of time someone will hold a door open to wait for you to pass through is almost uncomfortable. I’ve experienced this hospitality before, but one thing that stood out to me is that nobody honked at this out-of-towner in the 3 days I traveled their roads. This is an exceptionally noticeable fact compared to Florida drivers!

I learned that Huntsville has a space center and that Birmingham has a Vulcan statue (not Vulcan as in Star Trek and Spock, but Vulcan as in Roman god of fire and forge). I’m enough of a life-long travel geek that I will at least drive through these types of local tourist traps just to say I’ve been there. It was raining when I came across the space center, so I didn’t get out to explore there. But, I did take a few minutes to wander around the park beneath the somewhat strange statue of Vulcan that stands watch high over the city of Birmingham. I can say this confidently because my hometown boasts a giant ketchup bottle, which is not strange at all. 😏

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with a former boss who I now call a dear friend during one of my evenings in Birmingham. I’m grateful for her support, encouragement, and listening ear to guide me on this new path I’m walking as a development officer. We ate at this southern-style Mexican place called the Hidden Donkey. In my busy working-mom-grad-student life, I sometimes forget how a long conversation with someone who’s walked a similar path can fill your soul with such warmth and peace. I’m confident it’s not a mistake that my first trip brought me here to the woman who was responsible for bringing to Florida. 

I spent the time alone meditating and praying about the different advocacy role that I find myself occupying now. It’s still uncomfortable and ill-fitting, in that I don’t have it broken in yet and everything is still new. In my head, I know new things take time, but my heart is still catching up with all the changes of late. I continue to move forward into many unseen and unknown situations with confidence that the same God that brought me to this point will continue to lead and guide me. I guess what I’m saying is that learning to “fear not” is a lifelong struggle. 

As I wrap this up, I have a confession to make. It looks like I am – much to my own surprise and against the painfully obvious consumerism involved – that person who is collecting the Starbucks Been There Series. However, I am only collecting from places I’ve been, not places I’m connecting through. Everyone knows, connecting doesn’t count on the master travel-to list, not even for Starbucks.