Have you taken a long road trip recently in your car, truck, or RV? Where did you go? What were the gasoline prices? Were there enough electric vehicle rechargers? Were you pleased with the hotels or campsites? Did you visit family and friends? What historical sites, parks, or museums did you tour? I hope you had nothing but positive experiences.
My wife and I drove to Maine in June for three weeks. Our northbound trip used I-95 between Florida to Maine most of the time. The eastern states were gorgeous. The luscious green trees bordered the roads, flowers radiated a multitude of colors, rivers gurgled with flowing water, and the blue adorned the skies.
We visited a niece in Bethesda, Maryland one evening. We used the Metro to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. the next day. The morning, chilly wind around the Washington Monument made us appreciate our jackets. Two bicyclists were starting their cross country trip from the Monument. Thirty years ago, I started my cross country bike trip from Dexter, Maine on July 1. We were most interested in the memorials: Lincoln, Vietnam, World War II, Korean, Martin Luther King, Jr., Three Servicemen, and Vietnam Women’s Memorial. We did not go near the Capitol Building to avoid any protesters.
We supported an ice cream fundraiser to aid education in Hightstown, NJ our third night on the road. I sat outside the shop and talked to a drama teacher at the private academy where the students come from seventeen countries. We talked about the teacher’s transition from the New York City theater scene to high school teacher, mission trips to help people, and protection from school shootings. At a rest area in Connecticut on our last day of driving, we found that a local Congregational Church supplied free coffee and snacks. Donations were accepted to support a cancer research non-profit.
Our time in York, Maine with our sons and grandchildren included lacrosse games, fishing, movies, wiffleball, football, basketball, beach, worship services, friends, and lots of good food. Jan and I used a day to visit Mt. Washington in New Hampshire for the first time. Clouds covered Mt. Washington’s tiptop, 39° F. nearly froze us, and 40 mph winds challenged us. The experience was priceless, though not free. Driving up and down the auto road incited fear in us, but we conquered it. We also visited a cousin in Easton, New Hampshire before returning to York. On clear days, Mt. Washington can be seen from 692 foot high Mt. Agamenticus in York.
Gas prices rose the farther north we drove. The we found the lowest price we in northern New Hampshire near Mt. Washington until we bought gas at BJ’s in Portsmouth. We found much lower prices in Virginia to Alabama on the way home. The high gas prices drain business revenues quickly for those who depend on truck or auto for their work. Semi-trucks clogged highways. Seeing them gave the appearance of a rebounding economy. Many portions of the highways needed improvements. Many road surfaces felt like an old washboard. Surprisingly, we did not suffer from very many delays due to construction. We noticed a zillion “Hiring” signs in stores and businesses showing struggles to serve the public. The lack of workers may have been a factor in the untidiness of two hotels we stayed at. We saw few people wearing masks in enclosed public places. On the surface, people appeared carefree, happy, and in a hurry to get to their destinations.
The greenery along the eastern seaboard stood out in contrast to the news of dangerous drought in the western part of the U.S. The stunning views in the Shenandoah Valley led me to praise God for the beauty of the earth. The temptation to gaze too long at the eastern plain of Virginia from I-77 at Fancy Gap could easily cause an accident.
The Shenandoah Valley is different from the “valley of the shadow of death” that David sang about in Psalm 23 that I read on this trip. None of us wants to go that kind of danger, but it is in that valley where God’s nearness can help us say, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (23:4). The dark valley is part of the route that God leads his sons and daughters on in this life. God is our Shepherd leading us through lovely terrain and frightening territory. God is with us.
Jesus beckoned his followers to take his leadership for their journey in this world, “Come, follow me.” He added, “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Good Shepherd assures his followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). I urge you to choose to follow Him.
I hope you take a road trip to see our country up close. Be alert while driving. Snatch glimpses of the beauty of your surroundings. Stop to smell the roses. Make time to talk to local people to get their take on life. Safe travels.