There we were: just a little cadillac, mindin’ our own business, when suddenly… out of nowhere, we were surrounded by a pack of ferocious windmills from outer space.  Maybe it was the rising sun behind them, or the eerie slow-pulsing of the red lights… but the windmills right off of 30 as you enter Ohio gave Marta & I the heebie geebies as we crossed from our beloved state at the start of our adventure. Thankfully, we’d both had a cup of coffee already, so our sensible sides were able to rationalize the fear away.  They were creepy lookin’, though.  It was hard to look away. (In the words of Marta: It was like a house fire… except more creepy and not quite so sad).

The rest of our 8 1/2 hour decent into Tennessee is mostly blocked from my memory (though, who could forget the convoy of army vehicles in the middle of Cincinnati. Marta was practically drooling as she tried to get their attention from the passenger seat.)

Tennessee is a very strange, wonderful and magical place.  We learned many valuable life lessons in the south.  Thanks to our lovely guide (Grace), we have compiled a list of new life lessons taught to us about Tennessee Livin’.

1) Peanut Butter & Jelly at a rest stop sounds like a good idea, until you realize you have no knife.  Oh well – a pen & piece of cardboard will do.  (Try to ignore the fact that the pen belongs to a Nurse and is probably covered in dangerous bacteria… and death).  That’s Tennessee Livin’.

2) Taking a picture with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Dolly Parton at every opportunity is a must. (Thankfully we only saw one… *phew*) That’s Tennessee Livin’.

3) Sometimes an accidental missed turn can become a lovely drive through the mountains.  One poorly marked road later, and we were smack-dab in the middle of a National Park.  Our little misadventure turned into a beautiful drive.  That’s Tennessee Livin’.

4) When the meal you’ve planned to eat is logistically impossible to prepare, improvise. This lesson was learned via our grilled cheese from a toaster experience. (I shall be uploading a video to demonstrate this skill at some future time).  That’s Tennessee Livin’.

5) Looking for the perfect spot to catch some rays? Just take the 2-mile strenuous hike up the mountains and scramble around on the 3 chimneys for a while.  Just make sure you don’t slip and fall (or else die…) and try to ignore the college-age creepers. That’s just Tennessee Livin’.  (Please note that this was a STRENUOUS hike. AKA we had to stop to take breathers. AKA I got a massive bump on my knee.  AKA my muscles hurt real bad the next day. It’s all just Tennessee Livin’)

6) Doing “roar turns” as often as humanly possible is the perfect excuse to take a picture.  That’s Tennessee Livin’.

7) Delicious international cuisine is not out of your reach in the boonies… it’s just a hop-skip-and-a-jump (aka, 40 miles on the highway) to the closest sushi restaurant. Peace of cake.  That’s Tennessee Livin’.

8) Leaving a dear friend behind after less than 48 hours together… unfortunately, this weekend, that had to be Tennessee Livin’ too.  It was so nice to see Grace in her new natural habitat.  See her life.  See her friends… her “peeps”.  Experience her “digs” and even get in a scrape of mischief with her.  So blessed to have a lovely lady like Grace in my life… and though I miss her GREATLY I’m so happy to see that God’s using her… even if it’s so far away.  Living for Jesus and loving on kids in some of the most beautiful mountains in this country?  Now, that’s Tennessee Livin’.