Which Path Are You?

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. I usually mention the weather here, but honestly, I’m getting pretty tired of it. It’s mid-May and winter paid a visit. So, here we are shivering in our sweatshirts and heavy socks.

Maybe it’s the unpredictable weather that has me longing for a getaway.

Being shut-in for a few weeks can make you long for the great outdoors. We missed our vacation this year and travel is still restricted, so I’m looking at photos of places I’d love to go. I love leisurely walks. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on the beach, or in a park. A scene like this one invites me in.

But then, there’s this–I want to go there, too.

Ah, Lake Cumberland—this is where we went last year.

I’ve been here, too. I’d love to go back for another look.

How to choose?

What’s your favorite vacation destination?

Tracy Ruckman’s Big Adventure

My good friend, Tracy Ruckman, along with her husband Tim, set off on the adventure of a lifetime last year. I kept up with their journey via her blog and social media posts, and I have to say, she certainly kept my attention!

So, of course, I was excited to learn she’d written a book about their experiences. I interviewed her just in time for the release of Go West, His Momma Said.

 

“Go West, His Momma Said” – Great title! What’s the story behind the title?

Tracy: My husband Tim inspired the title. He loves to tell people that all his life, his mother always said, “Go West, young man,” but then he married me, and I took him east instead (when we moved from Alabama to Georgia.) This trip was finally following his momma’s orders.

Many of us desire to “take to the road” and seek adventure. What spurred your decision to do it?

Tim and I have dreamed of going on the road since we got married, and even independently since we were kids. On December 26, 2018, we got some difficult news and realized that many changes were ahead of us. We started toying with the idea of traveling again and realized that, at the ages of 71 and 55, time played a crucial role in our doing this now or never. We decided ‘never’ was not an option, so we began selling or giving away almost all our belongings, packed a few things into storage, and set off on January 8, 2019. We spent 189 days tent camping our way around the country – 36 states, more than 25,000 miles.

Most adventures also include adversity. It’s the unknown factor that makes the experience a true adventure. Can you share a moment like that with us?

Tracy: In some ways, it seems like our whole trip was filled with adversity, because we were tent camping in the winter! We didn’t have an RV, we didn’t have any savings, we didn’t have a plan, or even a destination. We just packed up our SUV with camping gear and took one day at a time. We saw God’s hand on us the whole way, though. We didn’t have one bit of car trouble – none at all – no accidents, flat tires, faulty belts. God gets all the credit for every bit of that.

Our biggest challenge was the weather – we spent much of the first three months trying to dodge the cold. Texas winds took out our tent in our first ten days on the road – broke two tent poles and ripped one of the walls, and we were in it at the time!

Somewhere along the way, I also developed an irrational fear of mountains. I haven’t had any bad experiences with mountains, but on the road, I became fearful of driving in them. I still haven’t conquered that fear completely, but on the second leg of our trip, the mountain fears weren’t quite as bad.

What is the greatest positive you gained from this journey?

Tracy: As I compiled this book, I was amazed at all we saw in such a short time. Go West, His Momma Said is only the first half of our journey, and I’m still amazed by it. I know we could have done things differently (better, slower) than we did – but we actually made this trip, even with our limited resources and planning. Now, when I hear a town name mentioned on the news or in a book, I can recall the terrain, the people, the personality of the place, and say, “We’ve been there.”

What would you like to share with any of our readers who may be considering a similar experience?

Tracy: Don’t wait for perfect circumstances to make your dreams reality. We kept waiting, thinking, hoping we’d have an RV or a pile of savings to travel with, but we could never make those things happen. We just decided to take the LEAP and go. In fact, we dubbed ourselves the LEAPFROGs, which means: Leaving Everything Always Praying Fully Relying on God. We did just that and He proved reliable every hop of our journey.

Click-to-Tweet: Don’t wait for perfect circumstances to make your dreams reality. Tracy Ruckman’s Big Adventure! #travel #camping #travelogues


Tracy Ruckman is an author, artist, and book publisher. Her book, Go West, His Momma Said, detailing the first leg of the Ruckman’s tent-camping journey released January 8 and is available on Amazon. Tracy’s artwork is available for purchase on FineArt America. She loves to connect, and invites you to follow her online:

Website

Amazon Author Page

FineArt America Art Page

TMPixArt blog

Facebook Author Page

Buy the Book at Amazon [Kindle Version] 

A High-Low Day

Hello, Thursday Morning! Hey, is it raining much near you? Remember earlier this year when I was all, “woe is me” over the rainy weather? Yep, you guessed it. We are in a drought in the state of Kentucky.

That’s kind of the way it rolls, isn’t it?

I’ve just returned from a too-brief visit with Mom. She lives in Lexington and she’s within half an hour of some of the most beautiful countryside around. Even in its crispy state, it’s still beautiful.

This time, we visited Wilmore, home of Asbury University, and High Bridge, home of a Victorian-era railroad bridge and park. We stood above the Kentucky River Gorge and looked far below to the green puddle of a river. I’ve never seen it so low.

I have not included the picture of Mom. She made me pinky-promise not to share it, as she is due for a haircut. But really, these photos don’t do the park justice. It was absolutely beautiful out there, and so quiet, until the train went through. Yes, the old bridge (built in1877) is still in use.

While riding in the car, Mom told me how much she’d enjoyed Annabelle’s Joy. She loved being back in the small town and remembering the folks. She could almost smell the cookies baking, along with some of the other tasty dishes they cooked back then.

She also told me about one of her favorite scenes in the book. Annabelle is uncertain why the new woman in town rankles her nerves. For months, she struggles with guilt over it. Do you know anyone like that, who grates on your nerves and you either don’t know why, or you don’t really want to contemplate why?

Here’s the scene:

The pixie sat at the well-worn, upright piano, running a lacy handkerchief over the keys. Annabelle turned her gaze away. Why did the woman rankle her so? Maybe because she was everywhere, into everything. She’d already insinuated herself into the choir, taken the pianist’s position, among other things. Of course, Hattie Overton, the former pianist, was only too happy to give it over. At ninety-two, she was ready to retire.

Annabelle had stifled a twinge of disappointment when Rosella never hit a sour note. Every song, even the most difficult came out perfectly.

It didn’t help to hear such words as “effervescent” used to describe the newcomer. Effervescent. Made her think of those seltzer tablets you used for an upset tummy. Something Annabelle could use right about now.

Thankfully, Lillian slid in beside her as the music started. Everyone stood for the Doxology. Annabelle did her best to let go of her ill feelings toward the pianist. She managed to keep her thoughts away entirely. She did not want to contemplate the reason for her attitude.

I love that scene, too, and I know the reason for her ill feelings!

Do you love an imperfect character? Do you prefer to see their character changed by end of book, or would you rather not have all the ends neatly tied?

Click-to-Tweet: At High Bridge Park in #Kentucky, we stood above the Kentucky River Gorge and looked far below to the green puddle of a river. I’ve never seen it so low. #travel

Happy Derby Week!

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! Pour another cup and join me.

It’s Derby Week in my neck o’ the woods. Our town is in celebration mode. We have all kinds of cool activities that kick off with Thunder Over Louisville (an all day event that ends with a gigantic award-winning fireworks show).

Click this link to see some stunning pictures and a vast array of activities in our “unique” city of Louisville: https://www.gotolouisville.com/

It’s so much more than a two-minute horse race.

Do I attend any of these events? Seldom. Why? I’m not a “crowd” person, and the crowds are sizable. I have gone to Churchill Downs several times, but never on “the” race day. I love looking at the beautiful horses, so I still enjoyed the daily races.

No, on Derby Day you’ll find me at home. If the weather’s good, I’m working in my yard. At the end of the day, I watch the race on television. Many times, we’ve watched at one of our favorite restaurants. That’s actually fun, because the other patrons really get into the race. There’s a lot of shouting going on. This is when it becomes obvious–Louisville’s a little different.

I love its quirkiness. It’s a beautiful river city with a rich history. Yes, we’re known for bourbon and horses, but it’s a lot more than that.

So, I’m wishing my fellow Louisvillians a happy Derby weekend. May the best horse win.

By the way, I pronounce it Loo-uh-vull.

What the Flat Tire Taught Me

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning friends. Pour yourself a cup of your favorite morning beverage, and join me for “story time.”

They say experience is the best teacher. If so, my dad was a good instructor. He was the type who would toss you in the water to teach you to swim. That’s sometimes referred to as the “sink or swim” technique.

It didn’t work with me. I sank like a stone.

When I was twenty, I worked in the bookkeeping department of a small-town bank. I came out of work one day, to a flat tire on my car. No problem. Dad’s office was nearby, so I went back inside the bank and called him.

When he answered, I said, “My tire’s flat. Can you come and help me?”

Momentary silence. “No can do. You fix it.”

“I don’t know how.”

“It’s time you learned.”

Long pause, filled with heavy breathing (mine). “So, you’re not coming?”

“You don’t need me.”

Okay. Back at my disabled car, I waited. He was only kidding. He would come. He couldn’t really expect me to change a tire. Could he?

Half an hour passed. A big, long, empty half hour.

A lump rose in my throat, and tears gathered as I glanced down at my just above knee-length work skirt, pantyhose, and high heeled shoes. I spread my fingers. Newly manicured nails. No!

Once more, I took in the surrounding downtown area. People walking, cars passing. No Dad.

I stared at the offending tire. Even if I could change the thing, I’d put on a show out here, wrestling with a stupid tire in a not-made-for-auto-repair outfit like the one I had on.

Desperation filled my lungs, replacing the air. Panic cruised through my veins. I sucked in a deep breath and exhaled, chewed my lip and wrung my hands. What to do?

Reality set in. He wasn’t coming. My Dad, who was supposed to look after me and protect me, wasn’t coming. Anger took hurt’s place.

After a deep, cleansing breath, I unlocked the trunk and looked at the spare tire. OK, now what?

Behind me, a car slowed. I turned to see a handsome, young man smiling at me, possibly laughing at me. “You look like you could use some help.”

I decided he was just smiling, not laughing. I detected sympathy. I could work with that. This could be Prince Charming.

I nodded, and may have swiped at a tear. “Flat tire.”

He pulled into a nearby parking space. I waited.

When he joined me, I recognized him as one of the management trainees at the same bank where I worked. “Yep, flat tire.” He rolled up his sleeves. Then he lifted my spare out of the trunk, along with a couple of tools I hadn’t noticed before.

He didn’t turn out to be my prince charming, but he rescued me, all the same. Then he got back  on his white horse and rode away. Actually, it was a silver GTO, if memory serves correctly.

I drove home, feeling pretty good about the way things turned out. Dad was right, I didn’t need him. Maybe I hadn’t actually changed that flat tire, but I’d figured out how to get it done.

When Dad came in from work that night, he smiled at me. “I see you got that tire fixed.”

I nodded. Yes, I had.

“Well, now you know how to do it, don’t you?”

I thought for a minute. Should I tell him what really happened?

He patted my shoulder. “I could’ve come to help you, but I wanted you to learn how to take care of yourself. What if I wasn’t around? What would you do then?”

I smiled. “Thanks, Dad.” I had learned something that day. Being a woman had its advantages. I’d gotten my tire changed without making a spectacle of myself, or breaking a nail.

Years have passed, and so has Dad. And I have to confess, I never told him about my prince charming tire changer.

And so far, I’ve never changed a tire. 🙂

Click to Tweet: They say #experience is the best #teacher. If so, my dad was a good instructor. He was the type who would toss you in the water to teach you to swim. What a Flat Tire Taught Me from @batowens