Lauren gave me a box before I left. I stuck it in my green mesh bag that would ride all nine thousand miles on the left side of the bike. It held just enough of her and home in it to keep me focused on the road beneath me and in me as we hit day twenty-three and thirty-five.
"Look for God today. See the good news around you."
This was the theme from the note that I read at the beginning of the second day before I pulled on my wet leather gloves and packed up camp.
I think someone may have stolen half of my two man tent before I strapped it to the back of the bike because it was considerably smaller than I remembered. I knew Casey and I were close friends, but this was threatening to be a little too literal.
We walked down to the river and hopped a couple rocks so we could dip our hands in the cold water and wash the morning fog out of our eyes. The Smokies felt like a Guatemalan rain forest.
Last night we met a man who said his name was "neither here nor there." Ah, the mysteries of the open road. Who knows what he meant, but I felt like it meant something. Know what I mean?
The sun starts to fight through the trees as we ride out of camp.
I wonder when we'll settle into a rhythm. When will constant movement feel like the rest I so desire?
For now it is to Pigeon Forge, the place where America's consumerism is on display. If you like Pigeon Forge and its hundreds of pancake restaurants, I don't mean any offense. It just wasn't what we were looking for. We moved on.
We were separated by traffic and rain on our way into Knoxville and spent a couple hours trying to rendezvous after putting on our rain gear.
To the Tennessee hills.
We drove past Sergeant York's house and grave. He was a pacifist that received a lot of metals in WWI for shooting people and had a movie made about him that I watched in the eight grade. I thought a lot about memories. We had black beans and corn for dinner after settling in under the pavilion at a Separate Baptist Church. We weren't familiar with their doctrine, but assumed we could shout out a couple convincing Bible verses before they ran us off their property with their shotguns if they found our hiding spot.
"Do not murder! Take in sojourners!" were our go-to's.
It was dark and the turns were sneaking up on our headlights too quick for comfort so we had no other choice.
Then came the police officer. The first words out of his mouth were, "Todd Harrison?" which is my dad's name. Now, this is a strange greeting from a stranger with a gun and a bright light.
After a short discussion he let us know that our GPS had been malfunctioning and sending out emergency calls to our families. They were freaking out. We were telling stories and relieving our bladders in flowing fields. There was no cell service so the inexperience factor led them to conclude we were laying in a ditch by the church pressing all the SOS buttons on the GPS and looking to the sky for our rescue helicopter. Thankfully we weren't and we were able to get in touch with them. Afterward, conversation and sleep came easy as the kind officer reassured us we were camping in a safe place.