This might end up being multiple posts.... or a super long post. Or maybe once I start writing, I'll realize there is not as much to write about as I thought. Hehe.... who knows.
Now, if I were writing about my previous trips, I really had more interesting adventures/stories/crazy things happen. So maybe sometime I'll write about those. If nothing else, those stories usually get laughs.... at me, but still.
So, last Wednesday, I left for Hamilton, Alabama. Hamilton being the thriving, bustling city of 6,000 that it is, this is quite the vacation destination! ;) It's about a 13 hour drive. I would consider flying if there was an airport there, but there is not. I mean, you could fly into Birmingham, but then you'd need to rent a car and still drive 2 hours, so it would be considerably more expensive than driving! I was going to the July Ramp conference. The RAMP is a ministry run by Karen Wheaton. It ministers primarily to youth and young adults, but all ages are welcome. The conferences are marked by seeking God's face in an extreme way and living your life for the glory of God.
The original plan was to leave work around 2:30 or 3 on Wednesday, drive about 8 hours to Elizabethtown, KY, spend the night, and drive the last 5 hours on Thursday. I've gone with this plan before, and it works well. It's a good stopping point and that way the 2nd day is a short drive, so you have more time to relax once getting into Hamilton. That way, when the conference of craziness starts, you're not already exhausted. Well, about a week before leaving, I was scheduled for a training at work that went until 3:30 (I thought) on Wednesday. So I thought I would have to leave at 3:30. Not ideal, but I should still be in my hotel room by 11:30 or so. I could survive. I'm tough. :)
3:30 turned into 4:45....... the week at work was long and busy. In the 3 days I worked, I worked over 30 hours. This tells you it was a really busy week. I think prior to my trip I got a total of 12 hours of sleep all week. Less than ideal. I also had a brief bout of the stomach flu, car issues, and overall was pretty frazzled. I considered cancelling the trip things were so overwhelming at one point! I'm so glad I didn't.
I ended up stopping for the night (after driving around 6 hours) in Carrolton, Kentucky. So I would still have about 7 hours to drive the next day. Seeing as I had lunch plans, this was less than ideal. But whatever. I stayed at an Econolodge that had a vacancy. Wow.... bad. It was pretty yucky. I kept worrying I was going to get robbed. :) Or bedbugs. Or both. And I wanted to leave there by around 5 in the morning. So, not much time to sleep! But, due to my fear of robbers and bed bugs, I didn't get much sleep anyway. I fell asleep sometime after 1, and woke up at 3:45. Around 4, I realized I was not going to fall back asleep, so eventually I just got up and got ready. I was out of there by 5:10.
I finish the drive to Hamilton, making several stops along the way. I arrive around 11:30 (there's a time change, so it was like 12:30 from where I left). I will note with, I'm not sure if it's pride or shame, that I know, without seeing any signs, which exit on I-65 has the last Starbucks before Hamilton and so I stopped there. Hehe. Okay, so now I'm in Hamilton, way earlier than I needed to be (but I'd much rather be early than late). Since check-in at the hotel isn't until 1, I decided not to go straight to the hotel (though they always let me check in early there). So I was about to go to Walmart when I passed a store that I thought my friend Stephanie worked at. I pull over to stop, and while I'm trying to decide if it's the right one, I see another friend walk in. So I decide to go in. And there they were! Wonderful people! And the store is SO cute - it's a combination shoe store, boutique, consignment shop. And, she had the face wash that I use and had left in Michigan! Score! I had a chance to spend some time with them before going to the hotel to freshen up.
After freshening up, I headed over to my friends' Bobby and Anna's house. I got to meet their precious 3 month old daughter, Norah! This was really exciting. Bobby was still working, but I hung out with Anna for like 2.5 fabulous hours. We had only spent a few minutes together before and most of our friendship was online based! So this was really nice. :)
Then it was time to head over for where service would be. Now, there were some fire marshall issues limiting how many people could be in the building at any one time. The number was 967. There was much craziness trying to do registration, having people wait outside, directing people to the overflow tent, the constant changes by the fire marshalls of who was counted in the 967 (babies? Workers? Technicians? The fire marshalls themselves?). Yes, this kept changing. But it all worked out. (And those who were in the tent in 110 degree heat? Wow. They were so nice about it!)
In addition to helping clean things up, I had to stand at doors and tell people helpful things like "Don't run." "Yes, it's that way." "No, you can't leave and come back in." and so on and so forth.
It was also so great seeing so many of my friends who are down there and serve in the ministry. Some I keep in regular contact with, whereas others I only really talk to when I'm down there. But most of them are the type that when I see them, I feel like I just saw them.
After a wonderful service that night, (seriously, these services are incredible) clean-up, and everything, by the time I got back to my hotel, I was ready to sleep! (Oh, and adding to the interesting level of the services, in addition to normal stuff plus fire marshall stuff, they were also being aired on God TV and being filmed for CBN. So even more cameras than usual and more of a need for all timing to work out well.)
Day 2, coming soon!