31 July 2003

there and back again

We've been away for the past 15 days or so, if you've been wondering about the profound paucity of blog entries.

Laurel, Claire, our dog Nicky, and I logged a bit over 3000 miles in our journey to and from the Biblical Horizons conference in Valparaiso, Florida (leaving Keats behind with Laurel's brother Jerry and his family). In light of the tons of baby gear and the dog, we had rented an SUV for the trip, though we ended up with a bigger one than we had expected--a Dodge Durango--since there were no smaller ones on the lot. The gas mileage, of course, was atrocious and I'm still trying to adjust back to driving our (relatively) tiny Geo Prizm.

While the conference was only from July 21-25, we took a number of extra days on either side of the conference in order to visit friends and family, passing through twelve states on the way there and back. On the way down, we stayed a night with Laurel's brother Steve and his family in Fredericksburg, Virginia, allowing Claire to visit with her two cousins there. We spent the next two nights in Wilson, North Carolina with Laurel's eldest brother Tom, an Episcopal priest working with Latino congregations, and his wife Jane, a professor in the religion department at Barton College.

The next night we received very kind hospitality from Cory Kloth and his wife Heather in Covington, Georgia where Cory is an assistant pastor of a PCA church. We were able to worship at Intown in Atlanta on Sunday, which was a great experience, particularly the worship music which manages to be traditional, folksy, and contemporary all at once with a great display of talent that still places a priority on the congregation's singing.

At Intown we were able to meet up with some online friends--Scott Cunningham among them--as well as a good friend from college who I hadn't seen in years, due largely to the fact that she had been married, living, having children in Argentina.

After seeing downtown Atlanta we spent a night in Alabama--the first time we'd ever been to that state--driving through Opelika, Auburn (including the university campus), and Montgomery the next day. We finally arrived at the BH conference in Florida where we met several more bloggers, most for the first time. Among the conference speakers, bloggers included John Barach, Bill DeJong, and Jeff Meyers. We also got to meet Jon Amos, whom I had come to know fairly well via IM and was glad to finally meet in person. I'll say more about the conference itself in another post.

While in Florida we drove out to Seaside where The Truman Show was filmed and visited a couple of other beach communities. I don't care much for beaches myself--unless you could get rid of the sun, sand, and saltwater--but Laurel took Claire for a dip in the Gulf of Mexico. The white sands of that part of Florida are actually quite pretty, even if you choose to view them from a safe remove rather than venture out upon them.

On the return trip we spent a night in the Birmingham with some friends of Peter Leithart's from his old church there. We then proceeded to southern Kentucky, near Bowling Green were we went to church at a lovely Episcopal parish in the old downtown. We had found a nice Mediterranean restaurant there and were able to enjoy various other eating establishments when were staying places. But while on the road, with the dog in the car, we had to resort to fast food more often that I would have liked. My guts are still not entirely recovered.

After Bowling Green we proceeded to Cincinnati, Ohio with a quick visit to Louisville, Kentucky (and Churchill Downs) en route as well as a meandering drive along the Ohio River. In Cinci we stayed with a friend of mine from high school and his wife, who are expecting their first baby quite soon. It was nice to catch up with an old friend and for our wives to get to know each other better.

While in Cinci, Josh Strodtbeck was kind enough to drive down on his birthday from Indianapolis, so I could finally meet him after having been friends with him via IM for some time. We had a nice lunch together in a nearly empty pub and spent the better part of the afternoon talking.

On the way from Cincinnati to western Pennsylvania we stopped in Dayton to have a wonderful brunch hosted by Barb Harvey and her husband, and were joined by Dawn Garrett. The blogger dogs also got to meet and had a grand romp together (you can read the whole story on Barb's blog).

We spent our last night on the road with friends who've recently moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania from Iowa since the husband, who used to teach engineering at Dordt, has now taken a position at Geneva College in Beaver Falls. On the way home from there we drove by Geneva and also through the city of Pittsburgh where I'd never visited before, despite living my entire life in Pennsylvania.

After a brief stop to retrieve the evil kitty, we finally returned home. We had a really enjoyable road trip and got to see many old friends and family and to make some new friends. Even so, it is good to be home.