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WKXV interview in Knoxville, TN.


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Adventures: The Least Expected Opportunities

This past week seemed to last forever and was suddenly over, all at the same time.

One thing that struck me as profound was how fast life changes and then it’s gone. My children, now young teens, no longer look for the same adventures at the amusement park rides, yet on the open trails of the forests, we are all children once more. I can still keep up with them, and for the most part, still able to go farther and faster, but that too soon will change. Like the manmade technologies in their lives, they understand, master and manipulate all too easily. Meanwhile, the things of life, the real world around us are still perplexing and often beyond comprehension.

I found myself looking at the outside of a tiny radio station when we drove up to WKXV in Knoxville, TN. Knowing radio stations these days can be virtually anywhere, I knew in advance not to expect anything WKXVelaborate with regard to studio size and structure. With the advances in technology, a tiny station like WKXV can broadcast around the world without a transmitting tower anywhere near their station. So it was, when we arrived outside the older brick home, now turned into a radio station, I was reminded of how humble we are and that this was as much or more air time than we should receive in the great big world of media. When we unloaded the van and stepped inside, we found our host and owner, Ted Lowe, greeting us at the door. Shane, the DJ for the afternoon, was already in the middle of a broadcast. The interior of the studio was filled with multiple rooms where live recordings are and evidently have been done quite often; this would be our first.

Ted showed us to what was once a garage area, now turned into what looked like a small church sanctuary. The pulpit was on a raised platform with several folding chairs setting out for the congregational audience to observe while the broadcasts were being aired. This is where my sister and wife sat, while they watched us sing the couple songs we had time to perform following my interview. Later I was painfully reminded, after the show was already taped, that one should always perform a sound check. Unfortunately, the recording taken had the pulpit mic turned way up, making my daughter’s singing much louder than the other mic  which my son and I shared. Regardless of the results, the experience for my family and I was one of unexpected adventure and surprise; this would always be our first live radio broadcast, one we will share for many years to come.

Like the rest of the week, it was the unexpected events that will stick with us the longest.

We took a couple days to go to Dollywood, which we took at a casual pace, enjoying as much of the scenery in the park as we did the rides. Each morning, we would go for a short run, and then head out to the park. Each 2013-07-26 13.56.30day the drive to and from Pigeon Forge was as enjoyable as was the ultimate destination. With each twist and turn in the windy mountain roads, we found more and more to store away in our minds for future visits.

One such destination was to be Cade’s Cove. However, part of our plan was to go bike riding but upon further inspection, we found that the only days this was feasible were not possible, so we had to scrap our biking excursion and go for the hike we had looked forward too. Originally, we were going to drive around Cade’s Cove and hike from the rest stops along the way. When the day came, we had enough driving for the week and wanted to do more hiking, so we chose the Laurel Falls trail, which was on the road that led into Gatlinburg; another destination we had 2013-07-26 14.12.21hoped to achieve on this trip. The trail up to Laurel Falls was 1.3 miles; straight up. The warning signs posted at the entrance warn of potential death from falling and bears. Needless to say, we were fairly warned.

The hike to the top was moderately strenuous. Many times we had to work our way around elderly or handicapped people whom were struggling to reach the summit. The laurelfallseventual trail’s end landed on the falls, where the cold water was more than refreshing. You could almost feel the ions in the air from the 2013-07-26 14.14.23water splashing and cascading down the mountain. We took extra time to enjoy the coolness of the water while my wife headed on back down the mountain, hoping to gain a little distance on us before we too descended. What she didn’t count on was the surprise she found as she rounded one of the curves in the trail; a family of black bears. From what she retold of her adventures, people began to get all crazy with fear when the bears approached, some nearly falling off the trail in their mad rush to escape the approaching beast.

My wife boldly stood her ground.

As the bear approached, grown men crouched behind my wife, taking pictures. Instead of backing away like the rest of the crowd, she stepped forward, becoming the aggressor. The bear soon left the trail and went off into the woods. We knew none of this was going on as we made our descent down the slope; yet as we drew closer, people told us of there still being bears on the trail below. I guess all those years of dealing with my stubbornness, she wasn’t about to let a bear stop her.

Finally, we reached the mile marker where they had told us of the encounter. My wife was nowhere to be found, but the bears were still in the woods nearby, which we were able to observe. The excitement of the moment was brief, but the remainder of the walk down, we made our best blackbear1bear-calls, often causing oncoming hikers to stop and look for bears up or below the trail. Along with our bear sounds, we continued our “Hoop-laaaa” calls from night before, when we took a late night run to Krispy Kreme donuts. We were in that sugar frenzied state and yelling “Hoop-laaaa” out the window only made sense. Some people even began to echo back our crazy calls; it was a blast.

We were a bit tired, but excited from the adventure when we finally reached the base of the mountain. From there, we drove on into Gatlinburg. Famished, we found a quick bite to eat, and then waited for the afternoon storms to pass before we broke out the instruments and did a little buskin’ on the streets. One Asian gentlemen from Georgia wrote us a $25 check right there on the spot; that was another first; buskin’ for checks. We ended the evening with a late supper at Chik-Fil-A on the ride home.

2013-07-26 14.07.00The following day we slept in, resting from the previous day’s adventure and the final planned major event and part of the reason for our trip; the book signing at the B&N in Knoxville.

Like the rest of the week, the book signing was known but the people and stories told and heard during the event were as welcome and unexpected as everything else that had transpired during the week up to that point. On our journey home the following day, we were stopped for two hours on the interstate and had plenty of time to reflect on it all; it was a good feeling and a great journey we had been left with, regardless if we expected it or not. In a way, it made our eventual return home all the more welcome.

Those adventures we most cherish often come from the least expected opportunities; if only we choose to rise to meet them, this is our destiny.

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