Driving on the highway with a group from church and having just a good “ole” time! Some are in their own little world staring out of the widow watching the cars zip by at night. It’s around 10:30pm as some are already about to fall asleep. You got several guys in the back of the van laughing as they play a card game. Then you hear an unusual noise, which everybody freezes and quiets down. The driver slows down and pulls to the side of the busy highway as these big semi-trucks honks by us. The people falling asleep wakes up wide eyed and looks side to side wondering what’s going on. The driver gets out of the van and checks the engine while the passengers wait with anticipation. The driver comes to the driver seat with a not so happy look, and looks back to give some “bad news”. Everybody gets out of the car and help pushes the van as these cars and semi truck whizzes by us in the dark-their headlights provide some light to have us seen one another. After a mile or so, we finally use the momentum of going down the decline slope for the van to go up the entry ramp to exit out of the highway; the guys pushing the van slows down and lets the driver steer the van to it’s destination. When we caught up to the van on top of the ramp, we continued to push it to the nearby gas station on right corner. I look around, and see some trying to catch their breath and many of us look relief as we parked the van. Fortunately, the gas stop was a motel attached to it too, so we discussed who will sleep in a comfortable bed. While many of us young men volunteered to sleep in the van-thank God this is during Spring!
This is one of several stories I plan to share on my “road trip” experience across some parts of the U.S.A. in this entertaining website. I decided to do this today-Sunday, February 15, 2004 because my housemate and I were reminiscing my road trip stories after we talked about doing one sometime. He told me to write about it , so I decided to do the one above and others (all starting from Morris, Minnesota. Above is a story of my trip with a group of church leaders-”Outfitters for Adventure”-in the spring of 1999-when we went to Nashville, Tenessee. The location of this “unexpected” problem of 2 we faced in this trip to and from Tenessee was by this truck stop in Kansas.
To Tennessee: Stopped at Kansas
We were driving south on I-29 in Missouri going torwards Kansas City when the van (belonged to a family in our local church) started to “act-up”. I forgot what the exact problem was, but we had to push the van to a nearby gas station along the highway and have it looked at the next morning. I believe we stayed at this particular truck stop from 11p to 11am the next day (some time in April)! Several young men of the bunch slept in the van while the other men couldn’t take the back aching, so they slept at the motel at the truck stop.
To Minnesota: Stopped at Kentucky
I was just watching the homemade video of my trip from Tenesee and back to Minnesota during this report of the same trip above. We thought we were done with van problems, but we had another problem when our water pump of the same van broke. I actually video taped this moment to be able to reflect on this. The van broke down again at this place called “Between the rivers” by Paducah, Kentucky. I was laughing as I was watching the video with my housemate because I video taped my friend Mark playing by a fenced buffalo field. This was going on while some of the other guys were looking at the broken water pump. After prayer, God sent a couple of bikers to this gas station to help us in our unpredictiment situation. We got stalled early in the afternoon sometime in April and we got back on the road sometime early the evening that day-not as long as the trip from Minnesota to Tennessee!
To Nashville from Dickson: Stopped Between
We went to the same regional retreat in 2001, like the previous year. This time, we didn’t have any car problems from Minnesota to Tennessee and back. However, we had problems during the retreat when several friends and I asked someone from our local church if we could borrow his van. We were planning to drive through Nashville, which was 45-60 minutes east on I-40 in Tennessee. We entered the highway and then we heard a thump after just only less than a minute on the interstate. My friends and I got out of our friend’s van to see what the problem was; another dilemna! Fortunately we had a cell phone, and we broke the sad news with the van’s owner and got picked-up in 30 minutes. While we were waiting, we tried to get someone to pick us up. No one bothered to stop to help us! From this lesson, I do my best to see that I don’t do this to someone in our similar situation. We got picked up by some guys that took a caravan with us from Minnesota-from Cambridge (north of the Twin Cities). I went along with the van owner to have his vehicle towed to a nearby mechanic. The closest shop was in Dickson, Tennessee-this is where the van stayed overnite to get fixed! I went a long with a group back to Minnesota, while some others stayed with the van owner for another day to wait to get it fix. He ended up paying thousands in repairs!
To Minnesota from Montana: Stopped in Havre, MT
We just finished our week long national Family Camp in Hungry Horse, Montana in August of 2002. My local pastor-Neil, David, and I packed our tents and left right away after the last session of the camp to start on the road to Minnesota. Neil wanted to get to Morris in a particular time, so he would give a “little” push on the gas pedal to past cars ahead of us that were going too slow along the 2 -way state highway (#2). The transmission made a noise in a town after Havre, and we broke down in front of some farm. Fortunately, the owner of the farm was there and let us use his phone, which Neil called some contacts to hook-up us with a pastor around the area. God connected us with a family in Christ back in the town we past by-Havre, MT! For more of this story…Hungry Horse Trip 02’.
My first ever road trip was probably in the Philippines when I was 3 (1979/1980), but I can’t really remember. The earliest road trip memory was when I was “little” (sometime in the 1980’s) going to Grand Rapids, Minnesota with my family. We stayed at this lakeside resort for a weekend that was offered through some “big” purchase my parents made. I just remember my mom packing all this food to eat, so we won’t go hungry and yelling!
Then, we went to Duluth another year, which was a foggy day of our road trip up north along I-35 from St. Paul. I remember visiting the famous tourist attraction-draw bridge that went up and down! My dad drove the “big” tan colored “mighty” Suburban, which was like an RV for us! I remember going up one of the steep hills, and the Suburban had to do some tough climbing! Then we visited some military air base nearby and that’s probably all I can remember. I know it was our last big trip my family took!
There are too many other countless trips all over Minnesota to write about each one. As I’ve been living and attended school at UMM: 95’-99’ -Morris, MN, my trip from here to and from the Twin Cities is the most frequent trip I’ve made so far. Within this 2 ½-3 hour drive (one-time 2 hours and another 4 hours plus), I’ve witnessed many accidents in different seasons of the year. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced only 1 car accident myself-I thank my Heavenly Father for watching over me. I have to attribute this to my constant prayer before and sometimes during the road trip, which I highly encourage to you all road trip enthusiasts! My former classmate from middle school-high school died on the road in a head on collision with a semi! (story)
-To Atlantic City, New Jersey from New York, New York
I went with my sister and mom to visit our relatives (mom’s side) in June (close to 4th of July) of 1990 by plane. My relatives we were staying with for about a week in Bronx, N.Y. took us in a short road trip to visit the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I remember crossing the Hudson River and admiring the awesome architectural design bridges around-just like the movies! We checked out the famous “Boardwalk” and the ritzy gold shinning casinos owned by the rich tycoon-Donald Trump. We had a homemade video footage of the short road trip, and some reason we took a short clip of a rest stop. That’s about what I can remember of this short road trip!
-To Minnesota from Colorado: Stopped nearby Owatonna, Minnesota
I went along on a caravan to Denver, Colorado and back to Minnesota in the summer of 1996. I joined a group with people from the Twin Cities to attend a national conference by Equinox International. I went along with some high school friends that graduated the year before. It’s been such a long time that I don’t remember much of the road trip. I can remember the beautiful scenery entering the Rocky Mountain from the Great Plains of the Midwest. It was my first time in this part of our beautiful country! Then in our way back past the Iowa border, the car broke down. Fortunately, we did have a caravan-some others rode in front and behind us in another car. They went ahead to the next road stop-Owatonna, where one of the drivers knew someone that lived there. From there, we somehow got out of our dilemna and continued on to the Twin Cities!
-To Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin from St. Paul, Minnesota
This was a fun memorable trip I took with several of my old high school friends: Sean, Ric, and Jason- in the summer of 1997. We went there for a weekend and got to Wisconsin Dells and found a motel to stay for the weekend “last minute”. Yes, I mean “last minute” as we drove through the strip trying to find a motel and all of them had “no vacancy”. Fortunately, we found one outside of town as we had to drive on I-94 outside of town to find one. It was God divine, as we found out at the end of the trip (as we were cleaning up our motel room and packing our car to head back home) that the people that were staying next door to us were Sean’s cousins from Illinois!
-To Smithton, Missouri from Glenwood, Minnesota
In the Spring of 1999, I went along with some college peers to this “Revival Outpouring” in Smithton, Missouri. It was a year of many other “revivals” going on in UMM-Morris, MN in 1999! We took a bus coach ran by Keys Ministries along with many others that we picked up along the way starting point-Glenwood, MN. I remember going through across central northern Minnesota (
-To Chicago from Minnesota
I’ve gone to Chicago 3x already since 2001:
First, was in 2000 to visit friends that I used to attend school with at the University of Minnesota-Morris from 95’-99’. I took my 96’ Chevy Blazer all the way to Chicago from the Twin Cities. I was living in Morris, so I drove to St. Paul to stay over at my parent’s house for a night. The next morning around 6am, I left by myself to Chicago driving through the beautiful green hills of Wisconsin-a lot more hilly then the flat great plains of the state of Minnesota! I arrived in a west suburb of Chicago around 12 noon to visit a UMM friend name Charles. From there, I went on a series of visits of other UMM Alumns that lived all around this “Windy City”.
Second, was in 2001 when I helped moved a former resident of mine from Clayton A. Gay Hall II-III in 1997-1998. Her name was Keia, who ended up being the commencement speaker that year and gave an awesome “God glorifying” speech. She happened to have the opportunity to be in the same platform of the guest speaker, Paul Welstone, who has been deceased since the unfotunate-unexpected plane crash in the following year. I went all the way to St. Cloud to pick-up a cargo van from Enterprise Car Rental and drove it back to Morris to load Keia’s belongings. We did a weekend trip before her graduation, so we left late Friday night and came back early Sunday morning. I remember picking-up some grub at my old workplace-Taco Bell in St. Paul’s east side before continuing on in the late night to Chicago. It was around 2am when we arrived at the place Keia was going to store her stuff temporarily. I was too tired, so I decided to sleep in the car rental cargo van overnight in the middle of some neighborhood in south side of Chicago! The next morning, I had to buy some clothes in a local Wallgreens because I forgot to bring my duffle back of clothes. Fortunately, I got a good deal there-3 different Chicago tourist t-shirts for less than $10! While Keia did her errands at home for a short-time, I went across the street to hangout at this nearby playground. Being a “minority” in Minnesota was a usual lifestyle, but when I went to Chicago’s southside-I was part of the majority “minority”! Pretty much everybody at the local playground was African American, and I can remember seeing a few white folks!
Third, was in 2003 when I went to see a former resident’s wedding-Ryan and his soon to be beloved wife-Jen! I also took a rental vehicle from Enterprise, but this one was in my old neighborhood in St. Paul’s east side. We took a Dodge Intrepid (similar to my friend Mark’s), which was less of a gas hog compared to the cargo van in 2001! I went along with 2 friends-international students-former housemates-from Ghana, Africa! They both graduated in May and we left somewhere in the last week of the month. Prince had to finish some assignments from his last semester, so we just took a weekend trip. We left Friday afternoon from Morris, which we took turns driving. Deja-vu, we got there almost the same time I last went to Chicago-around 1am! We stayed at our former housemate’s new place-Randy. The wedding went well despite some technical difficulties-DJ’s sound system wasn’t working, so they replaced that time with shares about Ryan and Jen from family and friends! Around 10am Sunday, we left back to Minnesota, but we went on a quick drive-by to Navy Pier for Paul to see. It was his first time here in Chicago, so I wanted to show him the big tourist attraction of the “windy city”!
-To Atlanta, Georgia from Minnesota
I wanted to check out this African American college/youth focus conference by Campus Crusade for Christ’s Impact in 2000 during New Year’s Eve-New Year. The purpose: to get equipped in reaching African Americans at UMM-Morris, MN with Alpha & Omega. I was the lone representation from our very young college campus ministry as I served as co-adviser. I was looking forward to this unique cultural experience! I contacted our fellow A&O brothers and sisters in the UofM-Twin Cities campus and they hooked me up with a couple of college students to ride with to meet the rest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I got to know these guys very well in the short-road trip from being picked up at Olsen’s gas station by my parent’s neighborhood in St. Paul to Milwaukee’s Greyhound bus station. In here, we met a partially busload of A&O members from the UofM-Twin Cities campus. Then we went to several cities along the way to pick-up more conference attendees along the way to Atlanta, Georgia. Again, I brought my video camcorder, which we watched the unedited recorded video on the bus on our way back to Milwaukee, WI. It was a fun trip, which I found some cool relationships, which I would love to follow-up on to this day-Sunday, February 15, 2004! For more….see Impact Conference
-To Mexico from Arizona, U.S.A. in Nogales
Some friends and folks from UMM’s IVCF took a short-term mission trip to Mascarenas & Nogales, Sonora-MEXICO in the early summer of 2001. We took a plane from MSP International Airport to Phoenix, Arizona. When we arrived there, we immediately took a airport shuttle to a nearby rental facility nearby to go on board of this rental van my friend reserved. We headed right away as the night was getting dark in the Arizona desert. Our destination was Nogales, AZ-a 3 hour drive along I-10 and I-19 changing in Tuscon, AZ. Since it was at night, we couldn’t see much, except the lighted city of downtown Tuscon along the way. When we went back after our mission trip (full-story), we took our time on our way back stopping at some tourist attractions. The red rock/desert formation and cactuses kind of got a little dull, which I learned to appreciate the beautiful greenery and 10,000 + lakes we had in Minnesota!
-To San Mariano, Isabella from Manilla-PHILIPPINES
I went on a 11 hour road trip in the much poorer road surfaces in the Philippines than our much to be thankful well maintained highways of the U.S. I remember the 3-4 lane highways in the big nation’s capital city of Manila, and then it shrunk to a 2 way highway heading out of the city to rural provinces of this island nation. The trip was very long, but very scenic when my uncle took my mom, sister, and I to our cousins in San Mariano. My uncle didn’t have a CD player in his 4x4 Toyota Truck, but instead a tape player. Fortunately, I had one of my praise and worship tapes-Live from Belfast-you can hear it in the background in my homemade video tape in my last trip to my parents’ homeland in October 2001. For more on this…Philippines Trip 2001
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