I got back from Kentucky yesterday afternoon. It was a marathon trip. We departed church on Wednesday at 7:30PM, drove until we reached Staunton, VA at 2:30 in the morning. Slept in a hotel until 7AM, ate at Cracker Barrel, got in the truck, and arrived in Lynch, Kentucky at 2:00PM on Thursday afternoon. Do you think we stayed long?? NOPE!!
We got back in the truck at about 5:00PM Thursday, drove back to Staunton, VA, arrived at midnight, stayed at a hotel, got up at 6 AM, ate at WAFFLE HOUSE!!!! and then arrived back at church at about 3 PM Friday afternoon. So, in 43.5 hours, I drove to Kentucky and back, stopping only for sleep and meals. about 25 of those hours were actual driving time. Woah!
Why all this craziness? Because we're planning a mission trip. Lynch, KY is a coal mining town with a population right around 1,000 people. The mine is the main employer in the town, and most everybody else is unemployed. The work at the mine is not consistent, as it fluctuates with the price of oil. Oil goes way up, people buy more coal. Oil comes back down, people stop buying coal, and the mine lays off the workers. A large number of the houses are in terrible shape, and the people are either 1) Disabled and can't afford to have the work done, or 2) able to do the work themselves, but can't afford to buy the materials. There is also a pretty big drug problem in the town.
So, we're partnering with a small organization whose purpose is to minister to the people of this part of Kentucky. We visited some of the potential houses that we'll be working on. There is no building code enforcement, so a lot of the houses that have had work done are substandard. For example, a lot of people don't have indoor plumbing, but if they do, many of them drain into the river that flows through the town. Some houses just have a hole below the bathroom, and some still have outhouses. At another house we saw, the daughter built a house right behind her parents' house, and until recently, didn't have power at all. She didn't have water either. She now has a garden hose that runs from her parents' house to hers so she has some water.
In the past 10 years, we've been told, the town has made some improvements, due largely in part to church groups and mission groups that have come in to help build. We're hoping to bring a group of 15-20 people to do some work. We'll see what happens...
1) Driving through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I've driven there a couple times, and it is just about one of the most beautiful places in the Eastern US. Especially when it's November, and the leaves are still in their autumnal glory!
2) Climbing Black Mountain on the VA/KY border. It's the highest point in KY (about 4,300 ft.), and the road that goes up it is full of switchbacks and no guardrails. The view at the top is awesome!
3) Waffle House!! OK, so it isn't the finest in cuisine, but every time I've been south, I've wanted to go to one. I finally got my chance. How was it? In one word...GREASE! It was great. The best part were the hash browns. They come plain, or with you choice of the following toppings: cheese, ham, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, chili, or jalapeno peppers. Or, you can get them "all the way". That means "all of the above". Which do you think I got??? That's right, ALL THE WAY!!! No regrets!
Add a generous portion of grits and sweet tea at every food stop, and i'm a happy guy!
And now, here's a video that has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post. It's a tribute to John Williams. He's the guy that wrote the music to Star Wars, Superman, ET, Jaws, and many others.