As I’ve journeyed from Portland to, presently, Minneapolis, I’ve obviously covered a lot of country. And like so much of this trip, it’s been an opportunity to enjoy locality – the “localness” of various cool places all across the U.S.
While I’m not hanging out for long in any one place during this TRECC, there has still been some great locality to enjoy this week.
[If you’re new, this is a special week on the blog. Catch up at the TRECC Itinerary.]
The accents, for instance. I just about freaked the first time I heard somebody really talk like that. You know, the Great Plains accent that we sometimes hear on movies – films about yous guys up here, don’tcha know.
The first version of this accent I got to hear belonged to a lady at the info desk at Montana Tech in Butte. I asked her where the bookstore was, but once she opened her mouth I had to force myself to pay attention to her information. I was enthralled by the accent, to say the least.
Later that day, elsewhere in town, I even got a “You betcha!”
Meanwhile, my own accent continues to betray me this week. And along with that comes the first-name problem I have mentioned before. If you didn’t read that post way back in October, the short version is that northerners seem to have a very hard time understanding me when I say my first name. That’s right – I say “Ben,” and they hear “Bill”! Twice in the past 2 days, in fact. In my vocabulary, “Ben” rhymes with “thin,” but apparently that doesn’t work too well in some parts of the country.
So that’s a glimpse of locality, too – the kind that reminds me that I’m a fish out of water.
The “You betcha!,” meanwhile, came from a waitress at a random fast food place in Butte. I was about to hit a national chain on my way out of town, but I remembered my preference for locality (even in my food). So I pulled into Royse’s Hamburgers, Shakes, and More.
I chose to enjoy the “Shakes” part and the “More” part. I followed the counter girl’s suggestion and ordered what turned out to be an amazing breaded pork-chop sandwich. I also got a blackberry cheesecake shake (one of about 20 milkshake options). The “cheesecake” portion of the shake came via these little cheesecakey cubes that looked an awful lot like croutons. So, naturally, I asked if they ever switch out cheesecake cubes for the croutons when people order salads. The lady said no, they do not.
Another nugget of locality has been the weather. What’s so funny is that for a month now – in Moscow / Pullman, Seattle, and then from Portland to here, the natives of these cold places have been complaining about their own weather. Apparently snow on April 12th (yes, we got some today) isn’t completely normal for them, either – or at least not as much snow or cold as we’ve been seeing.
But regardless of their own views, this weather has been nuts for me. Probably the lowest sustained temperatures I’ve experienced all trip have been in the last 3-4 days. Wowzers. You betcha.
The last bit of locality from today is something else I’ve experienced all trip. It’s the joy of seeing famous pastors in their home pulpits, serving the flocks they know and love. That included John Piper tonight – and there should be others tomorrow, if they’re in town this weekend. In the past, this same sort of locality has included seeing guys like Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Matt Chandler, and Ed Young, Jr. preaching to their own flocks.
It was great fun seeing Piper, who I’ve seen plenty before at conferences and even at his alma mater, speaking to the home crowd. He wasn’t “radically different,” by any means, but I could tell Dr. Piper was home, free to be goofy and funny and self-deprecating and arm-flailing and personal, making inside jokes and hometown references. He was actually shepherding a congregation, not just prophesying to a bunch of college students (like I’ve usually seen him).
Locality. The accents, the food, the weather, the churches – along with the mountains, the plains, and the campuses – give great recent examples of the near-daily locality I get to experience on this trip.
I heard Hillary Clinton on a stump speech today talking about traveling all over the country, meeting real people doing real work in real places – or something like that. She talked about this roaming-life like it was a privilege, and she’s right. To see much of our country on the local level, to meet individuals who make their homes in Butte, Montana, or Pacific Palisades, California, or Scranton, Pennsylvania… to enjoy the richness of the local soil within which God’s life is meant to grow… the unique experience of this locality is a privilege indeed.
In case you’re wondering, I’m pausing here in Minneapolis for the churches I wanted to visit today and tomorrow. So today was like many Saturdays have been – the perfect day to catch up on the simple, boring necessities. Finances, organization, emails, car registration.
Tomorrow will be nuts, though. Sundays always are.
- Today’s T-shirt: University of Washington
- Today’s states: 1 – Minnesota
- Miles driven today: 26 (just around Minneapolis a bit)
- Campuses visited today: 0
- Total TRECC states: 6
- Total Trip states: 35
- Total TRECC miles: 1864ish
- Total TRECC campuses: 5
- Total Trip campuses: 96
- Time left until start of College Metro in Wake Forest, NC: 3 days, 9 hours as of 11pm Central Time