I announced yesterday that I would be taking my ninth solo, multi-state road trip over the next couple of weeks. But I realized I still haven’t counted down all the early road trips that were so integral to how God got me to this exact spot in my life.
Of course, I didn’t know the importance of the first six trips until God took me on the seventh, the yearlong road trip I concluded last August. So here’s how it all began – the six trips that prepared me for a year on the road:
1. The First One (Spring 2004 from Abilene, TX to Los Angeles, CA)
Back then, I was supporting my college ministry habit (in part) by buying and selling Christian books online. As a result of a particularly mighty eBay victory, I sojourned out to L.A. to pick up my 600 books. I spent time with my nearly-married friend Jake, loaded my Corolla to the brim with as many books as I could, threw the rest away, and headed back.
But during the trek I also visited some college campuses. It was neat exploring these cool mission fields, fields so different from the ones I presently served. I liked it.
2. Collegiate Week (August 2005 from Abilene to Asheville, NC)
I was between college ministry involvements at this point, so I figured I’d travel to the eastern version of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Week rather than my usual visit to the conference in New Mexico. Great week, and I had several opportunities to interview college ministers for some articles I was working on. I also remember sleeping in my car, which was still that Corolla.
I was learning one important equation: visiting campuses + college ministry training + interviewing college ministers = awesome.
3. Campus Revival (February 2006 from Abilene, TX to Wilmore, KY)
Spring Semester, 2006, turned out to be quite the road tripping extravaganza.
First, my dad sent me an email reporting a few-days old revival situation at Asbury College, and soon enough I was spending a cold Friday morning in their final chapel service of the week. I toured the campus, spent the snowy weekend in Wilmore and Lexington, and headed back. By this time, I was quite adept at finding other colleges along my route, as well.
4. Collegiate Summit (April 2006 from Abilene to Nashville, TN)
This trip took me to a once-every-three-years conference for Baptist college ministers at a Nashville hotel. Once I realized I would benefit from arriving early, I took off in the middle of the night and slept in a park east of Dallas on the way. Still, I experienced a great conference, plus some additional campus visits (even though I had been thataway only a couple of months earlier).
5. Hawaiian Honeymoon (May 2006 from Abilene to Hawaii, kind of)
The road part of this road trip was actually only to L.A. and back, but I also attended my buddy’s wedding in Hawaii. I detailed this absolutely phenomenal trip and its craziness here.
It’s important to note that this trip finally destroyed the Corolla, while also providing my present car, the Pathfinder. (Details are here. It was all a little nuts.) And this trip also provided plenty of college visits, particularly when I spent a few days longer in L.A. than I was counting on.
6. Hidden Preparation (Spring 2007 from Dallas to Chicago)
At the time, I thought I was taking some vacation days at the end of an exhausting year of college ministry. I did, of course, visit several schools along the way – and they was a large part of my Chicago wanderings, too.
What I didn’t realize is that I would return to Chicago only a few months later, as the first stop on the yearlong trip. This was amazing Providence, as I was scouting the area where I would need both information and confidence… and didn’t even know it.
Bonus: The Mad Libs eBay Road Trip (March 2007 from Dallas to Birmingham, AL)
This one wasn’t solo (it was a college ministry mission trip), but it did prepare me for fast-scheduling and unknown destinations. Read about it here.