Well, it’s the end of the summer adventure. It’s been a great journey, but all journeys must end to allow a new one to begin.
After my fellow ACMNP team members left, I still had a week and a half to go. I thought it would drag on, but surprisingly passed fairly quickly. Of course, having some amazing adventures of my own helped with that. Check out my previous blogs for my two biggest of those adventures.
Working as storekeeper was a very demanding job to say the least. Sure, I may not have been working 12 hour days at the end of the summer, but the changing nature of the kitchen always kept me on my toes. At a certain point towards the end of my season, business slowed suddenly and I had to adjust everything accordingly. For my last month essentially, I was preparing for the closing of the season there. During my last week, I had the lucky pleasure of doing my third monthly inventory. I just wish my relief had really helped me out there. Unfortunately, my relief, the person who worked as storekeeper on my days off, was never quite a relief for me. Every week I had to go in and begin my week by fixing all the things that went wrong. This routine on my Monday typically made for my longest and most stressful day; those were the days I felt most useless because on the majority of those days, there was nothing I could do to solve the problems that had been created. But that’s all I’m going to say about that, because, honestly, it wasn’t a bad job. I might even say I enjoyed my job, despite the challenges it often presented. The head chef did ask me back next year, so I know that I’ve done well. As I finished my last day of work that Saturday and said my good-byes, there were audible groans and complaints from a lot of people. I can’t lie, it made me really happy to know that I would be missed in that kitchen.
The next day, since I was no longer leading services, I was able to attend Mt. Republic Chapel of Peace where my mentor this summer is located. He wasn’t expecting me and it was a nice surprise. I’m glad it turned out to be that particular week, because it was the celebration of Yellowstone’s Christmas in August. At a point during the service, I was introduced to the congregation and told them a little bit about my summer and my plans for the future. After the service, I was given some advice by one of the congregants who has gone the path I am considering for my future. I also met with a member of the national Board of Directors for ACMNP. It was really nice being able to meet with these people, because they had wise words for me and when I think about it, how great is God that he sends me and these people to the same place at the same time so this meeting can occur.
The next day was my last full day in the park. Check out my other blog for my adventure to the Old Faithful area. After I returned to Rosie, I had the opportunity to have a meal at the Lodge with my mentor and his wife, the board director I met the day before and his wife, and the former pastor of the local church there and his wife (both are legends in ACMNP; they served alongside ACMNP at the community church for over 30 years). This dinner with these folks was a really amazing opportunity. I was able to share quite a bit about myself and was able to receive more wisdom, guidance, and advice. There were also some other opportunities presented for me for next summer back in the Yellowstone area that I am continuing to think and pray about.
After dinner, I spent that night visiting with my coworkers once last time… and then finally started packing. The next morning I went through the checkout process and said some final goodbyes. I was leaving much later than I wanted, but that’s the way it usually goes for me. On the way out of that area, I made one last stop to talk with my parkwide mentor and to drop off the worship supplies for the next summer.
And so the drive home started. My first real stop was Chicago, so that I could visit a really good friend. On the way, when I was idling, I noticed some rumbling happening with my car and decided to get it checked out when I got my oil change along the way back to KY. When I got to Chicago, the rumbling became a knocking that was actually shaking the car. I met with my friend and had a good dinner, and then I planned to show him what was going on with my car. When I cranked the car, it just whined and sounded like a go-cart. Taking it for a quick test spin around the parking lot, I discovered it drove like a go-cart as well. We took my car around the corner to a mechanics and spent the night with my friend. The next morning I had a phone call from the mechanic. He told me my engine was falling apart. And so began the process of saying goodbye to the car I’ve had for nine years. Down below, I have a tribute to some of the memories I have with this particular car. But for the time being, my car was unable to finish the journey home. God’s grace is apparent as to the timing of it all. I had made it to Chicago, with the friend who would best understand me during this time. He and another friend saw that I made it back to Asbury. And so the summer ended and the transition to student life started once more, but that’s a story for another day.
Ode to Polyphemus: Abounding in song and legend
Okay, so it’s not really an “ode,” but I did want to share some of my favorite memories that I’ve accumulated in the past nine years.
Within the first week of having my car, I was backing out of my mom’s parking spot back home. There had been an old man running in the neighborhood a lot recently and I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t behind me, especially since I had the habit of backing up quickly without looking. As I turned to look behind me, I turned the wheel a little further and didn’t notice…until I back up like I normally do. I hit a tree next to carport and put a dent right behind my headlight, which no longer worked after that. Because I blinded my car with a tree, it reminded me of The Odyssey when Odysseus blinded the cyclops in order to escape. And so, my get-away car was officially named as Polyphemus, after that cyclops of legend. And one of my first (and few quite honestly) acts of auto-manliness was replacing that headlight myself.
The United Methodist magnet on my car has been on there since essentially the beginning. It’s actually the second one to be on there. That particular magnet, with the kids around the cross, was the symbol for the children’s program back at my home church. My first magnet was just the basic UM symbol, but that one was stolen off my car one night in college.
This car has been with me since my last semester of community college, through my university years, through my year as a teacher, youth director, and back to student again. It has been such a huge part of my life. I recognize it as a blessing, and yet I’m still attached to it. It’s always been ironic to me that it was an Escape, but it did allow my certain freedom that I’ve missed in the time I’ve been without a vehicle. I can’t just “get-away” when I need like I used to.
My longest roadtrips were my summers spent in the National Parks of Mesa Verde and Yellowstone. Both trips were about 24-27 hours one way.Yet the most common roadtrips always involved a place I called home, whether it was my home in Marianna or Pensacola, Blue Lake Camp, or the place I call home now, Asbury.
I learned that my car’s name, “Polyphemus,” has a meaning of “abounding in song and legend,” and I don’t think there’d be a more appropriate name for where so many memories of some of my favorite people happened. From “man dates” with my other brother in college to late-night food runs with my brothers here at Asbury, so much joy occurred within this little space. I actually really loved giving people rides when they needed it (except for that one time where I didn’t completely unpack my car for a semester…), it was one of the ways I could share the blessing with someone else.
And so, I thank God for the blessing He gave me. It’s been a great nine years and it never gave me any trouble until its time. He gives and He takes away, and He is always good and faithful towards His servants.