Thursday, August 30, 2007

Road Trip Destination: Louisville, Kentucky

We spent the weekend in Louisville, KY and met up with Jason, a fellow GCN'er from Northern Kentucky. He took the grey hound bus to meet up and spent the weekend with us. We arrived on Friday, Aug. 24th late afternoon and left the morning of Monday, Aug. 27th.

Seeing Louisville was fun but the main reason we planned this whole road trip was because our friend Becky (from Michigan) was competing in the Ironman competition. So much of our time was geared around that. But we also got to connect with some awesome GCN'ers in the area . . . .

Once we got into town and picked up Jason at the bus station, we got our hotel and then made our way to the Kentucky State Fair. It was fun to see local Kentuckyans in their native habitat (haha, okay not really but sort of) as we walked around booths and games and rides and horses and pick up trucks and national guard vehicles and men in military fatigues (purr...) and country music bands and such. The main draw for us was that Switchfoot was having a concert there. It sure was hot and humid in the outdoor stadium but it was fun.

Switchfoot has always been a favorite band of mine. I had been listening to Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) for more than a decade and so naturally I was drawn to Jon Foreman and the boys. His lyrics have always moved me! But I stopped listening to CCM at around 2001 when my paradigm of "Church" started changing. As I began to live more of an organic lifestyle of faith and started building friendships with people outside of the "church-culture" bubble, my music interests have been more in the genres of pop/rock/alternative - you know, the kind of music everyone else listens to. That may sound terrible to some but I found myself to be completely irrelevant and unrelatable to people who didn't identify as Christians when I was listening to solely "Christian music". What makes something "Christian music" anyway? I've experienced God move me incredibly through songs not thought of to be Christian. But I'm a Christian and I receive a song as a Christian so doesn't that make it Christian music to me? Anyway, I could rant right now, but i'll save it for later. Nevertheless, it was good to hear many of my favorite Switchfoot songs again, plus some new ones!

I will always love their song "This is your life". It touches me because I know what it's like to see my life go down hill. I saw God rebuild what I had torn down during my rock-bottom year of 2001 and the restorative years of 2002-2005. I've made reference to this season of my life in previous posts but i'm still not ready to blog about it yet. I found an awesome video that someone made with this song though. It doesn't tell my story (at all) but it does paint a moving picture of a man who's journey leads to God. Check it out here:

So I found myself flashing back to past memories, mistakes and regrets during the concert. But I did enjoy the concert! After the concert, we walked around the fairgrounds and listened to a couple of country music bands and even a heavy metal rock band. There were some interesting fair rides that I've never seen before either. Gosh, I don't remember amusement park attractions being so . . . . death-defyingly dangerous! Whew! No, we didn't try any. But these here Kentuckyans really know how to have a fair!

The next day, I had an early start thanks to good ole BeckyO. She lives in the states but it's like her internal clock is set to UK time. Our hotel room was right next to hers so since we didn't get to see each other when we arrived before the Fair & Concert, she decided to knock on our door at an ungodly hour I don't even remember right now (but i think the sun was still sleeping). We silently screamed and gave each other huge hugs like old girlfriends who hadn't seen each other in months (that's true actually). Last I saw Becky was when she was in SoCal several months ago. She is soooo moving to Long Beach. But anyway, we spent some time in her room (with her awesome Michigan friend/room mate who was also rooming with her in the hotel) then we eventually went downstairs for the groddy (that's worse that gross) breakfast waffles. Yeah, I went downstairs of the hotel with morning hair and morning breath wearing unflattering bedtime clothes just to hang out with Becky and to meet her friends and family. Only for Becky!

Afterwards, we had brunch then went to Ironman village to see Becky check in her bike. It was awesome to see so many triathletes. I noticed that they've all got something in common. Yes, they all have hot bods but that's not what I was going to say. They all have that sense of determination in their eyes. Focus. It was amazing. And yeah, the bods were too. Apparently the guy from the Bachelor was there. I don't watch the show so I wouldn't have recognized him. But I did get a couple photos of him though! You'll have to look at the Facebook album (link below) to see some. *grin*

But anyway, Becky couldn't hang out with us too much because she had to prep for the triathlon. I totally understood because that is a crazy yet incredible feat! She was going to swim for 2 miles, then bike for 112 miles, then run for 26.2 miles. C-R-A-Z-I-N-E-S-S!!!

So understandably, she couldn't join us for dinner as we met up with some other GCN'ers in the area. We met up at Wick's Pizza (which will be discussed in the "Pizza Wars" post. Actually, Michael will be my first Two World Collision guest co-blogger for that after our vacation. He'll write up his pizza reviews along with mine! So stayed tuned for that!). It was tons of fun meeting up with a couple other GCN'ers in this area. It's always good to share stories with people who have some kind of common thread. We're all on a similar journey so we should always try to connect so that we know that we're not alone in this walk of ours.

After dinner, we all went to Graeters for ice cream. Michael and I had never been there before - in fact, i don't think there are any of these in SoCal (that I know of). It was good stuff. We hung out for awhile and met up with a couple others. Then those of us who could stay later went to a magic show happening on Bellarmine University's campus. David is an awesome guy (and local GCN'er here) who is a student and also works there so he invited us to check it out. It was more like a comedy show because it was funny with a few kewl tricks. Plus, he was sooo gay! I could tell. That's not an insult just an observation that made the experience all the more fun and hilarious (because he was making comments to/about the girls as if he were straight). After the show, we went to a pretty kewl (and I suppose popular) music store called Ear X-tacy. That was fun. Then we decided to check out some more Louisville night life so we went to a dance club called "Connections". It was actually pretty fun! And it was definitely more lively than our experience at the club in St. Louis. Granted that was a weekday in St. Louis and this was a Saturday night in Louisville but still - it was alot of fun. Some of the bartendars in Louisville were noticeably friendlier than what i've seen before - both in SoCal and in St. Louis. Perhaps it was good ole Southern hospitality. We stayed out dancing and having a good time until close to 4am!

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 4:10am. Yes, Becky was up and awake getting ready for her triathlon. So rather than going to sleep, Michael and I went with them to Ironman village to see Becky start her race. (Jason stayed behind and caught up on zzz's).

So Michael and I were functioning on zero sleep. Becky and all the other triathletes and all the family and friends were getting ready for the big race. Yeah, it was still dark. The race would last all day and these heros will have tested their bodies to their max. So I can't really complain for being tired. Besides, it was exciting! There were about 2100 triathletes and the whole operation was pretty impressive. By the time the race started, Michael and I secured front row seats.

You want to know how fast Becky is? Everyone was lined up ready to jump off the dock one by one. My camera followed Becky as she moved up the line, got to the front, and by the time I snapped the picture, she had already been in the water! So I got her before she jumped but I didn't get a shot of her mid-air jumping into the water. She's quick like that! Actually, swimming is her strongest event. While we were waiting for Becky, I fell asleep standing! I was on the edge of a step and I nodded off and I suddenly grabbed on to the guy next to me. No, he didn't know me. He was startled but since I was half asleep, I couldn't think of what to say so I just kinda mumbled something like, 'oh i'm sorry'. I should have said, 'oh pardon me. I just fell asleep. While standing.' Hehe. And it happened again too! We relocated to where Becky and everyone else would exit the water and while waiting for her, I nodded off several times. There was a different guy standing next to me and I lost count of the number of times that I fell over and bumped into him side ways. It was kinda embarassing but funny as I think back on it. LOL, after Becky came out of the water and I cheered and took my pictures, I announced, 'okay, i can go to sleep now!' He kinda chuckled.

Becky's next event would be the 112 mile bike ride followed by the 26.2 marathon so we knew we'd have some time. We returned to the hotel to sleep for three hours, then we checked out of our room. We eventually got lunch/dinner then found a spot along the road to watch the runners go by. It's funny because we all had a chant prepared and sang for her when Becky went by! It's so amazing to see them go! One guy took a short break next to where I was sitting so that he could change his socks. This was his first triathlon and I asked him what motivated him to do this and he replied, 'Well, it's a mountain.' That was so inspiring! LOL, but he also said that this would probably be his last triathlon.

The really fun part was being at the finish line area. There were crowds of people lined up on both sides as everyone cheered for everyone running, jogging, or walking by. We all clapped, yelled, screamed, cheered, and rang lil cowbells in congratulations as the triathletes crossed the finish line. I found it moving to be a part of someone else's victory. There we were cheering for someone we didn't even know and being genuinely happy for their accomplishment. It was awesome because there were people who were crying as they approached the finish line. Many were even holding hands with family members. These people put their bodies through hell and got to the finish line where hundreds of people were cheering them on. And we contributed to their experience. It's amazing! Can you imagine what a bummer it would be to have silence as you finished? As if it were unnoticed? That would suck! So I cheered the best I could.

Then when Becky came around just after 11:00 PM, I exploded! She had been doing this for literally the entire day and here she was finishing. She had her mom in one hand and her sister in the other hand and together they crossed the finish line. Wow! What a day!

By the time this was all done, it had been a long day and everyone was tired. We met back up with David who let us stay at his (huge) place on campus. Thanks Dave!!! He's got an enormous apartment dorm room all to himself so he let us crash there since we only had our hotel room for two days and we had to check out. He saved us a buck plus it was super fun to hang out with him again more! =)

I can say that Louisville, KY was fun. We may not have been able to see a whole lot of sites and do the whole tourist thing, but that's totally okay. We'll be doing tons of that on our road trip. Really, the whole trip was planned to support Becky and to see her race. It was a pleasure to see her finish! Plus it was extra fun being able to meet her family and friends. And finally, it was really good being able to meet David and Larry and Jason and Pablo - somewhat local GCN'ers in this area. Oh yeah, and the dancing was fun too!

If you'd like to see tons of other pictures of the Louisville leg of our road trip, check them out here in my facebook album!

Next stop - Indianapolis, Indiana (via Cincinnati, Ohio)!

1 comment:

Jason said...

Thanks for letting me use the guest room Sunday night. Thanks for driving me around for nearly four days, and taking me back to my old Kentucky home! It was a great trip and the concert was so amazing. Be blessed Eric,

Jason Ingram
Florence, KY