Two weeks ago I went on a journey.
This journey was to accompany my friend on a road trip from Minnesota to Florida. My friend had recently made the decision to relocate to begin a new chapter in her life. Since I had recently transitioned out of my long-tenured corporate career and am now working for myself, I thought “hey, I can take off some time and tag along for the ride!” This was a pretty cool opportunity for me since I have never been to Florida (I know, I know… you are probably thinking… “she has never been to Florida? How strange…” strange but true…).
Five days in a car with a dog, traveling from the upper Midwest to the southern part of Florida via the “scenic” drive (meaning we took a round about way of getting there), might seem a bit daunting to some, but for me, it was an adventure with no expectations… and no worries. Considering I have only known Jill for less than a year, had never met her dog, nor knew what route we were really taking, it is pretty incredible that there was no trepidation on my part at all, and if there were any on her part, she didn’t share them with me!
Our trip was amazing in so many ways and I believe it was so awesome because I had no expectations… I was going with the flow as was my friend. We had faith that wherever the roads took us, was where we were supposed to be even if we had not planned it in advance.
We met some incredible people along the way… Joe Trainor, Jr. is the founder of 1Pet1Vet (www.1pet1vet.com), a non-profit organization where they rescue dogs from being euthanized and train them as service dogs, they then connect with a disabled Veteran, and they pair a dog and a Vet for LIFE…
Jill (iamjillstephenson.com) is a “Gold Star” mom, which is a title none of us would ever want because it is only given to those who have lost a child in the war. Jill is a pretty amazing chick because she chose to live in honor of her child (Army Ranger Benjamin S. Kopp) and keep his legacy alive by becoming a friend and confidant for many of his Ranger buddies. She also is a support to other Gold Star families and a very vocal advocate for organ and tissue donation.
Traveling with her was truly an experience because she has her Ranger “family” spread across the United States, giving me an opportunity to meet some fantastic people who are a part of this family of hers. Guys who have moved from active military, to doing incredible work as civilians, using all of those transferable skills that they honed while serving in this elite group of superstars.
I met a former Ranger who literally was blown up and suffered some pretty intense injuries. This guy doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself… instead he pumps iron and has become a “beast” of an urban cowboy. Hanging out with him definitely puts any of my minor complaints of aches and pains to rest very quickly!
The trip culminated at her new temporary home in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the beaches are as white as snow and the sunsets are beyond description. The serenity of the beaches and the calming sound of the surf at sunset was the best way to end our trip… totally grounded and at peace.
I am now back in Minnesota where the temperature is barely above zero fahrenheit, yet the warmth of the Florida trip has anchored into my soul. I only have to close my eyes and am back at the beach feeling the waves lap at my feet, the smell of the ocean breeze flowing through my nostrils, and the beauty of the sunset imprinted in my mind.
I highly recommend finding some time this year to go on a road trip… meet new people… get to know a friend better… and create a beautiful new mental “video” that you can replay over and over just by closing your eyes…
This blog post is dedicated to our military who continually put their lives at risk to protect our freedom and our country… God Bless You!