Travel notes are great comfort

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 16, 2013

God blessed my late husband and me with many happy years of married life. Mostly when a wave of grief over his loss overwhelms me, I push it away with good memories. Sometimes I turn to my travel journal.

We enjoyed trips to Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center near Waynesville, N.C. While he attended conferences and preachers’ meetings, I amused myself rocking on the porch of the historic Lambuth Inn, browsing the Cokesbury bookstore, reading, writing, and taking walks. One time I joined a vanload of ministers’ wives from our Alabama-West Florida Conference on a delightful shopping trip in Waynesville.

We made new acquaintances and chatted with old friends in the hotel dining room every day. During my husband’s free time we took short naps, explored the grounds, and browsed the bookstore together. We visited the Heritage Center and World Methodist Council Museums. We toured the museum in awe of the largest collection of artifacts commemorating the earliest beginnings of the Wesleyan movement.

As we drove along the winding road to the hilltop site of Lambuth Inn, our favorite Junaluska hotel, we passed the cross that is visible from almost any point at the conference center. A couple of years, we stood near that cross and watched Fourth of July fireworks colorfully illuminating the sky above the lake. We attended patriotic concerts presented by the Lake Junaluska singers. We heard inspirational speakers at worship services. Twice we attended Folkmoot, a fascinating international folk dance festival, performed in the large lakeside auditorium.

As we entered Lambuth Inn parking lot one year, several people relaxed in the rocking chairs on the porch. When we stepped out of the car, I paused to drink in the beauty of our tranquil surroundings. Following one trip to our room with a luggage cart, we returned to the car and loaded it with bags of books and shoes, a package of books on tape, and a case with our binoculars inside. I held onto the cart while my husband closed the car door and walked around to shut the trunk. Somehow, I lost my grip on the cart. I grabbed for it, but it was too late. A loud clatter broke the tranquility of the moment, startling my husband and those on the hotel porch. The cart gained momentum as it raced out of control across the two-lane street. It rolled toward a parallel parking area backed by a rock wall approximately three feet tall. It struck the wall. The back part of it bounced, tossing the binocular case on the street. Everything else remained intact and undamaged.

My husband said he had visions of it jumping the wall and careening the 300 feet or more to the lake below. Giddy with a set of nerves and relief on the elevator, we laughed all the way to our second floor room.

Little did I realize that when I jotted in my travel journal it would one day be a source of comfort.