March 14: Driving up to the Smokies


8:00 AM CDT, St. Louis
We leave St. Louis early. It’s gonna be a eight-hour drive.

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Packed up and ready to go at the break of dawn!

12:46 PM CDT, 30 minutes from Nashville
While driving peacefully for about a couple hundred miles on this two-lane highway, we run into an ornery and hostile person driving a semi carrying flammable liquid. We eventually escape him but we watch him tail some other unfortunate people in the rearview mirror.

5:48 PM EDT, Sevierville
We arrive at our Airbnb, a little, red cottage tucked into this mountain town. The place is equipped with all the amenities: a hot tub, fridge, microwave, cable, and heat.

6:42 PM EDT, Blue Moose Burgers & Wings
Good ol’ American burgers and wings are how we decide to end the night. I got their wings dipped in their Signature Hot sauce and Jaret dove into his Patty Melt and fries. Big meal for a big hike tomorrow!

March 14-17: The Great Smoky Mountains Reflection and Advice for Hikers
–> March 15: Hiking the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. Leconte


Dear World: Confessions from a Graduating 20-Year Old

Dear World,

I’m not ready for what people think I need to do. I’ve done everything that I could to prepare me for you, but I feel like it’s not enough. Everybody said that I was going to be fine, but it definitely does not feel like it. I’ve put in so much effort to look for jobs, to apply for them, and to interview well. I’ve done all those things, but I still feel incomplete and empty.

Is there a word for extreme dissatisfaction?

I’ve never been able to pick just one thing to study. The reality is — I don’t even want to do only one thing my entire life. I won’t be able to sit at a company and act as a cog in their machine. I don’t even care about money or success. I just want to be happy, but happiness is not guaranteed just because a person is rich and successful. My happiness is in a direct correlation with your less fortunate inhabitants and their health.

I want to cure your injustices; I want to heal your hurt. I want to show those that there is so much more to life than materialism and security. I want to scream at the top of my lungs and wake the blissfully sleeping bats in Plato’s cave.

But will they listen?

Will my search for a well-paying company that gives me the best healthcare and retirement plans change you —  change the lives of people who can’t access clean, filtered water? Will my ignorant comfortability save the children separated from their families? How does my middle-class success story help anyone break beyond the barriers of extreme poverty in America?

No. My dear World, I’m not ready for you. People are selfish and I don’t belong out there with them. Is it their fault? I don’t believe that anyone is inherently bad. But maybe, they’re just not ready for me.

A lost but optimistic girl who is hoping to change You someday,