One of the friends I met on our tour of Ireland a couple of years ago, Karen Rhode, came to visit this week from Rochester, New York. This is her second visit.
Last year I took her to all of my favorite back road places, scenic overlooks, and historical spots in Harlan County. We went four-wheeling, saw bears and had a great time together. I needed a plan this year for a different route.
We returned to the top of Kingdom Come State Park, which never gets old no matter how many times I visit. She was ready to revisit the views from the overlooks, comparing them to her current home in upstate New York, and the region of Washington State where she grew up. Our mountains are vastly different because of the lush temperate deciduous forests that exist here. I always love hearing visitors “oooh” and “aaaaah” at the beauty of our region.
We met another one of our Celtic tour travelers in London, Sandy Combs Taylor, for some catching up. Two years have passed since our adventure, but there is still a bond between us because of the adventures we shared on our journey. Although it wasn’t preplanned as a prerequisite for the trip, we found that we were all people of common faith. Another layer was added to our friendship as we traveled across the Celtic lands, took time for devotions, song, and private times or groups times of prayer.
Being in London already for that meeting with Sandy, I decided it wasn’t too far to add Cumberland Falls to our day. The Falls was always one of my favorite spots to visit during my college days at University of the Cumberlands. It is a place that holds happy memories for me of past friends, hiking, bonfires on the beach by the river, singing, and lots of laughter. I just wasn’t sure that a stranger would see the same beauty that always appealed to me.
The muddy waters of the Cumberland River were raging due to all of the recent rain. My friend lives a couple of hours from Niagara Falls, so I wasn’t sure she would be that impressed with Cumberland Falls. She was especially interested in the huge boulders that surround the river at the base of the Falls. Different from Niagara, Cumberland Falls is still pretty impressive. I only wish the sun had been shining to produce a rainbow.
I love meeting new people and seeing the world through their eyes. This New York friend, mother of eleven home births, and a Montessori home school teacher is a fascinating individual and her perspective of life in general is based on experiences that are very different from those I had growing up outside of Chicago and in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.
Before she heads back to New York, we are going to have a reunion with our Celtic tour guide who currently resides in Georgia. It is amazing how traveling together creates a bond of friendship between total strangers. On his agenda is a visit to the tallest waterfall in Georgia.
Worship leader, recording artist, photographer, and tour guide, our friend Coty Sloan is about as interesting person as could be met anywhere on the planet. Having performed before gatherings of thousands in Indonesia, and having toured or served on mission teams in several nations including New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, Coty has been equally willing to share his talents with us in his home, as friends do.
There are friends to be met and made around every bend. Some stay for a little while, some for a lifetime. We can’t know how long someone will be in our lives when we take a chance on forming a new friendship, but the blessings that come through new friends is almost always worth the effort.
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.