August 19th, 2016 was the most relaxing day of the year. I met up with Maggie, a girl I knew through mutual friends. She was one of my coworker’s daughters. My coworker set us up and we spontaneously planned a photography road trip. Now, you would think, “This is going to be so awkward. I am driving 3 hours with a total stranger.” It was the total opposite. It was as if we have been friends for years. How do you spontaneously plan? Isn’t spontaneity all about going with the flow and not having an agenda or a plan? It was so nice to just “go with the flow.”
I am a morning person, so Maggie and I agreed to leave Montgomery by 7:30 AM -8:00 AM, which gave us plenty of time to explore. The whole plan was to stop at places on the way down to the beach. We hit Troy by 9:30 AM and stopped at the “World’s Famous Bar-B-Q House.” There were a few cars parked out front but they opened at 10 AM. We sat in my truck for a while until a man came up to our window and said in his thick southern accent, “Ya know ther’ open, right?”
Our next stop was the Pioneer Village. I pass by this quaint village every time I drive down to the beach, but I don’t think to stop. I am so glad I did. The Pioneer Village is a part of the Pioneer Museum but it consists of small little local shops and boutiques. The only shops open were the general store and the diner. It was early in the morning so I was not expecting people to really be around. The general store greeted us with her bright smile and welcomed us to the village. Normally when I photograph, people always give me weird looks, but she was so welcoming and inviting. She talked to us about the area and how they were trying to make some business. She sold fresh produce and little souvenirs! Definitely a quaint and quirky place to visit if you’re heading down to the beach. We stayed a good bit to photograph.
Next, we stopped in Ozark, AL at Pat’s Petals. The owner was this sweet old lady dressed in a red tank top, denim shorts, and a sun hat. She looked so happy and vibrant in her garden shop. She greeted me with a hug and asked, “Are you kids playing Pokemon?” She explained to us how the kids around town stop by her shop just to catch Pokemon. She spoke to us as if she’s known us for years. Her whole garden was decorated with scripture.
Later she asked us if we liked cars. Then she asked us if our boyfriends liked cars… Eventually she showed us her show cars parked in her garage. Now you’re probably thinking, WHY ARE YOU GOING INTO A STRANGER’S GARAGE. But really, look at her. She’s harmless. Plus if anyone tried anything, I had my knife on me. She told us about her career in the show business and remembered the good old days. Then she taught us the Ten Commandments. She was entertaining. I’m sure it gets lonely when you’re by yourself in the middle of nowhere. As she was walking us out to my truck,she gave us small devotional and a piece of advice, “We work for the Lord and if you don’t love what you do then you need stop what you’re doing and do what you love! God bless you both! God loves you, I love you!” She was the most genuine and kind-hearted woman I have ever met.
After an hour and a half drive, including a stop at Our Place for lunch, we finally made it to the white sand, the clear blue water, and the blazing hot sun. We set up near the shore, soaking up the beauty of the day. It was hot, but there was a cool breeze caressing and cooling our faces. We were at a private beach but we didn’t care. Luckily, no one bothered us. This could have easily been the best day of 2016.
I just sat there looking out at the ocean. We picked a great spot and a great day because there was a long sand bar near the shore. It was convenient for short people who don’t want to get washed up on the shore. Our neighbors beside us were Asian and it looked like they were having a family reunion. They kept looking at us as if we were invading their space and speaking about us in their language. Later, they blasted their Asian music (something my parents would do too.) Maggie took a small nap while I organized my life, read a few Psalms, and people watched. After that, Maggie and I just sat in the water in silence, admiring the beauty and peacefulness of the ocean. After soaking up the sun for 2 hours, we left the comfort of the beach and explored. We explored the beautiful community of seaside for the rest of the day before we finally left for home.
After going through all my music albums, we made one last stop before heading home. Maggie wanted to make a stop at the Pioneer Village again to grab a snack at 8:00 at night. My stomach was growling and I could not wait to have food in my mouth. Around 8:30,the owners greeted us with a warm welcome into their restaurant and made us feel at home. The restaurant was called Branding Iron Grill. Maggie ordered a side of sweet potato fries while I order a side fries, fried okra, and a grilled cheese sandwich. They even offered us a free slice of Louisiana cake. If you’re craving some good southern comfort food, then I highly recommend visiting this cute diner! Good service is a sign that the food is good as well.
I did not want to leave. All of my worries were gone. I was so at peace and content with my life at that moment. I was doing what I love in a lovely place. It was the most fruitful day of my soul. My heart was so full.
I am blessed. My soul is well.