Carl Mays: “It was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it.”

Jun. 12, 2014 @ 11:58 PM

Quite a number of years ago, my friends Von Ogle and wife Margie sold their motel, and Margie said she wanted to get away for a long trip. My wife Jean ran into Margie at Gatlinburg’s Anna Porter Library, where Margie had been looking through some travel books. She told Jean she had decided on a trip to Spain.

So Von and Margie headed to Spain for a long trip (longer for Von than for Margie). About a month later I saw Von at Stacy’s Grocery/BP Station and asked him about Spain. Von, in his unique way of expressing himself, said, “It was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it.” He then added, “It took me two days to find a hamburger.”

Well, that’s exactly how I felt about my recent automobile trip from Gatlinburg to Flower Mound, Texas. Not the hamburger part, but the “interesting versus enjoying” part. It’s 932 miles from our driveway in Gatlinburg to our driveway in Flower Mound. The direct flight from Knoxville to Dallas is only about two hours, with our Texas home only 25 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth airport. But the car trip, according to my GPS, takes about 15 to 16 hours – if you don’t make any pit stops along the way.

I departed Gatlinburg last Wednesday, spent the evening in Jackson, visiting my brother, sister and families that night and the next morning. About Thursday noon I continued westward on I-40. With thunderstorm, tornado and flashflood warnings issued for Jackson and Northwest Tennessee, I ran into what media described as gale-force winds between Jackson and Memphis. It was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it. However, it did give even more meaning to Paul’s advice in First Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”

Leaves and limbs from trees lining I-40 westbound blew onto the highway and vehicles as the trees swayed and bent. Water running beside the highway was rising in its banks. Media later reported boats rescued some people in the area. A number of vehicles pulled over, but I wanted to drive through it and get out of there. At one point, traffic on the Interstate funneled into one lane because an 18-wheeler trying to pull onto the highway fell from the entrance ramp and landed on its side.

As vehicles remained motionless for a while, three police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck whizzed by us with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Apparently, the accident had just happened. When I finally reached and passed the wreck scene, I saw the truck lying on its side in the grassy area between the ramp and the highway, driver’s side down. I thought there was no way the driver could have survived. I still haven’t been able to learn the outcome of this accident at exit 68 on I-40 westbound.

As I passed through Memphis, I heard on the radio that 38,000 electric company customers were currently without power. But, thank God, the wind and rain had ceased when I entered the city limits. The sun was shining as I crossed the Mississippi River bridge and entered West Memphis, Ark. The storm had swept through the western part of Arkansas and, according to radio reports, was headed eastward toward Mississippi. Jonesboro, Ark., was especially hit hard.

I had made it through the havoc-wreaking weather – and now had only about 507 more miles to go, traveling through Arkansas and on into Texas – but certainly not all in one day. Little did I know then of the additional “interesting, but not enjoyable” adventure ahead. However, that story will have to come in the next column.

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. Email or visit