What A Ride!

“This is the day the LORD hath made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!

Psalm 118:24


Jim’s Bucket List

My husband, Jim has always dreamed of owning a convertible. His eyes have always been set on a Miata. Yet, in the Fall of 2011 on the eve of Jim turning 50 June 2012, we came across a very sweet ride and purchased our Toyota Solara. Needless to say, mid-life crisis/fun had hit the Hawkins’ home.


One of our favorite areas is the Smoky Mountains. It is our favorite area because it is the area where we met, fell in love and have taken many trips together. Both our families had vacationed in the area before we met. Since the Smokies are one of our favorite places, we decided we would vacation there for a week the Summer of 2012.

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon’s Tail

In the process of planning our vacation, Jim mentioned that he would love to take the convertible out on the Dragon’s Tail. It is a stretch of road that is eleven miles of 318 curves. It is known as America’s number one place for motorcycles and sports cars to take a “joy ride” .

deals gap

Getting The Courage

When Jim described the route to me, I was hesitant because I don’t do curves/roller coasters very well. As a matter of fact I have not been on a roller coaster since my early college years. Yet, I could see the determination in Jim’s face of taking on this ride to say he had done it. 

Courage John Wayne

After much hard swallowing, going to the local Walgreen’s and stocking up on Dramamine and  praying, I agreed to take this adventure with him. After all he would turn 50 in a week and if this was all he wanted for his birthday, in the words of my son; ” I could cowboy up” and take on the adventure.

Smokey at the over look just before we start

Smokey at the over look just before we start “taming the tail”….I don’t think he was very sure of it either…

Deep Breath and Prayer

After stopping at the over-look and talking to other motorist who were about to tame the tail or had just returned from taming the tail, it was now for us to take on the adventure!

Smokey ready to take on the challenge!

Smokey ready to take on the challenge!

Without much hesitation (for Jim that is) we got in the car, put the seat belts on and begin the challenge. We knew once we started there was no turning around. In other words, we had commitment and there was no stopping until we got to Deal’s Gap.

Entering the Tail of the Dragon

God’s Challenges:

Challenges Ahead

Challenges Ahead

Just as the Dragon’s Tail was a challenge that Jim wanted to conquer, God places challenges us before us. Just like the Dragon’s Tail having 318 curves in eleven miles, there are times where God is going to place curves in the process of us meeting that challenge/calling. There are challenges that once we have commitment there is no turning back. All we can do is keep going until we reach the destination that he has planned for us. Just as I had to trust Jim’s driving those 318 curves, we have to trust God in his leading us.

There are those of us who are like Jim that when God calls us to take on a new challenge, we immediately rise to the occasion and with determination face the challenge and all the curves that go with it head on. Then, there are those of us who are like me. We have to a lot praying, convincing ourselves it will be okay, swallowing hard and realizing God is in the driver’s seat guiding us.

The Rest of the Story:

The Rest of the Story

After the first couple of curves, I was okay, As a matter of fact, I don’t know who was having more fun Jim or me. Each time we complete a couple of curves, you could hear a “whoo hoo!” cheering from the car. As far as needing the Dramamine, I didn’t need it. I was so caught in enjoying the ride that I forgot about all the concerns I had when Jim first brought up this challenge.

We Made It:

Us at the end of 'The Tail

Us at the end of ‘The Tail”
Deals Gap

Jim and I pulled into Deals Gap with a sense of accomplishment. We got out of the car all excited about what we had just done. After a few minutes of walking around taking pictures, talking to others and of course getting t-shirts to say we had “tamed the tail”, it was time to make the return back to Gatlinburg for a celebratory dinner. In the process of getting back in the car with our cola’s and snacks, I asked Jim which way are going on home. His reply; “babe, the same way we got here. Are you ready?” I looked at him and said; “it’s on!”.

The Journey:

the journey

No matter the journey that is put before us, it is when we trust God and his leading that we find out that the ride wasn’t as scary as we thought. It is by trusting him we see the fun, the adventure and the blessings that he puts in the path of the challenges. Just like the curves on the Dragon’s Tail each curve has something new for us to enjoy. Sometimes we have to seek those blessings a little more versus other times but in the end we reach that destination.

Turning 50:


In a couple of weeks, I will reach that magical number of 50. As this date approaches, I look back on all the curves that I have taken on throughout my lifetime and all the challenges that were before me. Some of the outcomes were awesome and some were not so good. Yet, I would not  trade this ride in life I have had thus far for anything. It is the thrills, the ups and the downs that has made my life interesting, fun and sometimes entertaining.

My bucket list may not (or maybe it will) have a thrill ride such as “taming the tail” but I do know that I want to enjoy each day God gives me to the fullest. I have come to a point in my life where I know that even in the hardships/struggles God has a blessing and lesson for me. It is up to me to seek that lesson and  blessing.

On March 14th as I awake and turn 50, I will look up at God and tell him that “it’s on!”.   In other words, I will keep my heart open to his calling and his purpose for me. Though there will be times in the days ahead where I may have to take a deep breath, swallow and hold tight to God’s hand, I will take on the challenges he puts before me. I will do this because I KNOW  arriving at the destination will be awesome!

Roller Coaster

“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body. BUT, rather skid in broadside thoroughly used up, totally worn out and LOUDLY proclaiming what a ride!”

(By the way, Jim and I ended up riding a total of 636 curves that day!)