Road Trip Recap

Like I said in my previous post, I spent the final 10 days of April traveling through North Carolina! It was so great being able to go from city to city, visiting different stores with Alley that sold Tevas. Our route looked a little something like this:

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I’m quite certain we hit every single REI and Mast General Store that exists in the state, which should warrant that we earn some kind of award from Teva for most miles driven. Ambitious, I know, but I don’t think I’m wrong.

CHARLOTTE

I’ve been to Charlotte a handful of times in my life, but I haven’t spent as much time there as we did this trip. While we spent 4 of the 5 days there at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, we were able to check out some really cool spots around the city both in our off-time and on the 5th day as we hit stores around the perimeter.

One of my goals on the road is to find good coffee and good shops that can go on my recommendation list when people ask me about what there is to do in different cities. So, my favorite coffee here in Charlotte came from Not Just Coffee and Summit Coffee Roasters.

NJC served Counter Culture, which is an incredible company that trains, resources, and does business with wholesale accounts across the country. Along with Onyx Coffee Labs, Counter Culture is in my top 5 favorite roasters, so I was super pleased with the cappuccino I ordered at NJC. Summit Coffee Roasters was the official coffee company for Tuck Fest, and they served their own roast, which was really flavorful and fruity. To top it off, one of the baristas gave me a sample bag of Kenyan coffee, which is really delicious.

RALEIGH/GREENSBORO

There’s not much to speak about when it comes to the RDU/Greensboro areas, unfortunately. It was such a whirlwind driving around these cities this trip, so it was convenient that they’re relatively close to each other.

From past experience in the areas, the best things going on between these two cities is (obviously) the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Greensboro Arena where loads of concerts happen.

If you’re looking for coffee suggestions, right outside of Greensboro in High Point is a local roaster called FosterHobbs Coffee. They work closely with Premier Productions, CCM’s largest promoter, and the company that puts on WinterJam & Outcry, so from the couple dates I spent with the crew I got to taste this great brand. Counter Culture also has a distribution center in Durham, in the metro area of Raleigh.

ASHEVILLE

Ah Asheville. My favorite city in North Carolina. I grew up visiting this area growing up, since my family is from 20 miles west of the city. This, my friends, is NC coffee mecca (in my opinion). From High Five to Trade & Lore, there are so many different shops to enjoy and visit.

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Trade and Lore Coffee

If you’re into the outdoor scene like I am, this is the perfect city around which you can center your travel, especially in North Carolina. You’re within 20 to 30 minutes of some great trails, parks, and outdoor features that are breathtaking.

I seriously could spend hours talking about how much I enjoy Asheville, so I’ll sum it up into a few short words: Go. Visit. This. City.

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

The last few days of the trip were around so many different cities with such a short time in each that it’s way too difficult to write something about each. Western North Carolina is truly my favorite area in the country (so far), and everything is so accessible. Whether you’re spending time in the Nantahala Forest or on Black Mountain, you’re never going to be disappointed.

If you’re traveling through the town of Black Mountain, you HAVE to go to Dripolator Coffeehouse.

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I first visited this shop in Summer 2016, and every single time I’m around Asheville I make sure that I can go visit. The Iced Killer Bee (honey, vanilla, cinnamon latte) is incredible.

Nestled just 20 miles outside of Asheville is honestly my true 2nd home. From the time I was born, I’ve been visiting Waynesville almost yearly. Both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family are natives here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was related to the whole town. It has touches of commercial chain and small town vibes, from the necessities of grocery stores and fast food spots to the local artisan craft shops and diners that make the city what it is. And since Alley had a store to visit there, it was a must to stop and see the family.

 


This trip, obviously, was an incredible time of rest, travel, and enjoyment. But, it also birthed a wonderful new venture and something that gets me really excited.

Over the course of the trip, Alley and I said to each other multiple times, “This whole travel thing is fun. Let’s do this more often and write about this kinda stuff.’

So, I’m excited to announce the launch of Chasing Rays!

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We love traveling, going on adventures, and doing all sorts of fun things. This new endeavor is a way for both Alley and myself to tell stories of all kinds that pertain to life on and off the road. You’ll find trip recaps (like this), gear reviews for the products that help us adventure well, and stories from and based on the experiences that we’ve had.

This is more than a blog though. Combining other social media outlets with the site, we want this to be a brand and avenue to invite people, both believers and non-believers, to enjoy the outdoors from a perspective of faith and the joy that comes from our beliefs. We want to encourage and empower others to take advantage of the world and resources around them, awakening awe and wonder for the things that we sometimes take for granted.

We’ll be posting regularly on the blog, as well as on Instagram and Facebook, so if this sounds like journey you want to take, give us a follow and a like!

-JR

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Weekend Recap: Tuck Fest 2018

If you’re anything like me, you know that you gotta work hard to play hard. For the past 6 months, I’ve been running and pushing hard at work, and it certainly was time for a vacation. I chose to take this time off to reset, rest, and prepare for the summer season (which everyone in the church world knows is a crazy time for student ministry).

So, the only way I know how to play hard is to get outside. And there’s nothing quite like the outdoors. The majesty of the towering trees, the intense colors of the scenery, and the uncontrollable nature of the roaring rapids are quite powerful reminders of just how small you are, as well as just how big God is.

This past weekend, I spent the majority of my time braving the elements while getting down and dirty out on the Catawba River.

Well… sort of.

Thanks to the team at On The Road And Off and their brands, I was blessed to spend Thursday through Sunday, the first half of my vacation, repping Teva and Fayettechill at Tuck Fest 2018, which is a multi-day festival that celebrates the outdoor lifestyle through competitions, exhibitions, demos, and live music at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s how sweet it looked:IMG_0954.jpg

However incredibly fun it was, we still had to work hard. Exhibit A: packing up and getting our displays (pictured above) moved out.IMG_2095.jpg

Yes, that’s me riding on the tailgate of our rep’s pickup. It was packed to the brim with everything we brought, and the gate & window wouldn’t close with the trash that we had to take to the dumpsters. Like I said: you gotta work hard to play hard.

This was my first exposure to the outdoor industry, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We had so much fun connecting with other vendors, meeting attendees, and selling product to them as they made their rounds.

If you’ve never been to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, then I highly recommend that you make it a point to go visit. This is my second visit to the center, and even though I didn’t get to raft or get out in the water, just watching others is satisfying enough.


While there’s so much I could dive into about what I took away from the weekend, from sales techniques and visual merchandising to starting conversations and drawing people to our booths, the biggest takeaway is this: if you identify or create a need within someone, he or she will be more apt to your solution to satisfy it.

Think about it. Someone walks by our tent, and takes a glance at what we have going on. She’s wearing tennis shoes, and it’s pretty hot out so she has to be thinking, “I need some relief.” What do we offer? A solution to cool her off, starting with what’s on her feet. We invite her to look at our product, see what she likes, and simply ask her to just try on a pair of shoes that are her size. Immediately, she feels relief, and realizes that she needs these shoes, and she didn’t fully realize it before she sat down to try on a pair.

You can contextualize this to your industry, too. Think of your potential customer or client. How do you hook them initially? You find or create a need that isn’t being met in their lives that you just so happen to be able to meet. You hone in on your expertise and convince them they need your product, and voila: they can’t walk away without purchasing or investing in at least one or two units.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Can you see where I’m going with all of this? Speaking from a pastor’s point of view, we know that people around us have needs, whether they realize it or not. We know that we have the same exact needs, too. But, we know something more than the people around us do; we also know that the things that we seek to meet those needs, the needs that are deeper and sometimes the things to which we can’t put words, will never satisfy them. They were never created to satisfy anything deeper than their intended purpose, and it’s truly impossible for created things to meet the needs that only something bigger than us could ever satisfy.

That deeper need? It’s the need for our own purpose. It’s the need to mean something in this world, and do something with our lives that goes beyond who we are as an individual. This is how the world sees the deeper need that those who know God understand as the need for Him.

At its core, if you boil down everything we do as ministers, we’re in the sales business. We make connections with people. We seek to improve people’s lives with our “product,” for lack of better wording. We make appeals day in and day out for the people with whom we come into contact to “buy in” to what we’re “selling.” Products in and from this world provide enjoyment, peace, and some form of satisfaction, but only for a moment. But, we know that what we’re “selling” is eternal, true joy, and true peace.


Within the next few days, I’ll be back with a full recap of the rest of the week, some sweet news about a new endeavor, and how you can get involved with it!

Thanks friends!

-J