After making good driving progress from Florida, I had slept in the car for the night. It wasn’t too bad as I had a nice bed to sleep in the previous nights and knew tonight there would be another place to crash. I had a mid-morning meeting scheduled at a brewery but before that, I had a video chat. During the journey, I had posted to a sport psychology listserv that I belong to about the journey and lessons learned. Someone reached out to me about it and through some emails, we decided to talk in more detail over video and make a better connection.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the first-time video chatting with someone is usually a blend of awkward yet familiar. With existing people, you each know the rhythm of things and it can be rather smooth. This instance wasn’t too bad, and we hit it off well. It is nice to meet positive people with high energy and a willingness to think of things in a different light and improve. As it turns out, we have stayed in touch through the journey and they were a great sounding board and source of positivity as I moved forward through some draining times. A totally unexpected, yet amazing benefit of the journey to make such a connection.
It was now time for me to head to the meeting, but as I got near the brewery, I saw a gym nearby. I was a bit early and thought I’d try my luck in popping in the gym, seeing if perhaps I could get something scheduled for after my brewery. As it turns out I would not be so lucky.
I headed over to Ghost Train Brewing Company and even now a smile comes to my face thinking about my experience there. I was warmly greeted and welcomed by the staff and introduced to more staff. They offered up some beer and happily were willing to answer questions.
While I have the same 14 questions I asked everyone, the experience always differs. This experience was more like hanging out, having a fun conversation, side notes, laughs, and yet thought-provoking information as well. A takeaway I heard was their focus on creating an environment where multiple types of groups could hold events there, something I would unknowingly at the time get to experience later.
While we were chatting, they kept giving me different samples of beer to try. They thought the journey was cool and were happy to fully show their hospitality and pride in their beer. There were numerous good beers I had the pleasure of enjoying such as a mango hazy IPA. I didn’t realize I had been there for a couple hours due to the good fun being had. I had another meeting scheduled, but with only a 45-minute window, they said it was fine to just hang out there until I needed to leave.
It truly was a fun experience, including getting to see a refurbished ambulance that they use as a beer mobile. Unique and fun with lights and all. As if that wasn’t enough, they sent me on my way with a 30 beer variety pack, a t-shirt, and stickers! I was and am still blown away by such hospitality. I was so happy to have the opportunity to share those beers with friends I would stay with.
It was then time for Red Hills Brewing Company where I heard they leverage the experience of the staff which helps to create wonderful beers and other things that enhance the brewery. While there, we had some rich discussion on the brewery but also current events and perspectives on various topics. It was a watering hole type of feel to me during those discussions. Keeping up with the kindness I had received in Alabama so far, they too offered me to taste beers which I enjoyed and gave me a t-shirt as well!
Now that mid-afternoon was approaching, I was in talks more with the connection I would be staying with that night. It was a grad school friend of my friend who I stayed in Illinois and Missouri. As it turns out, I had met this connection before during a time around 2012 when I visited my friend in Auburn and we went to a football game.
It was nice to reconnect with this guy and kind of him to offer up a place to crash. He was doing some post-doc work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was leading up a Post Doc club.
It is funny how some things come together, like me leveraging these connections from years ago. It was also funny when I heard the postdoc club was having a meeting that night at a brewery and I was welcome to join in. It just so happened the meeting would be at Ghost Train Brewing Company! Surprised I was to hear that, and it was also a bit of a funny feeling going back to a brewery after I had already said my good byes.
When I walked in, I saw the owners who were talking with their own connections at a table and they said I couldn’t get enough huh!? I laughed and said it was too fun. It was a fun experience to be around some highly intelligent and driven people. Due to my experience in exercise science and some research I’ve done, I could somewhat follow a good chunk of the conversation and know what was happening. At times someone may get deeper into the research and go beyond my scope, but I was happy to track things for the most part. It was also fun to share tales of my journey with more people.
The night ended with me and my friend getting some fish tacos which were pretty good, but not quite at “Jeremy’s Fish Tacos” level from when I had some named after me in my undergrad cafeteria. Ok, maybe I’m just being biased here, but I will not change the answer! We also had some talks on the circadian rhythm that expanded my knowledge base on the subject which was opening to see how there are natural rhythms that have evolved over time and we assault them by our sleeping, eating, and drinking habits.
I was happy to give some beers to my friend, especially since he covered some of my beer during the postdoc meeting. I then had a nice sleep on an air mattress inside for the night.
The next day, I went to CrossFit Chelsea where I had an opportunity to get a nice workout in and then ask my questions. I heard how they have good coaching along with a small town feel in their gym. It was a rather accurate descriptor for how I felt meeting and working out with some kind people. Before leaving, it was kind of them to give me a sticker and helped to connect me to another gym. It took some effort, but they got ahold of a gym and I was able to head directly over!
I showed up at CrossFit Mudtown and was immediately blown away by the positivity and energy I experienced. It was fitting that a strong passion is what led to creating a facility to help people. They too gave me a sticker and offered me a chance to workout! Since I had already gotten a workout in for the day and needed to move on, I said thank you and then went on my way.
I did want a shower before a lot of driving ahead and so found a Plant Fitness to get cleaned up at. As fate would have it, there was a Swamp Monster BBQ place next door and I was feeling hungry. Being that it was some time from my workout, I decided to hit some quick curls before the shower to help rationalize the food I was about to eat. It was nice to try some more southern BBQ in general, but also as an ode to my friend who had donated money for such an occasion. It was delicious and also the first time I had pork rinds as the freebie before the meal arrived.
Just a reminder as you read the blogs, there are far more pictures associated with the journey on @liftnbrews whether Instagram or Facebook!
It was time for Mississippi!