Sunday, March 11 – How would you describe the day in a few words?

“Adventure, bonding, friendship… for sure” -Brianna Miulli

Today we are Birmingham bound! After sleeping in for a bit this morning, we got a late morning start on the road for what was supposed to be a short trip from Nashville to Birmingham. However, today seemed to throw some curveballs at us. First, the morning started off with one of the ASBers needing to go to Urgent Care; no worries, the condition wasn’t serious, but it did take awhile. While two of the vans were waiting for an hour outside the facility, our van decided to venture out in a neighboring town of Nashville where we found Chill Spot- a little café specializing in bubble tea. Eventually, we got our fill of tapioca boba balls and got the call to start heading on the road towards Alabama. The other two vans were nowhere in sight of us and we were almost out of gas, so we had to “go rogue” as our van called it. Basically, the theme of the day for the eight of us was that we had to figure everything out on our own- an exciting and sometimes frightening experience.

Luckily, the first leg of the door was a straight shot on the interstate. We met up with the other two vans of ASBers at the Alabama Welcome Center for a picnic of sandwiches, fresh fruit, veggies, chips, and cookies that Elyse, the IWU ASB Coordinator and Chaplain of IWU, set out for us. Although it was a bit overcast, the rain held off long enough for us to enjoy the picnic and the fresh Alabama air. We finally got to experience the Southern warm weather that we’ve been waiting for all semester. A quick photo op with the “Sweet Home Alabama” sign was a must, and then it was on the road for us again (this time rolling out to none other than Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd). Our attempted destination was a forest for a bit of hiking, but the GPS had other plans for us.

Once on the road, the other two vanfuls of ASBers zoomed ahead, and we lost them. Luckily, smartphones came to the rescue with both the GPS and the Spotify jams, but eventually, we got to the backroads of Alabama. These roads were like no other- they twisted and weaved and had significant potholes every few miles. It was one tough situation to try to navigate by ourselves without any service. However, we eventually caught up with the group, but with all of the mis-navigation, it took about two extra hours for all of the ASBers to make it to what we thought was the trailhead. Of course, luck was not on our side today. Turns out, the whole group drove around the periphery of the forest without actually finding a way to enter it, and by the time we arrived at a feasible entrance, it was 4:30 p.m., and we didn’t want to risk being stuck in the dark. So, straight to Birmingham it was! Although all of this sounds bad, the entire group all raved about how much fun they had laughing, getting lost, and jamming out to some throwback tunes that it didn’t even matter that we didn’t end up hiking! Plus, it was impossible to be down today because we finally reached our home in Birmingham.

These Alabama streets are crazy enough for a regular driver, let alone a student driver in a rented IWU van, but Bri, one of the team leaders, miraculously got us to our destination unscathed. The ASBers couldn’t hide their excitement once they set their eyes on the house where we’ll be staying. The house is a one-story home with a spacious basement in the middle of a woodsy neighborhood. The six boys are bunking upstairs in the smaller bedrooms while the 12 girls all bunk together in the basement. It’s a cozy, relaxed vibe, especially with such a kind-hearted group of people. Being in a home with such a large group of people is an incredible blessing. We are able to feel at home with a comfy living room and clean and functional kitchen.

Immediately after we arrived, everyone rushed to choose their favorite bunk. We lounged about for a bit; some ASBers picked up Jenga, while others chatted or took naps (a few even did homework!!). Then, it was time for dinner- takeout from P.F. Changs (yum). The group is already beginning to develop friendships; no surprise, considering each and every person is kind and agreeable. The whole room erupted in chatter as we ate our food and waited for Elyse to give an announcement about our day tomorrow. She said we had to be up and at the bus at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow *gasp*, so the whole house resorted to relaxing or doing homework in order to prep for the early day ahead. Day 2 might have brought us a lot of unexpected twists and turns, but we couldn’t have had more fun if we tried. Although we’re all exhausted, we are chomping at the bit to begin our work on the houses tomorrow!

– Teagan Potter ’19

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