The first time Lukas came to the United States in 2011, he arrived in Knoxville: “I was impressed that the city looked just like in the movies - wide streets with lots of cars and empty sidewalks, people walking around with Jesus and pro-life signs at a local event, only burgers and steaks served at restaurants. The only entertainment I was offered was to see an Avengers movie at the mall.”
Naturally this time we were skeptical about visiting Knoxville. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Ten years is a long time and a lot of things have changed. Downtown looked lively even during the pandemic with plenty of restaurants serving a wide variety of food, lots of local breweries and cozy historic districts.
On the other hand, some things stayed the same and nearly every woman followed the stereotype - blonde, tanned and a serious number of them hiding a black eye under the thick layer of make-up. In the chaos of the world, progress seems to be unpredictable - one area grows immensely in a decade, another one slides backwards and some habits you just cannot get rid of.
Another jewel of East Tennessee, the beautiful Smoky Mountains, are surrounded by cheap thrills. I have heard many recommendations about the place, but in reality the surrounding towns were some of the most unpleasant I have ever been to with silly amusement parks here and there, touristy streets of Gatlinburg housing cheap stores offering everything except a joyful experience in the mountains nearby The mountains are cozy, but the noise you have to pass to escape there is not worth it.
Most of the time when we did escape, we spent hiking and planning our trip to Lithuania. It has been almost two years on the road and we have decided that, despite the pandemic, it is time to reconnect with friends and family. Postponing and waiting for better circumstances became frustrating and potentially pointless.
It’s been quite a journey and, in order to keep going, I need to pause, absorb and share what I have already experienced. The trailer became a home of mine, constant moving became the way of life, but in order to purify the value of this lifestyle, I need reflection time. So as simply as we started, we pause for the mind to catch its breath. Next time we will see you in Georgia from where we left and tell you about the stressful stopping process.