If you follow Peggy Buckley Thibodeau on Instagram (Instagram address: @peggythibodea) or (Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/peggy.thibodeau), then you know she took her love for journaling on a road trip across the southern half of the United States this spring. I am so inspired by how her love for God in the margins of her Bible – took her across America to our far corners meeting folks along the way! We loved sharing a bit of her story earlier this year, now, here is an exciting update! Listen to her story in her own words……
Here is the inspiration for the trip. A while back, I joined Home Exchange in hopes of traveling to Europe to paint plein air (outdoor). It hasn’t worked out yet, but certainly ignited major wanderlust in my soul. I would talk about my dreams with my husband. He encouraged me. I figured it would be more practical to start with a US trip. I dreamed of touring the US with my watercolors. He said, “Just do it, honey. Go do what you want to do!” I HAVE THE BEST HUSBAND! I started thinking about how to do it cheaply, and found lots of folks on Youtube that live or vacation in their vans. I did lots of research, bought a good mattress, and some other supplies, and took off with no itinerary. My inner voice was telling me to live out the phrase, “I am a feather on the breath of God.”
The Lord was my constant companion on my trip. I felt His presence everywhere I went, everything I did, every choice I made, every painting I created. The river of living water flows through me! It does not come and go. He is always there. I had times when I would become aware of the guidance I was receiving. I had an experience in Shreveport, La that was a turning point for me. Here is an excerpt from my travel journal on that day: “When I came out of the library, there was a brochure on the ground for the Walter B Jacobs Memorial Nature Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was on Trip Advisor, but I had decided I was in a hurry to get to Edward and Leigh-Ann’s in Fort Worth. When I saw the brochure, I decided to go. I knew it was the Lord’s encouragement to slow down and enjoy nature. I’m so glad I did. On the way there, I kept seeing signs that said “bridge out ahead.” I turned into the nature center about 100 feet before the crashed bridge. I couldn’t believe it! I went off on a short hike through the wildest, greenest, mossiest forest I’ve ever seen. It had a scent different from what I’m accustomed to – earthier and less “green.” You can sense the effects of the swampland. The Louisiana humidity clung to my skin. The afternoon light trickled through the trees in patches. The forest was primordial and dense and wild and I walked through its core. It pulled at me as if I was walking through a web. My breathing slowed and everything got still. I had a revelation that I was rushing my trip, feeling I had to “earn” it by producing paintings. In that forest, I felt my soul relax into a place of rest. I walked out of the forest and back into the world the way one walks out of a cathedral onto the street, knowing the air will be different, and bolstered for whatever may lie ahead.
On Good Friday, I was hiking next to a river in Pueblo, Colorado. It was early in the morning and I was all alone. I looked down at the rocks on the riverbank, and one of them jumped out at me. I picked it up, and it was a pink rock with a white cross on it. It was a gift from the Giver on an important day.
From before I left until the I got home, everyone I met or told about my trip was calling me brave. I credit my mom, who raised me with the “I am woman, hear me roar” mentality. I also had a promise from my heavenly father that I created this painting to reflect what became my theme verse for the week from the book of Joshua.
visited 14 states in 29 days, drove 6462 miles, did 64 pages of art, and spent a total of $1571.57
(this includes everything from fixing up the van to arriving home yesterday). I went to these fun places:
New Orleans, LA
Baton Rouge, LA
Fort Worth, TX
Bee Cave, TX
San Antonio, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Santa Fe, NM
Colorado Springs, CO
Garden City, KS
I learned some stuff, had grand adventures, met interesting people, and had fun making art while seeing part of this amazing and gorgeous country.
One of my favorite places was New Mexico – and I love the paintings I enjoyed doing in the landscape there!
People have asked me my favorite places, and I have a couple that stand out. One of them is the state park surrounding the St. Mark’s Lighthouse in Crawfordsville, Florida. I sat on a bench under huge palm trees sketching the lighthouse. Three crows perched in the fronds above my head, talking to me as I painted. I was totally alone on thousands of acres of pristine swampland. There were white water lilies dotting the water surrounding me as far as I could see. It was magical in a way that is hard to describe.
When you sit out in nature, painting a reflection of what the Creator has made, it forces you to take the time to truly appreciate where you are in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise, For each painting I created, I remember the weather, the scents, the animals, the colors – the whole experience is cemented down in my innermost being.
I also loved the River Walk in San Antonio… who doesn’t?!
Another favorite place was Twin Falls in Austin, TX. I walked through the woods and fields of yellow wildflowers and bluebonnets and butterflies to arrive at Twin Falls. If it sounds idyllic, well… ummm…. that’s because it is. All this is right in the middle of the city on Austin’s greenbelt, a system of trails that winds through the city next to the river. When you see cars parked on the frontage road, there’s a trailhead nearby. That’s me jumping into the river! The water felt wonderful. It reminded me of the Mountain Dew commercial from the 70’s.
Here’s my depiction of the falls in my journal:
The most important tool for me is the waterbrush. I use the aquash by Pentel. Don’t be seduced by cheaper brands, as they suction dirty water back into the well. But the thing I most appreciated was my toolbag from Harbor Freight Tools, gifted to me by Connie Denninger. It was a lifesaver! Here it is in use as 3 young artists got a quick lesson from me.
And of course, the main supply I needed for this trip was my van:
I took my love for journaling – which I enjoy in my Bible and in my artwork – out on the road. This allowed conversations and prayers with amazing folks like this woman Patricia from San Antonio for whom I prayed. The best part of my trip? Patricia found peace and healing from that prayer.
When I got home, this is how I felt: