Tag: Gatlinburg

Book of inspiring stories releases Sept. 15

MOODY, Ala. — Gary Lloyd has released his fourth book, Valley Road: Uplifting Stories from Down South.

The book is broken down into three parts: People, Places and Play. 

In the People section, Lloyd tells stories of inspirational people, from a BMX stunt team motivating a school of elementary students to a man with severe Alzheimer’s miraculously remembering how to play a specific song on the piano. 

In the Places section, Lloyd takes readers on a heartening and descriptive ride through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, to the concrete jungle of New York City, to the Green Monster at Fenway Park, to the azaleas at Augusta National Golf Club, and many places in between. 

In the Play section, high school coaches from around the Southeast tell their favorite stories, words that have never made the Sports section of their local newspapers. In exclusive interviews with Lloyd, they talk about why they became coaches, about basketball saving lives, about baseball players gathering for Bible studies, about a serve-others-first mentality.

“This has been a book I wanted to put together for a long time,” Lloyd said. “So much focus these days is on the 24-hour news networks, the horrible things that people say and do. I believe this is a book that many people need to read these days. They need to know that life in the 21st century is about much more than political debates, riots and negativity. This book is a collection of stories about the good in the world, about undisturbed land in Ellijay, Georgia, about ‘Stop For Prayer’ signs in the Wal-Mart parking lot, about a man retiring after more than fifty years in city service pleading for his wife to be thanked publicly for her support.”

Former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, who led the Crimson Tide to the 1992 national championship, praised Valley Road.

“Gary shows in this book how coaches, youth pastors and community leaders truly impact the people around them and in turn impact communities in such a positive way. Each chapter demonstrates the positive impact of such people and reminds me of how such people have impacted my life, and encourages me and others to do the same. This book is a must read and one that hopefully encourages us all to realize the impact we can have on the people around us.”

Sean Dietrich, the author of seven books about life in the American South, also commented on the book.

“Gary Lloyd writes with fervor that leaves the reader feeling something akin to a plate of blackberry cobbler—with vanilla ice cream, of course. This book, and Gary himself, are gems in this world.”

Valley Road was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing. The book is available on www.Amazon.com for $10 and on Kindle as an e-book for $7.99.

Lloyd is also the author of Trussville, Alabama: A Brief History, published by The History Press in 2014. He has also written two novels, Deep Green and Heart of the Plate, also available on Amazon.com. 

Lloyd has been a journalist in Mississippi and Alabama. He grew up in Trussville, Ala., and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Alabama in 2009. He lives in Moody, Ala., with his wife, Jessica, and their two dogs, Abby and Sonny. 

For more information, email garylloydbooks@gmail.com. Also visit www.garylloydbooks.squarespace.com and Like his author page at www.facebook.com/GaryLloydAuthor

Departing with my longtime truck

For the first few weeks I lived in Mississippi, I drove a Honda Accord. It was a great car, a crimson-magenta exterior and black leather inside. I was often surprised at how fast it could go. 

But it was a car. And being a man with a car in Mississippi must be a lot like being a woman in New York without Louis Vuitton. You just don’t feel like you fit in.

At some point in the summer of 2010, my dad got a new truck, which, to me, meant one thing — I’m getting the Tacoma. It was sleek silver, had four doors, a hardcover top and a couple of those Toyota Racing Development Off Road stickers. It had running boards, a V-6 engine and a six-disc changer.

And now it was mine. 

The first morning I drove it to work in Mississippi, my co-workers, all women, complimented it. They asked if it was mine, and called it beautiful. I probably goofily grinned.

In Mississippi, I drove it to football games on Friday nights, to Wal-Mart for groceries, and even tailed fire trucks and ambulances to house fires and car crashes.

When I moved back to Alabama, I did the same, steering it to wherever there was news. I navigated a residential area of south Trussville, where cops were searching for an attempted murderer, a career criminal who had beaten a police officer and stolen his car. I conducted phone interviews from the truck’s front seat, recording many people who laughed, and some who cried. I waited in the truck for city council meetings, school board retreats, football games and Habitat for Humanity key ceremonies. 

In March 2012, I nervously waited in the truck for a girl to show up at a spring carnival for our first date. We had fun, popping balloons with darts and riding a stomach-churner called Moby Dick. We saw a movie after the carnival, and she even rode to the theater with me in the truck.

Later that year, just before Christmas, that girl, who had become my fiance, and I were in a wreck in downtown Birmingham. Some knucklehead from California without insurance, driving his brother-in-law’s vehicle, turned left across a busy intersection. I tried to veer hard to the right, to avoid hitting the man, but we collided. It spun him all the way around. No people were injured, thank goodness, but my truck’s front apron had to be re-weld, among other repairs to the front fender. I drove my granddad’s Army-green Nissan truck for a week, and I missed the Tacoma every day.

Other than the one accident, the Tacoma has never been in a crash. It has never been stopped for rolling through a stop sign, or going too fast on the interstate. For the longest time, the interior smelled of Bobs Sweet Stripes Soft Peppermints, which I kept a stash of in the console’s cup holders. 

It has inched its way down icy roads, pulled onto the shoulder during rainstorms and had the fuel door cover protecting the gas cap filled with shaving cream by mischievous groomsmen. 

The Tacoma has seen many places in its more than 120,000 miles. It has seen the green mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Ellijay, Georgia. It has seen Escambia Bay in Florida and a lakefront home in Andalusia, Alabama. It has carried friends through the drive-thru at Krispy Kreme late on a Friday night, a shotgun-riding dog to the baseball park, furniture from one house to another to another, boxes of new books to signing events, and an old chest freezer full of okra up Interstate 65.

The Tacoma has also heard many different things. Its speakers have blared an assortment of musical genres. There has been a rock band shouting about all the small things, a rapper hilariously rhyming about how the FCC won’t let him be, and a country star singing about how a girl leans the seat back, steals his ball cap and pulls it down over her blue eyes.

I have had this truck for almost seven years of its eleven-year life, and it is starting to show its age. It seems to need more and more TLC. It has needed more brake repairs, new struts and an air conditioner compressor. We have put hundreds and hundreds of dollars into this truck, and now has come the time to sell it and move on to something new. We got a pretty good deal through a used-car retailer, and we will be moving on to a mid-size SUV. 

Recently, I was driving the truck for one of the last times. I was listening to Kip Moore’s debut album when the third track on the CD began to play. The final line of the song seemed appropriate.

“Ain’t nothin’ ‘bout it luck, there’s somethin’ ‘bout a truck.”