Road Trippin’ with Tyndale & Courtney Walsh: Stop #10

 In Hidden Among the Stars, Novel Giveaway, Scavenger Hunts

Welcome to Tyndale Fiction’s Road Trip Scavenger Hunt! I’m so happy you’re here. To participate, collect the key words through all 13 stops in order, so you can enter to win our grand prize giveaway!

Some details:

  • The adventure begins on Wednesday, August 1. You’ll have two weeks to make your way through all the stops (giveaways will close on Tuesday, August 14).
  • While you do not have to start at Stop #1, keep in mind that the grand prize giveaway phrase will begin with the word you collect at that first stop.
  • To complete your submission for the grand prize giveaway, be sure to collect the key word within each author’s blog post, submitting the final, completed phrase in the form hosted on this page.
  • Also, be sure to enter the giveaways these authors are hosting on their blogs!

Enjoy the journey—I hope you’ll discover new books along the way as you hear from Tyndale Fiction authors about road trips, the settings of their novels, and more!

Happy road tripping!


Please join me in welcoming Courtney Walsh to my blog today. I’m thrilled to host her and her story! Courtney writes small-town contemporary romances, filled with characters you’ll wish were your friends, locales you’ll want to visit, and themes that resonate with real life to nourish your soul. Her latest—Just Let Go—takes place in a little beach town in Southern Michigan, but today Courtney is going to tell you about a real-life road trip that started out with disaster but ended up magical.


An Unexpected Road Trip

By Courtney Walsh

Road trips, in theory, sound like a lot of fun—but if I’m honest, they’ve never really appealed to me. I’m so very impatient I end up with a bad case of “Are we there yet?” only an hour after we pull out of the driveway.

This past March, for so many reasons, I began to feel a bit of spring fever. I remembered last spring break, when I sat in my house in dreary, still-frigid Illinois, longingly looking at photos of so many friends who’d taken trips to warmer climates, and I thought, I don’t want to do that again. I want to feel the sunshine on my face.

March had been such a difficult month for our family that I could easily justify all the reasons why we needed the time away, so two nights before the start of spring break, I spent the evening being impulsive—something that’s very out of character for me. On a whim, I booked an incredible last-minute deal at a vacation resort in Orlando. I rented a car from the airport in Florida and secured our tickets to Universal Studios—a place my kids had been begging to revisit. I reserved our airline tickets—the perfect travel schedule—and ohmygoodness we were leaving in two days!

A few hours later, after we told the kids about the trip, I realized (in a moment of sheer horror) that instead of booking our flight from Illinois to Florida, I had booked it from Florida to Illinois.

I’d booked it all backward.

I seriously don’t think I’ve ever felt so stupid in my entire life.

After a long, frustrating phone call with the airline (and many, many tears because our tickets were nonrefundable), I realized we had two options: 1. Cancel the whole trip, thereby disappointing our kids and not getting the much-needed family time, or 2. Go anyway. In a car. On a road trip.

We are not a road trip family—not really. We’ve done the occasional trip out of necessity, but by and large, we aren’t big road trippers. But my husband and I couldn’t stand the thought of withering away in the cold, sunless weather another day. So we decided to take the plunge and drive the eighteen hours to the land of sunshine and swimming pools.

We told ourselves it would be “fun” and “an adventure.”

Never mind that I am not an adventure-loving type of person.

The day we left was so crazy we picked up our son from the bus home from his class trip to Washington, DC, and left for Florida two hours later, two days after deciding to go in the first place. (Don’t tell me you can’t plan a family vacation last minute!!)

We settled in for the long drive, and only a few hours out of town, something unexpected happened.

I exhaled.

Sitting in the passenger seat of the car, I had no choice but to relax. I couldn’t work. I had no to-do list. I couldn’t do much of anything except talk to my husband and kids or listen to an audiobook or sing along to the ’80s station . . .

“I bless the rains down in Af-ri-ca!!!” I belted out, much to my children’s dismay.

Our lives are so busy, and it seems we’re always trying to get to the next thing. On this trip, I knew we wouldn’t get to the next thing for  several hours, so that gave me permission to turn my brain off and just be.

Our family hasn’t been on many vacations, but every time we go, it seems there’s one moment that makes the whole thing worthwhile. One moment of catching my kids connecting with each other (or with us) and realizing this is why we did this.

This road trip provided many of these moments, and without my giant (expensive) mistake, we would’ve missed it.

We would’ve missed bonding over how long it took to get through Atlanta (sooooo long). We would’ve missed my youngest son building a fort in the backseat and the unexpected conversation that happened when the devices were off and everyone was bored.

It strikes me now, months later, that the whole sordid tale is a metaphor for life. We make mistakes—some of them big, expensive, and embarrassing—and we have a choice. We can pack it all in and say, “Okay, I guess I’m done,” or we can find another way to take the journey.

This trip was a much-needed pause in the middle of a busy life . . . and the memories we made were made better by every hour of passing highway.


Here’s the Stop #10 Important Information:

  • You can purchase Courtney’s book, Just Let Go, here.
  • Clue to write down: times
  • Link to Stop #11, the next stop in the scavenger hunt, on Courtney’s Site!


Austrian Cookie & Book Giveaway


I hope you enjoyed reading about both Courtney’s road trip and my backpacking trip to Austria (if you missed my post about this adventure, you can read it on Cathy Gohlke’s blog).

To celebrate the upcoming release of Hidden Among the Stars, my latest time-slip novel, I’m giving away a signed copy of the book and a gift box with Austrian jam-filled Linzer cookies, butter cookies, Viennese chocolate kisses, and both chocolate and vanilla tea cookies.

If you’d like to submit your name for this drawing, please leave a comment on this post or submit your info in the box below (I wish I could mail this to participating readers around the world, but sadly the shipping is only available for residents in the US and Canada). I’ll be notifying the winner on Friday, August 15.

Thanks for road trippin’ with me and these amazing Tyndale novelists. It’s a joy for me to journey with you!

274 Submissions – 0 days left

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  • Brenda Widener

    Ahh, road trips! We just took our first “official” road trip/camping trip (we don’t count all the numerous “across the state” trips as roadtrips-they’ more of a necessity to visit grandparents). Our goal from our northeast corner of Oregon was the Grand Canyon (which we made on-plan, no problems, and even on our 26th wedding anniversary with 2 sons & 2 dogs), it was on our return trip home that will make this trip more memorable (?): the pop-up roof of our camper sheared off (yes, it had been latched), strewing our contents across some highway somewhere in Nevada. Thankfully, no one was injured in the passing vehicles or is. I actually appreciated the mishap, as we were able to finish the last two stops in air-conditioned motel rooms that had running water, and we went out to eat. Here’s to family adventures!!

    • Melanie Dobson

      Oh my goodness, Brenda! I’m sure glad everyone was okay. You’ll never forget that trip!!

  • Deborah D

    What a neat road trip.

  • Danielle Hammelef

    I am amazed and inspired by Courtney’s ability to take the road trip and enjoy time with her family after such a costly mistake. The story is uplifting and I’m so happy to have read it today.

  • Pam Flynn

    Your road trip sounded fun even if you really aren’t a “road trip” person. I hope you take more road trips in the future. They really are lots of fun!

  • Pat Moore

    Enjoying the road trip and for those readers who haven’t read your books – then I highly recommend them. Never been disappointed in any of your books.

  • Barbara Thompson

    I loved your road trip. You write it that I felt at times I was with you. I haven’t read any of your books because I have not known you as an author. I would love to read your books. Thank you!

  • Stephanie Jenkins

    Thanks for the chance to win! I love going on road trips.

  • Deana Dick

    Thanks fir the chance. Loved reading about your trip

  • Beverly Duell-Moore

    Oh, I’d love to go to Austria!

    • Melanie Dobson

      I hope you get to go one day, Beverly!

  • Judy Clark

    Family time is worth every penny,and can it really be measured? I love day road trips and the thing I like is, “Let’s see where this road goes!”. The unexpected may happen to be the most memorable part. Glad you went ahead and had a fun time!

  • Rosalyn

    Family road trips can be excellent memory making times

  • Trixi

    I loved “traveling” with you on your backpack adventure, what a beautiful country and all those glorious pictures…wow! Thanks for sharing with us & the extra giveaway. I love these scavenger hunts 🙂

    • Melanie Dobson

      Thanks so much, Trixi! It truly was an adventure, and I’m so honored to be able to write this story that’s been burning inside me since we saw that castle. Blessings to you,

  • Patrice

    I loved Courtney’s story, super encouraging! Thanks for sharing.

  • Mark A Buzard

    your trip sounds fun!

  • Pam K.

    Sometimes the most fun trips are the ones when you are more spontaneous than over planned. It sounds like your family trip was really fun.

  • Kirsten

    Looks amazing! I have written down the title of your book and am eager to read it, as I was born and raised in Austria…not Hallstatt though. Vienna. Thanks for the chance to win amazing cookies!

    • Melanie Dobson

      Oh, that is so neat, Kirsten! We weren’t able to go to Vienna on that trip, but one day I’d like to go. I did explore the streets of Vienna through VR, Google Earth, but it’s not quite the same thing. 🙂

  • Jean Marmo

    Sounds like the perfect adventure! One that you will all remember for a long time!

  • Judy hunting

    Sadly I don’t get to take as many roads trip as I would like too. But one day we will adventure more

  • Patty

    I love a good road trip! Most trips that I take, the travel part can be covered in one day, not sure what I would think of a multi day drive

  • Elizabeth Lickliter

    So glad you made the most of your family time!

  • C.L.

    Melanie, I can’t wait to read your book!!! Ever since I read a book from D.Bunn about WW2 treasure and Nazis, (I think, it has been a long time 😉 ), I have wanted to read more! And I’d love to visit Austria someday!

    Courtney, I’ve been following you on IG for a while, and I remember you mentioning that trip! 😀 What a timely reminder that we can “find another way to take the journey “. I really needed to read this [right now in my life]. Thank you so much ? Your books are also on my TRL!!!

    • Melanie Dobson

      Thank you, C.L.! I really hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂

  • Karen Mercer

    Sounds wonderful.

  • Sonnetta Jones

    Can flying to a destination wedding to Mexico for the first time count as a road trip?

    • Melanie Dobson

      An adventure, for sure. 🙂 I hope it is/was a good trip, Sonnetta!

  • Winnie Thomas

    Wow, Courtney! That was really brave and spontaneous of you to take that road trip at the last minute. That’s quite the drive! I’m glad it all worked out for you!

    Melanie, that Austrian cookie box is making me hungry. I commented on Cathy G’s page about your gorgeous pictures of Hallstatt. I was able to visit there a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It’s so gorgeous and quaint. I’d love to go back again.

    • Melanie Dobson

      Thanks so much, Winnie! That is wonderful that you were able to visit Hallstatt a few years ago. We would love to go back one day too. Roaming the shores of that lake is truly a magical experience!! Blessings to you,

  • Joellen Wright

    Looking forward to reading your books. Just need more time to read everything on my ‘to read list!

  • bn100

    interesting road trip

  • Sabrina Templin

    What a fun road trip! 😀

  • Robin Rexroad

    Often, the crazy times on trips will become great family memories!

  • Mimi

    We love road trips. My son and I sang Toto’s Africa as we drove from Minnesota to IL last week! HE picked that song out and he’s 15. HA! I would’ve cried my eyes out if our tickets were made the opposite way, too! I’m glad she was finally able to exhale!

    • Melanie Dobson

      I love this, Mimi. My 15-year-old daughter just returned from a mission trip to Africa and that’s her new favorite song as well. 🙂

  • Marissa Burt

    I love this story! Sounds all too easy to do! Glad you all had a great time!

  • Kathleen Burnop

    Fun road trip.

  • Dianna

    What a happy ending to a story that could have ended so sadly. I’m so glad you went ahead and drove! Happy memories.

  • Lisa Hudson

    Melanie I’ve been reading about your book & I have it on my TBR List. WWII is my favorite era because it deals with “The Greatest Generation” – my parents’ generation. My Daddy & 4 of his 5 brothers served in WWII. One of my Great Uncle’s was a Navigator on a Higgins Boat on Omaha Beach D-Day & 2 other Great Uncles were POW’s in Germany. They ended up in the same POW Camp & one recognized the other across the barbed wire fence. One managed to escape & found an American Convoy. All survived!

    Courtney we’ve had some crazy Road Trips in our lives but perhaps the Wildest was last weekend. We traveled across 3 states with 10 Floral Arrangements in Glass Vases filled with water & other loose flowers PLUS luggage for 4 including Formal Wear. We were on the Great Family Road Trip to our son’s Wedding! Our Yukon’s thermometer read 108° so it was a good thing it had AC in the back! We got on the way & everyone was checking to make sure no one left anything. My husband couldn’t remember if he packed the pants they Special Ordered for the Groomsmen (he was Best Man). We quickly pulled off & our daughter dug through to the hangup back & found them. So much for the nicely packed clothes! We were packed in like sardines! Great Memories & lots of fun stories!

    • Melanie Dobson

      Lisa Hudson–that is incredible that they all survived the war! I can’t imagine all the stories they have. I hope you enjoy “Hidden Among the Stars”!!

  • Jane Squires

    Love your books

  • Arcana Bernard

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  • Roxanne

    Looking forward to reading your new book!

  • tammy cordery

    I love road trips the only thing i hate is going back home.

  • Chanel Monroe

    I love this guest post by Courtney. I think it’s wonderful when great things happen in the moments or adventures we didn’t plan for. Thanks for sharing this story!


    Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

  • Dawnski

    Glad I scrolled before hitting submit up yonder. . .I love your story and how sometimes we can make a mistake that in God’s eyes wasn’t a mistake at all. He had a plan. My son and I enjoyed a 3000 mile across the Lewis & Clark trail by moving van and at the age of 11 he read the book of Revelation along the way as he felt led. It was a very memorable trip for us as well as a new beginning where I discovered my calling as an Ezekiel 3 Watch Woman for the Lord.

  • Linda Kish

    We took road trips every yer when I was a kid. I loved them. I only took one with my son and it was a 10 day trip but he really enjoyed it. I took him to some of my favorite places plus some I thought he would enjoy. They just aren’t the same with only 2 people. Most of the time we just did short trips otherwise.

  • Lisa Harness

    I think the best times and memories were from the goof ups and wrong turns on road trips.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jacqueline Robertson

    Enjoy your books so much. Thank you for participating and for the giveaway.

  • Cheryl

    I’m always game for a road trip!!

  • Gail Hollingsworth

    I’m laughing right now thinking about how well you get to know your family members on a road trip! “Are we there yet?” My son went through stages growing up. First it was the Ninga Turtles, then the Power Rangers. When he wanted to know how much longer, we would say four Power Ranger shows (for two,hours) and so forth.
    Love your books!

  • Amanda

    Love road trips! We just got home from a 68 day trip, we worked some of it but enjoyed it all immensely ? The 6 of us are already looking forward to the next adventure ?

  • Caryl Kane

    Sounds like a fun adventure!

  • Perrianne Askew

    It sounds like your family had a fantastic time. Everyone probably has that crazy road trip story. Mine was a trip to El Paso with my parents, grandparents and great grandparents along with my siblings. From central Louisiana to El Paso, TX is. LONG way with that many people. I will never forget it!

  • Laura Wilson

    I’m planning a road trip this weekend with my parents and my 6 year old daughter. This is going to be her first road trip with her grandparents so I am really looking forward to it. (my daughter doesn’t know about it yet or she won’t sleep between now and then!!)

  • Betti Mace

    Thanks for sharing about your trip. So often we just give up, because we made a mistake. It’s like me pulling the whole sweater out, because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. Now I can use that yarn to make something I will wear 🙂
    Thanks for the giveaway – I filled out the form on top as well…sorry.

  • Faith Creech

    Your road tr sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Alison Boss

    Melanie ~ your book, Hidden Among the Stars, sounds amazing!…..WWII, a time-slip story, hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way…..Wow! I’m all in! I love time-slip stories! Thank for the chance to win this book!!

  • Karen Morgan

    Melanie, the Linzeer cookies and goodies sound delicious and your book sounds awesome! Courtney, I totally applaud your road trip adventure and the applications you shared. It’s really hard to just let go sometimes!

  • Natalya Lakhno

    Great post! Thank you!

  • Darla Armstrong

    Sounds like your road trip was fun! We took many road trip adventures while raising our children. Now we’re enjoying new adventures with our grandchildren.
    I’m looking forward to reading your book!

  • Melissa Andres

    What a great attitude to have for your road trip, Courtney!! I love it!

  • Paula

    Love the road trip. I’m going on one on Saturday.

  • Jessica

    Awesome road trip story Courtney;)! When my eldest was three years old, we took a road trip and I felt so stupid because I forgot her suit case full of new Dora clothes I had gotten a good deal on at Ross. When we reached our first hotel and was going to help her put on her new pajamas…yeah I cried. Thank God there was a Walmart near by that we won’t to as soon as we got up in the morning. All her clothes was plain solid colors but we had a great trip!
    Great giveaway Melanie!

  • Linda Horin

    I love road trips, and have taken many of them over the years. We have lots of great memories and some exciting adventures too!

  • Mary Songer

    I think everybody has had a moment like yours where you realize you messed up and can’t easily fix it. You handled it wonderfully. Congrats. Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Elizabeth H.

    Sometimes the accidents make for the best stories!

  • Audrey Stewart

    I subscribed / When my sister and I were 12 and 13, we took a greyhound bus to Chicago. We were fine until we missed our bus transfer twice, and slept in the bathroom.

  • Anne L. Rightler

    I certainly am enjoying all the road trip adventures on this year’s scavenger hunt. Great stories that are giving me places to dream about going. Major road trips for us this year were a trip to Israel in Feb and an upcoming trip to Hawaii in October. Hubby says not to plan two big trips in a year again! Rough on the bank account! Thank you for participating in the scavenger hunt!

  • Angela Sanford

    I will never get to go to these beautiful places, but I feel like I have now seeing through your eyes. Thank you for the chance.

  • Carol

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so encouraging to see how God uses every situation for a purpose. And even when we make mistakes, how everything can be a great experience when we choose to keep a good attitude. Thank you! ?

  • lisa Phillips

    Thanks for sharing. I love making memories with my family even on short road trips.

  • Nicole House

    Oh, my goodness! That sounds like something I would do!

  • Cherie J

    I love doing road trips with my family, even when they don’t always go as planned. Thanks for sharing about yours. Thanks also for the giveaway.

  • Nancy M

    Road trips are so much fun. It’s fun to read about all these as well!

  • Sonya Smothers

    Great story! Cookies look yummy!

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