The last day of the 2013 was not our best, by any stretch of the imagination. We packed up on a very cold morning in Anderson, IN (wind chill -6), and struck out for Nashville, TN. Our goal was to stay off the Interstate as much as possible, and stick with state highways and county roads, of which Indiana has many, most of which are in terrific shape. We rolled along, finishing up our David Sedaris audio book, and starting a new James Lee Burke mystery (we are heading to New Orleans, and what could more instructive than that?) All’s good, until we got on I-65 for a stretch. This was a truly awful piece of pavement. At times, I swear that I could look in the sideview mirror and see the Fireball bounce up into the air. With relief, we finally passed through Louisville, and found smooth pavement once again.
We decided to stop at a rest stop south of Louisville and scrounge in the Fireball for lunch fixins. I unlocked the door to utter destruction. All of the stuff we have hanging on hooks was on the floor, along with our two big reading pillows. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that we had also shattered a bottle of wine in our ‘wine cellar’, so the floor was awash in red wine. Such a mess! It had seeped into corners and seemed to be everywhere. But, after lots of swearing, a half-roll of paper towels, a towel, microfiber cloth, and a wastebasket full of glass shards, we were once again ready to roll.
As we neared our stopping point for the night, Cedars of Lebanon State Park, the sun was shining, things were warming up a bit, and the wine incident had receded from my mind a bit. We decided to find a self-serve car wash and get rid of the last vestiges of Michigan winter – the salt scum which covered both the Firetruck and the Fireball. This is not a good exercise for couples, and I caution any of you who think about doing this to examine your relationship first. Only one person gets to control the spraying, while the other stands helplessly about, offering constructive suggestions, and hopping about trying to avoid an unwelcome soaking. The Firetruck gets washed first, we pull it forward, I dry and clean windows, while John attacks the Fireball with the soapy scrubber. We use all of our spare towels, the last half of the paper towel roll, and things are looking pretty good. We’re still on speaking terms, and are less than an hour from our destination. BUT, we find out that our trailer brakes no longer work! Wha????? Nothing we can do for now. We’re in pretty flat country, and the Firetruck has excellent (new) brakes, so John isn’t worried. We push on toward the campground.
Only to find that we have reserved the WORST POSSIBLE of all campsites! This is a first for us. Through a combination of dogged determination and luck, we’ve scored fabulous campsites for our trips this year. This one sucks! Our firepit is about 6” from the road, and we are next to a big motorhome. They play 60s rock (not normally a bad thing), but they also have a blue disco ball inside the motorhome which pulses with the music. Nice, eh? In reality, not so bad, but it’s another omen.
Our hot water heater won’t light on the propane setting. We’re plugged into electric service, and that seems to work, but no propane. This is bad. Most of our campsites for this four month trip are at places with no electric service. We spent the morning trying to fix things, to no avail. This is gonna be expensive. No brakes. No hot water. Ugh.
Jezzy spent most of New Year’s Eve sporting her Thundershirt. Apparently some of our camping buddies had some big firecrackers which they set off about 11pm. Maybe we’re not the only ones who get confused with the Time Zone thing. She was quaking and shivering. Not much comfort to be found.
BUT, here we are on New Year’s Day! The sun is shining, and the temp gets up to nearly 50! We take Jezzy for a long morning walk, then load up bikes in the Firetruck and head toward Nashville. John found a park near the Music City Bikeway where we could park, and ride the last 5 miles or so into the city. We pedaled around through the downtown restaurant/bar district, past BB King’s Blues Bar, the Hard Rock Café, and numerous cowboy boot shops. There are a couple of gorgeous old downtown churches – one Catholic, one Episcopal which we had to stop to admire. The old Union Station is now a hotel. We admired the Tennessee Titans football stadium. Had our sights set on a cold beer at Blackstone Brewery, so we rode way out of our way to visit. CLOSED! OK, back to the Rock Bottom Brewery, where we feasted on mini fish tacos and a reuben. An IPA to soothe the soul. Sounds like a dreadful combination, but you had to be there to appreciate how starved we were.
All the bad juju of yesterday is forgiven. On to Fulton, MS tomorrow. New Orleans for several days after that. We’re hoping we can avoid freezing temps so that we don’t have to re-winterize. We finally can wrap up our electric cord again, and we want to keep it that way. When we left Grand Rapids, all we could do was stuff our unwieldy, heavy cord into the back of the truck – there was no coiling to be done with this ridiculously stiff, unyielding cord.
So, a not so glorious end to 2013, but a great start to 2014. That’s what it’s all about after all, isn’t it?