Another disturbance tonight, although this one from nature, a thunderstorm – our first in the bus!
I feel all safe and snug and happy as I hear the storm roll through, the rain pattering outside. It’s only when we rise in the morning and are about 5 minutes from getting underway that I hear Loops curse from the front, standing near my seat with a roll of paper towels in hand. It seems we have our first water leak.
And so it goes that Loops goes up to the roof to investigate the source of the leak and I am charged with disposing of the water and drying out of the wood and fabrics. The leak has come through one of the air conditioner ducts and therefore we’ve had to open up the valence above the window to get to it. I find myself wedging a small bowl under the leak to catch water until it slows and stops, and using a hairdryer (who knew that would come in useful? I didn’t even know we had one on board!), I proceed to spend half an hour drying the valence. The most surprising part of this episode, I didn’t fuss, whinge, rant or curse at the whole ordeal. I just went, ok, and got on with it. Highly unlike me!
Loops thinks he’s identified the problem. Just before we left Florida, Loops asked me to dicore one of the roof fairings as he was worried that it would leak if it rained. Well, I dicored as asked, but it appears instead of fixing a problem, I created one; the water can now no longer flow along the fairing and off of the roof as it previously did, but instead can now pool, trapped in the dips of the dicore sealant. Bugger. Loops re-dicores the roof to hopefully prevent the problem occurring again and I guess we’ll have to wait until the next storm to find out if it works!
Additionally, I feel in the interest of public service that I should warn future RV-ers that parking at the Elks Club in Anniston for the night, I experienced my final Alabama Cousin Vinny moment. The train. 8pm, 12am, 4am, 8am. Out of nowhere comes the blast and scream of the train horn as it passes over the crossing which must be located all of 15 feet from the car park, judging by the loudness of the horn.
Today we crossed two state lines, briefly into Georgia while on interstate 59 (and back over into the Eastern time zone) until we doglegged left onto interstate 24 and crossed into Tennessee (and once again into the Central time zone – all of this time travel is getting to me, never mind the number of times I’ve had to reset my watch).
We had planned that our route would take us on back woods roads up through Sewanee so I could visit the University of the South are where my cousins had gone to college (I’ve always been awed by the pictures of it); but unfortunately with our delay caused by the leak in the morning, we only managed to get off the beaten path for the first half of the morning, opting for the super slab in the afternoon in order to make it to our destination for tonight in time.
However in the morning we did pass signs for a town called Chocolocco (no lie), crossed a nice little bridge overlooking Weiss Lake and drove the short width of Little River Canyon National Preserve. We did have a cringe worthy moment going through the mountain pass in the preserve where Loops tried using our Jake brake (engine brake) to slow us down on the descent, but because our exhaust is not muffled, the sound was absolutely obnoxious, enough to start an avalanche really. He flipped the switched on and within 3 seconds back off again, it was embarrassing, sounding like a huge lorry thundering through the hills. Well, there’s yet another job, we need some baffles to quiet Belle down!
I also saw what I consider typical signs of the south – confederate flags on many people’s properties as well as the familiar bright yellow posted notices, which basically say keep off my land or I’ll shoot you, stapled to every tree lining a person’s property.
We arrived to spend the night at Arnold’s Air Force Base, about 80 miles south of Nashville, so our drive in the next day to meet Kerry would be just an hour or two.
The campsite was once again located on a pretty lake which we took advantage of and spent the evening sitting in our camp chairs, chatting with a young lad who was staying in the 5th wheeler next to us. He’s was really sweet, incredibly chatty for a little 10 year old and was fishing on his own, catching them and throwing them back.
Tonight was also the first evening that I saw fireflies! I love fireflies. I fully feel we should import these and populate England with them. They’re not annoying and they don’t bite, they just fly around at night chatting to each other by lighting up their butts! There was one adult couple who were actually running around with a net, catching them in a jar. I thought people only did that sort of thing in movies? It did looked like great fun, but I hope they let them go after they had finished playing.
That’s it for the night – Nashville tomorrow!
We had discovered a couple of days ago that Nashville was not to be friendly towards Belle. The city is busy and a bit convoluted, roads can be a little tight (some also having been blocked off for the Country Music Awards taking place this week) and there is no parking that would suit our 43 feet. Additionally I discovered that the campsite that Loops had booked was 25 miles outside of the city at a COE site – Cages Bend. Hmm. Well isn’t this all just the logistical nightmare for visiting friends who are staying in the heart of the city. There was no other choice, we were going to have to rent a car.
In the end I’m glad we did. Registered in my name, it meant I got the chance to drive around for a while (having not yet had the chance to drive the bus), I was able to pop down to the local Kroger store (which I instantly fell in love with, it was huge and had plenty of vegetation to buy!) and also gave me the opportunity to ferry out my friends to the camp to visit Belle and pass their judgement on her.
Despite running a little behind schedule, we finally made it into Nashville by 2pm. I was so stressed out by this time about being late and also by Nashville traffic, that the moment I saw Kerry and she handed me a bag of British sweets and tea that she and Binky had put together for me, I promptly burst into tears. I was just so relieved to see her, I didn’t stop hugging her for about 5 minutes. After my initial hysteria I then got to meet the other friend she had travelled with, Jan. And what a treat! Just the sort of person who is instantly likeable and easy to get on with, full of conversation that made the day flow so nicely. I’m glad we all had the chance to spend the time together.
We opted for some BBQ for lunch, settling ourselves for an hour or so in the restaurant that Loops and I visited on our last road trip to Nashville, four years ago. The music was amazing, three guys and their guitars and we passed the time alternating between listening to them strum and chatting amongst ourselves, until we had outstayed our welcome and were told we needed to move on for more customers! The heat was so oppressive outside, we only managed to visit the stars of fame on the sidewalk before deciding that we’d take a trip out to our camp where we had shade and greenery to spend the afternoon. Following a rather hairy exit from the city where I managed to get into the wrong lanes at least 4 times, we finally made it into the countryside and I think it was a nice side trip for Kerry and Jan.
Cages Bend is once again another great Corps of Engineers site, situated on the Cumberland River, and we spent the brief afternoon touring Belle, walking the site, discussing all of our future plans and appreciating the water – including spotting a huge barge chugging its way up river.
Too soon the day was done and we said our goodbyes back in Nashville, but not until Jan had provided some very sage words of advice on my new lifestyle – thank you Jan!
I felt a real tug of sadness as I drove away with Kerry waving on the steps of the hotel. In a way I was surprised, but also not, at how much I actually miss the people in my life who’ve always been a phone call or quick drive away. I’m sure we will meet new people as we travel, but I think we all know that making true friends is never easy and how important it is to hold to the ones we already have, even if it is from 4,000 miles away.
And so ends our mad dash to Nashville.
We decided after the fast paced travel to give ourselves a couple days in one place to take a breath, before we head to our next destination up near Knoxville where we will spend three or four days with a friend of Loops’.
And then onwards further north!