After leaving the house about 6 a.m. on June 3rd, Rita The RV and I headed down to the local CAT scales to be sure we weren't overweight before sailing north on the Florida Turnpike. The drive to Tennessee took longer than it normally did, of course, but was made all the more pleasant by listening to tunes and occasionally pulling over into rest stops to raid the fridge and use the facilities (without ever leaving the RV - which was awesome.)
After talking with Butch Ross, I decided to make a quick pit-stop in Chattanooga and visit with my fellow dulcimer-playing madman before pulling into Nashville and hooking up to shore power in the the front yard of the man known as El More. All in all, the trip was uneventful and Rita handled the miles, the heat and the psychotic Atlanta drivers with nary a hiccup.
First Official Day
After sharing breakfast with El More and his family (all of them just a wonderful bunch of people), we headed out to conduct workshops at Davidson Academy with a sprightly bunch that included Nancy Seifert (Stephen's mom.) I was able to park Rita in front of the school with a shore line that would keep the interior cool and the fridge running.
I conducted two workshops of 90 minutes in length, going over fundamentals of rhythm and chording while also teaching more advanced concepts and finally getting into some tunes. It was a couple of very good sessions with skill levels ranging from very new beginner to experienced musician. All seemed to have a great time!
Sometime about halfway through the session, I went outside to get something from storage and noticed that the inside of the RV was anything but cool. Thinking maybe the roof air had frozen up, I turned it off and came back later to see if it had thawed. There was a mighty shudder from above. It sounded like a death rattle.
In short time, after the last workshop, I had taken the advice of one of my friends who was in the class and gone to Camping World to have it looked at. It was going to be a hot summer and it would totally suck to be without air conditioning while trying to sleep at night. The service department had gone for the day, but Aly was able to secure a phone number for Road Ready Repair. After calling and getting no answer, El More and I headed to Richard's Cafe where a spot had been secured for me as an opening act for the owner's band.
Cajun dinner was wonderful and I had a nice little jam session with Richard on-stage before things got started with the scheduled musical acts. My iPhone finally rang and I spoke with Neal, who said he'd have a look at what he surmised might be a blown compressor. After my brief set opening for the Gator Bait Band (featuring stand-in bassist Woodstock, who was also bassist for Jason Link and the Family Band that I jammed with on Broadway in Nashville a couple of years back, small world), El More and I headed over to Goodlettsville and met up with Neal. I pulled into the back of the yard and hopped out as Neal told me to move forward just a bit more. Getting back in, I gained a few more feet and then got out as he positioned his ladder and got on top of Rita's roof. Thinking this was a great picture, I reached for my iPhone to find that it wasn't there. Remember that I'd had it out in the cab when El More had called at some point during our trip, I looked on the seat, but didn't see it. I looked on the ground. Didn't see it. El More called me. I didn't hear it. Very strange.
Then, it hit me.
Walking back to where I had first hopped out, I spied it laying on the ground and picked it up. It had fallen off of my lap and onto the ground where, after being told to move up, it had rightly been rolled over by the outside rear driver's side tire.
If it had been a normal vehicle with both tires in line, I would've missed it by that much. But the outermost tire had caught it squarely and shattered the face, surprisingly the integrity of the case remained fairly intact. But no denying - lights were out.
The good news is, Neal fixed the roof air by rewiring a spare capacitor that he had lying around. Besides being quite a technician, he was also a very big-hearted guy and I'd trust him with any repair on Rita in the future (615-390-3851, if you're ever in the Nashville area - he's the man.)
The bad news is - I really can't afford a new iPhone, so I'm looking into some options. In the meantime, I've printed out my maps for the trip to Black Mountain today and just thanking Creator for all of the good people that I get to meet every single day. People like El More and his family; Nancy, Aly, Richard, Woodstock, Neal and the folks who let me know that I had a brake light out (need to get that changed out today, mental note to self.) As the U2 song goes, sometimes you can't make it on your own. And when you can't, it's just beautiful that there are people who can and will help you on your journey. El More was musing over the fact that what seemed like bad news, and a test at the beginning of this tour, was being greeted with optimism from me. Every test is something to be anticipated and looked forward to - it means you're worthy of the challenge. And how much better for it are you after sailing through with your sanity and hope left intact.
I can't think of a better way to have kicked off this tour. Onward to North Carolina!