Notes from the Road – The Gas Hog Tour 2008 – Day 21, July 30 First and foremost, happy birthday to my Daughter, Stacey!! Don’t be thinking you’re too big for the traditional birthday spanking!! Though I stayed up late last night watching part of a movie on my computer, still a little wound up after a very enjoyable show, I woke at 7 am and set about the business of getting on the road. First things first – COFFEE!! While I sipped that wonderful cup of ½ hazelnut, ½ dark roast and half caff, I sent you guys my daily (or in that case semi-daily) missive. Then I put feet to shoes and hands to labor. Not much labor though. Traveling alone in the camper I do the minimum in terms of setting up and, consequently, there’s not much to tearing down. But I did take time to reorganize a bit and rid myself of the refuse of the last few hundred miles of driving (empty water bottles, withered banana peels, soiled napkins, etc.). Plus, “my adapted grand kids”, Aaron and Cody were up not long after I began, still in their matching Batman pajamas (complete with capes) and, along with their Boston Terrier, Chico, were right in the mix. I got finished with everything except unhooking the water and power and then went to shower and change. I had promised Aaron and Cody that we’d have our picture taken together and I didn’t want to look like the park vagrant for that. Mike and Michelle were so good to me the two nights I was there and Michelle sent me off well provisioned with a grilled chicken sandwich and a bag of cookies – nice, nice folks. Aaron offhandedly, in his best five year old impersonation of a grownup, “wondered if I’d like to go fishin’ sometime” and had I not had to be in Chattanooga tonight, I’d have taken him up on it. I hope I see the family again soon and will think of them often. The drive south was reasonably uneventful. My route took me through the outskirts of Nashville before turning me southeast. Gas prices hovered in the $3.70’s, though I saw one station (too late to take advantage) that had regular for $3.49. There were a lot of trucks traveling I-65 and I-26 and, though the terrain was more forgiving and I got better gas mileage, the trucks were intimidating at times, particularly when they fly past you on both sides at once buffeting the trailer with their air wakes. As I was driving through the heart of bourbon country, past the distilleries of Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark and others, I was tempted to pull off and take a “tour” to calm my nerves. But instead I admonished myself “buck up little camper” and persevered. I hit the Lookout Mountain KOA right on schedule at 2:30 pm. Coming in I could tell that the park was at peak slow – very few campers dotting the hillside park. It’s a beautiful place with lots of shade and well kept grounds. The owners, Brian and Allison could not have been nicer getting me situated and making sure I had everything I needed. Brian took me to the pavilion where I was to perform. It was small, probably 30 x 30, but covered and in a good location. Given the low occupancy and the size of the pavilion I made a command decision – in the tradition of Barberville and the River Gazebo at The FFF in White Springs, we’re doing this one all acoustic. Brian liked the idea completely. I got my camper situated in a perfect site, fully shaded and right across from the showers and the wireless internet antenna. Then I did a little email work for upcoming shows, showered and had my preshow meal (but not beans and rice as I was mindful that the intimacy of this show might prove embarrassing if gaseous emissions pressed forth mid song). I then showered and went back to the front office to retrieve the left overs of the post cards I had sent promoting the show. Borrowing Brian’s golf cart I drove the park chatting with folks and making sure they knew the when and where for the show. Then, having hit all I could catch out and about I settled back in to get ready. I love not setting up the sound system!! Just a table with my product, tip jar appropriately “pre-seeded,” a stool for my picks, water, etc. and a guitar stand. I had restrung my Collings and elected to go with just the one guitar and retune as necessary – keep it simple. At 7 pm sharp the folks I had met and handed cards to, as well some others that had been chummed up by Brian and Allison appeared with their chairs in hand and ready for an outdoor house concert. What FUN!!! Small kids were there dancing on the upbeat songs and starring wide eyed at this guy playing guitar and singing right to them. Adults swayed and tapped feet to the music, even singing along as they learned the lyrics. Stories and jokes and impromptu reactions and remarks – it was remarkable. And so were the CD sales and tip jar proceeds. The crowd was never more than 20 people (including kids) and really only about 12 adults start to finish, but every single one bought CD’s ( mostly the give me all you’ve got type), signed my mailing list and generously hit the tip jar with non-ones. I talked to them about house concerts and a couple are anxious to stay in touch to set something up back home. It was just the best!! In all this exuberance over how fun it was I forgot to tell you – it rained nearly the whole time!! These folks came in through the rain to have fun and boy did we!! I won’t soon forget this show. It’s still raining now, though it has slowed to a drizzle, and I’m sitting under my awning enjoying the night sounds and the dripping of the water from the trees. Tonight I eschewed whiskey for wine, a nice pinot noir, and I hope you are suitable envious. I shan’t stay up so late tonight, the wine will see to that. Tomorrow I’ll wander over to Blairsville, Ga. to spend the evening with Bill & Barbara Derby who recently moved there from New Smyrna. They graciously invited me to swing through on this trip and I’m taking them up on it. Looking forward to seeing the new digs and relaxing a bit. Then it’s Friday to Savannah and Saturday to Jacksonville – the home stretch. I’m not tired of the road, but I’m not adverse to getting home either. More tomorrow.