Notes from the Road – The Gas Hog Tour 2008 – Day 22, July 31st I slept in this morning until almost 8 am. The soft patter of the rain and the night sounds of the trees surrounding my campsite made for a very peaceful snooze. However, I knew I had a lot to do today, a “day off” in that there’s no performance. Laundry, cleaning the camper, doing the dishes and doing internet promo work for the two remaining shows of the tour were all on the agenda. Again, COFFEE!! The tasks described took the morning and into the early afternoon mostly because the internet work for the upcoming shows can be laborious and time consuming. There were also general emails to read and respond to, folks who were at the show last night to chat with when encountered, etc. It was almost 2 pm straight up before I put the Ford in gear and lumbered forth. The Lookout Mountain KOA was a wonderful stop and I hope to hit it again on a future trip. The drive to Blairsville, Georgia, where I’m to stay with my good friends Bill & Barbara Derby, was an interesting route. The Chattanooga / Lookout Mountain KOA is actually situated just over the Tennessee / Georgia line in Trenton, Georgia. But to get to Blairville, almost due east, I had to first go north, back into Tn., then east into NC, then south back into Ga. – go figure. But, after Chattanooga (which was a madhouse traffic wise) it was a very pleasant drive. The route took me through the Cherokee National Forest along the Ocoee River. The Ocoee is dammed at several points by TVA projects creating some beautiful lakes and stretches of white water rapids alongside the winding state highway I traveled. Multitudes of rafting businesses had buses loaded with hundreds of white water adventurers lining the roadway either on their way to drop off a load at the upper end of the runs or to pick them up at the end. Plus, private vehicles were parked all along the shoulder of the road and folks were loading and unloading kayaks, canoes and rafts from their roofs not always mindful of the passing traffic mere inches from their bathing suit bottoms – more than once I thought I’d scored a tourist only to miss by the slimmest of margins. In about a 2 ½ hours I rolled up to the driveway of Bill & Barbara’s new home. Barbara, ever the editor, wished to point out that in a previous blog I mistakenly reported that they used to live in New Smyrna, which I know is wrong – it was Ormond Beach not far from Chuck and Pat Spano. She also noted a couple of misspelled names, but who cares – you know who the folks were no matter how I spelled ‘em. What a lovely place Bill and Barbara have here! Nestled into the wooded hillside is a cozy chalet styled tri-level home on two acres of natural privacy. I got the nickel tour and was thoroughly impressed with the new digs. I particularly like the high open ceiling in the main living area – the acoustics are wonderful as I learned after dinner when I got the guitar out for a little while. Bill & Barbara Derby, if you don’t know them, are among the most devoted fans of both the Florida and national folk scene. They got “turned onto” this music a few years back and just can’t get enough of it. I am so fortunate to count them among my own fans and, more importantly, friends. Barbara initially announced (having read my daily blogs during this tour) that we’d be having rice and beans for dinner – I’m sure the stunned look on my face rewarded her evil little joke. I was quite relieved when Bill fired up the grill and brought out some huge chicken breasts – now we’re cookin’. I can tell you that the Derby B&B for Hapless Touring Musicians is a five kudo operation. It’s wonderful to be spending the night out of the camper with good friends. I did play a few tunes after dinner just to stay ready for tomorrow night’s show in Savannah and we told stories, jokes and generally visited until it was time for fresh baked brownies topped with ice cream and coffee on the side – do I know where to crash or what?! Delicious! I’ve retired now to my suite to type these quick notes before I drift away to the sounds of the tree frogs outside. If you know Bill & Barbara I seriously recommend that you wangle an invitation to visit them up here. If you don’t know them, I’ll introduce you at the next festival – they still come back to Florida for a lot of them. I for one still count them among our Florida Flock, Georgia address notwithstanding! Tomorrow it’s off to Savannah – more then.