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Wham Bam!

Please lower your expectations for this blog post. I’m not going to be crafting my words carefully here because I’m halfway into my birthday trip. So I’m going to blow through this quickly before we venture out on the town for a fabulous dinner. We’re both terribly excited about having a meal that will last longer than 30 minutes. Being a slave to a time clock at Amazon has been a total awakening. We’re going to dine at Dudley’s on Short, followed by dessert at the Sky Bar and then go hear some live acoustic guitar music at the Parlay Social. WHAM BAM! Happy B-day to me!

It was early October when we finished in Nashville, TN, which is when we had EXPECTED to be starting work for Amazon. So when our start date changed to November 2nd we suddenly had a whole month to fill up with destinations. We had missed visiting with my aunt Meg and uncle Brendan in Virginia on our first bolt down the east coast because we were racing to make it to the Bed & Breakfast conference in time. I really wanted to see them, they’d never met Allison, so that became our main priority. They live in the Washington D.C area so we plotted a fast route up that way.

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Two nights in Blountville, TN, two nights in Natural Bridge, VA and two nights in Harpers Ferry, WV and we stayed at KOA’s all along the way. WHAM BAM! We decided early on to join the KOA rewards program. We earn a free night for every 4th or 5th night we pay for and despite their somewhat inflated rates, you can always count KOA’s consistency. They have laundry, clean facilities, they decorate with fun stuff for the holidays and sometimes they have a “jumpy pillow”. It’s a big air-filled canvas that acts a lot like a trampoline and Allison loves them.

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There’s not much else say about Blountville, TN. We grocery shopped and found the cheapest gas prices of our entire trip in that town, $2.83/gallon. WHAM BAM! Onward to Natural Bridge, VA, named for the 20-story tall natural bridge that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and has the initials of a young soldier named George Washington carved into its wall. It was a beautiful, warm, fall day so it was easy to spend a couple of hours walking along the trail under the falling leaves, followed by a quick jaunt through the butterfly exhibit. My jaunt was WHAM BAM quick anyway because it was DRIPPING-HOT HUMID in there. Allison was apparently very fascinated by the butterflies so she stayed in there longer than I thought was humanly possible. I got worried at one point that she might have fainted and went in to check on her. I would have fainted had I been in there that long, but no, she was just taking photos of every single butterfly they had.

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Our next stop was Harpers Ferry, WV to visit the National Park, except that we arrived right during the middle of the Government shutdown. Poor Harpers Ferry was a ghost town and our KOA campground was equally empty. The night we got there we drove passed the signs that informed us of the park’s closure and found that all of the historical buildings were closed and most of the shops and restaurants were as well.

We horsed around for a while in the empty campground the next morning, played a round of miniature golf (another KOA feature), then walked up the street to the National Park and finally decided to hop over the single chain WHAM BAM that was barring entrance to Murphy Farm, a key battle field in the Civil War. We walked a long loop around the edges of the massive field. It was on high ground with a steep drop off on 3 sides which is what made it an important land grab for the Confederates. That’s also what afforded us some amazing views of the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers, both of which roared below us.

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The morning we planned to leave, we slept in and lazed about since we only had a two hour drive to my aunt’s house. We’d finally gotten ourselves rolling by noon, but since we were going to be dry camping out on the farm for a week with Meg and Brendan, we needed full tanks of fresh water and propane. The KOA has a propane filling station, so we pulled both vehicles over there and started to hook up the tow bar while we got filled up.

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On two occasions before in our trip, in Montgomery, AL and on our way to Jackson, MS, we’d had some electrical problems that involved our back up camera, our turn signals and our brake lights. When the problem is happening, none of them work. It’s really bad. However, it had mysteriously corrected itself both times before when we jiggled things – WHAM BAM – so we hadn’t yet taken it to a service station. That morning in West Virginia, the problem reared its ugly head again. The propane tank was full and the KOA guy had left us on our own. The RV was running, the SUV was hooked up, but we had no brake lights, no turn signals and the backup camera was flashing like a strobe light in a disco.

Allison was outside standing behind the SUV giving me the thumbs down while I was in the driver’s seat trying all of the random tricks that had worked before to fix the short. No luck. At that point, I needed to confer with Ali, so I opened my door, leaned my arm where I normally do on the arm rest to support myself while I take the large step down out of the RV and then I shut my door. WHAM BAM!

I had heard the click before the door slammed and had just enough time to make eye contact with Allison before my brain finally latched onto what it had heard. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! I’d accidentally leaned on the electric lock button. Allison and I were now both outside of Lucy. All of Lucy’s doors were now locked. Lucy’s engine was still running. WHAM SHIT! BAM SHIT! OH SHIT!

To be continued…