This weekend's trip was a true journey of discovery. I went to the W. C. Handy Blues and BBQ Festival in Henderson, KY, and camped at the John James Audubon State Park.
The festival was great; I got in Thursday afternoon, set up camp in a beautiful shaded spot and headed into town. It was Zydeco night at the festival with two fun bands, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble and Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. People told me that Wednesday's lineup was great fun, especially with headliner Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. HOT music and HOT weather--it felt like we were in the bayou, dat true. Festival planners provided red beans and rice, Andouille sausages, and other Louisiana favorites on Zydeco night, so the food was a good as the music. Thought I was in NOLA.
Friday was hotter and the music was better--blues all day and night, with a good variety, starting with the Bryant-Stevens Band with lead singer Dana Bryant who has style and power in her voice. Their bass player went down with the heat, but the band found a sub and they played on. The Stella Vees were next with jump blues followed by Albert Castiglia, a slide guitar virtuoso. Then came a great set with the incomparable Kenny Neal, and closing the night out was a trip back to the bayou with Tab Benoit. Hot and sultry music and atmosphere--ninety plus degrees all day, very little breeze, but thankfully enough shade in the beautiful park by the Ohio River where the stage is set.
Did I mention that this festival is completely free? Outstanding musicians four days, every day, been going since 1991, and free! The town is wonderful, the crowd is down home people, the food vendors and especially the Java Shakes are perfect.
It all sounds so perfect, so what was the challenge I faced? HEAT with no air conditioning. I am a wimp. My camper is pretty nice, and I love to travel around and have my little home on wheels to return to at night. This weekend, however, the air conditioner was running but not cooling. It blew hot air. I tried all Friday morning to find someone to come give me a shot of freon, at least that's what I thought I needed, but no luck. No one could come fix it. I climbed up on the roof to make sure all the moving parts were actually moving--they were, so I decided I could survive with fans. I turned on all the fans in the camper, then went to Super Walmart to buy a few BIG fans. Big fans helped as long as I was sitting directly in front of them, not moving. I showered frequently, dressed in as little clothing as possible--not a pretty picture, but this was survival mode--and drank cool, iced drinks. Thursday night cooled down enough for sleeping, but Friday night was miserable. Luckily at 3 AM Saturday morning, still awake, I heard the distant rumbles of thunder and the crack of tree limbs as the wind started to gust. Cool winds heralded the storm that was headed my way. I checked the internet for dangerous storm warnings and found that a small, but bright red front was headed Henderson's way. Yeah!!! Cool winds. I didn't much care that a giant tree might fall on my trailer, I just wanted relief from the heat. Sweet cool winds, I sat outside feeling the front moving through. I started packing away my camping gear before the rain started because I had already decided I couldn't handle another night in the non-air conditioned camper--no matter how good the music was going to be on Saturday. Around 5 AM, I was sleeping soundly, under a sheet--it actually got a little chilly--as the rain came down. Beautiful sound of rain on a metal roof.
I do not handle heat well. I do not handle disappointment well. However, I learned to appreciate the good things I have. The music, the people I met, a new town on the Ohio River, a place I will go back to again and again. Next time I will make sure the A/C is in good working order.
After reading Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, I had a chance to practice being nice in the face of rudeness and adversity. Packing up the camper and getting ready to leave a campground is hard work, especially in swamp-like heat. I trailer my car behind my RV, and one of the more dirty and difficult tasks is getting the car hooked up. I had already emptied my black and gray water tanks at the dump station, hooked up the tow dolly to the hitch, and was ready to drive my Beetle up onto the dolly when a gray-haired couple in a big truck pulling a fifth-wheel pulled up behind me to the dump station. I was not blocking them from the dump, but they were blocking me from getting my car onto the dolly. I walked back told them all I needed to do was pull my car up to see if they could wait a few minutes. He got huffy, "This is the dump station, not a parking spot." I thought about kicking something and saying a few choice words, but instead I smiled and said, "Okay, I'll move my camper." I took deep breaths the whole time thinking that I could still remain happy--I did not have to let that old man steal my peace. It worked. I moved to a shaded drive around the corner, walked back to get my car, hooked it up and left. As I passed the old man at the dump station on my way out, I smiled and called out to wish him a safe trip.
It was my day to be tested by old men. I left the campground and pulled into a nearby gas station to fill the RV for my trip home. I was pretty close to empty. My RV is 28 feet long pulling a trailer with my VW Beetle. I need to make big turns and it is impossible to do reverse towing a car like that. I headed toward a pump which would allow me to make a big turn to get in and back out onto the street. A thin, gray-haired old man was pumping gas there already into his late model sedan. I figured it wouldn't take too long for him to fill his tank. Ten minutes later he was still at the pump. Finally, he finished pumping the gas. Then he walked into the station to pay--who does that anymore? Still waiting and waiting and waiting--what could he possibly be doing in there? I decided to shut off the engine--my gas was already pretty low. I went back to the fridge and made myself a big glass of iced tea for the drive. Then I made a ham sandwich with Swiss cheese on wheat since it was nearly lunch time. I could eat as I was driving that way. HE STILL WAS NOT OUT!!! Did he die in there? There was no ambulance, no sirens headed our way. Finally he came out........Got in the car........Adjusted the mirrors, the radio, the A/C (something I did not have!).......Looked around the dashboard for something--oh, his glasses.........Had to clean the glasses.......Seatbelt. During all of this wait, I was sitting directly behind him in a 28 foot RV, waiting to get gas. Did he have any idea that I was there? Meanwhile, I kept telling myself that this was a test of my ability to remain calm and happy--let no one steal my peace. I did okay--I smiled--"always act the way you want to feel"--I enjoyed the oldtime Gospel music on the radio, and I sipped my iced tea. "Oh Happy Day."