February 16-21 (Rolling to Nashville)

We got on Hwy 70 headed to Nashville, which is quite an enjoyable ride if you ask us. It was our first chance to see some of rural Tennessee and avoid any serious traffic at the same time. The landscape has changed significantly from the flat cropfields of Mississsippi, and we found ourselves rolling up and down endless hills. About forty miles outside Memphis we heard a metal object fall from the truck and bounce a couple times. We went back to look, assuming it had been a wrench Drew had left under the hood at some point. Finding nothing on the road, and no obvious parts missing from the truck we carried on.

We stopped halfway to Nashville at the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, outside of Camden to kill some time and enjoy the beautiful park which is located along the Tennessee River (only $6 a night). Unfortunately it was difficult to enjoy our first evening there when the temperature dropped below the freezing point. The next night we opted for a site with electricity so we could crank up our little electric heater after the sun went down. It began to set in that we won’t exactly be “skipping the winter” like we had originally thought possible. The second day at the park, we decided to get Danielle some practice driving the Rover for fun. A few seconds after pulling out of our site, we heard the familiar sound of metal falling from the truck. This time we found a clue! As mentioned in “Drew’s technical news report” the leaf-spring locator pin had sheared off and the spring spacers were falling out. Drew tightened up the U-bolts and figured we could make it to Nashville safely and find some help there. Luckily we had been in contact with Scott Preston, a Rover enthusiast in Hendersonville, just outside Nashville, and planned to meet up with him. After a slightly warmer night in the Boler we set out for Nashville.

As you may know, Nashville has been given the nick-name Music City – a perfectly appropriate nick-name in our opinion. Before getting there we had done a bit of searching for open-mic nights and found two, or three, or four every night of the week. We picked out a Tuesday night open mic at the Douglas Corner Cafe, which you have to call ahead between 1pm and 6pm to sign up. Not knowing anything more about the event then you now do, we called at 3:30pm and signed up. The Cafe was a nice spot, specifically designed as a musical venue with large stage and seating all facing the stage. There were quite a few people there with instruments, more than we are used to seeing anyway. We tracked down the coordinator of the open mic to find out what time we played at and found out we were dead last, behind 30+ people. We were told that everyone calls at 1:00 to try and get a early spot. We decided to stick around for a bit and hope that we don’t get on too late. They have a unique way of organizing the event, four artists go on stage at a time (for a round), they each play a song one after another, and then they each play a second song one after another, after which the round is over and four more artists go up on stage. Another unique aspect of the open mic is that everyone plays original music. We didn’t hear a single cover song, which altered our plan of playing cover songs that night. As with any open mic, some artists were incredible, and some were average. There were a couple of very impressive bluegrass and country singers, and one young guy with a six string electric banjo with a very unorthodox style of playing and singing, his name was Salvator. We got on the stage in the last round at 1:00am but to our surprise there were still ten or fifteen people in the place. If nothing else it was good practice!

The next morning we set out to find Scott’s place, to meet him and do some repairs to the Rover. Scott immediately invited us in and offered us a cup coffee, and we spent a little while getting acquainted! Scott is such a great guy, and we can’t thank him enough for setting aside whatever he had to do that day to hang out and help us with the Rover repairs. He’s got a couple Rovers of his own including a Saudi-spec Disco, a TDI D-90 with a series bulkhead, and a pile of parts which will soon be his son Harrisons Rover. Twelve-year-old Harrison has been mowing lawns like a machine to save the money to put together a truck like his dads, and has received some donations as well to help with his task. It may seem like quite a task for a kid his age but in meeting him he came off incredibly bright.

Here’s how Drew and Scott’s day went: “We got to work on the spring pin issue, first attempting to remove the top of the pin which was lodged up inside the axle. We eventually took the whole spring off, and heated, drilled, and lubricated until it popped free. The next task we to replace the pin. Fortunately Tom Bache had given me a couple of pins with the helper leafs when we were in Pennsylvania. They were slightly oversized for the parabolics in length and diameter, and it took some drilling and grinding to get them to fit properly. Those parabolics are made of some tough steel. Eventually everything was back together, just in time for Danielle to arrive with a stir-fry for lunch!”

After lunch Drew did an oil change, adding that mysterious Marvell Mystery Oil to the mix. We ate supper with Scott and his two kids and had a great time hanging out and talking. His wife was away on business for the week and its’ too bad we didn’t get to meet her. Scott had slow-cooked a stew for the occasion which was some of the best stew ever (no offense to the moms, you are still number 1!) He shared some pictures and stories from Rover events such as Moab. After seeing the pictures we were convinced to round up the Riverport Rovers and make a trip to the event some year. Scott also had some great recommendations for things to do and see in Nashville during our visit. We spent the night in his driveway, and ran an extension cord for heat, to our luck the weather was getting warmer again. In the morning we thanked Scott for everything and said goodbye! Without his help we might have been in a bit of trouble, or at least Drew would have been doing some risky repairs in a parking lot somewhere. Thanks again for everything Scott!

With Scott’s recommendations in mind, we headed back to Nashville. We have lots of great stories to tell (including a show at the Grand Ole Opry!) but unfortunately our computer battery is dying and the appropriate amount of time to use McDonald’s internet is up. Stay tuned over the next couple of days for the second half of this post!

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