Got Harvey in tow and are on our way to the next state, Indiana. As we pass through Louisville, the driver shifts in his seat. "Ugh!" He says, wrinkling his nose. "This place stinks! Do you smell it?" (Sniff, sniff.) No I don't smell anything. Drive some more. "Oh. It's awful," he persists, as he scrunches up his face in disgust. "Are you sure you don't smell anything." Yes. I'm sure. We're crossing a bridge over the Ohio River as we leave Louisville, Kentucky and enter Jeffersonville, Indiana. A trucker in a huge semi is riding on our tail as we squeeze onto the narrow bridge. "Look at this guy!" Ken says as he peers in the rearview mirror at the tailgater. "He thinks he's driving a Ferrari." Just then, the driver pulls alongside us -- way to close -- and starts making wild gestures. He's yelling something to us. "You're smokin'!" he hollers. A quick look in the side mirror shows a billowing cloud of black smoke coming out of Harvey's rear tire. With no inflection in his voice at all, Ken says calmly, "We're on fire."(Ken is imperturbable. Always patient. Always calm. Always laconic.) We make it across the bridge and pull into a Hardee's fast food parking lot. Ken gets out of the truck and inspects the damage. Seems we've blown and axle. It's an astoundingly hot day for this time of year. We're sweating in hot the sun, examining our problem and our options. A rapid referral to our Owner's Manual indicates that Harvey's wheel-bearings are due for repacking. It's recommended every 10,000 miles. I check my log of miles and tally the number Harvey's has been racking up on the road: 11,676. Geez. Okay. So we're a bit tardy on the maintenance schedule, but, golly . . . I mean, really! Is there no leeway on this? We call the RV factory in Shipshewana, Indiana. Luckily we're in the same state as the factory. It was our intention to go there anyway to get the RV serviced. But I guess we'll be doing it sooner than we thought. The guy at the factory, Norm, is a doll. He finds an RV repair center just 6-1/2 miles from where we are. "Go to Cummings RV Center. A father and son own the place -- I've known them for years. Good people." With this endorsement, we feel a bit better. Call the RV center and they are ready for us, as Norm had already called them in advance. Now we prepare for the longest drive, ever. Just 6-1/2 miles, but we can only drive one mile at a time. Must stop and let Harvey cool off for ten minutes. We drive one mile. The RV smokes. We stop. Wait 10 minutes to let the wheels cool off. Drive another mile. Same thing. A six mile drive takes us an hour. But we make it here safely. Norm was right. These people are wonderful. They put Harvey up on blocks and hook him to electricity so we can live here until the new axle arrives in five days. Basically, this is our campground for the week. I call and cancel our reservations at the campground in Indianapolis, two hours away. We can still tour the capitol, but as far as other sites in that area, well, we'll have to let them go. Looks like we'll be sending postcards from Southern Indiana instead of the capital area. That's truckin.'
The waiting game
I've changed. And it happened the best possible way, for I've changed gradually, effortlessly, and didn't even feel the pains of breaking a bad habit, in fact I didn't even know I was breaking a bad habit until I saw how I acted a few days ago when we broke down. Prior to this trip, I was a scheduler. Scheduled everything, and expected everyone to meet their end of the commitment on my pre-arranged agenda. For example, I might have a hair appointment at one in the afternoon, and would set up a lunch date for two o'clock. If the hairdresser was running late, it would screw up my lunch date and I'd be angry, my day ruined. I actually thought that when someone was late for our meeting, that the hold-up was literally, a hold-up. I felt that person was robbing me of my time. They were taking time that belonged to me. "The best way for someone to punish me," I used to say, "is to make me wait." I hated waiting. But now, instead of viewing waiting as a robbery of time, I view it as a gift of time. My feeling now is, "Oh well, I guess God wants me to take this time to reflect." I always carry a book with me or a crossword puzzle and enjoy the present, this delightful gift of time. I'm relieved from my schedule and my commitments. It's not my fault. Enjoy it. Relish it. That's exactly what Ken and I are doing with this breakdown. We're enjoying Jeffersonville, even though it was not on our schedule to tour this small river town. Had we not broken down here, we never would have learned about Indiana's rich river life and riverboat history. We would never have known about Clarksville, the town settled by Roger Clark, the older brother of William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame) who was a Revolutionary War hero. We never would have discovered the Ohio Falls State Park that 400 million years ago was an inland tropical sea and is now the largest naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world. And we never would have learned about Corydon, Indiana's first capital and the site of the only Civil War battle in Indiana. This trip has taught me that waiting can be a wonderful thing. And screwing up my schedule might possibly be the best thing for me.
Heard on the radio this morning that the Oprah Show will be talking about fashion Do's and Don'ts. Make a note to stop what we're doing at four o'clock and check it out. It's been so long since I've read a fashion magazine I'm wondering how outdated I've become. So, I find myself a cup of tea, and a fluffed up pillow to catch a luxury I always took for granted at home: watching television. The show comes on and I'm aghast. It begins with lingerie and how to pad, push and squish your breasts so that you can look voluptuous. What? When did this happen? (Gloria Steinem . . .where are you?) I gotta hand it to Oprah, though, as she said to the woman, "Do you really want to look that way?" Doesn't it seem a bit too much?" But the woman modeling the low-cut top with her breasts spilling out, replies, "No. This is how I want to look." Big-bosomed ladies are back in style it seems. The guest/advisor even tells the women in the audience to use a "rolled up sock" if they can't afford these padded extravagances. So it's come to this, has it? But what impresses me the most is the "scarf" segment. I guess the rage is these super deluxe Cashmere scarfs that cost $125. Everyone wants 'em. But the unified lament in the studio audience is that "you just can't find 'em anywhere." The guest on the show, an editor from Glamour magazine, has a demo scarf to show the audience the proper and improper way to wear the scarf. The demo scarf is the color of burnt orange. "What!" Oprah screams. "That's the exact color I need!" She admits that she's already got three of these scarfs but she "needs" the burnt orange. "After the show, this scarf is staying," she demands. And she means it. You can see the expression of Want on her face. This is one of the richest women in America. And she till "wants." This offhand comment of hers strikes me like a baldheaded slap. Because I remember when I "needed" stuff, too. I "really need" a navy top to complete my wardrobe, I'd say. I "really need" some black dress shoes. I "really need" some new jeans. The weird thing is, I haven't said "I really need" in two years. Since we've been on the road I haven't "needed" anything. Ironically, I have the same weak clothes I packed two years ago -- just enough to fit in a 13" closet. Yet, I never feel I "need" anything. And, oddly enough, I never feel as though I'm not dressed appropriately, either. Nor do I ever feel out of fashion. It's ironic that the less I have the less I seem to "need."
Black is black, turning the clock back
Shipshewana is a big Amish town. Everywhere are black buggies, black-clothed men and bonneted women. It's so funny to see this throwback in time mixed in with modern life. For instance, we got to Pizza Hut for lunch today and sit with an entire roomful of Amish people. Old ladies, young girls, men and boys, and adorable little babies in old-fashioned clothes, sitting at a Formica table eating fast-food. It's a strange mix of modesty and modernity. At the campground in the evening we hear the clip-clop of horses on the road while the roar of airplanes soar overhead. I love seeing the horses and buggies and hearing their distinctive clip-clop, but reality is that the place smells awfully bad. Horse manure fills the air and the streets. One needs to watch his step all the time.