Nashville, TN

Well, I’m in Nashville.  More specifically, I’m just off the Briley Parkway.  Okay, I’m actually on Music Valley Drive.  Alright, alright, yes, I’m at Opryland.  I know that seems like an odd place for one with my musical tastes to be hanging out.  But when you imagine the type of folks who would probably enjoy Opryland, then imagine the type of folks who would likely vacation in a motor home… well, you can do the math.  You can’t swing a dead cat on this road without hitting two RV parks and a wax museum (Disclaimer: no dead cats were harmed in the preparation of this tour update).

Actually, there was an ad in the campbook I have for an RV sales and service joint right next door to this campground.  The RV has been making this squealing sound when it starts up and when the big engine cooling fans kick in while running, kinda like there’s a belt loose or something.  Seeing as how I’ve been driving through the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee, you can understand my desire to keep any squealing to an absolute minimum.  So I was hoping these jokers could take a look at it, and I chose the closest campground.  Well, it turns out there are some subtleties to the phrase “RV service” of which I was not previously aware.  Silly me, I assumed it meant that they might service my RV, and I had to be educated by a man wearing what appeared to be his Sunday-go-to-Meeting overalls that the “RV” in “RV service” refers only to the house-type part that you can walk around in.  Further, this housy part is attached to something called a chassis, which, as far as I can ascertain, is basically a long El Camino.  After being properly advised of the terminology, I began a series of phone calls, each a unique adventure, yet each invariably ending with the phrase “Naw, we don’t do no chassis work.”  By the end of the last call, I realized that these were all simply salesmen of 3/4 sized furniture with drawers that spring open automatically when the RV hits 45 miles per hour (the furniture’s drawers, not the salesmen’s.  Brrr, now _there’s_ a grisly bit of imagery).

There are apparently twelve people in the continental US who do chassis work on RVs.  All of them are booked through the turn of the century, thanks for asking, so if you’re planning to have an RV breakdown early next millenium, you should call now.  I expect RV chassis mechanic to be the hot job market over the next several years.

I finally got a number for someone that someone’s friend once “took a motor home ta,” and they said they could try to look at it first thing in the morning.  A Chevy dealership, I guess it’s more like an El Camino than I knew.

So now I get to get up at 6:00 in the morning to get to the Chevy dealership when they open up at 7:00.  And I just crossed into the Central Time Zone, so I’m to be up at 5, my time, tomorrow morning (stop laughing, Lon).

All of which actually has nothing to do with what I wanted to talk about today, which is the homogenization of America.  First, there’s that street in your town that, not long ago, was pretty much empty.  Now, however, there’s four lanes of traffic and a turn lane.  Looking down the road you see Circuit City, Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, Sports Authority, KFC, and a gas station where you can buy hot dogs that have been spinning since the Eisenhower administration, single roses in plastic, and digital watches for $1.99.  Coming back up the other side is Office Depot, Pizza Hut, Nationsbank, McDonald’s, and the locally named version of the Mexican restaurant where the #4 is a taco, an enchilada, and a tostada.

How do I know about that street?  The same street is everywhere I’ve gone.  Back home, we called ours Laurens Road (or Woodruff Road, if you’re newer to the area, but they’re the same road.  And don’t give me any crap about them intersecting…).

More subtle than that are the restaurants.  Max and Erma’s, Bennigan’s, O’Charley’s, Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, they’re all the same damn place.  Rio Bravo, Don Pablo’s, Chi-Chi’s, El Torito, the same story Mexi-fied.

As I was driving around Nashville tonight looking for the Chevy dealership (no way I’m waiting till morning and trying to find it in the dark), I thought about having dinner in some place like a Two Guys or a Taco Casa: a place that might not look like much, but had great food at good prices.  Just try to find those places, I dare you.  There’s no way to tell if the not-looking-like-much is the sign of unpretentious quality, or of a quick dose of E. coli, at least until the doctor’s tests come back.

So I ate at El Rio Pablo’s, or some such.  They charged me for chips and salsa.  Didn’t tell me they were going to:  I sat down, she said “Care for chips and salsa?” and, like a dork, I said okay.  $1.99 showed up on the ticket.  I tipped 15% (which, for me, is actually a fairly low tip already.  Work in restaurants a few years and your attitudes towards these things change quickly), but I used what the meal would have cost without that 2 bucks for my tip computation.

I’ll bet that showed her.

LATER THAT NIGHT (A special bonus update section)

Okay, I did, in fact, write all this on the 28th.  However, no one’s going to see it for several days after that.  Had a small problem, you see…

Ever hear of FTP?  It stands for file transfer protocol, and it’s a way of moving files from one computer to another over the Internet.  More specifically, it’s the way I move my web pages from my laptop to the server in Atlanta where www.jjewell.com is actually located.  I create the page on my laptop, connect to the ‘net, and FTP the new pages to the server so you can see them with your browser.  I use a program called CuteFTP 2.0, largely because I used to use CuteFTP 1.0 before I upgraded to WIN95.  New operating system, new version of the program.  One of the reasons I liked CuteFTP in the first place is that it was shareware.  Now, I never bothered to actually pay for it, and CuteFTP 1.0 kept popping up a little box that said “please register,” but let you go on and use the program anyway.  Well, CuteFTP 2.0 seems to have fixed that little bug.  I really did intend to register before I left, but it was one of those things that “I can do later” and now here I am, not registered, and the damn thing made good on it’s threat to not work no more.

It’s not a huge deal, I can register via the web and get my registration via email in 24 to 48 hours (according to the web site).  The bad news is that the connection I had tonight (I went to the camp office to connect somewhere between “I’ll bet that showed her” and “LATER THAT NIGHT”) was so bad I couldn’t get the registration page to load properly, so it’ll be 24 to 48 hours from the next good connection I get (which could be a day or two, easy), and then it depends on how soon after they send it that I get my mail (Again, a day or two is not out of the question).  So, worst case, it might be a week before you see new web pages.

Unless the thing is stupid enough to just let me roll back the date…

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