Cleaning a house to sell can be a monumental task but we set about it with the help of our friend Edmond and others that came and went. Edmond was a rock as he tirelessly did whatever needed to be done! Ashwood looks to be fairly small from the front, but I can assure you that it is not a small house by any means. It has over 40 windows that also have storm windows over them.
We had to find homes for some pieces of furniture and storage facilities for the 50 or so oversized artworks of her former husband. As the house emptied, we still had a shelf full of CDs and a Braun stereo system that cranked out some great music to work by. There was some painting to be done in some of the rooms, etc. We had to prepare the house to be sold. We worked hard from the sun up into the night and then slept like a rock until morning came around again. “Rinse and repeat”, as they say.
We got an invitation to a pool party, “Pick out your 10 most favorite CDs. Bring your dog, too!” figuring we were due a break, we went. Sugar Ray had a great time and enjoyed the pool! We swam a bit and relaxed with friends new and old while listening to a nice mix of music. It was a good time!
When we arrived back at the house we realized it had been broken into! All the CDs were gone! I ran downstairs to see if my instruments were gone, too! Nope! All still here. I walked back upstairs. That’s when I saw my ‘65 Stratocaster leaned up beside the front door. We had been robbed but, not pillaged. Hmmmmm.
As the house emptied and the work progressed we tried to stay out of the finished areas and eventually ended up living out of one room before finally leaving the house altogether while waiting for it to be sold. At last, the house was ready! We decided the best way to keep the house “fresh” was to stay away and let the realtor do what they do. A tent was purchased along with camping gear and a cooler. We realized that there was free camping in the national forests and began looking at the AAA maps to find one located where we could be warm while waiting but still get back to Nashville fairly quickly.
Where to Go?
Donna picked a spot in the Apalachicola National Forest in the Florida panhandle near a town called Sumatra. It sounded like a faraway, exotic place, and kind of was. About the only signs of ‘civilization’ was a little store frequented by the hunters. They would pull up in these monster trucks and hang out while they filled their trucks with gas, their coolers with beer and ice, and bragged to each other about the game they bagged the night before.
When we walked in wearing our tie-dye, the conversations stopped as they stared at the strangers. We would buy our few supplies and wander back towards the campgrounds. We were told by some of our new campground friends that even though we were wearing bright tie-dye that unless we were wearing the bright orange vest, some of these hunters might ‘mistake’ us for deer as we wander around the forest.
At the campgrounds, we pitched our tent at what was a regular haven for some ‘snowbirds’. If you don’t know the term, it refers to retired Northerners who head south for the winter in their nicely decked out recreation vehicles, ‘RV’ for short. Bonnie and Carl took a liking to us right off, and we’re happy to show us ‘the ropes’. He loved to play yard darts, which had been made illegal since so many children had managed to get speared in the head throwing them about.
They were a fun older couple. Then there was another couple at the number one spot near the entrance to the small circular campgrounds. We visited with them a bit and while talking with her discovered the woman was suffering from debilitating arthritis and could barely move from their RV to the picnic table.
Folk Remedies That Work
We told her about copper bracelets and that we had heard that if you keep a small new potato on you, say in a pocket or closer to the skin, it would draw out arthritis. She was ready to try anything! So, she had her husband bring her a new potato and right then and there she wedged it between her ample breasts! “We’ll just see if that works!” she exclaimed.
It seems that it did indeed work! After a few days, she was walking to the picnic table without much problem. In a few weeks, she began walking down the road a bit, eventually walking a mile or more! She recounted to us that she was in the store and she bent over to get something from the lower shelf when the potato fell out and rolled down the aisle. She laughed as she told us about trying to chase it down calling, “Lord, Lord, where has my potato gone?”
Their son had decided to come down and visit them. He was a flaming gay man, very stylish, who took a liking to us right away. Being a florist, he was amazed at all the different wildflowers there were in the forest. He would hang out with us around or campfire and we would babble on for hours. As the night grew late he started flirting with me and teasing, nothing serious.
He kept telling me he had false teeth and then he would say, “I’ve got a secret to tell you, lean in here so I can whisper it to you.” Then he tried to nibble on my ear! I think was just playing for reaction. Donna laughed a lot that night. He was a nice fellow and took good care of his parents, but such a flirt!
Rock and Roll
One time we heard that there was going to be a historic rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center! STS-47, the 50th launch, and the first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison. We figured that this was our best chance to experience this so we packed up everything into my tiny, little Ford Festiva, and drove the 5 hours down to witness the launch. When we arrived, we tried to figure out the closest place we could get and were told the best place to see it was the jetty.
So, off we went. We parked and walked out to where there were lots of people camped and waiting. We had arrived at a good moment before the launch of the “Endeavour” spacecraft. Someone told us this was about as close as you could get but it still seemed so far away! You could see the rocket on the pad but it was so small. Radios were on all around and you could hear the countdown, “ignition, 3, 2, 1, liftoff!” But we could not hear the rocket engines.
A Mighty Roar
A few seconds later birds were leaping out of trees in distance and flying madly towards us! Still no sound of the rocket. And then, BAM! I have never felt so much sound before or since in my life! It wasn’t so much the volume as it was that it shook you to your core! This was the most “rock and roll” thing ever! We watched the rocket climb riding a bright flame and a column of smoke, up and out of sight. Here is an article about the mission.
We visited the Kennedy Space Center. I know it must have been an amazing museum and I vaguely remember a few flashes of space capsules but honestly, the launch overshadowed most of the memories. We returned to our new home in the forest, set up camp again, and played yard darts with Carl.
We noticed that the car was not sounding right and decided since it was just barely still under warranty we could take it to the closest Ford dealership to have it fixed. When we got there a mechanic listened to it. He said it all sounded good to him. What!? It was knocking and grinding. He said we needed to come back tomorrow. I said if we drive back to our camp and drive back tomorrow it will be too many miles for the warranty. He said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Reluctantly, we drove back to our campgrounds. In the morning we drove back and presented the car for inspection and repairs. “I’m sorry, but your car is out of warranty now.” “But you said…”I was so mad but it was useless to argue. I’m sure they laughed as we left.
Eventually, the house did sell, but for a lot less money than it should have. It was a distress sale in a depressed market meaning it sold cheap. Someone got a deal and it wasn’t us. So we packed up the car and left our snowbirds. We made it back to Nashville and sold the Ford cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap! We talked about what our next move was going to be.