Well we definitely had an adventure this trip… aside from me learning to drive a living room on wheels, Millie decided to let us know how she was feeling everyday…
Day 1: She ran out of gas
Day 2: Powersteering went out
Day 3: 2 loud backfires and she just died goin down the highway. Got on the phone with The Biker, he talked us through taking it all apart and putting it back together, she magically started back up and we made it to the gig with 30 minutes to spare.
Day 4: We made it to Maryland and had a wonderful crab dinner with friends and fans before the show. We returned to grab Millie and head to the bar we were playing only to discover it had been raining INSIDE the camper for a few hours.. my clothes would’ve been drier if I had pulled them out of a pool! Bill was fantastic and gave us a HUGE tarp that fit over her nicely, and gave us the sanctity of his couches insides his beautifully warm house for the night!
Day 5: Bill gets under and fixes the power steering so I can actually make turns. Craig and I clean up inside and take off for Home Depot where I recaulked the roof! Yay me!
This is when the days start to kinda blur together… but we played Carrboro at the Southern Rail which was a fantastic venue with great people! We made lotsa new friends (they have great food, including gluten free bread!!!!) and had a great time. This was followed by 2 days off, complete with comic book stores (yay!) and an amesome used bookstore with 2 cats for petting, and of course.. a dead camper battery.
We got a jump and parked at a Walmart that night. I wanted to turn her around so she was more level and went to start her, nothin… I am in tears at this point. We both start googling stuff, with very little signal, to basically find a bunch of unhelpful stuff… Until I read something that suggested “jiggle the shifter” so I reached over to do so, only to discover she was sitting in reverse… REALLY?????
I am an idiot… but at least there wasn’t an actual issue, for the moment anyway….
We made it up to the Nielsens, despite the fact that I think we somehow picked up some water in the gas tank.. then the vent cover flew off the roof going down the highway… and the closet door fell off… but we made it. Played a great show, debuted some new banjo tunes and drank the night away with some awesome people!
Got to sleep by the bay with the ocean and the stars lookin over us, as we looked right back. So nice to curl up in my warm bunk with the sounds of the waves and water…
Heading up to Virginia to play the Blue Moon Diner, we blew the radiator hose 5 miles away from the venue… sigh… I called The Biker and lamented our predicament. For days he had been telling me that once we got to Virginia that he had a guy that was gonna come look over the camper and do some adjustments. When I called him to tell him we were broken down, he asked for my exact location and said that “the guy should be there in 25 minutes”…. As I sat there in my blue chair outside the camper I hear the sound of a familiar motorcycle, and look up, thankfully to see Phil, The Biker, there to rescue me himself… He loves to surprise me like that and I love him for it! After a small fix with the hose, we were on to play the diner with the most wonderful owner, Laura… we love her!
My Biker had come to our rescue with the radiator hose… little known to all of us a much bigger problem had begun to rear its ugly head… Craiggers and I had noticed we were taking in alot of oil INTO THE CAB of poor Millie… that was then soaking the carpet, and slowly burning off inside on the metal floor boards below, creating a “blacklung” kinda situation for us. we were adding up to 2 quarts of oil every 100 miles, and she was pouring oil out below at every stop. Finally I went to crank her and she wouldn’t start. So much oil had blown up inside the enguine, it was covering the spark plugs and had gotten to the distributor cap.
Phil (my biker) turned around from his trip home to come back, rig it, and lead us to his friends unoccupied home waaaaayyyyy up in the mountains of North Carolina; Crestin, Ashe County. His friend Dave had bought some land, built a beautiful home and then had to move back to Atlanta for work. But he, being the wonderful man I have never met, told Phil, “my garage is your garage”. So Millie traveresed the frightening mountain roads for the first time… at night… being led by My Biker, with night-blindness….
We made it, parked her and fell asleep.
I woke up to such beautiful surroundings… we are in a beautiful house, up on a hill, overlooking hills covered with goldenrod and tall shooting grasses. Goats, chickens, ducks and a donkey named Ruby were milling about the various yards and slopes, munching happily on bugs and tender green shoots.
My Biker got up early and started taking her apart to see what the issue was. We had blown the main seal. That entails taking out the radiator, water pump, fuel pump, harmonic balance and many other scary looking, oil covered parts to get to the timing set. Most of it came off as it should, until we got to the timing set cover, which had 1 nefarious bolt that refused to let go and the cover was stuck. He started on this around 9am. At 9:30pm, after 3 more awesome dudes (Rusty, Butch and his father) came and left with tools and man power, Craiggers and Phil finally pulled the cover off. I have never seen anyone more tired and covered in oil. Poor Phil… Cheez and Rice that was a Looooooonnnnnggggg job.
Basically someone had tried to repair it back in the day, but took really shitty shortcuts and made it nearly impossible to repair.
We shut down the garage for the night, closing the door, and stepped outside to look at the amazing stars up here. It was then we realized the door was locked and the keys were inside….
Craig vaulted me up, and I monkeyed onto the front balcony and eventually into the house.
Rusty and his wife, Angela, who live at the bottom of the hill, being the saints that they are, donated fresh eggs, veggies, gluten free pasta and spagghetti fixins to keep us fed. I made us a big dinner and we all passed out….
We of course could not get the parts, so we did what we could and I cooked us a big pork chop dinner! Parts came in,the next day. The Biker went to get em, Craig and him got to work! At 4 pm I heard the most glorious sound… Millie once again coming life!
After replacing the timing gears, water pump, front main seal, crank seal, heater hoses, bypass hose, adjusting the steering box, all new belts, and a new positive battery connection, today on Day 5: we actually get to carry on and leave this beautiful mountain…
I don’t know how to thank The Biker, Mr. Phil Gibson, enough for all of his tireless work… I don’t think enyone has ever worked this hard to make a dream come true for me. He is truly amazing and I don’t know how I can ever repay him, that is if i manage to not kill him with this damn camper… :) I did write 1 & 1/2 new banjo songs!!!!
We had to cancel 2 shows but are hopefully making it up Sapphire Mountain to play the Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company 7pm-10pm!
It has been a hell of a trip, but here’s to hoping the November tour sees Millie driving a lot better!!!!
Thanks to everyone for all your support, love and well wishes you have sent our way!
We love you! We have a 1 & 1/2 weeks at home before we hit the Skynyrd and Alabama Cruises followed by the last 3 week tour of the year… Gotta say it’ll be nice to be home for a month or two…. hopefully we can get started recording the new banjo album!
Love and Whiskey,
Heather and Craiggers