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"The Tour From Hell"

Somehow we made it to Joplin.
It doesn't seem possible.

We had driven from Nashville
to a small farm town in the northern Nebraska winter,
to do a free show for some fair bookers, at the insistence of our agent.

The little convention was being held in a tavern.
There was a brand new, bright red piece of farm machinery
parked in the snow packed street.
We parked in front of it to unload our equipment through the alley.
When we came back out, the left front corner of our Winnebago was gone,
and so was the red combine.
The tracks it left in the snow
went right where the front of our rig had been torn off.

The sheriff said he couldn't find it.
I pointed out that the thing was candy apple red,
two and a half stories high,
and probably went from zero to 10 mph in about a half-hour.

With the help of a lot of duct tape,
we made it to Omaha where a right rear tire blew.
The AAA guy came out, overfilled the wrong tire,
ignored the flat one,
and left before we noticed it.

When we neared Joplin our transmission started acting funny.
We saw a Dodge agency and pulled in for repairs.
They charged us a healthy dealership price,
and we were on our way to New Orleans,
where we had an actual paying show to do.

We got a hundred miles out of town,
pulled off the exit and onto the next road,
when our transmission went into eternal neutral.
I tried to hitch a ride to the gas station about three miles back,
but nobody would stop.
My long hair was a novelty in that time and place.
I did the only thing I could:
I limped badly, and got a sympathy ride.
The Dodge agency sent a tow truck a hundred miles to get us.

On second look at our tranny, they said it had to be rebuilt,
and it would take some time.
It took a week.
They allowed us to live in it in their car lot when they weren't working
on it,
which was most of the time.

Word got around
and people began knocking on our door at all hours for autographs.
This was not lost on the car dealer.
He got the local radio station to do a daily remote broadcast
from his showroom.
We showed up, hoping for a break on the price.
Yeah, right.

Since we were stuck there and going to miss our paying gig,
we got together with the station deejays,
and promoted a show in the high school auditorium.

We were pushing heavy sound equipment
up the hill to the school in a freezing forty-mile gale,
when the station owner showed up from out of town.
He said he didn't like his employees
helping a bunch of hillbillies move equipment.

Misty's Irish side said a bad word to him,
and he forbade the deejays to help us in any way,
or to ever play our records again.
Somehow we got the stuff back in the trailer.
We had no roadies on this unexpected tour.
(Misty calls them “roadents”.)

We got to New Orleans three days late, and with the flu.
After a week of coughing and fever we headed home to Florida.

We traded that motorhome for a new one,
and a few months later we drove it to Nashville for a convention.
We saw our old one parked there and stopped to talk to the new owner.
He was mad at us.

He said we traded in a camper with a bad transmission
and it went out on him the first week.
He said we should have fixed it.
All it was was the hose that takes the fluid from the cooler to the
transmission.
It was just a clogged hose.

All together now. Everybody give us a big "AW".
Or a "Poor baby".

Copyright © January 21, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. 
Updated version © February 26, 2002. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission.

 

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