On December 1st, we finished our drive to Nashville with a 70-mile leg that brought us to the Two Rivers Campground near Opryland. We successfully managed to back into our site without too much difficulty, despite coming a little close to a large tree branch. We found a glass shop that was able to quickly repair a small chip in the Nissan’s windshield that Jan had suffered during our trip through Alabama. We then spent some time with our younger daughter, Lizzi, before joining our sons, Jason and Jarrod, and Jess Mollman for another birthday dinner for Jan.
On December 2nd, Phil left for a two-week contract job in Malta. The first leg of his trip, from Nashville to Chicago, was delayed by 1 ½ hours which resulted in Phil having to run from the end of one concourse in O’Hare to the end of another. United had already started pulling his bag off the plane but Phil managed to get to the gate just in time. The rest of the trip went well, with the exception of the man sitting next to him knocking his full glass of red wine all over Phil’s jeans. Phil’s room at the Westin Dragonara Resort in Malta didn’t have quite as nice a view as the one in August but it’s hard to complain about a balcony that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The weather in Malta in December was mostly overcast, with temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s, and the sea was often quite stormy.
Back in Tennessee, Jan had a very active social life visiting with family and friends. On December 5th, she and Sheila and Ashley Gaskin drove to Memphis to visit Graceland and spent the night at the new Guest House at Graceland.
On December 10th, Jan had some RV excitement. Since the temperature was dropping well below freezing, Jan disconnected the water hoses, filled the fresh water tank and turned on the water pump before going to the Christmas market with Jess. Upon her return, she discovered that the tank gauge was reading empty. The following morning, she added more water to the tank and again turned on the water pump. Shortly thereafter, one of the neighbors knocked on the door and told her that she had a major leak. When they opened the water compartment door, they discovered that the rinse hose was spraying wildly. It appears that the hose had frozen, resulting in a major leak that allowed the water to spray out when the water pump was activated. The neighbor disconnected the rinse hose and the crisis was resolved without any real damage. Another RV lesson learned!
On December 14th, Jan, Sheila Gaskin and Michelle DeBartolo went to the Ryman Auditorium to attend the Vince Gill and Amy Grant Christmas show.
On December 15th, Jan met two high school friends, Pam Bogle and Linda Forrest, at Sperry’s for dinner.
On Saturday, December 17th, Phil began his trip back from Malta. However, upon arriving in Chicago that night, he learned that his connecting flight to Nashville had been cancelled due to extreme cold and snow. Initially, he was told that there were no available flights for two days but, after spending Saturday night in a hotel, he was able to get a flight back to Nashville on Sunday night. He was very glad to be back home after his 44-hour trip.
On December 20th, we celebrated an early Christmas with Lizzi, her roommate, Amanda Osborne, and their two dogs and four cats.
On December 21st, we picked up Jan’s niece, Katie Schlegel, at the Nashville airport and she spent the night with us. Phil dropped off the truck at the RAM dealer for its 15,000 mile maintenance. The service tech said she would call when it was ready. When Phil called at 6:02 pm to check on the status, he was told that the service department closed at 6 pm. This was not good news since we needed to be out of the campsite by 11 am the following morning.
On December 22nd, Phil wasn’t able to get the truck until 10 am and then had to stop to pick up our Honeybaked Ham order. It was already 11 am by the time Phil got back to the campground and we raced to be on the road within 30 minutes. Our two-hour drive to Eva, TN was uneventful and we were able to back into our campsite at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park pretty easily. We almost had the entire 36-site campground to ourselves. There was one long-term camper there when we arrived and only one other camper arrived after that. Neither was parked close to us. Although we had some heavy rainstorms, the weather over the next five days was incredibly warm for late December. Daytime highs ranged from the upper 50’s to the upper 60’s.
On December 23rd, Jan’s friend Michelle hosted a get together with several of their girlfriends from high school and they had a good time catching up.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, Jason and Jarrod arrived and we all moved into the cabin which was only about a ¼ mile from our campsite. We had dinner that evening with the boys, followed by some spirited games of Marbles.
We opened presents on Christmas morning. Jason and Jarrod took advantage of the warm weather by hiking and riding bikes while Phil and Jan prepared for Christmas dinner and the following day’s family get-together. Keith and Katie joined the four of us for dinner. After dinner, Cody and Liz Patton dropped by and we played many competitive games of Marbles and LCR until after midnight.
On December 26th, we hosted the annual Madden family reunion. Although smaller in number than in previous years, we still had 13 attendees and plenty of food. A good time was had by all. One of the highlights of the reunion was a Poop the Potato relay race. After the reunion, Jason and Jarrod headed back to Nashville while Jan and Phil prepared to head back out on the road the following morning.