Friday, July 16, 2010

Hot night in Music City

We are at the Elks lodge in Madison, Tennessee (map), a suburb of Nashville. We hadn't remembered it until we were already in the driveway, but we'd visited this lodge three years ago, under similar circumstances. By which I mean it was hot and we were looking for a power outlet.

If we had even a glimmer of a memory that we had been here once, I could have checked the blog, and read there that even though the guide now says this place has a 30-amp outlet, it really just has a couple of 15-amp outlets on shared circuits, put in by amateur electricians. This is, after all, the reason I write so much detail here in the blog, for our own reference later. Not to bore you, as you may at times suspect.

Back then the temperature was about ten degrees warmer, and unbeknown to us until the next day we were also having some wiring issues with the air conditioning, and we quickly determined the ratty-looking 15-amp outlet was not going to keep us cool overnight, and so we bailed out immediately. This time we figured 15 amps would get us by for a day, and we paid the $10 "donation." The outlets are so poorly wired the grounds are open, and the bird's nest of Romex® is so long that we're only getting 99 volts here at the bus after our 50', 10-gauge cord. But that's enough to keep one air conditioner running full time, and we've been mostly comfortable. The lodge says they're putting in some real RV spaces with pedestals this year.

We came here so we could have dinner in downtown Nashville at the City Club, atop the Fourth and Church Tower. Dinner was excellent as usual, and after dessert, with temperatures just a few degrees cooler after sunset, we rode the scooters around Printers Alley, along the waterfront, and back up 2nd. On a warm Thursday night, the streets were packed with tourists and the more popular clubs had lines out on the sidewalks. We were a bit overdressed for the weather, or we might have strolled a bit. On a side note, I fail to understand why anyone would travel all the way from wherever to downtown Nashville, and then eat at Hooters or Joe's Crab Shack and go clubbing at the Hard Rock, when there are so many original restaurants and clubs here. To each her own, I suppose.

Yesterday's drive was quite pleasant, along mostly country roads. We left Columbus on state route 58, and zig-zagged our way into Tennessee on 339, 97, 94, and 121. That put us on US-79 in the middle of Kentucky Lake, and there is a lovely state park right there at the bridge called Paris Landing. We drove in to look at it, and filed it away for a future stay. We wanted to make Nashville last night, and state parks here tend to get crowded coming into a summer weekend. The park had a nice marina, too, so perhaps we will return someday in a boat.

Today we spent three hours on Red Cross conference calls, part of our ongoing curriculum development work. Now that it is past 1pm, the lone air conditioner is struggling to keep up, running as it is on 83% voltage. We'll be leaving in a couple of hours for the short drive to Christiana, south of Murfreesboro, to visit our friends there.


  1. On a side note, I fail to understand why anyone would travel all the way from wherever to downtown Nashville, and then eat at Hooters or Joe's Crab Shack and go clubbing at the Hard Rock, when there are so many original restaurants and clubs here.

    -- I imagine some people "collect" restaurants in the same way that you "collect" Olive Gardens ;)

    'Sides, the popcorn shrimp salad with raspberry vinaigrette at Joe's Crab Shack is to die for. ;)

  2. I'm surprised you didn't bail out when the voltage is under 100. I've always been told that such low voltage would kill my AC. How hot was your compressor?

  3. I lived in Madison briefly in the late 90s and have no recollection of the Elks Lodge.

  4. Sean & Louise,
    This is too weird, one of my drivers lives in Christiana on Golden Vally Dr.
    Wow the wild coincidences in life never cease to amaze me.
    Be safe & enjoy yer travels!

    Oh yeah, keep me posted on the hurricane look-outs. (I don't wish misfortune on anyone, but sure could use some "hurricane work during Aug.)

  5. @Linda: It's not that I don't understand why people like those restaurants and clubs -- I like Joe's Crab Shack myself. They just seem so out of place in an environment so rich with more local establishments offering the real flavor and experience of the area. Nashville is the capital of country music, and the Hard Rock seems as out of place here as Buck Owen's Crystal Palace would be in Detroit.

    @Rod and Loyce: We've run air conditioners down as low as 96 volts, which was a common occurrence in Mexico. Yes, the compressors get hot, and, yes, it might shorten the life of the motor. (I am constantly advising against running air conditioners on MSW inverters for much the same reason.) This is one of those judgment calls: How much in diesel will it cost me to pass up every marginal power outlet I come across, versus how much extra will I spend in air conditioner maintenance and replacement over the years.

    At today's diesel price, generator run time costs us roughly $3.50 per hour, and we'd need to run the genny one hour for every three hours of A/C usage. Passing up this power outlet would have cost us an extra $10 or so, and that's typical or maybe even on the low side. At about $400 for a replacement air conditioner, if I "get away" with this trick only 40 times, I've already won the bet. We haven't replaced a unit in six years, and we've had far more than 40 days of sub-standard voltage, so we're ahead of the game right now.

    @OTCW: It's tucked away in a spot few would ever pass, on a little-used side street and across the railroad tracks from the main road, 31 (see map link). I'd be more surprised if you had seen it...

    @BK: Just keep your eye on the blog. You'll know it if we're headed to a storm!


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