As we headed to Aiken, the sun came out, the snow and ice disappeared and we could shed a few layers. It felt so good to be warm again. The sun felt warm on our faces.
Having had a few bumps in the road so to speak, Aiken State Park was our first real opportunity to settle in a bit. We were the only campers there. Besides the rangers and the campground host, we had the whole park to ourselves. It was a beautiful park. Our site was a back-in and Jim handled it perfectly. We were so incredibly happy and, even without water yet, I cooked a lovely dinner and we enjoyed the quiet and serenity. Looking out the windows there was lush green vegetation in all directions.
On day two Jim decided to try to de-winterize the unit. This was not a completely successful undertaking. Rather than discover the expected pink anti-freeze, when we began to operate the system, the toilet began leaking and we deduced that somehow the Airstream had not been properly winterized. That odd leak we experienced back in December took on new meaning and we realized it was the result of the toilet valve bursting. Oops. Clever as he is, Jim figured out how to get most of the system in operating order, we just didn’t have use of the toilet. Good enough for me, I could finally wash dishes in the sink rather than a bucket. It may not have been perfect, but we were reveling in what we had. I even took a shower in our own shower!
I had always been fascinated with Aiken, SC. Ever since reading On a Street Called Easy, in a Cottage Called Joye by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, I had wanted to visit Aiken. It sounded like a fabulous place. I loved that book for all its romance and the idea of chucking it all and making a new life. Somehow that resonated with me.
Aiken is big horse country. The roads around Aiken are lined with horse farms. Huge fenced paddocks and wide fields are dotted with long-limbed horses. Every other field hosts an assortment of jumps including cross-country fences. Every house features a horse trailer. It would seem naked without it.
We were very happily enjoying our stay in Aiken and now we had a social opportunity as well. My former colleague, Robert, and his husband, Milton, had retired to Aiken two years ago. I am not sure Robert ever expected us to drop by, but we had kept in touch and, please note, giving me your contact information can be dangerous.
We arranged to have coffee our second morning in Aiken. We had a delightful visit with Robert and Milton, saw their beautiful home and met their dogs, Lucas and Shorty. It was great fun. We tentatively made plans to have drinks and possibly dinner that night, but the sometimes capricious hand of Airstream life intervened.
After we left Milton and Robert, we began what would become an all-day attempt to find someone to repair our burst toilet valve. We called the closest Airstream dealer back up in Columbia, but he said they were way too busy. After many calls and finally coming to terms with both the fact that we were not going to make it to our next planned stop in Atlanta and we were going to drive three hours out of our way for a repair, that first fellow called back at the eleventh hour and said he would fix us up the next morning. Hooray! As the nav system says, “re-calculating…”
Our disappointment at missing Atlanta and the Atlanta Frosts was balanced by our relief. Just between us, we believe one of the people we talked to during the day called the first guy up and told him to help us out. They all knew each other. No matter. However it happened, we were thrilled! Ironically, I never did see Aiken, the town. This is fair warning to Robert and Milton that we will be back someday!