Robert rode me out of town after a stop at his favorite bike shop. I felt a little violated by him grabbing my butt like he did, but at the same time I felt bad for the personal predicament that he faced, denying openly that he was attracted to men, while acting in a way that suggested he actually was. All in all, he was a friendly man, and sent me these pictures after the fact through email.
My next stop was a WWOOF farm just north of the Tennessee border that was called Equine Enterprises. I had spoken to the women whom I was about to meet on the phone for a period, and she seemed really nice and told me about what sounded like a beautiful property. She said that they needed a worker for the next growing season, too.
I got to Sandra’s farm in Franklin, KY that evening. Night had already fallen, and my GPS wasn’t programed correctly for their rural roads, so I had accidentally knocked on the neighbors door first, flashlight in my hand. I hope I didn’t scare them too badly seeing as how they probably don’t get many knockers in those parts.
When I finally rode up the correct driveway, I made my way down a bumpy, rocky hill, past a couple horses in the pasture, and up to a patch of woodland that shrouded a lit cabin. As I got closer, all sorts of dog barks started to come from the house’s direction, followed by Sandra’s yells to both the dogs (to be quiet), and to me (to not be scared).
I parked my bike, and approached Sandra, who was standing outside her screen door. She had let all of her dogs outside, and they ran around me wagging their tails and barking, excited with all the commotion. She shook my hand with a smile and led me inside her home, explaining that she had built it herself while her husband was on the road driving tour buses for music groups.
The cabin was one very big open room that was built around a beautiful stone chimney and a big old wood stove that sat next to it. Thick, rough cut beams crossed the ceiling, while beautiful wooden planks with a natural finish covered the walls and floors. The kitchen took up one corner, her copper counters glinting in the light. The sitting area and large TV sat in another corner, and the kitchen table in another, where Sandra had set two plates, each piled high with a giant turkey leg, fresh greens, and bread.
“Are you hungry?” Sandra said smiling?
We sat down to dinner and talked about all sorts of things. Over the course of the weekend, I would hear many stories from her and her family’s interesting life, some happy, some sad.
Sandra and her husband had together formed what she said was the first tour bus company for musicians in the United States. They would organize and manage the routes and destinations for various bands’ cross country tours. They would drive the bus and take care of hiring other helpers. Eventually their business had successes that would lead to Sandra, her husband, and eventually their two boys to lead caravans for acts such as the Eagles, Prince, and others.
It was awesome listening to Sandra’s stories about the music industry and the personalities of the musicians. She proudly told me about the handwritten note that Prince delivered to her thanking her and her husband for the wonderful work. And how she had met, but did not get along with one of my favorite bands, the Grateful Dead, because there were “…too many drugs in that scene”.
As time went on, they developed a deep personal and working relationship with the band Phish, and led multiple tours for them in the United States. She told me about how the band became close family friends, and would come visit the family in Kentucky on holidays.
Unfortunately, Sandra’s music industry career came to a terrible end when, while the family was on tour with Phish, her older son, who was only 5, was left in one of the band’s trailers during a show while a cannister of nitrous oxide that was left on, slowly filling the trailer, and killing her son.
Following the incident, she said she could no longer work in the music industry. She and her younger son stayed home in Kentucky while her husband continued the business. It was at this time when Sandra started Equine Enterprises, a horse training and breeding company that she ran from the property in Kentucky. After much success, she was just in the process of selling her last horses when I visited. She would be living off her land from that point on, she said.
The farm had ducks, turkeys, chickens, around 15 dogs, and a garden. Her cabin, along with another smaller guest cabin that I stayed in, and we worked on while I was there, sat halfway down a slope leading into a little valley with a small creek running through it.
Sandra was excited to show me the spring water source that fed her farm, and was, according to her, the most valuable thing about the property. We made our way down a path and into the bottom of the valley where the creek cascaded beautifully out from a cave in the side of the hill, down the rocky slope, and into the woods. Sandra had set up a pump system called a Ram Pump, that used the gravity from the slope and air pressure to create enough water pressure to supply the whole of her property without the use of electricity.