It’s Day 425 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are ok — well, we might be just a little crispy around the edges.

One effect of hitting the road and heading south before spring had sprung is that we effectively shortened the season. Weeks of damp, cool weather down here tried to help us acclimate. But the last two days we’ve had our very own Sudden Summer, and it’s been pretty obvious that our bodies weren’t quite ready for that.

What we were prepared to do, of course, was impersonate a couple of potatoes — and bake.

So that’s exactly what we did. Nothing was more important.

We got new neighbors today in the previously vacant site on our curb side, rolling in with a Class A gasser towing a GMC SUV. As Deb and I sunned ourselves next to Ernie, an older gentleman emerged and set to work pulling out gear and connecting utilities. His wife stayed inside, deploying slides and lowering jacks.

Clearly they’re long-time RVers and have their setup routine down to a science. They divide labor differently than Deb and I do, but their efficiency showed that they have a system that works.

It’s worth mentioning here an unwritten rule of Campground Life — never, ever interfere with or interrupt a fellow RVer while they’re setting up or tearing down. Observing from a distance is fine but, beyond perhaps a friendly greeting, don’t engage them in conversation ’til they’re done.

No matter how helpful you want to be, unless they ask leave them the hell alone.

Once our new neighbor had finished connecting to the site, he climbed to the top of the ladder at the rear of his coach, carrying a long pole. I watched him respectfully raise an American flag.

That’s when our conversation began. We had plenty to talk about and lots in common. ‘Merica.

Today we officially began to add solar to Ernie’s energy arsenal. After our experience with dead house batteries back in Missouri we picked up a BALDR 500W Portable Power Station, which we initially charged using its 120VAC adapter. This afternoon we connected it to a BALDR 120W Portable Solar Panel.

In the midday sun, according to the power station’s readout, the suitcase-style solar array was putting out 89W — and that’s not bad at all.

Eventually we intend to connect the panel to Ernie’s built-in solar controller. (Our coach wasn’t equipped with the optional 85W rooftop solar panel, but the controller is still there.) The goal isn’t to run the entire electrical system, simply to maintain the charge of the house batteries. That’ll require an additional cable, which we have on order.

Time will tell if it does what we want it to do, but for now I can say it looks promising. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Our Canadian neighbors came over to our site late this afternoon and invited us out to dinner. We accepted, enjoying a local Mexican restaurant and some great cross-border conversation. It was a great surprise, and their warm generosity was welcome.

Back at the campground I built a fire. I had to take a couple of runs at the stubborn oak to get it to catch, but with persistence it did.

Then I lit a cigar, a full-bodied Padron corona. Deb brought me a glass of Bulleit bourbon. We smiled and clinked a toast, and I sat back to count my blessings.

Here I am in Arkansas on a cool spring night, sitting by a crackling fire with the Love of My Life, smoking a good Nicaraguan cigar and drinking good Kentucky whiskey.

A year ago I couldn’t’ve imagined it, and yet here I am. I’m a fortunate man.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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