Pull back, regroup, roll on

We’re in big country. It’s flat territory, mostly, with little to impede weather approaching from the south and west. Systems accelerate, often picking up speed and gaining strength as they cross the plains — when someone calls this “Tornado Alley,” it ain’t hype.

Severe-weather advisories for central Oklahoma began piling up late yesterday afternoon, and we took them seriously. We battened down Ernie’s hatches and, as we always do, we scouted the locations of this park’s tornado shelters.

Unlike most campgrounds, which herd guests into the washhouse or a similar cinder-block structure, this park has three (count ’em) underground bunkers complete with storm hatches and ventilation. I’m totally not kidding about that.

It began storming in earnest around 2am and didn’t let up until well after daybreak. Straight-line winds estimated at 70mph rocked our 32,000-pound coach but didn’t topple it, and all the wet stuff stayed outside.

We awoke to standing water pretty much everywhere. It drained away fairly quickly, though, and in defiance of forecasters the sun came out to finish the job.

It’s another stay-put day — a good thing, too, as we have much to do before shoving off again in the morning.

Eight weeks. Fifty-six nights. Three thousand miles, give or take. So far it’s been one helluva time for Deb, Scout, Dipstick and me. It’s been a thrill ride in ways we couldn’t’ve imagined a few months ago, and we’re committed to rolling on.

Lately, however, as we’ve tried to make plans farther out, often we’ve run into roadblocks. Keeping our course as spontaneous as we want it to be — three weeks ahead, tops — we’ve had trouble finding campgrounds with space available. And when we do, they’re far away from rental cars (which are like hens’ teeth anyway), ride-hailing options and public transportation.

In short, we can get close to where we want to be but then, without another vehicle to supplement Ernie, we’d be kinda stuck in a campground ’til we move the bus again. Our decision to travel “toadless” isn’t working out the way we’d planned.

First we considered returning to Second Chance Ranch to regroup, but we quickly dismissed that idea — we’re already on the road, after all, and that’s where we mean to stay. So we’ve chosen to go back to a place where we felt comfortable, a place we’ve already been. With apologies to Davy Crockett,

“You may all go to hell and we will go to The Ozarks.”

That’s right, we’re headed back to northern Arkansas. We know the people, we know the locale and we’re confident that it offers what we’ll need to resume our travels with more flexibility tagging along behind the bus.

This morning we canceled all of the reservations we’d made between here and western South Dakota, and we booked an extended stay at the campground we loved so much in Arkansas.

How long will we be there? That’s hard to say — but we’ll arrive Monday.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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