The feeling of anticipation this morning was electric. We had a relatively short drive (150 miles) ahead of us. Our destination was a place we’d landed before, and loved. Until six weeks ago we’d never been there, and yet now it felt strangely like we were going home.
Torrential rain and storms overnight — yes, again — turned our Missouri campground into a bog. We sloshed our way out by 9am and headed for Springfield, where we made the turn south toward Arkansas. In the town of Ozark, Missouri we exited the highway to top-off Ernie with diesel.
There were no fueling mishaps today.
While paying for the fillup I asked the cashier if it’d be ok to park our bus in one of the large spaces behind the building (typically reserved for truckers) while we walked across the street for a bite to eat. Apparently my politeness paid off because, with a smile, she gave me her permission.
Lambert’s Café, “Home of Throwed Rolls,” has been around for almost 80 years. The place (or places, since there are three locations) is legendary, and not just because they throw hot dinner rolls across the restaurant at their patrons. The atmosphere is traditional American, the hospitality quintessentially Southern and the food… want chicken livers? Chicken gizzards? Liver and onions? Hog jowl? Frog legs? Catfish?
“Comfort food” doesn’t quite describe it — this is true American cuisine.
Lambert’s has occupied a spot on my personal “bucket list” for decades, and today’s visit was everything Deb and I hoped it’d be. She had the made-from-scratch chicken-and-dumplings and I chose “Somethin’ Southern” — a big ol’ bowl of white beans topped with a slice of fried bologna, served with cornbread and a slice of raw onion, plus two sides. And sweet tea, which Lambert’s serves in a huge insulated tankard.
We had rolls pitched at us, of course. What’s more, every now and then a member of the staff would stroll by, offer us some sort of Southern delicacy — macaroni and tomatoes, deep-fried okra, fried potatoes and onions — and scoop it onto our plates, compliments of the house.
I mean, it was just ridiculous.
Returning to the bus, fat’n’happy, we fired up the engine and drove the last hour to our Arkansas campground, the place we left behind in early June to head for Texas and a new fridge. Our arrival today was greeted with warmth and affection — the folks who run this place are as glad to see us as we are to be here.
So we’re back in The Ozarks, and we expect to be here a while. We have plans and the luxury of time to make something of them.
We’ve come to rest in a good spot. And tonight, for the first time in weeks, we’re at peace.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.