The Ozarks have been getting a bit of rain lately — periodic deluges, thunderstorms, mostly overnight or early in the morning. We’re not complaining, though, ’cause it’s been too dry too long ’round here.
We greeted this morning under clearing skies and decided to take a long-planned trip to visit the town of Mountain Home. It’s a sibling, in a way, to Harrison, where we’ve spent a good bit of time. Our purpose wasn’t tourism — it was more cultural curiosity.
I took the wheel and pointed Mercy east, traveling US Route 62 and stopping in the town of Gassville (named, by the way, for an 1800s postmaster who talked a lot). We met Deb’s cousin for lunch at a wonderful little diner-ish place, “Taylor’s Freez-King.”
Taylor’s has been in business for half a century, and they damned sure know how to do burgers. I had “The Trailblazer,” topped with Rhoden’s Special Blend BBQ Sauce (a product of nearby Flippin), with a side of slaw and a blackberry milkshake (made with fresh blackberries).
Our destination was a few miles farther down the road. As we entered town, dark clouds gathered in front of us to the north and east. We’d just finished crossing out of the business district when the storm hit — sheets of rain, water ponding across the roadway making it difficult to drive as well as see.
We ducked into a small parking lot and waited it out. Twenty minutes later we were on our way again.
Harrison and Mountain Home are the same size, roughly 13,000 residents. Culturally they’re similar — conservative politics, traditional values, American flags flying everywhere, pretty typical of the northern tier of Arkansas. We did, however, notice a couple of striking differences.
Mountain Home’s commercial strip appears to have a larger percentage of national chains, both retail and hospitality. We saw lots of independent mom-and-pop joints, sure, but proportionally fewer than we see in Harrison.
We made one stop in town, at a big-box home-improvement store, to pick up a trailer plug for Ernie. What surprised us was how many customers were masked — probably three times the number we’ve been seeing in Harrison, where almost no one wears a mask any more.
Make no mistake, Mountain Home is still The Ozarks. It’s still a slice of The Real America and everything that goes along with that. The town simply has a character of its own.
Deb drove back. We raced the arrival of more rain and won, pulling into the campground as the first drops fell. We took dinner in the coach, convenience food supplemented with leftovers.
I finished the day with a Dead Guy (pictured).
Our trip today was a success. The goal was simply to get a sense of the place and we did. It confirmed much of what we’d heard.
We like Harrison. I think we’d like Mountain Home, too, if we spent more time there. And the territory between the two appeals to us more each time we pass through it.
This feels more like Home every day.
(Don’t over-think that.)
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.