One year

Today’s header image doesn’t depict Ernie or Mercy, and it wasn’t snapped anywhere close to northern Arkansas. That’s our Bumper Bunker and my Tacoma, parked on a hillside campsite at the KOA in Hocking County, Ohio, exactly one year ago today.

It was our “maiden voyage,” three days and two nights, our first experience RVing together.

By the time Deb and I returned to Second Chance Ranch that Sunday afternoon, we knew we’d discovered something special. We wanted more of it — but we couldn’t’ve imagined that just twelve months later we’d be a thousand miles away from our sticks and bricks, almost three months into an open-ended odyssey aboard a 16-ton bus.

What a difference a year makes.


As we approach the end of an extended stay, as we are now, I get to thinking about what all needs doing before we roll out. I try not to leave it for the last minute or the night before, knowing that mistakes thrive in haste.

This time will be different, of course, because now we have a toad. The Jeep will get the same attention that Ernie does. And I’ll need to school myself in the process of hooking up Mercy to tow.

I chose this morning for getting most of our pre-departure maintenance out of the way — tires (which now number eleven), batteries (seven), all fluid levels and lubing of this and that. A new addition to the routine was throwing a trickle charger on Ernie’s chassis batteries, which reap no benefit from the bus being tethered to shore power.

All, it appears, is well. Doing this now, early, not only creates space for me to address other tasks — it brings peace of mind, allowing me to wring more enjoyment from our remaining days here.


Part of gearing up to leave is stocking the bus (or, in this case, restocking). We make a list, adding to it over several days as we think of things we need or need more of. And then, typically, we make a run to Walmart.

Which is what we did this afternoon.

The closest Wally World is less than five minutes down the road from our campground, making it irresistibly convenient. It’s one of the company’s “Supercenter” units, which means that there’s truly nothing we need that it doesn’t have or can’t get in a day or two.

The store is also a reflection of local culture, both in terms of the items it stocks and the way they’re presented. In the row of mid-aisle displays today, for example, right between the beer and the chips, was a skid of deer corn for $7.97 a bag.

‘Merica.

Checking the calendar, I see that there are seven days left in July. That’s also the number of days we have remaining here. I believe we’ll make the most of them.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath