A deep breath

We got new neighbors on both sides of us yesterday afternoon. The couple below us, to our curb side, arrived in a late-model Dodge pickup pulling an older travel trailer with Washington license plates. When the driver got out of the truck, I noticed that he was wearing an NRA pullover and a Ruger belt buckle, the company’s phoenix logo in brass.

Needless to say, we hit it off right away.

They were friendly, about my age, and after they were set up we chatted a while. Since we’ve been in this place a week already, and hearing that they’d never been here (or this far east) before, we gave them the lay of the land. They ended up following us up the road to the trading post near the battlefield.

Deb and I had a quiet dinner, again on the porch, of Indian tacos and homemade pie, then drove back to the campground.

Later, the guy next door came out and we talked some more. He brought me an ice-cold can of what he called “Seattle brew” — Rainier, a beer I hadn’t had since the summer I worked out here.

An unexpected connection with a like-minded fellow from the Left Coast served as the latest endorsement of the easy camaraderie of Campground Life. As much as I cherish peace, quiet and solitude, our time on the road is exposing that maybe I’m not quite as antisocial as I thought I’d become.

Deb, who’s feeling a bit better, came outside and joined me to watch the sun go down and the first stars come out. The Big Sky was clear and cloudless. The colors at the horizon were brilliant.

We slept well.

In talking about the road immediately in front of us, more than once I’ve referred to it as a “push.” That’s the bus driver in me talking — three straight travel days, beginning tomorrow with a near-300-miler. Wednesday will be somewhat shorter and Thursday a relatively low-mileage leg bringing us to a locale where we’ll spend two weeks (albeit in three different places and with four moves).

The terrain will change dramatically. It’ll challenge us and test our rig. Starting Thursday, we won’t see an Interstate highway again for three weeks and, depending on the course we chart back to Arkansas, perhaps longer than that.

I’ll be candid with you here — for the last couple of days I’ve been consciously and purposely shedding the stress those challenges present. I tend to put pressure on myself to perform my role perfectly, and the resulting tension sucks a lot of enjoyment out of our travel days.

The antidote to that self-imposed tension, it seems to me, is realizing that “perfection” is getting us from Point A to Point B safely. With that mindset stress naturally recedes. Taking a deep breath now and then helps. Ditto the buffer of spending a week on this peaceful prairie.

This morning I gathered tools and supplies. A tire-pressure gauge. A screwdriver. A couple of shop rags. Silicone spray. WD-40. Lithium grease. Air compressor, engine oil and coolant, if needed. That’s what’s required to complete my pre-launch maintenance ritual every couple of weeks.

There’s more to do now that Mercy follows Ernie around. I took time to examine all of the hitch pins (four in total) and give them a good coat of grease.

Everything checked out fine today.

We’re ready for The Push. We’ll relax this afternoon, slumber in peace tonight and hit the highway tomorrow, loving each moment and keeping our eyes on The Prize.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath