Penultimate day

The last time we devoted any attention to planning our route we made reservations as far as eastern South Dakota, near the Iowa line. Yesterday we dove back into the process, charting a course that makes for easy driving (weather, construction and urban snarl notwithstanding) and throws in a couple of brief layovers.

Now we have a plan — we added three road days, none longer than 230 miles, five days in all. And it puts us back in The Ozarks exactly one week ahead of schedule.

Deb called our Arkansas campground to make sure they can accommodate us seven days early. They can, delighted that we’re returning sooner than expected.

So, on our trek from 20 miles west of Glacier National Park to a spot 17 miles into northern Arkansas, today we’re officially at the halfway point — five travel days behind us, five ahead. The most grueling miles and longest drives are done. Virtually all of the ground we’ll cover from here will be on rolling Interstates and other limited-access highways.

That suits us just fine.

And then there’s Dipstick. He’s better but still not well. Thanks to a change in his meds — suspending treatment for his Cushing’s and addressing his current symptoms as a “crash” — his appetite returns occasionally and briefly, but he continues to struggle to keep down the food he manages to eat.

‘Stick and me, in Tennessee on the Shakedown Cruise.

It’s frustrating. Believe me, we’re trying everything.

The little guy turned six years old yesterday, by the way — a date we designated, not a certainty, since he’s a stray and we have no idea exactly when he took his first breath. He sure has had his share of battles in his short time on the planet.

Tomorrow will be our last full day here at this isolated prairie campground. Our next stop, Tuesday night, will put us closer to more complete veterinary services (and we’ll have a one-day layover). In the morning, unless we see some significant improvement, we’ll probably place a call to our Ohio vet for advice and go from there.

Other than continuing to monitor Dipstick, the next two days are for relaxing and preparing for the final push east and south. We’ll soak up sunsets and sunrises (pictured) and bask in the solitude of a place we never expected to love.

Between here and Arkansas we’ll make four more overnight stops. In one of those places we’ll take three days off the road (a four-night stay) and three times we’ll give ourselves a one-day break. We won’t be traveling on back-to-back days.

Starting now, it’s about conserving our energy. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. I think we’ve got it right.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath