Our seventh First

We’ve had this day circled on our mental calendars for quite a while. When Deb and I set out from Second Chance Ranch on the First of May we intended to be on this journey for a year, give or take. What we might do after that is something we wouldn’t discuss for six months.

That’s today. Technically, the conversation begins now. Truth is, we’ve been talking about it since the middle of May, and we have a general idea of what our future holds. As Thoreau said,

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

So we have some foundation-building to do. Stay tuned.

Pulling in at our very first overnight stop, Indiana, May First.

November is the seventh first-of-the-month we’ve parked our Home somewhere that isn’t our house. We’ve done so in five different places:

  • May: Vigo County, Indiana
  • June: Boone County, Arkansas
  • July: Boone County, Arkansas
  • August: Lafayette County, Missouri
  • September: Missoula County, Montana
  • October: Davison County, South Dakota
  • November: Boone County, Arkansas

Looking at that list today, I can assure you that it doesn’t even begin to tell our story. We’ve seen a dozen new states since we set sail from Ohio, fifteen in all counting our “shakedown cruise” in March. A whole month in Montana. Longer than that in South Dakota.

It does, however, indicate a certain affection for northern Arkansas. That might be what you’d call a clue.

After a down day yesterday (long story) and a restful night, when I opened the door this morning November greeted me with a 37°F kiss. We’re looking at a few showery days coming up, with a daytime high in the mid-40s tomorrow and the low 40s Wednesday. Morning lows Thursday through Saturday (and maybe Sunday) will fall below freezing.

The scene at our Harvest Hosts stay in Missouri, August First.

Time to break out the heated fresh-water hose.

I spoke with our campground host the other day about what she expects from guests when temps drop. Each hydrant is equipped with a plug-in heated wrap to prevent freezing — but we’ll still need to remove our brass Y-adapter and fresh-water filter, then connect our heated hose directly to the hydrant.

As we shook down the rig back in April, temps in Tennessee fell into the mid-20s. We didn’t have a heated hose then, so we dealt with the freeze by unhooking from the hydrant and drawing fresh water from Ernie’s onboard tank ’til the weather warmed up. It’ll be easier this time — we’ll just leave the heated hose connected.

Beyond the water hookup, we’ll need to attend to the coach’s rear furnace. That’s the unit with the greatest effect on the wet bay, and although this upcoming cold snap shouldn’t present a big challenge, it has to be fixed.

We called a couple of local mobile techs. The earliest we can have the furnace looked at is November 19th. Good times.

For all my talk of spontaneity and surprise, I’m a committed creature of habit. I love continuity, consistency. I’m the guy who’s kept the same e-mail address for over 30 years. I’ve had a checking account at the same bank since moving home to Ohio 21 years ago.

When I sat down to pay November’s bills this morning, right off the bat my debit card was declined. I half-expected that, actually, going back to last month when the card wouldn’t work at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Iowa.

Our site a month ago, South Dakota, October First.

I had every intention of replacing the card but never got to it. Today it became obvious that the problem was more than a bad chip.

And so I called my bank. Come to find out that the CVV had been entered incorrectly nine times over the life of the card, which triggered an automatic closure. As a fraud-prevention measure, I guess that makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is that the bank didn’t see fit to alert me — neither that my card had been closed, nor that my account may have been compromised. They’ve always been great about communicating over the years but, according to the phone rep this morning, they discontinued the practice “for security reasons.”

Just thinking about that makes my head hurt.

A new debit card is on the way, expected to arrive by mail this week or next. Now I need to audit all of my automatic payments to make sure they’re not linked to the dead card.

Like I’ve said before, this ain’t a vacation — it’s Life.

I wish I had a dollar for every restaurant, every store, every truck stop we’ve patronized over the last six months that’s short-staffed. I’m sure you’ve seen it where you live — the failure of businesses to lure people off their asses and back into the workplace, unable to compete with state and federal governments that pay people more to stay home than to get a job.

It’s a national disease, and I use that word intentionally. What government has done to the workforce does far more damage to America than a virus ever could, demonstrating once again that a “crisis” usually is far less harmful than the State’s ham-fisted response.

This evening we drove into Harrison and had dinner at Salsa’s, an independent Mexican joint on the north end of town. On the front door was a sign asking for patrons’ patience, the word “understaffed” underlined three times in red.

The plea didn’t discourage us — far from it. That sign gave us even more incentive to do business there.

Our reward was great margaritas, great food and great service. We didn’t mind having to wait maybe a little longer for our meal to be served. We never mind.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. Even at the dinner hour, only a few tables were occupied. That’s a damned shame.

People, the only way for these businesses to get up off the mat is to patronize them. Pack your patience. Hang out as long as it takes. Be grateful, dammit, and show it.

Deb and I definitely will go back to Salsa’s.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

(Today’s header image: This was our “campsite” two months ago today, a Harvest Hosts participant in Missoula, Montana, September First.)