On this day we observe a pretty cool anniversary. It was November 2nd, 2020 that we hopped in my truck, took a drive, made a decision and “did a thing” without which Deb and I wouldn’t be where we are right now.

One year ago today, we first laid eyes on the 16-ton bus we christened “Ernie.”

We walked into the previous owner’s Garage Mahal and there he was. After looking him over awhile, we took a short-but-revealing drive. Back at the barn, it wasn’t long before Deb and I agreed that this was the rig for our travels. We put down a deposit, returning a few weeks later to drive him home.

I think it’s safe to say that Ernie’s had a year like no other since he rolled off that Indiana production line in 2004. He suffered an Ohio winter stored outdoors, his first, with us doing maintenance and upgrades every time weather permitted.

Then came a thousand-mile springtime jaunt to the Smokies and back, followed by 7,100 more miles over 195 days. Of the mileage that shows on Ernie’s 17-year-old odometer today, fully 28% of those miles are ours — in less than a year.

He’s survived a fire, three hailstorms, 70mph winds, the addition of a two-ton toad, my driving and our Garmin’s repeated attempts to get him stuck. He endured 117°F heat and 25°F cold, pulling long stretches of poker-straight highways on the High Plains and laughably steep grades in the northern Rockies. And he’s chugged through it all like a champ.

We’ve come to love this bus. We’re pretty sure he loves us right back.

Correction: Yesterday actually was our eighth straight first-of-the-month aboard Ernie, not the seventh. Even though we came back to Ohio for a few weeks after our “shakedown cruise,” the bus’n’us were camped in Tennessee on the First of April.

Shakin’ it down in Tennessee, April First.

I mistakenly started our clock on May the First. So allow me, please, to correct the record (and yesterday’s Ubi Libertas Blog post):

  • April: Sevier County, Tennessee
  • 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

That, then, is the complete list of our Firsts away from Second Chance Ranch. I’m sure it matters to no one but me. But it does matter to me.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

(Today’s header image: Buffalo Point Overlook, 500 feet above the magnificent Buffalo River, Arkansas, October 17th.)