With the last couple of posts — one recapping signs I’ve seen and another paying tribute to Polebridge — I took a break from my usual here’s-what-we-did-today pattern. I decided it was time I did that.
Life here at the campsite is, in a word, wonderful. Even with errands and chores it’s restful, almost perfect. The cool autumn air seems to have slowed our pace since we came off the road.
I built a campfire Thursday, lighting it around midday and keeping it going well into the evening. Deb’s cousin came off the mountain to sit by the fire awhile during the afternoon. After the sun went down and the temps dropped, our Canadian friends came over and did the same.
Dinner was taco soup, steaming and delicious, one of those new recipes Deb wanted to try. It’s definitely been “soup weather” lately, and this dish hit the spot.
Overnight, Ernie’s heat pumps have been keeping bus’n’us warm despite running near the lowest temp at which they’ll function (30°F). We hear them go through a two-minute de-icing cycle every so often — they shut down, hum while they defrost, then kick back on and resume pumping heat. The wet bay stays balmy, too, thanks to its snap-disk radiant heater.
According to the extended weather forecast we’ve emerged from sub-freezing nights for a couple of weeks. A warmup is headed our way.
Yesterday morning we rolled out of bed early and prepared for what promised to be an intriguing Friday. We downed coffee, vitamins and protein drinks. After showers we dressed to spend time outdoors — layers, hiking shoes and, for me, a brace for my bum knee.
We also grabbed the hophornbeam walking sticks we’d picked up in South Dakota, anxious to try them out for the first time.
It took us a little over an hour to cover the distance between our campground and Deb’s cousin’s place. She sent him a text message when we got to the bottom of the mountain, and he hopped on his quad and met us about halfway up his road. We parked the Jeep, pulled out those walking sticks and the three of us waded into the autumn woods.
There are no established trails on this piece of land — we bushwhacked through trees and tangle, navigating ledges, simply exploring. Out among the cedars and oaks, wandering in the cool air and silence, we were completely isolated.
I looked over at Deb as she picked her way through the rocks and trees. She had a big smile on her face.
So did I.
This is a place we’ve come to love. It’s a place we find ourselves coming back to again and again — a place that feels like home.
And so we spent an afternoon walking a patch of The Ozarks we’d never seen before. As we drove back into the setting sun, I couldn’t help wondering if we’ll remember our Friday in the woods the same way we recall the moment we first saw Ernie.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.