It looks like it’ll be Monday before we get back to The Mountain. Saturday remains a possibility, I suppose, provided the weather (which is headed in a decidedly wintry direction) holds ’til then. For the last couple of days we’ve been handling business closer to Ernie.
We had a couple of stops to make yesterday, a miserable and rainy Wednesday, and for a while it looked like we wouldn’t accomplish a damned thing. A family business right down the road from the campground was closed — the owner was out making a delivery. We drove some miles south to visit a similar shop, and the same was true there.
Deb made a phone call to the first place we’d stopped, and the guy arranged to meet us back at his office. Over the course of the next hour, sitting with us in a small portable building warmed by an electric heater, he offered us ideas and guidance in the never-met-a-stranger fashion typical of businesses around here. I think it’s safe to say that the conversation moved us closer to making a big decision and (to say the least) salvaged the day.
Today dawned bright, clear and warmer. We went back to the other shop we’d tried to visit yesterday (this time with an appointment). It’s located on a picturesque family farm south of Harrison, at the end of a narrow dirt road featuring two (count ’em) low-water bridges. We were greeted first by the family dog, then by the owner.
We found the guy’s work impeccable and his counsel invaluable. Chalk up one more great experience with a local business.
On our way back north through town, Deb and I decided to try a new (for us) local eatery. Leonardo’s Pizza Villa is a classic little Italian restaurant, and from the mural in the parking lot to the interior décor it enthusiastically pays tribute to one Leonardo da Vinci.
I mean, in the center of the dining room is a quarter-scale replica of the helicopter (or “aerial screw”) he invented in the 1480s. Totally not kidding about that.
There were silk roses on every table, set in silvered Mason jars. Background music wasn’t Italiano but ‘Merican hymn tunes, played on solo piano.
Each of us had a calzone, served with chips and a dill pickle, and a tall glass of sweet tea. Excellent — we’ll be back.
When I walked up to Mercy in the parking lot after our meal, I looked down and saw a tiny yellow ducky on the pavement. We’d been “ducked” (and unconventionally) by a fellow Jeeper, capping a very good Thursday.
Tomorrow’s project will be replenishing the propane in Ernie’ tank. That’ll mean removing what we’ve stowed underneath the bus (firewood, mostly), disconnecting all utilities (sewer, water, electric and cable), starting the diesel (which hasn’t run since mid-October), raising the jacks, retracting the awnings and pulling in the slides.
Then I’ll back the bus off the campsite and drive over to the LP station — just 40 yards away from our site — fill the tank, drive back and set up camp again.
Yeah, it’ll be a pain in the ass. It has to be done, though, since Saturday night we’ll see the coldest temps we’ve had so far (12°F predicted). After that we’re looking at a week of sub-freezing overnight lows (16°F to 31°F) and several times daytime temps won’t break out of the low 30s. The furnaces will be humming, and we don’t want to run low on (or run out of) propane.
I can’t deny that we’ve been spoiled the last couple of months, but winter finally has drawn a bead on northern Arkansas.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
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