Our hosts at this campground have come to know us well — no surprise, really, considering how much time we’ve spent here. It’s a great relationship. They look out for us and we look out for them.

Whenever we’re headed to the store we’ll stop by the office and ask if they need anything while we’re out. If we have too much or too many of something we’ll share the extra with them, and they’ve done the same. We exchanged gifts at Christmas.

Deb has decided to take up knitting. She chose to present her very first project, a stocking cap, to one of the park’s owners this week.

As we loaded Mercy yesterday morning for a trip to The Mountain, a couple of the workamping staff stopped by. They said that the campground’s owners, as part of an ongoing expansion project, had bought a couple of large holding tanks which, for whatever reason, were wrong for the job. The owner wondered if we might be interested in buying one or both — at 20% less than they paid, with free delivery to The Mountain.

We followed the staffers up the hill to the construction site to take a look.

The massive 2,000-gallon tanks wouldn’t suit our purposes, either, we determined. We thanked our hosts and rolled back down the hill.

The construction site we were leaving, by the way, isn’t paved or finished — the surface is sticky red clay, made even stickier by all the snow and rain we’ve seen lately. Deb and I knew what was coming next.

The moment I turned onto the highway and hit the gas, our orange Jeep became a comical explosion of orange mud, clay-caked tires slinging clods in every direction. Big chunks of the gooey stuff rode with us — on the hood, on the windshield, on the running boards and even on the roof — the whole way to Yellville.

Grant me
to accept what I can’t change,
to change what I can, and
to hide the bodies of those who pissed me off.

from the “Rifle or Shovel?” anthology

The Mountain supplied the peace we crave and yesterday’s weather was perfect — clear, bright, breezy and warm (for January in The Ozarks). We’d brought along a short to-do list, so we tossed the chainsaw into the bed of the Ranger and rode down to our UTV trail.

That snow-laden cedar we’d seen blocking our path last week turned out to be broken, not merely bent. I made a cut just below where the trunk had split, about five feet above the base. We’ll have to wait to see if what’s left survives. I’m betting it will.

Farther up the trail we’d tagged a couple of small oaks for removal, one on the inside of an uphill curve and the other at the corner of our turnaround near the summit. At some point, and I can’t say exactly when, I must’ve nicked a rock while making a cut close to the ground. That sort of thing should be avoided, obviously, because it immediately turns a good chainsaw into a poor boat anchor, but it’s all too easy to do.

I was able to finish what I planned to get done, barely, and fortunately I have an extra chain. Deb’s cousin has offered to sharpen this one. We’ll take him up on that.

With the work behind us, we grabbed our cooler and chairs and settled on the “Dancing Tree” site for a lunch of sandwiches and fruit we’d picked up at the Harps in Yellville. The serenity of the place was accented by whispering wind, the tapping of a woodpecker and our own quiet conversation.

Afterward we walked down the short ATV trail that Deb’s cousin uses, our first time tracing that track. It’s too narrow to accommodate the Ranger and, in a few places, maybe a little too rocky.

For us, however, equipped with sturdy boots and walking sticks, it was a fine hiking path. Along the way we discovered more outcrops, boulders and ledges. In a couple of places the views are breathtaking. On our way back up I was especially intrigued by something I spotted in the middle of the trail — at first glance it looked like a piece of red cedar, but when I put my hand on it I confirmed that it was a chunk of sedimentary rock.

Pro tip: Maintain a sense of wonder.

We drove the Ranger to where we’d parked the Jeep, transferred our gear, chatted in the garage awhile with Deb’s cousin and turned back toward the campground. In Harrison later, we dined on enchiladas and sipped cucumber-jalapeño margaritas.

Now we’ll ride out what looks to be a two-day cold snap here. We intend to be back on The Mountain on Thursday.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB