Looking over the menu at the Neighborhood Diner in Harrison late this afternoon, I settled on the “Southwest Burrito” — two scrambled eggs and chorizo with jalapeño, green bell, red onion, tomato and pepper jack, wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla.
It was a no-brainer. Chorizo is a favorite of mine.
I added a side of pinto beans. Deb had the “Blackjack Burger” and fries.
We enjoyed the food, of course, but both of us were flat-out exhausted. We’d packed one helluva lot into a Thursday on The Mountain.
The farther east we drove this morning, the more evidence we saw that they’d had a dusting of snow overnight. Temps were in the low 30s by the time we arrived and ran the Ranger up to the summit.
We wanted to do a little more exploring on the southwest corner of the property, down the gnarly ATV trail and along the ledges. Under a chalky sky, it was a beautiful time to walk the winter woods. Long views of ridges and valleys were mesmerizing.
When we returned to the Ranger, Deb suggested that we drive down the road to the northeast corner of the property and walk in from there. It was something we’d tried once before, but we ran out of daylight without making it very far.
This time we pressed forward with intent. Some years ago a wide path had been cut along the boundary, reportedly an equestrian trail, but tangle had taken over and in a few places we had to slash our way through. Other stretches we were able to walk unimpeded. And it was pretty flat, too — there was virtually no change in elevation.
Eventually we made it to what my GPS app told me is the southeast corner of The Mountain, a small grassy spot almost 200 feet lower than the summit. Across a narrow valley rose the neighboring ridge, nearly 500 feet higher than where we stood.
We hustled back to the buggy and rode up to the area cleared by our backhoe guy two months ago. We had an appointment to keep.
A shiny new dually rolled up not long after we got there. The gentleman who emerged from the truck was someone we’re considering for important work on The Mountain. First, however, and at his urging, we needed to have a serious walk-and-talk.
I don’t know how our experience could’ve been any better. He was candid, smart and helpful. His considerable experience produced ideas that Deb and I hadn’t considered.
We also got to know each other a little bit. A couple of things stood out to me.
Born and raised in this area, he served in the military and has traveled extensively. Still, the only place he wants to be is in The Ozarks of northern Arkansas.
He listened to us talk about how special The Mountain has become to us.
“Well, welcome to Arkansas,” he said with a smile. “Y’know, lots of people spend their whole lives looking for what you’ve found. I found it. You found it. Most folks never do.”
Man, that was a lightning-bolt moment. He’s right. More important, he gets it. Deb’s cousin was there while we were talking, and he gets it, too.
So we discovered personal chemistry in the midst of a commercial encounter. We made another connection and took yet another step along the new course we’ve charted.
Life is good.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.