Try to act surprised

A year ago, give or take, Ubi Libertas Blog became a travelogue. Maybe you’ve noticed, however, that we’ve been rooted in one spot the last five months and not doing any actual traveling. The only time Ernie’s wheels have rolled is when we’ve driven across the campground to fetch propane.

As far as I know, northern Arkansas isn’t on any RVer’s short list of places to spend a winter. While we love it here, that affection isn’t why we’ve stayed so long.

Since the First of November, virtually everything we’ve done has been in pursuit of a single goal, a change in our focus, a new mission.

We’re moving to The Ozarks.

Obviously, that wasn’t part of our original plan. When we conceived this odyssey, Deb and I expected to live a nomadic, Zulu Foxtrot kind of life for a full year, probably longer, never letting grass grow under our feet.

Oh, sure, we entertained the possibility that in our travels we might find someplace we’d want to settle — maybe Texas, perhaps South Dakota, possibly Montana.

Let’s just say that Arkansas wasn’t on our radar.

And then, on our second visit to The Ozarks in June and July, something happened. Something changed. Something made it clear that we’d found a home — our Home.

We didn’t see that comin’.

The Mountain, as we call it, will become Our Mountain — we’ll build a house and make our Home on roughly 20 acres of rocky and undeveloped woodland. As we’ve discovered, there are few spots that’d accommodate even a small cabin, so we’ll have to make our own bench.

When we got back here in mid-October we agreed to buy the parcel from Deb’s cousin, and by late November we’d marked off the area where we’ll build. The purpose of December’s backhoe work was to clear a rough homesite there, as well as access (a driveway, that is) and holes for perc tests. (We passed and got certified for septic.)

There’s tons more work that needs to be done — bringing in fill to create a level site and pouring the foundation, for example — and we’ve settled on good folks to do that stuff.

Besides installing a septic system, we’ll need to drill a (very deep) well. Electric power, fortunately, is right there at the road.

The house itself will be small, simple and humble. We’ve chosen a builder to frame-out the structure. We expect to tackle much of the interior finish work ourselves.

The shed we had built last month, currently on Deb’s cousin’s property a quarter-mile away, will be moved to the homesite at a later date.

A 360° panorama of the homesite as it appeared yesterday afternoon.

Deb and I have big plans for this next chapter of our American Life together. Though we don’t intend to go full Mother Earth News on y’all, it’ll be a homesteading-type existence. No doubt we’ll have to reawaken some of our country-living skills and learn others.

This is an exciting time for us, of course. Runaway inflation, which will increase the cost of everything we have planned, makes it nerve-racking as well.

First things first, however — before we can do much more on The Mountain we’ll have to return to Ohio, make a few minor repairs to Second Chance Ranch and prepare to sell the house that’s been our home for a dozen years.

We’ll purge our material possessions to the bare minimum we’ll need in our new life, donating some and holding a household auction of the rest. Somewhere in the middle of all that I expect we’ll make a couple of round-trips to Arkansas in my truck, probably towing a rented trailer, to deposit loads of stuff in the shed or a local storage unit.

Ernie will be our home-on-wheels, one way or another, for a good while longer.

When we’re all done back at the Ranch, we’ll say bittersweet goodbyes to dear and longtime friends, point Ernie southwest and return to The Ozarks. We’ll continue to live in the motorhome at a nearby campground (or two) while the house is under construction. And that process, naturally, will take as long as it takes.

As soon as we can move into the livable shell — with functioning water, septic and electric (and, if the weather has turned cold by then, heat) — that’s what we’ll do. We’ll put our beloved Ernie up for sale and totally commit to our new life.

This latest (last?) round of winter weather should clear out by Sunday. It looks like we’ll fire up the big diesel on Tuesday morning and begin the trek to Ohio. At our customary pace, it should be a two- or three-day trip.

Mercy, the intrepid orange Jeep Wrangler that serves us so ably, and our Polaris Ranger will stay behind on The Mountain.

None of this, incidentally, would be possible without the help, counsel and understanding of Deb’s cousin. He’s the reason we’ve come to love The Mountain, an integral and indispensable part of all we’re doing.

So, my friends, now you know.

I suspect you already did.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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