While we were at Squeek’s last night to celebrate a friend’s birthday, Deb was exchanging text messages with the owners of the Harrison KOA Holiday in Arkansas. All day long we’d seen images of flash flooding that hammered the area and we were anxious to see how our friends had fared.

Parts of northwest Arkansas, according to reports, got between four and eight inches of rain. It came down hard and fast, overwhelming both natural and man-made channels. Major roads were cut off, trademark low-water crossings declared closed and sinkholes appeared. (This is The Ozarks, after all.)

The campground where we spent the winter months was overwhelmed, much like it was in mid-December. Our friends said that all guests came through it fine and that no RVs were damaged. The water receded almost as quickly as it rose, leaving quite a mess to clean up throughout Boone County.

It looks like The Mountain got considerably less rain, by the way, maybe only a couple of inches. We’ll be curious to hear how our homesite held up.

Over the months we spent around north-central Arkansas, we noticed that rainstorms always draw attention to the Buffalo River — not the flooding, necessarily, but because higher river levels appeal to canoeists and kayakers. Yesterday’s deluge pushed much of the Buffalo near or past flood stage, and it’s running fast.

This isn’t the ideal time for novices to tackle the river. As the crest travels from the Upper Buffalo downstream (east) toward the White River, it creates conditions best left to experienced floaters. River outfitters, as well as online forums and groups, will spend the rest of this week actively discouraging newbies from (literally) getting in over their heads.

This morning Deb and I undertook a short road trip. From Second Chance Ranch we drove a half-hour north, avoiding maddening Interstates in favor of quieter two-laners, to the tony suburb of New Albany.

In the years I’ve lived in central Ohio I’d never had reason to go there, and as we rolled up from Reynoldsburg it became clear why — conspicuous affluence was everywhere. The houses we passed were grand, gaudy and groomed, the smallest perhaps ten times the size of our humble Ranch.

Ostentatious as they are, however, each McEstate occupies only a couple of acres. And as much as I may admire the success and station that this display of wealth represents, I find it wholly unappealing.

We stopped at the traffic light at Main Street, in the center of the old village. I noticed that it was US Route 62 and laughed out loud — if we turned left at that light and followed the venerable route westbound, 700 miles later we’d arrive in Yellville, Arkansas, which soon will be our home.

Our destination today was a small antiques shop housed in the granary of an old farm. The proprietor had been recommended to us as best qualified to appraise an old copper pot that came to Deb through her family.

Nice guy. Pleasant experience.

Afterward we drove back to Second Chance Ranch, stopping for lunch along the way. Pulling into the driveway of our simple mid-century home, I couldn’t help drawing a silent contrast to the mansions and carriage houses we’d passed in New Albany this morning.

I walked around our yard, which on this mid-April day is dotted with dandelions and spring beauties. Hyacinths still bloom by the side door. The season’s last daffodils pop up from a brush pile by the edge of the woods out back. The afternoon sky was bright and the breeze cool, reminiscent of the April day 12 years ago when we first turned the key in the door.

Second Chance Ranch is essential to who Deb and I have become together. Now we’re bound for an even better place, but we’ll take pieces of this one with us to The Ozarks, bits of the American Life we created here.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB