Two doors down

We moved yesterday morning — not to another campground but to a different site in this one, just a hundred feet away. That meant executing the usual teardown and setup routines, minus having to stow and unload much.

In fact, I walked a lot of stuff from one site to the other. Chairs, hoses, cords, flag and such got carried over and piled onto a picnic table. Then I pulled Ernie forward, turned the wheel 45° and backed the bus onto the new pad.

The whole process, start to finish, took less than an hour.

Our new site is a more traditional arrangement, simply a table and a fire ring. Full hookups, of course. It backs up to the woods, which gives us shade we didn’t have before. In place of a patio, this time we have a large “yard.” I think we’re going to like it here.

We bookended the move with a couple of trips to the truck-accessories shop, dropping off the SilverSilverado early to have its chipped windshield repaired and (slight) tint applied. The result, though subtle, complements the effect of darkening the side and rear windows.

It reminds me, in a way, of what I learned years ago about face shields on motorcycle helmets. I remember switching from a clear shield to a smoked tint and how much it reduced the temperature inside my full-face Arai. Later, when I went to a mirrored shield, well, that really changed the game.

Tinting the truck’s windows produced a similar effect. Deb and I have judged it to be a worthwhile upgrade.

By day’s end, Deb and I were pretty well sapped — the inescapable heat and humidity got to us again. We relaxed awhile outdoors in the zero-gravity recliners, sipping Woodford Reserve. (I enjoyed a Punch cigar.) Much earlier than usual, we retired to bed.

“Before you hitch an Airstream to your electric truck and set out to circumnavigate the country, you need to understand this: With the largest available battery pack, a fully charged 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck has less energy onboard than a regular F-150 with four gallons of gas in its tank.”

MotorTrend, from its “First Test” of the top-of-the-line Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum EV, MSRP $92,669

It’s just different here — I keep saying that because I keep noticing it. To start with, the people are different, both in manner and attitude. Smiles are genuine. Problems are real but generous neighbors are close by.

The scenery is different. Yes, being nestled in the beauty of The Ozarks is part of that, but there’s more to it. Along highways and streets the signage is simple, often old-fashioned. The way folks adorn their cars and trucks and houses speaks to a different culture.

The food is amazing.

Here in northern Arkansas I’ve traveled more dirt and gravel roads than anywhere since the rural Ohio of my youth. Look at today’s header image — all of the roads highlighted in red and light blue are what you’d call “unimproved.” They’re dusty when it’s dry and muddy when it’s wet, interesting every day.

Throw in endless curves, steep grades and those ubiquitous “low-water bridges,” and exploring this extraordinary terrain is quite a different experience.

Off the beaten path (which, in most places, isn’t very far) wildlife is everywhere — that’s new to us. When we drive to The Mountain, the last four miles are guaranteed to produce a sighting of some sort. I can’t remember a trip when we didn’t see two or more whitetails.

You may recall that Ernie’s bedroom is decorated in a woodsy theme featuring black bears on the bedspread, pillow shams and various accessories. During the month we spent in Montana last year I picked up a bear-claw pendant, a bear-pawprint ring and a bear-pawprint belt buckle — symbols of strength, health, courage and family.

And now we have our very own “family” of black bears on The Mountain. Coincidence?

I don’t believe in coincidences.

It’s all coming together, it seems, this new American Life in a place very different than the one we left. We may be missing familiar places and old friends, true Americans we can count on despite the distance, but we’re confident that we’ve made the best decision of our lives.

This is the place.

Relocating is more than a physical exercise, or it can be — done right it’s a mindset, a transformation that goes beyond a new address and a new view. It’s a matter of commitment, I think, investing in change.

Our change admittedly is significant, not just location but lifestyle. We’re downsizing, simplifying, moving from a mid-century neighborhood to a (relatively) isolated homestead. Both Deb and I have been clicking the “unsubscribe” link on myriad e-mail lists we’d long subscribed to, and on social media we’ve hit “unfollow” dozens of times.

Some things are irrelevant now. Others don’t matter as much as they once did.

This morning we drove into Harrison to shop for alcohol. We chose a different store this time, Bypass Liquor, to expand our options, and it was a great pick — a huge selection of spirits, wine and beer, plus a smile-prompting display of MAGA-themed merchandise.

(We bought a couple Sarah Huckabee Sanders t-shirts.)

On the way back to the campground I decided that it’d please me to get the truck washed. We swung into Car Wash USA Express — aptly named, as it turns out, because everything (right down to red, white and blue foam) was patriotic. Practically speaking it might be the best car wash I’ve ever seen.

Our Canadian friends returned to the campground this afternoon, first we’d seen them in months. If you made a connection between that and our booze run, well, you wouldn’t be wrong.

We had a great time catching up, later grabbing a satisfying dinner of comfort food at The Neighborhood Diner. Then it was more reminiscing and story-swapping back on our campsite.

Tomorrow we all plan to head over to The Mountain. Our friends haven’t been there since October, months before the backhoe work was done, and Deb and I have some showing-off to do.

One year ago today we visited The World’s Only Corn Palace.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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