We’d been in northern Arkansas, camped at Bull Shoals, only a couple of days last May when we first met the region’s ticks. That’s when Deb and I learned to hose ourselves down with bug juice before treading anywhere close to the woods, doubly important when we go exploring on The Mountain.
On our skin and hair we use aerosol repellent with 40% DEET (Repel Sportsmen Max, for example), and we apply Sawyer permethrin to our clothes and shoes. The combination generally works — we still may come back with a tick or two, but it’s the best defense we’ve found.
Deb’s cousin warned us of another eight-legged hazard — chiggers. They’re tiny, about 1/60th of an inch, and they’re everywhere. I’ve had the displeasure of suffering chigger bites just once, when I was a kid, and it was memorable. Our current repellent cocktail would keep the little red buggers at bay.
On Sunday, I must’ve missed a spot.
My legs and arms are covered with welts. They itch like hell. They’ll take weeks to heal.
Another country lesson learned.
Even though the ambitious expansion of this campground draws much of the staff’s attention, the operating part of the park is clean, well-maintained and largely unaffected by the construction. Credit for that goes to the owners, workampers and paid staff who work long hours in all kind of weather, every day of the year.
We’re particularly fond of one fellow, a guy who shows up every morning before 7am even though he can’t begin his groundskeeping duties ’til “quiet hours” are over. Deb and I know this because we’re up with the dogs around 6am ourselves and we see him strolling around the campground, making his mental list of what needs doing that day.
Often, if he sees us sitting outside with our coffee, he’ll walk over and sit down to chat. He’s a simple man, a worker, an honest man, and the time he takes with us is a reminder that the world needs more like him.
A little over six months ago we drove up to Hollister to meet friends at a small Italian restaurant specializing in Chicago-style pizza. The food and the company were so good that we vowed to return. This afternoon we did, joined by another Missouri friend and our Canadian neighbors.
It was all that we remembered, a great meal topped with great conversation.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.