Several mature black walnut trees sit at the edge of the woods behind our campsite. They’re tall, maybe 50 feet or more. In addition to providing much-needed afternoon shade, they’re a source of mildly hazardous entertainment.
Clusters of not-yet-ripe fruit seem to attract gray squirrels, especially in the hours after dawn. The rambunctious rodents, two in particular, delight in breaking the pods loose and seeing them drop. For me, sitting outside in the morning is like being on the green at a short par three, fleshy green balls falling from high above, hitting the ground with a distinct thud and rolling to within feet of my chair.
I haven’t been hit — yet. I suspect it’s only a matter of time.
(But hey, I got to use “fleshy green balls” in a sentence.)
We’ve spent months in this campground since we discovered it in May of last year. It’s become something of a second home here in The Ozarks, and over time we’ve become familiar with the warp and woof of life in this park.
The rhythm of the place is unchanged from what we encountered when we first arrived. What’s different this season, unfortunately, is that many sites sit vacant. Chalk that up, I think, to inflation fears and high fuel prices.
For campers using this as a base for exploring the Buffalo, it’s possible that low water levels (due to drought) have been discouraging. That’s a shame, because the lower third of the river and the White, an hour-ish away, still are floatable.
It’s all part of the business cycle, of course — bust and boom, downs as well as ups. Travel, recreation and RVing aren’t immune to economic swings, and in some ways are even more susceptible to downturns than other industries.
The campground culture abides, however. We make friends every day. Across the road from Ernie, for example, a couple of days ago we got new neighbors — husband and wife, Texans, retired military, gun-toters, tag-axle diesel pusher hauling a Street Glide and towing a Wrangler Rubicon diesel. We hit it off immediately.
“You like scotch and cigars?” he asked me yesterday.
“I favor bourbon and yes,” I replied.
Originally they’d booked the site for a week. After just 24 hours they extended their stay to two — apparently now they’re looking for property here.
Awhile back I talked about Wrangler owners placing small rubber ducks on Jeeps they admire. Our Mercy has been “ducked” numerous times since last June, but this morning we got “chickened” (pictured).
We’re not sure who’s responsible for the little rubber fowl on the cowl. It might’ve been the Texans, or maybe it was our Canadian friends. Both are Jeepers. Regardless of the source, it’s definitely a first.
The forecast called for rain to begin this afternoon and continue throughout the day tomorrow. Some models predict as much as three inches here by the time it’s over, even more on The Mountain.
We’ll take it.
We’re looking at a cooldown on the other side of the wet spell, too. Next week we’ll enjoy a run of 80s/60s, and that takes us in the right direction — I mean, can 70s/50s and (better yet) 60s/40s be far behind?
Bring on sweater weather. (Keep the pumpkin spice.)
It dipped into the mid-70s this afternoon, actually, ahead of the front, and I took advantage by catching a quick Old Man Nap outside under the awning. The noise of the nearby highway didn’t so much as faze me.
I think I’ve figured out why it’s so easy for me to shut that out.
My childhood home was on US Route 30, four lanes at the time with a speed limit of 60mph. Less than a half-mile east, at the intersection of Ohio 93, was a small truck stop. Heavy trucks approaching from the west would gear down in front of our house and brake for the traffic light.
I grew accustomed to the squeal (and the smell) of hot brakes, and by the time I was ten the brrrrap-pap-pap of those newfangled Jakes was a regular occurrence. The din was constant, more during the work week and less on Saturday and Sunday.
Just like US Route 65 here in front of this campground.
As a kid, sounds of the Lincoln Highway were part of my environment — on one hand inescapable, on the other hand (and for all the same reasons) irrelevant. They completely disappeared.
Back then I didn’t know that I was developing an ability to eliminate distractions and annoyances, but that’s exactly what happened. The skill has served me well — and not just when I nap by the roadside.
One year ago today we climbed to Deadwood, South Dakota, the highest campsite of our journey.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.