We had ourselves a bumpy night here at the campground. A line of wicked storms rolled through, bringing heavy rain and lots of thunder. The weather had the dogs (especially Scout) kinda freaked out, so Deb brought the gimpy girl up onto the bed with us.
Somehow I slept through it all.
It wasn’t until this morning that I learned what a rockin’ night it was. Around 12:30am, according to Deb, lightning struck very close — it lit up the interior of the bus like daytime, and there was no delay between flash and boom. She pulled out her phone, launched an app and fixed the position of the strike.
I’ve included Deb’s screen-capture of it here. The blue dot is where Ernie is parked; the red dot is the lightning strike — 150 feet away. That was a close one.
By 8am the rain had eased. An hour later the sun was out, just in time for our Canadian neighbors to pull up stakes and head for home. It’s been a complicated last ten days for them, what with a series of mechanical gremlins and the need to get back to Ontario to address medical issues.
As much as we’ll miss the company, we were glad to see their rig (with Jeep Wrangler in tow) roll out of the campground today. At some point they’ll be back. They certainly know where to find us.
Deb and I continue to take small steps in the direction of our dreams. This coming week, I think, we’ll get Arkansas driver’s licenses — and that requires us to present our birth certificates, which we were able to request online from Ohio and West Virginia. Then we’ll transfer the titles on the orange Jeep and the SilverSilverado, registering both with Arkansas tags. That’s the plan.
Ernie will run an Ohio plate for the time being. To register the bus in Arkansas would bring the legal requirement that I get a CDL (because its GVWR is over 26,000 pounds), and that’s not gonna happen. I simply don’t want to mess with it.
Oh, and it looks like our little piece of heaven will begin to take shape (a different shape) soon. I was in touch with our site-and-foundation guy yesterday, and he said he expects to get his equipment out to The Mountain this Thursday. We’ll meet him there, go over a couple of minor tweaks to the original plan and (we hope) watch the dust fly.
This blog originated in Ohio, the state of my birth, almost two years ago. Through the years, however, I’ve lived and worked and traveled all over the country, getting a good feel for a variety of places and the people inhabiting them. That’s been useful, then and now.
If I had to name a single reliable gauge of people in a region, it’s the way they drive. (For the record, Boston is the worst. If Montreal was an American city, it’d be a tie.) Regular readers know that big cities are at the bottom of my personal list of favorite things, and city drivers are but one reason. Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, even Columbus — truly nothing makes me want to live there, drive there or even go there.
And that, my friends, is a big part of why we’re in The Ozarks.
Southern Missouri and northern Arkansas are, based on several thousand miles of experience, an entirely different world. Much of the area is rural, sure, but not all. We’re over an hour from I-44 or I-49 and three times that far from I-40, the closest Interstates. Two-lane state highways are the rule here, with the occasional passing (climbing) lane and a few four-lane stretches.
Those roads are maintained well, seldom just randomly patched, usually re-paved long before they need it. Clean, too. And though curves and grades are a way of life in The Ozarks, highway engineers have succeeded (for the most part) in creating roads that inflict minimum stress while serving up maximum enjoyment.
It’s the damnedest thing. No wonder bikers love to ride The Ozarks.
Without a network of Interstates and outerbelts, inter-city commerce has to negotiate the same mountain roads. Ditto farm equipment, sightseers, RVs, commuters and service vehicles. What’s truly remarkable, at least to me, is how naturally everyone shares the space — tractor-trailers barrel through the rolling curves at 60mph or better and no one flinches.
There’s zero drama. I haven’t seen one instance of road rage.
Our Thursday drive was typical, all of it on US Route 65. We were treated to hundreds of curves and dozens of respectable grades, some as steep as 10%. Starting at an altitude just shy of 1,200 feet AMSL, we topped out near 1,600 halfway to our destination and descended to 300 at Pickles Gap.
Here’s a clearer picture of that elevation change — over the course of 100 miles we ascended a total of 6,300 feet and descended 7,200 feet in all. That’s what I call a roller-coaster ride.
It was a weekday as well, so big rigs were out in force. Empty or loaded, local or long-haul. they danced gracefully through the mountains with the rest of us — no tailgating, no horns, no drama.
I’m tellin’ you, the folks ’round here have a lot to teach the rest of the country, highway departments as well as drivers. It’s by far the best travel environment I’ve ever been around.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.