The site next to ours, previously occupied by our Canadian friends’ diesel pusher, for a few nights has been home to a small dome tent and a mid-size silver sedan bearing Louisiana plates. As usually happens in this nomadic culture, we’ve exchanged waves and engaged in brief conversations with our new neighbors, a couple who speak with an accent that doesn’t ring of Acadiana.
Turns out they’re originally from communist Bulgaria. The husband says that many years ago his father, an engineer, was transferred to Tanzania, and that’s where he spent much of his childhood. They’ve been in the US now for 25 years and are American citizens.
These encounters fascinate me — taking the pulse, in a way, of people who came to this country from places like France, Ukraine, Russia and other repressive cultures. I’m always intrigued by how gratefully American they tend to be.
Some folks claim that Americans must travel to other countries to truly appreciate this one. I call bullshit — the E-ticket to gratitude comes from spending time with folks who came here from socialist, communist, totalitarian regimes. They can teach us more about what it means to be American than any world tour ever could.
Our Bulgarian neighbors have moved on now, headed north and west. Before they left, however, they assured us that they’ll be back — they, like us, found something special here in The Ozarks.
Okay, yesterday was a big one. I could argue, in fact, that we accomplished more during those daylight hours than on any day since we’ve been back. We set out for Yellville with a purpose, sure, but we ended up checking even more boxes than we’d expected.
The state revenue office is on the town’s old Main Street, tucked into a storefront at sidewalk level. That’s where we stopped first, to take care of (admittedly delinquent) motor-vehicle matters. The place wasn’t at all busy, and after a brief wait we officially became residents of the State of Arkansas — we got our driver’s licenses, we elected to be organ-and-tissue donors and we registered to vote.
(The last of those paves the way for us to cast two enthusiastic votes on November 8th for the next governor of Arkansas — Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Richard Michael DeWine can kiss my ass.)
Getting Arkansas tags for the SilverSilverado and the Jeep, however, required documentation we didn’t yet have in our hands. That would have to come from the Marion County Assessor at the courthouse across the street.
At the assessor’s office, like everywhere we go ’round here, we were greeted warmly and treated like we’ve lived in the area all our lives. Not only did we establish the requisite county tax account, we also were able to get building permits for The Mountain. That was an unexpected bonus.
We pinballed around to a couple of other offices in the courthouse for receipts and official seals, then headed back over to the state revenue office. Near a corner on the quiet street we met a woman who apparently had been in the waiting area while Deb and I were getting driver’s licenses.
“Howdy!” she said with a broad smile. “Did I hear y’all say that you’re movin’ here from Ohio?”
I confirmed to her that we are, indeed, transplanting.
“Well then, welcome to Arkansas!”
I swear, sometimes it all feels like a setup, as if we’re the mark in an episode of Candid Camera. But that’s just the way these people are. We belong here.
We presented our stack of paperwork at the revenue office, registered our vehicles and drove on to The Mountain, where I immediately swapped the truck’s Ohio temporary tag (which had expired over a month ago) for a shiny new Arkansas plate.
We brought along the trailcams we’d set up the day before, so we boarded the Ranger and went out to place them — one on the edge of a clearing behind the homesite, the other about halfway up the cut to the summit. I verified that each was recording and transmitting before driving away.
And now we wait.
Earlier in the day, Deb had said, “It’s Tuesday. And we’re in Yellville. You know what that means?”
I sure did — the daily special at Carolyn’s Razorback Ribs was “smoked brisket street tacos,” and we were about to put on the feed bag.
It might just be the best-ever twist on traditional BBQ I’ve ever had. Enormous portions, too. Seriously, you wish you were here.
On returning to the campground later, the first thing I did was grab the other license plate and replace the almost-illegible Arkansas temp tag that had expired last August. Seemed like the right thing to do.
Today was for chillin’. This morning we watched our campground hosts do tree maintenance behind our site. I got my drone in the air for the first time in quite a while.
Tomorrow we’ll be back on The Mountain to meet the guy who’ll begin excavating the property — and that could be another big day.
One year ago yesterday, we left our cramped campsite in Deadwood, blew through Wyoming, crossed the Montana state line and settled onto the prairie.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.