‘Why’d you stop?’

Man, I love these cool mornings. Even when I wake up feeling less than sharp, as soon as the autumn air hits my face, energy stirs and possibilities are revealed. Cool will become downright cold before long, but right now I’m in my personal seasonal sweet spot.

Rolling up US 65 yesterday afternoon I remarked to Deb that in all the time we’ve been here, I couldn’t recall having seen a vanity plate. Back in Ohio (and elsewhere) you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a clever or cryptic personalized tag.

I suppose I might’ve spotted one and just couldn’t remember. Maybe Arkansas simply doesn’t do vanity plates.

This morning I decided to find out what’s up — and sure enough, the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration offers (for an additional fee, of course) personalized license plates. Its website, like Ohio’s oplates.com, lets residents check the availability of their choices, seven characters max.

I’m not inclined to pay for a vanity tag here, but I test-drove (virtually) a couple of ideas anyway.

So those ubiquitous look-at-me plates aren’t unheard of in Arkansas. But the fact that I don’t remember seeing a single one in this part of the state says a great deal, I think, about where we are.

As of first thing this morning, our smashed pumpkins hadn’t lured any wildlife in front of the trailcams. I won’t pretend to know exactly why, but I suspect it has something to do with scent. The ground corn we dropped a couple of weeks ago is aromatic as hell, formulated specifically to draw deer. It turned that trick in a matter of hours.

I figured that once the pumpkins began to break down, pungent perfume would hitch a ride on the breeze and attract critters. It was just before 10am today, after the sun dappled the upper plot, when first one and then two whitetails approached to investigate.

By early afternoon we had activity down near the homesite, too.

Time will tell how well The Punkin Protocol works out. I’m sure that corn is the better bait, but we’ll see. And hey, maybe we’ll get volunteer pumpkin vines next year.

We were having a conversation with someone recently, I can’t remember exactly who it was, regaling them with tales of our travels last year — sights and adventures, moments of joy and surprise you’ve read about here. Our enthusiasm must’ve been obvious.

“So why’d you stop?” they asked.

Deb and I looked at each other, smiled, and turned back to them.

“We’re done,” we said in unison.

I guess that’s puzzling somehow. I mean, if we were having the time of our lives (and we were), why the hell would we quit?

The concept of actually moving on and committing completely to The Next Thing is foreign to some people. It’s not how we’ve all been conditioned to behave, and that causes us problems. Thoreau:

“For the most part, we are not where we are, but in a false position. Through an infinity of our natures, we suppose a case, and put ourselves into it, and hence are in two cases at the same time, and it is doubly difficult to get out.”

Taking on a part-time job or a weekend hobby and wondering why success is elusive. Dwelling on memories of a past relationship and being confused about why the current one doesn’t work. The athlete or actor who hangs on past his prime.

Semi-retirement. Dabbling. Multitasking.

Deb and I made a choice. A bargain. A trade. We exchanged one extraordinary American Life for another. Thoreau again, on walking away from Walden Pond:

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.”

Every step toward one thing is a step away from something else. If that feels uncomfortable, it’s a ticket to walking around in circles or, worse, remaining stationary.

Neither works for us.

We left the road for as good a reason as we went there. We moved on to what’s next, The Mountain, with vigor. Committing completely to the latter required stepping away from the former.

We’re done. No regrets.

One year ago today we resumed the long trek from Glacier to The Ozarks, our drive ending just short of the Iowa line.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB