Oh, it’s still dry here. Very dry. The entire state of Arkansas officially is under a high danger of wildfire. Of 75 counties, 70 have imposed burn bans — Marion County, where The Mountain is located, is one of those, while Boone, where we’re camped, is not (yet).
Everyone in the region has eyes on the forecast, short- and long-range. Anything more than a 20% chance of precipitation prompts cautious optimism, and we have several of those days coming up, but the truth is that nothing short of a week of steady, soaking rainfall will be enough.
Yesterday we noticed that all the trees along the gravel subdivision road near The Mountain are covered in a thick layer of dust. Even creeping along at 20mph produces a big cloud behind the truck, reducing visibility to near-zero for any vehicle misfortunate enough to be following behind.
The surface of the road up The Mountain is dirt, naturally dusty. Prudent speed on the rough and narrow track, however, is 10mph to 15mph, so it’s not quite as bad.
A burn ban where we’re camped would be more of an inconvenience than a problem — we light fires for ambience, not for any practical purpose. But out in the country, regular folks dispose of combustibles with trash fires (reducing what they have to haul to the landfill or local “transfer station”). Farmers often need to burn. Construction and road crews must chip what they’ve cleared until bans are lifted.
I expect it’ll be winter before we see any relief.
Neither Deb nor I like straight, take-the-chrome-off-a-bumper ‘shine, but we’ve enjoyed the Ole Smoky Moonshine Pickles we bought some weeks back, So have our hosts — often we’ll gift them one or two on their way home after they close the campground office.
Soon we were in need of re-stocking our supply, left with a half-jar of dill-flavored moonshine. Last night, before we could get to the liquor store for more, one of the park staff came by our site with an ice-cold Claussen jar.
“Homemade pickle shots,” he said with a grin. “Enjoy!”
We’re told that Tito’s vodka takes the place of corn squeezins. Chunks of pickles and who-knows-what bob in the pale green liquid. Oh, my… I promise you a full report.
My to-do list for today’s visit to The Mountain was short and not terribly interesting. First, I wanted to top-off the Ranger’s gas tank — we’ve run it since last winter without refilling, the gauge showing 1/8th of a tank remaining. I pulled the buggy out of the shed and put a little more than four gallons of (stabilized) gas in, bringing it right to the bottom of the filler neck.
The gauge indicated a full tank, same as my visual check. Thing is, the Ranger is equipped with a nine-gallon tank — so even when the gauge showed only 1/8th-full, there probably was over four gallons left.
A little Internet research revealed that this is a known bug with the Ranger’s fuel sending unit. Polaris isn’t offering a fix, at least none I can find. Doesn’t bother me. Now I know.
The second item on my agenda was getting Deb’s new deer rifle in shape, essentially making it ready for the field. I was without the tools I’m accustomed to, but I turned the Silverado’s tailgate into a workbench and got down to business with what I had.
Given that she’d bought the Savage used, I mopped the bore and cleaned the bolt face with Hoppe’s #9. I ran wet patches through the barrel ’til they came back relatively clean, followed by dry patches.
I finished with a couple of drops of Hoppe’s gun oil on a patch, then two more dry patches. Finally, important moving parts got a very light dose of oil.
Next I fitted a Beartooth Comb-Raising Kit to the stock — a fantastic product that’s a ring-tailed bitch to install. This is the fourth rifle of ours to get the Beartooth treatment, so I knew what a struggle it’d be. We got it done, though, and now Deb’s sighting eye is in line with her scope.
Last, I attached a basic sling to the studs on the stock. That was easy.
There’s one more thing I want to do with this rifle — give it a proper boresighting. My preferred Bushnell laser is tucked away in storage, so I ordered another one via Amazon this evening. It cost less than a box of ammo, worth every penny.
I can’t leave this post without reporting on activity at our trailcams today. It was considerable, too, my phone pinging all day long. Though the show took a while to get rolling, the deer blocks drew more whitetails than pumpkins alone.
We even had a young spike-plus buck pose for a closeup at the lower camera. But that wasn’t the best capture of the day.
Early this afternoon I pulled up a series of four images from the trailcam near the summit trail. At first I didn’t see anything, so I went back and looked again. On the left side of the frames, there it was — bobcat!
I probably don’t need to tell you how rare that is — bobcats are nocturnal and seldom seen by humans. After a heavy snowfall last winter, Deb and I found what we thought were bobcat tracks, less than 50 yards from this camera’s location, and now we have confirmation that they’re on The Mountain.
That, my friends, made my day.
One year ago today, Deb and I visited the Winterset, Iowa birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison — the American icon known to the world as John Wayne.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.