Focused as we are on what’s in front of us, still it’s fun to look back. Today, notably, is the first day of our third year with Ernie — we drove the bus home two years ago yesterday. That, my friends, was a special day.
As we rumbled down I-71 south from Medina to Second Chance Ranch, Deb and I knew that it signaled the beginning of a new American Life for us. We couldn’t’ve predicted that the tens of thousands of miles that followed would lead us to where we are now.
Nine years ago tomorrow I kicked cigarettes and committed to vaping. Two days from now, on Thanksgiving, we’ll celebrate Scout’s 12th birthday.
This time last year we were right here, camped in Harrison. We’d just returned from visiting The Mountain, knowing (but not yet saying) that we’d build a Home there, still trying to understand the hold it had on us.
Dirt wouldn’t begin moving ’til a couple of weeks later.
November is significant to us for more than just holiday memories. I’m not sure why it’s that way, but it is. I’ll keep flashing back and sharing some of those moments here. It’s what I do.
Images we’ve been getting from Mountain One the last few days have been intriguing. Whitetail does saunter through during the day and several of the local bucks (like this handsome boy) visit at night. The spot has become a sort of message board for hookups.
Deb and I no longer have to account for the expense of a 40-mile daily commute, but we’re still mindful of gas prices. We travel to Yellville and back two or three times a week, each round-trip covering about 90 miles. That adds up.
Most days we choose the Silverado over the Wrangler. Hard as it may be to believe, that 5.3-liter V8 squeezes an average of 4mpg more from a gallon of regular than the Jeep’s 3.6-liter V6 does, saving us almost 28%. The truck’s tank holds an additional 3.5 gallons, too, giving us an extra 150 miles’ range.
Arkansas still has some of the nation’s lowest gas prices. Close to where we’re parked we watched them inch down for a while, eventually stalling between $3.289 and $3.349. It stayed that way for weeks.
Cynics assured us that gas prices would jump again after Election Day, but the opposite has happened here. The Harps in Bellefonte, on our way to and from The Mountain, often has the cheapest gas, and over the last week we saw it drop from $3.289 to $3.239, then $3.199 and $3.159.
When we gassed-up Mercy yesterday afternoon, the price was $3.099. That’s exactly 70 cents less than we paid at the same station four months ago, in spite of (not because of) federal energy policy. Market forces are responsible for that.
It’s still a dime higher than it was at this time last year.
While I was tidying up the shed yesterday, I found myself wondering about tools. I took a few things from a toolbox we keep in the Jeep and transferred them to the Ranger, task-specific stuff like an oil-filter wrench.
I reminded myself that for the most part, we own all the tools we’ll need on The Mountain. Oh, we may have to buy this or that to build out our house — power tools, mostly — but really, we’re set.
Thing is, those tools are in storage 750 miles away. Right now I can’t just reach for what I need.
Deb’s cousin has an impressive workshop in his garage and a bunch of implements in an adjacent shed. He graciously loans us whatever we need. That works out great, and it keeps us from buying stuff we already have (albeit somewhere else).
I got to thinking, though, about the tools we have with us on the bus. And when we bought the Wrangler last year we equipped it with its own kit, some new but much of it reallocated from the motorhome. Suddenly, one of those cartoon lightbulbs appeared over my head.
We no longer need to carry a full kit in the Jeep for off-road forays into the Montana wilderness — why not build an interim toolbox for The Mountain from that?
So we’ll re-purpose that box, assemble an array of tools we’re likely to use and stow it in the shed. We’ll end up with a respectable selection of wrenches, sockets, drivers and more.
What we don’t have, we’ll borrow. But until we haul our own arsenal of tools out of storage, this’ll give us a few within reach.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.