As is my daily custom, I took my coffee at the dinette this morning. I looked around the living space, the large open area at the front two-thirds of the bus. Since arriving in July we’ve really made ourselves at home, having moved the rig only twice.
I want you to imagine packing a suitcase for vacation. You make careful use of every nook and corner of the bag, You congratulate yourself on your efficiency. While on holiday, you buy a bunch of souvenirs, as well as a change of clothes to suit a change in the weather. Then, for the return trip you have to get everything into that one suitcase — y’know, the one that was full when you left home.
That’s where we are right now.
It was January 6th when we last went through the process of stowing our stuff, driving across the campground and refilling propane. Smudge joined us the following day, and her kennel now occupies a big chunk of floor in the middle of the galley. Plus we have a healthy back-stock of beverages (in cases), a printer (still in the box) that Deb bought for tax season, bags of her summer clothes retrieved from storage… et cetera, et cetera.
Moving the rig means pulling in the slides, and that’d be like closing an overstuffed suitcase. We definitely could get it done, maybe by tossing our excess shit into the bed of the Silverado, but the drill would be ten times the pain in the ass it usually is. We also have to retract the awnings and take down the flag. Get our outdoor furnishings out of the way. Park the truck and the Jeep on a vacant campsite. Disconnect water, sewer, electric and cable… et cetera, et cetera.
And then pitch camp all over again when we’re done. All while wrangling three dogs, not two.
We don’t want to deal with that — any of it. If that makes us lazy, fine.
I checked the weather forecast — tonight’s low will be 21°F. Tomorrow night we’re looking at 28°F. After Monday morning we’ll be above freezing as far as the eye can see, maybe until fall. If there’s still a whiff of LP in the tank (and there may well be, given the gauge’s notorious unreliability), it’d have to fire one furnace for about 15 hours tonight and maybe eight hours tomorrow night. We’ll supplement with electric space heaters regardless.
We’re gonna risk it. At worst it’d be a matter of discomfort, not danger. No pipes would burst. No systems would suffer damage, We’ll be fine.
So yes, we changed our minds again. And as usual, our crazy life revolves around weather and dogs.
This morning Deb found something cool for us to look forward to — she came across a map released by NASA a few days ago, showing where the next two solar eclipses will be visible across the continental US. It displays the path of an annular (partial) solar eclipse in October of 2023 and that of a total eclipse April of 2024.
The first will track across the American Southwest. The second, however, passes right over Arkansas.
I zoomed in on the highest-resolution map NASA offered. I compared it to the best map of Arkansas I could find, checking for lakes and other landmarks within the “path of totality.”
I don’t buy green bananas, but I can tell you exactly where I’ll be between 1:30pm and 2:30pm on Monday, April 8th, 2024 — on the front porch of our house in Marion County, Arkansas. The Mountain will be in the path of a total solar eclipse.
We’ll be on the northern edge of the path of totality. I saw a near-total (but classified as annular) solar eclipse while visiting (conservative) friends on Martha’s Vineyard in November of 1994, and I’ve never forgotten how eerie it was. The 2024 experience should be even more chilling.
With no propane run to occupy us today, we checked with our contractor to see if work had resumed on The Mountain, He confirmed that it had indeed, and he urged us to come on over and see what they were up to. We were on the road a half-hour later.
As we rolled up the north driveway, it was obvious immediately that this would be one of those big days. They’d been at it with a backhoe-driven rock hammer, excavator and skid-steer for several hours already, and progress was evident and striking — there was a well-defined hole where our house will be.
We chatted with the two-man crew awhile before letting them get back to work. We hung out with Deb’s cousin as he swapped the rear end in his latest project truck, then around 4:30pm we swung by the worksite on our way out.
What we saw took our breath away.
This was what we’ve been hoping to see for months now. We’re beyond thrilled.
It was around 8pm this evening when I got a string of text messages from our contractor — after dark, and they were still hammering away. He sent me a photo taken from his perch on the excavator.
“Beautiful sunset,” he said. “This is my happy place.”
P.S.: Amid the excavation debris, Deb uncovered an amazing fossil. It was an awesome day for a drive. And Smudge had a great time.
P.P.S: Deb found this spot completely by accident yesterday while browsing Yellville on Google Maps — it’s called, officially, “Slick as Snot Water Crossing.” Totally not kidding. Look it up.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.