Monday evening (Sept. 28), as I enjoyed the accoutrements of my mobile apartment in Camelot, I had no thoughts on where I would end up Tuesday night. Setting out from Vicki’s Monday morning, the only destination I had clearly in mind was lunching with a friend in Mountain View, Arkansas, on Thursday, October 1st, after which Louise and I would traverse the final 50 miles of my trek back home.
Thus I got out my road maps for Arkansas and Missouri… the paper & ink variety that take up half of your berth when spread open <smile>… and I looked at what sorts of ‘points of interest’ I might visit along my way.
I recalled, from my drive to St. Louis, signage which promoted Mammoth Spring, and that my mom, Anna Mae, had (when I was a child) referenced this place as one that she and my dad, Gerald Edward, had visited… perhaps on their honeymoon…??? Or a vacation…??? Or coincidental to a visit with relatives who, as I understood it, lived in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas…???
Or perhaps when my dad was stationed, with the Army, at a base in Missouri…???
All I know for sure is that all of these things brought my mom and dad to this region several times before I was born. And that my mother always spoke fondly of these memories… which I deemed ‘reason enough’ to make a visit to Mammoth Spring State Park.
Examining my maps in contemplation of a course from Mammoth Spring to Mountain View, I noticed that Cherokee Village – home to long-long-time friends Ruth & Larry – was right along the way.
This brought to mind a virtual tsunami of recollections, from whence we first met (through our respective work with the Ozark Small Farm Viability Project nearly 25 years ago), through the mega-support they generously gave when the kids’ dad nearly died (1993) and our family of six was suddenly indigent, on to the present day with them preparing to relocate from their home of nearly 20 years in Cherokee Village to the great state of California where they, who are roughly ten-years my senior, will be in close proximity to daughterly kin.
So I called… And Ruth was elated to hear from me. How propitious, she said, that I could stop by to visit right at this moment in time, because she and Larry had set a closing date for the sale of their house and, true to her promise, she was about to get in touch with me so we could get together before they left the state.
And of course, she said, I would be warrmly welcome to camp in their driveway overnight… It was absolutely wonderful for me to visit, and they would be looking forward to my arrival which I estimated would be somewhere around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon.
The route I chose (east on U.S. 160 from Poplar Bluff to Alton, then south, ending up on U.S. 63 into Cherokee Village) was about 110 miles, which I allowed myself 4 hours to travel since I needed to make a provisioning stop for milk, bread, eggs, ice and few other things on the list of stuff I wanted to add to inventory before I overnighted again, anywhere.
Because one of the things known all along but quickly realized anew when the reality of the moment setts in, is that once you are settled into a site – whether it is boondocking in a friend’s backyard or with full hook-ups at an RV park – you simply cannot ‘run to the store’ at the drop of a hat to get whatever you ran out of or forgot…. you just don’t want to… it is too much trouble (at least for me) in terms of maximizing my own personal enjoyment of the moment, delivering too little happiness in return for the stamina I have to investment <lol>…!!!
Still, I do not enjoy ‘doing without’… thus my penchant for preparedness.
The drive was a joy and a pleasure, traveling on winding, hilly and mostly 2-lane blacktop, through a landscape of farms, rural communities, small towns and pastoral views. Autumn colors having not yet taken hold, green was the predominant roadside hue, with the sky overhead radiating such a dazzling blue that I just wanted to drink it all in and saturate myself with it.
Overall, this journey was deliciously uneventful… even though I did manage to get turned-around with directions a couple of times… but hey… such should be the worst problem I ever encounter in life <grin>.
Selecting the precise spot to park when I arrived at Ruth & Larry’s proved to be a bit challenging. The paved driveway, which was generously offered, was sloped too much for my personal comfort and the road in front of their house (which was level) was narrow with no shoulder to speak of. Finally, I determined that I could perhaps straddle a ditch between the road and their front yard, which – with my hosts’ permission and after checking to make sure the ground was firm – I did, and it worked out fine.
That is, I managed to park level enough so that if I wanted to cook an egg I would not have to keep chasing it off one side of the frying pan…. but alas, things were off-kilter enough that I did not feel comfortable running the 3-way fridge on propane – which is a glorious option and works perfectly when things are level… but that I am unwilling to operate when the vehicle is, so to speak, a quarter-bubble off plumb.
Our visit that evening, shared over a delicious meal prepared by Ruth, included the company of a mutual friend, Suzy, who I’ll tell tall tales about in the next installment of this missive. Our conversations were warm, laced with funny stories, friendly and enlightening. One of those ‘good times was had by all’ happenings that roll merrily through our lives..
I retired, bone weary, around 11pm and the next morning, having brewed coffee on the propane stove in the old percolator and enjoyed a second round of brown-rice with scrambled egg, around 10am my leisurely visit with Ruth & Larry resumed.
And I must say here that I find this to be the most luxurious part of the whole RVing experience… that I can, given merely a fairly level parking space, ‘house guest’ at someone’s home without having to invade their space or consume their resources… that I can, during our visit, take care of my own personal wants and needs (ie: scrambled egg with brown rice) without being an inconvenience or imposition to them… Yet we can, for a span of time, be neighbors and visit. Share a few laughs. Give each other some (((hugs))), and then wander along our respectively merry ways.
Having now experienced this fabulous luxury of ‘bringing my own accommodations’ — well, let’s just say that it is the only way to fly… and that Wednesday morning was definitely a first-class ride…!!!
Larry, who has for a while been experiencing some unpleasant things with his health (which is part of the ‘why’ they are relocating) was in a wonderfully chipper mood and over the course of a couple of hours, he and Ruth and I ‘solved all the world’s problems’ regarding the general state of the economy, the instability of wall street, gun control, sex offender registration, the state of health care, the good vs bad of immunizations, and …. well, you get the picture.
A man of considerable intellectual prowess retired from a successful professional career who, when his health supported it, vigorously enjoyed golf, fishing, and creating beautiful furniture from cast-off wood, Larry now spends much of his time relaxing, watching TV and communing with the families of birds that visit the feeder viewable through the couple’s living room picture window.
Just before noon, Louise and I followed them in their auto up, down, around and through the maze of intersections from their home to the City Center, where they had an appointment to keep and I would head-out on day-6 of my roving adventure… which this time I had determined would take me through the tiny-town of Violet Hill (roughly 30 miles south of Cherokee Village) for a visit with (previously mentioned) friend Suzy… and which is where I shall pick up this story, next time I write.
In the interim, please accept my most heartfelt thanks for the warm-fuzzies shared with me by those who have been reading my Maiden Voyage notes. It is rewarding to know that the words I have written somehow sing sentiments and ideas which in some way resonate favorably and harmoniously with others – be you close family members, yet-to-be-met cousins, new or long-time friends.
I feel that an apology is incumbent upon me, for failing to thank each of you more personally and directly… but alas, even in my age of retirement, it seems to be increasingly challenging to get done everything that I want to do… no matter how much I want to do it…!!! So I’ll just say thanks muchly for all the the warm fuzzies and that I look forward to our paths meeting for a real-time visit, soon… (((hugs))) ~Christine