gozarks.com weblog

Today is the present… be the gift.

Master Plan June 6, 2016

Fourteen month ago (aka: April 2015, about two months into my recovery from death) I contrived a ‘master plan’ with a multi-prong purpose. Aside from the obvious of getting my affairs in order, I set my sights on recreating my life; making my surroundings most amenable to me; doing things I always wanted (but never had time) to do.

Thus the necessity to ‘clear the decks’, take stock, and renegotiate (with myself) what is ‘important’ to me… and what is not. Which, as I have pursued various means of ‘downsizing’, has provoked me to ponder the proverbial question: “What’s it all about?”

Why do we ‘do’ whatever we do? What makes one thing more interesting or important or worthwhile than another? And what it all comes down to for me is that once you have the comfort of a decent place to live and the security of knowing that you may reside there for as long as you wish and will always have sufficient nourishment, the only thing that makes anything truly worthwhile is feeling the warm-fuzzies that flow from convivial companionship.

shop05_060316

Front entrance to the artisan workshop and gallery that my daughter and I put together so we could ‘yard sale’ our trash & treasure .

And for these last many months I have had the joy of working with my youngest daughter on a (HUGE) project: to de-clutter, reorganize and convert my backyard garage (pictured above) into the artisan workshop and gallery I’ve dreamed of since the day we moved to this household a decade ago.

shop04_060316

Our yard sales have become popular with our neighbors who often consign clothing, books, and housewares to our yard sale.

We closed the shop over the winter, but reopened this past Sunday (June 5, 2016).

shop01_060316

Our newly reorganized yard sale shop.

Though I know it may not look like it, the way we now have things set up, the left side of the above area now rather easily converts to 8′ x 12′ artisan workshop with workbench including table saw (not pictured) which are along the left wall, behind the hanging clothes.

shop02_060316

Fancy dishware, athletic bags, home furnishings, hair curlers, school desks and gift baskets are among the ever-changing processional of oddities, goodies, and collectibles that parade through our gallery.

My daughter has dubbed the shop “Shaundeli” — and you can see more of the stuff we offer on our Facebook Page. We are planning now for the 4th of July weekend and invite you to come by for a visit and maybe to join us in a game of horsehoes…!!!

Because, like I said, it’s really all and only about the warm-fuzzies… <smile>

Anyway, the following pic is of the completed dinette-booth I created in the mid-cabin of my RV, which I initially set-up about 3 weeks ago save for the detailing, ie: since then I have fabricated and installed a ‘trim & support’ edge for the clear plastic tabletop, covered the (ugly green) cooler with a fabric skirt (which you cannot see in the pic), added a decorative (but durable) cover to the seat cushion, and topped it all off with a nifty decorative pillow.

dinette_complete060616

My mid-cabin dinette.

So… it looks like I am ready for lunch on the road…!!! Now, to figure out just where I want to go…

Anyway, my Japan Chronicles shall continue next time with our visit to Hasedera Temple..(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

 

 

 

Japan Chronicles: Where, What, How. May 9, 2016

Where did you go? What did you eat? And, how was the weather? The top three questions folks ask when we chat about my trip. Thus I start with a couple of maps…

Where in the world is Japan...

Where in the world is Japan…??? Roughly 6000 miles from our home in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, which is well beyond the right horizon of this globe… somewhere south of Canada.

The red-circled region of Japan, on the map above, is shown in close-up, below:

what??

Yokosuka, a thriving cosmopolitan city of about 400,000 residents, is in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan.

While we were there, we went mainly to a lot of places that regular folks who live in Yokosuka would go…

"Blue Street" so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving and the decorative brick-work of the sidewalks that border it.

The shops along “Blue Street,” so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving.

We walked along Blue Street every day, going to the local malls and window-shopping along the way.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

I love the above pic (which shows a snippet of the beautiful sidewalks that border Blue Street) because of the impish and whimsical looks on the faces of both my young men <smile>. which reminded me so greatly of when they were little kids… as did the girls… radiant and smiling as always.

Foods at the mall.

Foods at the mall.

One mall we shopped at had 9 floors of shops. One floor was like a large grocery store, one floor was filled with various bakeries.

Baked treats.

Baked treats.

Everywhere, people were friendly (though we did our best to be respectful and NOT take photos of ‘strangers’ as this is considered rude and offensive in Japan) and the service was super-polite and professional.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

And with appreciation and respect to the folks who happened to be in this photo of Josh, as you may note, we were often the only non-Japanese in the room.

We also dined at the mall, which had several floors devoted to eateries. In the pics below, we are enjoying the fun of an ‘all you can eat’ hibachi buffet.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Simmering below are thinly-sliced strips of beef and pork tongue (in the foreground) and marinated chicken (in the background)

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

The way this ‘all you can eat’ (about $20 per person) buffet worked, you got to order ‘more food’ (from your selected buffet menu) as many times as you could cook it and eat it in 90-minutes.  And there were side-dishes, too… we got some kimchi and some rice and some really creamy ‘mashed potato salad’… which is really big in Japan and served rather routinely, the way we serve coleslaw, in Arkansas.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall's pet store.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall’s pet store.

On another floor of the mall, we visited a pet store, which had pretty-much all the same kinds of puppies, lizards, and hedgehogs that you might find in just about any pet store today. One exception, however, was the tiny frog pictured ‘larger than life’ below, which was barely as big as a quarter and perhaps a distant cousin of the teeny tree-frog that lived for a while in my atrium and whose pic has been my FB icon for nearly a decade.

Tiny frog in pet store.

Tiny frog in pet store.

And on yet another floor of the mall, we strolled through a haberdashery, brimming with things to satisfy the most discriminating tastes of the most elegant and charming men…

Looking kewl...

Looking kewl…

About the weather, the overcast gray sky in the photo below is what we saw most of the time. And it was chilly, except during those joyful moments when the sun peeked out and it would get warm really quick.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Pruned trees, like the one above, line the sides of Blue Street, somewhat aesthetically bridging the gap between the high-rise cosmopolitan character of the city and neighborhood street shops of Yokosuka. I bet the trees look spectacular at the peak of summer.

Until next time (and our tour of two Buddhist Temples)… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Japan Chronicles: Homecoming May 2, 2016

Some of the best advice I ever got was “Start with the End in Mind.” It came, as I recall, from a management training program I attended back in the 1970’s. And, truth be told, to fully appreciate the reality of my present moment, we would have to go back that far and stroll through what all I’ve experienced since (and even prior to) then… and you would also have to be sitting next to me right now, in my bedroom, ensconced through big-window glory by a lush variegation of sun-dappled forest green with the lighthearted hymn of my tiny brook babbling in the background.

ASIDE: Did you know that, as new historians (an oxymoron?) now tell it, the first published author and also the first known person to utilize the phrase “I am” in print – which was a total linguistic anomaly at that time – was a woman. A high priestess, to be exact, who wielded more political clout in her day than did Karl Rove during GW’s administration. But don’t take my word for it… have a gander at “The Ascent of Woman” the next time you Netflix.

Back to the moment, at least for me (as I write), this space/time of here-in-now is pretty-damn perfect: I sit in my grandmother’s old rocking chair (that I reupholstered a few months back), tiny laptop (atop an old – 1930’s? – folding table) at my fingertips, immersed in the stunning beauty of nature, surrounded by an array of (what to me are) interesting, comfortable and somewhat unique accouterments of daily life, sipping fresh coffee (laced with just a touch of Irish Cream <smile>), fresh off a two week sojourn in Japan.

RANDOM NOTE: Add imaginary echo here, in a child-like girlish voice to replicate the lilt of my youngest daughter, Shawna, who is nearing 23, repeating the word as a cadenced mantra — “Japan… Japan, Japan, Japan… J-a-p-a-n” – which grew with daily intensity as we packed and prepared for the trip.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together in our 'trip of a lifetime' family vacation in Japan.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together on our family vacation in Japan.

And the two glorious weeks that we were together there, on a family-outing ‘trip of a lifetime’ were by even my most self-indulgent standards, saturated with decadent luxuries that gave great gobs of simple-pleasures to all involved. Truly amazing on so many levels, rippling through every dimension of life, and for which I am deeply thankful and tremendously appreciative of the good will and generosity of my children, without whom I would not have been able to make this trip… and who (for the most part <smile>) treated me like a queen and endured my persnickety ways with loving good grace and aplomb…

Thank you Adam, Shalom, Josh and Shawna for everything that each of you did to make our time together in Japan so phenomenally enjoyable. And thank you Patty (my eldest)… though you could not join us in Japan, we know you were with us in spirit…

Breakfast, prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son's apartment.

Breakfast — scrambled eggs with two kinds of tiny mushrooms and cheese and garnished with fresh (celery-like) greens, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes and onions and a warm buttered roll — prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son’s apartment as I did my morning computering.

Tales about all of which – from the nightmare of our flight getting there, to our day touring Buddhist temples and including the gastronomical and shopping delights we encountered along our way, I shall relate in dazzling detail  with more splendid photos in coming weeks… <grin>.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were in a 9-story shopping and food mall on in Yokosuka.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were just a few of those that bedecked the hallways of a 9-story shopping and food mall in Yokosuka.

Right now, however, carrying forward the present moment and having elucidated the background harmony which carries the happy tune of my life, perhaps and hopefully you have sensed a glimmer of the awes and wonders that resonate in my little universe… the place where I live… the space where I make my home. And the profound joy that I feel just sitting here, absorbing the moment… super-saturated with the activity of simply being alive. Feeling so tremendously gratified to have — oh, so many years ago — started raising my family with the their successful adulthood clearly in mind.

Anyway, in the scope of my continuing present moments, I see some yard-work in my immediate future.

NOTE: It is phenomenally good to be home.

My youngest son, Josh, with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh's honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us...!!! More about this as my Japan Chronicles unfold...!!! His superiors were VERY complimentary of Josh and also very appreciative that we (his family members) were present for the ceremony because it is such a rarity to have a sailor's kin present for such events. We each were given an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Navy, signed by the Captain of his ship, to thank us for our support of Josh's service to the Navy. And the officers, senior enlisted crew members and his peers were all HUGELY complimentary of Josh... saying to me personally what an outstanding person he is, how great he is to work with and how appreciative they are of having him around.

My youngest son, Josh (front row, 4th from the right), with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh’s honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us…!!! More about this and lots more good news next time, as my Japan Chronicles unfold…!!!

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

gozarks goes mobile February 22, 2016

This morning, immersed in the riverside quietude of Maumelle Park, sipping coffee (lightly laced with Irish Cream), pseudo-watching ‘the news’ on airwaves TV and puffing, occasionally, on a corncob pipe stuffed with “Tin Star Menthol Pipe Tobacco” (yes, I still enjoy the ‘rush’ of nicotine <smile>), I imagined myself to be on the road to Somewhere Else and imagined what I would be doing along the way.

With ‘along the way’ being ‘any place’ that I might like to relax for a week or so as I travel to Somewhere Else…

And with knowing that my travels will be more comfortable by me ‘earning my keep’ as I go…

Thus I thought about what I am good at and would most enjoy doing to accommodate such a mutually beneficial business transaction and decided to simply go mobile with my longstanding credentialed skill-set in graphic design, promotional copy-writing, special event production and strategic marketing… updating or designing new logos, brochures, custom newsletters, website content, display ads, etc. (as was my professional mainstay for decades up until 2011) as I move about from place to place.

So, over the next short while I’m going to put into practice the marketing strategy thus designed <smile>, the first step of which shall be to develop a promotional flier for ‘gozarks goes mobile’… and when I have it done, I’ll pass it along to RV campgrounds along my projected route to Somewhere… which, given I can get all my ducks in a row, will be to Alaska for the summer… wow… wouldn’t that be a hoot…!!!

PS: Here are a couple more pics from my Maumelle Campout… FYI: for more about this darling daughter, click here

shawna_me_louise-22116

Shawna (aka: my youngest daughter), me and (in the background) “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′).

steak_eggs022115

Yes… it all tastes better when kissed by Mother Nature and partaken al fresco… 

 

Maiden Voyage: Happy Endings October 25, 2015

So where we left off, Suzy had delivered me back to Louise and I headed south from Violet Hill with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home to Shirley.

Having checked-out several RV parks online, I’d selected one along my planned route and headed there. But when I arrived, though the office was open, no one ever came to the desk… and there were no instructions for self-check-in.

Also, there was some sort of (very large) ‘demolition fire’ consuming the remains of what had once apparently been a (pretty big) structure, smoldering right across the street… making it unpleasant to breathe and taste the air.

Thus, having spent 20 minutes of daylight doing nothing and wanting to be tucked in before dark, I called the second RV park on my pre-selected list to get exact directions to their location and got a friendly recording telling me to leave my number for a call-back.

That’s when it suddenly dawned on me that in the time I’d spent waiting and doodling around, I could have been half-way home… where I would not have to attend any of the tasks necessary to bed-down comfortably in an RV park for one night. And that the only reason, really, that I wanted to stay in Mountain View was to meet a friend for lunch the next day… which I could still do, by driving back in my car, even if I went home that night.

So I did, feeling rather gratified that I had proven everything I needed to prove to myself, about my own capacity for extended travel, capability to solo-RV and about my vehicle… sweet Louise… which I now knew from first-person experience to be steady, reliable, easy to maneuver, mechanically sound and uniquely comfortable to my pragmatic ideals and eccentric tastes.

I slept rather well in my homebed that night, though a part of me missed my traveling berth. Sometimes life feels like having to choose between rich-creamy vanilla ice cream and deep-dark-chocolate mousse… and knowing that you can have as much as you want of either, but only one at a time…

This cozy corner of my petit-rv serves as my entertainment center, office and dinner table.

This cozy corner in the combo living-room/bedroom of my petit-rv serves as my audio entertainment center, office and dinner table.

It was wonderful to shower in my own sticks-and-brick bathroom, and pull clothes from my large/spacious closets, and get dressed in the luxury of my almost-enormous bedroom with the window-wall overlooking the broad back deck and yard full of autumn-gold trees. Still, there is nothing more convenient than having ‘everything you need’ literally at your fingertips… thus, my tug-of-heart.

Which was what I pondered, at length and in depth, as I headed back to Mountain View that Thursday morning, only this time I was driving my Tib (2008 Hyundai Tiburon); thinking about how much I enjoy my mobility and the great medley of things (projects, events) that I am at my liberty to choose to do and am sometimes blessed to share with friends.

Miriam, who I was meeting for lunch at Jacks Fishing Resort & Jo Jos Catfish Wharf where she works, has been on my ‘friends list’ since 2010 when we met doing advocacy work with a law-reform organization. A vibrant woman with a deep love of family and devout relationship with God, I have always admired her tenacity, forthrightness and pluck.

It had been some time since we’d chatted face to face, and it was good to catch up. She and her husband are doing well, her work keeps her busy and she has not much been involved with advocacy stuff for a while, she said. She asked about several of our mutual advocacy-friends, some of whom neither of us had seen for quite some time, but we shared what we knew. And we had a great time just chit-chatting about various of our mutual interests, such a the health benefits of good nutrition and the amazingly beneficial properties of various herbs and essential oils.

Lunch, by the way (I had the Seafood Platter with breaded deep-fried catfish, shirmp, and clams, baked potato, cole slaw, hushpuppies, baked beans, green tomato relish, and homemade tartar sauce), was beyond delicious. Possibly the best clam strips I’ve had since childhood visits to Howard Johnson’s…!!! Everything – including the beautiful waterfront view and convivial service – was absolutely wonderful and definitely goes on my list of ‘great places to eat’…!!!

I also learned that I could have gotten an RV site there, at the fishing resort, instead of going home the previous night… and have stowed this info for ‘next time’.

Which is where my meandering journal shall pick up with the story of my great adventure at the (amazing!) Workamper Conference  last week (10/20-22/15) while staying at the Dam Site State Park & Campground in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Until next time, a bushel and a peck of happy (((hugs))) ~Christine

————————–

 

Maiden Voyage: Suzy October 17, 2015

Suzy and I have been friends for nearly 15 years. We met when gozarks.com was in its heyday and she contacted me (as editor) with some questions about the region of the Ozarks where I lived as she had a hankerin’ to move.

Suzy's hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed.

Today, Suzy’s reclusive residence in Izard County sports a hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed. Hard to believe this was once a dirt-floored pole barn.

Which she did, to a small (neglected) house on the Middle Fork of the Little Red River that she (amazingly) hand-crafted into a sprightly manifestation of elegant utility, homespun charm and humble grace. Replete with simple touches of user-convenience and common sense, every necessity of living life comfortably was delightfully woven together as an accommodating home.

We lunched there several times over the course of many months, in her charming kitchen, next to the massive stone hearth in her ‘open floor plan’ living room, over which she had hand-carved a mantle to read: “This is my rest forever. Here I will dwell because I desire it.”

The email from Suzy that came with this pic: "This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like,  but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I'd never seen these, until I grew some. I'll save seeds, if you want some."

The email from Suzy, about a month ago, that came with this pic: “This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like, but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I’d never seen these, until I grew some. I’ll save seeds, if you want some.”

Lunch with Suzy was always a delicious treat for me, still being immersed in the parenting and homeschooling of children, the duties of caring for my disabled husbnd, and the breadwinner agenda of a professional work-a-day-world.

To just sit and relax in the company of another intelligent woman, swapping stories of times past and hopes yet to come, was like going on a picnic in a different universe.

Then it came to pass that she was literally flooded out. The river rose terribly high, twice in one season. Her household was decimated both times. And after recovering from the first intrusion, when the second deluge came barely a heartbeat later, she knew it was time to move.

For a while then, she relocated quite near me in the city of Fairfield Bay. But during this time we were both rather busy with other stuff in our respective lives – me, with navigating through a divorce and moving my brood to the abode where I and two of my five adult children continue to reside, and she with similar though different lifestyle evolutions.

We kept in-touch with email and when she announced plans to relocate to a remote chunk of land in Izard County where she would realize her dream to be a self-sufficient homesteader, I celebrated for and with her.

I visited her remote hide-way once, soon after she’d settled in to her bare-bones L-shaped polebarn with a dirt floor. Completely off-grid, water was pulled by the bucket from an ancient hand-dug well, the single working remains of a farmstead that had thrived here, an hundred years ago.

She planned to camp inside the polebarn, which she’d designed, had constructed by a local contractor and equipped with a wood stove, over her first winter while she figured out the parameters of her envisioned home. And now, on my homeward-bound travels, I would be getting a chance to see more than photos of what she had accomplished.

We had, however, determined that it would not be feasible to take Louise up the driveway to Suzy’s abode as it is passable only by vehicles with a lot of undercarriage clearance and quick maneuverability, like the 4-wheel drive pick-up truck she drives. Thus we chose to meet at the local Post Office, which closes at noon and seemed a good spot to park Louise while Suzy ferried me to her home for our visit.

Yes, Suzy does (finally) have 'running water' -- a la the 'gravity flow' system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

Yes, Suzy’s mountain hideaway does now finally have ‘running water’ — a la the ‘gravity flow’ system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

This was a good plan, except for the overhead wires… which I almost (but not quite) learned more than I care to know about, the hard way.

That is, when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that there were some electrical and phone lines high overhead, draped from the top of a tall pole at the front corner of the parking lot, near the street, running diagonally across the parkong lot to the back-rear corner of the building… but factually, I didn’t really give them much thought.

At least not until I got out of Louise, preparing to get in the pick-up with Suzy, and noticed that the low end of the lines were now resting on the upper-front fiberglass roof of my mobile abode.

Thus my next move was to calculate how I might-could backup to be clear of the lines without inadvertently taking them down…

Which I was, ultimately, able to do <smile>… but not without some very careful maneuvering.

And me chastising myself for being so stupid as to having gotten myself into such a fix to begin with – and at the same time congratulating myself for having recognized a potentially bad situation and having figured-out a ‘no harm done’ solution.

Ah-h-h-h… the challenges of RVing….!!!

The short ride back into Suzy’s dominion was every bit as rugged as promised. Had she intentionally constructed some sort of modern gauntlet to keep unwelcome visitors at bay, she could not have done better than Mother Nature’s protruding ‘wash board’ of tree-roots, gaping gullies, dry washes, and jagged terrain.

The 'volunteer' butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy's vegetable-scrap compost and produced a good harvest.

The ‘volunteer’ butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy’s vegetable-scrap compost.

But then, like a mirage in the wilderness, the gentle harmonious homestead she’s sculpted comes into view; unassuming; a simple modern metal-sheathed structure with a pleasant screen porch, surrounded by a patchwork of garden spots, blooming flowers, and running vines.

Step through the unpretentious doorway of this handsome polebarn and enter a custom tailored wonderland of clean lines, well organized structure and methodical fancy.

The walls and towering ceiling of the large L-shaped living area are precisely fitted tongue-and-groove, the masterwork of which one cannot truly tally without knowing that each board was sawed by hand and patiently installed over months of diligent physical pursuit, as was each stone-paver in the hand-laid floor, each plank in the raised woodfloor section areas, and the design of each piece of handcrafted furniture, such as her mini-4-poster bed.

Truly, a testament to what one person can accomplish, alone, with creativity, intelligence and diligence… while living on a fixed (frugal) income, with no electricity, no central heat, no air conditioning and no running water… A living work of art in perpetual motion, beautifully intertwined with the elements of Suzy’s nature.

We spoke of many things, as we always do, and noshed on bagels with cream cheese. We compared notes about how new chapters were opening in our respective lives, enticing and encouraging each of us to explore new horizons, and thus she was doing some deep-seated thinking about what she wanted to do ‘next’.

With many chapters of that conversation yet to come, Suzy delivered me back to Louise and I again headed south with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home. But when I got there, things changed. And that is where my Maiden Voyage saga shall continue and conclude <smile>, next time we chat… Until then, (((hugs))) and happy traveling… ~Christine

Addendum: Subsequent to our visit, Suzy decided to sell her minimalist-mansion on 40 forested acres with natural spring-fed pond. If you’d like to know more, lemme know and I’ll get y’all in touch…!!!

——————————–

 

Maiden Voyage: Friends October 14, 2015

Filed under: COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,RELATIONSHIPS,TECHNOLOGY — gozarks @ 8:56 am
After home from my Maiden Voyage, I took Louise for an oil-change... and finding a local shop that could accommodate 10' of hard clearance was a challenge...!!!

After I got home from my Maiden Voyage (see: Intermezzo), I took Louise for an oil-change… and finding a local shop that could accommodate 10′ of hard clearance was a challenge…!!!

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