June 29, 2022

A Good Day at the Ozark Hilton

Timothy Birdnow

Some days everything just comes together.

I had such a day on Monday when I visited that most apart of places (as in falling apart), the fabled Ozark Hilton.

Yes, gather round boys and girls; it's time for the latest installment of the Ozark Hilton tales.

First, the weather was magnificent, a rarity here in Missouri in late June. Humidity was low, and the temperatures never spiked above the mid eighties. Skies were clear and blue (save a few small cottonball clouds dotting the skies, and a couple of long stringy vapors that almost resembled contrails but were clearly clouds.) I was grateful; I had work to do at the OH and I like to not sweat through my clothes, especially when walking from the car.

I got a reasonable start, not too early and not too late. That is important to me; too early and I poop out in the afternoon, needing a nap (something not exactly doable down there) or I overdo it and wind up stiff as a corpse the next day (and looking like one.) I try to time things so I am fresh and yet don't overwork.

So off I went in late morning. It's a three hour trip to Cramalot (it's crammed full) and so the long journey commenced.

Uneventfully. I made a very quick stop at the store and to gas up and then was on my way.

I DID have to stop at my usual weight station and outhouse, though. The Birdnow Memorial Outhouse is a regular break for me, but as I pulled up some woman walked up and went into it! The impertinence! Doesn't she know this is reserved strictly for MY use!

I was forced to drive across the road to another outhouse, one reserved for the hoi polloi. That was not right; I have squatters' rights on my hole in the ground - literally!

Ah well...

At any rate the drive was uneventful and soon I was coming to the "road" to my grand estate. It is always overgrown, but a dearth of rain made it visible at any rate. If there is lots of rain overgrowth makes it disappear and I have to say a Hail Mary before making a turn on what could wind up being a drive into wilderness woods.

At any rate the turn was clear and I even was able to avoid the spike trap that had caught me last time (someone plowed over a mile marker sign I used to use to find the turn when it was overgrown, and the sign is gone but the post remains - bent over near the ground. It blew out my tire last visit when I accidentally hit it. But it's not really visible from the overgrown grass there, and I'll have to dig it up to get rid of it.)

I drove down to the roadblock. I was having some trouble keeping to the road; lack of visits have seen the road get a little overgrown and I struggled to avoid driving off on some dead trail. But I came to the blockage, a good sized fallen tree.

I had been feeling a bit clumsy that day. I wasn't thrilled with trying out my new chainsaw. Many a man has lost life and limb using a chain saw while clumsy. I'm attached to all my appendages; my mother gave them to me, after all.

So I took out a new cross-cut saw I had purchased. I had been sawing with a hand saw down there, a very old and dull handsaw, and whacking with a very dull ax.

The new saw was amazing! I was through the part I had been working on it less than half an hour. I went to another section, a thinner section, and was through that in another half hour. In one hour I had the road cleared! I had spent hours trying to clear it with my dull tools previously.

It was a joy to be able to just pull right up to the cabin. I still have a road block; another fallen tree (this one much thicker) that will require a chainsaw, but at least I can drive around this one adequately.

I unloaded easily, being just 20 feet from the old shack rather than the football field distance before.

My front door was open again, but not much. I suspect some critter had pushed it open. It had been dangling from one screw on one hinge - the rest had all fallen off somehow - and I hadn't had it in me to fix it last time. So I repaired it properly; I didn't have any screws but had some 1.5 inch threaded nails, which worked fine. I had the door back up and working in no time. A little bit off, but close enough for government work (especially the current government, which couldn't even drive a nail if it had to).

By now I was a bit tired. I lack stamina these days.

So I planted myself on my porch and relaxed.

It was quiet there, more so than is usual. No ticks either (thank the good Lord) although I did get a few chigger bites, as is becoming evident now.

But the animals were quiet. Few bird sounds or anything else. I sat on my porch until sunset (getting my kerosene lamps serviced and lit) and then past sunset. Where were my armadillo friends? Usually they come out at dusk for a snack.

Eventually I heard one come out. I had only seen one the last time too; I hope his or her mate didn't die. They used to always come in pairs. But this time it was just one, a very large shelled critter. He was quiet, too, which is unusal; they usually make a lot of noise as they really aren't adapted to life in the woods, being desert and grassland creatures. But this fellow was very quiet and he was only visible for a short time.

I wish him well. Hope his wife is still around. It's sad to think of him losing his life partner, even if she has a face only a mother could love and a body covered with shell.

Once the sun went down it got pretty darned chilly. I put on a shirt (I usually go shirtless down there because I can and I get a modest exposure to sun when the trees blow or whatnot) and then put on a jacket. I started shivering, so went inside.

It was comfortable enough inside; the kerosene lights put out a fair amount of heat. Bad on hot days, but fine in this sort of weather, true sleeping weather. I went into the "inner cabin" for a blanket. Some critter had made quite a mess in there. It was clearly not another visit from a person; only a varmint would knock this kind of stuff over or overturn my blankets and the like.

I imagine it got in through the floor, which I never did have properly sealed.

So many things on that cabin need proper finishing. I had so many big plans for it, but congestive heart failure threw a monkey wrench in all of that. It makes me sad the place will never be done. I wanted to build a screened porch/kitchen, and have the bones of it but nothing else. I wanted a big storage shed, and to clear out the cabin. I wanted a better heating system. I wanted a good cistern filled by gutters. But none of that has happened and now won't.

But it still pleases me to have what I have there.

At any rate, I stuck in a move and sat in my easy chair. I bring down a portable DVD player and a 12 volt battery to run it well past the factory battery charge. If I have it plugged in correctly it will run all night! I watched some video for hours after going in - right up until 3 a.m. when fatigue overcame me. I stay up late when I go there; I want the experience to last. I can watch movies anywhere, but there is something special about watching them in the wilderness.

I used to bring books down and read. I can't see well enough to read anymore at the best of times, and the low light level there would make it utterly impossible. I really miss reading! But it is what it is, and I have to adapt. My eyesight isn't going to get any better.

And so I awoke, used my cinder block toilet (self-cleaning; the animals think they've hit on a five star dining experience when they find my gift to them) and packed up for home.

A little trouble with the door; it would close but was easily pushed open. I'm going to have to do something about that. At worse put a hook latch on it. Don't want the critters opening it and making themselves at home.

It was a pleasant drive home, and the time past quickly. I was glad; I was very tired and longing for my lazy boy/bed. I've taken to sleeping in that since my wife's illness. I am actually happy to sleep there; my back feels much better than when I sleep in our bed.

At any rate, I came home, unloaded, and studied the back side of my eyelids for four hours after.

As always a visit to the Ozark Hilton is a refreshing, happy affair. Granted, the problems that arise make for great storytelling, but even then I am always so relaxed there and enjoy everything. Problems are not odious but rather they become puzzles. The peace of that place is something I just couldn't do without.

I'm going to miss that place so very much when I can no longer drive. It will be a sad, sad day.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 09:36 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1671 words, total size 9 kb.

1 Still waiting to hear that you've used your new chainsaw one of these days. Have you powered it up yet? I'd recommend you try it out at home before you get into a situation where you need it.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at June 29, 2022 12:23 PM (rDOKo)

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