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