June 24, 2021

At Last, a Visit to the Ozark Hilton

Timothy Birdnow

Since my wife has been ill I've pretty much been a homebody; no going out except to shop or to doctor's appointments. I've had to be on hand in case my wife needed anything - and had to make sure she was fed and comfortable. It's been a greulling time, to put it mildly.

But she's getting there, and has been able to get out of bed for stretches sufficient for her to feed herself, so I've had a bit more liberty.

I needed to get down to the Ozark Hilton. I finally went the day before yesterday.

It's been over eight months since my last visit. I was worried my "driveway" was going to be blocked by fallen trees. It's BEEN blocked by fallen trees, but near the cabin and so I've been able to come and go as needed with little inconvenience. But I feared a blockage further up, which would put me in a pickle if I couldn't get the truck turned around (something not easy to do down there.)

I missed the turn; the drive was overgrown and invisible from the road. I had to make a couple of extra runs to find it (it doesn't help that my vision does not surpass that of Mr. Magoos.) But the road was clear until the blockage (which I will deal with one of these days.)

Of course I had to schlep my stuff around the fallen tree, which meant bushwhacking and risking the perils of unseen holes in the ground (I've fallen several times stepping in them; they are covered by leaves.) And I had to fear ticks and chiggers off the main drag.

But they were light (at least ticks; I still don't know about chigger bites, which take days to appear.) I found two ticks on me yesterday when I came home, both black ticks, and pulled them off with little difficulty.

The weather people have been saying this was going to be a very bad season for ticks, but I didn't see any of the little red ones, my main enemies down at the luxury resort.

In fact, the forest looked like late August or September; it was rather brownish with little growth and a kind of dry look about it - hardly what one expects from Late June in the Ozarks. I suppose it's the lack of rain. That may explain why I was little troubled by any bugs; no wasps, no biting "no see" bugs, no moths, nada.

But I did have a problem; the roof over the porch had blown off.

Rats.

It's not that big a deal; I had never really secured that, because I had to wait to see if it would leak and perhaps adjust things. It leaked, and I wanted to repair it, but I had been attacked by wasps (who stung me up) when trying to build the bloody thing in the first place and by the time I was sure it wouldn't keep the rain off my pointy little noggin I was pretty much out of time. So I left it for this year, which never really arrived.

But that was o.k. because there was still an overhang and the rafters supporting it are still there. I will just have to find the time to repair the place down the road. I didn't want to leave too early because I wanted to make sure Cathy was cared for before I split town. I allotted just enough time to do gross repairs if absolutely needed.

Otherwise the cabin was in good shape. A few of the boards I sided it with were coming loose, but nothing worse.

Inside was pretty rough though, as the rodent population seems to have partied hearty in my absence. I saw a lot of rat droppings - not mouse - which bothers me to no end as I don't want to catch Hanta Virus or some such. The droppings were all over, big black pellets I had to sweep up (and no doubt inhaled some of the dust from them.

My easy chair, which I keep covered with trash bags for just this reason, had pellets on it too. When I took the bags off there was a big stain; I fear a rat got under the bag and whizzed on my chair! I had to flip the cushion over (and flip it back when I left) so as not to be sitting in rat pee. I hate all rodents, be they mice, rats, or bats.

So I spent a lot of my time sweeping and cleaning up the mess. They drag a lot of leaves and other debris in with them for nesting material.

They also like whiskey and cigars, and I found an empty bottle of Rebel Yell acting as support for a proto-nest, along with a couple of chewed through Dutchmasters. They throw one heckuva party when I'm gone!

At any rate, I cleaned up after the big gala and took some time to just sit in the sun (as I just about glowed; my skin is white as chalk since I've gotten absolutely no sun this year) and the heat felt good. The temperature was, of course, simply glorious!

I had to spend a lot of time getting my kerosene lamps serviced and lit. I had brought batteries down for one of my electric lanterns but it didn't work when I put them in; I fear the old light has just given up the ghost. But I had plenty of light nonetheless.Still, I'm down to just three kerosene lanterns and four table lamps, which
is an absolute minimum, and those are getting pretty rough. I'm going to have to buy some new ones. I lost one lantern too when cleaning the globe; it shattered in my hand and I was really lucky to not get cut. You can light those things without a globe, but they tend to flare up and blow out. Usually once the glass is gone you may as well buy a whole new one; they only cost a few dollars, after all (I buy the cheap ones, not the expensive $40 dollar jobs.)

After that I said outside until after sunset. Some sort of monster shrieked in the distance; a bird of some kind let out a terrifying Kaaawww! and flapped what sounded like leathery wings. I would swear it was a pterodaktyl if I didn't know any better! We have some primordial-sounding creatures down there! I once heard something that cooed like a bird then roared like a lion; scared the devil out of me! I think it was a mountain lion but am not sure; I had brought my two cats down with me, as well as my wife (It was my 40th birthday so she sucked it up) and perhaps this was a female cat? At any rate I played it off as normal but it left me shaken.

That big leathery screeching bird did likewise.

I really need to bring a gun down there with me. I somehow don't think a kitchen knife of an ax will cut it if the place ever turns all Jurassic Park on me. And Bear Mountain is just across the valley from my humble little trash heap.

Which is what it looks like when you sit there; I've got a LOT of stuff needing to be hauled away, burned, or otherwise used.

At any rate, I sat until it got too cold to sit outside then moved into the cabin and watched episodes of Lost on my portable DVD player. (I have the box set of the old t.v. series.)

I went to sleep and woke up freezing, despite having a blanket. I was going to go into the other room (which was dark) but it was almost sunrise so toughed it out, shivering in the dark. I was going to get an early run at going home but every time I got out from under the blanket I was dissuaded; it was FREEZING out there! Eventually the sun climbed high enough in the sky to warm it up and I was able to pack up. I had to use the "facilities" though, which is never pleasant down there; they consist of some cinder blocks and a toilet seat I keep in the cabin. Luckily the flies didn't come; to those big black flies that is a feast of rare delight, and they usually start the banquet before I have finished. Oh, and they will bit my big white darrier if I don't get out of the way in time. But its better than nothing. I'll find my droppings have disappeared by my next visit; fresh poo is always welcome to the residents of my little forest home.

So I headed home without incident. I probably won't get back there for a while, so I hope everyone enjoyed this latest installment in the Ozark Hilton saga.

(BTW for those reading these for the first time the Ozark Hilton is a cabin I built in the middle of the woods from old scrap lumber and other trash. It's a trash palace; two rooms heated by an oil drum fireplace, no electricity, no running water - in fact all water is in a rain-barrell or lugged down there by me, and no other convenience whatsoever. But it does provide a roof over my head and warmth if I light a fire. The accommodations are, uh, rustic.)

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:08 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 1591 words, total size 9 kb.

1 Ah, Timothy, ye're a regular Daniel Boone, you are. If you have a problem with rodent droppings, and worried about inhaling the dust as you're sweeping them up, I'd suggest you wear one of the otherwise-useless COVID-19 masks. Those things have to be good for something!

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at June 24, 2021 10:01 PM (usxcn)

2 Yeah; I thought of that Dana. I have been so happy to be rid of them though that I put the notion out of my head. 

I hope my black ratsnake friend comes by for a visit soon; I need some pest control help down there, clearly.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at June 25, 2021 06:51 AM (uRwTJ)

3 Well, if you didn't do anything to make him feel unwelcome, he just might come back. Assuming he didn't meet with foul play somewhere after leaving you.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at June 26, 2021 10:48 PM (aTfFy)

4 I hope he returns. I did kick him when I first discovered the fellow, and that can hurt a guy's  feelings. I didn't know it was a snake at that point; I had gone into the "inner cabin" and saw something on the floor and kicked it to see what it felt like. It was heavy. I went for a flashlight and beamed it on the old boy and saw that big black snake. He left as soon as he felt it was safe to do so (after I left him alone.)

Also, I had to do some nailing and I heard a thwap! thwap! I read later that those kinds of snakes will beat their tails much like a rattler when they are disturbed.

So I guess I bothered him a bit. I hope not so much that he doesn't come back; he made a quiet and courteous house guest.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at June 27, 2021 07:28 AM (U7nOT)

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