It’s been Damn Cold up here in the Frozen “Bold” North, as the hypemiesters are trying to re-brand this desolate patch of the continent.
So cold that I hadta yump inta the car and skedaddle South for a week or so just to thaw my frigid bones.
For the past week and a half I’ve been south of the Mason-Dixon line, literally hugging the Mizzou-Arkansas border in the Ozark mountains – an area I had never visited before.
Some unsolicited observations follow, but if you’ve read this far ya may-as-well stick it out to the end.
The natural beauty of the area is positively stunning. Most of my mountain experiences have been in the Rockies with a brief trip through the Appalachians many, many years gone bye, so this was a truly unexpected treat.
Driving in from El Norte what you notice about the Ozarks is you don’t notice them until you are in them. No majestic peaks on the horizon that keep drawing inperceptibly closer as you approach. Quite different than the drive west toward Wyoming’s Bighorn range, for example.
The Ozarks are subtle mountains. The highway in is flat and straight then suddenly it isn’t. Like the Black Hills, the place appears to be a Serious Biker’s Paradise with twisting roads, steep valleys and gorgeous vistas in unexpected spots.
Most of the people I talked to struck me as overtly polite and too damn happy.
Talk about Instant Culture Shock.
At first I attributed this to being recognized as a Yankee Rube, an easy mark who could be counted on for effortless separation of moola from wallet. But after a while I came around to the position that these hillbilly rednecks (said with fondness and a wink) are just Nice People.
Another cultural observation: in Minneapolistan being surrounded by bearded men and women wearing head coverings means you are in Little Mogadishu. On the Mizzou-Arkansas line it means you’ve run into folks of an Olde Tyme Christian persuasion.
On the weather front, I was told they were having a Cold Spring; temps most days in the 50’s and half of them overcast.
To me it was Tahiti.
When ya visit ya gotta get out and look around some. I took plenty of drives and plenty of hikes, some of them purty dang vigorous hill & valley scrambles. (Thank God for ibuprofen.)
I was determined to take in the Ozark nightlife as well, so Branson’s “Ozark Vegas” strip beckoned with scads of country, bluegrass and gospel music.
I loved it.
Back home I live in a place where when The Neighbors want a Total Cultural Immersion Experience they head off to Costa Rica or Cuba; the tale of my sojourn to Deplorable Red America has thus far been greeted with incredulity and quizzical WTF? looks.
Finally the morning of The Long Drive Home dawned. Twenty nine degrees, a dusting of snow on the ground and a skating rink parking lot.
Had to leave a meteorological calling card.
But at least it melts Down There.
The forecast for Minny this coming weekend is 4 to 8 inches of snow and temps in the middle teens.
And to add insult to injury, The Folks Around Here won’t even credit Trump for stopping Global Warming…