Mountain View is a town of a little less than 7,800 souls with somewhere in the range of 40 to 50 churches. It is the county seat of Stone County, which is dry (it was an hour drive for a bottle of wine) and seems to run on music, religion and patriotism. The people we met were welcoming and awesome in their kindness - devoted to church, family and friends.
Nearly two hours later a sweet kid with no tools, no jack, no air, and no knowledge of how to fix or change a flat (he'd only changed them on his Chevy truck and this was a Ford), with a big oxygen tank on the back of his truck showed up. A storm was building, and it was still 105. We got out our tools, jack and instructions and he went to work. The storm hit with a lightening strike nearby that knocked the kid flat. We gazed at all the propane and oxygen tanks around us and went after the problem with renewed energy. The kid finally got the spare on just as the rains started. By the time we hit the Missouri border we couldn't see the road through the rain. We stopped at the first RV park we found, and by the next day we'd made it into the corn fields of Illinois.
We left Mountain View with Della (our navigation system, which sounds like Perry Mason's secretary Della Street) as our guide. She put us on a small, winding, steep road with no turn-arounds – George's knuckles went white and our mileage dipped below 7 mpg. But we tootled along, not paying much attention to where we were when we had a blowout on the truck. We called roadside assistance, but we couldn't tell them exactly where we were until we thought to use Della to get longitude and latitude. They said they'd get right back to us. They called back about a half hour later and said they couldn't find anyone to help in that area (after all, it was Sunday), but they'd keep trying. It was 105 degrees. Pretty soon we had the local Sherriff and the Volunteer Fire Department trying to help get us off the road.The hole in the tire was huge, but they managed to plug it long enough to limp to a nearby propane storage parking lot. Roadside assistance called again and said they'd have someone there in half an hour.
While Texas felt like entering the Midwest, Arkansas felt like entering the American South. We stopped in Hope, where Bill Clinton was born, to get gas and see if it might be a place to stay. It wasn't. It still runs on hope and not much else. When I went in to a local grocery to get dog food while George filled the gas tank, I asked one of the customers if the store might sell wine or beer. "Oh no," she said. "Y'all'd have to git to (a name I couldn't make out, but she said it was a half-hour away in a direction we weren't going). Or you can git it from one of the bootleggers in town." And so began our Arkansas adventure.
It is the home of Jimmy Driftwood who wrote songs like "The Tennessee Stud" and "The Battle of New Orleans" — the last one written to help his grade school students learn history, as were many of his songs. He was a force to be reckoned with when it came to saving and encouraging mountain music and the environment. The Ozark Folk Center State Park and the town itself is a testament to his efforts, and concerts are still held at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn, which is where we heard "Lifelong Dream"(video).
From there we headed for Hot Springs, where Bill Clinton grew up, and everyone from presidents to mobsters came to 'take the waters.' It was pretty, but touristy, so we didn't stay long and from there we headed toward the Ozarks. Ella and I walked up the hill behind the campground and ran into a couple of large, camera-shy red-brown deer.
Quite by accident we ended up in Mountain View, which calls itself the "Folk Music Capital of the World." Is is full of music, with folks playing mountain, gospel, bluegrass and folk music almost every night in the town square, the park and other venues around town mostly for free.
When we first pulled in to Fiddler's Valley RV park, there was only one other rig there (with a couple in their 90s who loved to dance), an old black cat, and no management. When we called, the owner had said that her husband was in the hospital in Little Rock so she wouldn't be there when we pulled in. We never met her. It turned out that the park had been sold, and the new owners, Norma and Eric Colby came a couple of days later. The name of the park is now Court Square RV Park, but it still has jam sessions on Thursday nights and church on Sunday.
These music shots are cheating, since Ella couldn't go in. But she'd greet the folks who came to the RV park for the jam sessions.