When one from California thinks of the Ozarks we imagine dudes in overalls, moonshine, and rednecks. After ten days of living here, I can say, two out of three ain’t bad, y’all!
It’s been ten days since I moved into my new home in the Ozarks and people are amazed that I’m not having more culture shock than I am. To be fair, I was born in Nebraska but moved to California when I was three. We visited family in Nebraska through my teenage years, but Nebraska ain’t the Ozarks.
Moving from Long Beach, CA where it was a mere four miles to the Pacific Ocean, and my favorite bike path to a town of 4,400 forty-five minutes south of Springfield, MO, where my house is literally right across the lake from the home of fake Vegas, Branson, is quite a change of pace, but to be quite honest, so far I love it.
I call Branson fake Vegas because the city is full of shows including the Baldknobbers and Vegas reject, illusionist “extraordinaire” Rick Thomas, but wuthout the gambling and excessive on-street drinking.
One would figure that with the
mauling forced retirement of Siegfried and Roy, a magician with old-school orange tigers would do well in Sin City, but apparently not.
Everywhere I go people stare at my purple goatee, and I get why, though some tend to stare a bit too much. One person asked me if I did it on purpose. I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I could go for the full smart ass answer, the basic smart ass reply or simply walk away. I chose door number two and just said, “Well, I didn’t wake up one morning, look in the mirror and find it purple.”
People inevitably ask me why I would move from California to Missouri and I have a very simple answer. I really enjoy the nature in the area, the cost of living is overwhelmingly less here than in California and there are far fewer pretentious a-holes here. (No one reading this from CA is included in that aforementioned demographic).
Now some will argue that of course there are fewer “holes” here because there are fewer people here, but I ran the numbers and figured that when you do the math the number of jerks per capita is still less. I even tried discarding those from The OC in my calculations and still found that people are nicer here.
Why do I love it here? There are several reasons.
1. It’s the home of one of my favorite writers, Mark Twain. In fact, Twain hangs with me every day (literally) and gives me inspiration. I also have a quote on another wall from another fav author, Ernest Hemingway. It says, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”
Since it’s shortly after nine am and since I’ve only been here ten days, I’ve chosen to write sober today. At least I’m starting out that way. No promises on my status by the end of the post.
2. There’s actual nature here.. Trees (not just the ones in the El Dorado Park Nature Center), lakes, rivers, caves, hiking trails and fishing are all here in abundance. If I wanted to, I could hop in my car and within ten minutes be floating in a lake, hiking some beautiful trails or simply sit at an overlook and enjoy the view of Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and more trees than even the Rain Man could count.
3. For the most part, people here are awesome. I say. “for the most part.” because I have met a couple people that I’d love to send to the Sunshine State, but other than those people, I’ve met some very friendly and great people. I’ve already made a couple friends and even hooked up with another writer, Josh, editor of State of the Ozarks online magazine, to do a little work.
4. There really is moonshine here and it doesn’t come from stills hidden in the barns of pig farms. I haven’t seen it being distilled, but since it;s a legit business I would guess that the distillers aren’t shirtless and wearing overalls with one buckle undone. Yes, that’s using a stereotype, but let’s be honest, stereotypes can be funny.
There’s a moonshine shop near my house with a tasting bar. They make something like fifteen flavors and I’ve tried them all. I have half a bottle of Orange Creme in my fridge and I sent a Mason jar of sweet tea ‘shine to my friend, Johnny T back in Virginia and he loved it so much he said the bottle is empty only two weeks after receiving it.
Do I miss the beach? Absolutely. There’s not much I like more than taking the dog to the dog beach at the Huntington Cliffs and letting them run free for the mile of dog-friendly sand. I also miss going to the Harbor House with my former hockey players T-Money, Kai and their family, but I have those great memories and now it’s time to start making new memories in my new home.
Cheers to everyone in California who enriched my life and here’s to my new homies around my new home who will hopefully make this a great life in the Ozarks.