That evening, more than two inches of freezing rain would fall on that part of Arkansas knocking out power and laying waste to thousands of trees as they split apart and collapsed in the weight. My parent's cabin is near the top of the mountain and all the roads leading away were solid sheets of ice. The cabin had a gas stove for heat so we were able to stay warm but all meals were cooked on the camp stove. It would be three days before the roads would begin to thaw and I was able to make my way down the mountain over numerous downed power lines, removing trees along the way and make it to clearer roads. I would spend half of day creeping north through largely deserted towns and roads before I finally found ones clear of ice. The first time I stopped for gas, I had to chip an inch of ice off my gas cap just to get it open. The first time I reached forty miles per hour, the car started shaking so violently, I had to stop and hammer the several inches of ice that had accumulated on the hubs to "rebalance" my tires. It would be a week and a half before the ice sheath that covered my car had completely melted and with my small engine and significantly added weight, gas mileage sucked. My brother, who was living year-round at that cabin at the time, would go another two and a half weeks before power would be restored. Indeed it had been one heck of an ice storm.
It took me thirty hours of driving to get back home on a drive that normally takes me only twelve hours. Other than being a couple days late to work, all was well and I had not only survived the ordeal but also had enjoyed it greatly. However, it turned out to be one of the last times I would see Dick. The following summer he was diagnosed with brain cancer. I would see him once more the next winter over the holidays and it was painful to see him stripped of his hair and muscle mass from chemotherapy and sitting in a chair that was hard for him to get out of by himself. A few months later, just a little over a year since our Buffalo River trip, he was gone.
Dedicated to Dick
We miss you