Iowa has some of the worst roads, but Missouri has almost new roads (at least on Highway 35). Missouri must also be the fireworks capital of the States. There is one fireworks store after another and they are big! Also, at least in WI, IA and MO , instead of county roads being numbers, they are letters. It is really strange to see County Road A thru Z; then double letters (BB). It confuses me. We only had a 3 hr drive to our next park (Lake Paradise), but the directions we got off the Internet were wrong and we ended up on a narrow country road with potholes. We finally found a place to turn around and on the way back we had to stop another RV rig going the wrong way. We finally found the park, which is nestled in the valley among a lot of trees and has over 600 spaces and 6 lakes. Only the lower portion is still open, but it was a very scenic place to stop overnight..
The next stop was Branson and the Fall Creek Resort, which is a huge with 600+ condos and a small RV park with all the amenities. It has a beautiful entrance with a manmade creek running down the median of the entry road. The resort has some kind of show every night and the first night we went to see a short version of the Pasty (Cline) to Present show starring Tracy Lynn. She has a powerful voice and included a lot of religion into her program. She had a celebrity trivia quiz. The first question I was pretty sure I knew the answer, but procrastinated; the second one I shouted out the answer instead of raising my hand, but the third one I finally won a free ticket. We did buy 3 of her CD’s. We did go to her main show a couple of nights later and it was good, but wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t won my free ticket (Bob’s cost $20). She did have a 14 yr. Old drummer that was fabulous. He had won first place on the Ed McMahon Talent Show when he was 11. Her husband was a first place award winner for multi-instrumentalist who was also very good. The show was good, but was in a small venue and lacked presentation.
By coincidence, one of Bob’s old ships was holding a reunion in Springfield (40 miles) so Wed. night we went to the hospitality opening. Bob only knew one of the people, but he enjoyed sitting around and reminiscing about the good old days. On the way to the reunion we stopped at the famous “Bass Pro Shop” in Springfield. It encompasses 7 football fields, so if you can’t find what you want it isn’t being made. It is huge! It also has a fabulous Wonders of Wildlife Museum. It has a 2 story aquarium that was totally awesome and had rooms and rooms of other wildlife. Beside being overwhelming it was also very educational. We really enjoyed it.
As a side stop we took a tour of the Stone Hill Winery here in Branson. The main winery is in Hermann, but the Branson facility does the processing of carbonating their Supmante wines. We got to taste all the wines, but there wasn’t any that I really, really liked (amazing).
Our next show was the “Spirit of the Dance” which is mainly Irish dancing, but also incorporates Latin dances such as the Tango, Flamenco and Salsa. It was very good, but not as good as “River Dance” and “Lord of the Rings” which were Michael Flately’s productions.
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That same day we went to the “Baldknobbers Jamboree Show”. It was the first country music and comedy show in Branson which was started in 1959 by the Mabe family and is still being performed by the 3rd generation Mabes. The show was first rate country, gospel and bluegrass music and the hillbilly comedy was hysterical. We really enjoyed it. Most of the shows here are family oriented and patriotic with a lot of religion thrown in. Part of the show is a tribute to the veterans that when their branch of service’s anthem is played the veterans of that branch stand up and be applauded. At one performance there was only 2 Coast Guard veterans and they got a rousing round of applause.
Last night (Sat) we went to Bob’s ship reunion dinner. There was only one person he knew from before, but we still had a good time anyway. Today there is a major rainstorm so we are staying in and tomorrow we have to start getting ready to leave the next morning (Tues.) for Shirley, AR. So that is it from this leg of our journey. Hope everyone is fine and keep the letters coming.
Our next journey did not goes as planned. The morning we were to leave Branson for Arkansas we couldn’t get the living room slide to come in. We called Winnebago and they said to set up an appt. with the local RV repair company. They couldn’t come out until the next day so we spent another night. It turned out that we were able to get the slide in the next morning, but it made a lot of noise. All the repair people were authorized to do was manually bring the slide in, but not fix it. What a waste of time that was. Anyway Winnebago directed us to come back to the factory (1200 mi round trip). We were not pleased, but they are reimbursing us our gas mileage. It was 2 long days back. We had another overnight stop at Terrible’s Lakeside Casino and RV Park in Osceola, IA again. Had dinner, gambled a little and went to bed.
Anyway, we got on our way and settled in the motel for 2 weeks while the RV was getting fixed. Wuzzy had never been in a motel before and wasn’t very happy about it, but he finally settled in. The couple managing it was from India and we got along really well. She even gave me a couple of massages using hot sand, which really worked. She gave me some of her sand before we left, plus a name of an ointment that is supposed to work for arthritis, etc. She cooked some Indian food for us the night before we left, but was too spicy for me. They plan on keeping in touch with us. We took two side trips while staying there. The First to Wisconsin Dells, WI and the 2nd to the Leinenkugel's Brewery in Chippewa Falls, WI. We also drove back to Spooner so Bob could get some pre-cancer spots removed from his face and had dinner with the kids. It was hard to leave them
We got back on the road Friday night (so far everything is working okay) and spent the night at Terrible’s in Osceola, IA again. We did a little gambling and ate and got back on the road again the next morning.
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The next night we stayed an Deer Rest Camp Park in Warsaw, MO which took us a while to find. It didn’t give very good directions and we wandered through Warsaw which is a picturesque old town, but very narrow streets. We didn’t go far enough but finally ended up going through the back way. We had a nice little spot overlooking the end of one of the Truman Reservoir arms. The lake itself is huge and has several large arms. It is beautiful and would like to spend some time, but it is just too big for a one day excursion. Our TV receiver went kaput again so no TV until we get to the next park. Hopefully, they will have cable.
Going into Arkansas is like going to a different world. It has lots of trees, hilly and green. Absolutely gorgeous, but most of the people don’t seem to care about their property. There are rusted out cars and garbage everywhere. There are some beautiful will kept homes in some areas, but not many. Most of the so called towns are dilapidated old buildings with nothing open. I don’t know how people can survive. There are very few towns big enough to have stores open. They do have a lot of car lots though and, of course, churches everywhere. Most of the structures and homes are made of brick and some made of stone, although the stone houses aren’t very pretty. They are made of a mixture of stone that doesn’t come close to matching. Those are pretty old though and not many livable. As you get out on some of the back roads there are some awesome ranches that are immaculate. The rivers here tend to be very murky and muddy. Also, lots of road construction (actually that is everywhere we have been). Our campground (Golden Pond) is quite nice and has a little pond that has fish, turtles and snakes, but the water is murky so you can’t really see them. There are also 4 resident ducks so they are fun to watch. The first day I spent catching up on laundry and cleaning and upon learning this is a dry county and being out of wine, we set out to find a wet county. There are 75 counties in Arkansas and 47 of them are dry. We found a county 30 miles away, but there were only 2 places to buy liquor (actual liquor stores) and they were a couple of miles out of town. Very interesting. Boxed wine runs from $13 to $20 so isn’t terribly expensive. We had to order a new phone because Bob’s bit the dust and because of our delay getting here it was here by the time we arrived – the phone works but we have no phone service! If we get a message we have to go a couple of miles to be able to call out. We do have e-mail however.
On Monday, we went to an attraction called Natural Bridge, AR. It is down in a deep canyon with a very crooked steep road to get into the place. The road grade was about 20-25% at times and very narrow with very sharp switchbacks. It was exceptionally pretty down in the canyon. It's a natural rock formation that is quite impressive. It is cracked in several place and looks very shaky but it has been there for thousands of years so I guess it will be there for awhile yet. A old log cabin with old artifacts inside and also an old Arkansas Still is under the cabin. Really neat. The entrance into the park is a small gift shop with lots of interesting items. Some unique to Arkansas and some the normal tourist junk. It was an enjoyable side trip.
The next day we went to Heber Springs, a fairly large town but also dry, to see a friend that I haven’t seen in 30 years. We were very close friends in Utah and kept in touch since then. Chuck died a couple of years ago, but Naomi still lives is their house, but she is 80 and getting forgetful so don’t know how much longer she can stay. Her closest family is in California and she can’t afford to live there so she doesn’t know what to do. Even though she kept repeating herself, we picked up as though it was 30 years ago. We will go see her again before we leave. To get to Heber Springs, you have to cross Greer’s Ferry Lake and Greer’s Lake Dam. It is a beautiful lake and like most of the lakes in this area it is spread out all over the place with arms of the lake going here and there and everywhere. We had lunch in a little town on the way over. When we got back to the rig, our new TV receiver just arrived. Happy days are here again. Having cable was good, but they don’t have the channels that the poker tournaments are on so we did suffer a little.
We took a trip up north from Shirley to a small tourist attraction called Hurricane River Cave. It was a neat place out in the middle of nowhere. Family run with the family living on the site. It has a very pretty waterfall coming down right over the cave entrance. We had a personalized tour as we were the only visitors at that time. Two other couples had just finished their tour when we got there. All in all it was a very enjoyable day. The cavern itself was pretty but not spectacular. Standard formations seen in all other caves.
On Friday, we took off and headed up to Mountain View, AR, which is noted for it’s bluegrass and country music. It was only 34 miles but the road is so crooked that it took over an hour to get there. Again there were some grades in excess of 20%. Not a fun road to drive but still pretty scenery. They have a lot of bluegrass shows in the evening and there is a State Park called the Ozark Folk Center. There is a lot of shops with craftsmen demonstrating how they do their particular crafts. The admission was $9.00 each and would have required considerable walking so we decided to just visit the gift shop at the park. They did have a blue grass music concert scheduled for 7:00PM that evening but because of the road back we decided not to stay. We walked around town and visited a few shops. They are filled with the work of local crafts people, some of the works were really nice. It was an interesting afternoon. We finally headed back to the rig about 3:00PM and got home a little after 4.
On the Sunday before we left Golden Pond I decided to make BBQ ribs since we weren’t going anywhere that day. Wrong thing to do – I had a big pot of sauce going on the stove and the stove lid came crashing down (Bob’s cookie jar was sticking out too far so the stove lid didn’t go all the way back) and sauce went everywhere. While I was standing there dripping of sauce I didn’t know whether to cry, scream or just start throwing things. It got all over the cupboards (in and out), the floor, door, steps, rug and couch. It was a massive cleanup and while Bob was steaming the couch and carpets I remade the sauce. It went well until - - I took the ribs out of the oven to turn them over and one rib slipped off the fork and splattered sauce all over the couch again. After 3 steam cleanings the spots are still there, but not very noticeable. That just wasn’t my day, but everything got steamed and I polished the cupboards. The next day I got a wild hair and decided to get out my winter clothes. That takes all day as I have to store my summer clothes and fluff out my winter stuff and we both were stiff and sore from the day before so it was a long day – then disaster struck! I was out of wine and the nearest place was 60 miles away.
I made it through the night and as we were going to get into Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park early in the afternoon, we didn’t think we would have a problem getting wine – wrong again. Another dry night. Merry had to drink Bob’s DRY wine. Not Good. Tom Sawyer’s RV Park is located right on the Mississippi River, which was a really nice campground. There is a sandbar in the middle of the river so the barges had to travel on our side of it right next the shore. I couldn’t figure out what the noise was during the night, which turned out to be the barges going down the river. As the Tom Sawyer’s RV Park is located in West Memphis which is still in Arkansas we still couldn’t buy any wine. Nerves are now setting in, but thought the next day would bring better luck. It did sort of – after we parked we had to backtrack 45 miles, but did find wine (at $15 a box), but Bob didn’t quibble. My world is good again. Even though TN is a wet state and you can buy beer anywhere, there are very few places that sell wine.
Just across the river is Memphis, which is in TN. Since we got in early we had time to tour Graceland (Elvis’ home). It was expensive, but really worth it. It is smaller than I envisioned, but the inside and the grounds were outstanding and, of course, his and his family’s graves are there. It was really a great tour, but a lot of walking so we were both dragging.
Tunica was only 30 miles away and Bob really wanted to go, so off we went. Tunica is in Miss. And home of some very famous casinos that have the big poker tournaments we watch on TV. They are all way off the beaten track so we only had time to go to one. We had dinner and did some slots and looked around. By the time we left it was dark and neither one of us drive well at night. There were no street lights and the highway signs were not lit up, plus a construction detour so we were never sure where we were, but figured if we kept going North we would end up in Memphis, which we did.. We did make one stop at a liquor store and they had one box of wine at $20. There was no way Bob was going to pay that much, but I was so tired by that time I didn’t care. By the time we got home we went straight to bed
The next morning we left for Middleton TN and Cherokee Landing RV Park. Right after we pulled in that’s when we found out we had to backtrack 45 miles to get the wine. This is an older campground, but has all the amenities and located right in the trees, but they have old electrical wiring so have to really watch what we turn on if the heater is going. There is a lake here, but nothing worth exploring. The only Southern food I have tried so far in pickled green tomatoes and hush puppies. I liked the tomatoes, but can do without the hush puppy as I don’t really care for corn bread anyway. What was really neat was seeing the cotton fields as we were coming into TN. They are actually very pretty. There are some gorgeous antebellum style homes here, plus areas of sharecroppers’ trashy places, and the trees are beginning to turn colors so we are really getting a good view of the South. Wouldn’t want to live here though unless we had a winery. We had a couple of nice days then we had a couple of days of rain storms. The last day it rained so hard we couldn’t even hear the TV, plus acorns keep dropping on the roof. Both Bob and I were getting cranky – then, of course, the TV went off. We went to bed, but because of the noise we didn’t get much sleep. Wuzzy doesn’t like the noise of anything hitting the roof so he was not a very happy cat and hid in his litter box. Middleton is really small – mainly gas stations and churches, but they at least have a grocery store. There is some kind of elevator manufacturer here so there is a fairly good size population. We only go there when we go to the post office.