Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It has been difficult to write our blog the past couple of weeks, and you'll understand why a little later.  The trip to Branson, MO from Memphis, TN was beautiful, very curvy mountainous roads, and required a lot of patience and concentration!  We arrived in Branson and found it to be even more exciting and charming than it was the last time we visited.  

It was great seeing our long distance cousins and we appreciated their hospitality. Thank you again, Steve, Anna and Michael Erixson!!!   If you recall, our first visit to Branson last year was spent enjoying a lot of the shows as well as getting to know the City of Branson.  This visit we especially wanted to slow down and enjoy the areas we had not seen, as well as "smell the roses".  We enjoyed Old Town Branson and the downtown area, especially since our campground is on the shore of Lake Taneycomo (next to the Bass Pro Shop).  We did "local" things (Clocker's Restaurant for breakfast and Mr. G's for pizza, always searching for hidden gems.  We had a chance to visit Big Cedar in Ridgedale, MO, in the Ozark Mountains, which is owned by Johnny Morris, owner of the Bass Pro Shops.  It's so spectacular no wonder so many people choose to spend their vacations in this beautiful wilderness resort at Table Rock Lake.   We enjoyed our time walking around enjoying the beautiful flowers, the cool weather, the spectacular scenery, and Bent Hook Marina.

We spent Memorial Day in Branson, and what a joy!  Branson must be the most patriotic city in America!  The military ALWAYS receives special recognition and are told how much they are appreciated, no matter how old/young they are.  We attended church with Steve and Anna at  First Presbyterian Church of Branson, which is always a unique experience.  You never know who is going to be at church, or what special entertainer will present the special music, but you can always count on feeling very welcome.  Sitting in front of us was the owner of Silver Dollar City, who is a very active member of their church.  Silver Dollar City in Missouri is like DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida, and everyone dearly loves to go there.

After church we enjoyed a delicious brunch at The Keeter Center at The College Of The Ozarks (Hardwork University) in Point Lookout, MO.  Earlier in the week we had spent an entire afternoon at The Ralph Foster Museum, a building on the campus of the University, and also Missouri's answer to the Smithsonian.  Ralph Foster is kind of like Ernest Hemingway in the Ozarks.  This was the most unbelievable and interesting museum.  Not only did they have the ORIGINAL vehicle used by the Clampett's in the Beverly Hillbillies (remember when Uncle Jeb, Grannie, Jethro and Ellie Mae moved from the Ozarks to Beverly Hills?!  And how about Mr. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway!)  They even let you get up and sit where Grannie used to sit....remember her rocking chair?  One floor has one of the most complete gun collections we've ever seen....and rare guns you wouldn't believe!!!  Mr. Foster liked to hunt, hence LOTS of stuffed animals.  Antiques, furniture collections,  wood stumps from local treees, barbed wire collections, dolls, tools, Ozark woven baskets, bones, stuffed can't make this stuff up, folks!   I have a feeling if we return to the museum in 2050 we will be allowed to get up in the Clampett's car again...but whether we CAN is a different story.

While riding around through the beautiful scenic Ozark Mountain area we saw a sign that said "Outdoor Resorts - Ozarks". Since we didn't have to return at any certain time, we rode until we arrived in Blue Eye, Arkansas, just over the State line.  Yes, it was beautiful, but it was so far away from anything - like provisions. You would want to stay here for a month or more, just because it is so far away from ANYTHING and you couldn't plan a trip into town every day.

The reason we we didn't blog before was in Branson we made the final decision to drive back for our oldest daughter, Kristen's, SURPRISE 40th birthday party. Originally we had planned to leave Branson, drive to Independence, MO (Harry Truman's Presidential Library), and then visit with our close friends Paul and Linda Hardin, in Salem, Ohio, and then to Niagara Falls.  Paul and Linda were especially fortunate (and shocked) to sell their beautiful home in only 2 weeks. They have lots on their plate in preparation for their move, so we have postponed our trip until they get settled in South Carolina. At this point we started making plans to drive to Green Cove Springs, and everytime we would talk to Kristen she would hear a completely fabricated story of where we actually were. It worked, and we'll talk more about that in our next blog.  She d never suspected a thing....the surprise party had to be planned almost 3 weeks before her actual birthday because of their already tight summer schedule.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Very Happy Un-Birthday To You!

We've enjoyed Alice In Wonderland as well as singing "A Very Happy Unbirthday To You" !  We're in FL for Kristen's Surprise 40th, an Unbirthday Party Celebration because it is so early, 6/18, (birthday is actually 7/7/70)  The surprise party was so much fun - you know what they say about paybacks?!  WHAT A HOOT!!!  Everyday should be a celebration, right?  God bless all of you, our special friends.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quad Cities, Alabama

We've  made a few changes to our format.  Hopefully, it will be easier to read.  We're always looking  for ways to improve and make our blog more interesting.  We appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Last post, we left the Tiffin Red Bay Campground for a week in the Alabama "Quad Cities":  Tuscumbia, Russellville, Muscle Shoals and Florence, AL.  We enjoyed our time in Florence as the area is steeped in history and good food, and our visits have allowed us the opportunity to slow down (from fast-paced Red Bay, AL...., just kidding) and enjoy the character of small town America, interesting people, and to rest for our next adventure.  We stayed in McFarland Park, a beautiful city-owned and operated park on the Tennessee River (regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority).  Some of our neighbors were professional bass fishermen in the campground - the ones that have sponsors that buy them beautiful RV's, boats and trucks, and fish big prize $$$ tournaments across the country.  We meet retirees, part-time campers, tent campers, teepee campers, people just like us, college students, backpackers, millionaires in huge rigs, and families who love pop-ups and the wide open spaces.  McFarland Park does not allow permanent campers, and it is extremely neat and well maintained.  Maybe someday we'll park the coach and stay in one of those cute little teepees for a few days.

Every morning the weather was so beautiful we walked at least 45 minutes - but there were also many mornings we stopped to talk to others, observe river traffic, rabbits, squirrels, shorebirds, and people fishing on the side of the river.

We enjoy visiting the University of North Alabama to see the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat.  Leo III and UNA, are the University's mascots.  Their habitat cost $1.3 million.   Feeding and care costs $35,000 annually.  All costs of maintaining the animals are covered by charitable contributions.   Everytime we visited the lions it was obvious they really enjoyed our visits.

While in Florence, we had been thinking about getting new cell phones and decided on a Droid for me.  It's taken a little getting used to but I think I'm going to like the GPS as well as texting - something I never felt the need to do before.  Another feature I really have enjoyed is accessing my email without the computer,  a real time saver.  It is definitely a little computer/phone that provides endless possibilities.  Well, we finally got rid of RV's bag phone...just kidding.  RV's new phone is a dustproof, waterproof Motorola (with larger numbers and letters) and was referred to by the salesperson as the "batphone".   He definitely is enjoying his new phone.

After a restful week we left Florence, and while our weather reporting system says the Memphis area may be experiencing flood levels on the Mississippi River, we talked to one of the hosts at the Tom Sawyer Campground in West Memphis, and she assured us the area where we will be parked is very safe and dry.  When we arrived it was obvious there had been flooding as well as huge piles of driftwood, debris and trash that had floated up into other areas of the campground.  This campground is HUGE and had an area where permanent campers "used to" live.  They had to be evacuated so it was obvious the visitors such as ourselves were in an area that was very close to the flooded area.  We enjoyed seeing the barges floating down the river as we had before....but this time you also saw huge tree trunks and the current was unbelievably swift.  While we were in Natchez, MS, also along the Mississippi River, we found that people didn't fish in the river because of so much raw sewage and industrial waste.  What a shame!

While we were in the Memphis area we had an opportunity to go to the Memphis Rock 'n Soul Museum as well as the Gibson Guitar Factory.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but they both were unbelievable.  Being in downtown Memphis isn't complete until you visit Beale Street.  Although it isn't the safest street - it's kind of like walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans - it's best done in broad daylight.

We left West Memphis and now we're Branson bound, a little over 300 miles away.