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.
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