Monday, May 30, 2011

Table Rock State Park and Dam

When we decided to try and spend Memorial Day weekend in Branson, I was originally going to reserve a campsite at Table Rock State Park, about 5 miles from town. We ended up with a better location, but wanted to see what the park looked like. Just before we got there, we stopped at a nice overlook of the dam and the west side of Branson. The water is still pretty high.
The state park campground would have been okay, but the sites were close, and it was full of families with lots of kids. One area of sites near the marina was still under water.
We continued on to the dam. They are still releasing water, but less than last week.
This is a 2 mile trail that runs from the Dam Visitor Center to the campground marina. Needless to say it is still closed.
I found a coupon in one of our Branson guides for a buy-one-get-one free cone at Andy’s Frozen Custard. When I lived in St. Louis in the late 70’s, there was a frozen custard stand near my apartment, and I thought it was the best ice cream I ever had. Jim had never tried it, so we drove to Andy’s on the Branson strip, where all the theaters and touristy places are located. It was as creamy and good as I remembered.
A little bit of the strip.
On the way home we stopped in the original downtown and walked up Main Street. It contained your typical tourist shops and restaurants, and Dick’s 5 and 10. We did go in, and they have a bit of everything, but the aisles are so narrow and there were so many people, we didn’t last long.
We saw that the water has receded at the Lakeside RV Park and Branson Landing. and there were even people walking on the boardwalk. Marilyn emailed and said they will be moving back to the RV park today, so things are getting back to normal around here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Holiday Hills Resort, Branson

We finally got some blue skies yesterday, and decided to take a long walk around the resort. The RV park is still almost empty. The most we’ve counted were 10 sites occupied out of a total of 32. This is also a Coast to Coast Membership park, so we thought it would be more crowded. We are the only ones on our row.
Here are some pictures of the variety of lodgings in the resort. There is everything from lodge rooms (these are across from the campground),
and luxury homes on the golf course. This was our favorite.
The restaurant.
The whole timeshare concept escapes us, but this is definitely a nice place to stay.
Since things have dried out a bit, I’ve been letting the cats outside. They like walking on the picnic table and this railroad tie, and got into a friendly little cat fight yesterday.
Jim was out connecting the sewer hose, and after we all went in, he found a tick on his leg. I handed him a paper towel to pick it up with, and he got it off. The problem was, it disappeared from the paper towel. That turned into a major tick hunt, with rugs being shaken out, chairs being moved, and serious vacuuming of everything in the rig. After all that, he looked down and saw the tick on his shirt sleeve, so he threw it outside. Checked over the cats and ourselves but didn’t see any more.
This morning we took a ride to Table Rock State Park and Dam, and as we pulled into the campground, Jim scratched his leg and felt something. Sure enough it was another tick. It hadn’t gotten a good hold yet, so he took a Kleenex and picked it off. Coincidentally, we were parked right in front of one of the bulletin boards in the campground and there was a tick warning sign, which makes us think it must be a serious problem around here. Great! Besides tornadoes, rain, heat and humidity, we have one more thing to contend with. At least the mosquitoes aren’t out (yet). The good thing about our trip back east is we are finding lots of places we wouldn’t want to live.
We’ve been having some competitive ping pong games at the activity center here. I grew up with a ping pong table in our basement, and my brother, dad, cousin Ronnie and I spent way too many hours playing. I used to be pretty good, so whenever we go somewhere and find a ping pong table, we have to play. Jim is not bad, either, but I always used to beat him. That is until the other day, when he humiliated me. So we had a rematch yesterday and I won. Guess where we’re going when I finish this blog post?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Busy in Branson

We’ve done lots of running around since we got to Branson. Tuesday Jim went to an optometrist to get his prescription rechecked before he ordered new glasses. We needed more Rx cat food from a vet, did some grocery shopping, etc. Also took advantage of the fitness center and laundry room here at the park.
Yesterday we had a nice lunch at Romano’s Macaroni Grill with Alan and Marilyn, a couple whom we have corresponded with through our blogs.
They’ve been fulltiming in a motorhome since December 2009. It’s always fun to talk to other fulltimers and share our experiences. They are volunteering for the summer at Branson’s Lakeside RV Park. Unfortunately for them, the park is completely under water from the flooding due to the water that was released from Table Rock Dam. They had to evacuate from the park a few days ago in the middle of the night. You can read about it on their blog. Their first time volunteering has turned out to be quite an experience so far.
Here are a few pictures of Lakeside RV park we took this morning. The water is down a bit from a couple days ago.
After lunch yesterday we shopped until we dropped. Jim actually bought some much needed new clothes at Bass Pro Shops, then we got a few things at the Tanger Outlet Mall and Vanity Fair. This morning we got up and went to Panera Bread to get our fix of multi-grain bagels. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Panera’s. We are impressed with Branson’s selection of stores and restaurants, and by how easy it is to get around town. It is really scenic here, too.
One more picture of the restaurant that used to be attached to Bass Pro Shops. This is what happened to it during last month’s flooding.
On the Branson Landing part of a store literally floated away.  The marina and boat dock was attached to The Bass Pro Shops White River Fish House Restaurant.
A tree floating downstream knocked the dock loose last night, but it hung on until 4:00 a.m. It's now 14 miles downstream along Lake Taneycomo.
Workers from Bass Pro and Empire Electric managed to guide it into the Red Cedar Cove. That's the last one on the right before Powersite Dam. It would have gone over had it floated another quarter to half mile.
Workers got on board the marina and cleared all the merchandise out of it. The plan is to let the waters recede and then tow it back and reattach it.
Crews are now anchoring the restaurant so it won't float away
The boardwalk is somewhere down there under water. You can just make out the lamp posts.
We really like it here in Branson. Now if only the sun would come out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Holiday Hills Resort, Branson, MO

We managed to get away from our little island on Beaver Lake this morning, although the water was beginning to come over the road in spite of the water being released from the dam.
On the day we arrived the picnic table was visible under this shelter.
We were concerned about road flooding on our 70 mile drive to Branson, but it wasn’t an issue. A portion of the eastbound lane of highway 62 on the way to Eureka Springs was partially washed away, though. It made me a little nervous that traffic was allowed on the undamaged lane, but I’m sure it was deemed to be safe.
Last summer we met a very nice couple near Laramie, WY at Vedauwoo campground. They live in Buffalo, MO, just north of Springfield, and they told us they had an RV hookup at their house, or a timeshare with an RV park in Branson. They said if we were ever in MO, we were welcome to stay at either place. When we got our camp host job and were trying to figure out where to spend the Memorial Day weekend, Jim remembered Fred and Sue, and gave them a call. They met us today across the road from the resort and escorted us to the campground at Holiday Hills. What a nice place. Very wooded, big sites, and not many people here, although it will probably get busier this weekend. And what’s even better is it is free!
After we got set up, we stopped to look at their condo, which is also very nice, and took a tour of the resort. This is a huge place, with a golf course, several swimming pools, a clubhouse with a gym and game room, restaurant, etc.
We then went to nearby Branson Landing for a late lunch. Sadly, there is horrible flooding from the water that has been released from the dam at Table Rock Lake. The boardwalk is under water, but most of the shops and restaurants are still high and dry. Forgot the camera again, but will take pictures another day. We had a really good Enchilada de Avocado at Cantina Laredo, and had fun catching up with Fred and Sue again. They went back home this evening because they were concerned about more threats of severe thunderstorms with possible tornados tonight and tomorrow, and they have a basement at their house. We really appreciate them letting us be their guests for a week here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Weather Outside is Frightful

But so far we are alive and well and warm and dry. It started raining early yesterday evening, and we were under a severe thunderstorm and tornado watch all night. Not a good feeling when you’re in a motorhome, and especially bad after dark. We had nowhere to go except the restrooms, but they are just outhouses here, so probably wouldn’t hold up in a tornado anyway. Luckily other than thunder, lightning and small hail, we were fine. The thunderstorms started up again this morning and have continued all day.
After our friend Andy had his Lazy Daze hit by lightning last year in New Mexico, we unplug our power cord as a precaution when the thunder and lightning get close. Needless to say we’ve been unplugged quite a few hours over the past few days.
Since it wasn’t raining yesterday morning, we took a ride to Eureka Springs. Our first stop was Lake Leatherwood Park, a city park 2 miles from town. There is a small campground (glad we didn’t stay there), cabins, hiking and mountain bike trails, fishing and boat rentals on Lake Leatherwood. At the trailhead we saw a sign that a bridge was out and one of the trails was closed. Looking at the map we decided to hike 2 miles to the dam and come back the same way. Once we got to the dam I looked at the map again and realized we could make it a loop and come back a different trail on the other side of the lake. I think our brains were soggy from the humidity, so we didn’t realize that was the trail with the washed out bridge. It was a nice hike for the first 3.5 miles.
The dam and spillway.
We saw lots of butterflies and a big lizard.
Then the trail ran into the water, we saw the broken bridge, and realized our mistake. Jim said no way was he walking another 3.5 miles back the way we came. Luckily the water didn’t quite come to our knees, but waterproof hiking boots don’t help much when you wade through water that deep!
Since we forgot to bring our sandals to change into,  it was a sloshy walk around the quaint little town of Eureka Springs after our hike. It reminded us of Bisby, AZ or Manitou Springs, CO. Lots of shops, restaurants, and galleries built into the mountainside. My photographer is slacking on the job. This is the only picture he took in town, just because he liked the old VW.
We hope to get to Branson tomorrow morning since It sounds like the bad weather won’t start until later in the day. We were concerned that our road out of here would be flooded, but due to the rising waters of Beaver Lake they released water from the dam several times today, so we should be fine. I feel for the people in Joplin, MO. What a nightmare they’ve been through. We sure picked the wrong time to come to this part of the country. If I said the word, Jim would skip out on our camp host job and drive west tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beaver Lake, Dam Site Lake COE Campground, Eureka Springs, AR

We endured rain and thunderstorms all day Friday, so even though we never travel on Saturday, we decided to move on to Arkansas while the weather was nice. None of the weekenders showed up in the rain Friday, so we figured it would be the same here. We drove 170 miles through the rolling green hills of the Cherokee Nation, where we paid $3.57 for gas. Hope that is a sign of lower prices everywhere.
We decided to try another COE park on Beaver Lake near the dam, but what we didn’t know is that this area got 5 inches of rain in one day last week, then another 2 on Friday. Half the sites are under water, and most of the campers left. These are truly waterfront sites now.
This is a beautiful campground on a small island, and there are only a few other people here. We have water views out all of our windows.
Some pictures from our walk around the park.
The dam.
The campground nestled in the trees across the lake. Water came up on the road last week. If it rains much more while we’re here we may be not be going anywhere for awhile.
As we were pulling into a site, a young man and woman came over with a pen and notebook and sat at our picnic table. Turns out they are with a group of marketing people from Coleman, the maker of camping products, based in Wichita, KS. They are here doing surveys and gathering information about their products, of which we have none since we got the Lazy Daze. Back in our tent and pop-up days, though, we did use a lot of Coleman items. They asked us questions about our travels, and gave us a couple bottle openers. Unfortunately for them since the weather turned so lousy, they only had a chance to speak to a few people. In fact they told us they were out mountain biking Friday morning when the storm came up, with 50 mph winds and lightning strikes in the campground. Some of their tents fill with water and the wind destroyed their shade shelter. And with a 60% chance of strong thunderstorms this afternoon, it could be another interesting day.
We will be here until Tuesday, when we are meeting friends in Branson, MO.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Belle Starr COE Campground, Lake Eufaula, OK

It was a long 250 mile drive today with a strong crosswind, but we made it to eastern Oklahoma, trying to keep ahead of the strong thunderstorms heading this way. We are having a hard time adjusting to the humidity, after spending so much time in the dry southwest. Brings back bad memories of Florida, but I guess we better get used to it.
Found this really nice Army Corps of Engineers campground, Belle Starr, near Eufaula, OK, and got a fantastic site on the lake for $18 a night with electric. We were thinking of going to  nearby Lake Eufaula State Park, which sounded nice, too, but found out the lakefront sites are $25 there, so opted for this instead. Just hope the storms stay away.
Some of the wildlife outside our door.
Plan to spend at least a couple days here. We’ve done way too much driving this week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Elk City Lake Park, Elk City, OK

We drove 143 miles to Elk City, Oklahoma today, a boring, not very scenic drive, but I-40 is nice and smooth and there was very little traffic.
I found Elk City Lake Park on the Escapees Days End Directory and on When we arrived around one, there was nobody else here, but as we were unhooking the car, a travel trailer pulled in. There are only 5 sites with electric right on a small lake, and it’s free! We initially thought the power probably wasn’t working, but we tested it and was fine. Since it was in the low 90’s today, we definitely needed some AC. There is a 3 day limit, but we’re only planning to spend a night. Sure beats a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Speaking of Wal-Mart, we decided to skip the one in Amarillo and shop after we got here. There is a nice new one just a couple miles from the park, and we also wanted to drive through downtown Elk City. This is another Route 66 town, and was much more prosperous looking than some of the others we’ve been to.
When we got back we had a new neighbor, who was eating lunch and charging his phone at the site next to ours. Nope, no tent. What you see is what he had. Later he took his few belongings and moved down by the lake under some trees.
Now Jim is afraid someone will steal our power cord for the copper during the night.
Forgot to mention our funny GPS experience yesterday while driving to Palo Duro Canyon. If you’ve ever traveled in Texas, you know they have Farm Roads, similar to county roads. They are marked as FM, followed by a number, on the road signs. The snooty little British voice, Daniel, in our GPS, told us “in .8 miles exit right to “Federated States of Micronesia #1541”.  Where did that come from??  We spent about 6 weeks in Texas in Nov/Dec 2008, and we never heard it say that before. Gave us a good laugh!
More boring Oklahoma driving tomorrow but it’s giving us a chance to listen to a book and some podcasts on the MP3 player.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Amarillo Ranch RV Park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

This morning we drove 110 windy miles to Amarillo, TX, and are spending the night at Amarillo Ranch RV Park. This is a Passport America park, close to I-40, but actually one of the better Passport parks we’ve stayed at. The cable and Wi-Fi really work, the sites are spacious, and the office employees were very nice. Pretty nice for $16.50 a night.
We got here around noon, after losing an hour due to crossing into Texas and now being in Central Time. After lunch we took a ride to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, about 25 miles south of Amarillo. We had originally planned to stay there, but they charge $25 a night for a campsite, and a $5 per person, per day entrance fee so we just decided to take a day trip from here.
We drove the scenic road through the park, and stopped to hike the 5.4 mile round trip Lighthouse Trail, the most popular trail in the park. On a windy, dusty, hot weekday in May, though, we only saw a few other people on the trail. It is a beautiful park.
Loved the colors and layers in the rock.
We also drove through the campgrounds to check them out, and found quite a few wild turkeys wandering around.
Looked like she was checking out this nice looking motorcycle.
On the way home we made a stop at Academy Sports, CVS, and picked up a pizza at Domino’s. Still have to make a Wal-Mart trip before we go, but that was enough excitement for one day.
Moving on again tomorrow, this time for Oklahoma.