Weather watching has become a way of life on our Quest trip. That storm in Little Rock and the resulting floods up and down the Mississippi have made us very aware of rising water. ARDot and MODot iphone apps have become my new best friends. Another weather system was approaching quickly and we had to make it to Branson for our next reservation before it hit. The Branson campground told us we could come in the one day early we needed.
Up early, I was very anxious to get on the road knowing what was waiting ahead. Again, on US 65, a really nice road in most parts, but it has some crazy turns and hills. We crossed the Buffalo River and saw the sign to the campground we were scheduled to stay at there and the sign for the Visitor Center that has the stamp we did not collect. The River was brown and nasty and raging. Some of the lesser streams were flooded and we saw floating boat houses and destroyed floating docks. I saw a Natural Gas gas station, blue and green and pristine. We passed thru many small towns that proudly announced, “Population 286,” or “Population
322.” The smallest one I saw had the biggest sign, “Population 182.”
Just about then it started to rain. Lots of black clouds, lots of air to air and air to ground lightning, lots of 2 lane roads. It was not a nice trip for me. Kim was in the lead and she did a good job. The last 20 miles the road opened up to four lanes and I relaxed a little. It poured. We stopped at the second gas station over the Missouri border $2.03; price dropped $.12/gallon there from AR, but I knew they rose again in Branson to $2.15. Hey $7.20 is $7.20 – lunch money. 65 gallons self-pumped in the rain – yes, covered, but in the rain.
The first thing we noticed as we entered Branson was the hills. I can’t call it rolling hills, because they are not long and slow. This are fat chunky things, a quick up and a quick down then repeat. We never expected the campground to be as hilly as it is. I am posting a google satellite map image of the campground, I hope you can see the hills.
Lovely people, checked us in
Flood in Branson
Minor flooding here
quickly. There is a magnetic card to let us in the gate and a brass key that lets us out a pedestrian path to ‘the strip’ and restrooms. This is one of our more expensive campgrounds, but it is right on ‘the strip.’ We knew we would be doing shows at night, and I didn’t want us to have to drive 15-20 miles out of town for a cheap campground. We will make it up. (As it is, including here, I am averaging $21.27/night. Not bad.) It really got interesting when we got led to our sites by a young man on a golf cart. Down a very steep hill with a sharp turn into our street. Kim is in 68, I am in 69, Ginnie is in the longest site on the end, 73. Our street and campsites are very level. The sites are close together, but there are trees, and sites 70-72 are not occupied. This entire 10-acre campground is terraced. The hill was carved out, streets and campsites were set out and bulk headed up with huge railroad ties reinforced with rebar. My young man kept urging me forward until I felt like my wheels were going
to go off the cliff down into the next row. He did a great job getting me situated, but he never looked up and my antenna hit a low branch. Growl. Ginnie had to unhook the car and then get in her site and it’s pouring. My site is short and narrow, no room for a car to park, and when I put my awning out to keep the rain off me while I set up camp, the awning stuck out into the road. Young man assured me no one would be driving down this road and he put a cone under the awning and I hung a spinner flag. Just to keep the rain off while I set up camp. I plugged in utilities, set up sewer hose and dumped holding tanks, and connected cable wire and went inside and changed shirt and shoes.
Looking at the weather map, this mother of a storm went from below New Orleans to Canada; from Texas to Illinois – all red and yellow with just some green at the edges, and it wasn’t moving in any direction. No thunder, no lightning, just pouring rain. We gathered at Ginnie’s for a quick
happy hour then hunkered down. I spent most of the evening cleaning the kitchen, getting into every crack and crevice. Winston would not go out in the rain. He finally stepped out from the awning and pee’d on the picnic table. I didn’t care, the rain would surely wash it away. I laid awake listening to the rain, praying the bulkhead in front of me didn’t give way from the rain with me ending up nose down in the row in front of me.
Silence at 4:00 am. The rain had stopped. Up at 7, no rain. I quickly dressed in case this was just a break in the clouds and took Winston to the dog park. This is the first campground we have been in since I started the trip 3 weeks ago that I could let him off his leash. This enclosed 20x40 fenced dog park was, of course, built on the side of a hill, strewn with rocks both large and small. Of course, he pooped all the way at the other end and I had to pick my way thru the slippery rocks, puddles, and who knows how much dog shit to pick it up.
Next time I will bring my cane or walking stick. After scooping poop (did you know my Indian name is Woman Who Walks With Poop) where was Winston? Trying to push the gate open so he could get out of the enclosure. Go figure. Walking back up the hill to Moya was challenging due to the slipperiness of the steep asphalt.
We drove to historic downtown Branson and took the Free Tolley Ride around the town so we could get a feel. Branson has two areas, “The Strip” and “Historic Downtown.” The strip is like Myrtle Beach or Pigeon Forge – lots of big theatres, big miniature golf adventures, chain restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, etc. Historic Downtown is just that. Old buildings containing boutiques, gift shops, restaurants, etc. We parked at one of the trolley stops, Belk, and took the 30-minute full tour without getting off. At one of the stops a man got on asking the bus driver to wait a minute for his wife who was wandering. I could tell he was from NJ just by his accent and mannerisms. His wife came and we asked where they were from and they replied NJ!! What exit? 105!
(for my non-NJ friends, Kim and I live off the Garden State Parkway exit 105 or 109.) They lived in Allenhurst and were on a HUGE trip for something like 8 months, in their new Pleasureway. Fun talking with them. We pulled into one stop, at a restaurant on the Taneycomo lake, and it was flooded. Then we saw how high the water really was on the lake and it was scary. The nearby park was underwater to the tops of the picnic tables. But, the town is so steep, no real damage was done. Historic downtown is undergoing a cosmetic upgrade, brick paver sidewalks, cutesy lampposts, bumpouts with trees and benches. It will be nice when done. But, what a mess now, so steep, so much traffic, restricted parking. We went to a Chicago style Pizza restaurant for lunch and it was a pleasant change. We went back to Belk and did a quick tour with Kim checking out the Fiestaware in anticipation of our stop there before the end of our trip.
Back to the campground, tended to the dogs then on to Dolly’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre, tickets purchased thru the campground at a decent discount,
but still $50. We got there early enough to enjoy the Bluegrass trio pre-show. No alcohol here at all! Dinner consisted of just so-so cream of veggie soup, cheese biscuit, whole ‘chicken’ which was one of those Cornish game hen things, and I thought very greasy; a piece of corn on the cob, a piece of pork tenderloin, broasted potato half, and an apple turnover for desert plus never ending beverage. All eaten without utensils. We slurped the soup from handled bowls. We pulled our chicken apart with our hands. Warm wipes were given out after we ate. The show took place while we ate. It gave new meaning to the term ‘triple threat,’ only here it is ‘quadruple threat.’ In addition to singing, acting, and dancing, this cast rode horses. Interesting. There was a battle between the North and the South and we sat on the North side, the first row, the cheap seats I figured, as we were so close to the action once we felt the sand come up off the arena floor. There were some good events, lots of audience participation, and the kids attending just loved it. Doggie bags for all and exit thru the
gift shop, laugh. A quick tour of the horse barn and back to the campground and cleaned the bathroom.
Our second day started with a roar for me. My bath mats were involved in a messy mess and needed to be laundered. I borrowed Ginnie’s car at 7:00 am and went to the laundry room with all my wash. This campground is so steep there is no way I could have carried my laundry uphill 3 streets to the laundry room. I was locked out. Frak. Fortunately someone was going into the mens room and he had his key, which also opened the laundry room. Gone a whole 10 minutes, back to Moya and Winston had pooped in his crate. Smell, crap all over his crate and him. What do I do first? Put him outside on his long lead, put the crate bedding outside. Wiped him down with Clorox wipes. Wiped down the inside of the crate. Back to the laundry room in 30 minutes with another new load of bedding. Back to the rig and gave him a bath. The small amount of dog shampoo I had remaining spilled out before I could get it on him
and I had to scoop it up off the floor. I was not happy when he shook himself, all over me, and I didn’t know if the brownness of the water was from camping dirt or poop. Once my laundry was done I then cleaned the rest of the living area including wiping down the cabinets and washing the floor.
Then the 3 of us met to talk about plans for the next 2 days. We checked to see if I44 was open all the way to St. Louis, our next campground with reservations. Not fully open yet. The girls remembered the Clydesdale farm is north, let’s try there. We found a campground, the parking lot at the Clydesdale farm was large enough for 3 RVs. But, they didn’t have availability on their 10:00 Sunday tour. Back to the drawing board. The MODot web site now says all MO Interstates now open, so back to plan 1 and we are going to try to get to St. Louis tomorrow. The campground is not flooded. The Arch is open. Cahokia mounds are open. US Grant monument tis open It’s a 2-passport stamp town. We are a go for St Louis
Kim found a $17 Groupon for a 3:00 matinee performance of a very clever Magic Show. Unfortunately, the audience was very small, and the magician couldn’t get a big response out of this mostly senior crowd no matter how hard he worked. He had some good sleight of hand tricks and cutting girls in 2. He appeared on America’s Got Talent where he made a motorcycle appear on stage. We gave him a good Trip Advisor review, he deserved it.
On to Mel’s Hard Rock Diner for dinner, with singing wait staff. Awesome Patty Melt with great fries for me and Kim, Ginnie opted for the chicken salad and all was good. We saw one table getting a salad bowl sized sundae that looked great. The singers strolled thru the 1950s-styled diner, it kind of reminded me of Surflight Theatre.
Back to the campground and started to break camp for our early getaway tomorrow, St Louis is 250+ miles away and I am really not sure the entire interstate is open yet. Should be an interesting day. Stay tuned.
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