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Published: September 8th 2017
After a decent rest in Madison Indiana, We crossed over the Ohio river and into Kentucky, headed south to Interstate 71 and then turned toward Louisville. Taking the 265 to skirt around the main city and traffic, we connected to Interstate 65 south and headed toward Mammoth Cave National Park. On the way we detoured to visit the Lincoln Birth Place and the Memorial, inside the building is a construct of what the cabin looked like that this great man lived in during his first few years and the history of what happened to make him the man he was. A great stop for historians and for kids; it is just a short drive to Santa Claus and Splash Safari Water Park. If you are intending on doing a cave tour you must make reservations in advance. As it was our first time going to cave country, we had no idea and were disappointed. We selected the Mammoth Cave K.O.A. at the Horse Cave turn off on Interstate 65. It is just a little north of Cave City, at first glance the park looked like a great place with trees, a pool and there did not appear to be
a lot of people staying there. We checked in at the office and got our site for a few days stay, looking forward to sleeping in and enjoying the pool in between our cave tours. I was aggravated by rooster crowing at 5:30 am, they had put us near a barn on the property. I went to top off the water and found it was shut off; workers were repairing a break in the lines. When I talked to management she apologized and said she was just informed. Yet later in talking to a fellow RV’er I found out it had been off for days. Upset that I had been charged for full hook up and it was not available was a bit upsetting. We did manage to find a family run restaurant called Sahara Steak House in Cave City and enjoyed a great meal there. The small operation was clean and quiet with good food and great service. I had a really nice cut of beef and all the trimmings, walked away happy and the price of our meal was very reasonable. If you are in the area, I recommend checking it out. When we were not able to
get into Mammoth Caves the next day, we drove down to Bowling Green Kentucky and went to the Lost River Cave boat tours. The tour covered some very interesting local history and a nice little 45 minute tour of the cave itself. We learned about the blue pools outside the cave, colored that way by the dissolved limestone that it carried. I was surprised to learn that the pool looked calm on the surface but had a strong current under the surface that flowed into a cave network. What looked inviting and was thought to be bottomless actually was a death trap to anything that fell in as it or they would be sucked into the cave network. The cave had been used as a resting place for southern soldiers, a speak-easy during prohibition days and then a dumping ground for rubbish. The tours help fund restoration of the cave. If you make this as one of your stops, be ready to bend over in the boat tour to clear the low points in the cave.
After leaving the area, we headed east to Interstate 75, then south into Tennessee headed for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We
chose a nice RV park just behind a ridge at the end of town called Mill Creek Resort The office attendant put us in a nice level site near the office and close to the pool. The city trolleys have a stop in front of the office and for $5 a day you can get around town without dealing with parking and traffic. We were a little put off by the prices of the attractions at first because they caught us by surprise. Tennessee is a very Pro-Military state as we found out during a tour at the Titanic Museum. Veterans and Military Personnel are Free, so we enjoyed the reproduction and information that was imparted onto us about the passengers of that doomed ship. We tried dinner at Emiliano’s Mexican Restaurant on the way back to RV and I was depressed by what was passing for authentic Mexican food there. The Chimichanga’s were so small that I thought they had given us Taquitos instead. The staff spoke broken English which was compounded by the overall loudness inside. The food had no spice and I am accustoming to having eaten true Mexican food. I personally would make my own before
I returned there for a meal. We returned to our RV and took a cooling dip in the parks pool. The next day we looked up a near by Wal-Mart to get provisions and a few items we needed for the RV. As we were departing the store we were hailed by a time share sales person offering greatly discounted tickets to the areas shows and attractions. My having the fortitude of saying NO to sales people for an extended period of time, and no intention of buying a time share ever; we walked away with tickets to the Alcatraz East attraction, Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Dinner show and Darren Romeo Magic show. A value of $200 for $40 and 40 minutes of our time turned out to be a bargain we could live with. After being taken on our tour of the facilities and getting our vouchers, we did some shopping for gifts to send out to the kids and had lunch at a crazy eatery called Dick’s Last resort
which made fun of everyone by fashioning silly paper hats, But in spite of the party atmosphere they tried to involve everyone in, they did have some good food and drinks.
Afterward we walked over to the Alcatraz East Museum and did the tour. I won’t get into detail about the displays but I will say I was surprised at how up to date the displays were and it kept my attention as I walked around. Later after dropping off our purchases and catching a nap, we headed out for an all you can eat seafood buffet and crab fest at a near by restaurant. Captain Jim’s Seafood Buffet lived up to it’s name with this self serve style eatery and I also took advantage of the well stocked full bar. Well worth the price and the food quality was very good; we managed to walk away feeling very full and content. We took a day and ventured over to the town of Cherokee North Carolina looking for some gifts, the trip through the Great Smokey Mountains was beautiful. Wish we had packed a picnic basket and had lunch in the trees.
After getting the shopping out of the way, seeing the sites and rested up, we plotted our next course and headed west to Green Acres RV Park just south of Savannah Tennessee. Just off highway 128,
this little park is growing; staff is very friendly and helpful. We locked in our stay for a few days and I took Julie for a drive over to Adamsville and a tour of Buford Pussers home. In Adamsville we also found Salon Elite, a great little salon where Julie was able to get her hair done. On the return to our RV we took a refreshing dip in the parks pool, it was nice to have it all to ourselves.
Leaving Savannah Tennessee, we made reservations and pointed west again with our destination set for Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Make reservations ahead of time with the parks service, our site was level and had full hookups. It was peaceful among the trees and a very short drive over to the mine and their pool with waterslide. We spent a few days under the sun looking for a sparkling prize from mother earth. Though we did not find any diamonds, we did learn a bit and found some prehistoric coral. The Park has a great little store, gives informative talks on what to look for and the history of the site. They also rent
all the equipment you might want if you come empty handed.
Next we headed north across the boarder to Branson, Missouri and stayed at Shenanigans’ RV camp. The park is just a few blocks off the main strip and close to main attractions. I liked the staff and how friendly they were when we rolled in. They guided us to our site and helped get things set up. Cable is available, but it requires a box in the RV so after a few tries I was able to get our satellite to lock in and solved that issue. The office set us up with discounted tickets for some of the attractions and we were set for our stay in Branson. After getting a few provisions, we stopped off at Red Lobster and filled our stomachs. The town was hosting a street rod show and the place was packed with hot cars and people who envy their owners. We did dinner and a show on the Branson Belle, something that we had not done since we visited Savannah Georgia. Dinner was okay in retrospect we should have upgraded to the VIP level and enjoyed ordering from the menu.
The show was good, a variety of music and acts that was very entertaining, so it was a good time for us. Again we found a lot of appreciation and recognition for all Branches of the Military and Veterans. The next day we watched the Acrobats from China at the Yaakov Smirnoff Theater. Watching the contortions, juggling and acrobatics was very entertaining. And meeting Yaakov afterward was a treat, not to get an autograph, but to just talk to the gentleman. Afterward we were treated to the Rick Thomas Magic Show and I can honestly say that I was impressed. His illusions and story line are great and kept us entertained. Well worth the cost for admission and we plan to do it again when we return to Branson next time.
Leaving Branson and heading back toward Saint Louis, we crossed the boarder into Illinois and an extended visit with my cousin and her husband. Giving us some time to chill, do a little golfing and take in the sites. Timing was great because it was a short drive to my family reunion on Saturday and we were well positioned for a view of the 2017 Solar
Eclipse the following Monday. We tried to get to the Arch in Saint Louis but construction made that very difficult, maybe in a few years they will have it completed and we can try again. As that was a bust, I took the wife to the Saint Louis Zoo for the day. Anchorage Alaska has a zoo, but nothing like the zoo in STL. I still remember a little of it from a family trip back in 1962, a lot has changed there and we had a great time. Even came back a few days later to see what we had missed. Parking is $15 for the day but admission is free. We took a few days to visit with family and tried a few restaurants with my cousin. I really liked the Smokin K BBQ in Millstadt Illinois, great food in this small eatery. We also tried a nice Mexican dinner right next door at Margaritas Mexican Grill where I really enjoyed good food and lots of it. Either place is a great choice if your travels bring you to this small town.
Leaving Illinois behind, we headed down to Sam Baker State Campground for a
Lost River Cave
Blue Hole of the disappearing river
couple of nights and get close to some relatives I needed to see while in the area. For $25 a day for full hook ups it was a deal even though all the sites are back in. the nearby river is nice and there is a great visitor center with a store. Cell service is spotty but we were able to get satellite from our site and we were invited to stay with family over the Labor Day weekend.
Pulled in to my cousin Erick’s property and began visiting with everyone we could. We had a great steak at the Clearwater Store just down river from the Dam and Clearwater Lake. Home cooked meals and small friendly atmosphere were a pleasant change. And in Piedmont, there is a great place where we had breakfast called Zephyr.
September is finally here and there are more travels & memories to make. So until next post take care, hope you enjoyed this one.
Bob & Julie
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