Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Branson, Missouri – Entertainment in the Ozarks

Janet has been looking forward to seeing Branson, Missouri for a long time, and we finally made it. It was about a four hour ride from Memphis. Good roads the entire route. Traffic getting through Little Rock, Arkansas was light as we went through around 10 A.M.

Our destination was the Escapee’s RV Park, in Hollister, Missouri, about a mile from Branson. This was a nice little park on the White River, and our plan was to stay for a week, which we did. Some people say this park is too close to the noisy rural highway and the train tracks are too close to the back of the park but we just live by the saying, "It is what it is!", and go from there. We still had a good time here.

The major road through Branson is Highway 76. Traffic goes about as slow as the Las Vegas Strip on a Saturday night, but Branson is only two lanes. One each way. Mighty slow going. There are ways to by-pass the traffic just like in Vegas and we found them early in our stay.

We found it interesting that the entertainers in Branson all tend to have their own personal venue. Many of them were not in use. The largest entertainer of note in town was Mickey Gilley.  Many T-shirt and trinket shops.

The land around Branson is rolling hills. Green and beautiful.

We picked a night to go out with another couple from the RV Park and ended up on the local lake in a paddle wheeler. They served a great B-B-Q dinner. More than I could eat, and that was followed by about an hour and a half of comedian, lady singer electric violin player, and five person singing group. The entertainment was wonderful and probably as good as anything in town. Glad we went.

We visited The Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks in Branson. The College of the Ozarks, known as Hard Work U., is unique among American colleges and universities, because students work, rather than pay, to help defray their educational expenses. Not one full-time student pays a penny of tuition. Instead, each works 15 hours a week at a campus job. The work/study program has been an integral part of the College since its beginning in the early 1900s, and it is based on a belief in the dignity and worth of work. The campus is immaculate.

The Payne Stewart Golf Club is in Branson. Very nice layout. Architect – Chuck Smith and consulted by Bobby Clampett and operated by Troon Golf. Five sets of tees. I still have not hit a golf ball since Destin, Florida back in April. Ug!

We had a nice dinner at the White River Fish House Restaurant. Uniquely this establishment is owned and operated by the Bass Pro Shop which was just 50 yards away.

Our RV Park, being down on the river, didn’t have a reasonable Wi-Fi signal. My T-Mobile hot spot was very week so we drove 25 miles north into Springfield, Missouri were we got a 4G LTE signal which allowed me to pay some bills and make reservations down the road. We went to Sam’s Club in Springfield to get some of our usual supplies.

We left Branson for the flat lands of Kansas on Monday, September 22nd. We drove through Wichita, Kansas and 45 miles northwest to Hutchinson. This is where I lived in 1956 when my father moved us to San Francisco. The streets in downtown Hutchinson are made of red bricks. The noisy–cobblestones. Unusual because you don’t see much of this anymore. The streets in Hutchinson seemed narrow and the streets in the older part of town needed trimming. Barely room to drive the 13 foot 5 inch motorhome under some of the trees. Some small scrapping going on. The picture of the house is the same house my father had built for my mother in 1955. For Sale again on this day! The bricks still look okay today. In 1956 there were no houses across the street. Back then it was agricultural growth. Today the town goes out a mile further.

We had driven 320 miles to this point, and our day ended after we drove another 180 miles to the place of my birth, Garden City, Kansas.

On Tuesday the 23rd, we got up late and drove 35 miles north to Scott City, Kansas. This was the small town where my grandparents lived and where my parents were married back in the 1940s. A farming community of approximately 3,000. We drove by my grandparents old house which was in desperate need of repair. Then we drove eight miles north out to Lake Scott State Park. The park was larger and much improved since I was a kid. We drove back to town and had lunch at the Majestic Restaurant which is four doors from my Great-Grandfather’s barber shop. Today the Majestic Restaurant is in the old Majestic Theater where my grandparents had the concession stand in the late 1940s and early 50s. This is possibly the best restaurant within 100 miles of Scott City! Cloth napkins!

We were back in Garden City by 2 P.M. and spent the rest of the afternoon doing exactly nothing but preparing for our 250 miles move the next day to Colorado Springs. Although I was born in Garden City and lived there the first few years of my life the only thing I can remember is – we had a puppy! I felt and had no need to go downtown.

It was fun seeing the old stomping grounds. We will be on the road to Colorado Springs at 8 A.M. in the morning. I'm taking the boy out of the country, again!

Regards to all,

Dave & Janet (a.k.a. “The BooniePeople”)

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