Saturday, May 2, 2015

Go to the Slauson Cutoff...


... and cut off your slauson.  (rimshot)  If you said: "Johnny Carson, the bit from the Tonight Show," you get 25 bonus points!

Rolling out of Branson this morning.  There were a lot of Can-Am Spider three-wheel bikes on the roads - must be some kind of rally for them going on.  Interestingly enough, the "Scooter Tag" on the scooter forum was: your scooter with some kind of 3-wheeler (a trike, a Can-Am, a motorcycle with a sidecar).  I haven't submitted this one, 'cause it probably wouldn't count...


It's a Can-Am Spider in my rear view mirror... look close and you can see the fender on the cargo trailer, where the scoots are riding.  Yeah, probably not legit, but I had fun getting the shot.

We did do a short bit on the Interstate, just 'cause it was the easiest way to get around this part of the state.  But, most of it was two-lanes...


Oh, we're enjoying the rolling hills.  Central Missouri is very wooded and hilly.  Dang, there isn't much in the way of a shoulder on this road.  Is it just me, or is this road getting narrower?


Yeah, definitely narrower...


Yeah, double yellow lines most of the way.  Good thing there wasn't much traffic.  This is what I am calling "the Slauson Cutoff" - through the fields...


Yeah, these two-lanes are bumpy.  Damn - we could make some time if there was an Interstate around here.  Oh, look - a vineyard...



The sky started looking darker.  Yep, we're gonna get rained on.  It wasn't a pounding rain - just enough to completely spot up the motorhome.

We found another Passport Park and got there about 3 minutes before the office closed...


Nothing fancy.  It's kind of like a field with RV hook-ups... there is a Good Sam Rally going on here, and the place is nearly full.  I took Izzy for a short walk...


She was cooped up all day and needed some fresh air, too.  The sky is looking pretty dark to the west, and it's moving this way...


Yeah, I think we're going to get wet again.  It was time to close up the motorhome, anyway - all these rally folks have to have campfires going, and it's starting to get smokey.  Yeah, I know the difference between camping and RVing - they're camping, we're RVing.  ;-)


Friday, May 1, 2015

Head for the hills...


After a morning of laundry and cat walking, we took the scoots out for lunch - BBQ.  There are plenty of BBQ places in Branson, but I am kind partial to Famous Daves.  Nothing to do with the fact it is in the same shopping area as Bass Pro Shop...


Not a lot of people walking around Branson Landing, but Famous Dave's was busy.  Well, it might have been they were understaffed and didn't expect people to come in around lunch time.  ;-)

Joan asked me what this white flowering tree is...


No idea, but it was striking.

After lunch, we decided to scrap doing any other "Branson activities," like a show or shopping - we took the scoots out on some of the area roads.  We picked 'em out based on how squiggly they looked on the map.


All I had with me was my little pocket camera, and that isn't good for getting photos while riding... so, a description of the ride: we rode out Highway 76 to Bull Shoals Lake.  Through Forsythe, Rockaway Beach, Miriam Woods, and Walnut Shade... nice riding in those folksy-sounding places.  Rockaway Beach reminded us a bit of the Arnolds Park area around Lake Okoboji in Iowa - lots of cabins and little getaways.  Highway 76 to 176, which took us back to Highway 65, the 4 lane main road that runs north/south past Branson.  The speed limit is 65 on this freeway, with some steep up and downs - a couple of the steep ups put us down to 55 mph.  There is a limit to the highway work these scoots can handle.

We stopped for fuel (104 mpg for me, 109 for Joan), and to pick up a few groceries.  Joan suggested we drive through the parking lot at the store to see if we could find the current "scooter tag": your scoot with a Smart Car.  Nope.  Surprisingly, on the little two-lane on the way back to the RV park, there was a Smart Car parked by a small shop...


Got it!

We will be heading out tomorrow; we decided to stay in this evening - well, out under the awning of the motorhome - and put the scoots away in the trailer.  We'll be ready to roll.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

A day in the city...


Silver Dollar City, that is.

Silver Dollar City is an amusement park in Branson.  Not a typical amusement park - oh, there are rides, and greasy food, and themes, but Silver Dollar City is also about entertainment and craftspeople.  The current theme is World Fest...


Silver Dollar City celebrates Americana, but World Fest brings other countries and cultures to the park.

It was a chilly ride to the park first thing in the morning on the scooters; nice curvy roads all the way there, though.  We were there early enough to get a good parking place (yes, they have free parking) and catch the tram that takes you from parking to the park...



We had breakfast there, before they allow people to enter the park; a buffet, but a country-feel to the food choices.  Our timing was good - just as we finished eating, the park opened.  The crowd was lighter than I expected.  We looked through the park newspaper to determine what entertainment we wanted to see - they have venues all around the park, but the timing doesn't always work to go right from one to another.  We watched some opening entertainment...\


... then walked around a bit to see some craftspeople and get on a couple rides...





Took in a few shows...






By noon, the crowds were thick...



Nice weather and reasonable season pass prices make it easy for people who live near or come to the area often to do the park for a few hours instead of an all-day marathon.  We stood in some lines, walked around, ate some greasy food... the crowds were interesting: older folks and a lot of school age kids, apparently doing class trips (said so on their matching t-shirts).

The weather was lovely: low 70s and sunshine.  The kids didn't take to the water rides until about noon...


After which, there were a lot of wet people, with squishy shoes, walking around the park.

By late afternoon, the park was getting quiet again...


I heard one employee telling a guest that they were "expecting about 15,000 people today"... we thought it might be quiet on a week day; not during most of the day.

They have a "late show" - a relative term, since that show starts at 6:00, when the rest of the park closes.  We decided to take a pass on that, and headed back to the trams to get to the scoots.  A relaxing grown-up supper out topped off a very nice day.  And still back to the RV in time for Izzy to get a walk around the park before the sun set.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

College of the Ozarks...


Also known as Hard Work U.


When we're in Branson, one of our "must do" lunch stops is at the College of the Ozarks.  The restaurant is staffed by students.  In fact, the students here all do 15 hours of work each week, plus a 2-week 40 hour per week stint during breaks.  In return, they graduate with no student debt; no tuition is charged.  They can work more during their break to cover room and board.  Seems like a great premise to me, especially with college costs these days.  College of the Ozarks offers BA and BS degrees in over 30 areas; has an enrollment of 1,500.

Our waitress today was from Tennessee - and obviously well-trained.  Listening to other wait staff in the very nice dining area, that was a definite theme.

Where the restaurant is located...


Both before and after lunch, we were out exploring on the scooters.  The roads in and around Branson are hilly and curvy - just what we like.  Nice views from an overlook...




Riding through downtown and the "Red, Green, and Yellow" routes, you pass all the theaters and attractions... and there are a bunch.  We eventually made our way to the Branson Landing shopping area... couldn't pass up a visit to Bass Pro Shop.  And a nice walk along Lake Taneycomo...



A gorgeous day today: high in the low 70s.  Just right for a light jacket on the scoots.  This is our first time here in the spring (we have done autumn) - the crowds are lighter.  The traffic on the in-town main roads isn't bumper-to-bumper.  Nice.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More cat walking...


Well, more like meandering.  When Izzy and I go for a walk, it isn't like walking a dog - there is no heeling, like with a dog.  We take a few steps, stop and smell the grass... or a rock... or look at a bug.  I rarely influence the direction.

After sunset this evening, Izzy wanted to go out.  I clipped on her leash and out we went.  I didn't know, but Joan was taking photos of us through the dinette window in the motorhome.  No, you can't see in - the window is heavily tinted; I am surprised she was able to get anything, considering that tint and the diminishing light outside.

We were down a couple sites...


There are some dandelions at the puffball stage...


Izzy got one of those puffballs between her and the leash, and it stuck to her fur...


I was picking the bits of dandelion out of her fur, and... "Hisssssssssss!"


Joan thought this "scolding" photo was pretty funny.  I am trying to teach Izzy respect...yeah, not a concept that cats buy into.

We don't hold a grudge, though...


I mean, seriously, how could you hold a grudge with that cute little face?  And, Izzy is kinda sweet, too.

;-)


Short driving day...


We're planning a few days in Branson, after getting service done this morning.  Well, just the initial oil change.  We had an 8:00 am appointment, and (as usual) were there early; time to find a place to put the cargo trailer.

We knew that they didn't have a bay that would accommodate our size - Mike, the service manager, said they'd do the work outside.

The young mechanic came out to put the motorhome in front of the service bay... driving it like it was a Mustang... "Easy there, big fella!" I said... yeah, we were in the motorhome while he moved it.  And stayed in it while he did the oil change and 20 point check (or however many points they check).


Joan said, "Maybe they are more careful with it, knowing we are in here."

"Maybe."

The young guy was quick with his work, and had us done around 8:30.  Too early for us to head to the RV park in Branson, so we hooked up the trailer and headed to Village Inn for a leisurely breakfast.

It is 30 miles from the Ford dealer in Ozark to Branson; nice 4-lane road all the way...


And plenty of billboards along the way, telling you what shows you should see while in Branson...


Still a bit early for checking in, so we stopped at Target and Wal-Mart to pick up supplies and groceries.  The Aspect is small enough that big store parking lots aren't an issue.

Around 11:00, we rolled into the Escapees park in Branson (well, Hollister).  We have stayed here before - the Escapees parks are friendly, and this one is well located.  I checked with the manager to see if it would be OK to wash our rig, explaining about all the rain we drove through and promising to use very little water... "No problem."

Not wanting to make a wet mess of our site, I was conservative about the water use, but the Aspect was pretty dirty.  The baby shampoo that Winnebago recommends does a good job getting it clean; well, that and some scrubbing and wiping down.  It is looking good again...



Compared to where we stayed last night, this Escapees park is almost a bargain - less money, more scenic, and bunch of cable TV channels.  There is a picnic table at each site, and a small concrete patio.  All for less than $25 per night, if you are an Escapees member.

For the non-RVers, there is no standard for RV parks.  Most offer electric, water, and sewer.  Some have cable TV and wifi.  Level sites are a plus, as are pull-through sites for us to easily use the scooters (in and out of the trailer).  This park has gravel roads and gravel sites, with grassy areas between each site.  Little Izzy is a fan of having some grass to walk on.

Escapees tend to be full or extended time RVers; it's not a requirement, though.  As such, they tend to be more retired folks and fewer young families with kids, like you often find at KOAs and state parks.  Quieter.  And, they generally have some kind of social hour.

This park is located alongside Turkey Creek (a branch off Taneycomo) - we have a view of the water 100 yards or so away.  We have launched our kayaks here in the past (didn't bring them along this time).

Branson is a hopping place; a bit quieter right now than during the summer.  This park is only about half occupied, something we haven't seen when visiting here in the fall.  We're just looking for some relaxation.  We will probably do a day at Silver Dollar City, and take the scoots on some of the curvy roads in the area.

--------------------

Bird Watching...

No, not me with a pair of binoculars.  With the trees, there are a lot of birds nearby.  Little Izzy loves watching the birds.  She watched them from one of the windows in the RV, then asked to go outside for a walk.  Yes, she has to be on a leash... and she patiently waits by the door for me to clip it on. 

We walked for a bit, then the birds in the tree above her started making a fuss.  They are safely beyond her ability to catch them, but she keeps an eye on them...



Watching them fly, this way and that...