Leaving Little Rock we headed west to Bentonville, Arkansas to see my Aunt Shirley and her family. Bentonville is also know for being the headquarters of Walmart. Bill and I last visited her in October, 2013 so we really looked forward to the visit. I was still under the weather from the tick bite and between the Prednisone and the effects of the bite itself, I was definitely not well. While there we had also hoped to take side trips to visit Fort Smith and beautiful Eureka Springs, but all those plans were cancelled. We did enjoy some delightful time with my Aunt Shirley, sitting on her back deck in the afternoon and watching the sun set from her front porch in the evening. She fixed some delicious meals and we also had family time with my Uncle Burt and cousins and their children. While we were there we got to celebrate the graduation of one family member from the University of Arkansas and the 17th birthday of another. Such treasured memories.
Far too soon it was time to continue our summer travels and head towards Branson, Missouri. Getting from Bentonville to Branson was not easy and a couple times we stopped to let the brakes cool down. Even though there many hills and curves, it was a beautiful drive through the Mark Twain National Forest.
We arrived at our nice campground located just outside the Branson town limits and a short drive to Branson Landing. The campground had recently been closed due to flooding and evidence of flood damage was still visible. It was surprisingly hot during our three night stay with daytime highs hovering around 90 degrees.
To be honest, Branson is really not our thing. It is too much of a tourist trap for our liking and we were not interested in the country shows or the Silver Dollar City amusement park. I can see how it would be a great place for people who like those kinds of things. Located in the heart of the Ozarks, Branson 25 years ago was nicknamed “the live country music capital of the universe”. Amazing considering its location deep in the Ozarks and isolated from big cities and interstates. Along Country Music Boulevard, also called the Strip, think of Lawrence Welk, fake Elvis shows, Jim Stafford, Andy Williams Theater, George Strait, Patsy Cline, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Oak Ridge Boys, wax museums, toy museum, Titanic Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, magic shows, Chinese acrobatics and the list goes on and on and on. Advertisements refer to more than 100 different shows at 50 different venues to choose from on a regular basis. For many, the highlight is Silver Dollar City, a theme park modeled after an 1880’s Ozark pioneer village with rides and entertainment. Branson is definitely a place for wholesome family entertainment and deep pockets.
In 2006 they added Branson Landing along the shore of Lake Taneycomo with high end retail shops and restaurants. There is a fountain show each hour throughout the day and even though we went twice in hopes of seeing a show, there didn’t seem to be much going on. The fountain shows were advertised as water fountains shooting 120 foot geysers accompanied by fire, fancy lights and rousing music. The area was recently flooded so we didn’t know whether the fountains were only partially working because of flood damage or the fact the summer season had not yet started.
We walked along Main Street, visiting Dick’s Old Time 5 & 10. Jammed full of everything you could imagine, it reminded me of the Ben Franklin store from my childhood. It was fun walking around and browsing all the “stuff”.
This is certainly a beautiful area of the country.
Next stop: Onondaga Cave State Park, Missouri
- Nicknamed the Show Me State
- Aunt Jemima pancake flour invented in St Joseph
- Tums invented in Missouri
- A new highway running from Chicago to the West Coast got its name at a meeting in Springfield, Missouri. Became known as Route 66
- First Olympics in the U.S. were held in conjunction with the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. It was the only time grease-pole climbing was an Olympic event
- Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to fly in 1910 in St Louis
- Waffle cones, hot dogs, cotton candy, Dr. Pepper and iced tea were all first served to the public at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis
- The eight-track tape was invented in 1964 by Bill Lear of Hannibal, Missouri. He also founded the Lear Jet Corporation.