All Aboard!

Today I took a ride on a train. The Branson Scenic Railroad to be exact. It’s a ride beginning in downtown Branson that winds through the mountains surrounding the city. The two hour trip is relaxing. The conductor provides commentary about points of interest. There’s music piped through the cars – 1940’s swing tunes. I had lunch on the train. Chicken salad and lemonade from the concession car.

The rest of the day I spent exploring. Downtown Branson has a historic section with lots of old-fashioned stores. I went into Dick’s 5 & 10. They have every kind of souvenir you could want. Also household goods, clothes, etc. One sad thing I learned – penny candy is now dime candy.

There’s free trolley that takes you all over the downtown are. I was the only rider when I got on so the driver and I had a conversation. Turns out he was born and grew up in Indiana!

Tonight I have rented a site in a lovely campground right in the city. Carson’s Country Campground. The ladies who run the place are wonderful. They helped me pick out a spot, and offered me a cot in the office if it storms. Although I’ll be just fine in the van. (I’m the only tenter here so I don’t think this is a regular suggestion.)

 

 

 

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Branson!

Here I am in Branson, Missouri, which turns out to be a lot like Las Vegas. I want to go to a show or two, however, tonight we are in a tornado watch. Thunderstorms are predicted all night so I’m in a motel. I don’t want to be out in a storm in a town where I don’t know where I’m going, so the shows will have to wait.

I have booked a campground for the next two nights that is right in town. I’ll be able to move there tomorrow.

My goodness, this town is literally in the mountains. I don’t think there is any street that doesn’t go up and down. And ya’ll know how I feel about mountain driving. Gaahhhhh!

But it’s interesting. Lots of buildings that are more than just buildings. That first picture is a restaurant. Theaters and museums are extravagant.

           

Imagine driving down the street and seeing this.

It’s a theater.

Hopefully I’ll get to a few State Parks on the way home.

 

 

Go West Old Woman

I’m headed west. I decided to see where Interstate Highway 24 goes. I’ve been as far as Huntington, about 30 miles west of  Fort Wayne, but beyond that…no. So heading that way.

However, going south seems like a good plan, too, since this far north there are no campgrounds open yet. I’ll probably follow 24 into Missouri and then I think I might end up in Branson. It’s one of those places I haven’t been to yet, so, yeah. Gotta go. I got a nice tax refund this year and it’s begging to be spent. Hopefully there will be a show or two I want to see.

This will be  2 week trip. I’ll be back in Fort Wayne by April 7 because I have an event to attend.

Any suggestions about Branson or that area would be appreciated.

 

 

Family Time

I’ve been spending time with various family members the past couple of weeks. First with my sister and brother in Cincinnati. Good to just sit back and relax while catching up.
Then I went back to Fort Wayne to spend a few days with my daughter and her family. This is my “home base.”


Then we all got together back in Cincinnati – my sisters, brother, both daughters, the in-laws and the grandkids. We went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It’s the last tour before they shut down operations forever, so I was really happy that the little ones  got to see it.

Don’t know where I’ll be heading off to from here. Depends on where the warm weather is. I may have to wait a while, heh.

Mountains and More Mountains

Tuesday – I went to Shenandoah National Park – the first NP in my new life. I got the America the Beautiful Senior Pass which lets me in all National Parks for free for the rest of my life.  I also got the first stamp in my National Parks Passport Book. Thanks Deb!

I drove through about half the park. Saw a lot of hikers, but I didn’t feel like climbing up and down mountains. And it was cold and rainy. So, just the one picture.  And, once again, all the buildings were closed. I guess I thought all the park facilities were open year round, but no, the Visitor Centers and campgrounds don’t open for another few weeks. Even the Lodge was closed. So tonight I’m parked at a Walmart.

Beautiful park, disappointing day.

Wednesday – I’ve been driving through the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, up into Pennsylvania, and back down into West Virginia. And just when I was getting used to mountain driving, (which has not been something I enjoy) the winds picked up until they were 25 mph. Not fun while going up and down, dodging semi’s and trying to go the 70 mph speed limit. The gusts were so strong I was getting scared. So I stopped at a motel to wait it out. Should be better tomorrow.

 

 

 

I Feel Like John Denver

“…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…”

Today I spent most of the day driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s the same idea as the Natchez  Trace that my sister and I drove last Fall. It’s  a National Park Service roadway that winds for 480 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I didn’t drive it all. After 6 hours of mountain roads, I was ready to hit the highway again.

       

There’s lots of scenic views, of course. And I stopped at Mabry’s Mill, said to be the most photographed mill in the country. It is located in a small settlement of 1800’s era farm buildings. Open to the public as a living museum. Of course, as is my luck, it’s too early in the year for any of them to be open. I really need to come back in the summer.

        

I did do some hiking. This bridge spans the Round Meadow Creek and the path led down the side of a gorge. And up again, “pant, pant.”

         

Then tonight I am camping for the first time on this trip. Even here in the South the past week hasn’t been warm enough, so I was staying in motels. I’m settled in the Shenandoah Valley in a lovely campground. Going to watch a movie and then bed.

Another Bucket List item – Check!

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What a glorious day! I’m in Asheville, NC and today I went to the Biltmore Estate. I’ve wanted to see it forever… or at least since grade school.

The grounds are amazing. You drive for 2 miles just to get to the house. Ha! A “House” that has  250 rooms. When you buy a ticket they give you a time that you have to wait for to get in. So many people are going through they don’t want to have a crowd jam.

It was built in the 1890’s by George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius, the railroad magnate. It is still owned by the Vanderbilt family, but was opened to the public in 1930 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

The tour is self-done. You just wander through the building on a set route with a guidebook or a recording device that tells you what the room is and facts about it. There are also human guides throughout who can answer questions. There’s a special exhibit right now of costumes from movies that were chosen because the stories are from some of George Vanderbilt’s favorite books. He was quite a reader. Thousands of books all over the house as well as a huge library.

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Then I went through the gardens. There are many different ones, including roses, azaleas, and shrubs. There’s a bass pond that you reach by walking through a wooded glen with a bubbling brook. Beautiful. A conservatory houses an orchid room, a tropical room, and more.

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After that, I went to the Antler Hill area which was where the farm workers lived. It’s now an entertainment spot with a farm, a winery, and cafes. I did the wine tasting and bought a bottle of Biltmore wine that is made right there on the estate. Had a delicious lunch of crab cakes and peanut butter pie. And coffee. A large coffee. heh

Entrance to all of the areas is included in the price of the ticket to enter the estate. Pricy, but oh so worth it.