Mark Twain Day

Sunday, April 2 – I spent the night at Mark Twain Lake State Park. It’s just west of Hannibal, Mo where Samuel Clemens grew up. The park includes the village of Florida, Mo, where he was born.

Since the season just started, there  was only one other campsite occupied. The people there came over and invited me to supper. They had cooked a big pot of chili and said they thought I might be lonely and wanted to share. Kim, her husband Topper, and Kim’s mom Edna were thrilled that I accepted. We had a lively dinner conversation and enjoyed their 2 dogs’ antics. Kim had just retired before I did, and since Topper is still working, they do short weekend trips. We compared notes on places to go and the joys of retirement.

Monday morning I went to the State Park museum. Mary Ann, the ranger who runs it,  let me in early cause I got there a half hour before it opened. She told me come on in since I was already there. It’s an amazing place. They have the original house where he was born. He lived there for 4 years before the family moved to Hannibal. It has interactive displays about his life and works, and a very good movie. It also has furniture from his homes.

I spent another hour wandering the park. The land had been designated a State Park in the 1920’s with the help of Clemmons daughter. It’s along the Salt River, with the lake being formed by a dam built in the 1950’s.


After that, I got back on the highway and headed into Hannibal. There is a Mark Twain Museum there also, along with the house he grew up in, The cave from Tom Sawyer is nearby. but it rained all afternoon so I stuck to the indoor stuff. This museum was as good as the first one. Many more displays about  his books, lots of stories recounting his youth,  travels, and family, more historical information about the times he lived in, and a special exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings from his illustrations of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Then, right across the street was the Hannibal Museum. Did you know that Clemmons is not the only famous person to have lived there? Cliff Edwards was a performer known as “Ukelele Ike” and was the voice of Jimminy Cricket in Disney’s “Pinnochio.” And Maggie Brown, who you may know as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” (She was never called Molly, that was made up for the musical) was born and grew up in Hannibal.

It was a most satisfying day.


Still in Branson

Today I had an AMAZING adventure! I went out to Table Rock Mountain and CLIMBED it. It was quite a journey. The trails are hard, even expert, but I prevailed. It took me 4 HOURS and 23 minutes. I crawled over 17 BOULDERS some were as big as a car, swam across a ROARING creek called the Arukiddinme, KILLED 2 snakes, AND…
you did look at a calendar today, didn’t you?

OKay, here’s what really happened. I slept in til 8:00. Had some breakfast. Decided I didn’t want to drive out anywhere so I did my walking at the Branson Outlet Mall. Had lunch at A & W. Came back to camp and had a great conversation with Joann, one of the campground hosts. Took a shower. Read a little. Worked on the novel. Ate dinner at an oriental restaurant that’s right next to the campground. Caught up on some TV. And then watched a movie.

Now that’s what I call a good, lazy day.

A Full Day

A full day today. First I went exploring around the area. I found the Table Rock Dam and a Visitor Center for it that was amazing. The dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950’s to stop the White River from flooding. It formed the Table Rock Lake which spans several counties. The museum in the visitor center has information about the history of the dam, the wildlife in this area, the importance of water conservation and hydro-electric energy, and info about the Corps. They go all the back to the Revolutionary War! The building itself uses local limestone as part of the walls.

Then I stopped by the Table Rock State Park just down the road. Table Rock, by the way, is a mountain. The day was cool and eventually sunny, so a hike was in order. After a 2.5 mile walk through the woods, I was tired. Went back to the camp and rested until it was time for the evening activity.


The Dixie Stampede is a dinner and show created by Dolly Parton. The spectacular showcase was exciting and lots of fun. It begins with a walk through the stables where you can see all the horses used in the show. Then you go into a small theater where musical entertainers do a musical comedy routine. Imagine the song “I Want My MTV” done bluegrass style. Then it’s into the auditorium for the main event.

The show is a history of the west, starting with several buffalo. Then we see the Native American culture, the settlers moving in, and the War Between the States. The audience is divided into the North side and the South side, (I was on the north, of course). The acts are portrayed as contests with the performers in opposing groups. There are audience participation contests, too. Unfortunately, tonight the South won. Lots of music and comedy are incorporated. The riders change costumes and characters throughout.

It’s quite a show.

So tomorrow will be a quiet day, I think,  Laundry and movies are on the schedule.

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.)





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.