All posts by RVtravels

On Route 66 Again

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Missouri – Kansas state line

Since we were close to Route 66, we went back to visit some of our favorite places.  We stopped in again to visit Larry, aka Supertam, in Cartersville and found him working on his rail car.  When finished it will be a tribute to Route 66.

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We found our card framed and amongst his huge collection of Superman memorabilia.

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Even the ice cubes are Superman ice cubes!

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He had yet another Route 66 project underway.  These little towns are very dependent upon Route 66 visitors so they are always looking for ways to get traffic to slow down, stop, and spend time and money.  We were lucky enough to be there for his 10th anniversary and ice cream was 99 cents a scoop for the month of June.

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The finished memorial.
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We donated to the cause.

The next stop was Galena, KS.  This gas station used to be called Four Sisters on the Route but has been renamed Cars on the Route after is was used for inspiration in the movie “Cars”.  Mater is still looking good.

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We took time to go in the Galena Murder Bordello across the road which is now an antique store.  Ghosts tours have been given over the years and “ghost specialists/ghost busters” have been brought in and have confirmed supernatural spirits!  The lady working at Cars on the Route used to be a tour guide and shared her hair raising experiences!

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Obligatory photo on Rainbow Bridge at Brush Creek.
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Stopping by to drive across the Low Water Bridge, Joplin.

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A stop in Joplin was next.  New murals have been added.  We went off Route 66 to visit the memorial to those who lost their life in the tornado of 2011.  A catastrophic EF5 rated multiple vortex tornado came through on May 22, 2011.  It reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile with winds greater than 200 mph and approximately 13 miles long as it tore through the southern part of the city.  There were 161 fatalities and 1,000 inuries.  It destroyed 8,000 buildings and 18,000 trees.  Joplin has become a city of hope, perserverance, and dedication.  For pictures taken after the tornado and 5 years later visit the following link:  http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2016/05/21/five-years-after-devastating-may-2011-joplin-tornado-heres-what-city-looks-like/83589110/

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Our next trip on Route 66 was to Miami, (my-am-uh) Oklahoma which is named after a Native American tribe .  This town became a mining boomtown due the discovery of extensive lead and zinc deposits in 1905.  We had met a couple while playing pickleball in Joplin and Jerry invited us to his Rotary Club Luncheon.  We arrived early enough before lunch to walk the main street.

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We had time to tour the 1929 Coleman Theatre and were lucky enough to get a tour guide, Guy, who was passionate about, not only the history of the theatre, but the town and nearby towns.  He was a retired school teacher born and raised in the area and we got the behind the scenes tour too.  The vaudeville theatre and movie palace was built by zinc mining magnate George Coleman, Sr. at a cost of $590,000 so that his wife did not have to travel to Paris for shows.  It has had stars such as Will Rogers, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby grace its stage.  Perhaps the biggest star to return during the restoration is the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ.  Opulent is the word which comes to mind when describing the interior and it’s amazing how it’s been painstakingly restored to it’s original Louis XV décor.  Trim accented with gold leaf, carved mahogany moldings and railings and stained glass windows give a glimpse of the prosperity of that era.

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Looking out from the stage.
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Onstage with Guy, our tour guide.
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The “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ

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Box seating
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Fine detailing.
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Intricate carving on the seats.
Fancy water fountain (non nonfunctioning)
Fancy water fountain (non nonfunctioning)
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Dressing room
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The “green room” where the stars would relax until it was their turn to appear on stage.
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Thick steel door which used to lead to a tunnel to the hotel across the street. Stars entered and exited via the tunnel to avoid the adoring fans. 
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Charles Banks Wilson, famous Miami artist, used the ballroom space prior to renovations to paint the large murals which now line the great dome of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building.   “Giclees” of those murals were donated to the Coleman Theatre to commemorate the creation of these arts of work in this facility.
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Discovery and Exploration 1541 – 1820
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Indian Immigration 1820 -1885
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Settlement 1870-1906
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Four way stop – across from Coleman Theatre

 

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Old restaurant.

Guy, our tour guide gave us the history of Miami and of the neighboring town Picher, which has become a ghost town.  It was once a major national center of lead and zinc and produced more than 50% of the lead and zinc metal used in WWI.  Mining ceased in 1967 and when the government took over the mines, they in their infinite wisdom, stopped pumping out the water causing the mines to fill which then lead to contamination.  It was determined Picher was too toxic to be habitable.  A superfund pac was set up and residents were given money to relocate.  Most of the townspeople left but a few stayed and steadfastly refused to give up their property.

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“Chat” aka mine tailings. Too toxic by OK standards but other states buy it to use in their roads.

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We were fortunate on our Route 66 trip this past fall to meet some Route 66 legends and that luck continued with us as we revisited Route 66.  On our way back to Carthage we stopped in Baxter Springs at a newly renovated Route 66 diner, Angels on the Route.  The homemade strawberry shortcake was out of this world!

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Main street

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The 1930’s era restored service station, now a Visitor’s Center, was open this time around so we stopped in.

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Much to our delight and surprise we met a Route 66 icon.  As I was looking at the memorabilia and photographing a news clipping about “Crazy Legs” who was an inspiration for Mater’s character in Disney/Pixar’s movie “Cars”, a gentleman behind me asked if I would like to take a picture of the real thing.

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Dean Walker or “Crazy Legs” can turn his legs backwards and this feat inspired the movie makers to portray Mater as a good ‘ol boy tow truck and self proclaimed world’s best backwards driver.  “Crazy Legs” appeared on the Jay Leno show.  He is also the Kansas Historic Route 66 Ambassador and shared many memories of days gone by.  It was a real treat to meet this legend.

We had just enough time left in the day to visit the Baxter Springs Museum.  Surprisingly there was no fee to tour this large and impressive museum with artifacts from the days of the Osage Native Americans through the civil war and lead and zinc mining era.  “Crazy Legs” was proud his mother’s arrowhead collection was a display in the museum.

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Civil war cannon.   For more information on Quantrill’s raid go to the following link:   http://www.baxterspringsmuseum.org/Civil-War.html
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The museum had various mini rooms depicting time long ago. School’s in session.
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A very unruly student!

Thank goodness for Maytag!  Washing machines over the years.

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James Porter certainly had time on his hands.  This is the world’s longest hand carved wooden chain.  It is 1,145 feet long or as tall as a 95 story skyscraper or 3 1/2 football fields.  It earned him an appearance on the Johnny Carson show where he talked about whittling for 20 minutes.

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Hair stylist’s tools back in the day.

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A day on the Route well spent!

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Carthage, MO

Last fall we packed up our hippie volkswagon bus and headed to Chicago, IL for the start of our trip on Route 66 which is known as the “Mother Road” to Santa Monica, CA.  Our current travels in the Coach took us near Route 66 so we had to spend time again at some of our favorite spots in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  A new RV park, Camp Mi Casa on the Route, has opened on Route 66 right next to the renovated Route 66 Drive In Theater in Carthage, MO.  The owners, Dale and Stephanie, were wonderful hosts and we look forward to returning.  There are large drive through sites, a sparkling clean bathhouse (which also serves as the tornado shelter), a large patio to hang out on, and a refreshing walk in pool.  On site also is a shaved ice truck with tasty organic  flavors.  They even have a Route 66 concoction.

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Notice the jar of dill pickles. It’s for the dill pickle shaved ice.

We also went back to visit Boots Motel.  We had previously spent the night (in Clark Gable’s room) on our Route 66 trip.  The motel is in various stages of renovation to its original décor.  Since our visit, they had added neon lights and we wanted to see them firsthand.  We weren’t disappointed.

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The old Route 66 was just behind the RV park and on it we rode the bicycles to the Ruby Jack Trail.  We enjoyed the solitude and scenery as we pedaled down the trail.

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Just can’t get enough of the pungent aroma of honeysuckle.
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There’s beauty in everything. Sometimes you just have to wait for it. Budding thistle.

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Energy snack!
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I brake for blackberries. It’s a good thing Butch was in front of me or we would have had several collisions.
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And the race is on.
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Mooooving right along… Lots of farmland around here.

On our way to Joplin (on Route 66) to play pickleball we came across this new addition celebrating and honoring our armed forces, police, and firemen.  Claire Swatosh, a retired marine with Brothers With A Cause, created this tribute.

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We also took a personal tour of his “man cave” which housed a patriotic dune buggy.  The detailing was spectacular.  He uses it in parades and when visiting schools, clubs, or other organizations to promote the military and faith in America.

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“If you can’t stand behind our troops, try standing in front of them. They won’t mind.”
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Honk if You’re Cruisn’ Route 66!
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Final rusting place. Rust in Peace!

We were fortunate on this trip to find the old Route 66 Drive In Theater open for the season.  It’s been a long time since either of us have been to a drive in movie.  When you’re on Route 66, it feels like stepping back in time.  The double feature started after the playing of the National Anthem.

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On the last two nights in Carthage, we set up our portable pickleball net and did a demonstration followed by some play at the RV park.  As is anyone who tries pickleball, the owners quickly became addicted and started plans for building two courts!  And of course we had to share dessert on a stick with them.  Such fun and laughter.

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Butch giving directions for dessert on a stick.
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Baking the dessert over hot coals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branson, MO – Memorial Day

There were many events to choose from on this day we celebrate “all who gave some and those who gave all”.  Many of the fire departments in the area were having breakfasts and there were fireworks on Top of the Rocks.  All of the shows in Branson pay homage to the military at some point in their performance.   We were fortunate to meet Estel and Arlene via pickleball in Branson.  They are such a fun loving couple and love to host gatherings that include pickleball on their home court and adventures on Table Rock Lake.  So we spent the day in their company.

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View from the deck.
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View from his pickleball court.

After a morning filled with pickleball play, we gathered at the house for lunch.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, Estel is a superb chef!  We feasted on barbeque tri-tips that melted in your mouth and a variety of salads.  If you’re a facebook friend with me, you know I post a lot of recipes; and I do try them.  The stuffed strawberries were delectable.  More pickleball players showed up so it was back to the courts after lunch followed by a tour of the lake with Estel at the helm.

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Speeding through the lake. Wake for me!

Now it was time for the grand finale -a shrimp boil.  All of the ladies gathered in the kitchen to prep the food then turned it over to the men for cooking.  It was a gorgeous evening on the deck sharing stories while we enjoyed delicious food.  We look forward to more times like today when we meet up with them in Arizona.

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Complete with eye lashes!

 

Branson, MO – Around Town

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Lake Taneycomo. There’s a promenade along the lake. We enjoyed walks watching the ducklings and goslings grow up during the month we were there.

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Branson Landing celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year.  It is a $435 million retail entertainment destination located along the banks of Lake Taneycomo in Historic Downtown Branson.  There are over 100 shops and restaurants and a $7.5 million fountain.  Each night a fire and light fountain show takes place starting with the National Anthem.

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Tuesday afternoon farmer’s market at Branson Landing.
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Enjoy a 40 mile roundtrip excursion through the Ozarks and tunnels traveling in the luxury of trail travel from yesteryear.
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The new (Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel) and the old (train depot).

Historic Downtown Branson is where Branson got its start in 1888 (and survived with the building of Table Rock Dam).  It is reminiscent of a century old village with preserved and restored building facades, brick sidewalks, and Victorian lamp posts.  One of the historic landmarks is Dick’s 5 & 10 founded by Dick Hartley in 1961.  It is a well stocked 10,000 square foot store with over 75,000 different items.  There are over 1,100 different kinds of candy and snacks.  We enjoyed a sampling of the taffy.  There were some wacky flavors such as buttered popcorn!

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There are many shows and entertainment opportunities in Branson.  The museums, restaurants, and attractions often had eye catching motifs.  The shows we took in are featured in a previous blog.  Below are interesting pictures around town.

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Downtown Branson in the horizon.
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This is the ferris wheel from the Navy Pier in Chicago, IL. It was being assembled during our stay and should be ready by July, 2016.

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A new amusement venue in the works with a plane inside.

Table Rock Lake is a link in a chain of 6 dams that produce hydropower and reduce flooding on the White River.  Table Rock Dam, 6423 feet long, was originally authorized by Congress to be built in 1941 but was delayed due to WWII, the Korean War, and the building of Bull Shoals Dam.  Construction began in 1954 and was completed in 1959 to protect the property in the downstream from the ravages of the White River.

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Hydropower plant to the right.

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Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake.
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Auxiliary relief area for the dam (to the left). Chateau on the Lake on the right in the background (featured in Branson, MO – Let’s Eat blog).
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Fish hatchery at the base of the dam.

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“The Ozarks, “where life is worthwhile, where people not only are making a living but living a life, the hunters’ heaven and the fishermen’s paradise, where silver springs gush from rocky hillsides, and roar over ledges, tumbling down some forgotten but satisfied ravine…” Dewey Jackson Short

 

 

 

 

 

Branson, MO – Gaston’s White River Resort

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Runway
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Upstream – A massive state of the art dock was built to hold the boats.
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Downstream

Drive in or fly in to this first class accommodation which is located on two miles of river frontage on the White River.  Our last motorcycle ride from Branson took us to Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, AR.  The resort started in 1958 with 6 small cottages and 6 boats on 20 acres.  Now it’s 400 acres with 79 cottages.  It’s a world-class spot for trout fishing.  You can fish on your own or hire an experienced guide to help you land your daily limit then turn them over to the restaurant where they will be cooked to your liking.  A Fly Fishing School is also available on site.

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We stopped in for lunch and was greeted by a King snake who finally made its way back under the garden wall.  The historic restaurant offers magnificent views of White River in a cozy atmosphere.  The ceiling and walls are covered with old tools, antiques, and historic photography.

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After a delicious meal, we had to walk it off so we sauntered over to one of the two nature trails.   Antiques are even put to use along the trail.  There’s an assortment of birds (turkeys, peacocks, guinea hens, pheasants, and others) loose or in pens.  The girls were locked in the pen and the boys were trying to persuade them to come out.  Fortunately one of the boys put on a display for us.

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Proud as a peacock!
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A model peacock. He did a pirouette to show all of his beautiful sides.
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This peacock tail (train) reminds me of dresses I’ve seen.

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Please let us come in!

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Unique seats for a resting place. There were several along the trail.
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Field of wildflowers – plant it and they will come. Butterflies fluttering and bees buzzing.
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We found the jeep!

After our stroll we headed over to Bull Shoals Dam and Bull Shoals Lake, just a few miles down the road.  The dam, built for flood control and power generation, was started in 1947 and completed in 1951.  Above the dam there is 6,036 square miles of drainage area which offers many fun recreational opportunities, especially bass and walleye fishing.  When the water level gets too high, water is released.  A  warning horn or siren  signals a discharge of water so those downstream can be prepared for a rush of water.  Bull Shoals Lake is known for its clean, clear water with nearly 1000 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

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Bull Shoals Lake

From the dam we cruised through the mountains to the Peel’s Ferry for a cheap thrill.  The Peel Ferry was developed when the White River was dammed to make Bull Shoals Lake.   If you drove around the lake, it would take about an hour and a half.  The short ferry ride is about 25 minutes and operates during the day, 7 days a week, weather permitting FOR FREE.  The ferry is actually a barge and can carry up to 6 cars.

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Back on curvy solid land!
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Water level marker along the road for flooding water in heavy rains or when water is released from the dam.

Branson, MO – Top of the Rock, Ridgedale, MO

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Table Rock Lake – 800 miles of shoreline

We spent a glorious sunny day at Bass Pro Founder Johnny Morris’ Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve.  It was a compilation of all the beautiful scenery we had seen this month throughout Arkansas and Missouri in one place.  Johnny Morris clearly values conserving the natural habitat while making the outdoors accessible for all.  He has several other similar ventures in the area.  We started off with a 2 1/2 mile ride in an electric golf cart along the Lost Canyon Nature Trail.

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Curvy path on the trail.

The trail would take us in close contact with “dramatic features” in nature such as stunning rock formations, unforgettable waterfalls, beautiful views of Table Rock Lake, and the Lost Canyon Cave.

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Caves – legend has it Jesse James and his gang hid out in caves in this area
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Entrance to Lost Canyon Cave.
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Drive up Bat Bar.

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The centerpiece of the four story cave is a cascading waterfall.
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Baby bat on the ceiling.

We encountered two wooden covered bridges built by the local Amish.  The floors were open metal grates which allowed you to view the rushing water beneath.

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Waterfalls coming out of Lost Canyon Cave. 

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Bear cave

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Table Rock Lake in the far background.
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Carbon dated Wooly Mammoth skeleton.

Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum was built by the same design team as the world-renowned Chicago Field Museum.  Johnny Morris wanted his museum to celebrate the rich ancient history of the Ozarks and commemorate the people and animals that came before us.

There were many beautiful outdoor fireplaces to sit and relax by.

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Arnie’s Barn is a 150 year old wooden barn that was brought from Arnold Palmer’s hometown in Latrobe, PA and reconstructed at Top of the Rock by a local Amish family.  Notice the soaring, vaulted ceilings.  It houses a Mexican restaurant, gift shop, and Top of the Rock Pro Shop.

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Something new and unexpected to Top of the Rock – a sink hole.  Excavation has begun as it is thought this cave links to the other cave on the tour.  They hope to connect it with the tour.

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One of a kind practice facilities in an incredible setting!  The Arnold Palmer Driving Range has sixteen target greens and three tee decks.  You can even practice at night when the greens are lit with recessed lighting.

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To the far right is Arnie’s Barn.  In the middle is the museum and to the left is Osage Restaurant, Buffalo Bar, and End of the Trail Wine Cellar.

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Ceiling of the elevator.

You can stroll down a stone lined stairway (or take the elevator) and hallway to the wine tasting bar or All-American Whiskey Room.  The hallway is lined with candles and wine cellar vaults.  Banquet space is also available down here.

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We had dinner at the Buffalo Bar – an open-air patio with a breathtaking sweeping view of Table Rock Lake and the Ozarks.  If you sit at the end of the patio you can admire the infinity pool with a magnificent “End of the Trail” bronze statue commemorating Native Americans.  We enjoyed tasty wood-fired pizza and spirits as we waited for the “best sunset in the country.”

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This place is filled with amazing structures!  The Chapel of the Ozarks is a three story stone wedding chapel perched on a cliff-side with a stunning view of the lake.

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At sunset music is played on a bagpipe (live) and this authentic Civil War cannon is fired.

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Majestic sunset leaving a feeling of being on top of the world at Top of the Rock.

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Top of the Rock’s motto is “the only thing we overlook is the view of Table Rock Lake.”  No truer words spoken.

 

 

 

 

“Have a Heckuva Day at Dogpatch USA”

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Nestled in the backwoods of the Ozarks is the remains of Dogpatch USA Amusement Park.  This is off the beaten path except if you’re out on a motorcycle as it is on one of the notorious motorcycle routes, Route 7 near Jasper, AR.  Even though it gives the essence of  a graveyard, it is still popular with the urban explorers.

This town was first known as Marble Falls but the name was changed to Dogpatch when the amusement park was built.  It has since been successfully petitioned back to the name Marble Falls by local residents.  Dogpatch USA was originally a trout farm and was sold in 1968.  With the blessing of Al Capp it was turned into a rustic 825 acre theme park based on his Li’l Abner comic strip as long as it did not conflict with his rustic hillbilly Li’l Abner theme.

The star attraction was the trout pond where you could catch as much fish as you like and have it cleaned and packed in ice for $1 per pound.  If you didn’t want to take it home, the staff at Dogpatch restaurant would cook up your catch and serve it to you for dinner.

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The hick motif carried over to the rides and building names – Barney Barnsmell’s Skunk Works, Rotten Ralphie’s Rick-o-Shay Rifle Range, a roller coaster, Earthquake McGoon’s Brain Rattler, and West Po’k Chop Speshul, a miniature train with passenger cars which carried you on a circular track around the park.  During the first year, the park’s attractions also included surrey rides, trail rides, a stable, an apiary, a grist mill tour, a slide, a petting zoo, and a “mule swing”.

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You can see the tracks along the path. Also a waterslide dropping you into the creek in the background.

Cabins located in the deep Ozark Mountains were dismantled and reassembled on the site to give the semblance of Li’l Abner’s rustic home and hometown.

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Swingn’ Bridge

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The park also had other buildings in which artisans demonstrated their work, including candlemaking, glassblowing, and woodcarving.  Local crafts were available for purchase, including handmade dulcimers, smoking chips, and embroidered aprons.

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By the mid 70s things started going downhill – rising interest rates, a national energy crisis keeping people from traveling, fading of hillbillies from pop culture all contributed to start of this theme park’s demise.  Thrill parks with more exciting rides were popping up and Dogpatch couldn’t compete.  The park changed ownership several times.  One of the owners tried opening a ski lodge, convention center, roller rink, and motel as a last gasp.  The park closed in 1993 and portions have been sold off.  One lady bought the ski lodge, convention center, roller rink, and motel.  Some buildings are still operational.

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What was left of the park was sold again to Charles “Bud” Pelsor, the inventor of a “spill proof” dog bowl and his partners.  Pelsor, who had recently purchased much of the surrounding land is trying to restore the park as an ecotourism village.  The day we were there, volunteers were cutting grass and painting.  Unfortunately since the renovations have started, so has vandalism and arson.

In order to come on to the property (our original reason was to photograph Triple Falls which is on the property) you must sign a waiver.  As luck would have it, the volunteers did not have any handy so we were invited up to Bud’s house.  We spent an hour talking about the park and his dream.  In addition, we got to meet Miss Arkansas Diamond, a full blooded wolf.  She is from a Native American Chief’s “dream” litter as her bloodline contains blood from all of the Arkansas Native American wolves.

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Kissing Rocks

Branson, MO – It’s Show Time in the Show Me State!

Branson’s entertainment industry started as a result of the 1907 publication of the book “The Shepherd of the Hills”.  The book told the story of the self-reliant and stoic hill people and of the wooded valleys, the mountain balds and the incredible cave the author, Harold Bell Wright, encountered while finding a more suitable climate for his health.  The book was a huge success as millions of copies were sold in several languages and four movies were filmed (one with John Wayne).  Now that the Ozarks(Branson) had been introduced to the world, it attracted an influx of visitors.  One savvy lady with foresight began presenting the very first dramatization of Wright’s story, right on the front lawn of the homestead he had written about.  The rest is history.  More and more shows began springing up and now there is a staggering variety of live entertainment available for the millions of visitors each year.

The first theater was the Historic Owen Theatre built in 1936 to look like a cabin nestled in the Ozarks by Jim Owen.  He first operated float trips on the White River through the Ozarks.  They were first enjoyed by the local fisherman, but later became popular with the elite group and celebrities.  Some of his most prestigious clients were Gene Autry, Charlton Heston, and Joe DiMaggio.  After being aboard one of Jim’s float trips, an L.A. producer was so impressed with his hillbilly stories that he created an entire series called……you guessed it, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The Owen Theatre began as a local movie house named The Hillbilly Theater but later hosted live shows seating 203.  It’s located in the historic downtown district and still features music shows and occasional movies.  While it has undergone some remodeling, the distinctive architecture and interior stone walls were left intact making it a unique building.

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Owen Theatre 2016

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Our first show was Moses at the Sight and Sound Theatre.  It first opened in Lancaster, PA in 2014 and then was recently sent to Branson in 48 tractor-trailer trucks.  The story itself is epic but the staging and towering set designs just blew our minds!  Unfortunately no cameras were permitted during the performance.  The parting of the raging Red Sea and some other scenes involved use of almost the entire theater creating a panoramic stage. There were spectacular special effects and live animals (in the aisles and on stage).  Jaw dropping performance.

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Sight and Sound Theatre

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Our next show was Legends in Concert at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.  All-star tribute artists paid homage to Johnny Cash, Tina Turner, Michael Buble, Elvis, and The Blues Brothers.  Unfortunately cameras were not allowed during this performance either.  The performers were dressed in authentic costumes and used their own voices.  They were able to capture the very essence of the star they were recreating right down from the looks and voice to the subtle mannerisms of the real artist.  We both liked Johnny Cash best.

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Can you see it?  The it Show is a compilation of 30 years of show biz excellence by the Hughes Brothers.  The show is comprised of harmonies, virtuoso instrumental performances, comedy, and musical arrangements of the best in pop, rock, R&B, country, classical, Broadway, patriotic, and gospel music.

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The five Hughes brothers.
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Their wives and “ridiculously” talented children who make up the 50 amazing singers, dances, musicians, and performers in the show.
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One has to wonder if the wives had to audition prior to a first date.

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Encore! Encore!

We saved THE BEST show for last, Raiding the Country Vault, performed at The Mansion Theatre which seats 3,000 making it the largest theatre of its kind in Branson.  A remarkable display of talented musicians and singers who took us on a stroll down country singing’s memory lane of top performing artists.  All have performed on Grand Ole Opry and each has performed with renowned artists such as Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap, Dierks Bentley, Hank Williams, Jr., Brooks & Dunn, and Michael McDonald.  Mesmerizing display of talent on the electric guitar, steel guitar, and fiddle.  Afterwards the performers took time to talk with us and pose for pictures in the lobby.

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Branson, MO – Let’s Eat!

Bring your appetite to Branson!  This town is full of fun places to eat.  There are a few chain restaurants but the other numerous restaurants are theme oriented with entertainment.  Some of the places to eat have already been featured on other posts in the blog.   Here’s a few other places we tried.

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Jackie B. Goode’s Uptown Café is a tribute to rock-n-roll and the old time soda fountain.  Singers perform throughout the day and evening and dinner shows are held on certain evenings.

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Instead of us singing for our dinner at Mel’s Hard Luck Café, the wait staff sings for our dinner!  Each server had to audition to be hired and record CD(s) which are sold in the gift shop.  Two of the servers have been on American Idol.  Another 1950’s rock-n-roll theme style restaurant with delicious food, especially desserts.  A table nearby with four people got the banana split and left half of it.  The highest priced dessert is  a $24.99 mountain of ice cream and toppings.  Hard to believe Butch turned this one down.

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Pasghetti’s Italian Restaurant was a treat.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere even better.  There are seven themed dining areas on two levels. We felt the vibe and buzz of Old Town and neighborhood party atmosphere of years gone by.

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Chateau on the Lake in the distance.

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Indoor waterfall and stream. Thankful for their patriotism.
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Breakfast view of Table Rock Lake.

Chateau on the Lake is another stunning  palatial hotel with a scenic view of Table Rock Lake.  We enjoyed a breakfast on the patio.  We dove into the food before I thought to take a picture.

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Hook & Ladder Pizza Co., where you can “extinguish your hunger,” is in Hollister (just a mile from Branson).   It’s a locally owned and operated restaurant built to remind the community to remember and support the efforts of the local firefighters.  It reminds us of Station 7 back in Delaware.  Patches from various fire departments around the U.S. adorn the walls.

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Dessert time at Andy’s Frozen Custard! This strawberry shortcake melted in your mouth as it was washed down with the creamiest vanilla custard.

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What a great place to catch THE GAME,  the U.S. Pickleball Open.  Drafts Sports Bar & Grill features 25 large screen, high definition TVs.  We enjoyed introducing the sport to the bartender.  We were surprised he had never heard of it as there are a couple of places to play here in Branson and the Branson Sports Club hosts tournaments.

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Rolls made from scratch served with apple butter and butter all homemade on the premises. The milk and grains used are by products of the student maintained farms on the campus.
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Dessert Tree
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Homemade vanilla cream custard and blueberry cream cheese bread pudding. Now you can understand why we play pickleball practically every day!
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Lunch time view.

We went back to Hard Work U (College of the Ozarks) for lunch at Dobyns Dining Room in their beautiful lodge on Memorial Day.  The food is raised/grown on the campus and prepared and served by the students.   The service was top notch and the food scrumptious!  The restaurant helps support the college and their vision of “developing citizens of Christ-like character who are well educated, hard working, and patriotic”.   We were told you need to book your reservation for their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners a year in advance.   We did a tour of the campus earlier in the month which is on another post in this blog.

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There were plenty of opportunities for scenic picnics also.

 

Branson, MO – Eureka Springs, AR

Be ready to step back into the elegance and pace of earlier years when visiting Eureka Springs, named one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns” in 2011.  Founded July 4, 1879, this peaceful and secluded town with winding mountain streets has been named a “Distinctive Destination” and is very popular with motorcyclists.  Long before it was a town, the Native American’s used the springs and land as a healing and gathering place for their tribes.  It was also used as such during the Civil War and called America’s Medicine Teepee.

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Small springs pop up all over town amidst little park settings.

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Quilt wrapped tree trunks in the park. Definitely an artist’s town.  Eureka Springs has been named “Top 25 Art Towns in America” several times.

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Sweet Spring
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Harding Spring

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You can treat yourself to a relaxing bath in one of the bath houses in town. Basin Spring Bath House.

The central downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2014 named one of America’s Best Main Streets.  There are blocks of one of a kind shops, boutiques, fine art galleries, craft emporiums, spas, museums, parks, and restaurants.  The commercial buildings are of Romanesque and Italianate details.

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Should we go uphill or downhill?

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This taffy machine has been in service since 1969.

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We had the most unique and one of a kind shopping experiences in one of the boutiques.  The owner has rescued bunnies and Gumbo actually acts like an employee.  He handed me the pen, my credit card, the receipt to sign, the receipt to take home, and finally,  my merchandise.

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Lionhead mini lop – Tofu

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Multi-tasking Judge Roy Beans

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Carnegie Public Library built in 1912 is one of two remaining Arkansas libraries built with funds from the Andrew J. Carnegie Foundation.  We were fortunate to see the other one on our Route 66 adventure this past fall.  The elegant stone gazebo stairway in the front used to mark the Spring Street entrance to the Crescent Hotel with a LONG staircase leading up to the hotel.

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The Auditorium or The Aud was built in 1928 to provide Eureka Springs with many opportunities for entertainment in this new era. Some of the stars that have graced The Auditorium’s stage include Willie Nelson, Bo Diddly, Merle Haggard, Jefferson Starship, Little Feat, Ray Charles, and Dwight Yoakam.
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The Courthouse

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Walk down the winding road…
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Or up the decorative steps.

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The historic Basin Park Hotel was built in 1905 and was a sought after hotel for leisure and renewed health.  With its signature white limestone and pink dolomite rock walls built into the side of a mountain, all eight levels of the hotel are at “ground level,” bringing the hotel international recognition by being named to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not list.  During the 40s and 50s the Basin Park Hotel was a mecca for those who loved to party and gamble.

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The Grand Central Hotel & Spa built in 1880 has been carefully restored to preserve its Victorian ambience.  There’s so must history here.  Click on the name for the website.

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The Crescent Hotel is a landmark hotel and spa built in 1886 perched high atop the mountain above Eureka Springs.  We could see this palatial structure, also known as America’s Most Haunted Hotel, when we were on a neighboring mountain top.

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The 1901 Palace Hotel and Bath House like many of the hotels in that era was really a bordello.  One of its famous patrons was W.C. Fields.

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Intricate  and elegant spiral fire escape.

The houses feature 1890’s Queen Anne or Second Empire styling and we were once again enthralled with and in awe of their construction and beauty.

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On solid ground.  Capitalizing on what God has given you to work with.

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Just taking a rust.
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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…. Don’t do it Humpty Dumpty!

On the edge of town we came upon Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway still in operation.  You can roll through the beautiful Ozark woodlands in an excursion car or dining car.  Passengers began arriving from Seligman, MO in 1883 to take advantage of the springs and “resort”.

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The interior has been preserved and maintained as it was years ago.

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The “wye” which turns the engine around and reconnects to your excursion car.

While waiting for your train you can explore the train yard.

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These need to be added to the tracks that are using ones you can cycle. That way you get a workout for your legs and arms.

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The Round House

On the way up to the Christ of the Ozarks statue is yet another spring.  Magnetic Sprngs flows from the mountain down the slope from the grounds of the Great Passion Play.  Of the original 62 springs, more than a dozen have been restored.  They played a vital part in the 19th century of the success of this town as many believed the mineral waters held curative properties.

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The Great Passion Play stage.

IMG_20160525_135117945The Christ of The Ozarks  has overlooked Eureka Springs, Arkansas since 1966 as a symbol of love and hope to the world.  It is 67 feet tall and was built by hand.  An elevator was constructed on the side to help build this statue.  Twenty four layers of white mortar weighing in at over 2 million pounds were used.  Each hand, from wrist to fingertip, measures approximately 7 feet.  It spans 65 feet from fingertip to fingertip.

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Christ of The Ozarks view. Simply breathtaking! This is where we saw Crescent Hotel across the valley and mountain.
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Church in the Grove which houses a 10 x 10 foot original portion of the Berlin Wall.
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These words from the 23rd Psalm are painted in German on the wall, “Though I walk through the dark valley, I will not fear.”

Just outside of historic downtown Eureka Springs is the Natural Bridge and Pivot Rock.  Mother Nature is amazing!!  We can’t begin to fathom the millions of years it took in creating these masterpieces.  Pivot Rock has also been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

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Pivot Rock

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By this time of the day we had run out of time.  There’s still more to see and do in Eureka Springs which means a trip back to Arkansas in the near future.