Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Travel to and visit Branson Missouri

October 16 – 23, 2016: 

Branson MO is someplace we had not really thought of visiting.  We are not really country music people so we have not paid any attention to Branson in the past.  I sort of thought of Branson as being a Nashville TN without having a real town associated with it.   I was sort of right about the town part and country music but the place is so much bigger than I had thought.

A visit to Branson MO didn’t come about until after we left NJ a few weeks ago.  We have made the westward trip from NJ so many times so we are always trying to make it different each time.  We first picked the south route through WV and KY and found that it brought us very close to Branson MO. So we decided to stop and visit as we were going to be so close to it.  We made Branson a destination instead of a  sight along the way.

We just skirted the edge of St. Louis heading to Springfield and then Branson.
We got a little glimpse of the Arc as we passed St. Louis.

From our site in Haubstadt IN we had 415 miles of travel to get to Branson.  This meant that we would need to stop once on the way to Branson.  We found that the town of Cuba MO was a bit over half way at around 250 miles. Also, Cuba sounded like a cool place to stop.

We stayed at the Meramec Valley Campground just outside of Cuba MO.

Cuba MO is known as the mural city as many of the buildings in Cuba have murals painted on them.  We stayed at the Meramec Valley Campground just outside of the little town and just a mile or so off of route 44 on MO route UU.  Cuba is about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis MO on famous route 66.  Cuba is a real piece of the past glory of route 66 and should be visited when in the area.

Old gas station along route 66 in Cuba MO.

Just had to add this sign as some of the flavor of this area of the country.

A few of the murals in Cuba.

We were just in Cuba for one full day; this was one of our minimum stop stays of just 2 nights.  And one full day in Cuba is enough.  The town is pretty small so seeing the murals is an easy task.  We ate at the “famous” Missouri Hick Barbeque for lunch, drove around to look at many of the murals, and drove west of town to see the big rocking chair. OK, that, for us, was Cuba MO.

Seems that this place is one of "the" places to eat in Cuba so we just had to try it!

Missouri Hicks is right on route 66 as you enter Cuba MO.

Some of the flavor inside Missouri Hicks.

We agree with this too!

Had to have a Missouri Hicks beer too!
It was just an ordinary beer, not bad, but not very interesting either.
While in the Cuba area you have to go out a few miles west of the town to see the giant rocking chair along route 66.  It is supposedly the largest rocking chair in the world.  Just why one would need a huge chair that no one can really sit in is not the point here, it's just a tourist attraction.

The chair is 41 feet high and is in the Guinness Book of World Records

Now we are on our way to Branson MO about 170 miles southwest.  Branson is located in the southernmost part of Missouri and very near Arkansas.  It really is set up as a destination location as it is really not on the way to anything. In fact, for us, we got off of I 44 westbound and headed south 50 miles and would need to return that way after visiting Branson.  There really is no other good route to anywhere out of Branson except the way you come in on Route 65 South from Springfield MO. 

We had beautiful weather driving to Branson.  It was one of those days in the low 80s with a dark deep blue sky, perfect for anything outside!  I had forgotten that Branson was in the Ozark Mountains! The Ozarks are a lot like the Appalachian Mountains in the east.  There are many 6-7% grades up and down going into Branson making for an adventurous drive.  

We arrived to find that our campground was basically smack dab in the middle of Branson on route 76.  Route 76 is the major drag through Branson.  So here we are in bumper to bumper traffic on the main strip in Branson and not really knowing where we are going.  

Our GPS failed us again and sent us to an area where there wasn’t even a building!  We are a very hilly single lane road going downhill to who knows what.  A little ways up the road, after some anxiety on my part, we found one the many mega church parking lots to pull into.  Now we could search Google and make sure where we needed to go.  We were not far off where we were.  We just needed to go back to route 76 and continue a block and we would be there.  Now we would use Google on one of our cell phones to navigate to the campground.

We got turned around and back onto route 76 and Google told me to turn left into a Ruby Tuesday’s parking lot, yikes!! Again we are in bumper to bumper traffic on a double lane curvy and hilly road.  We can see RVs parked way behind the restaurant but we can’t see an obvious path to get there and Google is saying to pull into a very small restaurant parking lot!  Shit, what are we going to do, need to think fast and make a decision.  We spot a vacant lot with an entrance access way a hundred feet up on the left and it looks big enough to fit into and maybe turn around if need be, so we take it.  After driving over broken pieces of concrete and rebar we found a pathway big enough for us to get to the RV Park. Whew!

This pic is taken from the main road in Branson, Route 76.  That little white speck in the back is our rig.  This is what we saw from the road as we tried to get to the campground!

I just related this story of getting to our camp site because it is not a common occurrence but it does seem to happen way too often for our liking.  We avoid this most of the time because we do a cross check with Google Maps before we leave to visualize where the campground really is.  In reality though, we don’t always double check because most of the time there isn’t any issue at all.  In other words, it gets really easy to get complacent with trip planning.  In my mind, Branson was on a flat straight road with music halls along the way.  So I didn’t feel the need to double check.  It really does make the trip memorable though!

We are staying at the Pea Patch RV Park.  This is a real park and not a campground.  This is a place to park your rig and go out and see the sights.  It is very small with only around 20 sites and not real easy to navigate a big rig around either.  The reason there isn’t a better way into this park is because the park doesn’t have any road access of their own! They are land locked with only access through other people’s lots! 

We had a pull-through which usually means an easy in and out, but not here.  The work camper guided us around and up a very tight curve leading to the pull-through.  At one place on the curve we were just a couple inches from a retaining wall. The hill was so steep that at the top our landing gear was sliding along the road!   Oh man, the site was so narrow that we needed to get a measuring tape out to check our slide clearances.  Even after checking with a tape, we put out the slides to check before taking the truck off.  It took about an hour to get into this site and get disconnected!  It didn’t help that Patty was not feeling well either.  She got out of the truck to help me navigate and started puking and sweating badly.   So the work camper helped me navigate and then I set up the rig by myself while Patty laid down in the truck.  Just another day of full time RV life!  We really wouldn’t trade this life for anything.  This is so much more of a life than sitting around in one place all of the time.

Our tight spot in Branson MO.

OK, so now for Branson!  It really is sort of intimidating when you arrive and especially with no planning like we did.  We weren’t even sure of where we were yet in Branson or just what was really here.  Patty wasn’t feeling well so the first evening we didn’t do anything.  Our first day there Patty was still not feeling well so she slept most of the day.  I piddled around most of the morning and then went out for one of my interval walk/runs.  I figured that I would get my bearings and some good exercise in while I was at it.  I managed to get in about 6 miles of walk/running and found that we were right in the middle of everything here.  Branson is mainly about a 7 mile stretch along route 76.  There is more around this area but the main part is on 76.  

Our site was pretty much under one of the Branson water towers. 

This is right across the street form our site.

I took this on my walk around.  It is directly in front of the Titanic Museum. 

Other sights along the 76 strip in Branson.

Patty started to feel better by the evening and we were now into planning our stay here.  We found that we really needed to another day here to do what we planned.  On our second full day we managed to get our stay at the park extended for an extra day so now we would be leaving on Sunday the 23rd.  

We have now 3 whole days of exploring Branson. Our plan for the 3 days here was to see a magician show, take a paddle boat dinner cruise, and to take a scenic dinner rail trip into the Ozarks.  

Before the magic show we had dinner at Shorty Small's.  The food and prices were good here.  This is probably one of the best price and quality places in Branson.  It was also just across the street form the Andy Williams Theater where the magic was to be.

We are seeing Rick Thomas.  He had a great show!  It is a show like one would see on TV.  It had loads of flash and storytelling with big stage magic.  For me the best trick was cutting this girl up into small pieces! 

After the show the magician and his crew were out to visit with the audience including his dogs that were in the show.  The headliner Rick Thomas is in black behind Patty.

Our river boat dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake.  We were on the Branson Belle.

We have been on many dinner cruises in the USA and in Europe and this has to be the biggest dinner boat ever!  This was like a mini cruise ship!

We saw a variety type show that was pretty good.  The meal was very good as well!
We would recommend this to anyone coming to Branson.

The wheel house with the captain. 

This was new for us, a dinner tourist train ride. 

The train rid was very well done. the Train equipment and station was in great shape.

Our trip took us 20 miles into the Ozarks.

A tunnel we went through.

Patty watching the scenery going by from our dome car.

The food wasn't bad but not real good either.  The service wasn't the best either.  The service people were just not very professional.  They forgot to take butter along as an example. We learned it was catered by Golden Corral after seeing their van load the train.

Branson really is a family destination vacation place.  The town just goes out of its way to make sure that it is family friendly.  Family friendly is really fine with us but it really isn’t our thing.  We like a little more adult zest to our destination places.

Our last night we decided to take the ferris wheel at night.
They light up the water towers at night.

From 7pm till 10 pm on the hour they do a music and LED light show with the ferris wheel.  The show is free but riding the wheel is $12 each.

As were waitung in line to ride the ferris wheel I took this picture of the
Ripley's Believe It or Not place across the street.

View of the Branson Strip from the ferris wheel.

Patty looking out at the strip.

Not something I do much but I took a selfie with the ferris wheel in the background.

Branson is located pretty much in the middle of the country making it accessible by car to a lot of America.  It is a perfect pace for a family vacation.  It really would not be hard for a family to spend 2 weeks here.  We basically spent 4 full days and that would have been enough for us if Patty had felt better the first day.  However, it would not have been hard for us have to spent a week here and we don’t really like country music.  There really is that much to do here. 

That is it for Branson Missouri!

Veterans Memorial Park scenery on our way out of Branson.

We thought this sign was funny.  "Really you gotta stop".

We are headed to Coffeyville Kansas next.

Stay Tuned

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