Monthly Archives: November 2013

2013 Trip Eight, Nov. 15, The Ozarks

Kansas City, MO Friday November 15

Overview of downtown K.C.

Overview of downtown K.C.

Well, Kansas City is a keeper. We have enjoyed what we have seen, people we have met, and there are places we have yet to encounter. We have realized that Kansas City is not much further than Chicago which has always seemed to be a good weekend getaway. KC just might get added to our list for future getaways. A slightly warmer period of the year might be better.

The Time Tower at Country Club Plaza

The Time Tower at Country Club Plaza

The day’s activities began with a walking tour of Country Club Plaza, an outdoor shopping area developed back in the 1920s as the first outdoor shopping center in the U.S. This concept is not unusual now but was ahead of its time. It has a Spanish motif with numerous fountains and sculpture. KC is known for its fountains, among other items. The Plaza area has a large number of fountains but due to the time of the year, most of them had been turned off for the winter.

Fountain of Neptune with water turned off

Fountain of Neptune with water turned off

Early morning weather was cool and cloudy so the pictures may not be dramatic. As the day went on, it warmed up and the sky cleared up. Most of the stores were not open yet, but since we do not shop much, that was not a problem for us.

Spanish motif on buildings at Country Club Plaza

Spanish motif on buildings at Country Club Plaza

It was back to museums for our second stop. KC is the home of the only major museum in the U.S. devoted to the First World War. The museum (www.theworldwar.org) has been renovated in the last 10 years after first opening in 1921. It is spectacular and very well laid out.

National World War I Museum in Kansas City

National World War I Museum in Kansas City

You enter the museum over a clear glass floor overlooking a field of 9,000 poppies. Each poppy represents 1,000 combatant deaths. (There were tremendous civilian deaths also, many from starvation and disease caused by the first claim on resources by the military for the war.) The museum exhibits begin with a video explaining the world setting prior to WWI and closes with information about why the “peace” really only set the stage for WWII.

Field of Poppies

Field of Poppies

Inside are numerous displays and audio recordings discussing the timeline of the war and specific aspects. We found particularly intriguing the juxtaposition of new and old. Hand digging of trenches and the use of horses to pull artillery into the field alongside the introduction of machine guns, aircraft, tanks, and chemical weapons.

Exhibit at WWI Museum

Exhibit at WWI Museum

Propaganda was heavily used to focus on “us” as the good guys versus “them” as the bad guys. Us of course was your home country, which ever one that might be. The U.S. was not exempt from this and major efforts were devoted to rooting out those who might dare to question the standard line.

Exhibit with airplane and horses

Exhibit with airplane and horses

Our last portion of the museum to view was the observation tower providing an outstanding view of Kansas City. A gentleman from KC was there with his young daughter and kindly pointed out various landmarks to us.

Christmas tree and fountain at Crown Center

Christmas tree and fountain at Crown Center

From the museum we went down to Union Station, their renovated railroad depot and then over to Crown Center. Crown Center is a large commercial complex anchored by Hallmark Cards. We visited the Hallmark Visitor Center. This was a delight. Of course we got teary eyed reviewing the Hallmark commercials. Viewing the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments made me want to purchase a couple hundred more.

Display at Hallmark Visitor Center

Display at Hallmark Visitor Center

They have an art gallery which was showcasing several paintings by Winston Churchill-yes, that Winston Churchill. The founder of Hallmark got to know him and purchased the right to use some of his drawings on Hallmark cards decades ago.

One of the Hallmark employee created Christmas trees.

One of the Hallmark employee created Christmas trees.

While we have not double checked the facts, Hallmark appears to be an early adopter of employee health care, pensions and employee stock ownership. There was an exhibit of creative Christmas trees made each year by employees in honor of the initial founder of Hallmark.

As we left, we received a gift of Recordable Artwork canvas art kit made by Hallmark. Will have to decide how best to use it.

Dinner was out with our Evergreen hosts at a delightful local restaurant. Tomorrow is back to Saint Paul.

Ed and Chris November 15 10 pm

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov. 14, The Ozarks

Kansas City, MO Thursday Nov. 14th

What an enriching and educational day! I just hope we can remember more than snippets of it as time goes on. But pictures were not allowed at two of our stops and museums are not known for the most notable photo ops. You will get mainly narrative today.

Our first stop was in Independence MO where we visited the Harry S Truman Visitor Center, Home, and Presidential Library and Museum. Independence is now a town of 115,000 but was only about 10,000 in the early 1900s. President Truman grew up here, married, raised a family, and came back here to live for another 20 years after he left office.

Oval Office replica at Truman Library

Oval Office replica at Truman Library

Continuing our theme of human complexity, Truman has different facets. He grew up in a small town, farming, and working at local businesses. He met his future wife at an early age, courted for a long time, but they did not marry until their mid-30s. She came from the local upper crust and marrying a farmer did not make her family happy. He came back from WWI where he had proved himself as a captain and they finally married. They were a devoted couple until his death at age 88. Bess died 10 years later at age 97. Part of his political success came from his ability to relate to farmers and other “normal” Americans.

Another facet was his early election results were heavily dependent on the Democratic machine in Kansas City run by the Pendergasts, a well-documented corrupt city boss. Truman’s first position, essentially county commissioner, resulted in numerous civic improvements but Truman’s own notes reflect his concern over the corruption he had witnessed. Truman’s election as Senator (two terms) also owes a lot to the turnout orchestrated by the Democratic machine.

His early time in the Senate was marked by a need to overcome the moniker of “Senator from Pendergast”. During his second term, he gained recognition for ferreting out corruption and waste in defense contracts during WWII. When FDR ran for a fourth term in 1944, Henry Wallace, a liberal who had upset Southern Democrats and others, was dumped despite being very popular. Truman was selected in his place. Democratic officials believed FDR unlikely to survive the full term and did not want Wallace to be president. (Wallace went on to run in 1948 as a Progressive for President but was never a real threat.)

As President, Truman faced many important decisions and events, serving while Republicans frequently had control of Congress. He proposed several “liberal” ideas, including national health insurance, that were not enacted. He did, by presidential decree, desegregate the armed forces and opened federal employment to blacks. Other civil rights proposals did not make it through Congress. His background from a town that practiced segregation might have made one think his positions here would not be so enlightened.

He is well known for his decision to drop the two nuclear weapons on Japan that is still debated to this day as whether it was ethical and/or necessary. He also faced the Soviet blockade of Berlin and used a successful 12 month airlift of supplies to keep Berlin operating until the Soviets backed down. Truman was responsible for getting the Marshall Program to rebuild Europe under way.

Truman was President during the Korean War and made the hugely unpopular decision to fire General Douglas MacArthur for his unwillingness to take orders from the civilians in government (the President). (MacArthur, as I recall from another recent museum, had disobeyed orders in dispersing veterans along the D.C. Mall in the 1930s). MacArthur was not only a WWII hero, he had reversed the North Korean success and seemed the savior of the war. After the U.S. advances, MacArthur said the Chinese would never get involved and was proven wrong. MacArthur then wanted to expand the engagement to the Chinese mainland but Truman wanted a limited engagement, not WWIII. When MacArthur was too publicly vociferous, Truman sacked him. MacArthur got the hero welcome when he returned to the U.S.

Truman home in Independence, MO

Truman home in Independence, MO

The Truman home was the childhood home of Bess Wallace Truman. When he left office, the two of them returned here to live on his military pension of $112 per month. No Secret Service protection. No fancy entourage. Much unlike Bill Clinton who goes about giving speeches for huge sums of money. The home is large due to Bess’s family and their wealth in the late 1800s. There was no major trust fund or ongoing family money though. A tour of the house today shows it preserved pretty much in its 1950s style with some turn of the century hand-me-downs. It reminded me of my Grandmother Lynch’s home in New Richmond WI.

We continued this mid-America theme with a lunch of hot dogs and Coke from one store and ice cream from the soda where Harry worked as a kid. Then it was on to the Museums at 18th and Vine in Kansas City; the Jazz Museum and the Negro Baseball Leagues Museum.

The Negro Baseball Leagues Museum documents the role of separate black baseball leagues that existed due to a “gentlemen’s agreement” in the major leagues going back to the 1880s that no team would employ African-American ball players, coaches, etc. This continued on until 1947 when Jackie Robinson was signed by the Dodgers. But even then, it took years before all teams in the major leagues were regularly using black players. As one display in the museum noted, the leagues seemed not to have a problem with players from Latin American, most of whom had African roots in the genealogy due to European importation of slaves to South American also.

The leagues were frequently owned by whites, continuing the oppressive nature of American society. The ball players faced discrimination in being served in hotels and restaurants when they traveled. But the teams existed for decades, providing entertainment to black and white communities. The level of play in the majors improved dramatically when integration succeeded, as demonstrated by the disproportionate number of MVPs, Cy Young award winners, batting champs, etc who were African-American. Once integration was complete, the Negro leagues went away.

American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO

American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO

The Jazz Museum shares one half of the museum building at 18th and Vine. The history of jazz in America is documented. Opportunities to play music from well-known jazz musicians and singers exist throughout the museum. One could spend more than a day just listening to the various recordings available.

Dinner was at a local barbecue restaurant in K.C. I might not get out enough in the Twin Cities. We have observed that most restaurants serve your beverage (water, pop, iced tea-but not milk) in jumbo sized 32 oz cups. Less time spent refilling it, I guess. They even offer to fill it up and let you take it out of the restaurant in a styrofoam cup.

More touring tomorrow.

Ed and Chris Nov. 14th 10 pm

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Trip Eight, Nov 12 and 13, The Ozarks

Kansas City, MO Wednesday Nov. 13

This post will cover Tuesday and Wednesday. Last night was a rare day off from blogging. Our traveling profession is time-consuming, usually no days off. (I hear you crying for us.)

Tuesday we went to the Clinton Presidential Library. It took us over three hours to review the displays. Eight years of presidential history takes a long time to review. There are portions devoted to Bill’s early life and Hillary’s work. A traveling exhibit seemed out-of-place, it focused on their friend Oscar de la Renta. We saw the replica of the Oval Office and of the Cabinet Room. We finished up with lunch in their cafe.

Oval Office replica at Clinton  Library, Little Rock

Oval Office replica at Clinton Library, Little Rock

Even at three hours, the mass of detail seemed overwhelming and difficult to absorb fully. Each year of the presidency had a separate area. Other displays covered topics such as the economy, the budget, world affairs, education, the two elections and inaugurals,etc. The impeachment was included.

The place was busy. School buses brought high school students. Numerous adults were touring. The staff was helpful but we purchased the audio guide which was wise given the number of students present. I can’t say we walked away profoundly awed. We are both in favor of Clinton but we like our politicians squeaky clean. The Lewinsky, et al incidents tarnish the image while reminding us that people have multiple facets, some good and some not so good.

Arkansas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

We returned to the Arkansas State Capitol after Clinton’s Library. The Capitol has the usual adornment of granite and marble with wide staircases, etc. However, it lacks the adornment of several recent capitol visits such as Utah, Virginia, and Missouri. This may well be due to the relative income in the state versus other states, particularly at the time of building.

Arkansas today is the 12th most rural state in the union. I don’t have stats for the early 1900s when the building was being built but from the little information available in the few displays, it was poor and rural then. Basically, the only tour is a self-guided one. It did not take long. Cass Gilbert who designed the Minnesota Capitol was called in to complete the work of the first architect. Corruption and poor quality worked plagued the first effort.

George Washington Carver's home as a child

George Washington Carver’s home as a child

Today was a driving day from Little Rock to Kansas City. The distance was about 420 miles but we had good Interstates most of the way. The George Washington Carver National Historic Site in Diamond MO was our only detour. Hopefully you recall the story. GWC was born a slave, had to go to several locations to obtain an education after the Civil War due to poor or non-existent education for blacks and discrimination by several schools.

GWC ended up getting his B.A. and M.A. from what is now Iowa State University. He had numerous offers for jobs but spent the rest of his life teaching and researching at Tuskegee University in Alabama. His life was a series of success in helping to recreate the agricultural ability of the South after its soil was decimated by decades of cotton growing.

He never applied for patents on any of his inventions. He wanted the people to be able to use his methods and creations to improve the South. He was a genius and great teacher motivated by his religion to help others. This National Monument is the first birthplace monument to anyone other than a U.S. President; the first dedicated to an American for services in agriculture; the first established for an African-American; the first for an educator; and the first for an American scientist. He died in 1943.

So, Kansas City is our home for the next three nights. Probably off to the Truman Library in Independence tomorrow.

Ed and Chris Nov. 13 9 pm

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov 11, The Ozarks

Little Rock, AR Monday, November 11

Lake Catherine hike

Lake Catherine hike

We finished up our stay at Lake Catherine State Park with a two-mile morning hike. It was back to the stony, boulder, exposed tree roots path up and down the holler. Weather was great, it is supposed to be cold (relatively speaking) and wet tomorrow so we enjoyed the day.

Remmel Dam power plant

Remmel Dam power plant

As mentioned before, Lake Catherine was formed by a dam back in the 1920s. Our walk today brought us to see the dam and power plant from the other side of the lake. The water level is down, on purpose. Every fall they lower the lake level by five feet to help control algae and allow for dock maintenance.

Lake Catherine hike

Lake Catherine hike


Lake Catherine hike

Lake Catherine hike

Then it was on to Little Rock. We had lunch at a local chain, the Dixie Cafe. Reasonable food and low prices. The Capitol was our afternoon destination, we thought it was more likely to benefit from an outdoor picture than our other destinations. We had checked and it was supposed to be open on holidays. We arrived and the Capitol building was open but no tours were being given. We took our photos and will plan to return Tuesday after we tour the Clinton Presidential Library.

Arkansas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site was our next destination. Now I hope our younger readers covered civil rights in their American History classes. It is too complex to cover or summarize briefly in this posting. Suffice it to say, in 1957 nine African-American students were to be the first to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. It did not go well.

Sculpture of the Little Rock Nine

Sculpture of the Little Rock Nine

The historic site is located across the street from the high school which is still functioning. There are multi-media displays depicting the events, the media coverage, details about the nine students and their lives after 1957, and how people reacted individually to the situation. Some coverage of other civil rights actions was also presented. It was powerful and sad.

We are at a Residence Inn for two nights. Tonight and tomorrow the hotel offers a manager’s reception from 6 to 7:30 so we receive free dinner along with the normal free breakfast.

Ed and Chris Nov. 11 8 pm

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov 10, The Ozarks

Hot Springs, AR Sunday November 10

Chris and Ed at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Chris and Ed at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Just another delightful day. Weather was in the 60s by the afternoon. The sun did not really appear until late in the day, several hours after predicted but still it was a great fall day. Two major activities took up our day; Hot Springs National Park and Garvan Gardens of the University of Arkansas.

View of Lake Catherine from back  porch

View of Lake Catherine from back porch

Actually the first order of business was to officially check in since we arrived late last night. Lake Catherine State Park dates back to 1935. It offers campgrounds and 20 cabins. The lake came before the park, created when the Remmel Dam was constructed in 1924, the first dam in Arkansas used to generate hydro power. The lake is relatively small and like most dam created lakes in this area, rather serpentine. There is another dam created lake nearby (Lake Hamilton) and the two boost tourism in the area. We did stop by the second dam which created Lake Hamilton.

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs National Park

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park was extremely interesting and enjoyable. The 10 AM ranger led tour was well done. Hot Springs National Park was the first tract of land officially set aside for preservation as a national park (details later). Bill Clinton spent much of his childhood here. The resort has been a draw since Native American days, thanks to the 47 thermal springs that give the city its name.

One of the springs able to be viewed

One of the springs able to be viewed

Hot Springs was used by Native Americans but “discovered” by explorers set out by President Jefferson after the land was purchased as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1832, part of the land was set aside by the U.S. government to preserve the springs. The country had learnt from bad experience at Saratoga Springs in New York where open access and no limits had led to pollution of the waters. The term in those days was a reservation. National Parks had not been created. In 1921 Hot Springs was declared the 18th national park.

Scientists have estimated that the waters percolating here are at least 3500 years old. Rain water seeped into the ground and worked its way down into the earth’s crust where it was heated by the hot rocks. Heated water moves back upward where it surfaces at openings throughout the area. Springs here are capped with locked covers to prevent direct contamination.

An operating bathhouse

An operating bathhouse

The National Park Service collects the thermal water and distributes it to several bath houses and hotels. There are also cooler springs. Water is made available free of charge at several locations in town where people bottle it and take it home.

Early on the medicinal value was understood. The waters are high in magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. The first three in particular are now understood to be critical parts of our diet. We take vitamins, they took the springs elixir. Unlike the Eureka Springs which were high in zinc, these waters healed ailments, not infections. The initial users just set up tents. Soon wood hotels were erected and when fires kept burning them down, stone and other non-wood construction materials were used.

The springs here were medicinal. Doctors prescribed a certain treatment protocol. Visitors not only drank the water, they underwent a series of set regimens including soaking, massage, rubs, exercises, etc. This area actually practiced better medicine than hospitals until the 1920s when penicillin and other drugs were discovered and widely used.

One of the soaking tubs

One of the soaking tubs

People came here to be treated for such ailments as syphilis, gastrointestinal problems, polio, etc. In the early years, mercury was used for several of the body rubs, including syphilis. It was one of the few treatment processes for that until penicillin. Unfortunately, the people applying mercury might get sick also.

Men's locker room

Men’s locker room

The exercise regimen included walking and physical workouts in the gymnasium. In the 1850s, mechanical workout equipment was manufactured and looked like early models of the fitness machines you might see today. The Promenade was constructed, a paved walkway above bathhouse row, where people took their daily constitutional.

The Grand Promenade, Hot Springs National Park

The Grand Promenade, Hot Springs National Park

Much of the clientele here was high society. Fancy hotels and fancy bathhouses were constructed, frequently vying with each other to snare the top echelon. It was the place to see and be seen. Gangsters and Presidents came here. Some facilities were provided for the indigent. This is in Arkansas. Jim Crow laws were in existence and the free bathhouse was segregated. For some of the time until desegregation in 1965, there did exist a private bathhouse for blacks as the only option to the bathhouse for the indigent.

Services for men vastly outnumbered those for women and were fancier. But times change and as medicine improved, bathhouses slowly declined. New ways came into play; spas for women, fitness centers for both sexes, hydro therapy at the Y, etc. Hotels and bathhouses declined. Two bathhouses still operate today, one building is an art museum, and others are maintained but not used. Still, the day was interesting and illuminating as we explored more of early Americana.

Garvan Garden

Garvan Garden

Garvan Gardens

Garvan Gardens


Garvan Gardens

Garvan Gardens


The latter part of the afternoon was spent at Garvan Woodland Gardens. Somewhat similar to the U of M Arboretum, it consists of 210 acres. We took a two-mile hike through and along most of its length, admiring the gardens and foliage. They even have a chapel for weddings; it looks very similar to Thorncrown Chapel back in Eureka Springs.

Garvan Gardens

Garvan Gardens


Garvan Gardens

Garvan Gardens

The Gardens will be opening their holiday light display (4,000,000 lights) on Nov. 23rd. Construction of the display is well underway and it appears to be well done. Unfortunately we will miss it.

image

Ed and Chris Nov. 10 10:45 pm

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov. 9, The Ozarks

Hot Springs, AR Saturday Nov. 9

Oh, the adventures just keep coming. Our lodging tonight is at Lake Catherine State Park in a cabin. We did late “check-in”. The lodging/visitor center closes at 5. It gets dark at 5:20. We were just finishing Mass at 5:10 in Hot Springs. Lake Catherine is about 20 minutes away, a little longer if you were driving like your Aunt Minnie which I was tonight. The dark, curvy roads were prime deer area, and we had two sightings where we had to brake quickly.

We got our key from a lock box type arrangement. No note saying which cabin we were in but the key had a very faint 8-H on it so we took a chance no one was already in unit 8. The park does not have street lights so Chris used the flashlight we had to watch the park brochure map and I had the high beams on. Managed to find our way to the cabin and “voila”. The key worked and no one else was in there. The place is clean and has kitchen facilities but no wi-fi so the Verizon hot spot is in use. Tomorrow we can see what the lake and park look like. We can see campsites are occupied, some fires lit, and people in cabins by us so it is not lonely. (But the tap water tastes lousy.)

Of course we were not going all the way back to Hot Springs just for dinner. One spot looked to be about 10 minutes away so we decided to head there. As we got to it, we could see it was closed. Oh well, peanut butter and crackers are fine until Sunday.

The day began warm and sunny in Branson. The first hour was sunny and on a four lane highway going 65 mph. Then the clouds came in and we started on Scenic Byway Arkansas Highway 7. Back to the curvy, two lane roads with a 45 or 55 limit.

Ozarks, Boston Mountains and Buffalo River

Ozarks, Boston Mountains and Buffalo River

The trees continued to have color, muted but a preponderance of reds and oranges instead of yellows where they are not brown. We learnt that the Ozark mountains are actually a plateau and the “mountains” appear that way due to the erosion which created the valleys. No dramatic mountain uplift or volcanoes here.

View towards Quachita Mountains

View towards Quachita Mountains

North of the Arkansas River (about Interstate 40) are primarily the Boston Mountains and south of the Arkansas are the Quachita (Washita) Mountains. We stopped at several overlooks and enjoyed the views but did no hiking. Arrival at Hot Springs was at about 3 pm and we checked out the visitor center, saw the film, picked up travel brochures and made it to 4 pm Mass. We hope to take a guided tour Sunday at 10 am so church today avoids having to get up for 8 AM Mass.

Ed and Chris Saturday November 9 8:30 pm

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2013, Trip Eight, Nov 8, The Ozarks

Branson, MO Friday Nov. 8

Our last night in Branson. The weather continued to be great and we took a drive to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield just southwest of Springfield Missouri. Wilson’s Creek pre-dated the battle at Pea Ridge which we commented on previously.

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Missouri was in a unique position during the Civil War. It was legal to have slaves in Missouri. Most Missouri slaveholders had less than 20 slaves. The state Legislature and Governor had major battles to try to put Missouri into the Confederacy or keep it in the Union. The governor and the head of the state militia wanted to secede. The U.S. congressman and general in charge of the St. Louis armory wanted to keep the state in the Union. The legislature was divided but had initially voted not to secede. Most just wanted neutrality.

Wilson's Creek

Wilson’s Creek

The general, Nathaniel Lyon, drove the Confederate leaning state’s militia along with the legislature from the capital. By early July, 1861, the Governor, much of the legislature, and the state militia were in the southwest corner of the state. A new governor and legislature voted to keep Missouri in the Union. The old Governor and southern leaning legislators, without a quorum, voted to secede from the union. Thus there were Missouri representatives in Washington DC and in Richmond Virginia.

Bloody Hill at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Bloody Hill at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

The Union’s Gen. Lyon pursued the Confederacy’s state militia General Price into the southwest portion of the state. By early August, both armies were around the Wilson’s Creek area. Without going into battle details, the Confederacy basically won the battle and forced Gen. Lyon’s troops to withdraw. General Lyon was killed in the battle. Casualties were heavy on both sides.

The following spring, March 1862, the battle of Pea Ridge marked a setback for the Confederates. The Union’s forces won that battle and prevented the Confederates from seriously attacking Missouri again. There were continued battles and skirmishes, however. In fact, Missouri had the third highest number of battles and skirmishes of any state.

Our five  mile walking  trail

Our five mile walking trail

We observed the battlefield by walking the 5 mile loop auto route which also provided for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Our companions proved to be two does and one buck and some farmers who leased battlefield land to grow corn. This is appropriate since this area was farmed and raising corn at the time of the battle in 1861.

Smart deer to stay in  the NPS area.  It is still  hunting season.

Smart deer to stay in the NPS area. It is still hunting season.

Our lunch was in the restaurant at the corporate Bass Pro Shop store and headquarters in Springfield. The store is as large as a small enclosed mall. Is a destination for many shoppers and tourists. We continued to not buy anything.

After returning to the resort, we made our last dip in the hot tub and finishing the evening writing this blog. Tomorrow we head off to Hot Springs Arkansas.

Ed and Chris Friday Nov. 8

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov 7, The Ozarks

Branson, MO Thursday Nov. 7

Home in Eureka Springs going time share

Home in Eureka Springs going time share


Ripley’s Believe It or Not stretched the facts we believe (details scattered throughout this post). Ripley’s called Eureka Springs one of the ten most unusual cities in America. We spent the daylight hours in Eureka Springs, AR. It is but a slight, 70 minute drive from Branson over the usual curvy, hilly, two lane roads with no shoulders. A few days ago we gave a very brief history of Eureka Springs that probably just whetted your appetites for more. (See Oct. 30th)

Eureka Springs home

Eureka Springs home

Eureka Springs (ES is simpler for me) is a thriving tourist town, with numerous art galleries and local crafts people. In fact, (Jude will love this) an article in the local Eureka Springs’ paper was discussing travel to Taos, NM which the article described as the Eureka Springs of NM. We took a 2.5 hour narrated van tour with 5 other visitors of the town.

One of the major springs in ES

One of the major springs in ES

ES is built on hills around various valleys or “hollers”. (Hollow-get it?) Because of the hills, streets do not follow any grid system and thus, as Ripley states, ES has no cross streets that are perpendicular to each other. From our observation this is true, although one intersection comes pretty close. (Claim one of Ripley, pretty much okay.)

A second spring area

A second spring area

The entire town is listed on the National Historic Register and supposedly has the largest intact collection of mid-Victorian homes in one place. The homes are attractive, but a large number are used for bed and breakfast inns. The rest seem to be artist galleries.

Crescent Hotel

Crescent Hotel

There are over 60 springs in town. ES sprouted dramatically in population around 1879 and after due to the medicinal value of the springs. It was later discovered that the mineral water has a high level of zinc which does help heal sores and wounds. ES population shrank as more modern medicine came into being. You can still access spring water but drinking it is not recommended due to E. coli bacteria. One building has entrances on three sides, each on a different street with a different grade and different address. Ripley’s claim here is substantiated. (Oh, yes, prostitution was legal here too as we passed one building previously a bordello.)

Bell tower and St.  Elizabeth Ann Seton church

Bell tower and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church

Besides the B and B’s, there are two old hotels in town, the Crescent and the Basin Park Hotel. Ripley stated that the Basin had seven floors of rooms and all are considered ground floors. Well, while seven floors exist, and with exits, the exits are fire escapes to the ground in back of the building. Not quite ground floors. A little bit of fudging on Ripley’s part.

Interior of church

Interior of church

The Crescent is near the top of the town and offers a grand view of the surrounding area. Supposedly it is haunted. It offers ghost tours in the evening. Across the street from the Crescent is the Church of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The church is small, only about 12 pews. Not as small as the chapel in Spillville, IA but small. Ripley has this as the only church you enter through the bell tower. This claim is a real stretch. The bell tower has a walkway/walkthrough that you pass through to continue on the sidewalk leading to the church. No big deal. A clear miss for Ripley.

Christ of the Ozarks statue

Christ of the Ozarks statue

ES grew again partially due to the construction of the 67′ tall Christ of the Ozarks statue and then the beginning of the holding of the Great Passion Play here in the mid-1960s. Soon after, country music theater and Thorncrown Chapel arrived later to be followed by tour buses, bed and breakfast inns, artists, etc.

Thorncrown chapel

Thorncrown chapel

Weddings are big business in ES. When we were waiting for the van tour to begin, a couple in their 70s was looking for a location to get married. They brought their own minister. In ES, no blood tests, no witnesses, no waiting periods, just $60 and you are hitched.

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel was actually our first stop on the tour. It is small but holds 300 weddings per year. The church music director played the organ and sang for us to demonstrate the acoustics. It was built as a labor of love. The architect was a professor and while having worked/studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, had not designed religious spaces before and the project ran out of money before completion. It took three years and a woman from Illinois to answer the owner’s prayer before the chapel was completed. The chapel was recently ranked by American Institute of Architects as fourth on its list of the top buildings of the twentieth century.

Bank of Eureka Springs

Bank of Eureka Springs

Another stop was the Bank of Eureka Springs Museum housed in a downtown bank branch that has been restored to the feel of an earlier period. Memorabilia adorns every room, providing a treasure trove of history that should eventually be added to the Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks (in our opinion.)

Bank Board room with memorabilia

Bank Board room with memorabilia

Shoppers we are not so we left downtown and gave $9 to a cheesy, roadside attraction showcasing “Pivot Rock” and “Natural Bridge.” The pictures came out well, it was a pleasant walk, and probably a better use of our money than two alcoholic drinks. The rock and bridge were not dramatic.

Natural  Bridge

Natural Bridge

Today’s weather was excellent so this evening we drove the Trail of Lights. This 2.5 mile drive-through trail showcased a wide variety of Christmas lights and themes. It is held on the grounds of the outdoor theater playing the “Sheperd of the Hills” during warmer months.

Trail of Lights display

Trail of Lights display

Sheperd of the Hills, you may recall from an earlier post, was a novel set in the Ozarks and written in the early 1900s which became extremely well-known. It was one of the reasons for the growth of Branson as people came here to see the scenes mentioned in the novel. BUT, time marches on and the outdoor play had its last showing in October.

Trail of Lights display

Trail of Lights display

There are two other outdoor lighting displays and while this was enjoyable, we now do not plan to see a second.

Trail of Lights display

Trail of Lights display

Long post I know. Hope you enjoyed at least a portion of it.

Trail of Lights display

Trail of Lights display


Trail of Lights  display

Trail of Lights display

Ed and Chris Thursday November 7 Midnight.

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2013 Trip Eight, Nov 6, The Ozarks

Branson Wednesday Nov. 6

Our relaxed pace continued anew. Our primary daytime activity was a visit to the Ralph Foster Museum at the College of the Ozarks. The museum had memorabilia over a wide range of topics. Some were unique to the Ozarks and some were usual for a regional museum which may receive school bus groups. Their tag line is the Smithsonian of the Ozarks.

Beverly Hillbillies car

Beverly Hillbillies car

We went through pretty quickly the large collection of firearms and fishing tackle. We were surprised to see a collection of Kewpie Dolls, Chris was not even aware of them. I had heard of them but never realized how ugly they were. We were both surprised to see and read about hair receivers; a bowl-like item women of the late 19th century would use to collect hair from their brushes etc and then use the collected hair inside lockets, etc.

Benton's painting for Grapes of Wrath

Benton’s painting for Grapes of Wrath

There were displays about Ozark history, particularly radio station KWTO “Keep Watching the Ozarks” and the role it played locally and in developing country music stars. (Ralph Foster was the owner and originator of the radio station back in the 1920s.)

Foster's reproduced office for KWTO

Foster’s reproduced office for KWTO

We took a picture of the car used in the “Beverly Hillbillies”. Not sure younger readers will connect with this reference-if not, look it up. Research is good for you. The Clampetts were from the Ozarks in the show. There was a Thomas Hart Benton painting there that was used as the movie poster advertising the film based on John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”.

part of the fishing tackle collection

part of the fishing tackle collection

After the museum we visited their chapel and the jam and fruitcake shipping department. Usually you can watch the fruitcake making process but evidently the students were just shipping them today.

One of Andy Williams sweaters-he performed in Branson until  his  death in Sept .  2012

One of Andy Williams sweaters-he performed in Branson until his death in Sept . 2012

The hot tub called to us again in late afternoon. We had dinner at the restaurant attached to the resort. It also handles bus groups coming to see the Tony Orlando show. We made it there before the bus groups but by the time we left it was a mad house. The cash register drawer in the bar area was only opening intermittently. The waitress who was covering the bar area was going to be handling bus group number six when they arrived. The host was trying to get one large group-not sure where they came from-to leave the area they were sitting in as it was reserved for a specific bus group. Evidently they had six motor coach buses that evening. We left without knowing how that was going to be resolved.

College of the Ozarks chapel

College of the Ozarks chapel

Our evening show tonight was titled “Six”. The six eldest sons of a couple-they had ten sons total-sing songs and perform skits. They have no band, their vocals are great and they each “perform” the sounds of musical instruments (drums, trumpet, etc) with their voices. The songs were very enjoyable, the sketches and humor only so-so. The show began a little late, two buses arrived just at 8 pm.

The show  "Six" with 3 generations of males.

The show “Six” with 3 generations of males.

The second half was the Christmas show. They brought in a great baritone for one medley and at the end, the sons of the six singers marched in singing. The finale was the fathers and sons performing one last song accompanied on the piano by the singers’ father. The mother of the six died a few years ago of cancer, they sang a tribute to her also. In her late teens, her doctor told her she would never be able have children. Wrong.

Ed and Chris Wednesday Nov 6 11:45 pm

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2013, Trip Eight, Nov 5, The Ozarks

Branson, MO Tuesday November 5

Lennon Sisters at veterans memorial ceremony

Lennon Sisters at veterans memorial ceremony

Today’s rain and the projection for rain tomorrow has made us continue our more relaxed pace. Supposedly Branson Missouri has one of the largest veterans celebrations in the United States. It continues for a week and began today. One of the features is an opening ceremony here at the Welk resort. There is a replica Vietnam war memorial that has been constructed here each year for the last 17 years. We attended today’s opening ceremony. It was held inside because of the rain, the first time in 17 years. The hour-long ceremony was quite moving and included the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Lennon Sisters.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing

Many of these celebrations here involve reunions of various military groups. At the Welk resort, Tony Orlando is the current main headliner. He was instrumental in starting the veterans celebration and for its continued success. Tony Orlando and Dawn was a hit group in the ’70s and their song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” hit number one and references a Vietnam vet who had been captured and imprisoned wondering if his old love still wanted to see him. Tony Orlando puts on a free show for vets during this week.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing

We went to Branson Landing afterwards. This is a shopping area along the White River. It resembles the area around the Gaithersburg Courtyard that we stayed at for the Sarahs’ wedding Sept. 1-only the hotel is a Hilton, not Marriott. One of the anchor stores is a Bass Pro Shop which has everything you might need for fishing, plus more. We looked over several pontoons but chose not to buy one. Lunch was at their restaurant, The Fish House, where we had fish and chips.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing

The hot tub at the pool complex was our afternoon destination. Dinner was back at the Chateau Resort using our last $25 certificate. It is decorated for Christmas and includes several elaborate gingerbread houses made by the restaurant staff. We had planned to see one of the three Christmas outdoor lighting displays but the rain postponed our trip. We now hope to do one on Thursday evening and one on Friday evening. More on those once we actually tour them.

Dinner at The  Chateau

Dinner at The Chateau

Chateau

Chateau

One of the gingerbread house  scenes

One of the gingerbread house scenes

Ed and Chris 10:30 pm

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