Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Long Way to Kansas (Sept. 15 - Oct. 8, 2013)

With NJ in the rear view mirror we're first headed south.  Our day of departure included a relatively short drive to Joppa, MD.  Our mission is to visit with Dick and Sue.  We met these fine folks at our first volunteer job in NC in 2010.  We, as often is the case means Debbie, have kept in touch with them but we hadn't seen them for about 3 years. It was very nice.  We simply picked up where we left off three years ago.  Dick has a 30 amp plug at his drive for a motor home they have since sold so it couldn't have been any easier.  We yakked, had a GREAT Italian meal at a local restaurant  and finished the evening with some outstanding cake by Sue.  In the morning Sue put out an enormous spread of breakfast delights.

She is such a great cook!  Much of Dick's working days included driving a bus for Trailways followed by years of long distance trucking up and down the east coast.  Consequently he was well prepared to provide us a route that threaded through the Baltimore/ DC area without any challenges.  Thanks Dick.  Love to you both!!

After a full day of driving we spent the night in Wilson, NC then on to Myrtle Beach, SC arriving  September 17 at Ocean Lakes Campground.  Myrtle Beach is a great destination for just about everyone.  There is the beautiful ocean, over 100 golf courses, numerous campgrounds, hundreds of restaurants and tons of entertainment.  We spent 30 years in SC and have been to Myrtle Beach many times.  It remains an exciting destination.  Ocean Lakes is a terrific campground.  It ain't quaint, it's huge. And it's not cheap but we think it's worth the price.  It includes 310 acres with endless beach frontage, 893 pull thru campsites (many paved), eateries, store, laundry, pool as well as 2500 annual lease sites that are occupied by homes ranging from converted campers to huge stick built homes.  I share this little review because it's such a unique location.  It's fun to be able to be on the beach in moments and it's a great location for endless walking and gawking.

There, we were meeting up with Glenn and Linda whom we have known for many years.  An added bonus was to also spend time with Roger and Maria who we have come to know in the past couple of years while visiting Glenn and Linda.   So the six of us are lined up together in 3 adjacent sites that enables us to just have a wonderful time....non-stop!!!

We stayed 4 nights.  We ate, jabbered, laughed, ate, walked many miles, ate,  and enjoyed the beach.

One evening we totally overindulged at The Original Benjamin's, one of Myrtle Beaches' glutinous seafood buffets.

Duane, Roger and Glenn

Linda and Maria
Later, we enjoyed a great variety show at the Carolina Opry.  We are still telling, or at least trying to remember, some of the outrageous jokes we heard at the show.  So funny.

But the fun is just beginning because we're driving about 3 hours to Irmo, SC (immediately north of Columbia, SC) to spend 4 more nights with Glenn, Linda, Roger and Maria.  They live next door to each other.  Glenn and Linda own a piece of rental property about a mile away from their home.  It has 2+acres.  In preparation for our arrival, Glenn had installed 50 amp service and leveled a pad for our camping comfort.  It is a delightfully peaceful setting.  Thanks Glenn!

A special treat during our visit with Glenn and Linda was a get together with a wonderful group of people we've come to know during the past 15+ years.  The common denominator is employment with the SC Dept of Corrections.  So we had a great visit with Barry, Carlette, Janice, Hugh and Emily as well as Glenn, Linda, Roger and Maria. It was particularly nice to see Hugh, who was recovering from a recent fall and doing so well.  Janice had the great idea to bring a cake for Carlette who was celebrating her birthday that day, but in addition decided to recognize everyone's  birthday that we may of missed over the years.

Hugh and Emily

Barry and Carlette

Carlette and Janice

The perfect cake for all!!
Before departing, Debbie went on a shopping spree compliments of Linda.  Over the years Debbie some and Linda to a much greater degree,  have worked with stained glass.  Now, if Linda were sitting right here with me I'd say that she is the consummate consumer.  Consequently, she had all products known to man related to stained glass.  But now she's moved on to other interests and was motivated to liquidate her glass tools and sheets of glass.  She had several thousand dollars worth of stuff.  Linda insisted that Debbie take what she wanted and she would only accept payment equal to a fraction of the value.  Both Glenn and Linda are notoriously generous people!!   We ended our SC trip with a great meal (what else?) at a Japanese steak house.

Linda and Glenn
Roger and Maria

Big Hugs to all our SC friends.  And to Linda and Glenn, thank you again so much for all your genuine southern hospitality.  Love you!! 

September 25 we headed for Florida.  My cousin Beth, that I haven't seen for about 13 years, wrote me a letter just before we left AZ.  So we stopped in Lakeland, Fl  for a visit.  It was nice spending time with  Beth and  her parents.  We'll have to do a better job of staying in touch.

From there we went on to the area of Dunedin Florida to visit with my father.  We stayed there 5 nights.  My brother Danny and his wife Lorraine were there as well.  We had a nice visit with my father and the 4 of us Danny, Lorraine, Debbie and Duane had a rambunctious good time. We particularly enjoyed our afternoon together in Tarpon Springs walking, laughing, eating  and visiting the sponge docks.

I know this is somewhat perverse or something, but we all couldn't help but laugh when we came across this sign in one of the restroom areas.

And our evening games of pinochle were always good for a laugh or 20. We think we are just sooo funny!!!   Before we left we decided to try our hand at taking some more "formal" family photos.  Here's a few of what we thought were the better ones.

The night before we left Florida Debbie and I managed to let our camper toilet overflow.  Apparently the flapper didn't quite close, the bowl filled with CLEAR water faster then it could drain (it ran for about 3 hours while we were gone) and the result was a fun filled mess.  Mostly the water drained to the basement space and underside of our fifth wheel.  We were up until about 1am sopping up water, removing everything from the basement and dropping the underbelly skin because it looked like a water balloon.  That was several days ago and there appears to be no lasting damage......that is unless I later find rot and warping?

October 1 we broke camp with Branson, Mo as our next destination.  Along the way we spent one night in Macon, GA at Lake Tobesofkee.  Very nice pull-thru full hook-up sites right on the lake.

The next morning we were awakened by we didn't know what.  Opened the door to find some friendly turkeys looking for breakfast I guess.

Bo sent them on their way.

The next afternoon we arrive at the Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. 

Despite the condition of their sign, it was an OK place. The campground and our site are right along the Mississippi River and apparently very susceptible to flooding during the spring.

Nice and dry when we were there, but we sure were surprised by the water line marks from 2011.

All in all a pretty setting and lots of fun watching the barges go up and down the river.

October 3  we arrived in Branson.  We stayed  5 nights at the Stage Coach RV Park.  It was very nice and a deal at $22 a night with Passport America.

Branson is all about shows.  We saw 5 in 3 days for about $200.  We bought tickets at the half price place.  My guess is they weren't the very best shows in town but among the five they ranged from outstanding to at least pleasantly entertaining. They were:  (1) The Texas Tenors - OUTSTANDING!

We would go see them again in a heartbeat.  They placed 4th on a recent season of America's Got Talent (AGT).  I'm thinking they should have won.  (2) The Haygoods - EXCELLENT high energy variety show.  Five brothers and their sister. Time very well spent.

(3) 70's Music Celebration - hosted by Barry Williams who was Greg in the Brady Bunch.  It was a fun show especially if you enjoy reminiscing about the lighter side of the 70's.

(4) Todd Oliver and Friends - Quite funny for the dog lovers (like us).  He's a ventriloquist and his dogs and lap dummies talk and sing.  He also placed 4th on AGT.

(5) Smoke on the Mountain - This gospel comedy play takes place in a church.  The venue for this program was a very small theater and the audience served as the congregation.  As in most things in our household, Debbie decides what we do.  I have "input" but Debbie does the research and I rarely find any reason not to agree with her choices.  If you know us then you probably know we're not really the gospel type so this may appear to be a surprising choice for us.  Nonetheless, the show was quite enjoyable with one character in particular stealing the show.

We also spent some walking time at the Table Rock State Park and the adjacent dam.

Our last day in Branson we visited the College of the Ozarks. It's a Christian college where none of the students pay tuition but they are required to work 15 hours a week in exchange for their room, board and tuition.  We were impressed. 

                                                             Green house full of Orchids

                                                                   Antique tractor display

                                                                      Delicious Fruitcake

Great views from an overlook at the school

This was our first trip to the Ozarks and we feel that it was a great success.   A 3 hour drive brought us to Coffeyville, KS and our adventure with Amazon.  We'll start reporting on that soon.



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