A Travellerspoint blog

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

sunny 33 °C

Today we explore Branson, Missouri. We begin by driving down the Branson "strip". It's a crowded two lane road that goes through the center of town. It is lined with theatres, motels, restaurants, miniature golf, etc; in other words, a real tourist trap town. Only the traffic is horrible since the main road is only 2 lanes.

We spot a Krispee Kreme shop! We each have two donuts for a morning snack and then continue our drive around town. We drive out past the Silver City amusement park to the Branson Lake. There's no place to really walk near the lake so we continue on our drive back through the traffic of Branson and head to Branson Landing. We walk around this new area of shops, and decide to have ice cream for lunch. Too hot for anything else. So we go to the Marble Slab ice cream shop and eat our "lunch" by the water.

Branson has a Vanity Fair outlet so we head over to the outlet. It is a really small outlet but we find Joe some shorts; he's outgrowing his clothing.

There are very few shoppers at the outlet and the cashier said that the number of tourists has been really down this summer.

There are so many shows in this little town; I'm not sure how some of them can stay in business. Plus they are building more theatres! Most of the shows are country music oriented, but very few shows have 'big name' stars. Again, I don't know how some of these theatres can stay open. Plus, the roads around here are way too small to handle the traffic now; how would they handle a summer with lots of tourists and even more theatres??? I have to say that I like our campground, but I do NOT like the town of Branson.

Anyway, it's hot, so we head back to the campground for a quick swim before getting ready for the Branson show we decided to see: Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.

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We need to be at the Dixie Stampede at 4pm to pick up our tickets, so we head over there and wait in line for our tickets. Lots of people here. This is supposedly the most popular show in town. It includes dinner and does NOT allow any pictures to be taken inside, so no pictures. They do take our picture and offer to sell it to us, but we decline.

The food is good and the show is enjoyable -- not sure that it is worth the $, but we're glad we went to see it. We probably would not go to see it a second time. Joe and I did enjoy the pig races and the ostrich races. The rest of the show (mainly horses) was okay.

It's been a long, hot day so we head back to the campground after the show (took a long time to get out of the parking lot onto the small two-lane road) and Joe & Jere watch the very long Baseball All Star Game on TV.

Posted by jengelman 10:50 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Branson, Missouri

Monday, July 14, 2008

sunny 33 °C

More driving today. We pack up and leave the Elk City Lake Campground for our 200 mile drive to Branson, Missouri.

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We had planned to stop at the nation's first Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri, but the fish museum portion of the store is closed due to renovations, so we decide to skip it and drive straight to Branson. Too bad, we had heard that the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield is quite a site to see.

We stop at America's Best Campground (the name of the park). It's hot, so we decide to set up the 5ver and head straight to the swimming pool. After swimming, we have dinner, study the descriptions of all the shows in Branson (there must be close to 40 different shows in Branson to choose from), make reservations for tomorrow's Dolly Parton Stampede Show, and then relax around the RV park for the rest of the evening.

Posted by jengelman 11:48 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

A Drive through Kansas

Sunday, July 13, 2008

sunny 31 °C

We sleep late and get a late start for our drive across the remainder of Kansas. We take smaller two-lane roads instead of highways and see some interesting sites as we drive through the small towns, including this artwork beside the road:

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We drive around 275 miles and stop near the border of Kansas and Missouri at Elk City Lake State Park. We drive slowly through the entrance to the campground--there is a gate across the right lane of the road saying "High Water". The campground is open; the volunteer at the registration office says that there was a lot of flooding in the park and the water has been slowly receding. Part of the campground was underwater so he directs us to park in the meadow section of the campground.

We spend the evening relaxing, making phonecalls and then take a walk around the park. Nice state park, but the lake is still several feet above it's normal level.

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Posted by jengelman 11:58 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Dodge City, Kansas

Saturday, July 12, 2008

semi-overcast 22 °C

Long day of driving as we start to head home to Pennsylvania.

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We get up early and drive 375 miles from Alamosa, Colorado to Dodge City, Kansas: the Gunsmoke RV Park. Jere and I appreciate all of the references to the old television show Gunsmoke, but Joe never heard of the show. When we register for the campsite, the cashier tells us to "get outta Dodge by high noon" tomorrow--Jere and I smile.

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We had hoped to swim in their heated pool after the long drive, but the weather is cool today, 15 degrees below normal. Plus it's windy, so too cold to swim. They didn't even bother opening the pool today. Oh well...

We set up, have dinner and then head into Dodge City. We look at some of the statues, including a longhorn statue to commemorate the cattle drives that were made from Texas to Dodge City where the cattle would be loaded onto trains

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and a statue of Wyatt Earp, their famous 'old west' sheriff who tried to keep the law in this rowdy cowtown.

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I was anxious to see their famous Santa Fe Trail mural, but it wasnt' quite as grand as I expected. The Santa Fe Trail passed through Dodge City (there's a place west of town where the trail's wagon wheel ruts can still be seen)

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Dodge City also has a "Trail of Fame" with western stars' names in the sidewalk cement. They must have had the stars of the old television show Gunsmoke come to town and sign their names in the cement.

We then stop to see the longhorn steers that the town has at Longhorn Park. I'm not sure why, but I just think these cattle with really long horns are fun to look at :-)

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We also drive a few miles east of town to see the Coronado Cross statue outside of town past Fort Dodge.

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The cross was built several years ago by the city to commemorate the explorer Coronado's crossing the Arkansas River. Dodge City tourism claims this is the location of the first Christian service in this area of America.

Posted by jengelman 11:40 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Friday, July 11, 2008

semi-overcast 28 °C

Continuing our attempt to visit all of the country's national parks we start the day by driving to Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was made a national park in 2004, so it's one of the newest parks (maybe the newest?). It's claim to fame is the tallest sand dunes in North America. We're a little confused since there was a state park in Idaho that claimed to have the tallest sand dune in North America. These sand dunes are definately a lot taller than the sand dunes in Idaho. I don't think pictures can relay how large these sand dunes are; it's odd because there is no desert here, so the dunes are unexpected.

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We keep our usual national park routine of looking at the displays at the visitor center and watching their movie. We then start our hike up to the top of the dunes. The visitor center movie warned us that this is a very demanding hike. It doesn't look that hard and the start is very easy: a walk through the Medano Creek, that runs along the edge of the dunes in the spring (it dries up in July).

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It is a challenging hike! We pass several people coming down and ask them if they made it to the top and most of them are saying "no" -- too tough, too hot, too high altitude, ran out of water, etc. We are determined to make it to the top of the dune. We take lots of breaks going up the dunes. The hike isn't steep, but every step is in loose sand and the air is thin at this altitude (around 8000 ft).

Here is a picture of Joe climbing the dune (we chose different routes at one section; there is no marked trail, each person chooses their path to the top):
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At one point I don't think I can make it any further, but we rest for 10 minutes and I am determined to make it to the top (as long as my heart doesn't explode from over exertion). Here is a view of the visitor center from about halfway to the top of the dunes
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We finally make it to the top. We thought that we were climbing to the top of the tallest dune, but turns out this is only the second tallest dune. The tallest dune is another mile and a half. NO WAY can I make it to that dune, but we do see two people in the distance who are trying to get to the tallest dune. We're proud to simply make it to the top of this dune; there are only about ten of us on the top of the dune and there were many more who gave up and turned back before making it to the top.

The view is nice from the top; but the view was just as nice halfway up the dune :-)

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The trip down the dune is a lot of fun! We run down the steep parts, screaming...lots of fun!
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When we get to the bottom of the dunes (much quicker than the hike up), we spend time wading through the shallow Medano Creek. The water feels good on our feet and the ripples that the stream makes are interesting to watch.

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We drive down the road to have a picnic lunch and a short hike to Zapata Falls.
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It's only about 20 minutes to the creek which flows out of the falls, but to get to see the actual waterfall we need to hike in and along the creek and then into a cave-type opening to see the falls. I step into the water to walk through the creek and my feet are NUMB within the first 30 seconds. The water is from snow-melt and is incredibly cold.
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No photo of the actual waterfalls since the water was spraying out of the waterfall, but an interesting hike to an almost hidden waterfall.

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We drive back to the campground for a refreshing swim in the pool, followed by dinner and doing some laundry.

Posted by jengelman 09:25 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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