Friday, July 27, 2012


We now reckon that if America had a zipper up the middle, that’s just where we are zipping along up I-35 & 1-135 with lots of open space on either side of the highway. All the corn is in with the stubble waiting to be burned, but because of the heat - 10 degrees warmer than usual, with usual being 92F – for the past three weeks we’ve been living in 100F heat and no sign of it cooling down. We consciously picked this time of the year to explore the heartland to avoid the height of the tornado season; now it’s too hot for tornados as they need both hot and cold air colliding to form. We are both still happy with our decision.

Our only stop in Kansas was in a town called Salina, not too far from Abilene the birthplace of President Dwight David Eisenhower whose museum we visited – which was the whole purpose for this stop. The afternoon we arrived we drove to downtown Salina as we needed to go to a Bank of America to get some cash; we have a new appreciation of ATM’s as we discovered that the branch closes at 4pm - a touch of the Greeks about the length of a work day! We visited a coffee shop/book store but no Brittani or Brad at this coffee shop.
The next day we drove the 50 miles to Abilene and the Dwight David Eisenhower museum which is located on the land where Eisenhower’s childhood home stands; here Ike’s parents raised their six sons. All the furniture including the radio is authentic. The grounds now host the museum, library, meditation chapel (where Ike, Mamie and their son Dwight are buried), a visitor center and the ancestral home which was acquired shortly after the death of Ike’s mother in 1946. As some of the exhibits had been removed due to ongoing renovations we started our tour with WW11 and learned a lot; Adele was fascinated at how they constructed a floating harbor off the Normandy coast in just six days, what a clever idea! D-Day was in planning for more than 2 years when the floating harbor idea was conceived of - it took months to fabricate all the parts, and then when the assault was to start the weather was too bad so they had to wait two days - must have been the longest 48 hours for all involved. There were lots of photos of General Eisenhower meeting the Allied leaders and of the assault landing – think Saving Private Ryan. Ike was rightly feted as a hero with ticker tape parades in all cities’ he visited on returning to the US.

We then learned the history of how both the Republican and Democratic parties wanted Ike for to stand for President and how he ultimately “stole” the Republican nomination. Mamie was almost as popular as Ike and quite a number of her outfits on display - she was voted as one of the best dressed women many, many times.  A little story about Mamie we read was about a visit to Paris during which the dress designers were annoyed that she would not buy her cloths there; she was reported to have said that she would not pay $300 to $500 for a dress in Paris when she could get a nice dress for $17.95 in America! She always looked a million dollars in her outfits. 
Looking through the pictures and letters of Ike's Presidency he certainly spent a lot of time on Cold War issues thus preventing a war between Russia and the USA; it looked ominous for the world after WW11 when the nuclear bombs were a real scare. An interesting facet of Ike was that just like George VI in England he was not comfortable in front of a television camera; ever the strategist he saw TV was the new medium and exploited it to get his message across to the people. One of his advisors came up with the clever idea of having the cameraman hidden under a black sheet with a hole for the camera lens, the President was therefore not too conscious of the camera. There are lots of family photos including their grandchildren having birthday parties at the White House and cycling on the lawn.  Mamie was a very busy First Lady and very popular.

We watched his farewell speech from the White House in which he prophetically warned against “the military/industrial complex” in the same section is a plaque with an excerpt from one of John Adams speeches (photo to follow).
The Abilene Visitors Centre is housed in the old railway station – at the other side of the tracks from the Eisenhower Museum – this was our next stop to see if we could take the trolley tour, sadly not as it only operates on Saturday’s at 2pm & 4pm. We had been hoping to be driven around town as, at 103F it was too hot to walk. Instead we settled for a really nice meal in Kirby House, a restaurant in a restored Victorian house where we were served by a jolly very pregnant waitress.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Statue commerating the marriage of Miss Indian Territory to Mr Cowboy Oklahoma
establishing the Sate of Oklahoma State

The inside of an old Drugstore - in 1910 more alcohol
was sold as medicine than in bars 

An interesting advertisment - now you know where the word came from! 

One of the many beautiful buildings in Guthrie 

A sandstone building

 Coffee anyone?

On Route 66 once again 
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Oklahoma City and Guthrie

Not originally planned as a part of our itinerary, but added after we met Frances and Don in Branson, MO Oklahoma City was a big surprise beginning as we drove from the east to see the city with modern skyscrapers and many beautiful new structures silhouetted against the western sun. We had arranged to meet Frances and Don for lunch in the restaurant of the Cowboy Museum which was very close to our RV Park and were delighted to visit with them and meet their 4 year old granddaughter Hannah. The museum is a really imposing very modern building with gorgeous landscaping that has a huge entrance hall and a foyer with a recessed area in which there’s a plaster statue 18 feet tall, on an 8 foot plinth of an Indian on horseback titled "The End of the Trail". The statue was made for San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition; in 1920 the city of Visalia, California, obtained the discarded statue and placed it in Mooney Park where it remained in a gradually deteriorating condition for 48 years. In 1968 the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum acquired the plaster statue, restored it to its original magnificence and made it a focal point of the museum.

The museum has a big section dedicated to Cowboy heroes of the Silver Screen with of course, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Tom Mix, Charlton Heston, Roy Rogers and Hop Along Cassidy to name but a few; also displayed were the outfits they wore and other memorabilia from their movies.   There’s a scaled down Rodeo Arena and movies of different competitions; a section on working cowboys, lots of saddles, bridles and barbed wire. We learned that cattle were driven many hundreds of miles to the railway (for 75 cents a head) for onward transportation to Chicago and points east. There was also a section devoted to the military in the west, mountain men and Native Americans; all very well put together. The art section displayed items from an annual competition - artists are invited to compete – all of the art was for sale so…as you can imagine it was wonderful; there’s also a permanent collection which is excellent.
The following day we drove into the city and took the trolley to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, dedicated to the 168 victims and the survivors of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The grounds where the building stood are beautifully laid out; it has a reflecting pool with an arch at either end, one inscribed with 9.01 and the other 9.03 - the bomb went off at 9.02 which changed our world. A moving and poignant feature is the field of chairs with a chair for each person killed name inscribed, there are smaller chairs for the 19 children killed. There’s a rescuers orchard surrounding the Survivor Tree - this tree was in the middle of the car park for the Federal Building – was badly damaged in the blast, yet managed to survive. Inside the museum all the TV coverage, photos and stories of the people lost, sadly some families lost children and a parent. The second floor housed the nursery and was right at the epicenter of the blast, most of you will remember the footage of a fireman with a little girl in his arms which became a symbol of the tragedy, she died on the way to hospital. Our visit there was a moving and heartbreaking experience!

Afterwards we caught the Trolley back to a part of the city that’s being redeveloped and gentrified called Bricktown, really well done with a mix of old warehouse buildings and new buildings on the sides of a 4 foot deep canal that twists and turns through the area. There are restaurants, shops, a cinema, apartments and a lovely walkway with bridges to cross the canal, trees, shrubbery and little gardens. At the end of the canal is a really massive display of larger than life sculptures depicting the land rush west of the late 1800’s. This took a local sculptor 20 years to put together. Believe it or not we stood in line, in 100F heat to take a boat ride on the canal! This is the nicest redevelopment project we have seen.

On Sunday we drove 30 miles north to Guthrie the original capital of Oklahoma a local newspaper editor was stridently critical of the governor whereupon the governor said he would see Guthrie reduced to dust and moved the capital to Oklahoma City. We took a self-guided walking tour (on the shady side of the street) and commented that small towns in the Midwest are built to last with all the buildings made of brick, nice architecture and built to complement one another.  We wandered into a coffee shop out of the heat and started chatting to our host Brittani while ordering our coffees, recognizing our Irish accents she told us that she and her family are going to Ireland next year and asked for our advice on what to do, see and how to get there. We then started a conversation with Brad, a published author, who is writing a western trilogy. He has been to Ireland and other parts of Europe - we promised to keep in touch. As we were leaving the coffee shop Brad suggested that we should take a little diversion on our way back to a cafe called Pops. What a surprise? This is a store with walls of glass and glass shelving displaying thousands of bottles of soda, in hundreds of varieties and colors from all over the world. It also has the largest freestanding canopy in the world.
And, where is Pops? In the middle of nowhere, near a town called Edmond right up tornado alley! We had a great few days in Okie!


"End of the Trail" National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Field of Empty Chairs - Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum

The Gates of Time and the Reflecting pool

Objects and memories hung on a surounding fence 

On a water-taxi on the canal in Bricktown 

The Western Rush  
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Hot Springs

Some of the equipment in a bath house,
In the backgroung steam baths,
In front hoses to hose one down,
Through the door a sitdown bath like a chair.

A needle shower

The center piece in the mens changing room

A place to relax on the top floor 

The Fordyce Bathhouse 

One of the 140F Hot Springs
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Little Rock and Clinton Museum

 Tom driving a tram!

A gift from Korea to Little Rock 

Adele heading into the Oval office 

Clinton Museum design based on Trinity Library, Dublin
Giving orders in the Cabinet Room 

The Duck March
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


"Oklahoma! - where the waving wheat sure smells sweet; and the wind comes right behind the rain!" 

Since starting out on this odyssey in late October 2010 we have travelled 17,000 miles in the RV and have no idea of how many miles in “bluebug”. Oklahoma is state number 39 visited of the lower 48 and believe or not we are still enjoying ourselves, experiencing the vastness and diversity of America, learning lots, meeting wonderfully interesting people and literally lucking out, big time in some of the places we had not known of before receiving a recommendation from a new acquaintance. Our first stop was at Sallisaw, just over the border from Arkansas, in a small but nice KOA RV Park - with a pool – an absolute must in the heat we’re experiencing. Thankfully, the nights cool down sufficiently to allow us take a mile walk after dinner; we enjoyed being able to do that.

Sallisaw is in the historical Indian Territory and from there we drove to Muskogee to visit the Five Civilized Tribes Museum; the tribes were Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. These people who lived in southeastern US had taken on the Colonial lifestyle, owned their homes, had beautiful furniture, some even owned plantations and had slaves; generally they enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. Over time, wishing to be good citizens and assimilate into the colonial culture, they negotiated several treaties with the government but were tricked by the politicians of the day…nothing changes! When the Europeans originally came to the “new world” there were an estimated 12.5 million Native Americans, by the end of the 19th century there were a little more than 250,000. Disease(s), some deliberately introduced – think smallpox – almost decimated them; others were killed in wars and many died in various “relocations”. Similar to many older civilizations their history was passed on orally which meant that they did not read or write and had no alphabet of their own, so were easily tricked. A genius named Sequoyah (yes the tree is called after him) took twelve years to develop an alphabet of 86 letters that would have all the diphthongs of the various Indian dialects. In 1907 Miss Indian Territories married Mr. Cowboy Oklahoma to form the State of Oklahoma.
The Curator at the Muskogee museum recommended that we should visit the Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah which was only a 20 mile drive away. Which we did to discover a beautiful new museum built on the grounds of a Native American girl’s boarding school. The museum entrance included a guided tour of a Cherokee village; our guide a Cherokee man, with hair to his waist and wearing traditional hide pants and vest. This was a fascinating experience as each family had a summer house (with plenty of ventilation) and right next door, a winter house (where hardly a breeze could get in the door) the houses were constructed of wattle and mud with bamboo and grass roofs. On a playing field there was a group of boys and girls playing stick ball; so similar to Lacrosse that one wonders if this is where lacrosse originated. We also watched a man instructing younger men in the making of flint arrow heads and a lady making baskets, all were dressed in the traditional way. In the center of the village is the meeting house from where the elders of the tribe (male and female) govern, they meet each evening. Similar to a number of ancient civilizations the Cherokees is a matriarchal tribe, with the blood line going through the mother. Another interesting societal issue we learned is that the mother’s clan is responsible for the rearing of the children. The medicine man was a very important member of the village as he had cures for many ailments; some native cures looked like they would be much safer than the snake oil and potions being sold by quacks to the white man.

Inside the museum there’s a very good exhibit detailing the "Trail of Tears" - the forced relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes to lands west of the Mississippi during one of the coldest winters on record. The people were not allowed bring any possessions with them – this was in effect a forced march, they had no extra clothing and soldiers on horseback pushed them forward all the time.  Many (some estimates are as high as 25%) died on the trail; of starvation, the cold but mostly of heartbreak. These poor people were now so isolated, far from their ancestral lands, their burial grounds and their ancestors for most this was the greatest sorrow. Not an inspiring story of the early settler, yet all part of the fabric of US history. Then when they had settled down in “The Indian Territory” their children were taken from them at age three and sent to boarding schools for the next thirteen years ((with no vacations) to be educated in the white man’s traditions and teach them a trade; afterwards they could decide if they wanted to return to their tribe or join the white man’s world. Native Americans had a highly developed society, laws and a democratic form of government, and where self-sufficient. They could not understand the concept of owning the land as man is only here on earth for such a short time, they believed that we must protect and respect the land, rivers, skies, birds, fish and animals – surely the first environmentalists!  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Little Rock, AR

Little Rock is the home of The William J Clinton Presidential Center, the Clinton School of Public Service and the William J Clinton Foundation.  The Clinton's have an apartment on top of the Museum with a helicopter pad. Bill Clinton was staying there while we were in Little Rock; we hoped for a personally guided tour but had to make do with a wonderful guide also called Bill who told us that the former President does visit the museum from time to time.

On the advice of people we met in the swimming pool in Eureka Springs we stayed at an RV Park on the Arkansas River right across from the William J Clinton Presidential Center; which was very convenient as an old railway bridge had been pedestrianized as part of the development of the Presidential Center. Opened in 2004 the center is a striking modern building surrounded by a lovely parkland which (to scale) mirrors the topography of the State of Arkansas. From here a pathway links to a walking and biking trail that runs along both sides of the river; it is 17 miles long and much used. In the basement which has views of the river and trail there’s an unbelievable gourmet restaurant called “Forty Two” where we dined in great style with tablecloths and napkins; the food was simply excellent.
The center comprises of three floors, the entrance lobby where there’s a decommissioned Presidential automobile and an interesting historical exhibit of both Bill and Hilary’s Mothers with lots of family  photos…they were two very strong ladies. On the second floor a replica of the Oval Office that one can view but not enter and of the Cabinet Room where one can enter and, imagining being in the Cabinet sit at the table; Tom of course sat in the Presidents chair! Also on this floor there’s a chronological history of Bill Clinton's time in office, very interesting as it is recent history. Apart from the sterling work Bill and Hilary did to bring peace to Northern Ireland another interesting Irish connection is that the archive section of this floor is based on the design of the library at Trinity College in Dublin.   
On the third floor there was an exact replica of a White House table set for a formal dinner, Bill our guide told us when the center first opened people stole plates, glasses, silverware (cutlery) and even signs off the wall. Another exhibit was about getting the White House ready for Christmas - it takes a year to organize - maybe that’s why the President is sworn in in January! Along a wall was the family life of the Clinton's; Hilary's inaugural ball gown, another red velvet gown, a number of Bills saxophones and of course, lots of photos with foreign dignitaries. Bill was born William Blythe IV, sadly his father died three months before he was born. At age 4 his stepfather formally adopted him and so instead of another famous Blythe we have President William J Clinton. We enjoyed our day at the William J Clinton Presidential Center…it was well worth our while to visit Little Rock.

Next day we took an antique trolley tour around Little Rock that didn't take too long after which we visited the Historic Arkansas Museum which has a wonderful sculpture outside; inside it had some very nice historical art including lovely scenes of wide open country, an exhibition of cabinet work and a very good exhibition of Indian memorabilia. An officious museum guard ordered us to leave at 4.45pm (closing time was 5pm) so we didn't see it all. Adele wanted to tell him we had 15 more minutes but was prevailed upon to remain silent - we didn't want to be run out of town by the Sheriff. We crossed the road to the Peabody Hotel and were just in time to join a huge crowd to see the infamous Peabody Ducks performance. A porter (dressed as a Major Domo) announces the imminent departure of the ducks tells the story behind the tradition and places steps against the edge of the fountain from which the ducks waddle down and along a red carpet to the elevator around the corner. The elevator is made of glass so all can see the ducks as they head up to their nightly accommodations and food.
We had our dinner in a restaurant called The Flying Fish just a walk from the RV Park in a redeveloped part of town called The River Market District.

The following day we drove to Hot Springs, about 55 miles south of Little Rock. As the name implies this is where hot springs surface. The Hot Springs area has been under the protection of the National Parks Service for over one hundred years. The fear was that the springs and water would be destroyed through commercialism; so seven big beautiful spas (only one still operating) are on one side of the road with shops and hotels on the other side. There are fountains along the promenade where one can fill bottles with the spring water. We saw a man filling huge glass bottles so Adele filled a plastic drinking bottle and as the water was so hot couldn't hold it. There’s no notice to say it was hot but as our children would say “Mom it is called Hot Springs!” The water comes out of the ground at 140F, way too hot for a human, so they cooled it down in the beautiful Bath houses along Bathhouse Row. The Fordyce Bathhouse now houses the National Parks Office Visitor Center where one can take a self-guided tour of 23 restored rooms, cubicles for changing, baths, needle showers, hoses to wash one down, steam cabinets, massage rooms and on the top floor a lounge to relax. Oh yes one could sunbath nude on the roof! How is that for medicine? The men's accommodations were much more ornate and spacious than the women's hmm…? At the end of the lovely avenue which is lined with Magnolia trees there’s a hot spring waterfall.
We also learned that there was a lot of gambling in Hot Springs especially during Spring Training. Eventually the law intervened much to the annoyance of the citizens because gambling brought huge revenues to the town.

Weather wise it is still very hot in the Heartland, but we are getting used to it, thankfully it’s not too humid. In fact sometimes the air conditioning in buildings is so very cold that we are happy to go back out into the sun.

Eureka Springs

Thorncrown Chapel

Lunch at the Basin Park Hotel

View of the Main Street

"Send in the Clowns"

The Crescent Hotel

Christ of the Ozarks 

One of the numerous springs
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Great architecture

Glass in abundance, hence Crystal Bridges

The dining area 

A view of one of the many gardens surrounding the buildings 
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eureka Springs, AR

We still are surprised and amazed at the diversity of the US and, what there is to explore, see and do. On the last day of June we crossed from Missouri into Arkansas driving further into the Ozark Mountains to the town of Eureka Springs…a veritable hidden gem of a town built into the side of the mountains. Reminiscent of an alpine town, the entire town is on the National Register of historic places. Holding to the alpine theme there are lots of Hotels and B&B's with Swiss/German names. At the top of the mountain the Crescent Hotel overlooks the town; this hotel has lots of history – including an Irish connection – Irish Stonecutters and Stonemasons were brought over to build the hotel in 1886 at a time when “society” was much taken by “taking the water” as a cure for ailments. There are reputedly 63 curative springs in the area with 17 in the little town alone which has a population 3,000 of whom mostly engage in tourism as their means of living. At night there are ghost tours, the most popular being at the Crescent hotel - during its history the hotel was run as a hospital by a Dr. Baker a charlatan with no medical training, yet advertised that he had a cure for many ailments including cancer - he offered to pay $500 to the first five cancer patients. They came and died, he never reported that news. Local legend is that their bodies (and others) are buried in the cellar walls. We met two teenagers who had taken the ghost tour and said that they saw many ghosts their father was more skeptical. Dr. Baker who was reported to have taken over $4 million from gullible patients was eventually charged, convicted of fraud and spent 4 years in Federal prison.

One of the big surprises for us was “Opera in the Ozarks” which has been running for 62years - a training program for aspiring opera singers chosen annually from many different colleges and schools of music - these young singers hope to be the stars of the future. Three different operas are presented; while there we went to "La Boehme" needless to say it was great, there’s a full orchestra and experienced Directors from many opera houses around the US. On our last night we saw "A Little Night Music" by Stephen Sondheim - excellent and funny. The training program runs for only a month each year, so we were lucky once again in our timing.
Having missed out on seeing the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany and Spearfish, South Dakota one of the reasons we went to Eureka Springs was to see the Passion Play there - it is the number one draw for the area! It is a two hour enactment of Christ's final days; the stage is in an open-air amphitheater on the side of a mountain, complete with Pontius Pilate’s Palace, the Temple, streets of Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa, Garden of Gethsemane, Mary Magdalena’s house, the upper-room where the Last Supper was held and Golgotha hill where the crucifixion took place. In all, there are 250 people in the show with camels, donkey’s, horses (for the roman soldiers) and a huge flock of goats which ran in one gate of Jerusalem and out another. It was very well done, a good show.

The highlight however has to be our trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art founded in 2005 by Alice Walton daughter of Sam Walton the founder of Wal-Mart.   Opened in November 2011 the buildings are in themselves architectural masterpieces set in beautiful landscaped gardens and pools - photos (in another blog to come will give you a much better appreciation of the museum. Some of our favorites were; the sketchbooks of Edward Curtis (1868-1952) who set out in 1907 to capture “a vanishing race” and over the next 20 years created more than 2,200 images of members of some 80 American Indian Tribes and “A girl reading” by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926). The Museum presents Colonial, 19th Century, Modern and Contemporary Art with an excellent (and free) self-guided audio tour. The restaurant is most spectacular in its design and its food mouthwatering…a real treat! We had a real gourmet, yet casual lunch from an outstanding lunch menu. A formal dinner menu is also available; unfortunately on the day we were there dinner was not being served due to a reception being held.
Another very nice surprise located just west of Eureka Springs was Thorncrown Chapel a 48ft tall structure made entirely of wooded beams and glass (425 windows in total) set in the middle of a forest, sitting in the pews one has the feeling of being at one with nature it was a really peaceful place; once again a photo will give you a better idea of the chapel.

Because of the intense heat the 4th July was essentially cancelled in Eureka Springs, an orchestra was advertised to be playing at the town square, but never even turned up. A ban had been imposed on open fires, barbeques and fireworks, in fact anyone lighting a firework could be arrested; but this did not stop the sale of fireworks as we saw lots of roadside stalls selling them on the edge of town so we were quite happy with the decision not to have fireworks. We look at smokers (this is not California folks) throwing their butts on the ground and feel like having them arrested for littering and for posing a potential fire hazard; we are in the lucky position of being able to quickly move out of harm’s way!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Branson MO

A boat trip on Lake Ozark

A picnic area at a roadside stop 

Neil Diamond tribute 

The pianist at the Platters tribute 

Male Chinese Acrobats

Female Chinese Acrobats 
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Ozark Mountains

After the hills of Kentucky we are back in the mountains again, more specifically in the Ozarks which run from Illinois into Arkansas. We have learned that there are many mountain ranges in the center of the US. There are lots of valleys and summits…we seem to have driven up and down each one. From St Louis to Osage Beach we drove along Hwy 42 which is not a main Highway through farmland. When we drive off main highways we are always a little nervous that we might end up some dirt road and won't be able to turn around. We also check gas stations while driving the car for ease of getting the RV in and out. Speaking of gas we’re delighted with the drop in gas prices – must be an election coming up? So we’d better get most of our driving done by November.

Osage Beach is on the shores of Lake Ozark, an enormous reservoir created by flooding many valleys and which in an aerial view looks remarkably like a giant Chinese dragon. We took a cruise on the lake, the shores of which have many beautiful large homes and hotels and this was just the Osage Beach area. On arriving in Osage Beach the weather was very hot, so much so that we stayed out of it. Once more the cinema became our cooling down refuge – this time we saw Rock of Ages.         
From Osage Beach we moved onto Branson where Gospel and Country blend together. Branson was a most pleasant surprise - think Vegas without the sleaze. Branson is situated in the Ozark Mountains in the extremely hilly in the south west of Missouri almost on the border with Arkansas. There are 171 shows in 62 theatres in Branson with shows both day and night - we went to two shows every day for five days. Many of the shows are by very talented family groups. Our favorites, in no particular order were: The Dutton’s three generations preforming together they were magnificent and had performed on Americas got Talent, all could sing and play multiple musical instruments - Benjamin was a great musician, dancer and a hilarious comedian; another family show SIX comprised of six brothers (there are ten) utilizing just the human voice to make music and sing - it is hard to believe human voices can make all of these sounds - it is an excellent show Acrobats from China fascinating - the young Chinese acrobats come over to Branson in March each year and stay until end of December and have been doing so since 1968. We went to a number of tributes icons from our teenage and early twenties years including Johnny Cash, The Platters, Neil Diamond and Hank Williams. Tim Hadlers, who recently played at the Grand Ole Oprey, “Hank Williams Revisited” was by a large margin the best of the tribute shows  we also went to a religious farce - it was OK not awfully funny for us.

As Catholics it’s both interesting and perplexing for us to be in the heart of Bible belt country in that we have become acutely aware of just how different we are from Bible belt Christians. Without even realizing (that they are) people proselytize all the time; one fascinating aspect of their belief is that regardless of how heinous the sin committed they have an absolute belief Jesus will save them. Maybe it’s the “guilt thing” we Catholics live under that has us still attempting to resolve and understand some issues. A question we were reluctant to ask of people who engaged us in conversation is – if heaven is available to all Christians, do they define Catholics as Christians? Singing is really big and they just love their Gospel music - which is as big an industry as Country music - if a singer has a country CD he/she will also have a gospel CD.
We parked our RV at the city RV Park on the banks of the lake and right beside Branson Landing a very nice new development with shopping, hotels, water fountains, sitting areas and lots of restaurants a perfect spot. The RV Park gave us free passes into the RecPlex which had a really great swimming pool which as the weather was very hot Adele used most days. So…our day was show, swim, eat and show. Before arriving in Branson we did not really need to use our air conditioning,  we now have it set 82F day and night to keep the RV cool all the time.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Branson, as do over 8 million people every year.

Springfield, Illinois

Outside the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel

Illinois State Capitol  

The right wing 

The Lincoln's and the Horgan's

 Lincoln's Tomb

Abraham Lincoln Sarcophagus
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