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.

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