Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Like a Fall Day!

The weather has gone directly from summer temps  in the 90s and above to cool, damp and the mid-60s or below. Will it stay this way? Who knows - certainly not the TV weatherman...

No complaints from us. We had the perfect day to visit Silver Dollar City during the National Harvest Festival. Completely different from the last time we stopped by Silver Dollar City when it was so hot it felt as if our shoes were sinking into the asphalt...

The cool temps and the lovely fall decorations at SDC certainly had us believing that fall is really here.  Jerri got a roller coaster fix, we saw the Birds of Prey show, listened to some music, saw lumberjack competitions, artisans and crafters weaving baskets, glass blowing, and such. And all without breaking a sweat. We had a wonderful day in the Ozarks!

With the cooler temps, the dogs are friskier but, sadly, the tomato plant is winding down. It is still producing tomatoes, but they are getting less frequent and smaller in size. The outdoor pools at the campground are now closed and due for draining this week. It really is sad to say good-bye to summer...

Look up -

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Odds 'N Ends and Days Off!

We survived Labor Day weekend (just barely). Jerri and Homer led the Pet Parade on Saturday. Homer was quite happy to be in charge and looked the part. We humans, on the other hand, worked like dogs the entire weekend. On Sunday night we were the only staff on duty and were pretty ragged by the end of shift.
As always, Homer enjoys a good treat.

We were ecstatic that Labor Day was over and our days off soon followed. On our 'errand' day we visited the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, stopped by the Branson KOA to visit friends who work there, and made the weekly Wal-Mart trek for food.

The fish hatchery was very informative. They breed and stock Brown and Rainbow Trout. The runs are all covered to protect the trout from predatory birds like heron, osprey and others. The view of the back side of Table Rock Dam is impressive, too. There are thousands of trout of various ages in the runs. The small trout in the photo are about 7 months old. The two large rainbows are mature breeders.

On our second day off we went to Legends in Concert at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater. It was a total blast! We had such fun watching Patsy Cline, Johnny Mathis, The Blues Brothers, Bette Midler and Elvis perform.

Jerri and 'Elvis'

Elwood, Kathy and Jake

Dean Z, who portrays Elvis, did a fantastic and quite believable job. It was so believable, that the elderly lady sitting next to Kathy turned to her and said, "He's so good, he kinda makes you horny, don't he?" For once, Kathy was speechless... except when she went on stage to have her photo snapped with The Blues Brothers.

Jerri received three kisses from Elvis and commented that 'his lips were very soft.' And for our good friend Ruth Healy, that's your Elvis jacket in the photo. Elvis liked the jacket a lot. We believe Dean Z did Elvis proud, and the lady who sat next to Kathy can attest to that.

May you have a cheesy, good time too!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


One hot summer's day a small group of adventurous spirits from Compton Ridge Campground decided to go ziplining. Initially there were six adventurous spirits, but after one dropped out (literally) at the first tower (it was Kathy), then there were five.

It was an awesome day to face one's fears (fear of heights, fear of falling, fear of peeing your pants...). When Kathy found out you can't zip with your eyes closed, it was a no-go for her (although she is very brave in other ways).

After gearing up and meeting your guides (all cute, college-age boys), the day's adventure begins with a death-defying ATV ride at full throttle over bumps, through bushes and over a highway into the woods. After you pry your hands off the back of the seats and settle your shaking knees, you are led to a clothesline-looking cable area to 'practice' ziplining where you are given instructions, words of encouragement and one try to get it right. Next, you hike through the woods to a very tall, tiny tower with the longest spiral staircase ever. After huffing and puffing your way to the top of the tower where you are carabinered to the railing in case you'd like to leave or possibly fall over the railing, you are again given instructions and told what a 'blast' and 'rush' you would feel (or just plain nausea as Kathy would attest). Kathy discovered this was the best place to chicken out as there were still stairs to descend. Chickening out later means a guide has to rappel you down from even greater heights.

Of all of our party left, Jerri was the only one who smiled as she zipped over the trees and through the canopy. In total there were 7 different ziplines, 3 rope bridges and a lot of fun. If you are looking for an adventure loving partner to zip with, Jerri is available.

Life is an adventure.  Live it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Got Our Kicks....

A couple of weeks ago, we got a couple of extra days off and found ourselves (+ doggies) headed to St. Louis. Couldn't come to Missouri and not see the Arch, but let's begin at the beginning.

Anyway, we managed to travel on part of Historic Route 66 (hence, we got our kicks). Visited Mr. C's Route 66 store. Not only does Mr. C own the patent for the famous Route 66 Root Beer (and other flavored Route 66 beverages), but is chock full of various information about Route 66 and other stuff. If you get the chance to stop in, you will find any kind of Route 66 memorabilia, souvenir, schotchkes, etc. You will also find a handsome display of guitars, gold records and other stuff previously owned by the late, great blues man, 'Muddy Waters.' Come to find out the proprietor of Mr. C's was the former business manager for Muddy Waters. Stick with us, we find out the most obscure details in all the weird places.

The Missouri Welcome Center on I-44 was interesting and informative with verrrrrryyy clean restrooms, but none of the discount coupons our cheap, little hearts were wanting. Our travel day was very overcast and rainy and we saw several wrecks involving tractor trailers on the way to St. Louis.

Instead of staying downtown in St. Louis (too expensive), we stayed at a Drury Inn and Suites in Fenton, MO, which was about 18 minutes from downtown and the Arch. The rates were quite reasonable, they allowed pets (and did not charge extra); breakfast was included each morning; popcorn and soda was included from 3 - 9 PM daily; and heavy snacks (basically dinner) included daily from 5:30 - 7PM. What a deal!

Of course, The Gateway Arch was first on our list of things to see and do. An absolutely modern marvel of engineering. It's 630 feet to the top and a little creepy and weird to ride up in an egg-shaped compartment with people you don't know in a very confined space.  Taking only 4 minutes to travel up and 3 minutes to travel back down, it is doable.  The view from the top was fabulous. You could see across the Mississippi river into Illinois on one side and the other side gave a great view of Busch Stadium and the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was heard (a long time ago). This inverted catenary curve of gleaming stainless steel is ingenious in its simplicity.  The span of the two legs at ground level is the same as the height. 

The Jefferson National Expansion Park is fun to explore and includes the Gateway Arch. The Arch is operated by the National Park Service and access to it is underground. We opted for the package that included the ride to the top of the Arch and the Lewis and Clark movie (very informative, in case you wondered). The Museum of Westward Expansion was vast and our feet tired of it too soon, although the parts we saw were significant.

We walked the park along the river and viewed the Eads Bridge but did not travel on it. Built in 1894, it was the first major railroad bridge across the Mississippi and the first to utilize steel truss construction. 

Upon recommendation of the Park Service personnel, we next visited Union Station, the oldest train station in the U.S. which has now been converted into an indoor mall of sorts. We lunched at the St. Louis Hard Rock Cafe. Kathy got her fix of grilled portobello mushrooms once again (yum!). The young man at The Fudgery was a real hoot. Very reminiscent of an old-time street vendor/actor/salesman/entrepreneur, all rolled into one.

Next, we went to the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica (admission is free, although donations are appreciated). Architecture fascinates us, particularly Gothic. When in St. Louis, put this on your must-see list. The gold mosaic tiles are enough to make you want to see it, let alone the time it took from construction to completion and the wealth inside this building.

There is just no way a camera can do justice. The light plays on all the mosaic tiles in various degrees, almost bringing movement. The dome is 240 feet tall and the ceiling alcove above the statue of Christ is 90 feet tall. The angels around the inside of the dome are each 30 feet tall. Each mosaic tile was set by hand and turned by a craftsman to catch the light to maximize the gold glitter.

Between the architecture of the Gateway Arch and the Cathedral Basilica, we had an awe-inspiring, awesome trip, even if it was a short trip.

On the return trip we opted to forgo Grant's Farm and the Botanical Gardens because of the dogs. With temps 95 and above, it would have been just too cruel to ask them to wait in the car. The dogs traveled very well and particularly enjoyed the expanded channel selection in the room while we were out for the day.

Hope we've inspired you to 'get your kicks'

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Origami and the Art of Folding Sheets

Nope, we can't fold origami swans, frogs or flowers, but we can fold sheets.

Imagine Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid speaking in your ear, saying "Top - bottom, now side - side." There you have it, fold until it forms a neat rectangle. Now you, too, can fold sheets. This completes the instruction for the top sheet; the mantra for the fitted sheet goes, "left pointy finger - right pointy finger - now all corners onto one pointy finger." Square up neatly, then into a rectangle. Lay the rectangular fitted sheet on top of the rectangular top sheet (add pillowcases) and fold in each end to the middle. The end result resembles a very neat linen burrito.

We have learned to appreciate the 'zen' of laundry. While doing laundry isn't rocket science, it has its own charm and discipline.

As with anything, practice makes perfect. Towels must be folded in a consistent manner to make refreshing a motel or lodge room or even a cabin a model of efficiency.

Sheets, ah sheets - the lesson in Zen... With mountains of laundry from the motel, lodge and cabins, the art of folding sheets is sometimes a challenge but always a process... and definitely a lesson in philosophy. There is great satisfaction in watching a mountain of chaos transform into a neat stack of order through your efforts.

May you discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Inspiration is in the Details

All our friends and family are experiencing record heat. Even here in Branson, the numbers are high and the temps are HOT! In that vein, all efforts at entertainment have involved indoors and air conditioning...

Last week we saw Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part II in IMAX 3-D. Great fun, although a little sad to see Harry all grown up.

This week we were re-inspired by James Garrett and his Tribute to John Denver at the Little Opry Theater. The musicianship was superb and the tribute was inspirational. Garrett recounted personal stories of John Denver and provided insight behind the songs. Always loved John Denver's music and storytelling ability. The show was a reminder of how short and bittersweet life is. It served to reinspire us to remember some of our original dreams and re-focus our goals. Great show!

As a treat, we had lunch at Joe's Crab Shack at Branson Landing. The crab was great! Don't criticize the photo, crabs travel sideways anyway.

In other news, the tomato plant is thriving in the heat and producing multitudes of cherry tomatoes as a daily treat. The summer colds have passed and we are all well, if not a little wilted in the heat.

May you all find inspiration and remember your dreams.

Be cool - K&J

Thursday, July 7, 2011

'S Up?

Last week's attempts to see shows was a bust - zip - nada.  Wanted to see Cirque Montage, but the Starlite Theater did not comp/reciprocate tickets and just weren't very friendly about it. So, trucked over to the mall to see 'Absolutely Patsy.' And, wouldn't you know it - she took the week off to get married. Sometimes things just don't work out...

So this week Kathy is fighting off a nasty summer cold, while Jerri is busy trying not to develop symptoms. Neither of us have much energy left to pursue entertainment. It's been a job just to get the laundry done.

On the upside, the tomato plant is thriving and doing quite well. We have been unable to catch the vermin eating on the lower leaves, but the tomatoes are growing every day. It appears to be a patio tomato plant, as the fruit is small and forming in clusters. Not too shabby for a rescued plant.

The hummingbirds still come to the feeders every day. The aloe plant has mutated into a gargantuan super aloe. If it gets any bigger it won't be able to travel with us. All the other plants are happy; the dogs are happy; and all is well (except us). Today is overcast with a slow, drizzly, much-needed rain. Just a good day to stay home and rest.

All in all, no complaints. Just wish we had more energy and felt better.

Stay healthy and safe-

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Week's Shows: The Twelve Irish Tenors and SIX

The Twelve Irish Tenors at ten and SIX at two.  Does anyone really know what time it is? 
We decided to make the most of this day off by taking in two shows today.  We got going early to see our first show at 10am: The Twelve Irish Tenors.  This group of twelve Irish/Irish-American singers were well-polished young performers.  They harmonized well, were witty and had a charm about them that won the audience over. 

After a nice lunch out, we arrived to see SIX at 2pm.  Now, if you want to see a show in Branson, this is the one to see! Talk about talent!  Six brothers sing and perform as "An Orchestra of Human Voices" unlike you have ever heard!  These guys were voted "Entertainers of the Year 2010"  and are well on their way to claiming the title again in 2011 (in our opinion).  Six voices. Zero instruments. All music.  A fabulous show that we would highly recommend. 

In case the link doesn't post in our blog, you can check out SIX on YouTube.

We are loving the area and feel very fortunate to be able to see this caliber of entertainment while working here.  Here's to making the most of every situation in our lives!

Love what you do and do what you love....

Having Fun at Compton Ridge

Just a quick post to keep everything somewhat up-to-date. Went to see the Doug Gabriel Show on Thursday night with a group from work. It was a fun, clean, family-oriented show. Doug has played in Branson for over 18 years, four of which he shared the stage with Roy Clark. The entire Gabriel family is very musical and interacted well with the audience.

But to back up just a bit before we forget...our first day on the job at Compton Ridge was at the beginning of the Fiddler's Convention. There is a spring and fall convention for fiddlers and is a tradition at Compton Ridge. We were serenaded by a guitar-playing, singing gentleman in the office. Great fun, but of course didn't have the camera. Who knew we needed a camera on the first day of work?

This past week brought the BTW (Brothers of the Third Wheel) to Compton Ridge. We were inundated by trikes and riders from across the country. This is an annual event here. The trikes are all custom built, very elaborate and quite pricey. Again, no camera with us at work. However, you can go to the Compton Ridge Campground facebook page to see various photos of the events.

Will have to remember to pack the camera to document all the fun we're having. We are experiencing a lot of variety, learning new things and are never bored. Even the changing weather keeps us on our toes.

Find fun in whatever you do -

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Settling In and Having Fun in Branson

We have one of the nicest workamper campsites ever! We have a huge campsite with a fire ring in the back. It's a really long gravel site, terraced down the side of hill, so the wind is kind to the awning and we are able to leave it out (anchored down, of course). We rescued a tomato plant someone left, transplanted it to a bucket, fertilized it and put it in a sunny spot. We now have blooms and are looking forward to tomatoes.
 This is our S'mores pit. We are able to have a fire and our campsite drops down to a hiking trail which goes by a small cave and up to an overlook area. The dogs love it!  Lots of ups and downs - just like in life. Have to be very careful of ticks, chiggers and snakes. This is the woods after all. And, Michele, FYI - the Listerine does work against mosquitoes. Yay, Listerine!
 This is a cute photo we took at State Park Marina. This is part of the Missouri State Park system and down the road from Table Rock Dam and Lake. Table Rock is a Corps of Engineers park. They have a very nice lakefront area. The water level is still above normal. We were told it is 53 miles by water from Kimberling City to Table Rock and the lake has 953 miles of shoreline. Table Rock Lake is man made.

The State Park has 2 campgrounds and a very large marina. Lots of hiking trails and water sports - like Seadoos, kayaking, water skiing, scuba diving, pontoon and house boats. This mini travel trailer is a Shaved Ice stand, but it wasn't open when we were there.

We continued exploring the area, following where the road led. Found our way to Hollister and back to Branson Landing. Had a wonderful lunch at the White River Fish House which is the floating restaurant next to Bass Pro on Lake Taneycomo.

Wanted to 'Ride the Ducks' but ran out of time. Will save it for another day.

So much to see and do. Have to make plans to take in everything. Branson really does have it all. We constantly marvel at how much Branson and the Ozarks remind us of Rabun County and North Georgia. The geography is so similar. Perhaps that is why it feels so familiar. The geology is different - totally different rocks.

Safe travels

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jeerk and The Prince of Magic

Our philosophy has always been to work hard and play hard. We are in the right place to do both. Branson MO is definitely a 'vacation destination,' and Entertainment Capital (of at least the U.S.).

Our second round of entertainment included Jeerk, which is a young, very versatile 5-man Swedish rhythm group that is absolutely phenomenal! They are the whole package --- they sing, dance, play instruments, play percussion on anything, and are quite funny. Really enjoyed the show and would recommend it to anyone coming to Branson. BTW, Jeerk is pronounced 'Jerk' and is comprised of the alphabets of the guys last names.

These guys are so talented and quite an energy booster. Their tap shoes are specially made sneakers with tap soles on the bottom.

Second show this week was Kirby Van Burch, the Prince of Magic. First time ever for both of us at a live magic show. Kirby has also performed around the world and was dubbed the 'Prince of Magic' by the king and queen of Thailand. Our seats were 3rd row center - great seats - and we still can't determine how the illusions were performed. Especially the last act where the helicopter appeared on stage... Very entertaining, a seamless performance and crowd pleaser.

Our definite entertainment winner so far is Jeerk, with The Legend of Kung Fu coming in second. If all else fails, we can become critics, although we haven't seen a bad performance  anywhere yet.

Here's to having fun -

Silver Dollar City, The Legend of Kung Fu and Bass Pro

We are settling in nicely in our new digs at Compton Ridge. We have a very large, shady site replete with nice neighbors. Because we are in the 'guest services' industry, we have access to a lot of the local entertainment.

We are only about a mile from Silver Dollar City, so it became our first 'fun' thing to do after coming to Branson. Jerri was able to get her 'roller coaster fix' and Kathy got her workout walking up and down the hills. The train ride was fun. Jerri rode 'Fire in the Hole,' which went from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds before it did the inverted loops, etc. It was a fun day and not too hot or crowded since this is the beginning of the season.

Our first entertainment show was The Legend of Kung Fu. We are great fans of dance, athleticism and martial arts. This was an awesome show with about 26 artists ranging from young children to older adults. This show has played all over the world and was part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We witnessed a graceful adaption of Tai Chi and Zen philosophy into an entertainment medium. This is a really good show and the performers are awesome!

The lotus blossoms silently
The sunshine is weaving a rainbow
A drop of water feeds an infinite ocean
A split second becomes an eternity

We ventured forth into Springfield MO (the big city) to find a Sam's Club and natural food store. We also discovered that Springfield is the 'Granddaddy' of all Bass Pro Shops, being the original one. Stopped by for just a bit but there is so much more to see and do there, it will warrant another trip and more time.

So far, so good. Work is going very well, and the summer is going very, very well.

Safe travels -


On the Way to Branson

After leaving Sarasota, we headed back to Georgia for a short visit. Squeezed in quick visits with family and friends and a quick trip to the mountains. Quite shocked to discover that the April tornado outbreak also hit Rabun County with a visit too close for comfort to many of our friends.

Our intention had been to make a pilgrimage to Elvis, Graceland and Memphis on the way to our next destination (Branson, MO). With an Elvis jacket (on loan from Ruth Healy), Jerri was primed and ready for Elvis.

Unfortunately, the Mighty Mississippi had other plans for us. With Memphis flooded and Tuscaloosa AL devastated by tornado we had to reconsider our route options. So Ruth, the Elvis jacket is in safekeeping for now awaiting a return engagement in Memphis.

With I-40 out of commission we routed the WhooHoo more southerly hoping to cross the MM at Natchez. After our last bad experience on I-10 in Mississippi (front tire blowout) we opted for the backroads. And backroads they were...

Next stop was Alabama (had to fill in the gaping hole on our US map). We found the most perfect campground in Alabama - the Tombigbee/Black Warrier Corps of Engineers campground. Only 37 sites, but what a view! The Tombigbee River is a major waterway to the Gulf of Mexico with lots of boat traffic. We had a pull-thru site right on the river. Got to see houseboats, barges, fishing boats, etc. on the river. Very secluded and peaceful. Definitely on our second time around list.

At a fuel stop in AL, talked with a couple of truck drivers who didn't recommend crossing the MM at Natchez as the water was rising fast. Just a reminder that the thing about plans is that they can be changed. So we turned WhooHoo north and crossed the MM at Vicksburg MS. They don't call it the MM for nuthin'. It was both scary and impressive crossing that bridge with only the tops of light poles showing above the water.

Lunched at a welcome center/rest area in Louisiana where we learned several roads were expected to be closed. So, after another change in plans we decided to head north into Arkansas. Stayed in a campground in a farmhouse pecan grove for a couple of nights to regroup in Lake Village, AR. If you are in need of excitement or a disaster fix, we can pick 'em. Not only were we across the road from Lake Chicot, but also across the way from one of the levees that was having seepage from the MM. Yes, we saw tons of National Guard trucks go by, but not being from the area did not know what was happening. Able to be happy wherever we are, we just enjoyed nature and the playful squirrels until we turned on the nightly news and heard we were in eminent danger. A little hard to sleep after hearing that.

Several folks in the campground were from parts of Louisiana expected to get flooding when the dam was opened. Hope they are okay.

Left Arkansas and headed to Branson only to find that the road over Table Rock Dam was closed due to a landslide from all the rain and flooding in April. So another change in plans. A nice park ranger gave us directions to our destination. He mentioned the roads were 'hilly' but neglected to say that WhooHoo would have to climb a 19 per cent grade.  The dam road has since been opened but the water levels remain high here on Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo.

Arrived at our destination on May 14th to cool temps in the 50s. Where's the Elvis jacket when you need it?

More Branson posts coming soon.

Safe travels - K&J