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

Branson - We Are Here!

As stated, we arrived in Branson MO on Saturday, May 14th. Just in time for cool temps and rain, rain, and more rain. This area that had received torrential rains during April and May looked to be more of the same. We began to have sunshine withdrawals. Cold, damp and dark seemed to be the daily outlook. And the weather here...there's no such thing as just 'rain.' According to the local weatherperson, a chance of rain is a chance for thunderstorms, 'some of which could be severe.'

We started our new jobs at Compton Ridge Campground on May 19th. It's a little of this and a little of that and a lot of variety, which suits us just fine. Every campground is the same but different - which makes learning new things fun and exciting. But most important, we learned the location of the safe place (the downstairs laundry).

When rain and thunderstorms are predicted here, there is always the chance for severe weather. We are located more in West Branson than Branson itself and a little over a hundred miles from Joplin MO.

We watched the sky turn black on Sunday, May 22nd. We were signed up to go to a show with a group of co-workers. The dogs got a little antsy and with Frannie (and Kathy) on the verge of freaking out, we declined going to the show. The TV was full of bright radar pictures and ominous warning of bad weather - the wind picked up - the thunder and lightning was everywhere. Yes, we gathered the dogs and our important papers and went to the only safe place we knew - the downstairs laundry. Even Jerri was unnerved by the severity of the thunderstorms and being on a ridge in the Ozarks.

Everyone heard that a tornado hit Joplin, but only after the sun came up the next day did we realize how very blessed and fortunate we were. Long overdue and for what good it will do, we now have a weather radio.

Our next installment will be about happy times. After all, Branson MO is the Entertainment Capital and our goal is to have a fun summer...

Be thankful for what you have - and pray for the people of Joplin

Goodbye Sarasota (for now)

Yep, been off the grid for a while now. Self-imposed self-reflection, but enough of that.

We had some wonderful experiences while in Sarasota - definitely worth mentioning before we update our current situation. It is well worth the short drive to the outskirts of Myakka City to see the world famous Lippizan stallions. The Hermann family operates the training facility during the winter months to perfect the show when the stallions are on tour during the spring and summer. The entire team consists of women (go girls!) and the control they have over these beautiful beasts is amazing as they perform 'Airs Above the Ground.'
About an hour north of Sarasota there is a wonderful, quirky, artsy place known as St. Petersburg. Take a day and visit the new Salvadore Dali Museum. The guides are well-versed in Dali and all the periods of his genius. And the building itself is a work of art. A small cafe and maze are on the grounds. The glass triangles form a partial sphere containing the staircase and a huge spiral artwork.

And if the Dali Museum is not interesting enough for you, take the trolley (costs $.25 to ride) and not only gives a tour of St. Pete, but has interesting stops along the way. What a bargain! We went to The Chihuly Collection, which is just as impressive as Dali. We had seen the Chihuly exhibit at the Bellagio in Las Vegas a few years ago, so were piqued by the opportunity to see another collection. The outside greets you with an imposing glass monolith, when coupled with a dazzling blue sky just takes your breath away.

Across the way from The Chihuly Collection is the Bay. The trolley takes you along the bayfront and down to the Pier. But the bay, boats gently rocking, a beautiful park-like setting, people walking their dogs, strolling their babies.... You get it, we had a wonderful day in St. Pete and a wonderful stay in Sarasota. So much to see and do.

We love the Sarasota area. We miss our friends, but especially the fresh citrus. There is nothing in the world like fresh orange juice.

There is so much more to add to our fantastic adventures in Sarasota. As we sift through our digital library and remember, we will be adding stuff. Stay tuned for more...

For now,
Be Well and Travel Safe