Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Bluegrass Festival

During the two days I spent at Silver Dollar City, I saw lots of shows that were part of the Bluegrass Festival going on there. Most of these shows were only 20-30 minutes long.

The Kruger Brothers are pretty famous in the Bluegrass world. I went to see them twice. Two of them are brothers from Switzerland who now speak English with a definite twang.

Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain are also pretty famous. They had a big hit on the Bluegrass charts. Here's a short clip from it, but to see the whole thing, click here.

Pure Heart, two sisters, would make a big deal out of posing for the camera every time someone whipped one out.

One of the sisters, Teresa, was a champion yodeler.

Frontier Follies was a cute show in the Silver Dollar Saloon.

It was by far Phil's favorite show!

After the theme park closed at 7:00, there was a terrific 90-minute country show with 12 performers in the Amphitheatre. All of these videos can be seen by clicking on the arrow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City is a huge theme park in Branson. It consists of the usual thrill rides, an 1880s craft village, and different festivals. The Bluegrass & BBQ Festival is going on now. I liked it so much I spent 2 days there.

I really like to ride roller coasters, and went on all four. This multi-looping, cobra-rolling one, called WildFire, was my favorite. That's me trying to get a picture of it. It's a miracle I could still stand.

Powder Keg accelerates from 0 to 53 mph in 2.8 seconds. Hang on and watch the video!

The theme park evolved around Marvel Cave. From the opening here, there is a 500 foot dropoff. Circular steps and ramps allow tourists to get down to the bottom.

Sometimes the head room is a little tight.

There are some beautiful formations in the cave, but the only thing ever mined here was bat guano.

After descending 500 feet below the surface, how do you get back up to daylight? In 1957, cave operators installed a unique cable train designed to take cave visitors back to the surface.

I brake for all rusty stuff, even if I don't know what it is!

These were scattered throughout the park.

Went on a steam train ride through the countryside around the park.

Some zany train robbers tried to rob us, but they weren't very scary because they kept forgetting their lines.

Wow, have I gained some weight?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome to Branson

The SI Rally was held at a private, member-owned RV Park in Branson, Treasure Lake. I hope this isn't a slippery slope! I really enjoy my boondocking.

There are many more "owners" than sites, so the storage facility is HUGE!

There are over 100 shows to see in Branson, but one of the most popular is SIX, a group of six brothers with incredible harmony, singing a capello. It sounds like drums and bass in the background, but that is actually 2 of the brothers. You can watch my illegally taped video, or for more on this amazing group, watch this.

Everyone in Branson can sing! At the Hard Luck Diner, the waitstaff take turns entertaining you.

This is our waitress, Morgan Loveland.

Oh wow! Next door to the diner is a HUGE Christmas shop. One of my very favorite things.

It's never too soon to sit on Santa's lap.

We also went to the Imax theater and saw a movie on rafting through the Grand Canyon. Here's another illegal video of mine showing what it's like, without having to get wet!

WIN member, Warren, lives in Branson, and invited us all over for Barbeque.

Warren's quite a collector.

We also went out to lunch at Lambert's, famous for it's "throwed rolls."

Here's a demonstration of how it's done.

In addition to the rolls, some very happy waitresses served free side dishes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Riding the Ducks

After the Buffalo River, I moved up to Branson, Missouri to the SI (Singles International) Rally. There's so much to do in this town that it's hard to know where to begin.

But one thing I really wanted to do was ride the Ducks!

These are 6-wheeled amphibious trucks designed by GM during WWII to transport goods and troups over land and water. They're now used to entertain tourists in various towns.

After an entertaining ride through town, we went through the woods up a hill on something that looked like a sidewalk.

To an old quarry where an assortment of WWII vehicles were on display.

We got our first view of our destination, Table Rock Lake.

What? We're going in there?

The lake was really high, so we couldn't make the splashy entrance these ducks usually make.

Our captain, Captain Crunch. Wait a minute! Who's driving the boat?

Me!!! It was hard to steer, though.

The gang in back cheered me on -- Frances, Bob, Shirley, Bobbie, and Alaska Bob.

This 4-year old did a much better job.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Since I don't kayak, I was more interested when the WINs decided to do a hike to the Indian Rockhouse. The Indian Rockhouse Trail winds across hillsides and along a beautiful stream to the spectacular Indian Rockhouse Cave, which once sheltered prehistoric bluff-dwelling Native Americans.

It required constant vigilance to avoid the poison ivy that bordered the trail.

The WINs hike the same way they kayak -- FAST! I can walk pretty fast, but I like to stop and take pictures. I was lucky to get one of a beautiful waterfall.

One of the many "teaser caves" we found along the way. This was a test mine from the 1880s when miners searched for zinc deposits. No zinc was found here.

Finally, the real deal, the Indian Rockhouse Cave. There are no ruins here, but it's a gigantic cave with its own stream running through it.

Coming back, rain started when we were about a quarter mile from the trail head. I was the only one who brought an umbrella along.

Another day we drove to the nearby ghost town of Rush, where zinc mines flourished in the 1890s. During World War I, most of the zinc produced was used to aid in the war effort. Production declined after the war.

In Rush, the remains of the blacksmith shop, active from 1925 - 1931.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Exploring Buffalo National River

The WINs moved on to Buffalo Point Campground, 14 miles south of Yellville, Arkansas. The Buffalo River was named a national river in 1972 to preserve it as a free-flowing stream.

I guess it was a little too free-flowing recently, when floods destroyed this boat ramp. But there are many more entrances to the river, and the kayakers were anxious to get on the river.

Transporting the menagerie of kayaks and their paddlers usually involves some complicated shuttling, but local outfitter Wild Bill offered us some great deals on rides.

Much of the river is bordered by beautiful high river bluffs, consisting of sandstone, limestone, and dolomite.

The first night there we had a "burn your own," bringing our own meat and sharing side dishes.

One night we went to Yellville for "Music on the Square," but it was moved inside because rain was forecast. Then it was cancelled and we were directed to the basement of the courthouse because of a tornado watch. We drove home instead through some wicked rain.

Another night, Joanne provided the makings for s'mores. The WINs are always up for eating.

There was no phone signal in the campground, but if you went up the hill to the RV dump, you could get a signal. So the dump was a popular place. This deer obviously didn't see the sign that the water was not safe to drink.

Moving On

Welcome to my new blog! Since Randy is no longer in my life, I thought it would be good to get a new web address. If you want to view the older posts, click here.