Finally… we see a show!

Friday was a great day in several respects. The mirror we ordered was delivered and we picked it up from a local UPS Store. Fester immediately opened the package and determined it is the correct mirror. Yay! From the old mirror, Fester was able to salvage the upper/top mirror, which he previously purchased as an add-on to give him additional views of approaching vehicles. Once he gets the upper mirror seated securely, he will be ready to install our new mirror.

Another Friday highlight is that we attended the Sight & Sound Theatre’s “Jesus Live on Stage” performance. What an unforgettable experience! The theatre, opened in 2008, is the second of it’s kind and is itself impressive. The imaginative, realistic sets and scenery, sound effects, orchestra and performers take you on an amazing journey through the life of Jesus Christ. At times, the performance and vocals were mesmerizing – the fishing vessels and scenes on the “sea” were realistic and breathtaking. Definitely a show worth seeing

I’ve mentioned the campground has an abundance of dogs… here are just a few. It is difficult to snap a good photo when Sadie is pulling on the leash. We saw Cruz and Diego on Saturday morning as they were packing up to leave. I was able to let Cruz know that we have the new mirror (help ease his conscience at bit).

We toured the Titanic Museum on Saturday afternoon and found it very interesting and informative. It was a self-guided tour with phone-like handsets that allowed you to listen to recordings at various points of interest. Before you started the tour, you were given a Boarding Pass with a real passenger’s name and brief historical biography of that passenger.

The amount of research, detail and dedication that went into creating the museum is remarkable. In addition to an intricately detailed model of the Titanic, there were many, many photographs and more than 400 artifacts that told the story of the sinking Titanic and the people aboard, including crew, passengers and even the 10 dogs who accompanied their owners. Through factual re-creation we were able to experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic, and even stand on sloping decks. Guests could shovel coal into the boilers as a crew member, or experience a walk on the promenade deck and feel the same chill in the air that the passengers would have felt. You could test your fortitude by timing how many seconds you could leave your immersed hand in 28 degree water to give you and idea of what the folks felt while making their ways to the life boats. It was an enjoyable way to spend two hours. By the way, my passenger, Margaret Brown, survived the sinking Titanic and is posthumously known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Molly Brown was an American human-rights activist, philanthropist and actress.

Today was another sunny, but chilly day, so we took a trip to Table Rock Lake State Park. We hiked and let Sadie play at the edge of the beautiful lake. We’ve lost a lot of leaves here, but there’s still quite a bit of color and it was a pleasant walk. After working up an appetite, we returned to Lilliehobbs’ Mercantile for a bite to eat. Of course we came home with leftovers and several decidedly decadent and and yummy desserts!

I’ve mentioned that there are several RVrs who bring their cat(s) camping with them. We met a couple today riding through the campground with their “fat” cat, Ollie, hitching a ride in the wagon (customized just for him).

We wrapped up the day at our campground’s Sunday ice cream social (I know, more sweets) and got to know Mike and Linda who are camp hosts here. By serving as camp hosts, they get to stay at the campground for free (utilities included) and work 20 hours a week between them for a small salary. They plan on being here thru January, then will head to Texas. They are full-time RVrs from Kansas City and supplement their expenses by “work-camping” whenever they can. Mike does light maintenance around the campground, and Linda helps in the office. Not a bad deal.

Another day in Branson

Happy Veterans’ Day!

Thursday, November 11: We had a big storm last night and Sadie ended up in bed with us because she’s a mush mellow. Like sleeping in a tent, you can really appreciate the sound of rain. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about leaks, condensation or puddles – a forever issue when sleeping in a tent on the AT or PCT in the spring. This morning was sunny but cool, with promises for a beautiful fall day. The day lived up to it’s promises and it warmed up nicely by noon. We took care of chores and some shopping early in the day. Oh, I need to mention that the lake across from us is actually Turkey Creek which feeds into Lake Taneycomo. What can I say… it looks like a lake. Sorry!

We had lunch reservations at Dobyns Dining Room located in the Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks (aka Hard Work U). Taken from their website, “The Keeter Center is unique from other Branson restaurants, as it is an integral part of the College of the Ozarks Work Education Program. The Christian-based College of the Ozarks (also known as Hard Work U), provides the opportunity for full-time students to work at one of more than 120 campus workstations, in order to pay for their cost of education. Some of the student workers at The Keeter Center are Culinary Arts or Hospitality majors, while others are earning degrees in other fields of study, such as Nursing, Education, Engineering, and Business Administration.

We can attest to the excellent quality, taste, and presentation of our meals (I should mention quantity as well, since we came home with four boxes of leftovers)! It was indeed a farm to table enterprise run by the students. The dining room was impressive and somewhat formal – the views overlooking the college campus were magnificent. We enjoyed the experience so much, we tried to book reservations for Sunday Brunch and nothing’s available for the rest of the year. While waiting for dinner, we took a virtual tour of the campus and saw that their were opportunities to visit some of the buildings (student work stations) including a working Mill, Basket Weaving, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Dairy Barn and Greenhouse. After dinner we took a drive thru campus and stopped in at some of the shops to work off some of those dinner calories. We didn’t make it to the Titanic Museum… maybe tomorrow?

Always something

Monday, November 8: Fester is concerned that we may be stuck here anywhere from two weeks to a month, waiting for a replacement mirror (he can’t drive the coach with a broken mirror – much too dangerous, not to mention it’s probably illegal).  If Fester can’t make the repair himself, there is a strong possibility that we would have to have Zephyr towed to an RV repair shop (and we’d have to find temporary housing while they made the repairs).  Needless to say, Fester spent a great deal of time trying to track down the right mirror and bracket assembly.  When he finally found the right mirror assembly, he learned there would be a three-week delay from the manufacturer due to material availability.  Being the engineer that he is, Fester pulled apart the mirror from the bracket and saw that he may be able to order just the mirror, not the entire assembly.  Fester also removed the inside front panel to check the wiring and bracket mounting system and was relieved to see there was no damage to the fiberglass. It looks like Fester can make the repair!  Now, we just need to find a mirror.

Tuesday, November 9:  Somewhere during our trip, I broke the door handle in half (always something). I know it doesn’t sound serious, but the problem is that having just a “stub” of a door handle makes it difficult to get any leverage when trying to open or even shut the door from inside.  Since it’s our only egress (other than emergency windows), there have been a few times I thought I’d be stuck inside because I couldn’t open the door and Fester wasn’t around to help.  He had ordered a door handle and had it shipped to the closest Amazon drop box outside of town.  We didn’t realize the drop box was actually in Harrison, Arkansas, until we were on our way and I was trying to find it on the GPS.  The store was about 33 miles away and we enjoyed the ride. The rolling hills and fall foliage were beautiful and it was good to get away from the coach for a while.  On our return, we stopped at an interesting mercantile shop featuring treasures from local artisans as well as a diner and bakery. It was fun to window shop (trust me, when it comes to room for extra stuff, we don’t have a square to spare). Not surprising… we left with three yummy desserts (which won’t take up space for more than a day, trust me)!   Once home, Mark tried the handle and it didn’t fit.  Fortunately, he thought that might be the case and has three other generic models ordered, which should be delivered here tomorrow.  There are drawbacks to owning a 20-year-old coach – replacement parts can be an issue.

We had hoped to meet some fellow RVrs and Escapees at Turkey Creek, and we haven’t been disappointed.  Despite missing the ice cream social on Sunday due to the mirror calamity, we’ve met quite a few interesting folks around the campground.  First, it’s hard not to meet people considering it’s a small campground with a quarter mile driveway that loops around all the campsites, and three intersecting drives leading for the four rows of campsites. To shake things up, Sadie and walk the loop, then traverse up one row and down another, then repeat in the opposite direction.  A nice way to meet people who are sitting out enjoying the day or working on their RVs. Needless to say, these same campers pass by us on their way to the lake, or while walking their dogs, jogging or even bicycling for exercise.

It seems everyone has time to stop by for a quick chat or a long conversation. Because of the mirror incident, we are reluctant celebrities and folks want to check out the damage and hear the story for themselves. Of course, those exchanges lead to “Oh, that’s nothing, here’s what happened to us…” stories. We’re learning some tales of woe, mixed with humor on lessons they’ve learned along the way and are happy to share.  We’ve met people who have been full time liveaboards (sold their homes) for 10 or more years, some who have owned more than four different types of RVs during their camping lifetime; and some who have owned four RVs in just two years.  

It appears that most RVrs have a least one dog (small) and some have a cat or two living aboard.  At least here, RVrs seem to favor either the small Yorkie-type mixes or larger mixed breeds with hints of Beagle, Shepard and Pit.  Sadie is still learning to play nice…she loves the people, the dogs not so much.  Cruz, the gentleman who broke our mirror, is now our neighbor, in the row behind us – actually within shouting distance (fortunately Mark has almost forgiven him so there’s no shouting taking place) LOL.  We’ve met his scrappy little dog, Diego, who scares Sadie even though she’s three times his size.  We’re learning a lot and having fun just hanging out here.  Which brings me back to why we’re “just hanging out here”.  Mark may have located a mirror, and we may be able to have it shipped and delivered by Monday or Tuesday!!!

It was a beautiful evening so we decided to visit the light show at Branson Landing, especially since it’s already dark by 6:30.  The show didn’t start until 7, so we spent time checking out stuff at Bass Pro at the north end of the landing – an impressive store with everything sports and or outdoor-related that you could possibly imagine.  The “spectacular” light show we were hoping for was a dud. I guess we were expecting something close to Disney’s display and were disappointed because it only lasted for 10 – 15 minutes and wasn’t all that impressive.  Sure, it had fountains and shooting flames choreographed to music, but not all that exciting (it wasn’t even holiday music, despite the plaza’s theme).  A local said we need to return for the 12pm show which features a patriotic theme and is supposed to be very moving, with the Star-Spangled Banner accompanying the fountains and fire. Considering this is Veterans’ week, we will make the time to see this show.

Despite the fountains being lame, the entire plaza was beautiful, with amazing lights, a giant Christmas tree and holiday music.  Branson tourists were nowhere to be found and traffic was very light, so we took advantage and drove around Branson to take in the sites.  Before going home, we popped into the “five and dime” store which was filled with everything you could possibly imagine, and more.  There were hardly any shoppers so we took our time and roamed each isle – a fun way to spend an hour.

Wednesday, November 10:  Today marks our 4th full day in Branson and we haven’t made it to a show yet!  That will change tomorrow – we’re planning to see visit the Titanic Museum which comes highly recommended by my friends Bonnie and Lu Ann.  It takes about two hours to complete the self-guided tour.  Afterwards, we have reservations at Ketters which is a kitchen/restaurant run by culinary arts students at the University of the Ozarks.  A farm to table restaurant in which the food (seasonal) is locally sourced, presents an interesting, eclectic menu and special desserts. We’re looking forward to this dining experience. We’re still looking at shows to attend, but can’t decide. We spent the day doing chores around the coach.  Fester checked fluid levels, worked on the water pump (again), added air to all tires, cleaned the windshield while I sat around eating bon-bons…. NOT!  This campground has proven to be a challenge due to the gravel/dirt roads and leaves, which we all track inside despite our best efforts.  That said, there was lots of rug shaking, floor mopping and vacuuming today, along with other cleaning.  We received the three door handles this afternoon and one worked, so Fester installed it and we are all set!                                                             

Fester works on water pump’s pressure switch while Sadie chews a bone

Skunky finally posts again!

Since I’ve procrastinated once again and haven’t posted since my first and only blog, here’s a brief update which brings us to our current campground near Branson, Missouri. Please keep in mind that I’m learning how to enhance our site with “widgets” (like the calendar) which may come and go.

Thursday, October 28:  We left home around 11 and arrived at our first campground, Alton RV Campground outside of Columbus.  After a pleasant time exploring the city and nearby metro parks, we departed on Sunday. 

Sunday, October 31: We reached our next campground, hosted by Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) located outside of Cincinnati.  After setting up camp we took Sadie and drove to Cincinnati to check out the sites.  It was Halloween night and the riverfront bars were lively with costumed patrons. On Friday we set out for Branson, Missouri with one stop along the way.

Friday, November 5:  We arrived at Grayille KOA in Illinois for one-night and were pleasantly surprised by the campground’s wild west theme. The “town” is aptly named Westwood and building facades include a bank (ATM), mercantile (office/camp store), saloon (restaurant/bar) and even a shooting gallery (no surprise – Mark won our shooting match).  Perfect for families, Westwood has an imaginative playground and two miniature golf courses. We enjoyed our brief visit.

Sadie explores the lake next to our campsite

Saturday, November 6:  We left Westwood at 9:30am, headed toward Branson, Missouri. Even with a screwy detour around St. Louis that cost us an hour’s delay and much frustration, we made it to our next campground, Turkey Creek RV Village in Hollister, MO around 3:30pm. Located about 10 minutes outside of Branson, this small modest campground is designated an Escapees RV Park, so we received a discounted rate on the already low cost. We hope to meet fellow Escapees who are heading to the Annual Bash in Lake Havasu.  The manager, Jane, moved us to site H9 which is on a corner, right across from a small lake (I’m the great view right now, as I type). Although Jane assured us that H9 can accommodate RVs up to 44 feet, we thought it was a tight fit and were concerned because we were exposed to park traffic coming around our corner. After settling in, we took the Jeep (and Sadie) and headed downtown to check out Branson.  Wow!  As anyone who’s been here can attest, Branson is a vibrant, bustling place – a tourist destination known for its shows, shops, dining and special attractions, including the infamous Titanic Museum.  We were pleasantly surprised to find Branson decorated for the holidays, complete with Christmas trees, reindeer, and lights. Not only the streets, but everywhere – shops, restaurants and attractions were decked out. We learned that November and December are Branson’s second busiest season due to the holiday decorations. We couldn’t appreciate the lights at the time, but we plan to return on another night to enjoy the festive atmosphere.

If you’re interested in reading more about these earlier days you can visit our “The Rest of the Story” once published. That page will eventually provide more details & photos …famous last words” says procrastinator Skunky.

Sunday, November 7: After breakfast we decided to explore the town of Hollister and found Downing Street, a quaint strip with just a few restaurants and shops, but a lot of old world charm. As noon arrived, so did sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70’s so we set out for Branson Landing, which we missed yesterday. We wanted to find the water fountain located in the middle of the boardwalk so we knew where to enjoy the “spectacular” show featuring water fountains, fire and lights synchronized to music. While checking out the many shops along the way, Sadie greeted folks who couldn’t resist her wagging tail.  Having found the famous fountain, we decided to return at nighttime to watch the show. So we headed back to Hollister to enjoy a late, delicious lunch at Dunning Street Café.

I’m grateful we had such a pleasant day because it was about to change.  In keeping with our normal weekend routine, we took a quick after-lunch nap.  Imagine being suddenly awaken by a loud noise and a shaking coach!  Fester ran to the front of the coach and yelled “we’ve been hit… get your camera!”  He stepped outside to make sure whoever hit our coach wouldn’t drive off.  Turns out there was no way they could leave, considering our passenger-side mirror was stuck in the their trailer’s living room window! Seems a guy driving a truck pulling a travel trailer was in a hurry to get to his site and set up camp. While trying to avoid another RV stopped in the road, he cut the corner way to sharp and bang! There goes our mirror (and with it, any plans for returning to Branson tonight). What a way to ruin the day. On the bright side, he didn’t damage the fiberglass gel coat.  I worked with the driver, Cruz, securing his driver and insurance information while frustrated Fester tried to figure out a way to get the mirror unstuck. I spent the rest of the evening trying to reach our insurance company, without success (due to their stupid automated system). I finally submitted the claim online, along with some photos. We’re supposed to hear from a Claim Adjuster, but told it may be a “virtual” visit due to COVID. Based on our experience so far, we weren’t holiday our breath.

Ouch! The sad saga of the broken mirror

Monday, November 8: After a restless night, Fester was up by 3:30am, surfing the internet for a replacement mirror assembly. He informed me that we may be stuck here anywhere from two weeks to a month waiting for a replacement mirror. For a change in scenery and focus, we decided to get our third (booster) vaccine. That’s another frustrating story that I won’t get into, but long story short, we got our 3rd Pfizer jab!

Since I want to keep you coming back for more , please stay tuned for the rest of the mirror saga. Ciao!

Let the adventures begin …

Greetings and welcome to “Skunky and Fester – The Next Chapter” our RV Adventure blog. For those who did not know us at the time, Skunky (Sue) and Fester (Mark) are “trail names” used when we backpacked the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2001. We became known by family and friends as Skunky and Fester and those names have followed us through many adventures. The Next Chapter refers to our entering a new stage in our lives (snowbirds) where our adventures may be a bit tamer, but we hope just as entertaining. 

Please check out About Us to learn more of our story and how we got here. But to catch you up quickly, we started our adventure on October 28 (2 days ahead of schedule)! We left our home in Ohio and plan to take our time traveling to Lake Havasu City in Arizona for our first Xscapers Annual Bash that runs January 8 – 16. While there, we’ll spend time with our niece, Savannah, and her mom, Elaine, and revisit a favorite icecream/cupcake shop. After the “bash” it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll spend the rest of the winter.

I’m learning how to set up a blog site as we go, so please bear with me. I’m already way behind on our blog, considering we’ve been on the road for 10 days, have logged in our first 500 miles, crossed one time zone, and are now headed toward Branson, Missouri, this morning (Saturday, November 6). I appreciate your patience and understanding and certainly welcome any and all suggestions. Because this blog will serve as a travelog, I will create a “catch-up” page to capture the last 10 days. Hopefully, this blog will evolve into something special.

The above picture “this is how we roll” is a welcome mat given to us by dear and longtime friends, Louise & Ken S. as a parting gift – what a wonderful send off! The below photos capture a few highlights in preparation for the trip. Clockwise: Fester installing solar panels on top of the RV; installed solar panels on roof top; Fester working on water pump; did I mention… he was doing the repairs on the street in front of our house; Sadie get’s a trip clip; and finally, we’re ready to hit the road!

Move in explosion! Time for Skunky to stash everything before we get to the campground

Above photo taken at departure time. Embarrassing as it is, we had been adding stuff to the RV for the last few weeks, but didn’t get around to putting it away because we were focused on getting our other “stationary” home secured and ready for our departure. Thankfully, I was able to tackle most of this chore while Fester was driving us to our first destination near Columbus, Ohio.